KWParrotheads1During a kickoff open concert for the annual Parrot Heads “Meeting of the Minds” here on Wednesday evening, Oct. 29, outdoors at the Casa Marina, a traveling “trop rock” singer/musician and members of the Key West High School band, choir and video/TV team will exchange gifts that really give to the community.

The gifting on the resort beach stage will be both financial and creative follow-ups from “The Key West Connection,” a CD by singer/musician Don Middlebrook that features the KWHS band and choir in their own song, “Gypsy Wisdom.”  His concert is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. on the resort beach stage, with other musicians following.

Middlebrook was surprised to learn, while enroute here from Michigan on his annual “trop rock” tour, that KWHS students have produced a new video featuring their song, and will present their gift to him on stage the 29th. Students provided the music, the choir, and actual technical production.

Originally, the musician who has been performing in Key West for more than 20 years had planned to present a $1,500 check that represents proceeds so far from “Key West Connection” CD sales, and he was hoping students could be present. Instead, Middlebrook said he’s learned that members of the faculty and students will accept the check after a “musical march” in front of attending Parrot Heads and friends at the Casa Marina Oct. 29. Middlebrook also said he learned that as Parrot Heads head into their 23rd Annual “Meeting of the Minds” at Key West, the KWHS video project will already be “up on YouTube,” and featured there worldwide before, during, and after the days Parrot Heads enjoy their lively gathering.

The students’ song, “Gypsy Wisdom,” features the KWHS Band and Choir and their own lyrics, including:

“We don’t sing about rum;

“No we’re way too young.

“But we sing with our hearts,

“And we sing with our souls,

“With style and grace; Conch, let it go!”

The singer/musician/songwriter who has always been enchanted with Key West made a commitment with release of the CD created with KWHS students last year to provide a share of the proceeds on a continuing basis. The idea for the CD developed when he met a KWHS graduate pursuing a video career at the time she was presented in 2012 with the Captain Tony Days Life Scholarship, and he also met and was impressed by Ed Smith, head of the school’s video/TV production program.

Creative “Key West Connection” efforts on the CD were also reflected with lyrics contributions from Lorian Hemingway, writer and granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway, whose short story competition awards are held here annually during Hemingway Days, and the album cover that was contributed by artist Wyland, whose namesake Key West gallery on Duval Street is well-known.

Smith and his students at Key West High School are extra-busy right now also because student Andy Matroci has been scheduled to screen his short film, “A Skate Life,” at the prestigious All-
American High School Film Festival in mid-town Manhattan Oct. 25. Fundraising efforts are still ongoing to help students and teacher attendance, and for information on how to help, call 305-293-1549, ext. 54401.

Middlebrook also wrote “Goodbye to Captain Tony,” which was produced in the CD “Beach Bar Serenade,” and used as the Captain Tony Days theme in 2012. All his CD’s will be available at his performances around Key West.

Middlebrook’s island schedule includes:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 28, 12:00 – 4:00 p.m., Pincher’s Crab Shack;
  • Wednesday, Oct. 29, 6:00-8:00 p.m., Meeting of the Minds, Casa Marina;
  • Thursday, Oct. 30, 4:30-7:30 p.m., Hyatt Key West;
  • Thursday, Oct. 30, 9:30-10 p.m., Island Dogs-Songwriter’s Island Radio Showcase
  • Friday, Oct. 31, 6:00-10 p.m., Conch Republic Seafood Co.;
  • Saturday, Nov. 1, 1:00-5:00, Conch Republic Seafood Co.;
  • Tuesday, Nov. 4, 12:00-4:00, Pincher’s Crab Shack.