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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Vacationing In The Keys - Southernmost Coconut Castaways January Jump Up

Vacationing In The Keys – Southernmost Castaways Coconut Castaways January Jump Up

^Listen to “Raise My Glass To The Upper 48” while you enjoy the blog!^


If someone from, let’s say Chicago, wants to get away for a few days, where would they go? Depending on the time of year and what they’re looking for could result in a holiday in Vail, Colorado, The Grand Canyon, Yellowstone Park, New England, Florida, The Conch Republic, Washington D.C. New York City, Austin Texas.. the possibilities are endless, especially if the individual elects to spend that time within the United States.

So, here I am, living in the capital of the Conch Republic and I have an opportunity to take a few days off, what do I do? Well, pretty much the same as the aforementioned individual from Chicago, in that I’m staying within the boundaries of my own country… albeit the Conch Republic, that is :-D

For those not familiar with the Conch Republic, per say: The Conch Republic stretches from the Dry Tortugas, 70 (113Km) miles west of Key West, through the Marquesas islands, and on through Key West and up all of the Keys, extending 18 miles (29Km) up the mainland to the Last Chance Saloon, the first structure in Florida City. The State of Florida considers us part of Florida and the United States of America considers us part of the USA. Let it be stated, that as citizens of the Conch Republic, we are first and foremost very proud Americans! We also allow the State of Florida go on believing we are part of that state because they do things for our benefit, like maintain our bridges and roads. As long as people have lived in the Keys, when they had to travel to the mainland they would say “I have to go up to Florida”.

The fact is, the mentality here is entirely different than anywhere else in the world. I recall when I used to live in Cutler Bay, I’d `drive down to Key Largo, which was only about 35 miles (56Km) away, the great weight of the mainland’s stress suddenly lifted off of my shoulders. That eighteen mile stretch from the Last Chance Saloon to Key Largo was such a cool ride too! First, the drive through the Everglades which would gradually transform bit by bit, into the Keys.

I naturally spent quite a bit of time in the upper Keys back then, Key Largo, Tavernier, and Islamorada so I know it somewhat well. Therefore, with the option of leaving the big city of Key West and all the hussle and bustle that goes on here, where do I want to go for a few days off? I wanted to go someplace that actually is Laid Back. I packed up the dogs and headed to a marvelous place in Key Largo, Sunset Cove Beach Resort, which sits bayside on the southbound lane of US1 (the only road that runs through the Keys). They have a beautiful beach, with four tikis. The grounds also had a large tiki hut with a bar that would be ideal for larger groups. This place was what I call “Old Keys”, while it had all modern conveniences; the place itself was most likely built in the 40’s or 50’s. Robin, the manager, whom I’m guessing hails from South Africa, judging by his accent, was just a pleasure to work with as well.

Everyone’s different, but damn, if I want to stay in a modern motel, I can go up to the mainland and get a sterile room at a Holliday Inn. Hell, if I’m in the Keys, I want history and character! Besides, the room was spotless, had a refrigerator, micro wave, and a large flat screen TV/DVD player. Myself, I only used the ‘fridge. Other rooms were available with full kitchens, btw.

I met a charming couple on the beach my first morning, Ellie and Richard. Their home was severely damaged up in Mass. in Hurricane Sandy and had been at Sunset Cove for six weeks. They are there for about another month while repairs were being done. Now these folks had the right idea! They were up early, had breakfast at a place almost right next door, Mrs. Mac’s, then headed to the beach, where they would spend the entire day just absorbing the beautiful tranquility and scenery of sail boats anchored just off shore, glistening in the sun reflecting off the water, while meeting new people every day. I didn’t ask, however this seemed to be their daily routine. They were always quick to offer a beer or a cocktail as well.

Richard made a statement that stuck with me. “Life is made from good memories. You may change places, but the memories where you’ve been and the people you’ve met will always be with you. We love it here”


Exactly !

As in all things Keys, the sunsets are outstanding. Key Largo sits on Blackwater Sound to its west. This is the exact same body of water that Humphrey Bogart motored out of, in the Bogart/Bacall movie “Key Largo”, held at bay by Edward G. Robinson’s character, the gangster Rocco, albeit just up the coast a few miles or so (that movie was filmed at the Caribbean Club, MM104). Sunset is always something to relish in the Keys, no matter where you are!


As sunset was approaching, a beautiful young woman headed out on the water on a paddle board. After she was out maybe seventy five yards, she started doing yoga on the paddle board! I know I surely would have gone overboard, however watching her I realized that at least for myself, I’ve never seen anyone do yoga on a paddle board. She was obviously very well versed with it! Additionally, sufface to say from the picture, it’s working!


In short, Sunset Cove is HIGHLY recommended!

Heading home on Tuesday I had a part in the Southernmost Coconut Castaways January Jump Up, which this month was being held at Mangrove Mama’s, MM20 on Overseas Hwy. What a great time that was! Mangrove Mama’s was originally a Railroad Station back when the Overseas Highway existed, between 1912 and 1936, before a severe hurricane wiped out the upper section of the railway in Islamorada, at the cost of over 600 lives of railway workers. Mangrove Mama’s is a great place and the event had Captain Ron, Captain Josh, Myself, and Howard Livingstone playing. The Southernmost Castaways are a splendid group of people as well, do gooders who know how to have a good time as well! Thanks Everyone!

(Regretfully, my camera somehow lost the pictures I took at the event. :-(     )

All the best from Key West!

Key West Chris CD “Shanghai’d and Marooned in Key West (things could be worse” is available for download on iTunes, Beachfront Radio, CD Baby, CD Universe, and Rhapsody. Physical copies are available at Greenworld Gallery Key West, The Cork And Stogie (Key West), The Key West Bait Shop, CD Baby and CD Universe Search “Key West Chris”

“Chris, I really loved your music !” Shelly Liebowitz (Producer of Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Dr. John, Maria Muldaur, Ray Brown..ex)


Sunday, January 13, 2013



^Listen to “Key West Blues” while reading the blog! ^


It’s been reported that Key West has had its busiest Christmas/and New Years!  It was reported that on December 30 and 31 the reported occupancy rate in Key West was at 99% The rest of the Keys hotels/motels were 97% occupied for New Years! Additionally, spending was up as well! Even by January 5th, occupancy in Key West was at 95% and the rest of the Keys at 93%
It goes to show that my daily postings of pictures on Facebook, both on my personal page, as well as my music fan page, and not forgetting this blog, along with a CD that is made with the soul of the Keys in it… is doing some good! HA HA HA!! :-D  

On a sad note, my friend Jeep Caillouet was at Two Friends restaurant having a beer, when they started their karaoke night. One guy visiting from out of town,  got up to sing “Margaritaville”. According to Jeep, after about 35 seconds the poor guy collapsed and died on the spot.  No suffering, no nothing. It was very sad indeed though. However, on the bright side, he passed having fun in Key West. Myself, I’ll continue steering clear of singing Margaritaville….  and frequenting karaoke bars.

 I’ve been writing for my follow up CD to “Shanghai’d and Marooned In Key West (things could be worse)” for a bit now. It’s tough! Not so tough to write, per say but rather to figure out what will be used and what will be put on hold. One of the standards I go by, and which I did with Shanghai’d, is that I hate CDs that everything sounds the same. I’ve picked up a bunch of CDs this year, some of which were nominated for various awards, yet  by the third song, I’m cutting it off and moving on. It’s not that the songs are bad, but rather to my ear, they sound too similar. Different songs, even different rhythms, yet they have the same feel to them. Each song can stand on its own, but not collectively on a CD where everything else has a similar sound. Often one can blame the producer, other times the artist themselves.
 On Shanghai’d,  I strived to move away from that and we succeeded one way by writing songs in different root genres. This wasn’t something different for me, or unusual. However, for the CD we used Afro Cuban/Motown, Jazz, Funk, Country, South Seas Polynesian, Rock, Southern Rock, Barrel House Blues, Brazilian, and Bahamian were all utilized on the one album. Also, we used eighteen different musicians, all Key West locals, who are second to none.  Some musicians played on some songs, others on different songs. . Consequently, nothing sounds the same at all.  Of course the Coup de Gras was having Key West producer/engineer, and sound man,  Dan Simpson produce it, as well as engineer it. That was a main critical point.
So, when a record producer from Los Angeles, who produced Miles Davis, Ella, Dr. John, Maria Muldauer… stops and takes his time to write to say “Chris, I LOVE your CD!” that says everything!  It’s one thing if a guy on a barstool says he loves the CD. It means a whole lot to me anyway. However, when a producer of that magnitude says something so complementary, it’s like getting shot out of a cannon! It also tells me that the formula WORKED!

So, now I’m looking at a follow up. Do I use the same formula? Do I change it? Well, a little of both actually. It won’t be the same as Shanghai’d because Shanghai’d’s already been done and said what it had to say. What it will do is follow the formula of every song sounding different. Some musicians will remain the same, some will change. One thing is for sure, there is a plethora of outstanding musicians here in Key West to choose from!
Engineer/Producer Dan Simpson will again be called on to twist the dials… who else in Trop Rock has Miles Davis’ producer write to say he loves the product?  Really? That’s a no brainer, it’s even common sense to a complete idiot. Seriously, if a poll were taken by professionals in the music industry rating the independent releases in Trop Rock, “Shanghai’d and Marooned in Key West (things could be worse)” would win hands down in the best production category, and that’s solely because of Dan Simpson and Private Ear Recording. Dan is above top notch and in a class of his own. Plus, he and I just plain work well together. This upcoming one with be our third project together.
With Shanghai’d one of the objectives was also to bring to Trop Rock some things that have never been utilized before. I recall DJ Jeff Allen telling me several times how he loved the clarinet in “The Beach!!!!”. We also had the regular Bass player, Bubba Lownotes, play not only his upright acoustic orchestral bass, but also his Tuba, on “Dildo Key” giving the song a mercurial humorous mirth to it, yet not to the point where when you hear it for the fifteenth time, it’s like an old joke.
I already have a couple of collaboration songs in the hopper, “Marvin Key”, written with my friend Rick Hogan and “Yippie Cayo Hueso”  a saying borrowed from and credited to my friend Key Largo Joe Gowran. If time and opportunity prevail, Misty Loggins and I will also collaborate on both writing and recording more things as well.

More news as it develops!