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Monday, November 18, 2019

Ford v Ferrari

Being the race fan that I am, and have been my while life, I had the inherent calling to catch this movie A.S.A.P. One of the underlining reasons I was so compelled to go was the fact that automotive publications that I have a very high respect for, had seen previews and stated that it was excellent. Bear in mind that these are more often than not, publications that tend to be highly critical when reviewing these sorts of movies.

Just a short preamble on myself, when I was growing up, I played sports, football, baseball, a bit of basketball. However, I was the odd ball because my favorite sport was always auto racing. I recall as an 8 or 9 year old kid watching The Grand Prix of Monte Carlo, as well as the Indy 500, on the same day. This went on with me for decades and does to this day, work providing.

I was always acquainted with the events at hand in this movie, though it happened before my time. This is one of those stories that exist in the annals of auto racing classic stories that one had to know. It was required reading the same way that as a grammar school student in the U.S. one had to learn and know about the American Revolution. This story is on the same scale of Washington crossing the Delaware. An auto racing fan has to know about Ford at Le Mans and what sparked their rivalry with Ferrari.

Now, there are a certain degree of Hollywood moments that are side bars to the story, that may or may not have happened. I accept this because Hollywood needs to add a bit of pizzazz to any flick they make that is based on a true story. Having stated that, I will say that nothing they added made the story deviate from the original story line. The one part that made me laugh out loud was when the showed the Ford GT 40's speedometer at speed …. racing cars don't have speedometers, but that's for the general public in order to create excitement. That's good!


Matt Damon and Christian Bale did an excellent job portraying Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles! Additionally, while the movie appeals quite well to someone like myself, the story itself and the movie production are second to none. The average person on the street who knows nothing of the story itself, which is so compelling unto itself, or even if they have no interest in auto racing whatsoever, will find this a fabulous movie! The direction of James Mangold, the writing by Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, and Jason Keller, and the production by Peter Chernin, James Mangold, and Jenno Topping produce a Grade A+ Movie that many are saying is the movie of the year.


As a musician, I'm naturally, always interested in the soundtrack. The soundtrack here was absolutely superb! It's not as though there's a hit song that will come from it. That could have taken away from what they did. However, the instrumentation of when the cars are in a race, boosts the adrenalin of those in the audience. The soundtrack is by Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders.

This movie is superb! Do yourself a favor and go see this movie!!! You're in for a treat!

Thank you for reading my Blog! Please check out my book "Time Traveler - The Oddities and Adventures of a Key West Bartender". Follow Mark Straight's continuing journey and friendships from current Key West, back to historical Key West and elsewhere!

 Order paperback or download here! Paperback comes with a free download!

 26 Five-Star ratings!

Also, my first book, Bar Stories, is now available in paperback!

Available on Amazon! 18 Five-Star ratings!

Please check out The Shanty Hounds    NEW LIVE RELEASE!!!

Unleashed! Live at Grunts – Key West”

A true, authentic sound of Key West
Also available at:

iTunes Store

#JamesMangold, #JezButterworth, #John-HenryButterworth, #JasonKeller #PeterChernin, #JennoTopping, #MarcoBeltrami, #Buck Sanders, #Matt Damon, # ChristianBale, #CaitrionaBalfe,

Wednesday, November 13, 2019



Smile” is one of the most interesting songs in my catalog, for several reasons. To begin with, I started writing the song in 1982! At the time I was living in the back half of this cool little duplex in Miami with my first wife, Mercy. It had a little extension foyer for the front door, which was about 6 x 5, and the walls on the left and right were floor to ceiling jalousie windows. One evening it was pouring rain. I mean really intense rain! No wind, it was just coming down straight like there was no tomorrow. I went out in the foyer and brought my guitar with me. The jalousies were open about half way, so the sound of the storm was right there !The rain was pouring, the lightning was putting on a show, and the thunder was rolling in time to what was playing! I played and played this chord progression that just came to me that night, as the storm raged outside. There was no doubt that this was something, not just good, but special. In the end of evening I realized that the song needed more, not to mention lyrics once the music was settled.

I’d pick up my guitar over the years and try to find a chorus for it, to no avail. Then in 1996... fourteen years later, it finally dawned on me why I couldn’t come up with a chorus for it. The reason I couldn’t find the chorus, was elementary: The music I had, was the chorus! Hello. Epiphany #1
Having finally realized this, I set out on the rest of the song. I came up with it, but it was one of those things that just didn’t hold water. Listening to myself playing it, I realized the new part just didn’t do any justice to that chorus I had written in 1982. Speaking frankly, it flat out sucked, so I pulled it and stored the chorus on the shelf. However, at least now I realized what I had was a chorus! To what, I didn’t know?
In 2015 I had the urge to write an up-beat, fun, positive song. The very first thing I thought of was my chorus that I had written... thirty-three years earlier! Additionally, it was perfect for what I had in mind! Suddenly an idea came to me musically. I pulled out my old guitar “Bell”, a 1975 Guild D25, that had since been retired, but the guitar I wrote that chorus on in 1982. It was the right way to continue the script, the tale and especially the music.

The chord progression for the verses came very, very quickly.... a lot like the chorus had, so many years ago. Additionally, the new chord progression for the verses was quite unique. I’d say it was a study of the C chord and it’s immediate family. The best part was that it all fit together perfectly! Lyrics would be next.

As I was saying before, I wanted the song to be fun, positive, and upbeat. I was thinking that it would be fun to share writing the lyrics with Dani. However, she wasn’t feeling it at that moment. As a song writer, you have to be able to make the song part pf your life. For that moment it wasn't in her persona. I had done a bit of work on it and had several verses written for it.

 I touch up-edited the lyrics a bit to make it fit the music, but all-in-all it fell together pretty well. I figured Dani might want to give it another look, but we became too busy with gigs, projects, and life. A few months later I picked up lyric/chord sheet and canvased the entire song, thinking it could use another verse, or something? After going through it, Epiphany#2 struck me: This song, “Smile” is done and it had been done for quite some time, I just didn't realize it! It was akin to "Can't see the forest for the trees". I filed it with BMI in 2018. 

All songs are given to us, as writers. This one came in stages, but it got here! Additionally, it was kind enough to allow me to put my name as the songwriter. Thank you to the power of the universe for including me!

Time waits for no one. but it waited for "Smile!" for thirty-six years!

Hopefully we can get it recorded sooner rather than later.
                                                            Cajun Rehm - Smile with Cajun!!

© 1983/2015/2018 by Christopher R. Rehm BMI

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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

What to Do and Not to Do in Key West

If you want to know what to do and what not to do in Key West, it's most likely best to touch base with someone who lives here year 'round. I'm in my twelfth year living in Key West and it's often funny when I hear visitors giving other visitors suggestions on what to do. Sometimes they are right and other times I'm thinking “No! You really don't want to do that!

Here are some “Do's and Don't's :-)

Rule #1 Relax. I see so many people running here and there trying to stick 10 hours into 6  hours of a vacation afternoon. They're not in Key West. At least their brains aren't. They're are still on that "Mainland Mentality". Lose the Mainland Mentality and switch to island time! If you have six hours to spend in an afternoon, schedule three and leave three for just hanging out. This is the most important rule.

After that:

If following a golf cart do not believe their turn indicators! Golf carts turn signal indicator switches do not return and the operators often forget to return them to off.

Do not drive in Key West. Parking is a major pain in the ass and expensive. If you drive to get here, park the car in your hotel/motel/guest house's parking and the next time you get in it, is when you leave to go back home. If you do park in the public parking lots, or on the street, we recommend taking the course at the college on Stock Island on how to use the parking meter machines. The course will take a semester to complete. Fortunately, you can take it on line. Once you've completed the course, your next objective, once you have actually found a place to park your car (Congratulations!) and you're standing in front of the machine, or rather "Pay Station" as they cost about eighty grand I imagine, and for eighty grand you need a fancy, sophisticated name for it, right? Now, you've just gotten your degree learning how to use it, your next challenge is  being able to see what the machine says. 

This can be far more difficult than the course you just took, which, by the way, you get no college credits for, nor, more importantly, parking credits. The machines are from Switzerland. In Switzerland they have these things called “The Alps”, which, in the event you didn't know, are very, very high mountains. High mountains cast shadows. In Key West, our idea of a mountain is the Palm Avenue overpass. This doesn't qualify, regretfully. What we do have in Key West is an abundance of extremely bright sunshine! After alcohol, that's a main draw for tourism. When the sun hits these parking machines readout windows, you can't see anything. They hit the machines from  dawn 'til dusk, by the way. When you took your course, you learned that the first window you may have wanted was the hourly window. And having passed the course, you learned that the position of the hourly window, once activated, switches places and it's old spot is now the access for “The Maximum”, which is all day and about the equivalent dollar amount for a fine dining dinner for two. While you've been appraised of this sinister little card trick in the course you just took, the problem you have now is that you can't see the screen at all and putting your credit card in there is akin to playing Russian Roulette if you risk just pushing buttons randomly. What you will see are people crouched over with their hands over their eyebrows as a makeshift visor, with a disjointed, off angular, look on their face with their mouths hung open in complete ajar bewilderment. My recommendation is that while you're taking the on line course from the Florida Keys Community College (local name FKCC) on how to operate the parking machine, practice this stance at home. A full length mirror is the only way to go. Dress the part as well. Put on your sandals, shorts, T-shirt, guayabera, or flowered shirt, so you actually feel like you're doing it in Key West! Crouch over with that supremely awkward look on your face with your hand shading your eyes. We call this "The Key West Parking Grunt and Crouch", or in the best of local lingo KWGC! This will make you feel like you belong at that machine! 

Take your credit card with your other hand and practice putting it in the machine. Bear in mind that the card is awkward to put in and pull out. The idea is to just slide in and out. ... that's almost impossible. Newbees stick it in and leave it. You don't want to do this, but the machine is so awkward that often your fingers hit the top, side, or bottom of the credit card insert and your card gets left behind. It's no problem to retrieve it at all, but you may have to swipe it again, or even use a different card "Cannot read card" may pop up. So practice this too in front of the mirror! Have your significant other photograph you, so you can study and refine your look. Also, it's very, very important to practice Key West Parking Machine vernacular. Don't worry! They have a course in the college for this too! Lets try just a few typical phrases heard at the machines. “What is going on with this thing?” “I can't see what it says” “Does anyone here know what's going on with this thing?”. After several minutes this advances to a more sophisticated vernacular “What the hell is going on with this F#@%*&# thing, anyway?!!!” or, “Who bought these %$#@!&$#;^ things anyway???” “I only wanted an hour and this G0$#*&$%;@( thing just charged me a full F$#&%#;*%@ day!!!” You can also practice pounding your fist on top of the machine in frustration. Kicking it is likewise a favorite popular pastime. You really don't want to do either of these too hard because if you actually break it, the city can most likely see your face from the machine itself and have you tracked down, arrested, thrown in jail, and charged around $80.000.00 for a new machine.

Of course, the other option is to leave your car at the hotel.

The Conch Train and the Old Town Trolley are a fabulous source for learning historical Key West! One of Key West's main attractions is it's history and these tours are overflowing with Key West history. Do this! If you like you can wear a Groucho Marx glasses and mustache, if you don't want people to recognize you. That's okay! Just do yourself a favor and take the Conch Train or the Trolley!

Conch Train

Old Town Trolley

During “season” the hospital opens up an entire wing to cater to injuries and medical issues tourists unfortunately run into. One of the biggest causes of injuries is scooter accidents. Suggestion: be familiar with how to operate a scooter before you rent one.

Depending on your source of information, Key West sits one-hundred and ten miles (or more) out to sea. Get out on the water! Fishing charters are abundant, both deep sea and flats fishing. Water activities are in plenty with various activity excursions throughout the day. Check them out at offices and kiosks on Key West Bight! Additionally, sunset sails go out every day and offer libations gratis!

The local nickname for the pool at bar that starts with a D on the dock is “The Petri Dish” Hummmm. No, I've never gone in.

I often joke about The Hemingway House and say “I hate the Hemingway House” to people and when they ask why, my reply is “Because they won't let me move in!” This is of course met with laughter, however, the fact is the Hemingway House is both stunning and historical. Personally, I think it's the most beautiful house on the island. That says an awful lot because there are about 9000 homes on the island that rate a 10+. Go to the Hemingway House, take the tour. I can vouch for Rusty Hodgdon and Boston Bob, both of whom give great tours. The others may as well be fabulous as well, I just don't know them.

Use common sense if you're on a bicycle. Many people who come to town and rent bikes haven't been on one in twenty or thirty years. If this is you, ride on the side roads before venturing out on the more busy streets and get acclimated safely with riding again. On busy streets, such as Duval, Whitehead, Simonton, Truman, Eaton, Fleming, Southard, if you're riding with friends, ride in single file! Pay no attention to the southern part of Whitehead being permitted for bicycles being allowed to ride next to each other. This is nonsense. About 70% of the automobile/SUV/Truck drivers on the road at any time are not from here. 70% or more of them, don't know where they are going. It's true. They are trying to figure it out. They don't have a clue and are not looking where they are driving, but rather looking at street signs, or are fascinated at the beautiful house their passenger just pointed out. They turn the wrong way up one way streets, they are not paying attention to speed limits, most are lost....Consider the odds. One human being on a bike vs a 3000 – 6000lb vehicle. Know your odds and what you're doing. Be careful!

"I feel terrible officer! I was just driving along and I saw this man in a tutu with feathers in his hair and a boa when suddenly this bicyclist was on my windshield!.... What? I was going the wrong way on a one way street? This is a one way street? 😧....."

The Butterfly Conservatory. Don't even ask, just go here. You'll be amazed!


The best way to catch sunset in Key West is on a boat. See above.

After that, on the island there are some fabulous locations. My favorite is Ft. Zachery Taylor. There are no obstructions whatsoever. This is a state park. No alcohol is allowed to be brought in. Also, the park closes at sunset. So once it sets, it's done and it's time to leave. Sunset Pier is very good, as is Sunset Tiki in The Galleon.

In Key West, please use caution. Red lights mean Stop, Green lights mean Go. Again, bear in mind that most of the traffic here is not from here and the vast majority of them are LOST and looking at everything except where they are going.

Have fun and be safe!

Thank you for reading my blog!!! The blog takes approximately six hours to put together. Essentially it's a labor of love, as there is no monetary compensation. So, please check out my music and books and if you enjoyed reading the blog, you may enjoy the books, and/or my music! Thanks! Chris.

Please check out The Shanty Hounds NEW LIVE RELEASE!!!

Unleashed! Live at Grunts – Key West”

A true, authentic sound of Key West

Also available at:

iTunes Store

Please check out my book "Time Traveler - The Oddities and Adventures of a Key West Bartender". Follow Mark Straight's continuing journey and friendships from current Key West, back to historical Key West and elsewhere!

 Order paperback or download here! Paperback comes with a free download!

 26 Five-Star ratings!

Also, my first book, Bar Stories, is now available in paperback!

Available on Amazon! 18 Five-Star ratings!

Also, here's more of music here at iTunes!

Thursday, October 24, 2019

MOTM, Key West Live Music


Undoubtedly, Key West is one of the most unique and fascinating live music venues in the world. I don't say that lightly, either. This is not a statement made off the cuff. This is the reality. Here, on a mile and a half wide by four mile long tropical island, there are over sixty live music venues, and the vast majority of them are in a six block by four square block area.

                               The Hippie Band at Schooner Wharf Bar  10/23/2019

Dani Hoy and I, A.K.A. “The Shanty Hounds” yesterday played our 299th gig of the year and that was only October 23, the 296th day of the year. If we lived somewhere else, it would take us years to reach 299 gigs. We actually have a couple of days off and #300 is Saturday night at The Tipsy Rooster... at the end of line of the Fantasy Fest Parade!

One of the fabulous things here is that everyplace pays you to perform. They treat you like professionals. In contrast, Nashville, “Music City”, no one pays you to play. They play pretty much for tips. On the one hand, personally I think that's a disgrace. It's a complete disregard and disrespect for the performers, because as they don't pay them, it says they have zero value. The same can be said for audience members who don't offer gratuity.

Another fascinating thing is that in Key West, no place charges a cover! Several years back. My friend Vintz came to visit. We grew up together in New Jersey about 25 miles from NYC. Vintz was amazed! He said to me “I can't believe there's all this incredible music and you just walk in! There's no cover charge”. He's right, it is incredible!

I realize how very fortunate we are to live and make a living, playing music in Key West! Housing costs are through the roof, but we've been able to get by.

(We also do charitable work for worthy causes and we're currently giving a percentage of out tip jar to  for Hurricane Dorian relief of Green Turtle Cay (pronounce: Green Turtle Key), which on paper is our sister city, but the reality is that it's our mother city.

It's always vital to give back. Good Karma!)

I've stated many, many times in the blog and social media, that the level of the vast majority of Key West musicians is the very top shelf. Trust me, when we have a great performance, it can be very humbling to hear the next player kick in! On the other hand, the bar is set higher and it's a mark to strive for.

Lets take a hypothetical: Lets say you go on vacation to Jamaica, or Trinidad. Would you seek out the local music scene, or would you prefer to hang at the hotel and listen to the piped in American music?

For those who would want to seek out local music, you're an adventurer and an explorer! We're kindred spirits. We like to get out of the safe cocoon and venture out! We live to explore to discover new things and see what's out there!

Welcome to The Conch Republic! “As the world’s first ‘fifth world’ country, we exist as a ‘state of mind’ and aspire only to bring more warmth, humor and respect to a planet we find in sore need of all three,” Sir Peter Anderson, Secretary General of the Conch Republic+

Yes, you're in a foreign country. The Conch Republic, A.K.A. The Florida Keys, of which Key West is the capitol, is a very unique country at that, in so many ways. This mile and a half by four mile tropical island sits over one hundred and ten miles out to sea. Some say more. Key West has a total land mass is 4.2 miles (11km). It's about 90 miles to Cuba, 155 miles to Miami, and the trip from Key West to outer space is about half the distance to the closest Wallmart. 😲 Tourists often ask if we accept American money. We, in fact, do! 👍 😀

So, you've traveled to this little island and we urge you to get out and discover local music! As I mentioned, the musicians here are fabulous!

"Who and Where in KW" is an excellent way to find local talent here and can be found on Facebook.

Understand, the local performers live, breath, and the blood that runs through their veins carries the true pulse of these islands. They ARE the island. If you want the real deal first hand, these are the performers to check out! If you're coming in for MOTM, be certain to check out one or two local performers while you're in town!

One last thing, please tip the performers! Rent here starts at over $2K per month.

As an example to go by:

One way of thinking of it would be in NYC a cover would be $20. Si, here. if you really liked the band, tip them $10, that's a fabulous deal! You got to hear fabulous music and paid them ½ what the cover is in NYC, plus it's actually better than that because if you were in NYC, you'd most likely tip them $10, or $20 anyway. So, in the end, tossing a Key West performer $10 saved you as much as $30 vs NYC! 😃

If you liked the performer, a $5 tip is good. 😉

It's interesting. We have a fair amount of homeless in Key West. It really touches me and means so much when they tip $1. I used to say “Oh no, that's okay don't worry about it”, but they always would not hear anything of my jabber and they would say “You made my day!”, or something to that effect. They had to sacrifice something to give up that dollar. That means a lot. 🙏

We are grateful to all!!! Thank you SO MUCH!

For this year's MOTM, here is The Shanty Hounds schedule

And DON'T forget Dani and Chris' MOTM After Party!! See ling to blog below!

Thank you for reading my blog!!!

Please check out The Shanty Hounds NEW LIVE RELEASE!!!

Unleashed! Live at Grunts – Key West”

A true, authentic sound of Key West

Also available at:

iTunes Store

Please check out my book "Time Traveler - The Oddities and Adventures of a Key West Bartender". Follow Mark Straight's continuing journey and friendships from current Key West, back to historical Key West and elsewhere!

 Order paperback or download here! Paperback comes with a free download!

 26 Five-Star ratings!

Also, my first book, Bar Stories, is now available in paperback!

Available on Amazon! 18 Five-Star ratings!

Also, here's more of music here at iTunes!