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A Bar Becomes A Listening Room

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The Carter Brothers third and fourth performances here were remarkable, especially last night’s show.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Starting Wednesday through around midnight Thursday, the weather was dry and warm, so even the locals shed their multiple layers of clothing and enjoyed the tropical winter here as people up north braced for a blizzard following freezing temperatures.  (A big storm hit around 1am Thursday night but we’ll get back to that shortly.)key west jan 2016 batch 1 023 crop

The Carter Brothers Fans continued to pour into town and during the day would often bump into each other, and local fans, and the band itself to see other artists including Ericson Holt, Joel Nelson, Scott Kirby, Caffeine Carl, Patrick and the Swayzees, The Bubba System featuring Bob Tucker (a great musician who has become a mainstay at the Carter Brothers shows this week!) and many others.  (Of course, much talk over the last few days centered on Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys who got himself thrown out of the Hog’s Breath a few days before our heroes arrived, and  tossed into jail to boot.  And no, he is not kin to our guys!)

This reminds me that Volume Two of Ralph De Palma’s wonderful book, The Soul of Key West, is now published and is as terrific as the first edition, or perhaps even better since the Carter Brothers are featured.  You can order it, and the first edition, here.  Super-fan Sally Galbraith served as editor and is selling copies out of her car.  The photos are stunning.  Buy it!key west jan 2016 batch 1 016 crop

Speaking of Sally and great musicians, this coming Sunday there is a celebratory second line march in honor of the late, great drummer Richard Crooks who spent the final many years of his life playing in Key West after having played with Bob Dylan and scores of other great artists over his illustrious career.  Come join the Carter Brothers and their fans at the amazing event at 12pm Sunday. 

Regarding Wednesday night’s Carter Brothers show at the Hog’s Breath, I can’t remember too much except how great it was to see Diane Jackman and her charming husband Don, and to get in some dances with her after a year. 

Thursday was one of the most memorable performances ever.  Aside from a little slip up I noticed during Child of the Wild Blue Yonder (due to one of Tim’s finger picks coming off mid-song), the band was tight and joyful.  They picked up the energy and interest of the fans, who spanned the gamut from hard core to occasional fans, random music lovers, and curious tourists.   But  as a group, they  were totally dialed in to the music.  Truth be told, the Hog’s Breath after all is a bar, and particularly during times like spring break, there are people there who are not paying attention to the music, however special it may be.  But not last night!  Amazingly, the Hog’s Breath felt more like a listening room, where people go mainly to hear music, than an iconic bar. key west jan 2016 batch 1 021 crop

At one point Tim said, to hundreds of people listening raptly, “Well, because you are all listening, I am going to tell you about a song I wrote and then play it for you.”  He proceeded to play “Waltz for Earl” which received a huge ovation.  The band also played “Yellow Moon” for the first time all week, which filled the dance floor like many other tunes did.  In fact, even super-fan Jan Wang, who came with her husband Bill from the Upper Keys, got out on the dance floor, a first as far as I can remember.  (Amazingly, San Diego fan JR arrived and never made it out onto the dance floor, but tonight we’ll make sure that doesn’t happen again.)

At 1:40am, the band played their last song and called it a night.  In recent times they have been playing two long sets rather than three, and a big storm was approaching the island.  But the fans would have none of it, and demanded a final song.  They went on, and on, and finally, and amazingly, the band played “Midnight Train.”  Over the hundreds of times I have heard them play in Key West, I have never seen them perform an encore.  But this crowded demanded and deserved it, and the band were generous enough to deliver the goods one more time.  A lot of us got drenched going home as  result of the long set, but did any of us care?  No way! 

key west jan 2016 batch 1 015 cropLast night we said good bye to super-fans Randy and Christine West from Michigan, who had a long-planned family trip to elsewhere in Florida starting today, and when they heard the Carter Brothers and their fans were assembling this week, they arrived five days early and had a blast with us.  It is always great to hear Randy talk about how his father so loved the Carter Brothers version of “Glendale Train” that upon hearing it at a time when he was gravely ill he suddenly perked up and became his old self again, however briefly – a memory Randy and Christine treasure, and another potent reminder of the power of music to heal. 

Thanks to Cindy Carter among others who participated via the HogCam and sent messages.  And please have a good thought for people like Cindy Walker (no relation) who is trying against all odds to travel down here today from the Mid-Atlantic region of the country in blizzard conditions.

See you all tonight for another great show, and thanks to the band for doing such a great job entertaining us all this week!  And remember, there is a Friends of the Carter Brothers lunch at 12:30pm at the Smokin Tuna Saloon on Saturday and all reading this post who are in town are welcome.    

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