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Sunday, December 3, 2017

A Week In The Life Of A Key West Musician

The following is a rough outline of being an active musician in Key West, specifically, A Shanty Hound!

Just to clarify who the Shanty Hounds are, Well, it's Dani Hoy and me. I play lead guitar and sing half the songs. Dani plays acoustic guitar, all sorts of percussion instruments, harmonica, and yes, on a few songs, kazoo! This is our standard set up and the way we play about 75% of our gigs.

After that, it's also people that play with us. For the last year and a half, Bob Tucker has played with us at our Grunts gigs, plus a few others. Jerry Thees sits in with us at Rick's, Bobby DeVito (Bobby D) has played with us numerous times from the get-go, most recently the entire month of August 2017. RedDawg had the idea to start the Shanty Hounds three years ago and played with us for around six months, when he moved to Pa. John Sausser has played drums with us on and off since RedDawg left. The list goes on and on, but the essence of what this piece is about in this piece is largely Dani and myself and one specific week in Key West, both playing and otherwise.

So, we're off to the races!

On Friday we played Willie T's. We've been there since the beginning of the summer and things have really jelled for us there! It's an easy environment to jell with the audience. It can actually be hysterical at times. Dani will be talking to someone in the crowd about something, and meanwhile, I'm talking to someone walking by on the sidewalk. I'd say it's 65/45 ratio on me convincing them to come in! We had several friends from out of town swing by as well. Imagine my surprise when our friends from Houston, Karen and Brian walked by! We didn't even know they were in town!

Dale and Peach of Flagler Beach stopped by the gig, as they were in town for a few days. It seems they always are volunteering their time to charitable causes down here. Good people! After the gig we had a bit of time to shoot the breeze with them and some other friends in from Tampa/St. Pete, Diana, and Mark. A good time was had by all and both couples also picked up copies of my book “Time Traveler – The Oddities and Adventures of a Key West Bartender” Thank you!!! I hope you enjoy it!

The gig also suffered a casualty, unfortunately. I seemed to have misplaced one of our spare microphones, a Sure 58 in the bag. While it was an older one it's still $100.00. At least we have others.

Saturday was an interesting day and evening. We had played Thanksgiving night, so we decided to have Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday. Dani called it Friendsgiving and she did all the cooking that our house contributed. In the Keys tradition, every year we cook a pelican for Thanksgiving! ;-)

This was an odd thing for me. We throw a bunch of BBQs throughout the year. I'm the chef and am usually running inside the house and out between what I have on the BBQ and what I have on the stove. Here I was with nothing to do! After about an hour and a couple of beers, I got used to it, however!

Everyone contributed wonderful additions which augmented the dinner perfectly too! Steve Craigo, Brian Fields, Michelle Tafoya, Loretta DiTocco, Jerry Thees, Steve Craigo, Teresa, Scott Uhl, Des, Natalie and Alan, Dave Brick…. thank you!!!

Every Sunday is our gig at Two Friends and this week was no exception. We're very fortunate with all of our solid gigs, as the owners/managers are all just great people. I won't name the owners/managers by name because it's just the nature of the beast, the beasts being musicians, to call and ask for the individual by name while looking for a gig. … I want to stay on their good side! HAHA!

We, The Shanty Hounds, Dani Hoy and myself, play in the bar section of Two Friends every Sunday noon – three.

There is also a patio portion of the restaurant and according to our friends, Misty Loggins, and her manager Sam, who were there having breakfast on the patio when we arrived, you can hear the sound quite well on the patio, from the bar.

The stage itself at Two Friends we call “The Cockpit”, as it's so tight for two people. Mind you, this is but a description, not a complaint in the slightest. When we play there, it's similar to getting into an F1 or IndyCar; you climb in, only with a guitar in hand!

Naturally, every individual gig at every establishment is different. Sunday's gig at Two Friends started off a bit on the slow side. There was a Disney ship in that day and we picked up customers for several tables from the ship in the bar. Things started to pick up and shortly almost all of the tables in the bar were occupied.

Having a decent crowd is a major plus for us when we're playing. With a good crowd, there is always some good banter back and forth between ourselves and the audience. What it does overall is injecting a bit of adrenalin into everyone's veins and that's a good thing!

Monday was a day off. Well, it's not really a day off, so to speak. To start with, it found me writing the follow-up to the book I just released “Time Traveler – The Oddities and Adventures of a Key West Bartender”. I love writing this particular book as it's a continuing series! The subject matter is likewise, wide open!

I also touched a little on another book I'm working on (I have three in the works at the moment) and added a chapter.

I also messed around with a new song I'm going to be putting together. It's focal suggestion is the 1930's, so, in line with that, it will most likely be something in 2/4 time! The subject matter I just love, but as the song hasn't been written yet, I'll keep that under my hat for the moment.

Monday evening we headed to The Cork and Stogie. We had a beer podcast for several years, but as time went on we didn't have time for it anymore with other commitments at hand. What we do now are live FaceBook broadcasts on the “Key West Beer Tales The Sum Of All Beers” page! A couple of months back our friend, Mario Wolf, brought us some beer from Germany that are not available in the US. Dani, Cowboy Mark, and I sampled and critiqued the splendid beers.... there's always a few laughs... I mean, we're drinking BEER after all!

We finished around 1am, then headed home.

Every Tuesday we play Rick's from noon to four. It's a fun gig and our main purpose is to be there for the bar crawls which come in from the cruise ships. Jerry Thees sits in with us on bass at this gig as well.

This week we had three bar crawls. They are interesting as they come in, the place often fills up, they stay for 15 – 30 minutes, then they are either off to the next bar, or back to the cruise ship and off to the next port of call.

Miguel is the bartender with us at Rick's. He always has the TVs set to these ridiculous shows that are “Stupid Things People Do”, or “Most Insane Moments”. Those aren't the names of the shows, but they might be? We'll be playing, singing any song when suddenly a dog is chasing their own tail, or some idiot kid lights their hair on fire as a prank. Mind you, this isn't what we have on at home. This is Miguel's choice... we LOVE Miguel, by the way! The bottom line is suddenly something so ridiculous happens.. a coffin flies out of a hearse and the body is sliding on the pavement... and we crack up in the middle of the song.... but we don't lose the beat! ;-)

Keslie and Renee Slay swung by, from Orange Beach, Al. It's always great to meet Facebook friends at gigs! Leslie and Renee have a hot sauce company. Check them out at 

Wednesday we.... had off! I wrote a song early in my Key West residence called “Tuesday is My Friday”. Fact is, almost no one here has the standard Monday – Friday work routine!

Key West lost Tim Glancy after a long battle with lung issues. Tim was a very, very accomplished magician, having worked in, among other places, Las Vegas. He also had worked for Jimmy Buffett for I believe fifteen years. The first time I saw him he was giving walking tours here in Key West of significant places Jimmy Buffett played. There was a celebration of life for him held in the afternoon at The Salty Angler and they had a great turnout. Howard Livingstone played several songs, plus several magicians including local master musician Frank Everhart. Some had flown in for the event and spoke as well. It was a touching event and very well done. A big salute to Donna Carpenter, his companion fore a decade and a half. During Tim's illness she would post updates on Facebook starting with “Tim Glancy had a good day today” or the reverse had it not been a good day. When I spoke with her at the wonderful event I said to her “Tim Glance is having a fabulous day today”.

Godspeed Tim.

A couple of hours later Dani and I met up with our good friends Brian Fields and Michelle Tafoya over at The Cork and Stogie. Just hanging out on the veranda, enjoying a wonderful libation, watching the world walk by on Duval as the trade-winds quietly and easily breeze through. Keys laid back. Does it get any better than this?

My sister asked me recently “How do you find time to write your books?”. Well, if we look at the next day up, Thursday, it's a good example. Every Thursday we play Grunts Bar! We play 7 – 10, which means we arrive at 6, set up and we're ready to go at 7. So basically I have the day off until around 5:30 when we start to get ready to go.

On days like these, I may run to the library to do some historical research for the follow-up book to “Time Traveler – The Oddities and Adventures of a Key West Bartender”. I'm strict with things being historically correct in the books. They have to be accurate, or the carry no integrity and it's all just flim-flam. In my book, if one is in Key West in 1935 and walks into an establishment called The Victoria Restaurant, goes dancing at The Silver Slipper, those places did exist in 1935. They are there today as well, albeit with different names. Things like that are important to me. So long as it can be traced, in my book, it will be accurate. Not every place can be traced, however. Meanwhile, the followup book continues.

Thursday night we were back at Grunts Bar! As far as a band goes, this is our home bar. The Cork and Stogie is Dani and my personal home bar, at 1218 Duval St. I'm a part owner there and it's a true Key's style, laid back bar. The Cork and Stogie do not have live music, however. Frankly, it's just too small to do so.

Grunts were the very first bar to give The Shanty Hounds a weekly gig. We've been there every Thursday night for the last two and a half years. Before that, we'd play gigs here and there. It was nothing consistent. However, Grunts gave us the shot and we are forever grateful!

The owner has done things for us on many occasions which no other owner or manager would ever dream of doing. I will not say what it is, as I feel it, though never stated, it was done in confidence. Let me just say that he is over and above first class all the way.

Our evening started slow. We actually started rehearsing new songs because there were no customers! However, within about fifteen minutes a crowd started coming in! In the end, we had a fantastic night!

So that's one week in the life of this Key West musician! It's hectic at times, but I wouldn't trade it for the world!

At the end of this month, we were honored to play The Rumble! The Ramble is an invitation gig held at The Key West Theater (512 Eaton St.) with our event held on December 31st. We have the honor of playing with the finest musicians in Key West... we can't wait!

As Key West icon Barry Cuda stated “All of my musical heroes were on tour all of the time, longing for the time off to go fishing. When I came to Key West I found it is the crowd that is on tour and you don't have to go on the road, because they come to you!”

Thank you for reading the blog!!!


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