No Direction Home

This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Speakeasy


September 17, 2018

Shastina Chiles 

Raven Cooper

The Porch 

Kristen, Raven and Shastina



Speakeasy

Last night saw the premier performance of a wonderful new music series here in Key West with the inaugural Songwriter Speakeasy Series at the wonderful intimate back room at the Key West Theater. The first edition was by any measure a wonderful success as it featured three wonderful women each a gifted Key West based singer/songwriter performing all original music in a traditional Nashville style songwriter round. Kathy and I always support local music and we had a VIP table up front to celebrate and enjoy this fantastic addition to the local music scene.

Kristen McNamara


The brainchild of Nick and Kelly Norman, this was the first in what will be an ongoing tradition of similar songwriter events to be held in the great space that is the back room. To kick things off they featured a trio of talented Key West women, Kristen McNamara, Raven Cooper and Shastina Chiles. Each of these talented women is a force in their own right and yet they were different enough to create a really wonderful and well-rounded performance.

Shastina Chiles

Kathy and I have had the good fortune to see Raven Cooper and Shastina Chiles perform, in fact I often watch and listen to their live broadcasts on facebook while working and they were the reason that we bought tickets but it was our first exposure to Kristen McNamara. McNamara was easily the most polished as she has had a lot more experience in this sort of venue, having been a contestant on American Idol and had plenty of experience and much wider exposure. She was fantastic, we really enjoyed her songs and fun and easy banter with the crowd.

 

Kristen, Kelly, Raven and Shastina

We knew we would love Raven, as she is one of our favorite Key West performers. She has the most amazing and unique voice that reminds me a little of Janis Joplin, world-weary yet powerful and seemingly soaked with honey and whiskey, she was amazing as always.

Kristen McNamara

Probably the nicest surprise was how great of a job young Shastina Chiles did, she more than held her own with the two older and more experienced performers and was a real revelation in that she has written some truly wonderful songs and performed them to a wildly appreciative crowd who listened attentively to all the music performed. It was a pretty solid nearly sold-out audience that was so lucky to get to experience such a great evening. 



The rest of this week has been a little low key, we had a nice visit from our friends Howard and Najada and their family, so it was really great to see them. They formerly lived in Key West and now are living up in Miramar, Florida. Howard works with me at RPM Nautical Foundation and recently returned from spending the season overseas aboard our research vessel the R/V Hercules.

Michael and Howard

 


We also shared a nice night out with our friends Martina and Jen, going for delicious pizza at Clemente’s before heading over to the Porch to try and enjoy as much time there as we can before they ultimately close for good next week. They got in to a dispute with their landlord that could not be resolved so they are closing up shop, meaning my favorite bar and home to some of the best memories of the past eight years will soon be no more. 


Jen, Martina and Kathy

The Porch 



It is a sad time in Key West for those of us who love the crazy, kooky place that has been home to so many happy times. Thankfully the Porch has served as a seed of sorts with its influence stretching across the island to other venues that are related to it such as General Horseplay, Kojin, MaryEllen’s, The Tiki Hut, The Roost, The House of Wu, 2, 2 & Company  and The Key West Sandwich Company. 


 


It was a fun night, but somewhat bittersweet as the Porch’s days are numbered. We closed out the evening in what is sure to become our new hangout, General Horseplay which has taken the spirit of the Porch and moved it across Caroline Street in what was once the crazy dive bar Red’s Place but has now been fixed up into a wonderful showcase establishment that I have a good feeling will be home to many future shenanigans.




Fuzzy and Jack



Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A Vision Softly Creeping…


September 11, 2018

Paul Simon 

Rick Springfield



A Vision Softly Creeping…

Throughout my life I think I have self-medicated with music therapy. Music has helped me through the most difficult times, punctuated the most enjoyable moments and been a source of fun, relaxation and motivation. Music taps in to our emotional systems in a way that I don’t really understand but is as powerful to me as any drug or alcohol induced state.


 


Paul Simon

So it was in a way excellent timing that the weekend after what was an incredibly difficult stretch, which we had two very different live concert experiences to look forward to. I had gotten the tickets literally months in advance with of course no way of knowing what might be happening in my life when the concerts finally rolled around. It was a great break in what had been a sad few weeks and the first show was a nice little getaway up to Sunrise, just northwest of Miami.


 



In all my years of attending concerts, I had never had the chance to go see Paul Simon live in concert. I have never been a huge fan of Paul Simon, though I did really enjoy his early solo stuff in the 70s. I was actually a much bigger fan of Art Garfunkel, whose album “Breakaway” is still among my all-time favorites. After finally getting to see Garfunkel last year here in Key West, I was somewhat fearful that Paul Simon might be as awful as that show was, but I still wanted a chance to see a person who is quite a legend while I had the chance as Simon had billed this as his “Homeward Bound” farewell tour.




I should not have worried as the 77 year old singer/songwriter delivered an amazing live performance that made me wish I had gone to many of his previous tours.  Kathy and I drove up to Sunrise on Saturday morning and caught a movie, “Peppermint” starring Jennifer Garner as a revenge driven mother going after the drug cartel that murdered her family. The movie theater was right across from the BB& T center, home of the Florida Panthers hockey team where the concert was being held.





We had great seats in the fifth row for what turned out to be a pretty magical concert. There was no opening act and Paul Simon took the stage just after eight with his wonderful, international fourteen piece band backing him up. His voice was surprisingly strong and his energy level was fantastic and the band was just amazing. He played a long twenty-six song set that covered the breadth of his career including a good number of Simon and Garfunkel classics as well as all the hits from his solo career. 




It was two and a half hours of just classic music that easily cemented Simon’s place in the pantheon of great American songwriters and performers. Nothing too flashy, just the power of amazing music that was a great experience. The second concert of the weekend, the following night back in Key West at the relatively new concert venue, Sunset Green featuring 80’s pop star Rick Springfield.

Rick Springfield

 


If I was not much of a Paul Simon fan, I was even less so of Rick Springfield, who I had always mostly passed off as a soap opera star turned musician who had a couple of radio hits in the 80s. Mostly I wanted to check out the new space, where we had not previously been for a show. I have to report that both the location and the concert far exceeded my expectations.

 


Robyn

I certainly underestimated Rick Springfield who performed a wonderful and fun ninety minute set that featured all of his hit songs as well as some excellent covers varying from Sammy Hagar to Katy Perry. He was really fantastic, a much more talented guitar player than I would have imagined and put on a very fun and personable show, including bounding throughout the crowd hugging people, taking selfies and getting crowd members to sing. It was a ton of fun and a perfect and needed cap to a feel good weekend of musical therapy.

Kathy and Rick Springfield