04 March 2023
Story: Contestants Pucker Up for Key West Conch Shell Blowing Contest
Locator Super: Key West, Fla.
Video: Video to match this story is being uploaded to FTP servers Saturday, March 4. Footage is also available on the Florida Keys News Bureau's FTP server (see note below) or via Google Link here. B-roll of children, adults and groups competing in Conch Shell Blowing Contest; SOTs with men’s division winner Brian Cardis.
TRT: 02:45
Filename: KeyWestConchHonk.mp4
Video Source: Florida Keys News Bureau

KEY WEST, Fla. -- Among contestants who tested their "seashell musicianship" in Key West Saturday, none succeeded better than Brian Cardis.
Cardis, who lives in Macon, Georgia, took top honors in the competitive men’s division of the traditional Conch (pronounced "konk") Shell Blowing Contest presented by the Old Island Restoration Foundation at Key West’s Oldest House Museum.
A pediatric cardiologist, Cardis impressed the judges by playing excerpts from the hit song “Fins” by “trop-rock” all-star and former Key West resident Jimmy Buffett, on his fluted, pink-lined shell.
“The conch shell only has a certain number of notes, so I picked ‘Fins’ because the notes fit the conch shell, and of course because we’re in Key West,” said Cardis.
He learned to play the trumpet as a child, Cardis said, so he adapted that technique when he first attempted to play the conch shell a decade ago.
“You sort of have to just buzz your lips when you’re blowing into it,” he counseled. “So it’s not blowing straight air; you have to make a ‘pffft’ noise with your lips in order to generate the sound.”
Other standouts included Ohio’s Michael and Georgann Wachter, who won the group division by parodying Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog” in an offbeat duet for voice and conch shell. Carol Whiteley of Ontario, Canada, blew a long sturdy blast on her shell to take the women’s division title.
Now in its 59th year, the quirky contest included divisions for men, women, children and groups. Judges evaluated them on the quality, duration, loudness and novelty of sounds they made.
The Florida Keys tradition of blowing a conch shell began centuries ago. In the 1800s, when the local economy was largely based on salvaging shipwreck cargoes, seafarers attracted attention by blowing piercing blasts on the shell.
As well as an offbeat musical instrument, the conch shell is an enduring symbol of the Keys. Native-born citizens call themselves "conchs,” and the island chain is nicknamed the Conch Republic.

FTP Information
Password: islands
Folder: News Video
Filename: KeyWestConchHonk.mp4

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