A lot has happened down here in sunny south Florida since our last blog so I'll backtrack for a minute - besides if I told you now how totally cool it was to see Jimmy in such a small intimate setting, you might not finish reading the blog.... Last Sunday night was the last time the Gang of 12 was together since Tide Hiker, Rickshaw and September Song have since left Marathon to head up the west coast of Florida. Our last night together started with a book/video swap and cocktail party on Rickshaw - there are always cocktails involved!!! Books are a very valuable commodity on cruising boats and space is at a premium so books are freely and frequently swapped around - now Gypsies happens to have three cases of books on board but we're always up for swapping for new ones to make our "stash" last longer. One of the great things I've found about this cruising life is that I have time to read books I've always wanted to read but never had time to while we were work slaves in our prior lives (that includes not just the classics but biographies, history and stuff like all the Alex Rutledge and Travis McGee novels!) So anyways, back to the cocktail party - we watched a beautiful sunset as we drank wine and munched on app's. Then it was time to migrate down the dock to Docksides Bar and Grill for an evening of dancing and festivities while listening to the Florida Straits band. The drinks and dancing lasted well into the night and we parted knowing that we'd see everyone again in a couple weeks up at the DeFever rendezvous in Useppa Island!
Monday was a day of rest - while Colleen and John went for a bike ride, Doug and I went for a long kayak up around Boot Key Harbor and Sister Creek. We saw unbelievable birds and sea turtles and even almost got upended by a manatee who swam right by our kayaks! We fought a 20 knot wind in our face on the way back but it was an amazing trip!
Tuesday morning we were up early (must have been the anticipation because I was too excited to sleep the night before - like the kid in the Disney commercial!) and hitched a ride on the local transit bus down to Key West. A number of our favorite musicians were playing (Scott Kirby and the Massacoustics in particular) so we were looking forward to a three day musical/drinking binge - all I can say is mission accomplished!!! We got to Key West around 9:30 am and by 10:00 we had beers in our hands and by 10:30 we were at Schooner Wharf enjoying the first happy hour of their day (they have 2 - one from 7 am-noon and the other from 5-7 pm - now that's cool I don't care who you are!!) It was Michael McCloud's day off but we were entertained not only by Raven and a guy we call Bubba Lowballs (don't ask!), but also by the people and dogs all around us - you just can't make this stuff up!!!
The Red Baron?
From the Wharf we bar hopped our way through Duval Street and ultimately wound up back at the hotel with time enough to change before heading out for drinks/music - part deux. We headed down to the Sunset Pier which is by Mallory Square to hear Andy and Matt Thompson (the Massacoustics) play - they are both incredibly talented musicians who we first heard down in Key West over 10 years ago. With the sun setting in the background and the music hopping, we tossed back a couple coldies and realized we were about as close to heaven as it gets!! A group of Canadiens combined with a few very "interesting" shall we say locals kept us as entertained as the band - unfortunately it was too dark for pictures and besides, I had forgotten my camera - oops! As the last chords of the Massacoustics faded into the Key West sunset, we were off to the next spot - the night was far from over.
Next it was on to Margaritaville to hear our good friends Scott Kirby and Dave Edmisten play from 9:30-11:30 pm - music/drinking part trois. While we ate cheeseburgers in paradise, we got to hear Scott play more Buffett tunes than I think I've ever heard him play - I guess it was a nod to the guy who owns the place! They were both amazing as always - I love to watch truly talented musicians who care so much about their craft! Dave was on the wagon which in Key West is a real feat - not wanting to join him, we kept the coldies coming!! We hadn't seen Scott since Xmas so after their gig was up, we all piled into Scott's minivan (yup you read that correctly - he says it's great for all his speakers and equipment, but we think he secretly really likes it!!) and made our way to Louie's Backyard for drinks part quatre! While Colleen played relationship counselor at the corner of the bar (to a man and woman who seriously sounded like they needed it and then some- yet again you can't make this stuff up!), over several cocktails we got caught up on life in KW as well as Scott's new music that he wrote when he was back in NH for a couple weeks. The afterdeck at Louie's is the quintessential after hours bar - it sits right out over the water and the only music you hear as you relax and unwind with cocktails is the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks and gulls calling to each other - I guess that's why we usually find ourselves there to close out the day whenever we are in KW!!
The next morning came bright and early but while John caught some extra sack time, Colleen, Doug and I headed out to Pepe's for breakfast mimosas!! It's never too early to start the mornings off right in Key West. After breakfast we headed back up Duval Street and wound up at Paradise Tattoo - Doug and I couldn't resist (and we only had one mimosa!!) We think they came out pretty cool!
Tammy's right ankle
Doug's left forearm
After that we met the other Gypsies at Schooner Wharf where we self-medicated the afternoon away. Michael McCloud was playing so we hung there all afternoon in the sun - I can think of worse ways to while away an afternoon! Michael is not only a good musician but he is a very funny guy so he had us laughing most of the time - his dog, Cinderella, is just too cute and was photographed much more than Michael! Orders of Caribbean wings and buckets of beers later, it was time to head over to the sunset pier again for the Massacoustics where we were meeting up with Scott.
Michael McCloud and Cinderella
Meanwhile, Scott had called to share with us a rumor that JB might be in town and might just be playing at Margaritaville the next night - Scott was in the know because he had been called to ask if he would mind "sharing the stage". We had planned on leaving the next morning, but our plans changed instantly!
Anyways, Scott's wife Michelle showed up at the pier as well so a real party ensued - she hadn't realized "the boat people" (as she calls us) were in town (who did she think had kept her husband out partying the night before?? There are probably way too many candidates come to think of it). We were glad she came because Scott had already told us we could crash at their place for the extra night! She promptly decided that Colleen should make gumbo again (we had it for Xmas dinner) since that was an appropriate pre-Jimmy meal! We finally made it back to the hotel in time to change and head back out to see Scott and Dave play again that night at Margaritaville!
The next morning the Gypsies arrived at Chez Kirby bright and early carrying our backpacks! Colleen got started on the gumbo while Doug and I went shopping for baby shower presents for my niece Samantha who is expecting a baby boy (to be named Rocco) next month. (Sam if you read this, the package is in the mail). After lunch and a few coldies at Fogarty's, we made our way back to the Kirby's where we hung around the pool for the afternoon. On the way back we saw a tree stump painted to look like an octopus, a guy dressed up in full pirate regalia that you could get your picture taken with, a guy riding a Harley with a live parrot on his head, the southernmost broken cleat (clearly a play on the southernmost point, the southernmost house, the southernmost hotel, etc) and lots of beautiful flora and butterflies - this is the essence of KW (and why we love it so much), you have true beauty superimposed with real wacky weirdness.
The Octopus Stump
The flora and butterfly
Anyways, the "gumbo fest" started around 5:00 pm - the Kirby's dog Badger was really the hit of the party (or he at least thought he was)! Although it was pretty funny to look into the kitchen at one point and see Scott ironing his shirt and John stirring the gumbo - had we not known better it could have been a true KW scene!
Scott had been down to Margaritaville that afternoon and the "rumor" was looking good - if we needed any more confirmation, Scott had JB's back-up guitar at his house to restring!! After gumbo and lots of wine, we headed down to M'ville - they had cleared out the bar around 6:30 pm to prevent people from camping out and drinking all day if the rumor had happened to get out. We hung out in a line outside the restaurant which quickly became huge - obviously the rumor had gotten around (you know, tell a friend)! John and the guy behind us in line kept running across the street to Jack Flatts to get us beer - Colleen and Michelle decided to hang out over there trusting that Scott would "get us on the list" - the rest of us were taking no chances! It felt a little like tailgating before a Buffett show! As tourists walked by they kept asking us what the line was for - we told them that our friend Scott was playing!! I'm sure he got lots of hits on his website today - too funny!
At around 8:00 the doors opened for employees of M'ville - how cool was it that Buffett gave priority to all his employees!! Next came the VIPs on "the list" - Scott came through in a big way as Michelle went to the head of the line with us in tow and then we were in!!!! The place quickly filled to capacity and there were a ton of very unhappy people left out on the sidewalk - luckily and thanks to Scott we weren't one of them. Scott and Dave played for an hour and were great but what a tough gig! As Scott himself said "it's kind of hard playing when you know nobody gives a rats butt about you - they want to see Jimmy!" But they rocked the place and got everyone on their feet!!
A quick stage change and then Jimmy and Mac came out - words fail me (and that generally doesn't happen!) But I'll try and do the night justice - it was simply unbelievable! We have been going to Buffett shows for almost 20 years but we had never seen him in such an intimate setting and usually we had never been close enough to really see him - we would generally watch the jumbotrons along with all the other drunks out on the grass at Great Woods or the bleacher seats at Fenway! But last night we were a couple tables away from the stage!
What was even cooler was that he got to sing all the songs he really loves, not what he "has to play" at his concerts! Woohoo - no "Let's get drunk and s..." He wound up playing lots of songs that either were about KW or that he had written there - the vibe in the place was simply just electric. People were standing up on chairs and dancing in the aisles around the tables - he and Mac played for a little over two hours and it looked like they could have played all night. He was having as much fun as we all were I think - well maybe not quite! He even debuted a new song titled "We've got things to Drink About" which can be seen on YouTube!! I knew we loved KW but this was super special - just the other day, Doug and I were telling someone this would be the first year we didn't see Buffett...guess it will just have to be next year (unless we happen to run into him in the islands - what, stranger things have happened!!)
As if the show wasn't enough, Scott, Dave, Doug and I wound up at Louie's - duh, you should have seen that coming! Then as if on cue, who walks in but Mac McAnally - Jimmy wasn't there but I'm not sure frankly if my heart could have taken it. JL, Jimmy's man in KW who Scott knows well, followed shortly thereafter with a bunch of JB's roadies. Did I mention that Louie's is our favorite after hours bar - we obviously aren't alone!! Both Jimmy and Scott have written and sing songs about Louie's - Scott's is "My Cathedral" and Jimmy's is "Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season" both of which are favorites of mine - coincidence, I think not!
Anyways, all good things have to come to an end - when we are talking about KW, it's usually because our livers are screaming for mercy....After breakfast at a little Cuban deli this morning and fond goodbyes to the Kirby's and Badger, we hopped the bus back to Marathon to see the cats. They were not too happy with us - we had been away an extra day and we came back smelling of dog!! Horrors! But after lots of love to atone for our sins, they are back to loving us and looking for treats! Tomorrow we are off again, this time just for the day - we are renting a car to head up to the Miami boat show (among other reasons so Doug can finally find his boat Crocs!!!)