The passing of Jimmy Buffett affected everyone on this island. For a few days, even those of us who weren’t necessarily fans couldn’t help but feel the weight of his accomplishments. After the dust settled, a question popped into my head. Could this island spring forth another songwriter with that type of mass appeal? Certainly the talent is here, so the question becomes, is there sufficient interest on our island in original music, written and performed by local artists, to get that ball rolling?
Though our local music scene largely consists of bands playing popular music, many will, throughout the evening, add in a few well-placed originals. There is a certain feeling of validation when your original songs fit seamlessly within your set and the dance floor stays full. Yet here in our little paradise, a fair number of visitors come more to forget rather than to ponder. They seem to choose their entertainment accordingly. Familiar music requires little work to enjoy, as that work has already been done before you arrived at this bar. You already love this song.
There are a few bastions of all-original music in our fair city. One such haven is the Cayo Hueso Original Music Series. This series of live performances, organized by Kim Walsh, is held in the Back Stage Listening Room in the Key West Theater on Eaton Street.
The series includes three to five songwriters performing in an intimate atmosphere. “I was inspired to start the series as I saw the amount of talent I am surrounded with,” said Walsh, as she works behind the counter at the Grateful Guitar music store in the same building. “I felt a desire to create a space where musicians could connect with an audience that was there to do the same.”
The series includes musical showcases such as Ladies Night Out, the old fashioned RRRockin’ Original Music Show, Musical Musings and Sweet Keys featuring original music written on keyboards.
“An audience was there to listen to the songs and stories — some happy, some sad, all music born from the heart and soul,” she added.
Once a year, all four showcases come together in the Sailing on the Wings of Imagination concert. This year’s show will include 25 musicians, including myself, and will be held Tuesday, Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. at the Key West Theater.
“What motivates me to continue the series is the reactions, thanks and love from the musicians involved,” Walsh said. (Thanks, Kim.)
Original music is a focal point at other venues, and there’s a vast amount of talent here to fill those spaces. What we need is you. We need folks who want to hear music written from the area in which they live, by the people who live here, people who enjoy the connection and the artistry of songwriting. In order for there ever to be another like Jimmy Buffett, we first have to listen.