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Filling an Empty Bar on the Last Night

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Sunday nights when the Carter Brothers play in Key West can often be low-key, relaxed affairs.  Danny suggested as much on Facebook when he said that the evening might end early, which would certainly help the band given their need to hit the road at 7:30am the next morning.  And it seemed that this was the destiny for the evening when I walked in at 9:30pm and the bar seemed as empty as it often is at 2am.  And then, something happened.

The Hog’s Breath filled up over the next 45 minutes and remained full until the band played their last song at 1:30am.  Our heroes know how to hold onto a crowd, that’s for sure.  And they were aided by an employee of the Hog’s Breath named Steve who offered to play guitar and sing a bunch of cover tunes during the break, and ended up filling the dance floor and keeping everyone happy and eager for the Carter Brothers last set during this magnificent week. 

For me, I had a throwback night, dancing primarily with my pal Joan Robbins.  I met Joan, a self-described “hippie chick” who just happens to have served 28 years in the San Diego Fire Department in a very demanding operational (i.e., fire-fighting) role, and is a skilled electrician to boot.  In the early 2010s, Joan and I used to dance to basically every song the Carter Brothers played during the 3-4 weeks per year they came down here.  She became a dear friend of mine and my wife Emily, one of many amazing and (let’s be honest) quirky people I met through the band, even though she stopped coming to Key West as often (though she did come to my wife’s 50th birthday bash here in September, which was a blast, but I digress yet again……).

On Sunday night, the band played two energetic and nearly flawless sets.  As has become customary, when the Hog’s Breath staff indicated that they should play one final song, Tim invited me to make a request for their last tune on their final night.  Well, I looked to Joan, who looked back at me, and chanelling the moment as best I could, I called for something they had not played all week but that I love.  The song?  You guessed it.  “Jerusalem Moan.”  And they killed it.  The dance floor filled up one more time with Joan, my buddy Gail and her friend Bob Tucker (a terrific bass player and singer whom you can catch at Grunts on Friday and Saturday nights as part of the band The Bubba System), and two other couples who just wandered in that night, as my wife and I did 8 years ago. 

Well, now we are at the point where I summarize my top ten memories of the week here in Key West with our heroes.  Here goes:

  1. The late night bull sessions with the band and their fans at Tattoos and Scars and the two pizza joints we frequent these days after their performances.
  2. The cookout hosted by John and Gay, and Vern’s amazing stories and jokes that afternoon.  Nothing beats a good southern story-teller!
  3. Seeing Elisabeth and Darrin roll into town in time for some Carter Brothers shows as they geared up for their wedding (!) next week!
  4. Seeing a male musician get out of the dance floor and actually enjoy himself  -- great job, Bob Tucker!  See you at Grunts this Friday night for sure.
  5. Woman At The Well.  Enough said.
  6. Hearing from Shelly, Cindy and others who were watching/listening via the HogCam and sending messages.
  7. Seeing one Joan Robbins ripping up the dance floor and pulling “toe tappers” who wanted to dance but couldn’t quite venture out to do so.
  8. Tim’s new cover of Bob Dylan’s “Man Gave Names to the All the Animals” and how he and the band mastered it over the course of the week.
  9. The fan club lunch at the Smokin Tuna on Saturday.  It was amazing to see everyone together before 10pm!
  10. Seeing so many other great musicians in town during the week, including Joel Nelson, Caffeine Carl, Scott Kirby, Ericson Holt, and the Bubba System (Bob Tucker’s band).

In a few days I will post a final blog of previously unpublished photos from the week and encourage people to send me theirs so I can include.  Also, thanks to everyone who helped the band in so many big and small ways, especially those of you who store their stuff down here, drive them around, take them out for meals, dance to their songs, tip them, clap for them, and much more.  It’s a team effort to make these weeks such a win for the band, the fans, and the Hog’s Breath and I tip my hat  to the entire team.

Stay tuned for dates when our heroes will return to Key West later in 2016.  

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