Often times I listen to C.W. Colt perform on a small stage at Two Friends Patio on Front Street. His voice evokes childhood memories of my grandfather, when I would reluctantly accompany him to bluegrass festivals in Hiwassee, Georgia. I would pretend to hate the experience, but I secretly loved the sounds of banjos, fiddles and steel guitars. On one occasion, Jerry Reed took center stage and that is when I realized some artists are born with a gift to write and sing. And C.W. Colt is one of those men.
Although I know C.W.’s amazing story, I often wonder if the casual tourist or happy hour patron is aware of the magnitude behind the man performing before them. Do they know he doesn’t need the money — that the same man who sometimes plays in front of ten people at a bar also performed at the likes of Red Rocks and a sold out Mile High Stadium? That Chet Atkins taught him his first chords and from there, the lists of legendary musicians he’s performed with are bigger than the food menus on the tables. Names like Ernest Tubbs, Jimmy Buffett, Bo Diddley and dozens more.
But C.W. Colt belongs to a fellowship of talented singer songwriters in Key West, including the legendary Paul Cotton, Barry Cuda, Adrienne Zolondick, Larry Baeder, Mike McCloud and many others. Their stories are intertwined with some of the most renowned names in the business, yet they continue to play (and write) out of love for music. Their biographies and accolades are as decorated as anyone who might walk through the doors of Daryl’s House, but a code of accomplished-humility rarely catches them offering glimpses into their melodic immortality.
So on this remarkable week, when hundreds of aspiring and gifted songwriters flock to the Southernmost City, we took a moment to honor one of our own — and honor the rich tradition of songwriting in a city that has served as a muse for the some of the best.
We tasked C.W. Colt with finishing these statements:
Musician Taj Mahal once told me you’re 20 years ahead of your time.
I only have so many shows left in me. It’s why I love what I do and I’m at the top of my game at this point.
A great compliment was when John McEuen [Nitty Gritty Dirt Band] said ‘I wish I could do what you do.’ There’s something liberating about being able to perform without a band. I was diagnosed with throat cancer when I was opening for Willie Nelson. I probably wouldn’t be here today had I continued with my band.
I sometimes see old friends that have had success in the Music business that I once envied. I always had work and a good income, but never had a #1 hit.
But these guys are now on the back-side of that fame and fortune, and when they see my life here in the Keys, where I live, how I live, the love I get everyday from my fans, they say….”CW you have it all! This is what we all want”.
I’ve written enough songs to make a decent living.
Financially, my most successful song is “Is it True.” It has the best CD sales and thousands of digital downloads. Emotionally, “The Characters Are Real”…. when I look out at my audience, there are always tears in someone’s’ eyes.
My most meaningful song is “If I had Her Picture,” about an old man I met in Santa Rosa and from his story about how he let the love of his life go. I wrote the song that got her back. Better than a Grammy or any award just knowing I made a difference is worth it.
Songwriters who have influenced me are Van Morrision, Frank Sinatra, Merle Haggard. In fact since Merle’s passing, I’ve been playing so many of these old classic Country songs again, and noticing how people are responding. It’s inspiring my next endeavor …
I co-wrote a version of Doug Gill’s “Stronger Back”…. The message is “Don’t pray for a lighter load… pray for a stronger back.”
The most recent song I’ve written is “Fishin’ For a Song” and is a work in progress.
I write songs with meaning.
People once said “Don’t quit your day job”! LOL
I can tell when a song is honest when the fat lady sings it.
I once cried when Bambi’s mother was shot.
A song can make a difference in your life and can make the world sing.
I never had more fun than performing. Often interacting with a few people in an intimate setting is as inspiring as the big stage.
I remember listening to my mother sing.
Every artist should have wonderful fans that adore them and give them support.
The perfect song is “You never called me by my name” by Steve Goodman.
I perform at Two Friends Patio Bar (Tuesday and Friday noon to 3 p.m.) Lagerheads (Saturday) and Sunset Pier (Wednesday 1 to 4 p.m.)
For more on C.W. Colt visit cwcolt.com