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!

Friday, April 01, 2016

The Key’s in the Conch Shell

March 26, 2016

Kenny Chesney

Rusted Root

The Key’s in the Conch Shell

As the busy tourist season in the Keys winds down, we who live here get to enjoy the last few big events that happen during this time of year, before things locally begin to quiet down as Spring turns to Summer. This means that what has been a stellar season of local theatre winds down, the frequency of musical acts drops significantly and the crowds begin to thin out around town. Of course there are always a few last minute surprises and this year is no exception.

It is no secret that Country Music has taken on a Carribbean feel the past decade or so, I believe this is in large measure to the large amount of songwriters and singers who come here each year for the amazing Key West Songwriter’s Festival, but for whatever reason there has been a proliferation of Country acts that have come to love the Keys and come to visit with some frequency as well. Just this week we had appearances by Jake Owen, Eric Church and Kenny Chesney.

Kenny Chesney


In fact Chesney again played one of his so called “Keg Shows” at Sloppy Joe’s bar. He has played a secret show here every few years for about a decade and this was his third appearance at Sloppy Joe’s. Unlike his previous visits, this show was announced a couple of days in advance which lead to massive crowds lining the streets with lines about three blocks long when the doors at Sloppy’s opened at 10 AM for the 5 PM show.

Chesney uses this small, intimate shows to prep his band for the large arena tour that will ne happening this spring and Key West is fortunate to be the selected location once again. This year he had Eric Church join him on stage to play a few songs as well as having his buddy Dale Earnhardt, Jr. on hand once again. Last time he played Sloppy’s he had Earnhardt and NFL legend Peyton Manning join him on-stage, with Manning even coaxed to sing a few numbers.

Rusted Root

Chesney was not the only musical act to play Key West this week, the band Rusted Root played a pair of shows at the Key West Theater and Kathy and I had front row center seats at our usual table for the fantastic show. Rusted Root made it big with their release “When I Woke” back in 1994. The Pittsburgh based rock outfit had a big hit with their song, “Send Me On My Way” and has somehow managed to survive since then playing the jam-band circuit and continuously touring even though they have not since matched that early success.

Kathy, Beth and Emily

Their two night stop in Key West is part of the Key West Theater’s initiative to bring higher quality, more well-known music to town and it worked as both shows were sold out to happy raucous crowds that loved the high energy, well performed music. Touring together for more than twenty years has made the band tight and they sounded really great in the small venue. I thought the show got off to a slightly slow start, but built momentum to the point that by the conclusion they were hitting all the right notes.

Beth and Michael

Jeff Clark and Miguel Perez

Sitting in the front row, I managed to snag a drum stick and a guitar pick, which was pretty cool. Overall it was a really fun night out. Kathy and I enjoyed another great night when we went to see the performance of “The Producers” at the Waterfront Playhouse. It was a wonderful and fun show that featured a number of our friends in the Mel Brooks play. The story concerns two theatrical producers who scheme to get rich by overselling interests in a Broadway flop. Their plans go awry when the play, a hysterical send-up of the Nazis becomes a huge hit.

* photo by Larry Blackburn

* photo by Larry Blackburn

The play is great and this production has had an almost completely sold-out run at the Waterfront. Kudos especially to the wonderfully talented star Tom Luna who proved yet again why he is one of Key West’s finest actors. The rest of the week was not uneventful, we had a quick, but great visit from our friend Kali, who has moved from Key West to Colorado to become a college professor but returned for a quick spring break weekend visit. It was great to see her and fantastic to see how well she is doing out in Colorado. We also managed to sneak in a visit to an art opening at the Lemonade Stand gallery which featured a show of small works by a variety of local artists. There always seem to be choices of fun things to do here.

Kathy, Michael and Kali

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Bar Strolling

March 19, 2016


Bar Strolling

The Saint Patrick’s Day holiday is always well celebrated in Key West, of course the local Irish bars all host some sort of event and the annual St. Patrick’s Day Bar Stroll is always held on the Saturday afternoon that falls closest to the 17th.  This year marked the 38th year that the annual bar stroll has been held and probably about the 20th that I have attended.  It is another in a long line of fun annual events in Key West.

Organized by my friend Rick, the bar stroll got its start as an actual race, then called the “Suds Run” between various bars where at each stop the participants had to guzzle a beer and then run to the next location. It was this way for a few years before evolving in to a stroll which increased participation and reduced the amount of puking along the way significantly. My friend and former employer at the old Waterfront Market, Buco, won the first suds run and has for thirty-eight years been issued entry number 001 ever since. I am not sure if I would have been up to the old style racing, but the stroll I can manage just fine.

Now the event draws literally thousands of participants a good mix of long-time locals and tourist who just happen to stumble upon it. This year’s ticket sales benefited the local Boys and Girls Club and the Cancer Foundation of the Florida Keys. The thirty dollar tickets got each participant a free t-shirt as well as a punch card listing the various bars that were involved at which one free beer per person was available.

The ten bars featured this year included a number of old favorites as well as a few newcomers which always makes for a good mix. The stroll started once again at the Southernmost Beach Café before heading off to The Salty Angler, McConnell’s, the Back Bar at Aqua, the new Rumrunners (formerly Cowboy Bill’s), the Hard Rock Café, the Bull and Whistle, the newly opened Gas Monkey, Rick’s and concluding at the Schooner Wharf Bar.

I was down at the Southernmost Beach Café for the beginning of the stroll early to see my many local friends who were going to be strolling. I always enjoy the start as the throngs are gathered all in one place and all in a fun and festive mood. There are also always a large number of interlopers who do not buy tickets but just show up and follow along the route to have a good time. They are often wearing matching team t-shirts rather than the official shirts. I respect that they want to have fun, but think it is somewhat unfortunate that they do not add anything to the charitable aspect of the day. I always wear the official gear and support the charities that benefit from the walk.

This year I only made it just past halfway on the stroll as I had a large amount of yard work to do and I did not want to take up the entire day with the event as can easily happen. I am glad that I went though and really enjoy watching all the crazy green clad people enjoying themselves. As the stroll spread out just about every place on Duval Street fills with marchers and the bars and businesses that are not official stops still do very well with the crowds.


Kathy’s father, Jim concluded his three week visit to us this week with a trip with Kathy out to the Dry Tortugas National Park aboard the Yankee Freedom catamaran. The day-long trip was a great time as they both enjoyed touring Fort Jefferson, which is the centerpiece of the National Park. They also managed to get in some snorkeling and lounging on the beautiful beach that is there. It was a picture perfect day at one of Kathy’s favorite places on earth and it was great to have Jim along. He had not been out to the Tortugas for many years.


The small group of islands and surrounding waters are located about 75 miles west of Key West and are home to a beautiful array of birds, both residents and migratory species as well as a beautiful coral reef that is the nicest in the Keys and the plethora of marine life that is found in the protected area. There is even a resident saltwater crocodile which sadly they did not spot on this trip out.
It was the perfect culmination to Jim’s time here. We had a great visit and are looking very much forward to seeing him again this summer. Kathy will probably see him next in Colorado when she heads out in May for our niece’s high school graduation.