Musical Magic to Enliven the Keys Island Chain
The easy, breezy atmosphere of the Florida Keys carries the sound of music across the island chain, with live musical performances, concerts and music festivals across many genres delighting Keys visitors with a variety of options.
While a number of notable musical happenings are listed here, a comprehensive calendar of offerings can be found at fla-keys.com/calendar/arts-culture/florida-keys/current/.
Florida Keys Concert Association presents extraordinary performances in both Marathon and Islamorada through February. Audiences can enjoy the energy of the prize-winning Balourdet String Quartet Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 12 and 13; the vibrant Denmark-based Trio Con Brio piano and strings ensemble Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 19 and 20; and the brilliance of rising star pianist Eric Lu Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 26 and 27. Monday concerts take place at the Marathon High School Performing Arts Center at 350 Sombrero Beach Road, while Tuesday concerts are at the Coral Shores High School Performing Arts Center at 89901 Old Highway. Shows start at 7:30 p.m.
For an outdoor bring-your-own-lawn-chair experience, the Florida Keys Community Concert Band hosts free public “Pops in the Park” concerts. Upcoming performances, each on Saturday afternoons at 4 p.m., include the pet-friendly “Where the Wild Things Are” set for Feb. 17; a “March Madness” concert featuring college fight songs and marches March 30; and a “Sci-Fi Serenade” concert April 27 featuring space movie and other out-of-this-world music. Performances are held at Islamorada’s Founders Park, mile marker 87 bayside.
Islamorada Community Entertainment brings quality entertainment and cultural events to the Upper Keys including performances in the Beats on the Bay music series at the amphitheater in Islamorada’s Founders Park, mile marker 87. Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Kendell Marvel is to present his brand of outlaw country Feb. 16, mixing southern twang with roadhouse rock and roll. Fans can enjoy the hits from super groups Journey and Styx March 8 with the highly sought-after tribute band, The Majesty of Rock. Performances begin at 6:30 p.m. and items from food trucks and beverage vendors are to be available. The Beats on the Bay series finale, Bay Jam, is to take over the amphitheater from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 14. The annual art and music festival features a packed lineup of musicians along with art, craft and food vendors. Admission to the individual performances and Bay Jam is free, but there is a $10 charge for parking.
Islamorada Community Entertainment also hosts a special free performance March 15 by French-Algerian acoustic guitar virtuoso Pierre Bensusan. The show is set for 7:30-9:30 p.m. at the amphitheater in Founders Park. Food vendors will not be on hand for the performance, so picnic baskets are to be permitted.
The annual Afro Roots Fest returns to the Keys Friday through Sunday, April 26-28, with a weekend of free musical entertainment highlighting Afro-Caribbean vibes in the beer garden at Florida Keys Brewing Company in Islamorada, 81611 Old Highway. Performances are to begin Friday at 6 p.m. with Jean P. Jam’s special blend of world beat music called Deep Roots, combining African, Soca, Caribbean and reggae influences into a unique amalgamation. Saturday at 6 p.m., Cortadito is to present traditional Cuban music of the early 20th century, followed by the Afro-Venezuelan rhythms of Venozonix and San Juan USA. Beginning at 2 p.m. Sunday, Manny Swagg delivers his unique blend of Latin jazz, Afro-Latin beat, Caribbean folk and traditional Cuban music; followed by Stella Fusion’s smooth cumbia salsa funk from Colombia.
The Studios of Key West, 533 Eaton St., presents multiple opportunities to enjoy live music. Highlights include Grammy Award-winning Nashville singer/songwriter Rodney Crowell Feb. 13-14; Jazz on the Roof with vocalist Libby York Feb. 15, March 6 and April 3; Golden Globe-winner Amanda McBroom performing “Lady Macbeth Sings the Blues,” singing in the voices of Shakespeare’s heroines Feb. 29 and March 1; and singer/songwriter Otis Gibbs April 16-17. Times of shows vary.
Impromptu Classical Concerts of Key West has brought a variety of stellar ensembles playing classical music in all styles to the southernmost island city for over 50 years. The acclaimed organization’s 2024 concerts continue that tradition with the blissful trio of soloists comprising Ensemble Shumann Feb. 4; the Lomazov-Rackers piano duo Feb. 18; this season’s rising star, violinist Keila Wakao, March 3; and the Merz Trio March 17. Performances take place at 4 p.m. at the historic St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at 401 Duval St.
Rams Head Presents Key West brings several big-name acts to two separate venues as part of the Key West Concert Series:
- The Key West Theater at 512 Eaton St. offers a packed season of performances in an intimate setting. Upcoming shows spotlight Grammy Award nominee James Slater with his March 3 “Famous in Key West” album release party; Dave Mason, co-founder of the iconic classic rock group Traffic, March 12; Get the Led Out, capturing the essence of Led Zeppelin, March 19; Tab Benoit, master of Delta swamp blues, April 10; the Wallflowers with Jakob Dylan April 26; and renowned lyricist John Hiatt June 15. Performances take place at 8 p.m.
- At the Coffee Butler Amphitheater, 21 E. Quay Road, music lovers can enjoy top names performing live in an open-air waterfront setting. Upcoming concerts star Willie Nelson Feb. 12, ZZ Top March 2, Foreigner March 10, the Temptations and Four Tops March 15, the Marshall Tucker Band March 16, Old Dominion for three evening shows March 22-24, and Cole Swindell appearing May 2 as part of the annual Key West Songwriters Festival.
Also in Key West, the Tennessee Williams Theatre, located at 5901 College Road, presents a romantic night of love songs from a string quartet Feb. 14, an exhilarating Japanese drum performance from Drum Tao Feb. 16, “A Celebration of the Music of Joni Mitchell” March 11, the Paradise Big Band March 24, and a tribute to the music of Queen in “One Night of Queen” May 12. All performances begin at 8 p.m.
The Tennessee Williams Theatre also hosts the acclaimed South Florida Symphony Orchestra March 1 and March 29 with performances at 7:30 p.m. The March 1 Masterworks concert is to showcase Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125, and a musical tapestry of grand opera finales. Four virtuoso vocal soloists and the South Florida Symphony Chorus are to join the orchestra. The March 29 Masterworks concert includes Igor Stravinsky’s “The Firebird Suite,” Maurice Ravel’s stirring “Bolero” and Leonard Bernstein’s “Three Dance Episodes” from his Broadway musical “On the Town.” The program is highlighted by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s Clarinet Concerto, a moving elegy on America’s 9/11 attacks that is to feature soloist David Shifrin on clarinet.
The Key West Art & Historical Society welcomes Donovan Frankenreiter Featuring Goodnight, Texas: A Special Full Band Tour for a concert under the stars on the grounds of historic Fort East Martello, 3501 S. Roosevelt Blvd. The show is scheduled 6-10 p.m. Feb. 15. Concertgoers are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets for the “backyard casual” setup that is to include food vendors and a cash bar.
In May, the Key West Songwriters Festival is to showcase America’s foremost performing songwriters on multiple stages and venues in the island city. Set for Wednesday through Sunday, May 1-5, the highly acclaimed event typically includes more than 50 shows and over 200 country and pop music hitmakers. Now in its 28th year, the festival has become a tradition for top writers and musicians, while offering an unparalleled experience for music fans.
Florida Keys calendar of events: fla-keys.com/calendar