John Bartus

One of the toughest things about this socially distant damn pandemic has been the impact on live music. Musicians and music lovers have been hit hard, because we’d all like to have that live local music experience. 

That’s why fans of live local Keys music will want to mark Sunday, Sept. 13, 6 p.m. on their calendars: Presents In Paradise is hosting an online Facebook Live Concert featuring a lineup of A-List Keys musicians: Tropical Rockers Concert for the Kids! Presents is a Keys charity that has helped local working families at Christmas for 17 years. Event organizers and participants (of which I’m one) are hopeful that the mix of talent will get you to tune in … and donate what you can. 

Here are the musicians who are playing: Terry Cassidy, a long-time local singer-songwriter who also happens to be an amazing instrumentalist on guitar and banjo. Terry has played in the Keys for nearly 40 years, and has written many songs that have turned up on the several albums (LPs, cassettes, CDs, etc.) he has released throughout the years.  

Adrienne Z is a singer-songwriter with an angelic voice and beautiful songs. She performs a great solo show as well as leading her own band, and she has released numerous recordings over the years. Her latest full-length solo album, Chameleons, really shows off Adrienne’s songwriting, vocals, instrumentals and arranging skills.

Brian Roberts is a very well known singer-songwriter who happens to be a very talented instrumentalist as well. His solo shows on acoustic six- and 12-string guitars have kept him steadily booked in both clubs and weddings, and his band, the Prime Movers, really knows how to get an audience moving.

Freddie Bye is the legendary guitarist-singer-songwriter who has held down one of the longest house gigs in the Keys. People have come from all over the world to see Freddie at the Brass Monkey for nearly four decades, and his mad guitar skills are the envy of many a string-slinger. 

I’ll be performing at the event as well, and I am honored to share the stage with these very talented folks, who also happen to be good friends. It’s incredible that each musician who was contacted didn’t hesitate a minute before saying they would be happy to perform. The event will be staged with the gracious help of the Florida Keys Country Club, and broadcast with technology provided by Duane Webster and Broadwave.

We’ll have some local dignitaries on hand to help with stage transitions and explain just what Presents does in the community. County Commissioner Michelle Coldiron, Tax Collector Sam Steele, Islamorada Mayor Mike Forster, and Marathon Mayor Steve Cook will help keep things flowing, and their support is greatly appreciated. 

For those who don’t know, Presents In Paradise provides local working families a way to provide Christmas while strengthening those families and their traditions. Occasionally described as “a clothing program disguised as a Christmas charity,” Presents works with families on a specific wish list for each individual child, and their “stealth elves” get the gifts to the families.

Clothing, shoes, bicycles, tablets, athletic equipment, and fun and educational toys are all provided to families free of charge. What is never on the list: video games. 

Last year, Presents In Paradise provided holiday gifts to more than 340 children here in the Keys. This year, they expect the need to double: likely 500 to 700 children this year with the ongoing impact from COVID-19. This also makes fundraising really tough, with the normal charity events not possible.

That’s why we really hope you’ll tune in to the concert (Presents In Paradise Facebook Page, or at: www.facebook.com/888432031275956/live/) and donate what you can. If you can’t, you can still donate by texting “PRESENTS” to 44321. For PayPal, it’s: www.paypal.me/PresentsInParadise. For Venmo, it’s: @Presents-InParadise. And share the event on Facebook as much as possible!

Our local working families are the backbone of our community, and you can assist by enjoying some great music while helping Presents In Paradise strengthen these families during the holidays.

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