Christian Brindel is liable to launch the party on Pigeon Key by belting out “Don’t Think Twice” by Bob Dylan. He’s a crowd pleaser as well as a local folk headliner who picks his own gigs, owns two tour buses and appreciates a life of leisure and happiness. His voice reminds us of Neil Diamond or James Taylor, and his happy-go-lucky stage presence has been known to turn a bar into a dance club.

Brandishing a 1970 Gibson Gospel, he’s also one of many bands to take the waterfront stage on Pigeon Key next Saturday, December 11.

He joins the soulfully dreadlocked Stone Crabs, Monkey mainstay Freddie Bye, Suzie Bache, Jessica Lilly & the Smokey Rhythm, and a Brazilian guitarist known only as: Magno. Their talents will be on display feet from the bay, just under the Old 7 Mile Bridge with kegs of beer, bottles of wine and smoking barbeques stationed around the 5-acre island.

Other than smoking near the historic buildings, few rules apply.

“I’m a scientist and an educator, not a festival organizer,” said PK Executive Director Kelly McKinnon. “But I know how to have a good time and on December 11, we will have it all.”

Bands, Beer, and BBQ grills. Swimsuits are optional. 

For 364 days of the year, the little island a few miles off the coast of Marathon is home to perhaps the world’s only marine science facility that has a 360  view of the ocean…and bay. Churches and other groups reserve the island for retreats. Tourists explore Flagler’s old work camp and search for artifacts in the surrounding shallows. High schools book the island for weeks at a time to study invertebrates, sharks, mangroves and other environmental phenomena found only in the Keys. Last season, students from Dubuque, Iowa, dissected a 9-foot lemon shark McKinnon caught while standing on the island’s dock. The island is used primarily for education, but on select days each year, the open grass field is transformed into festival grounds that rival other venues like Bonnaroo and Coachella.

The idea for a music festival on Pigeon Key was hatched a few years ago when McKinnon and his cult of barely-out-of-grad school cohorts decided to throw a party. More than 400 fans arrived via ferry. When the rains arrived, they used the old bridge for shelter and ended up floating four kegs in as many hours.

“We just wanted to do something for the locals,” said McKinnon. “The admission is free and includes a ferry trip to and from the island.” Besides drinks and food, the staff at Pigeon has also rounded up a number of raffle items courtesy of generous local businesses.

The concert begins at noon on Saturday, December 11. Ferry service begins at 10:30 am on the day of the event and will run continuously throughout the day. To catch a ride, check in at the old Flagler railcar on Knights Key. Bikers and pedestrians can use the old bridge to get to the island. For more information, please call (305) 743-5999. 

The Lineup
subject to change

Freddie Bye
Stone Crabs
Jessica Lilly and the Smokey Rhythm
Magno: Brazilian guitarist
Suzie Bauche
Christian Bindel

Artists Sought for 17th Annual Pigeon Key Fest
December 1, 2010 is the deadline for submitting all applications from which artists will soon be chosen for the Pigeon Key Art Festival to be held February 11-13, 2011 at the Marathon Community Park, MM 49.

This traditional fine art show has been rated among the top 200 shows in the nation by Sunshine Artist Publications. Entry fee for the show is $185 per booth plus $15 jury fee.

Applications may be obtained by calling Swankey Events at (305) 396-7076 or email your home address to: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

All proceeds go to the Pigeon Key Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to historic preservation, restoration, education programs and marine research.

Please find application form at


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