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Trop Rock

On the Road, One More Time…

Hi!

I just got back a few days ago from an amazing week in Florida. The trip combined beaches, good music, fun with friends, and new and exciting possibilities in an extremely good mix.

Picture of the Sauce Boss

The Sauce Boss, mixing blues and gumbo

The main attraction was a trop rock event called Music on the Bay (MOTB). No, I wasn’t playing at it, but that didn’t make it any less fun. I got to enjoy music by some of the best of my fellow trop rockers, including Sunny Jim White, the Trop Rock Junkies, Jimmy Parrish, Jack Mosley, Michael J Weiss, and the Sauce Boss, some of whom I hadn’t seen play before. If you weren’t there, you could have heard most of it broadcast live on Songwriter’s Island Radio – well worth checking out anyway! (They play my stuff too.)

Picture of the beach at Whiskey Joe's

The Beach at Whiskey Joe’s

The event was held at an amazingly beautiful place called Whiskey Joe’s, on the shores of Tampa Bay, site of the previous two MOTB’s, and of a memorable show of my own last year. They put up a new, bigger stage this year at the other end of the beach from the regular tiki stage. The main acts were at the new stage; they had songwriters playing shorter sets at the original stage. It was a good idea that worked very well for the bigger acts and the folks who watched them, not so well for the songwriters and the vendors who’d set up by the smaller stage. It was their first time doing this, and I guess they’ll make adjustments for next year.

They’ve got about ten palapa tables scattered around the beach near the tiki bar, which were auctioned off for charity. I got to park myself at one of those for the weekend by pitching in with a friend. Having that “home base” was very helpful to me, since I’d flown in from out of town and had none of the usual beach accessories with me. (I could have borrowed from friends, with some advance planning.) Thanks to my friend Diane Rutledge for sharing her space and company with me. Diane is a friend, a lover and supporter of this music we all do, and masterful behind the wheel of her Mustang.

Picture of back yard and Gulf view

Yes, you *can* see the Gulf from here!

Picture of the back gate to the beach

Gateway to the beach!

To save money, I stayed about an hour away, at the home of a couple of friends (Pablo & Diana) in Holmes Beach. To local lovers of trop rock music, it’s also known as the Sandbox, where I’ve also had the joy and honor of playing, a time or two. Tucked away half a block from the Gulf on Anna Maria Island, it’s a delightful oasis complete with pool, stage, beach chairs, dogs, and cats. When we weren’t up in Tampa, we all had a delightful and comfortable time. And you won’t find two nicer or more kindly and giving people than Pablo and Diana.

My view every morning

My view every morning

Walking the beach...

Walking the beach…

...I found some interesting shells and such!

…I found some interesting shells and such!

The best part of staying down there was that I could (and did) walk the beach every morning before heading up to Tampa. While I sing and write songs about beach life, I don’t get to live it half as often as I’d like. And there’s something about the sound of the surf that just releases all of my tension and calms my soul.

If more people started their day with a walk on the beach, I think this would be a much nicer world to walk around in.

The wildlife there was pretty active. I saw a couple of rays pop up out of the water, and dolphins swimming out beyond the surf break. I also saw pelicans aplenty, parrots, and even an osprey or two.

Picture of the beach near sunset

Sunset at the Beach

Picture of sunset

Watching the sun go down.

Best of all were the sunsets. I caught several of them up at Whiskey Joe’s, but also managed to watch one down on the island. Even without supporting clouds, it was spectacular.

In my “Copious Free Time,” as Tom Lehrer would say, I did some exploring, down through Sarasota to Englewood, including stops at a couple of beach bars, and wrote a silly new pirate song. Because I *could*. And I grew my knowledge of what’s what and where in that part of the world. I even found the local Trader Joe’s!

It was an amazing trip, during which I spent time with some equally amazing and wonderful people, whom I am truly privileged to have as friends. Thanks to each of my friends who enriched my week in some way, small or large – Diane, James, Victor, Gary, Cathy, Heather, Sue, Bryan, Effie, Michael, Millie, Koz, Terry, Batman & Jill, Rho, Gabrielle, and the rest of the waitstaff at Whiskey Joe’s, LaDonna, and of course Pablo & Diana! And to the many others whose names may be slipping my mind right now, but who are no less important to how beautifully it all turned out.

Part of what helped make it so much fun was that I treated it as an adventure, even the occasional setbacks and snafus. It’s magical, the way that my choices in the moment can help me either enjoy another beautiful day in Paradise or plunge me back into the world of traffic jams, inconsiderate people, and disturbing headlines. Yes, I still have to deal with the day-to-day world…but if I’m “in Paradise” in my head, it goes a lot more easily and I have a lot more fun at it. And sometimes, keeping my smile and “Paradise state of mind” when some narrow-visioned SOB is trying to piss me off is the sweetest kind of victory.

I won’t get back to Florida until May, but I’ve got pictures and memories to help me keep that “island state of mind” back here in the Bay Area. Not that I have a whole lot of trouble doing that most days, as we’ve got some pretty darned amazing scenery and people here too.

Picture of sunset by the Bay

Sunset by the Bay – beautiful sunsets are everywhere!

Cheers, and thanks for listening!

Loren

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Song of the Week: Voodoo Lounge

Hey there!

I’m going to try to share as many new songs as I can, over the next month or two. These are songs I’m thinking about putting onto my next CD, in draft form. The mix is my “homebrew” version, and will likely be very different when the album comes out next summer. It’ll almost certainly be better there. But it’s a chance for you to start to get to know the songs themselves, and a chance for me to hear what *you* like.

Today’s offering is something I call “Voodoo Lounge.” It’s something I wrote to fill a hole in my catalog – I don’t have a good New Orleans blues number. I expect it’ll get the whole “smoky blues” treatment by Kevin.

The story behind the song is…well, I made it up. :) That said, anyone out there who actually knows something about Voudou isn’t likely to get *too* annoyed at me, because I tried to get enough of the details right.

I’d like to know what you think of it, so please leave comments or send me an email.

Here’s the song: Voodoo Lounge

I hope you like it.

And Happy New Years!

Loren

Living my Bliss – What I Did on my Vacation

(Yes, the title of this post is a tribute to post-summer essays from my childhood. My vacations have improved somewhat since then.)

I’ve now been home almost a week from this year’s Key West vacation at Meeting of the Minds (MOTM). It’s a working vacation for me, because I need to be out performing, networking, and otherwise promoting myself as a Trop Rock artist. So there’s always this inner conflict going on between “need to be at X event(s)” and “want to sit by the water and do nothing.”

This year I made sure to do some of both. I was going eight days in a row partying, and I knew that if I didn’t pace myself, I’d never make it through. So I did, and I did, and my voice was in better shape on my second Monday than on my first as a result.

I did get out to play in quite a few places, and you can see a lot of the pictures on my Facebook pages. I played with and around a bunch of my fellow Trop Rockers, and had something I was invited to play at every day this year – a first.

Here’s a partial list of the cool and talented folks who either invited me to gig with them, or whom I actually did gig with: Captain Josh Ramsteck, Chris Sacks, Dusty and Barry of the Conch Fritters, Gary PhillipS, Barbara Smith and Scott Paulsen, John Friday, and the good folks at BeachFront Radio. Thank you, one and all, for inviting me to be part of your party.

I also wrote drafts for two new songs down there, one more than usual. :)

Even cooler than that: I’ve been doing a lot of spiritual work the past year around embodying and manifesting bliss in my daily life. It’s easy to be blissful, driving through the Keys and looking at the gorgeous scenery. Something I consciously focused on this year was drinking in all that natural beauty and the magnificently-elated mood I’m in when I’m down there and “storing” it inside me. Now that I’m home, all I have to do is remember one or more of those really cool, magical moments when I could look out at the water or breathe the air, and no matter what’s going on, I feel better. And I’m still smiling about 95% of the time.

My friend Howard Livingston calls that “Living on Key West Time.” I call it “Island Standard Time.” It’s the same thing no matter what you call it – remembering what it’s like to be in that beautiful place, surrounded by several thousand of your closest friends, excellent music, good booze, and spectacular scenery, no matter where I am or what I’m doing. Heck; I’m even smiling my way through rush hour traffic.

If you were down there too, try that the next time you’re faced with something that’s been stressful for you in the past. If you weren’t down there, remember the last really wonderful and blissful time you had, breathe that in, and remember it when things threaten to get a bit shitty. What’s the worst that can happen?

If I were Jimmy Buffett

It’s funny…I was originally thinking that I’d be writing some travelogue-style posts about my Keys “working vacation.” And I might still do that. However, in the process of taking some down time tonight, away from the hustle and bustle of Duval Street and the Casa Marina, I started pondering something very different.

For those who are just tuning in and haven’t been following the whole thing on Facebook, I’m at the Meeting of the Minds in Key West – an annual convention/festival/party for Parrotheads. It’s the twentieth annual such event, and the ninth that it’s been my privilege to attend. Hopefully I’ll also have some reflections later on how my participation here as a musician has evolved over the years, but that’s also a topic for another time.

The perennial rumor is that “Buffett’s going to be here.” We hear it every year. Generally, the expected time is one show or another featuring many of the Coral Reefers, members of his band. The last time he actually *did* show up was in 2004. It was a memorable year for me, for multiple reasons. The Buffett show at the Casa during a Peter Mayer concert was one of those reasons.

This year, there has been a last-minute scheduling shift on Friday afternoon for the Street Fest on Duval right outside the Margaritaville. The new schedule lists Mac MacAnally and a “Surprise Guest” to do a show around Mac’s new album. Several other major programming items were timeshifted to make room for this. So if Jimmy’s going to show up this year, this makes sense as one possible time. Then again, Mac knows everyone in Nashville, so we could get anyone from Zac Brown to Kenny Chesney.

And on Saturday, all of the Coral Reefers – except Ralph Macdonald, who’s had some health issues – will be doing a show at the Casa. It’s another possible time for Jimmy to show.

Personally, I think he could show at one, both, or neither. But if *I* were Jimmy, let me tell you what *I’d* do:

I *might* show up at both. It’d be a zoo, but the Key West PD and con security could probably handle it. But where I *would* show up would be the Trop Rock Music Awards on Friday night. I’d show up to encourage all of the new artists doing their (okay, our) best to create new stuff based on the inspiration of Mr. Buffett and others. I would at least stop by, give a short talk and present an award or two, and maybe arrange to meet all the award nominees personally, just to give them some encouragement from the Head Parrot. I’d do it just because it’s the right thing to do, and because other than paying some extra money for security – which I, as Mr. Buffett, would certainly have in my other pair of pants – what would it really cost me? A day away from fishing and flying?

As the TRMAs aren’t that heavily-attended, he could attend without being horribly mobbed, at least initially. And as the word spread across the island, it would bring more people to the TRMAs, which would be worthy.

(Note: Despite much effort on my part and a great song originally in contention, I’m not an award nominee, and wouldn’t get to meet Jimmy as part of this. I still think it’d be a good idea.)

Don’t get me wrong. Jimmy doesn’t “owe” us anything. He’s produced some great music, which we’ve taken as inspiration to do other great music. He’s helped instigate some good community service among the Parrothead Nation. That’s all he has had to do, and he’s been compensated for that. He doesn’t have to do anything more.

But it would sure be a kick if he *did*.

I’m just sayin’.