We are having a conversation between Mark Baratto and Bri Gangi.
MARK: This is the Backyards of Key West; my name is Mark Baratto and why don’t you introduce yourself and what you do.
BRI: All right, my name is Bri Gangi, Brianna to some. I’m the Marketing Director here at the Key West Theater and for Rams Head Presents Key West.
MARK: Let’s start, if you don’t mind, with Rams Head Presents or the parent company or that whole thing, because I do no research before-hand.
BRI: That’s great!
MARK: I like to have a normal conversation and not think in my head, I already know all these things, so, please if you don’t mind.
BRI: Sure, so Rams Head has been in Key West for about five years. They started in the Northeast, in the Annapolis area, so they have some venues up there. They do large scale shows, smaller scale shows, they go to colleges and will put on shows there. But here in Key West, the owner of Rams Head is Bill Muehlhauser, he has been coming to Key Wets for a very, very long time. He’s always been involved with music, had an interest in music and saw the opportunity to bring music to Key West! You know, you have…
MARK: When was that, and sorry to interrupt.
BRI: Five years ago. Yeah.
MARK: There was music here, but it was more local acts, rather than grander?
BRI: Yeah, there are some great free live music venues here. Amazing ones. I think he more so saw the opportunity for bigger concerts. So, the Key West Theater was here and five years ago the building itself and the Key West Theater name was more theater driven.
MARK: Right, like performing arts rather than musical.
BRI: Yup, and so the first show they put on was in, I want to say November of 2015. Rams Head put on Deana Carter and then after that, I’m trying to think…
MARK: While we are stalling, so we need to have a little bit more of the picture here. Key West Theater, did he purchase it?
MARK: He came down here and there was like… CATS and musicals, and those kind of things going on and he was like, we need real music, not real music but we just need not theater, we need more performing music. And I’m going to buy this theater and I want to put together these amazing acts and bring big-time music to Key West.
BRI: Yup, and so at the time a great gentleman by the name of Tap Johnson owned the building. He did for a few years enter Rams Head putting on shows here so Rams Head got an office here and they started to establish themselves with these concerts but it was only about two years ago that Bill bought the building. Created an office space here for Rams Head employees, not just for himself or one person, and all of that theater stuff started to just kinda separate, and you saw more of it being the down the street and across the street at the Studios (of Key West) and the Tropic Cinema and about two years ago, Rams Head was able to say this is a music driven facility. Whether that be recording at the recording studio, turning this backstage listening room into a performance venue, because before it was just a tiny little practice space for the theater people.
MARK: Was this his first actual, well I wouldn’t say building, but place for the music to perform in?
BRI: In Key West?
MARK: No, I mean in total?
MARK: He owns other buildings and this isn’t his first go at this.
BRI: No, he had already established Rams Head up in Maryland in Annapolis.
MARK: Okay, so not just because I thought it was, from what it sounded like, that it was, okay we are the production company that puts together all the acts instead of, and we have the facility to perform on.
BRI: It was the opposite. It started as putting on the shows and then having the facility and sort of being able to say this is how it could go.
MARK: That’s great because a lot of times those things are separated to now that it’s like all impacted into one venue, where it’s like, okay the staff is working here, you could be recording music in here, they could be performing here, and it’s all owned by the same person, or the same business is great. Instead of like, I’ve got a landlord here, and I’ve got this here, and you know, I understand the separation of that, but in this it just seems like it’s a really good fit.
MARK: And, it’s been working well?
BRI: It’s been working really well. So, the Key West Theater is also a non-profit so the Key West Theater and Community Stage is a non-profit.
MARK: What does that mean?
BRI: Key West Theater and Community Stage? So, any show that is put on at the Key West Theater and this is where things get really funny to explain, it might make people’s brains hurt.
MARK: It’s okay, we can have a little brain hurting on this show.
BRI: Key West Theater and Community Stage would be your Coffee Butler shows, it would be the shows that we put on here at the backstage listening room, any of those local events that aren’t put on by, like Ralph dePalma will do a show, or you know, people during Fantasy Fest week can rent the venue and put on a show.
MARK: It’s not just like, if the high school wants to put on a musical or something, they are coming here it’s more like smaller local acts instead of like, some big record label is like we are sending x-y-z person down there. How would that work? Let’s say that I’m Sting – which I’m not – clearly by the voice, and I’m like, I want to go to Key West, I want to play something intimate, I want it to be in Key West, my manager – well figure it out. How does that work?
BRI: Yup. That would usually go through Rams Head because Rams Head is capable of putting on shows like that whereas if they came to the Key West Theater and Community Stage and said, “I want to put this on.” You’d be like this should really go through people who know how.
MARK: Right, so then my team – as me as Sting – would go to Rams Head and work…
BRI: Then work out a deal…
MARK: Right, and then what I want in my Green Room like a yoga mat and all this stuff to do my yoga and all that, and then would sell the tickets as well, right?
BRI: Yes, and the tickets actually go through the Key West Theater box office. Anybody who is renting our venue through the Key West Theater, anyone who is renting our venue through Rams Head, their tickets are going to be sold through the Key West Theater box office.
MARK: Right, okay, so the building itself is owned by a company but there is a charitable organization that’s attached to this for particular type and like the ticketing that happens and other things.
BRI: Yeah, and this is one little part I forgot, because like I said, it gets very confusing. Bill owns Rams Head. Bill owns Key West Theater. It’s two separate things but it’s not.
MARK: Right. He separated the two, so they have two separate purposes, but owned by the same business in person.
BRI: Exactly. In person, yeah, and his partners. It’s gets very detailed.
MARK: Okay, so Bill we are talking about you, you’re not here and I wish you were.
BRI: He probably won’t listen to this.
MARK: I don’t think he will. I don’t think Sting is gonna listen either. But my question is, was he a musician? Can you give me an origin story on him?
BRI: I know some of his origin. We had a show here in the backstage listening room with Britt Myers of Keys Weekly and Britt interviewed him and I was there listening in and he has a very colorful work history. He, well I’m pretty sure raced cars. He was a gas station attendant. Very interesting person.
MARK: Okay good. Maybe at one time I’ll get him.
BRI: I think we should try for it and sit him on this lovely couch.
MARK: Listen everybody, let me paint this picture because, we jumped the gun and went right into things, but Bri was giving me this tour and you come in and you go in through the side because you go up to the second floor where the offices are, and it’s like an old historic building. How old is this building? Do you know?
BRI: It was built in the 1800’s, the original building.
MARK: Right, it used to be a church, which we can get into that, and we will get into that. But, so…
BRI: I think it’s like 1860-something.
MARK: Yeah, you can tell it has this old creaky, not creaky like it’s gonna fall down, but like it’s got bone-age to it. And the floors are old, and the walls and it’s such a beautiful experience and when I looked to get tickets or I looked online, it appears to be larger as far as the seating and how far am I gonna be from the stage, but when I get the tour and I look, you’re like – there’s not a bad seat in the house. I’m not saying that because I’m getting sponsored, I’m saying that because I want to buy tickets to come here and I’m like okay, now I know where I can sit and I’m making my observations. You can go to the balcony which has the and I got the tour there and it has the private bathroom and it has a private bar in that area up there. Or the general admission, I guess you’d call it on the ground level area which is like, every seat in there is pretty amazing. We did a little more touring and I saw where all the office space was and now, we walk through into another room which is a smaller stage for performing, which can seat how many people?
BRI: In the backstage listening room? 55.
MARK: Okay, 55 here and then you said two-something.
BRI: 278 in the main.
MARK: Okay, 278 in the main, 55 back here which would be like if I was Sting – my closest friends – I would be performing back here and it would be so amazing.
BRI: Yeah, we can high-five you.
MARK: Yeah, right! He would be putting me in pretzel poses, and it would be so cool. And then, we walk now into this other room which is inside that other room, and this is like the production room?
BRI: It’s a recording studio.
MARK: It’s a recording studio where they have the glass window where you can see the drums and that’s where my band would be playing.
BRI: This is also where our non-profit comes in. So, we’re so happy to get people in this room in the recording studio because there are so many amazing local musicians in this town. It’s hard to find an affordable space to record your original music. We give great rates to locals through the non-profit. We also offer this space for podcasts.
MARK: Oh, nice! That’s why it sounds so wonderful in here.
BRI: Uh-huh, and also for voiceovers and we had an ex-NFL coach come in to do a voiceover for a commercial once, which was kinda cool. I didn’t know him.
MARK: He was visiting? Or, he was living here?
BRI: He lives here part-time, somebody knew about it, contacted him and they’re like, “Hey come here.”
MARK: What is the most famous recording that has been done in this building? Besides this one of course.
BRI: Besides this one, probably that ex-NFL coach, that was kinda cool. We gotta give locals the love. You know?
MARK: Yeah, give me the local love, you know?
BRI: Local love? We’ve had Nick Norman do stuff in here. We had…
MARK: Because it would be here or where, Miami right? You’d have to drive?
BRI: To be honest, I know that Jimmy Buffett has a recording studio in town. Kenny Chesney maybe? So maybe if they want to offer up their space?
MARK: But that’s like their private one, right? Yeah, no one is going in there.
BRI: Up north, you’d go way up north.
MARK: What about the largest act that has performed here? Largest in your opinion and then largest where you’re like Oh my God look at the turnout on this thing?
BRI: All right, Colin Haye who sold out. Johnny Swim which is much bigger now then when they, they didn’t sell out this venue which is kinda crazy to me. Now they are selling out much, much bigger venues. Colin Hay, Johnny Swim, Toad the Wet Sprocket was really cool.
MARK: Oh yeah! I back in the day, I remember Toad.
BRI: So, we like to say that we get people who are either on their way out or are on their way up. Sometimes we get those in between people, but now we have two other venues that we can use through Rams Head.
MARK: Which are? What are the other venues?
BRI: Sunset Green event lawn.
MARK: Okay cool, I didn’t know that. I thought that was owned by that whole.
BRI: Yup, it is, so we will rent that venue and put bigger acts there.
MARK: I was wondering because I did see stuff that was like, Rams Head Presents, and I was like, how is this working out?
BRI: Then also the Key West Amphitheater, which we just got the contract to manage.
MARK: You must be thrilled that that was built.
BRI: It’s amazing, I think it’s great for this town to put it on the map even more, get heads and beds as they say.
MARK: For sure, and coming from Miami and I’m sorry Miami but a zero-music town. There’s like, zero live music happening, a couple of things. Down here there’s tons of live music all the time. It was nice to see and hear about the Songwriter’s Festival and all these things popping up that are really driving those larger acts to want to come here. Like, when I was speaking with Nadene when she had mentioned with the Songwriter’s Festival and what’s cool about it is that you have these big headliners that will come and sing, but they won’t go. They will stay and show up in this bar and listen to friends play and that’s so cool. It reminds me of New Orleans and Jazz Fest and stuff like that.
BRI: And that’s what we want to be. We want to be that in demand, as New Orleans, Nashville, it would be so great to make Key West – that.
MARK: It would, come on with this weather and the water and everything. And it’s a big airport for Key West, you wouldn’t think so but like direct flights to New York and stuff like that, come on it’s great. Tell me, when he first started or, how long have you been here?
BRI: One year in August, a little over a year.
MARK: Tell me how the business begins to grow when he first took it over and started bringing in the music acts? Was there pushback? Were people like, we love it and it’s been loved ever since?
BRI: I can’t speak for Bill, but from the conversations I’ve had with Kelly (Norman) she’s the Director of the Key West Theater and she also heads Rams Head shows and facilitates everything – she’s awesome – and I think it was very exciting concept that all of these bigger musicians were coming here and they were going to be ticketed events. Music was moving out to Sunset Green event lawn and it was very exciting, but it’s a small amount of people in this town. You can only hit them so much with concerts. You know, they can’t go to multiple concerts every week, nobody can afford that, it’s crazy so I’d say the biggest thing to tackle was bringing people down from the mainland. It still is tricky. But it’s becoming easier, especially with Key West Amphitheater, it’s a bigger venue so that we are seeing bigger names there, it’s gaining attention which is great. That allows us to shine the light on the Key West Theater. We have Blackberry Smoke coming to Key West Amphitheater and they are also doing an exclusive acoustic set here at the Key West Theater. So, it’s gonna shine more light hopefully on these smaller venues as well.
MARK: What are you doing from a marketing standpoint to get the attention of these acts, or do you go more like B2B and go after the production companies and the managers, or how does that work?
BRI: Most of the times it’s seeing who is touring where. It’s also the tour manager saying, “we saw this venue, or you’re on our route, can we work something out?” But a lot of the time, it’s us presenting them with a deal like, hey we see that you’re in West Palm, can you work in the state, what are your prices, can we offer you this deal and that kind of thing. I don’t personally do any of that.
MARK: Let’s think of it like this, let’s pretend you have nothing planned, we are starting from ground zero. Find out these 50 artists, find out where they’re touring and the location and if any of them are coming anywhere close to Florida? Does it kinda go like that, or how does that process even begin to go, I want to try, how do I even know to start to find who?
BRI: Our booking agents, we have one that’s based out of New Orleans for Rams Head anyway. And then another in Annapolis. And so, whatever their network is that they are working with, there are lists of people who are touring and where they’re going and then it becomes a deal. You work a deal with them.
MARK: They are doing the searching for all of the Rams Head venues, and then they’re saying cool, this person is staying up in this area, we’ll go to this one and then this one is coming down south let’s point them in this direction, is that kinda how it is?
BRI: Sort of, yeah. Then it’s us seeking them out, too.
MARK: From a marketing perspective, you’re marketing the theater or are you marketing the events as they are planned?
BRI: Events as they’re planned. It’s not so much the venue as a whole.
MARK: Got it, okay so Big Bad Voodoo Daddy is coming and you’re like I need to get butts in seats, what am I doing for that, go!
BRI: I start by making a marketing plan. I usually get a sense of what works and what doesn’t with a band because you might have somebody like Samantha Fish who is sort of still getting more well known. You ask them what are some things that work for Sam? What are some things that don’t? A lot of time it starts with Facebook Ads.
MARK: I was just going say, you could be fans of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and let’s start marketing to them in an x-mile radius of the location.
BRI: I, ironically hate social media. I hate it. But there’s no escaping it when you have a marketing job now. You have to get on Facebook and on Instagram, www.BandsInTown.com and hit all these people digitally.
MARK: Tell me what you hate about it?
BRI: What do I hate about social media? Umm, there’s no depth to it.
MARK: What about from the marketing perspective?
BRI: From the marketing perspective, I love it.
MARK: Right, because it is as deep as you can get into the individuality…
BRI: Yeah, oh my gosh, you dissect every little detail and it’s …
MARK: Not to be all marketing here because we have two marketing people in the room, but I love it because you are now allowed to speak to your customer the way they want to be spoken to. You can say, 40-year old men that live in Massachusetts and talk with a Boston accent, you can talk in the commercial that you’re making to that, instead of make a vanilla one that is a white rich guy with glasses talking to everybody. And they’re like, nobody likes commercials, nobody believes any of that anyway, now at least you can communicate more the way people want to be communicated to.
BRI: And so, a good example of that, we have Lee Brice coming down November 7th during the boat race week. Their team sent us a bunch of sizzle reels which for people who don’t know that, it’s just a quick little flash of different concerts and pictures with the song in the background.
MARK: It’s a mashup.
BRI: It’s a mashup, exactly. They sent us two; one was drinking class and the other was some song I didn’t know but, I looked at Kelly and I was like, we have to get this out there to the Florida Keys. They are the drinking class and they love their little bars and that song just worked. So, it was like we were speaking just to the Florida Keys with that song. We could choose all that.
MARK: I would be creating content at scale, used to be musically, but now it’s TikTok.
BRI: I have not hopped on TikTok.
MARK: Even though TikTok is young and excuse young, but guess what, so did Facebook. Now Facebook skews them a lot older because it would be so cool if you could have the relationship with some musicians, that they would be lip-syncing other people’s music.
BRI: That would be amazing.
MARK: You could record that and put that on TikTok.
MARK: The thing about TikTok right now is because it’s so under the amount of attention that’s there, you can get exposure wise, just go to the App store and look up TikTok if you don’t know what I’m talking about, is you don’t have to be 16 and lip-syncing on it. You can put a sizzle reel on there. You can put everything on there. So, because this is music that you guys are doing, I think it would crush, even if you can get someone lip-syncing their own song. Clearly lip-syncing, like start drinking water while the song is playing and it would just be hilarious.
BRI: That would be pretty amazing.
MARK: Just a little free tip there.
BRI: And it’s cool because when these artists come here to the theater, we had Amy Grant last weekend and Dirty Dozen Brass Band which is a New Orleans band and they are so cool. When they get here, they’re like looking around and they are like, how are you? How’s it going? 90% of the time they want to talk and engage and they love doing that kinda stuff so they might want to do a TikTok.
MARK: It would be fun. It would be so fun and you could put it on Instagram, you could put it everywhere and just from a social perspective of people being like, wow these bands… it makes them more personable.
MARK: That’s the thing about social media and marketing, this is Rams Head Presents so we are talking about all these kind of things as a business. Whether you love it or hate it, there’s a reason why reality TV does so well. There’s a reason why when you’re stuck in traffic for 20 minutes and then you drive and there’s no accident but everybody is rubber necking because people are curious. And if you could take the more real you are and show things to people and nothing has to be perfect because guess what? It’s not perfect for them either. In a world where everything social media is perfect, the more imperfection you show, the more people say “Wow!” You want to get the person thinking “me, too” rather than “oh.” And it’s so much better to do that. Recording, and I would love to, if I have a musician whether they are coming in or coming out, but I’m obsessed with just to see the process of them coming in here and sitting on this thing and even if it was a mashup, like say you recorded an hour of it, and did little tiny mashups of it and put together a 10-minute behind the scenes where they open the thing and they go on and it shuts off.
BRI: There’s a bus driver and then like, yeah.
MARK: And interviewing those people would be like, I’d be like listening to that like crazy. It could be your own podcast in here you know? Behind, behind, behind the scenes.
BRI: Love it, love it!
MARK: Tell me now that obviously things are growing a lot more and everything is getting exciting, is it going to be just music in those three venues or are you moving to bars or anything local like that?
BRI: Rams Head also just bought Blue Macaw which is a restaurant on Whitehead Street. It’s a great little place and so Rams Head also owns restaurants up north and so they have all the experience and knowledge and the marketing and the this and the that, and we are hoping to make more pre-show parties or night before, because so many people have to drive down here, they are in town the day before the show.
MARK: They are not coming for the one show and then leaving at 10 or 11.
BRI: Yeah, it’s a lot of people staying overnight or for multiple nights or weekends, so we are trying to incorporate that into the shows as well.
MARK: That’s great. What about a recording – not studio – but like company? Finding local talent and working them up to coming here and then working them out to wherever is next?
BRI: There hasn’t been any talk about that.
MARK: Hopefully I’m not, well we can always pretend that we didn’t hear any of that stuff, I’m not getting any winks though, this is not, she’s not kicking me. That’s not her kicking me.
BRI: I’m stoic right now.
MARK: But that would be cool, see all these ideas I find out come to fruition, I will take none of the credit.
BRI: It’s one step at a time. It’s making and something that I really admire about Bill is that he’s a perfectionist but he believes in what he’s doing. So, he isn’t going to take on three other projects in this town until one is perfect and he’ll see it through and the team we have right now is really small but he really believes in all of us. He’s bringing out the best in us and that has a lot to do with Rams Head now succeeding.
MARK: Listen, that has a lot to say about him, too. He’s not going to listen to this, maybe, and he’s not sitting over there on the couch, and I can tell you have a lot of admiration for him as a boss and as a person and that, listen, as an employee and working for or with anybody, that’s the one thing you want. To enjoy what you do, work with people that give you freedom and creativity to learn and grow yourself instead of like, because sometimes when you hear someone is a perfectionist, which I am in my own right for things, but sometimes they can be like, “no, no it’s my way or the highway, like the 1990’s phrases.” Instead of cool… this is the way I’ve done it and I want to hear how you do it so that I can learn and grow. You’re not him, you’re not a man, you’re not his age, you’re not all these things and it’s important to learn all those different things and constantly be growing. That’s great, so hats off to him for that.
BRI: Yeah, it’s amazing and you know, we’ve had conversations because of course I’m younger than most people I work with, but he’s never seen that as a negative which is great and we’ve had conversations about it and it’s a great thing to not be held back because of your age or because of this huge age gap between you and your coworkers. I love that.
MARK: That’s the tip for people listening out here, like why are we talking about this? It’s because if you’re running a business then this is the way you treat people. This is the way you keep people; this is the way they stay and flourish and feed the business. And, if you’re working for someone and you’re not getting any of these things, listen there’s nothing wrong with starting at ground zero somewhere else because this isn’t the 80’s, the 70’s where at 60 years old you’re gonna die. At 60 you’ve got like almost, well you’re almost at half-time. So, don’t worry about any of that stuff. So, what do we have up and coming? And, probably give me stuff a month out since this won’t air probably for a month.
BRI: Let’s see, October we have and that’s when things get busy because it’s our first busy month of the year, our kick-off of the new season is October 1st. October 3rd we have Anders Osborne he’s a New Orleans guy, we love our New Orleans musicians. He’s here October 3rd and we have a show October 5th and then a cool one is Tom Petty Tribute band because everybody loves Tom Petty. Rest in peace.
MARK: Poor Tom Petty, but his music is so good.
BRI: Our next big one would be the Allman Betts Band at Sunset Green event lawn.
MARK: Yes, I saw that.
BRI: That will be cool. Everybody loves the Allman Brothers and it’s their…
MARK: And the weather, we were just talking about this today. The littlest bit of degrees in the morning and in the evening cooler, I’m starting to feel.
BRI: Yeah, me too!
MARK: Which to come October and that time of year being on the green, being outside, it’s just gonna be magical down here. What about Fantasy Fest? Do you collaborate with them or do you shut down during times of that?
BRI: It is so difficult to pull people off the streets to come to a concert, of course there are people who aren’t out there shaking their booties and going to these parties.
MARK: Right, but if they are spending $1,000 a night and they are here?
BRI: Hell yeah, bring ‘em down!
MARK: Well they are here usually for that; they are not thinking why am I spending a $1,000 at the Holiday Inn and I’m not here for that?
BRI: Right, so we have one show on October 20th which I believe for the Monday of Fantasy Fest, and it’s The Robert Randolph and the Family Band. They came twice before and did really well, so we are hoping that people come out to the show and we’re not going to set our expectations super super high.
MARK: Did you ever think of collaborating with We’ve Got the Keys? Or Fantasy Fest?
BRI: I believe in the past have had events here during that week. Not music events, I think parties.
MARK: You don’t want to have a big party here with things getting trashed and all that.
BRI: Well, we do have Dirty Doctors and Naughty Nurses, which is a Fantasy Fest party.
MARK: And when is that? I like the sound of that.
BRI: It’s the 25th or something? Or the 26th, yeah, the 26th. That’s a rental so those people are renting the venue, having their party through the Key West Theater.
MARK: I can only imagine. You can look it up online, we don’t need to go into any of those deals.
BRI: We don’t need to go into that. Then Key West Burlesque does some great burlesque shows that week as well.
MARK: That’s cool.
BRI: We kind of leave the venue open for that sort of thing rather than music.
MARK: That makes sense because everyone wants to be outside bar hopping. It’s so out of my wheelhouse event wise because typically it’s like, this big venue and this is from the corporate side you’re selling sponsorship and there’s booths and there’s all kinds of stuff going on. With Fantasy Fest it’s like, well we don’t sell tickets for anything unless they are small venues like a bar and they’re selling their own tickets. Everything is free for everybody to go to and there’s 100 different parties going on all over the place and there are some major events that are happening but it’s like it’s a hodge podge of Key Weird, which is why we’re here. So where could people go to find out more, and I’ll put all this in the show notes but to find out more about what you guys are doing here?
BRI: For Rams Head stuff you’re gonna want to go www.KeyWestConcertSeries.com and there you’re going to find your Key West Theater shows, Sunset Green and Amphitheater shows that Rams Head is putting on. As for Key West Theater, you can go to the www.KeyWestTheater.com and there you’ll find our shows put on by the Key West Theater, by Ralph dePalma, other locals that are awesome and also the Rams Head shows that are here.
MARK: You can purchase tickets online to the right performance and then at the door over here, the lovely lady that was like, go up the stairs. Before we leave, there’s a couple of questions that I ask everybody.
BRI: Oh cool.
MARK: What is your favorite event to attend?
BRI: My favorite to attend within my job?
MARK: No, in Key West.
BRI: In Key West, gosh, I loved last year the parade. I went to a parade party so that – not the walking parade, but the big parade on Duval Street. A friend of mine had a party at PointFive, so above NineOneFive.
MARK: Nice, that was the second time I’ve heard that now.
BRI: Yeah, it was really awesome.
MARK: What about favorite place to go for happy hour?
BRI: My favorite place to go for happy hour would either be Mellow Ventures Café because it’s close by to my house. I can walk there with my dog and my boyfriend.
MARK: Oh, you know what? They do have great happy hour there. Yeah, because and they have great food happy hour as well.
BRI: And all the craft beer you can think of.
MARK: It changes, the food deals and stuff. Okay that’s cool.
BRI: I also love the Green Parrot, maybe not, I don’t even know if they have happy hour prices, but for Sound Check around that happy hour time, it’s the best.
MARK: That’s the second one I’ve heard about that too, go in there for Sound Check at 5, and they are like, we don’t know if they have happy hour drink specials but they’ve got that free popcorn, so we’re good with that. But Sound Check and all that is cool. Where can people find out, as far as social media, websites and stuff like that.
BRI: We have a Facebook page for the Key West Amphitheater now that we are managing it. We have Facebook page for Rams Head, and also a Facebook page for Key West Theater.
MARK: And Instagram for all that, I’ll put all that in the notes.
BRI: Yup, and we also have Twitter accounts.
MARK: I’ll put them in there in case you want to have a little tweeting.
BRI: It’s all automated, so I don’t actually see any of it because yeah, it’s all automated which is great.
MARK: What is your tip of the day? Tip of the day could be, drink more Kombucha, it could be I just got a new Apple watch and I love it, it could be like, I wear socks more because my feet stink, anything!
BRI: My tip of the day is just to be kind. Be kind to everybody. It’s just not always the nicest world and I think this is a great island and everybody is kind for the most part and keep on spreadin’ it.
MARK: I think that more people are kind, just kind people keep their mouth shut and mean people get loud. So, my tip on top of that would be like, just be loud about the nice things that happen. If someone does something nice, don’t keep it to yourself. Let people know. Okay. Now normally we end the show here, so those people that left early, you’re missing out on the story on this place. What it was and what happened.
BRI: Ooooh, yes. Okay. And there’s one little thing I didn’t tell you earlier. The building was built in 1800’s the original building, which I believe was 524 Eaton Street, this is 512 Eaton Street now. The building was built, it was a church and they had these people come down from the northeast we’ll say, and they started bringing in more people through their church and for their following and this man who was a preacher had a wife. The wife found out that the preacher was fenagling around with another woman who was a school teacher in the church. She was like, you know so upset about this and she ended up – long story short – locking the husband and the school teacher and the children in the building setting it on fire.
MARK: The whole building?
BRI: Whole building.
MARK: This whole building didn’t burn to the ground?
BRI: It burnt to the ground.
MARK: So, then they rebuilt it in the 1800’s.
BRI: Very soon after, rebuilt it. I believe it became a church again and there’s some history in there that’s just kinda dark, and I don’t know what went on, but then it became Club Chameleon. In the mid-to-late 90’s I believe, I have some pictures upstairs that I can show you, but it was Club Chameleon so it was a dance hall.
MARK: Like a party place? Wow.
BRI: It’s a little unclear. I’ve tried to do a lot of research on it but it’s a little unclear. So, then it was dark, the building was dark, closed, nothing going on. Until Tap Johnson and the Key West Theater came to be.
MARK: Now if you get freaked out by all that, the good news is this, this is where I come in, the good news is that yes it may have been a church, yes people may have turned to ash, but then it became a church again and then all that holy water and all that stuff cleansed it and blessed it so that it moved on to be a debauchery lounge of partying and then from there it went to what it is now, which is beautiful and wonderful and has taken off into beautifulness. Now, I should insert in here like someone crying in the background.
BRI: I’ve only had one ghost experience.
MARK: Which was? Come on!
BRI: I was the last one in the building after a show in the backstage listening room and I went upstairs to make sure everything was locked down and I heard someone go, “Ahhhh.” And I turned around and there was no one there! I said, “who’s still here?” Dead silence, nothing, and I hear it again as I’m running down the hallway (and hear again), “Ahhhh.”
MARK: What time was this?
BRI: Probably 11 at night. It wasn’t even that late.
MARK: Oh no! Yeah, but it’s late enough.
BRI: It’s late enough! And it’s dark enough and so I hopped on my bike and pedaled home.
MARK: Oh my God, on the bike, you’re like riding a bike and you’re like I can’t go fast enough on this bike. Oh my God, well listen Bri, it was great talking to you.
BRI: You, too.
MARK: Thank you so much for all this insight. Listen, if you left early, you missed out. That’s all I gotta say. Thanks again and I appreciate it.