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Thursday, January 4, 2018

Milestones of 2017 Here we go 2018!

Today, January 3rd, is my birthday. For me, it's time to take inventory of the last twelve months. It works out well, as both New Year and birthdays are annual milestones. New Year is the celebratory occasion that it doesn't really offer time for reflection. Having my birthday two days later does!

The year 2017 had many good points and some quite disturbing ones at the same time for myself. Welcome to life, as they say!

On the good side of things, Dani Hoy and I, also known as The Shanty Hounds had a very busy year playing all around Key West and The Lower Keys! In addition, we also played house concerts on the west coast of Florida again this year. We're thinking of curtailing those excursions in 2018. We will be playing Music On The Bay in Tampa this year, however.

In addition, the recordings for my album "Jump Into de FiYa!!!!" are progressing. As each song costs about $1,500 - $2,000 to record and produce properly, I'm releasing each song as it's completed. Within the next couple of days the third song, "Dockside Bar" will be released! In the end, there will be ten songs and the cost will be the same to the consumer if they get the songs as they are released, or collectively as an album when the project is completed. My thought is, "Why Wait?". If I release them individually, people can have them immediately as they are completed. via download.

One of the large costs of making an album is the cost of making the CDs themselves. I'm not sure what I'll do here? Today, if you buy a new car, there is no CD player in it. You plug your smartphone in and there's your music library. Likewise, computers don't have them either. On the fun side, CDs are good for selling at live gigs. My friend Misty Loggins often jokes that she's selling CDs as coasters! 

Aside from downloads, I have started putting my music on flash drives, in addition to the CDs I still have. We'll see how it goes! I also have another idea for them which I'll announce when it's up and rolling. 

Of course, Hurricane Irma presented so many potential disasters for the Florida Keys, and for many parts of Big Pine, Cudjoe, No Name, Little Torch, Summerland, Sugarloaf, Ramrod, Marathon, and as far north as Islamorada, it was. However, for Key West, it was not. Yes, the power was knocked out, as was water. However, we did not get a storm surge or the tornadoes created by the hurricane that the aforementioned islands did.

Unfortunately, the media all reported from the affected islands, saying quite ignorantly “We're in Key West and things are devastated here!” When they were actually 20 – 70 miles north of Key West! Consequently, the majority of the American public think that Key West is in a shambles, when in fact, it's actually just fine.

This has hurt every business in Key West, as so many canceled their vacations to Key West. Their vacations are Key West's lifeblood, as the economy revolves around tourism. To this very day, many across the country think Key West is a pile of rubble and broken dreams.

On the bright side of Hurricane Irma, our house in intact, our foliage has been naturally pruned, so to speak, but it's still there!

Most importantly the good in everyone came out. Neighbors helping neighbors! Readers of this blog know that our friend Danny Lynn of invited up to his home just outside of Chattanooga, Tn. to avoid Irma, with he and Heather Moss O'Shields. They put us up for two and a half weeks and wouldn't allow us to pay for anything because “You don't know what you'll be going back to. You may not have a house or any jobs”. This is one example of how on so many different planes the best came out in people from all over. We also had SO many people help us out in so many ways. We got through Irma through the generosity and help of so many. Thank you so much!

Key West is, and has been, open for business!

I started writing my book “Time Traveler – The Oddities and Adventures of a Key West Bartender” on October 12th, 2016. It was released while we were Hurricane Irma refugees in Tennessee. This has been an incredible experience! The reviews have been so encouraging that I wasted no time on starting the sequel. Some of the reviews have been from extremely qualified people in the literary field as well!

At this point, it hasn't been reviewed by any publications, yet it's doing great nonetheless! Because they are in my musical field, just after it's release I approached the two Trop Rock magazines to see what they would think about a Trop Rock songwriter/artist, writing a book as an interesting topic for their readers? In the nineties I wrote for a music magazine, Southeast Performer, reporting from Broward, Miami/Dade and Monroe Counties (Fort Lauderdale – Key West). I would have jumped at the idea of doing a piece on one of the very, very few Nashville published songwriters/performers in my area, stepping out and writing a book on anything, because that's a really cool related diversion from the norm. Additionally, if the people are reading my blogs, posts, and columns, chances are they'd be interested in reading books too. The vast majority of my book sales have been to those who know me through my music.

However, everyone has their own ideas as to what they are looking for in their business. I never had a reply to my query from either publication to date. So we'll look into options for other publications.

Suffice to say, the book writing has been a great addition to writing music! It offers a fresh canvas to work with when the other runs down and visa versa!

Nothing but good things happening here! The biggest issue is having time to invest in music and... three books currently being written!

Pick it up at Amazon!

On a tragic note, in 2017, I watched someone lose their mind. I'm not saying that in jest, or sarcasm either. On March 6th of last year, a man who owns a radio station suddenly had a true meltdown. I had known him for several years and got on with him quite well. He lives in Islamorada, here in the Keys, about 80 miles north of Key West. For well over a year I had wanted him to meet another station owner, who lived out of state. This other individual came to Key West several times and every time I tried to get them together. The one in Islamorada would express interest in meeting, but either would never commit or wouldn't answer his phone on the pre-determined date and time.

Then, on March 6th he posted on his Facebook page the vilest and disgusting diatribe focused at the aforementioned station owner from out of state, whom he never met, bear in mind. In his descriptions of the other station owner, he called him a “Snake” and a “Beast” repeatedly. At the same time, he painted himself to the musicians as their good, knowledgeable shepherd, who would lead them all down the primrose path of success. In other words, as musicians and songwriters, he sees as his sheep who can't do anything on our own. He referred to the other station owner as “dirty”, “sinister”, and “sleazy”. This was all sudden and out of the blue. I put it all in a blog.

Later in the year, everything hit the fan again with him again. Tammy Hollander exposed what he was doing, in attempting to get out of paying for goods he purchased through her husband.

This year I pulled all of my music from Radio A1A. At one point or another, you have to say “enough”. The man was caught dead-to-rights, hands down guilty of knowingly stealing from the songwriters he was playing. Proof in the pudding was that he ran out and got a legal license two days after my blog came out. I can't understand how any other songwriter would associate themselves with them?

You chose your friends and associates based on your values. Because someone owns a radio station, is no exception to your values. If anyone feels they have to cow-tow to someone who knowingly stole from them and considers them mindless sheep wandering about, it's time to stop for a moment and evaluate their own values and ethics.

If you'd like to read the full story, here's the blog:

That was the most tragic part of 2017, after Irma.

On the final note for 2017 was the highest point attainable! A couple of months ago The Shanty Hounds, Dani Hoy and myself, were asked to play The Sunday Ramble on New Year's Eve!

A bit of a personal background on Key West. The first time I came and caught music was St. Patrick's Day, 1980. My friend since grammar school, Kerry “Gonzo” Dwyer and I came down and the funniest thing was that the party went out of Sloppy Joe's across the street to another bar. I don't recall the name of the bar, but it was a solid crowd and it went across the street as though it was one big bar with invisible walls! If anything was very surrealistic, this was it that night. The invisible wall never wavered either!

The band was fantastic that night as well! I recall a band at Sloppies, and I think there was one at the other bar? We also hit Captain Tony's that night and there was a band there as well.

The music I heard that night, as well as all of the subsequent times I traveled to Key West, was exceptional. The overall quality of music was on a different plane than most other places and in my mind, I always held Key West with a very high bar, as far as music went.

The Sunday Ramble is a series that is held several times a year, highlighting the best that Key West has to offer. So, to be invited to play is the highest honor, as a musical artist.

The Ramble has a house band who back up the featured artists and they are second to none.

Starting with ladies first:

Claire Finley – Bass, Robyn Whitehead – B/G Vocals, Michelle Dravis – BG Vocals, Jeff Clark – lead guitar, Ericson Holt – Keyboards, Randy Morrow – Drums, Joe Rahill – Sax. What a lineup!

For us, it was The Shanty Hounds duo, with Dani Hoy and me. We had three songs to do and we picked two of mine, one of Dani's. This worked out very well as the first song, “Yippie Cayo Hueso” is a song I do the lead vocals on. Dani has the b/g vocals and one line she's on solo for emphasis.

The next song was Dani's “I Like It Hot”. This is a song which she sings solo on, naturally featuring her fabulous voice, and also additionally offers a good spot for solos.

The final song was my song, a duet, “Tote The Load”. I wrote this song for my friend Misty Loggins to do the duet with. That has never happened though. Dani stepped up and made it her own! She just nails it every time!

We had a blast! I thank everyone involved in The Sunday Ramble, as well as those who put the suggestion that we were considered.

To be recognized in Key West, both here and in The Key West Songwriter's Festival are the absolute highest honors I could have. Thank you!

Here's our set on New Year's Eve at The Key West Theater at The Sunday Ramble! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

And lastly, my friends and family! Throughout my life, I have always had the very highest quality of friends and family. It didn't matter where I was either! Growing up in New Jersey, moving to Miami, moving to Boston, Back in Miami, or for nearly ten years, here in Key West. All of these places I've always had friends of the highest caliber. I cannot express how grateful I am to have had all of you in my life!

These are people with the same values and ethics. All of my friends have honesty and integrity. It's not something that is talked about, it's something that you sense. The commonality is what bonds friendships. If you have high standards, your best friends will be likewise. Sure, you'll come across people who don't fit your values, and often it's not apparent at first. However, they'll weed themselves out over time.

To all who have been my friend over the decades, I love and appreciate you very much and a very big thank you for sharing your life with me! It's an honor! Plus, I look forward to making new friends in the coming year!

I consider myself to be a very, very lucky and fortunate individual and I have my family and friends to thank for it!

Especially Dani Hoy!!! :-) 

2018 is a new page and an unwritten book! The game's afoot! Okay! Let's do a BBQ!!!

Happy New Year!!!!!

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