[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]here is a music blowing in the breeze in towns up and down the East Coast and into many towns across America. It’s called Trop Rock and its followers are ardent fans of the tunes about beaches, beautiful water, Tiki huts, lots of fun and leaving your troubles behind.
The music can be heard on radio stations online, including A1A, Shore Life, Island Time, Permanent Vacation Radio, TikiPod Radio, The Surf, Tiki Man Radio, Beach Front Radio, Radio Trop Rock, Beach Bar Radio and Oyster Radio.
The men and women who write, record and perform Trop Rock music are as addicted to it as are their fans. Many of them live in or near the beach and write about the life they live every day. The listeners, who may or may not live near a beach, certainly wish they could partake of that beach lifestyle they hear about in their songs.
Darrell Clanton was raised in Florida but lived in Nashville for 20 years, garnering a couple country hits along the way, including “Lonesome 7-7203’ and “I Forgot That I Don’t Live Here Anymore.”
Clanton admits that when he moved back to Florida with his fiancé, he didn’t really know what he was going to do.
“I took my time and little by little started playing music down here, which included beach music by guys like Bob Marley and Jimmy Buffett. One night I was playing this gig and John Mansfredo came up and started talking to me about my original tunes. He took some of my CDs that had songs about the beach because that is the life I’m living now. He took them to Lyle Wilson at Radio A1A and they played my song “Tiki Bar.” I immediately tried to figure out what Trop Rock was. I didn’t know how big it was but I knew it was a culture.”
Clanton met the man who owns A1A and he told the singer about a convention called Meeting of the Minds, held around the first of November. “I’ve been for two years. It’s a version of Nashville’s CMA week but it’s on the beach. After I went to the first one I thought, ‘I’ll never miss another one of these again.’ This will be my third year. The cool thing is some of my buddies and me are all going together this year. So it’s not just happening for me, it’s happening for my friends.”
“Phlockers Magazine” is a magazine devoted to Trop Rock music, the artists and their fans. The core fan base for Trop Rock are Parrot Heads (Jimmy Buffet fans). They love this music, so when they go to an event they Phlock (flock) to it, thus the name of the publication. The magazine joined in with A1A to start a chart, where fans vote for their favorite songs. Clanton has had 16 number ones on that chart.
Once Clanton realized how cool Trop Rock was, he called his friend Dayglo Red and told him about the music. Now Dayglo , who goes by Dayglo Red when he performs and sings Trop Rock, is an artist on his way up in the Trop Rock genre.
“I’m the new kid, I’ve been doing it for two years,” Dayglo says. “Most of my stuff has a kind of reggae feel to it. That’s what got it in with the Trop Rock fans. That was why Darrell called me, because he knew I had recorded some of the reggae stuff. I sent him 11 of my tunes and he sent it on to A1A. The station folks liked ‘Davie and Roxanne’ and started playing it. They asked if I had anything else, so I found a couple more tunes I thought would fit the format and then I started writing some more songs. I also found a few of my older tunes that I could use, so I had enough to release an album.”
The singer/songwriter immediately found a niche that loves his music. Don “D’Pyrate’ Winfield, who is with ShoreLIfe Radio.com, says, “Dayglo Red sings from his heart and writes from his soul. The right artist to add an exciting new twist to Trop Rock in its current period of explosive growth.”
Harry Teaford of A1A told Dayglo that he had been looking for someone who was American with the reggae groove. “The door just opened, and I ran through it because I already had that music,” Dayglo explains. “Trop Rock is happy, more laid back, and its message is love of the beach, palm trees and Tiki Bars. So when I write I don’t try to force it, but if a song comes along that works in the genre, then I record it and send it to radio. I have a new one, “Guitars On Our Back,” which I’m going to be introducing on the Pit Stop Tour that leads up to the Meeting of the Minds in the Keys.”
Dayglo had a hit song with Robin Tricker, another Trop Rock singer/songwriter who hails from New Jersey. She was the first woman to have a number one song in the Trop Rock genre.
“I had been writing songs for a while that weren’t all that positive, so I thought I should write something a little happier,” Tricker says of how she got into the genre. “So I wrote about the beach, because that was something I loved. Then I did an internet search and I put in tropical music and then the Trop Rock stations popped up. I contacted them and said I have this song and would you play it, and they did. I was pretty excited; it’s been a fun journey.”
Tricker describes Trop Rock as “That beautiful moment you get when you are on vacation, leave your worries and troubles behind, and you’re with friends, family, someone you love, and you have that moment when everyone is happy. So when you put on a Trop Rock song you are able to relive that moment, when you weren’t thinking about work but you were drinking a Pina colada or a cold beer and enjoying life in that moment.”
Tricker says her fans followed her right into the Trop Rock genre. “Everybody was pretty happy and excited to follow me on my journey with this music. I have the same fans plus I have all the new people who already were into Trop Rock. I play out constantly in New Jersey so I just added the Trop Rock songs into my regular set and it works. We’ll play Fleetwood Mac and Tom Petty and then Trop Rock.”
Ty Thurman is also a Trop Rocker who first lived in Nashville to develop his craft as a songwriter. He went to work for radio syndicator Ron Huntsman Entertainment while he was honing his craft. Soon he and a friend had bought sail boats and put them on one of the many lakes in the Nashville area. Soon his
friend, Cory Young, moved to the Keys and persuaded Thurman to come down.
“Cory convinced me to come and see him, and my wife Debbie and I fell in love with the area so we moved down there. We started playing as a duo and we were soon writing songs that were influenced by our life experience in the Keys, which was just a natural thing to happen. Then Cory discovered the Trop Rock scene and we met the guys from A1A one night at a gig and they talked to us. Cory cut an album and began getting airplay so he inspired me to do the same. It is a blessing for me to write songs that people enjoy and listen to. I’m having a lot of fun.”
Thurman says fans like the Trop Rock music because there is escapism in it. “It’s hard to write a sad Trop Rock song,” he explains. “Generally they are up beat, going to the beach and sailing or drinking with friends. There could be a few contemplative songs but no down songs. What I like about the fans is they come to see you to hear the music to have fun.”
Each of these singer/songwriters has albums out and plan new releases soon. You can find them on their Facebook pages and their music on internet sales outlets.
Tricker sees a good future for Trop Rock. “I think Trop Rock has a really big future. There are all these amazing artists that do this and I think it will grow. It’s fun music, everyone wants to be happy and this music puts you in a good mood.”
Dayglo points out that the community of Trop Rockers hang together to make it work. They support each other and welcome newcomers to the fold. He and Clanton, along with Burt & Sassie and Troy Powers are going to do an In-The-Round Songwriters show on October 31 during Troptoberfest at Sparky’s on Marathaon Key. The day’s activities are part
of the Pit Stop Tour which leads up to the Meeting of the Minds event in the Keys. Radio A1A will broadcast live from the festival.
“We’re gonna tell war stories and play for an hour and give the fans some stories about how we write the songs we write,” Dayglo says. “The Pit Stop Tour is great — a lot of live performances with a lot of interaction. The artists definitely interact with the fans because they know them because they come to the shows over and over again. It is fun thing and people generally have a pretty good time.”
Clanton admits that writing Trop Rock can be a challenge sometimes, because the subject is similar in all the songs. “Some guys don’t stop writing other things, they just write Trop Rock too,” he says. “For me it’s pretty easy because I was raised down here and it is my
lifestyle. The other day a guy said something to me on the beach and it became a song.
“Our songs are story songs. These guys and gals are good writers and they can write a story song. I think the fans are going wow, these songs are killers. These guys are troubadours and storytellers.”
Thurman agrees. “If we get too caught up in the cliché’s of any genre it can be confining. I just finished a song that is kind of trop rock but more folk, that I’ve been trying to write it for years. This old guy lived here, he would welcome new people and put flowers in girls’ hair. He was on his boat until he was in his 90’s. His name was Captain Jack, and it took me until two years after he passed that I was finally able to write the song about him. It’s not about the beach and partying but it is about a guy who sails and lived here in Keys. So if you are creative you can write songs like that and they fit into the genre.”
One of the things Thurman would like to see happen within the Trop Rock genre is that it could expand.
“Most of our stations are internet, and I would like to see us get some of our music on terrestrial radio. I would hope some of these stations like No Shoes Radio or Buffet’s station might play some of our music. I would like to see some limited time on those stations where they dug deep and played more artists. It would be really nice if some day there could be a satellite radio station that played a lot of us artists who are coming up through the ranks, or a once a week have a show that featured us to get more exposure.”
Thurman added that he is seeing more events featuring Trop Rock that are not close to the beach in areas near Branson and even Nashville.
“Our future is to get behind young artists and encourage them and get them in the genre,” he adds. “If we don’t bring in the young people, then in a few years we won’t have the bands and performers we have today to carry on the genre.”
Registration for Meeting of the Minds is already past for 2018. The shows on the Tiki Town Pit Stop Tour are open to the public. Following is a list of those events. Several of them are two-day events.
TIKI TOUR PIT STOP
Oct 27, Pitstop One @Gill Dawg, Port Richey, 11 am
Oct 28, SWFL PHC’s 7th annual Pitstop Party, Dolphin Key Resort, Cape Coral, FL 11 a.m.
Oct 29, Pirates on the Water at the Caribbean Club, Key Largo, time to be announced
Octo 30, Pit Stop, Too at Boondocks, Ram Rod Key, 11 a.m.
Oct 31, Troptoberfest@ Sparky’s, Marathaon Key
Darrell Clanton & Dayglo Red will be live on Radio A1A’s Weekdays With Wilson from 8 am. – 11 a.m. on Monday October 29