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Friday, December 26, 2014

The Green Parrot, Notable Blogs of the Year, Grazie Italia, Happy New Year!

Happy Merry Christmas From Key West!

^ listen to “Happy Merry Christmas From Key West!” while you read the blog!^

Download the song for less than a dollar ($.99) at Dani’s site

The Green Parrot

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In a recent blog we spoke about the Green Parrot having it's floor re-done. There was some concern that the original character and feel of the old floor ran the risk of being lost. After all, the Green Parrot is a classic and historic Key West  venue, dating back to 1890! On the flip side, it was also stated that the management is top notch at the 'Parrot and had foresight and integrity to keep it authentic.

Well, the floor was completed and the result was....

Perfect! If you were to come to town before and after the job, you'd most likely never know it. Hats off to manager/owner John Vagnoni, who continues to ensure that the Parrot retains it's original character and feel over his years at the helm. Thank you John and company!

Of course, The Green Parrot was ranked the #1 in the most current  “ Absolute Ten Best Bars in the Keys” for reasons like this.

Most Popular Blogs of 2014.

I’m basing the most popular blogs of the year, not on views, but rather on “+1”s and comments. Having stated that, with blogspot, it’s really a bit of a pain in the ass to do so. If you don’t have a google account, you can’t do it. I figure if someone makes a comment, there are ten more who would, they just don’t want to go through the effort of starting a new email account. I’d do likewise.

So #1 with 20 +1’s and three comments is “Visiting Key West (part one)”

Next up with #2 was “The Bucket List, The Dry Tortugas! Fort Jefferson with eleven +1’s and three comments.

#3 with ten +1’s was “In The Presence of Greatness” where I had the honor of playing several of my own songs for world class author William Wright, poolside at his home, here in Key West.

#4 with eight +1’s was “Key West! The MOTM Adventure Part 2)” which included the two day drive we took from Key Largo to Key West

#5 was a tie both having seven +1’s. were “MOTM Part 3 and Must Do’s in Key West”

And also one from earlier this week, which is actually remarkable as it’s less than a week old, was “Richard Crooks - Father Time”. A sad blog which dealt with the passing of Richard Crooks, who was widely regarded both in Key West, as well as New York City, where he spent thirty years as both a studio musician and touring drummer.As this blog is less than a week old, it very well may change before the end of the year as far as +1s go.

A required mention is the blog with, far and away, the most views of the year,”Art, Music, Writing …. and more in Key West!” with more than double the amount of views than it’s nearest blog!


To My Friends in Italy!!! Ai miei amici in Italia!!!  Grazie Italia!!!!

Ai miei amici in Italia! Sto facendo questo attraverso un traduttore, quindi perdonatemi se non è in perfetto italiano. Voglio esprimere, grazie a tutti voi personalmente per aver letto il mio blog costantemente durante tutto l'anno! Dopo gli Stati Uniti, si dispone di gran lunga, il più alto vista di questa blog.In molti casi, si hanno avuto più punti di vista rispetto agli Stati Uniti. Mentre questo blog ottiene vista da tutto il mondo, ho sentito la necessità di grazie personalmente per il vostro patronato leale e coerente. Grazie a tutti in Italia !!!!

Happy New Year!

I may be back before the new year, but if not I wish you all, the absolute best new year of your life!

As I write this on December 26th (the day after Christmas, at this moment 10:52 EST, this blog has 99,851 views and should clear 100,000 within the next 48 hours.

Thank you all for your interest in this blog, Key West, the music of Key West, and the happenings and silly stuff that goes on here. I very much appreciate your support!

All the best from Key West!

“Key West Chris” Rehm

To obtain my music:

My CD is available on iTunes, CD Baby, CD Universe, Rhapsody, and Beachfront Radio.
Search: Key West Chris

Thank you everyone!!

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Few Holiday Songs From My Friend Scott Alan!

A Few Holiday Songs For The Season!

Over the last few years, I’ve come to the conclusion that my friend Scott Alan, originally from Boston, also Berkley College of Music graduate, is by far, my favorite Christmas musician! He’s also as good a friend as can be! In addition to being a master musician, he’s also known as “The Shot Doctor”  Be sure to check him out at:

Scott Alan doing the 1949 song Mele Kamikimaka with his friend Paul Christensen

Scott Alan doing “Let Those Sleigh Bells Ring Tonight”

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Scott Alan!

Be sure to check out Scott Alan, at

Get yourself a Shot Doctor!

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(The Shot Doctor, Scott Alan,
off of Key West aboard the sailboat “Transition” administering his Shot Doctor)

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( The Shot Doctor with the author, utilizing the shot doctor)

Be the first on your block to have a “Shot Doctor”!

Buy a few for a party! !!!

Thank You  for reading the Blog!

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah, and Happy New Year!!!

To obtain my music:

My CD is available on iTunes, CD Baby, CD Universe, Rhapsody, and Beachfront Radio.
Search: Key West Chris

Friday, December 19, 2014

Richard Crooks A.K.A. Father Time

Richard Crooks, A.K.A. “Father Time”

“Father Time”. That’s what engineer/producer Dan Simpson referred to drummer extraordinaire,  Richard Crooks as. That's where I leared of the name first, though it was bestowed on him years earlier in New York.  We lost Richard December 16th. The finest musicians in Key West all said Richard was the best of the best. A Californian, Richard actually came to Key West via New York City, where he spent something in the vicinity of thirty years, as the “go to” drummer for everyone.

“Everyone”. Who’s this “everyone” anyway? Now I can’t say, because I don’t honestly know, but maybe Richard did play in a jazz trio in Battery Park on Sunday afternoons. Maybe yes, maybe no. What I can say is that Richard played and recorded with a plethora of  people, such as  Dylan, Paul Simon, Lowden Wayneright III, David Bromberg, Odeta,... the list goes on and on.

Richard was kind enough to play on my album “Shanghai’d and Marooned in Key West (things could be worse)”. He also played drums on my song “Island Blue”, which will be on my next album,  “Jump Into De Fiya!”. The memories of recording with him, as well as getting to know him, will always stay in my memory fondly. It will always be a great honor for me. Having said that, Richard was often the first to laugh and always had a fantastic, easy going, personality. You couldn’t help but love the guy! Either at the recording sessions we were involved in, or just shooting the breeze, there was always great fun and camaraderie involved!

(Listen to Richard Crooks’ silky smooth brush work on “Raise My Glass To The Upper 48”)

However, Richard was always the most professional player I’ve played with. Before we recorded my album, I gave everyone who was going to play on it an acoustic demo that I recorded, so that they could learn the songs. Now mind you, the entire crew were first rate musicians. When we got into the studio, more often than not it became a musician saying to me “Woh! Wait a minute, what the hell did the song do there?” to which I replied “I gave you the demo recording, and the chord sheet that went along with it. Didn’t you listen to it? Then they would say “Well, I was thinking your stuff was like that other Trop Rock guy...…” and I would reply “No, my stuff isn’t like his or anyone else's. My stuff has chord changes that are not the norm. They go off the beaten path, but manage to flow quite naturally.  That’s why I took the time and money to record and give you the recording and lyric/ chord charts, so you wouldn’t be learning the damn song in the friggin' studio.”

Richard, on the other hand, didn’t arrive in the studio cold turkey figuring he’s just knock it out, never listening to the demo to begin with. No, Richard not only listened to the arrangement demos, but he also charted out each and every song.

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(Richard Crooks viewing the music chart while recording “Shanghai’d and Marooned in Key West ( things could be worse)”

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It was kind of funny, somehow I managed to pretty much get it all right on my stuff, but there were two or three times when something was not quite the way it was presented by myself. Richard would say “So this is supposed to go another measure, you’re saying?”. I’d “Well, yeah, that’s my mistake Richard”. Then I’d get the look and he’d go back to his self made chart and make the correction and give me “the look” again.

It wasn’t a bad look, but more akin to a teacher sitting at their desk giving you the same look after you made a mistake on a paper. What it was, was a look that taught you. One that you learned from.

Then, with an upbeat tone he’s say “Okay, lets go!” One definitely learned when you  worked with Richard. Everyone did. Once he made his point, it was over and time to move on with a good spirit and vibe, because if the spirit and vibe weren't there, the entire session would be spinning it's wheels. That was the antithesis of what Richard Crooks was all about.

Richard was modest, to a “T”. Yes, he played with Dylan and Paul Simon, and a myriad of others. However, he wouldn’t volunteer that at all. He wasn’t the type to pipe up and blow out “Oh! Yes! I’ve played with Dylan! I’ve also played with Paul Simon! You should have been to the session I did with David Bromberg and the tour that followed!”

No, that wasn’t Richard at all. If you asked him, he'd be more than happy to share his stories and anecdotes. they were always peppered with humor and mirth. However, those stories never surfaced unless requested.

Knowing he was from California, I asked him if he ever played in the San Francisco bay area. HA HA! I then learned that he had played during the Summer of Love (1967), played the Filmore and many other gigs in a band that played with The Grateful Dead, the Jefferson Starship, Quicksilver Messenger Service.. the list went on! The point being, all you had to do with Richard ws ask.

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(Richard Crooks arrives at the San Carlos Institute in Key West to record “Shanghai’d and Marooned in Key West (things could be worse)”

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(Richard on the brushes… and loving it! Hear this song above "Raise my Glass To The Upper 48")

Here’s an amazing thing about Richard Crooks. When we were finished with the rhythm tracks, (Bubba Low Notes, played the bass at the San Carlos Institute sessions along with Richard, by the way!), we went back to the studio to prepare for the other instruments, that would be added to the rhythm tracks. As it appears on the grid on the computer, there are the sound waves and every few inches there are vertical lines. These are the exact points of where the beat lies. As humans, no one is perfect. Inevitably, a musician is either a touch in front of the beat, or a touch behind the beat here and there on occasion. The engineer will move it digitally to compensate for the error. I’m talking about drums, however this can happen with all instruments.

Well, on all of Richard’s tracks, there was not one piece that Dan had to move. Not one. Ten tracks, all perfect, to a “T”! Engineer/Producer Dan Simpson said “This is the way it always is with Richard. It’s unbelievable. He’s like this all the time. That's why I call him 'Father Time'!”.

My life long friend, Vintz McKeon, came to Key West a few years back. Vintz and I had been in bands together until I left New Jersey and moved to Florida when I was twenty one. Vincent is an extraordinary drummer, based in New Jersey, not too far from NYC and is in the city very often catching music shows of all sorts of genres over the years. From the Allman Brothers, to Charles Mingus, to The Band, to Tower of Power, to James Taylor, to Miles Davis. He’s also active, playing with a band named “The Harmony Brothers” for the last several years. When Vintz heard Richard, he was in awe.

(Richard on "Mile Zero" off "Shanghai'd and Marooned in Key West (things could be worse") 

I had never played with Richard, up to the point of recording, but playing with him on the rhythm tracks was just a natural. It was like riding on a magic carpet. It was just, flat out perfect.

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We’re all going to miss Richard immensely and anyone who either heard him play, or played with him, is truly blessed. Every player he ever played with, and even those who didn’t, learned so much from Richard Crooks, we’ll be forever in debt.

("Island Blue" featuring Richard Crooks on drums)

Guitarist Larry Baeder mentioned to me the day after Richard's passing that the entire music fraternity in New York City was mourning. I can tell you that so is the one in Key West.

Godspeed Richard. Thank you so much for sharing, not just your talent and knowledge, but even more so, your marvelous life itself with all of us.

Key West is so grateful you chose to be part of this island.

My most sincere condolences go out to his wonderful wife Nina and his entire family.

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( Richard enjoying life, playing and recording naturally)

to view some of what Richard has recorded over the years check this link;

To obtain my music:

My CD is available on iTunes, CD Baby, CD Universe, Rhapsody, and Beachfront Radio.
Search: Key West Chris

Thank you everyone!!


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Happy Merry Christmas From Key West!

Happy Merry Christmas From Key West!

Well we’re officially in the holiday season as I write this on December 17th. Over the years people have asked me if I ever wrote a Christmas song and the answer was always the same. No. Not that I had anything against Christmas, mind you. It’s just that the expense of making a recording just never justified it, in my way of thinking.

Well, not too long ago I came into a new computer and the main purpose of it would be used for our two podcasts, plus recording. Suddenly the cost of recording went down. Then, about a week ago or so, the idea of me actually writing a Christmas floated into my head.

My girlfriend Dani had mentioned wanting to write a Christmas song for a long time. She’d bring it up again now and then. Also, my pal Bobby DeVito had just moved back into town and we’d been talking about doing some things together as well.

So, I’m standing in my kitchen, thinking nothing about writing a Christmas song, when all of the sudden a melody floats into my head. I grab my guitar and play it. A total of two chords. me? Two chords? Heck, one song on my upcoming album, a song called “Seaplane” has been accused of being the Trop song with the most chords ever, with twenty four. My song Island Blue has fourteen.

The way I usually write a song is to come up with a melody first. Music is the foundation of a song after all. So, I wrote the first verse after I had the melody. Then I handed the song off to Dani and she wrote the second verse. We needed a bridge so I wrote the music and the first line of the bridge, Dani did the second, in addition to adding two chords to that portion of the bridge, which kicked it up a notch. Bobby wrote the third verse. I figured that it would work out best if we repeated the first verse at the end.

When we recorded it, everyone sang their own verse, Bobby and I both played guitars. Bobby also tossed a solo in for good measure. I changed the very ending to flat 7th 6/9 chord which Bobby dubbed “The Frank Sinatra Ending”! Bobby handeled the engineering aspect of it all, as well.

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As this is Key West, we ran it as a complete party atmosphere in the background, with all kinds of hooting and hollering with the three of us and our friend Schmegley. Even Cajun and Tooloulou, the dogs, chimed in with some barking!

The end result is a very fun recording and we’re offering it for sale for less than a dollar!!!!
We’re selling it only on Dani’s website. Here’s the link!

Happy Holidays from Key West!

Thanks for your support! and I very much appreciate everyone who stops by to read the blog!!!

“Key West Chris” Rehm

Monday, December 1, 2014

In The Presence of Greatness

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As performers in a tourist town, one is required to play songs that are virtually all upbeat. The tourists want to dance, or wave their arms in the air back and forth. If you go into a slower number, maybe a ballad, more often than not, those in the audience will start talking amongst themselves. If you play three slow songs in a row, they’ll pay their check and leave.

I’m certain that there is a market here for a small, intimate, cozy bar that would feature songwriters who could showcase their own songs, be they any tempo they like. So far, we haven’t seen one however.Smokin' Tuna makes a good effort in this direction, albeit in their early evening shift. I had been talking to a couple of people about setting up a place like this a couple of years ago, though unfortunately apparently both of their interest waned.

This last weekend I had the honor of being the guest of world-class author William Wright at his home, here in Key West.  Bill was very gracious to have Dani and I over. We’re very good friends with Chris Robinson, who is Bill’s friend and (assistant).  It was a very nice get together indeed. Chris’ girlfriend Kirstin was in town, plus, in addition it was Chris’ birthday!

We had a wonderful time at Bill’s beautiful home, as well. I barbecued some bratwursts and Dani made potatoes. Additionally, the dinner was peppered with some great anecdotes and fascinating conversation.

After dinner Bill said he’s like to hear Dani and I play some of our songs, out by the pool. Of my songs, we played “Sometimes We Tote The Load”, a duet that will appear on the album we’re about to start working on. Before we started playing, Dani gave an insight to one side of the song, which is about lugging everything around as a musician, gig to gig.

I actually wrote the song with a double entendre, so I then gave the other of side of it, being two musicians who are involved and going in separate directions on the road, due to gigs not being in the same place, however both always yearning to be together as soon as possible.

I think it's always very special when you have the time and intimate setting that affords the luxury of explaining how a song came about.

Was I nervous? Well, here’s a man who’s written eleven critically acclaimed books. Not one, but two biographies with none other than perhaps the greatest tenor of all time, Luciano Pavarotti.

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(William Wright and Pavarotti holding their first of two books together, "Pavarotti, My Own Story")

Lets just say, here was someone who would be listening to the actual lyrics and the story behind them.

This wasn’t a situation where someone in a bar will hear a hook in a song, then maybe a verse, before someone hollers in his ear about tomorrows endeavors, while handing him another cocktail in one hand and slapping him on the back with the other, then bursting out in a roaring fit of laughter. This wasn't a bar gig. This was a concert for three Bill, Kirstin, and Chris.

Yes, this was quite different. Bill was listening to every word. Additionally, Bill’s hearing is very, very keen. I realized this early on in the evening in conversation. Bill missed nothing. I knew when I played I’d have to be certain not to make any mistakes, or mumble lyrics. Here I was performing for an acclaimed author. The last thing I wanted to do was mumble incoherent words!

However, this was what, as a songwriter, I live for. I think you get the picture that this wasn’t just playing a guitar by the side of a pool while some 600 pound (275Kg) guy was doing cannonballs into the water. This was akin to being a student and having a recital in front of the Head Master. Bill, I don’t imagine, saw it that way. From start to finish Bill was easy to laugh and contributed a good amount of his own mirth to the evening. There was no pretentiousness whatsoever. Additionally, if I didn’t know who Bill was, he’d be the last person to blow his own horn. As far as I went however, I strived for my best performance.

In addition to “Sometimes We Tote The Load”, I also did “Liveaboard” and “Island Blue”, which Dani sang for me.

This was definitely a high point of the year musically for me. I considered it a great honor to play a few of my songs for Bill. On each song he was kind enough to give me his undivided attention.

Yeah, that’s an honor alright.

Thank you very much Bill.

Big thanks to Chris Robinson for putting this together!!! Thanks Chris!!

For books by William Wright, here’s a few links to Amazon:

To obtain my music:

My CD is available on iTunes, CD Baby, CD Universe, Rhapsody, and Beachfront Radio.
Search: Key West Chris

Thank you everyone!!

“Key West Chris” Rehm