It’s hard to believe that it’s been five years since the current “administration” has been in charge of the Hurricane. It’s also hard to believe that it’s been four years since I recorded my Live From The Florida Keys CD there! Congrats are certainly in order for Kai, Sav, and Mari, as well as the great staff they keep together. The Hurricane has definitely “made it” as one of Marathon’s finest dining and entertainment establishments.

My Hurricane experience dates back nearly a quarter-century to the mid-1980s—long before I was to write a song about a true incident that happened there (more about that later in this column). Even at that point, the Hurricane had been one of the Middle Keys’ favorite spots since the 1950s. The place was laid out a little differently then, but it was always fun. It also had the best pizza in town back then.

The band now known as the Florida Straits Band got its start at the Hurricane. Owing to the name of the establishment, the appropriately named Tropical Depression Band entertained thousands of locals and visitors alike. At one point, the Tropical Depression Band name became too, well, depressing, and a name change was in order. The Tropical Vision Band was born, and original members Tommy Tunes and the Rocketman continued on their mission to supply the Middle Keys with fine rock and roll. A contest was the mechanism by which the name of the band became the Florida Straits Band, and they continue to this day as one of the longest-lasting Keys bands.

Several fine entertainers have made a home at the Hurricane throughout the years. Heck, they’ve even let me and my bands play there! Desiree, a fine local country/rock singer, performed with me in both a duo setting as well as in our Full Moon Band. Sherry Popham (Sherry Carpenter in those days) added her fine vocals with me as a duo for quite a while to rave reviews and great listener appreciation. I’ve performed at the Hurricane solo as well as with other bands, and hosted a popular jam session Sunday nights for a couple of years.

One of my favorite bands I played with at the Hurricane happened in the early 90s. I was the lead guitarist and co-lead vocalist in a band that featured Dan Moose on bass and lead vocals, Carlos Solis on drums, and Navy man Billy Kennedy on saxophone. Dan and I had worked together a little bit before this band finally came together, and Dan had told me that he had always wanted to be in a band called Stark Naked and the Car Thieves. I could think of no better name, and we became a fixture at the ‘Cane.

Imagine my surprise several months later, as I’m reading through one of my recording studio trade magazines and uncover the little-known fact that Police drummer Stewart Copeland had performed for a brief while in the 1970s with a virtually unknown band called… you guessed it—Stark Naked and the Car Thieves. Dan was quite devastated when I showed him the article. I don’t really care, because it was still a great band name.

Fast-forward to about 2003. Just before the current owners took over, there happened an incident that has gone down in Hurricane history, and was immortalized in my song (from my Live From The Florida Keys CD) called, “I Saw A Sign.” One fateful weekend evening saw massive rains finally let up. Because so much rain fell in a relatively small amount of time, there was a good bit of local flooding—so much so that a lot of ground-based vermin climbed to whatever higher ground they could find. That’s how the snake ended up on the Hurricane’s neon sign. Unfortunately for the snake, his body completed a circuit that set the sign (and the Hurricane’s roof) on fire. The Hurricane was saved, and the incident (and its aftermath, featuring a wacky two-wheeled wonder) still lives on as a song on my Live CD.

Happy Anniversary, Hurricane—long may you run

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