If Key West is America’s aquarium then the Green Parrot is its touch tank.
90 miles North of Havana by sea sits this little two by four mile coral island. Key West’s cultural ripple effect magnifies personalities that were lost in mainland traffic. Comfy humidity infuses cocktails and amplifies live music at the corner of Southard and Whitehead. Bartenders furiously fuel “Freshwater Conch” conversation (transplants who’ve lived on island for 7 years or more) at the afternoon soundcheck for 90 minutes starting at 5:30. About 10pm the band realizes that Key West is the star and they are suddenly in orbit as they launch into their first song.
If you have to ask about the music chances are you haven’t been yet. Only the best local talent and quality out of town musicians ever cram onto the tiny Key West stage. Parrot success isn’t judged by ticket sales. No tickets. No Cover. Ever. In the “Conch Republic” when people dig your sound they come in droves, flood the dance floor with flip flops, and down drinks to show you their approval.
[blockquote type=”center”]A Sunny Place For Shady People.[/blockquote]
Former Philadelphia 76ers owner, Pat Croce, became Green Parrot majority owner 6 years ago and thankfully changed very little. Croce leaves day to day management and most importantly, music selection to John Vagnoni. Key West is the steak, but Vagnoni is the sizzle. He knows exactly how many times Miami’s latin funk sensation Suenalo should play in “Season” (Thanksgiving to Spring Break). Siberian surf rocking Red Elvises pack the bar as patrons spill out to the curb. Patrick and the Swayzees’ 50’s pop serenade, Caffeine Carl’s crushing guitar solos, and Miguel Perez’s poetic scat lyrics all drop their local label when they plug in next to the girl’s bathroom on the 6′ by 10′ stage.
Tens of thousands of people have seen the bands, the bartenders, and maybe you on the webcams at Greenparrot.com. The wall trinkets and ceiling parachute all tell a story that you can’t google. The people in, around, on stage and employed by the Green Parrot are all part of each day’s narrative. The bar’s motto “A Sunny Place for Shady People” applies whether you’re a local music magnate like Vagnoni, high roller like Croce, transplant like me, or just a tourist with $20 in your pocket. Once you’ve saved an instrument on stage from a spilled drink then high fived the lead singer mid-song, you’ll know what the Green Parrot is all about.
If you only come to the Parrot for the music you’re missing out however. Attend charity bingo on Monday. The emcee will tell you where the best tacos in town are (Garbo’s Grill behind Grunts & 3 blocks from The Parrot btw). Join 30 strangers for ukulele night & record your first lesson on your phone. Hand-deliver a strong drink and flirt with your new band crush after soundcheck. You might receive an invitation backstage to hangout by the wooden bunk beds in the band house.
So go for the music. Go for the people. Or just go because I told you to. No matter who you are the Green Parrot will provide just the right amount of shade.