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Summer Fun with the Carter Brothers in Key West

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It’s been an amazing, though very hot, week here in Key West.  As long as you remember to keep hydrated and get into an air-conditioned environment on a regular basis, it’s almost impossible not to have a good time.danny and ross compress

Monday night’s show featured a long first-set enjoyed by the Carter Brothers’ core local fans (though fewer than usual came from out of town to enjoy the music in person here this week), and music loving tourists from as far away as Brazil.  For the first time in many weeks here, Danny played “Radio Girl,” which filled the dance floor like usual.  With Ross Sermons, their bass player for 17 years, visiting from Australia (sorry, Tasmania), he was able to play some of his signature songs that night and all week, such as “Paradise,” “Spoonful” and a powerful bass solo on “Yellow Moon” that we haven’t heard for a while. 

The band and fans slept in a bit Tuesday after long days of travel on Monday that included collecting various gear stored by super-fans Suzanne and Scott – thanks, guys!  But Carter Brothers Nation finally got around town to hear other musicians, such as Joel Nelson, Woody Jenkins and Ericson Holt.  During our heroes’ show, Danny played “Voice of an Angel,” a tribute to his late father through the perspective of his mother.  Not to be outdone, Tim played his gorgeous banjo instrumental “Waltz for Earl” which transitioned into the Carter Brothers’ unique version of “Cluck Old Hen.” sally and rene compress

Wednesday there was a lot of good music around town but the weather got dicey late in the evening.  A delay in starting the performance turned into a cancellation for only the second time in the last decade of playing down here.  The fans who had gathered despite the weather quickly shifted gears and went to McConnell’s Irish bar, where a new rockabilly band called Patrick and the Swayze’s (really!) were playing before a frenzied crowd trying to keep dry from the rain but failing horribly keeping dry from sweat.  A new fan from Switzerland named Stefan caught Joel Nelson’s wife Donna on video chasing the band’s lead singer onto the street in the middle of a downpour and dancing with him (occasionally dodging cars in the process).  And the evening just went downhill, or uphill, from there.  I think you get the idea.

There was a lot of pent up demand for the Carter Brothers fusion music by the time they took the stage at 10pm on Thursday.  Even the Internet was buzzing, with Brookley Spanbauer, Andy Walton, Cindy Walker and others not only watching on the HogCam but also sending in a running commentary by SMS to those of us dancing and enjoying the music in Key West.  Dale Baker, an outstanding guitar player from Nashville playing elsewhere in Key West this week, added some great solos and accompaniment to fill out the band’s sound.  The Carter Brothers don’t invite many people to sit in with them, but when they do, it’s always special.band with dale compress

Later that night, Woody Jenkins took Danny’s guitar and played a few songs despite being quite, show shall we say, “tired.”  The highlight of that mini-set was a jam session loosely based on Ross Sermons’ song “Preacher” from his incomparable album “King’s Pool Room.”  Whoa!  (BTW, Ross has a new solo CD out titled "Way Down South.")

Friday was a truly special evening.  The weather was perfect, and the band was in fine form, especially for an extra-long first set that included Paul Cotton of Poco fame doing two songs with the band (Cajun Moon and Magnolia).  (Joel Nelson supplied backing vocals for the latter tune.) 

There was a huge crowd extending into the deep recesses of the bar and parking lot, and all the right people were on the dance floor including Candace Estep, Donna Nelson, Gail Hardy, Brenda Donnelly, Emily Counts, and Emalyn Mercer – not to mention one of Brenda’s friends who tipped generously after every song (not set, but song!).  There was also a wedding party – congratulations, Ally and Caleb. 

Boy we all had such a great time! kevin and emily compress

The Friday after party centered on pizza, heroes from a pushcart, and some beers at Tattoos and Scars.  The amazing Cliff Cody joined us and talked about how the Carter Brothers took him under their wings 8 years ago when he, as a bundle of nerves, started a week-long gig here warming the crowd up for our heroes each night.  Since then he has become a local fan favorite but is generous enough to credit the Carter Brothers with helping him find his groove here.  What a nice, humble guy! 

We decided not to have a picnic this Saturday, as we traditionally do each time the band comes here except in January (when it can be a bit nippy).  Somehow my intuition told me that it was not in the cards, and as it turned out, it is raining today (though the forecast for the evening is good).

Anyway, have a great day y'all and see you tonight either at the Hog's Breath or online.

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