Monday, March 22, 2010
Louie’s Backyard has been a famous, fine dining eatery for decades. Apparently, this last week they had a very boisterous patron, who when the bartender requested him to “keep it down”, demanded to know who sicked the employee on him. According to The Citizen, another patron stood up and proclaimed it was he who issued the complaint. As luck would have it, other patrons likewise became involved in the altercation and it turned into a major fiasco! Reading the report in The Citizen, it sounded exactly like a Three Stooges melee! Imagine the possibilities if the pie cart was within reaching distance! To boot, apparently a lot of guests left without paying their bills as well. Or, perhaps the Wells Fargo armored truck required for paying the bills at Louie’s Backyard, was disenchanted when they saw the police cars there.
On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening I was fortunate enough to catch Alliens at both the Green Parrot and El Alamo. Jamiel, Janaih, and Zeph Allen are both brothers and cousin raised in Key West (now living in Virginia) and sons of Din and Woody Allen, core members of the Key West band Survivors. The apples didn’t fall far from the tree. These guys have their own island groove, rooted on Funk, Reggae, and Afro Cuban. On Thursday they completely tore the roof of the Parrot. The crowd, all of whom seemed to be acquainted with their father’s band, was strong and very enthusiastic. Friday at El Alamo, didn’t click as well it appeared. The sound is entirely different, being outside, so they were dealing with a different animal altogether. This may have also been the soundman not clicking with them as well. Friday however, they were on fire once again. Everything was hitting and falling into a serious groove. I had the pleasure of attending this gig with Melody Cooper and Deb Hudson, who witnessed these guys grow up (they’re in their twenties) as friends of their parents. It was a real hoot for them!
Meanwhile, Spring Break continues. It’s encouraging to see so many college students enjoying such good music all around the island.
Key West has an abundance of old Volkswagens. I’ll touch on that in a later blog, however I passed an outstanding Beetle Convertible on Olivia. Hat’s off to the folks who maintain such a beauty!
Sunday was an outstanding day in The Conch Republic and I got an early start. While walking the dogs down Amelia St, behind a solid wooden fence from a resident’s patio, emitted The Allman Brother’s song Jessica. It fit the day perfectly. Bright, sunny, and up beat. We’re off to a good start to the week!
Monday, March 15, 2010
Headed up to the KOA Campground on Sugarloaf Key (MM20) to catch The Dave Aaron Band. The KOA Campground is becoming quite a venue for music. Of course, they've always had music there, however it seems that they are focusing on more high profile events there as of late. Even the Miami Herald has done a piece on their musical explorations. I headed up there with friends Sheila, Mark, and John to catch Dave Aaron's band. Dave is an exceptional Country songwriter, as well as a great player/performer based in Key West and he didn't disappoint. The band was rock solid and in a very, remote way, akin to The Doors, as they use the keyboard doubling up as the bass. The Dave Aaron Band can often also be found in Key West on Saturday nights playing The Bull.
Saw my first Spring Breakers there as well enjoying the jacuzzi.
Miami's (Okay, Coral Gables)Albert Castiglia (say Ka STEEL Ya) was playing The Green Parrot Thursday and Friday. Albert recently earned Blues Song Of The Year from The Blues Foundation for his song "Bad Year Blues", edging out B.B. King, no less. This is the type of talent Key West attracts. Albert, of course, has been known over the years as a true virtuoso blistering guitarist. He originally got his professional start with Junior Wells, no less, back around 1997 or so. A credit to Albert's loyalty, to this day he pays homage to his mentor, at every gig Albert covers some of Junior's material. I've seen Albert for over fifteen years and his playing has never ceased to leave everyone awstruck... and it just keeps getting better and better! The one thing that doesn't get the accolades it deserves, is his voice. Albert's voice is exceptional. Over the years his voice has gone in leaps and bounds, from adequate, to good, to very, good, to great, to exceptional. He's worked hard over the years at it and it's paid off with dividends galore.
I brought some co-workers to the show and everyone was spellbound. He tours all over, so if he's in your area, don't miss him!
On Saturday I was a bit late getting out of the gate. I figured I'd ride over to my favorite outside bar, Schooner Wharf and catch a bit of Michael McCloud. I rode by the Waterfront Market, which is one of Wyland's Whaling Walls and to my surprise there was a black on black Porsche 911 Cabriolet, top down, parked there with Wyland's license plate on it. Never saw Wyland though.
Speaking of Wyland, artist Walfrido was in town from Hawaii, being the artist in residence at Wyland's gallery at 102 Duval. Exceptional artist indeed!
When I got to Schooner's at 2:45, the place was just absolutely packed. To my dismay, McCloud was wrapping things up.. he usually plays to 5pm. Nonetheless, I went in for a beer and sat at the bar. A guy next to me had a Jack Russell Terrier with him all alert and hanging at the bar with us. You've got to love a bar that allows dogs!!!
I didn't stay for the band. The drummer had a set up that looked like a jungle gym, and as good as they might have been, I was in the mood for something acoustic. I went over a block to Lands End to the Key West Bait And Tackle Shop. A well kept secret, here in Key West. No music, but true Olde Key West atmosphere! The burn artist Durf was there and the Bait and Tackle Shop had a brand new picnic table. Durf's often there and he saw it as a brand new canvas and started a burn right there and then. The owner,Chris, was grinning ear to ear! Durf is exceptional! I'll have more on him in a future blog. A couple of ice cold beers and Durf and I headed right next door to the Half Shell Raw Bar for some oysters. A sign over the door read "Sorry, No Pets Allowed" and right below it, inside laying peacefully on the floor, was a relaxing dog, tied to her master's chair at the bar.
I love this town!
Friday, March 5, 2010
As always, an interesting week in Key West! I noticed a lot of motorcycles in town, for one. We always have bikers here, however this was a lot more than usual. Mind you, it wasn't on the scale of the Poker Run in September, but it was about 5 times the usual amount. Turned out most of these folks were here as an excursion from Bike Week, up in Daytona. That's a 400+ mile excursion! Just about all the folks that I met were down from way up north. Maine, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan...ex. A bit cooler then they wished for, but they all agreed it beats shoveling! The Hogs Breath was filled up with bikes as The Jonathan Birchfield Band, out of North Carolina, rocked the place with a four piece that included Drums, Bass, a Telicaster, and an open tuned slide Strat/standard tuned Teli. These guys had a great sound and rocked the joint. Their cover of Statesboro Blues was the highlight for me. Yeah!
Thursday I rode up the street from my place for a quiet beer at The Green Parrot. Well, sometimes the best laid plans go to waste. Waste is the wrong word actually. Just got tossed a bit of a curve ball.. a good curve ball, mind you. When I approached I heard a live Blues band playing with a distinct New Orleans sound. As it turned out, they played blues, but also a bunch of other genres as well. Another four piece unit, The Honey Island Swamp Band. Being a guitar player myself, I naturally gravitate to the lead player. Chris Mule, on lead and slide, played a Strat and did everything so tastefully it was Gumbo for the ears. The Bass player, Sam Price, was funky and quite animated. Not overly animated, but when he played you knew this guy was doing what he loved best and was having the time of his life. Aaron Wilkinson shared lead vocals with Chris Mule and played a Telicaster, acoustic Epiphone, and surprise, surprise, mandolin! The drummer, Garland Paul, had the bayou in his soul and rolled out a rhythm that had the entire place jumping. What a great band! I'm planning on a return visit tonight.
Sticking to the music front, I guess I can announce that I'm preparing to do an album of my own in the coming months! It will be a geographic-specific focused CD. In other words it will be focussed on the Keys with every song. I will most likely use three songs that I recorded at Dan Simpson's Private Ear Studios last summer, Garrison Bight, Live Aboard, and Life On My Terms. Garrison Bight is self explanatory. Live Aboard is based on a fictitious Live Aboard who got tossed out of Boot Key Harbor in Marathon a few years back and Life On My Terms is about my cousin who wanted to move back this way from the mainland. The working title is "Shangai'd and Marooned in Key West (things could be worse)". Musical styles ranging from Rock, ballads, Brazilian Bossa Nova, Blues, Funk, Bahamian, and who knows what else? As a songwriter first and foremost, it's an open book of styles and stories awaiting to be un-vialed. It should be fun and working with Dan Simpson is always a true pleasure.
A quick note of appreciation and tip of the hat to Mr. Doug Bennett, for giving the link to this blog's piece on the Best Bars in Key West, on his blog "This Week On The Island". Mr. Bennett's blog is a fantastic weekly overview on the goings on here in Key West. Highly recommended. Thanks Doug!
I met with Sir Peter Anderson, the Secretary General of The Conch Republic, a couple of weeks back. Sir Peter is a treat to share time and space with being both a true intellect, as well as quite a whit at the same time! It's a rare combination when one can stimulate your gray matter and have you laughing as you realize "What he's saying makes a lot of sense!". Anyway, I asked Sir Peter a question I'd meant to ask him many times before, but always forgot about when the time was at hand. Of course I knew that Mel Fisher had been the King of the Conch Republic, but I also knew that since his passing in 1998, there has not been a successor to the throne. So, I asked Sir Peter why there was no new King. His answer was "Well, Mel Fisher is still the King". I must admit, I was taken aback with his answer. However, almost as quickly as I was taken aback, I realized what a great situation this is, from so many angles.