De Palma shows ‘Soul’ of Key West - A stack of flyers on a table - The Soul of Key West

Newest book adds 65 artists to collection

“I knew there would be a second book before the first one was even finished,” said author and photographer Ralph De Palma of Key West, who moved here for the fishing and weather and fell in love with the music scene.

While sitting around a bar listening to the musicians of the Key West Musician’s Festival play a few years ago, Ralph’s wife pitched him the idea of a book about the music.

“There were dozens of local musicians supporting the musicians on stage and I would take some pictures and interview them for the caption, but while they were talking they were telling stories,” he said. “Then I realized they all have quite a story to tell about Key West music.”

With the help of historian Tom Hambright at Key West Library, he was able to confirm there were no books on Key West music. “Now, they’ll have two,” DePalma said.

Volume II is the same size coffee book at Volume I, but is jam-packed with more 19 more local artists including 89-year-old Key West legend Coffee Butler, one of Jimmy Buffett’s roadies, and also pays homage to a few special musicians Key West has lost over the past couple of years, like Franco Richmond, Hugo Duerte, and Randy Lees.

“Nothing compares to Key West’s music scene,” De Palma said. “This tiny island holds 300 gigs a week at 50 venues, that’s about 16,000 music performances a year.”

The Soul of Key West Volumes I and II are available at Key West Island Bookstore and online at Amazon and at

Volume III is in the works.


The Soul of Key West Volume II book release party will be held Saturday, Dec. 19 from 7 to 11 p.m. at The Studios of Key West featuring entertainment by Robert Albury, Cliff Sawyer, the Clayton family plus a special guest appearance by Key West’s own super star, Coffee Butler. Tom Luna and Will Thompson will be emceeing the party and will be asking the age old question, “Who Put the Pepper in the Vaseline?” Part of the proceeds from the event will benefit The Bahama Village Music Program. Tickets are $30. To reserve tickets, visit

Join Our Blast – Keys News Right to Your INBOX

Leave a Reply