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Featured Artist Interview – Key West Chris Rehm

Posted in Featured Artist of the Week, Pirates, Trop Rock Artists, Trop Rock Interviews | 3 Comments »


Our sit down interview with this week’s Featured Artist – (Key West Chris Rehm)

(TRB)Where are you based these days?
(KWCR) I’ve been in Key West now since 2008. I always tell people the same story, because it’s true: I only moved 138 miles (From Cutler Bay, Fl.) but I might as well have moved 13,800. It’s a whole different world here. The Conch Republic (The Dry Tortugas – The Last Chance Saloon in Florida City) is truly a country unto itself, with an entirely different state of mind. I’m very fortunate to live in the Capital of the Conch Republic, Key West.

(TRB)Do you have a Regular Gig where your fans can always find you?
(KWCR) At the moment I bounce around Key West and some of the other southern Keys, like Stock Island at The Hog Fish, or Geiger Key, which are six and ten miles up from Key West. It’s funny because sometimes I’ll hear out of towners calling other Keys “Key West”. Every Key is unique however. Like my friend Richard Van Der Mude said after he moved to Stock Island  “Stock Island is NOT Key West!” and that’s just the next Key north. Stock Island does have one of the most fascinating bars in the area however, The Hogfish Bar and Grill. I’m fortunate that I get to play there!

(TRB)Do you have any current projects in the works?
(KWCR) Yes. I’m currently writing for my next release. We recorded one song already, Island Blue, featuring Misty Loggins on vocals. Other songs slated for it are: Marvin Key, Yippie Cayo Hueso, Happy Hour, Key Western Swing, Waves, … maybe a few more from the archives, or if something suddenly pops out, which always happens as a songwriter! HA HA HA!

(TRB)What was your major influence for pursuing a career in Trop Rock?
(KWCR) I’m kind of an oddball in this regard. I’ve always enjoyed Jimmy Buffett and I actually play two of his songs (Havana Daydreaming and Son of a Son of a Sailor), however on a scale of one to ten, I’d have to say he’s around a seven or an eight as far as influences go. The thing I like about the Trop Rock genre is that there is so much room for growth! That’s what I focus on. For instance, my song “The Beach!!!!” is based on an Afro/Cuban rhythm and tosses in a Motown type bridge. I also tossed in Marty Stonley on clarinet.  DJ Jeff always tells me how that cracked him up because no one had ever used a clarinet on a Trop Rock song. However, as the song is Afro/Cuban based, the clarinet is quite common there.  On my song “Sailing” I used South Pacific influence. I often use chords that others don’t use, or perhaps are not familiar with. On “Sailing” the chords used are a Bb6/9 and aD6 and I use a very unusual inversion of a G Maj7. Also a Bm7+4.. not the usual chords you find around the block, but it gives with so little constraints and that’s what I love about Trop Rock and Conch Rock music!  I’m working on one song now that’s influenced by “Quintette du Hot Club de France”, which was Django Reinhardt and Stefan Grappelli’s  French jazz swing band from the thirties, forties and early fifties. I’ll change it around a bit with feel and instrumentation. Maybe a clarinet/jazz violin/ and … steel drum. But there is just another example of the open blank pages waiting to be written in the genre. There are so many new, uncharted paths available and I’m going after them!

(TRB)And the question everyone asks, with such a variance of answers. Who are/were your musical influences now and getting started?
(KWCR) No doubt after I’m done I’ll think “How could I have forgotten So and So???” The Allman Brothers and the Grateful Dead were major influences when I started playing guitar. To this day I play a lot of their songs. Frank Zappa was also an influence before and after that. Both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, naturally! My folks used to listen to a lot of Martin Denny, so I had that influence early on, subconsciously even. Antonio Carlos Jobim and all the offshoots from Brazil that played his music were huge influences for me. The Band, Dylan, Miles Davis, James Taylor, Bob Wills, Asleep at the Wheel, Willie Nelson, B.B. King, Albert King.. The list goes on and on!

(TRB)Who, if possible, would you like to perform with?
(KWCR) I did get to play with Dickey Betts, of Allman Brother’s fame; in 2004.That was a big thrill as he was always one of my guitar heroes. As I’m first and foremost a writer, for me it would be great to write with some people! Misty Loggins and I have plans, and there are superb writers within the genre as well. C.W. Colt is fantastic, as well as Howie, both of those guys are local too, so it’s convenient. Sunny Jim White is a word magician, Don Middlebrook, Swim Skinny, and John Friday all impress me too. I’ve always been a lone wolf as far as songwriting goes, so it would be a new adventure for me.

(TRB)What is the one place that you have on your Bucket List of Venues to play?
(KWCR) Here’s the thing about Key West and Barry Cuda put it best: Unlike most musicians who travel touring from gig to gig, in Key West, not only do you have the finest venues to play, but also, it’s the crowd that is doing the touring. Venue’s? Do they get any better than the Green Parrot, Smokin’ Tuna,The Hog’s Breath, Schooner Wharf, or The Hog Fish?  Of course the drawback is I miss out on the camaraderie that musicians share when playing events and consequently, I don’t get to know many Trop Rock artists personally. But the bottom line is I live in a town which is loaded with fantastic venues. Places that people who don’t live here, actually write songs about! HA HA! If I bubbled up and died tomorrow, my bucket list of venues to play has already been completed! I can check that one off.

(TRB)Tell us about your most memorable performance.
(KWCR) I was playing a regular weekly bar gig in Key Largo in 1996. I got there early, set up and had about forty five minutes before I was scheduled to play, so I sat at the bar, had a beer and talked to a friend. It was about 4:30 and the regulars had already arrived. One guy, who had lost both hands in Viet Nam asked me “Hey Chris! When are you starting to play?” I smiled naturally and mentioned in about a half hour, then continued my conversation my friend at the bar. About five minutes later, the guy comes up to me with about twenty bucks that, unbeknownst to me, he collected from the other patrons at the bar, in his hook hands and said “Will you start playing now?” . I got all choked up, but within fifteen seconds, you better believe, I was off that bar stool and cranking out my first song! That ranks as my highest compliment I’d have to say. Bumping right there with that though, was being invited to the Key West Songwriter’s Festival the last two years. I am a BMI writer and have been published in Nashville for over a dozen years. This is basically a BMI/Nashville event, with about 140 Nashville based songwriters who are the ones writing so many of the songs you hear done by the stars. So to be invited is a distinct, very, very big honor. This year only four local writers were in the show.

(TRB)What is the best way for your fans to stay in touch?
(KWCR) Facebook is certainly a great tool. I have both a regular page and a fan page. Search “Key West Chris” and you’ll find me there. I also write a blog called Key West Music and Happenings that covers both Music and what’s going on in Key West. It’s amazing all the hits I get from all over the world on that page. I also have my website, where we’re trying to cover some unbroken territory. With music downloads becoming the norm, consequently the listener no longer gets the information. Well, what I’m doing is putting art, lyrics, personnel, and a story behind how the song was written with every song on the website. Some songs even have the song with them.!/ChrisRehm09!/pages/Key-West-Chris-Music/130142130370276


Trop On!