In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Key West local Nick Norman to talk about where he started, and where he is going.

We find out how he got started with music and how he is constantly working to “sharpen the sword” of his craft.

This is one of my favorite interviews so far because Nick is so easy to talk to and talks about his career as an open book. 

More on Nick Norman

Immediately recognizable, Nick is known for two distinctive gifts: his soulful voice and infectious smile. It’s hard to imagine that as a young boy he was told he would never be good enough to sing in the church’s youth ensemble in Columbia, South Carolina where he grew up. Today he is truly the man with a golden voice; a talented singer/songwriter who delights his audiences with soulful and inspirational performances. 

It was during his childhood when Nick first acquired his passion for music; his father played guitar, while his mother encouraged him to write. Attending Baptist church exposed him to the awe-inspiring power of the choir. “It was how I first learned that you can truly make people feel what you feel, by believing in what you are singing. They sang from their hearts and that is something I believe that cannot be faked.”

As a young man listening to South Carolina’s emerging musicians of the time, such as Edwin McCain and Hootie and the Blowfish, he was also drawing from the styles of legendary artists including Stevie Wonder and The Band. Inspired by an eclectic array of influences Nick created a sound all his own.

Branching out from his home state he performed on stages all over the southeast, eventually finding his way to the Southernmost City of Key West in 2006. As his solo acoustic shows were drawing crowds, Nick’s songwriting was steadily being fueled by the artistic vibe of the island blending with his native southern roots.  

In 2010,  Nick collaborated with longtime friends Jon Stone & Lee Brice resulting in the recording of his first studio album Hey Cheater. This heartfelt album gave fans a raw look into the personal hardships of Nick’s life by putting his heart on his sleeve in songs such as  “Libba Don’t Call” and “Varela St”. Quickly becoming a Key West anthem, “Good Whiskey” can be heard by local musicians throughout Key West on any given evening. 

He has performed his original music on stages across the country that include City Winery, The Filmore, Listening Room Nashville, Key West Theater, Rams Head, Vina Robles Amphitheatre, Melody Tent and Island Time Music Festival. He has opened for acts such as Lee Brice, Lee Ann Womack, Edwin McCain, The Wailers, and The Doobie Brothers and founded the highly sought after “Sunday Ramble” concert that features local Key West musicians.

Website: https://www.nicknormanmusic.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nicknormanmusic

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nicknormanmusic

In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Alessandra Torre, an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty-two novels.

We talk about how a summer project turned into her first novel, and how tweaking a couple of words on the Amazon description had her go from 10 sales per day to over 2000 per day.

If you are interested in writing a book, publishing, or how to even get started, this episode is for you!

More on Alessandra

A New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, Alessandra Torre has written twenty-two novels, including three New York Times bestsellers.

Her first book, Blindfolded Innocence, was a breakout hit, rising to the top of the ebook charts on Amazon where it attracted the interest of major publishing houses and garnered Torre her first print deal with Harlequin HQN. Less than twelve months later, Torre signed a second six-figure print deal, this time with Redhook (Hachette) for the Deanna Madden series, an erotic suspense trilogy.

Torre has been featured in such publications as Elle and Elle UK, as well as guest-blogged for the Huffington Post and RT Book Reviews. She is also the Bedroom Blogger for Cosmopolitan.com. In 2017, her New York Times bestseller HOLLYWOOD DIRT, was released as a full-length film by PassionFlix. Torre’s novels have been translated in seventeen languages and are distributed in over thirty countries.

Torre is the creator of Alessandra Torre Ink – an authors community and online school with over 10,000 members. She is also the founder of INKERS CON, an annual authors conference. A self-publishing advocate, Alessandra speaks frequently to universities, conventions and author groups.

From her home in Key West, Florida, she devotes several hours each day to various writing projects and interacting with her fans on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. When not battling her husband at Scrabble, she chases her pet chickens, three dogs, and shoos away iguanas.

To stay informed, consider subscribing to Torre’s popular monthly newsletter.

Available for: Book Signings, Speaking, Keynotes, Interviews, Promotional Events.

Agent: Maura Kye-Casella, Don Congdon & Associates, Inc
Contact her at:  [email protected]

Website: https://www.alessandratorre.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/alessandratorre4/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Alessandra-Torre/e/B0095WFMGQ/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/AlessandraTorre

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AlessandraTorre0

Twitter: https://twitter.com/readalessandra/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/atorreauthor/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwoc0NYWzikybgJs8GgX_AA

In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with the CEO/ Co-Owner George Fernandez.

We talk about the more than 60 different species of butterflies and rubbing elbows (more like beaks), with Rhett and Scarlett at the Flamingle (a meeting with 2 local flamingos).

George explains how they delight all or your senses with sounds, colors, aromatherapy smells, and of course, wonder!

Learn about how the Conservatory started, and how it was just named one of the best Butterfly Conservatories in the US.

More on Butterfly & Nature Conservatory

Walk Among Hundreds of Living Butterflies and Colorful Birds!

Feel your stress fade away as you enter our magical world of butterflies. Relax and be amazed as you stroll through our tropical paradise. Walk through a magical and inviting environment filled with hundreds of the most beautiful winged creatures in nature. During your breathtaking journey, you will experience an impressive collection of flowering plants, colorful birds, cascading waterfalls and trees that set the stage for the “flowers of the sky.” Witness a variety of some 50 to 60 butterfly species from around the world, along with over 20 exotic bird species, all under a climate-controlled, glass-enclosed habitat.

In The Learning Center, explore the butterfly anatomy, physiology, life cycle, feeding and the migratory world of the Monarch. Also, get a rare close-up view of a variety of live caterpillars feeding and developing on their host plants. Browse through our unique Gift Shop offering a wide assortment of butterfly and nature-related items. Wings of Imagination, the Butterfly Gallery, offers original artwork by artist Sam Trophia. The acrylic shadow boxes depict the butterfly’s beauty preserved and suspended in an art form in a spectrum of colors, shapes and sizes – your perfect piece of art from your vacation in Key West

View Their Live WebCam!

Website: https://www.keywestbutterfly.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thekeywestbutterfly

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheKeyWestButterflyAndNatureConservatory

Hours: Conservatory 9am-5pm

Gift Shop & Gallery 9am-5:30pm

Location: 1316 Duval Street Key West, Florida 33040

Email Us: [email protected]

​Call Us: (305) 296-2988

In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Matthew Nooner and Raymond J. Vazquez, the owners of The Local, Butcher & Market.

We talk about where the idea came from (hint, it was over drinks), and how Matt and Raymond went from idea to execution.

If you are in a family business or work with loved ones, this episode is a good one because we go behind the scenes on how to navigate working and living together.

More on The Local Butcher

Locally owned and operated specialty butcher shop & market located in Key West, Florida. We do our best to fulfill any special orders. Open 7 days a week.

Offering a wide selection of Beef, Pork Chicken, Seasonal Game, Imported Cheeses & other various items.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/TheLocalButcherandMarket

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pg/TheLocalButcherandMarket

1202 White Street, Key West FL

Phone: 305-741-7207

Hours: 10AM – 7PM

In the episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Kyle Carter to talk about a whole lot of live music.

We talk about his involvement in the Songwriters Sessions, Songwriters Festival, and his own creation, Mile 0 Fest.

Kyle and his family were living, what most consider to be a “comfortable life,” but something was missing.

After falling in love with Key West, Kyle sold it all and took his love for music to his newly beloved island paradise.

Living a “comfortable life” may sound good on paper, but in the end, going after your dreams is what LIFE is all about.

More on Mile 0 Fest – (Jan 28 – Feb 1)

Mile 0 Fest was founded in 2017, with its first year of production being 2018. It was created on the principle of producing a festival that checked all of the boxes: 

  • Fantastic Line-Up – that has repeat and fan favorites back every year, but also brings in new faces, and fresh talent. The best in Red Dirt Americana
  • Location, Location, Location – A destination that was enjoyable for everyone! Key West has everything, beaches, fishing, water-sports, history, shopping, dining, dancing, its the perfect vacation.
  • Fan Bliss – A festival that puts the fans first. No overcrowding here, we are a boutique festival with an attendance cap.  Over a short period of time, our attendees have become family. With almost every state represented, music fans from all over the country come together once a year to celebrate the common thread that binds them. The Love of great music.
  • Flexibility – You want to come as a VIP and have all of your lodgings, passes, and extras are taken care of with a one-stop-shop? You got it! We have an incredible concierge staff that can make that happen. You want to book everything yourself and just get a pass to the festival? We can do that too! (Check out the Packages and Passes page for more detailed information) 

What is Mile 0 Fest? Mile 0 Fest is a 4 Day Red Dirt/Americana Music Festival in Paradise (aka Key West). 

When is Mile 0 Fest? The third annual Mile 0 Fest will be January 28th-February 1st. We have our Duval Street Kick-Off Party on Tuesday, January 28th, 2020. It is open to the public and is a free show for everyone. So although the festival is a four-day festival, you want to come in the day before and enjoy the kick-off party. 

Where is Mile 0 Fest? Mile 0 Fest is held in Key West, Florida. We utilize numerous stages all over the island with our biggest stage being the Truman Waterfront Park Amphitheater. Local venues like The Smokin’ Tuna, Irish Kevin’s, Durty Harry’s, Viva Saloon, The Southernmost Beach Resort & Cafe, The Southernmost House, Sunset Pier, Cowboy Bill’s, Key West Theater, The San Carlos Institute, Fury Cruises and many more are also utilized throughout the week to provide ample opportunity to check out Key West while enjoying your favorite Red Dirt/Americana Artists. 

Who Plays Mile 0 Fest? Only the best in Red Dirt & Americana. Past year’s performers have included, Trampled By Turtles, Turnpike Troubadours, Stoney Larue, Shinyribs, Mike & The Moonpies, Jamie Lin Wilson, Jamie Wyatt, John Moreland, John Fullbright, American Aquarium, The Great Divide, Cody Canada & The Departed, Bonnie Bishop, Todd Snider, Paul Thorn, Pat Green, Jason Boland & The Stragglers, The Mavericks, Walt & Tina Wilkins, Jason Eady, Courtney Patton, William Clark Green and many more. 2020’s line-up is looking to be the biggest yet with Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Robert Earl Keen, Randy Rogers Band & Whiskey Myers taking the headlining spots. Click HERE to see the full 2020 line-up and past year’s line-ups. 

Website: https://mile0fest.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mile0festkeywest

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mile0festkeywest

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Mile0Fest

Florida Weekly Article: https://keywest.floridaweekly.com/articles/mile-0-fest

In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Mark Certonio, the creator of the Key West Food & Wine Festival.

We talk about when the festival was created, and what his driving force was to take on such a big undertaking. Mark also gives a great overview of what to expect as an attendee, and how you better get your festival tickets before they’re all gone (he’s not joking).

Mark also sits on the executive committee of the famed “Oldest House Museum” located on 322 Duval Street, which is where the interview took place.

**NOTE** If you want to hear a behind the scenes chatter, I kept the tape rolling as we rant about the future of Marketing,

About the Key West Food & Wine Festival (January 26 – February 2)

The Key West Food and Wine Festival is ​a series of wine and food-themed events showcasing a diverse range of wines and inventive cuisine, hosted by their passionate creators at iconic island locations.

Over 20 unique events including waterfront tastings, winemaker/chef collaborations, and local funky events that present an authentic taste of Key West, Florida

The place to be in January, the festival attracts thousands of culinary explorers from around the country who descend on the tropical island to escape the winter and delight their senses. 

Website: https://keywestfoodandwinefestival.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/keywestfoodandwinefestival

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KWfoodwineFest

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kwfoodwinefest/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/KWfoodwineFest

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCewWPtwbU6B–_1GIaTbBYw

About the Oldest House Museum

The Oldest House in South Florida is located at 322 Duval Street in Key West. The house and garden admission is $5.00 per person, children under 12 are free. We are open to the public from 10 am to 4 pm every day except Sunday and Wednesday. Staff and docents are available to provide historical information about the house and family, and to answer questions.

The house features family portraits and original furnishings, as well as other period pieces, ship models, and documents telling the story of old Key West. In the rear of the house is a spacious, peaceful garden, where benches invite you to sit and reflect. There, you will see the only surviving Cook House in South Florida.

Website: http://oldesthousemuseum.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OldestHouseandGardensKeyWest/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/OldestHouseKW

In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with the owner of UVA Wine Shoppe, Mark Gambuzza.

We talk about why he made his move down to Key West and how he got started in the wine business. Mark provides some great insights on how being patient and putting his customer first has not only benefited his business but his overall way of life.

Main takeaway: Happiness is the new ROI in life.

More on UVA – A CURATED SELECTION

We offer you a selection of the best wines from around the world, as do other fine wine sellers. But what makes Uva a unique wine shop is the experience we offer: we love to share our recommendations almost as much as we enjoy sampling our wines, so we’re happy to do both while we help you make an informed choice.

You can cozy up to our tasting counter to savor a glass, attend a wine tasting or join our monthly Wine Club where everyone has a favorite. Enjoy a special Uva cheese board. Special because Uva is now offering our personal selection of artisanal cheeses and meats unique to the Keys. Plus, you can take the party home with you, or send it to a friend—we’ll be happy to put it all together, deliver to your home, hotel or boat and let you take the credit.

All your wine and gift needs

Uva is the perfect choice to plan your wine selections for any meal or event. We offer customized gift baskets for any occasion. Discounts are available on any and all mixed cases of wine. We also provide free delivery in Key West and can ship to select states. Just stop in, call or email us, for info on how we can help add the right choices for your needs and budget.

“Uva is a proud part of the Key West Community. We encourage everyone to please shop local, to preserve the uniqueness and integrity of our little island. The heart and soul of Key West lies in the special people that live and work here, and by the generous nature of those that travel from all over, to enjoy and support our endeavors and bask in our special culture”

-Mark Gambuzza

Website: https://www.uvakeywest.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/uva_key_west

519 Fleming St, Key West, FL 33040
(305) 735-4871

Monday – Friday: 12 PM–10 PM
Saturday: 12 PM–5 PM
Sunday: Closed

Mark’s Band, Parrothead Massacre: https://www.facebook.com/parrotheadmassacre

In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with artist Eric Anfinson. We spoke about how the first time he picked up a paintbrush he hated the result but fell in love with the process.

It was this love of “doing” that had him coming back for more, eventually creating a client base around the world.

I particularly LOVE this episode because it touches on how important the process is.  If all you care about is the outcome, you may be in for a life of sorrow, but when you love the process, you will have a life of true fulfillment. 

More on Eric Anfinson

Eric Anfinson’s painting journey began in the fall of 2001 after he moved to a 2×4 mile island where the Gulf of Mexico & the Atlantic meet. 

Anfinson is part of a well-established creative collective in Key West, Florida . . . an island known affectionately by locals as ‘the rock’.  The remote location & unique community continue to offer rich subject matter for Anfinson’s work. 

The people that call this island home, & those who pass through, live on in the faces & figures in Anfinson’s paintings.

A self-trained painter, Anfinson’s work is in collections throughout North America & Europe. 

Anfinson, a native of Minnesota, paints full-time from his home-based Mockingbird Studio in Key West, Florida. 

Art is everything & sometimes simply an essence.
It is the tool that I use & that uses me in return. 
It is my best & most critical friend.
But these words mean nothing by themselves…
the work – the active process – is what matters most
.

– Eric

Website: https://ericanfinson.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mockingbirdstudio

STUDIO

Mockingbird Studio  –  owner:  Key West, FL  /  2007 – present

Represented by Gingerbread Square Gallery

305-296-8900
1207 Duval Street, Key West, FL

In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Chef Richard of the newly famed Lola’s Bistro.

We talked about how he got started, working with some of the top French and Italian chefs, why he chose to only have 9 tables and how he loves chatting up his customers as he cooks right in the corner of the restaurant.

More on Lola’s Bistro

A new Italian eclectic BYOB restaurant with a bohemian vibe!

Address: 728 Simonton St Key West FL 33040
Dinner House 7 nights (6pm – 11pm)
Reservation only
305-203-4457

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lolasbistrokeywest

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lolasbistro_keywest

Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/lolas-bistro-key-west

Click here to read the full transcription of the episode: https://backyardsofkeywest.com/lolas-bistro