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John Bartus: News

Happy Holidays!!! - December 22, 2010

The holiday season is firing on all cylinders now! It’s hard to believe that this Saturday is Christmas, and we’ve only got a week and a half left in 2010! I hope this finds you in good health, and that your holidays are truly happy and that your new year of 2011 will be your best yet (with many more to come). Here in the Keys, we’re expecting a partly cloudy Christmas with highs of 75. Then another cold front comes through. When you’re not used to it, 50 is C-O-L-D.

Marc Davis leaves Storm Watch - August 3, 2010

Marc Davis has resigned from Storm Watch in order to pursue more solo opportunities. The split is amicable, and there are certainly no hard feelings involved. We hope you join with us in wishing nothing but the best for Marc as he follows his muse. And our thanks go out to Marc for his work in the band, which will continue to be available on the John Bartus & Storm Watch: Live at the 2009 Marathon Seafood Festival CD. If you don't have it, Marc absolutely shines on this album of originals and covers.

The Guestbook is Back! - April 4, 2010

Since the nice folks at HostBaby put in a security feature to keep those pesky Russian Viagra dealers from spamming the site, the Guestbook has returned! Please sign in and post away!!!

Another Free Download! - March 21, 2010

Tom Petty fans might want to grab this one for their collection -- "Running Down A Dream" from a John Bartus & Storm Watch gig, Memorial Day weekend, 2008.

Blog (Keys Disease) Added! - March 21, 2010

One of the things I do in all my spare time is write a weekly column called Keys Disease for the Weekly Newspapers. Since I write one weekly, and many website visitors don't get the Weekly, I'll start posting the column as my Blog. Feel free to comment away!

NEW! More Free Downloads - August 4, 2009

There are more free MP3 downloads at the Music page -- hope you enjoy them!

CD Release Party Photos Posted! - August 3, 2009

Photos from the John Bartus & Storm Watch CD Release Party have now been posted on the Photos page of the website! Click and enjoy!!!


John Bartus & Storm Watch release Live at the 2009 Marathon Seafood Festival CD

Release Party at Dockside Lounge (Marathon) Friday, June 26 at 7:00 PM & Hog Heaven (Islamorada) Saturday, June 27 at 8:00 PM.

MARATHON – Florida Keys rockers John Bartus & Storm Watch are releasing their new CD, Live at the 2009 Marathon Seafood Festival, at Dockside Lounge in Marathon, and Hog Heaven in Islamorada. While Florida Keys residents have gotten to know Storm Watch (drummer Glenn Faast, keyboardist Marc Davis, and bassist/guitarist Christian Davis) through a series of successful gigs, there are still quite a few people who haven’t a clue that bandleader and guitarist John Bartus used to be Mayor of the City of Marathon. Bartus is currently celebrating the 25th anniversary of his first gig (as well as living here) in the Keys. FOR MORE INFORMATION: Click on the ORDER CDs page!

John Bartus & Storm Watch headline Marathon's July 4th Celebration - June 16, 2009

MARATHON - Local Keys favorites John Bartus & Storm Watch will again headline Marathon's Independence Day Celebration at Sombrero Beach in the Heart of the Florida Keys. "It's going to be a great day," says Bartus, "and we're really looking forward to be the band that plays right before the fireworks!" Marathon's July 4th bash, sponsored by the Marathon Rotary Club and the City of Marathon, has become the best Independence Day Celebration in the Florida Keys, as well as most of South Florida.

Bartus & Storm Watch to headline Seafood Festival - March 7, 2009

John Bartus & Storm Watch are again one of the headline acts at this year's 33rd Annual Original Marathon Seafood Festival March 14 and 15, 2009. Sponsored by the Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce and the Organized Fishermen of Florida, the Festival celebrates the best in fresh Florida Keys seafood along with great entertainment, vendors, a nautical market and boat show, a lots of family fun. Bartus and Storm Watch take the stage at 3:00 PM Saturday, as well as host a jam with Brian Roberts Sunday at 11:30 AM.

Bartus wins Best Local Celebrity - March 7, 2009

John Bartus was voted "Best Local Celebrity" in the 2009 "Best of Marathon" contest sponsored by the Marathon JayCees and the Weekly Newspapers. Bartus noted, "It’s a true honor, and I appreciate that it comes from the people who take time to see all the things that are right within our community. We have a great town, and I’m honored to be a part of it." Read all about ti, as well as John's weekly column Keys Disease at

New Year, New CD? - January 6, 2009

Happy New Year! I hope 2009 brings nothing but the best for everyone, and that there will soon be a major turnaround on a lot of the bad stuff that's been happening. There will be a new CD out this year (!), and I'm looking toward a springtime release. Although it can be slow going at times, I'm really happy with the way the tracks are shaping up. There will be more to come in the weeks ahead -- promise!!! Hope to see you in Paradise. MARK ON YOUR CALENDARS: March 14-15 -- yours truly and Storm Watch will be playing the Seafood Festival again! More details to follow.

John Bartus & Storm Watch on YouTube - August 26, 2008

Click this link to see John and Storm Watch perform "Carolina" live at a recent gig. WARNING: Audio quality isn't the greatest, but it's really live. Special thanks to local video guy Pete Kouris!

Fay (and other F-words) - Keys Disease Column 8/23/08 - August 26, 2008

Tropical Storm Fay visited the Keys this past week, and the word most often used by 25,000 displaced evacuating tourists—and the business owners hoping for one more week of business before autumn—is not a word I can write in this family publication. Feel free to look it up if you must; it contains exactly five fewer letters than the word “firetruck.” There are, however, plenty more words that come to mind. Each one, surprisingly, begins with the sponsor of this week’s column: the letter F.

A little history: Dr. Jeff Masters, of Weather Underground ( originally named the storm now known as Fay “The Joker.” This was long before it had a name, and no, Joker doesn’t begin with the letter F. Anyway, the Joker grew almost instantaneously from a tropical wave (albeit a large wave) with no closed circulation into a full-fledged named storm. That, however, was not the Joker’s only trick.

Fay’s uncertain course and divergent model runs (we all know way too many meteorological terms, don’t we?) left many of us glued to a computer screen, Following each update. As it seemed that Fay would be coming closer, we began to Freak and then to Fasten plywood and storm shutters to our homes and places of business. We would Fill up our vehicles and make sure we had plenty of Food and water.

After a Fitful night’s sleep, Monday morning was our last chance to Finalize preparations before Fay’s arrival. Marathon took the worst weather Fay dished out, with nearly seven inches of rain and wind gusts near hurricane strength. Still, we watched and waited, and got some seemingly good news mid-afternoon: the center of circulation had passed Key West, and since the storm’s bad weather was in the northeast quadrant, our conditions would improve very soon. Conditions may have improved for Key West, but not so for Marathon and other areas of the Keys. Six hours after the official announcement of improving conditions, we were still feeling the wrath of Fay. This brings us to a very important (and forgotten by the Key West NWS) F-word: Feeder bands. Fay’s demonic tail kept lashing us long after the calm in Key West. But really, I’m not bitter.

You see, while Fay was with us, she couldn’t get her act together. As long as she spent spinning over water, she remained a disorganized tropical storm that couldn’t wrap convection around her central core. Remember how Dr. Masters called Fay the Joker? After Fay made landfall on the Florida mainland, she intensified. Over land. Here is how Dr. Masters described it in his blog: “Tropical Storm Fay (AKA "The Joker") is pulling a trick that may be unprecedented—significantly intensifying over land, developing a full eyewall… Remarkably, the pressure has fallen over 10 mb since landfall, and I can't ever recall seeing such a large pressure fall while a storm was over land… To have a storm intensify over land and maintain that increased intensity while over land for 12 hours is hard to explain.” Not if you’re a Joker.

Let’s digress for a while and talk palm trees. Yes, those stately and beautiful trees that are the silent spokespersons (spokestrees?) for the tropics. After another hurricane years ago (Georges, and it’s still not pronounced like the plural of George!), after I had cleaned the muck and seaweed and debris from the storm surge in my yard, I noticed little palm trees starting to sprout. I didn’t know what kind they were, but I knew they were palm trees. I dug them up and planted them where I thought we could use some palm trees. Now, for those of you into horticulture, you already know what a Washingtonia palm is. They’re those big fan palms that grow rather tall and leave a “hula skirt” of dead fronds hanging just below the fresh green ones at the top of the tree. The frond stems feature sharp jagged edges that are just about the most vicious cutting tool found on any plant. Anyway, ten years after hurricane Georges, we now have five of these fifty-foot palms in our yard. Tropical Storm Fay managed to dislodge a couple hundred of those hanging fronds, still attached to those “stems of death.” Our cleanup of this mess involved four F-words: Fronds that Fillet your Flesh.

See if you can figure out what the other F-word was.


My band and I will take the big stage at the Marathon Amphitheater for the 2nd Annual Saturday In The Park Concert for C.A.M.P. This concert event will benefit the Cultural Art and Music Program, and it happens this Saturday, July 12, from 4 until 10 PM.

KEYS DISEASE - Guitarists, Part 2 - July 8, 2008

Six strings, three chords, and the truth. As promised last week, here’s my take on some of the most influential guitarists of the rock era… part 2.

Jimi Hendrix: Monster player, killer tone, studio wizard, great writer, indelible presence… perhaps the quintessential rock musician. Just shows you what somebody can do with an upside-down Stratocaster and a Marshall stack. His star flamed out way too early, and it would have been incredible to watch what he would have come up with had he survived. What he left us has inspired countless thousands of players, and his legacy will live forever.

Pete Townshend: The Who’s legendary guitar smasher was actually a very talented multi-instrumentalist as well as being the main songwriter for the band. His windmill strums put the show into his talent of combining rhythm and lead parts into a seamless unit that nicely filled out the guitar area of the guitar-bass-drums band. At a concert in Germany many years ago, a cop walked onstage, pointed his gun at Townshend, and told him to stop smashing his guitar. Party pooper.

CSNY: Yeah, including Graham Nash may be pushing things, but Crosby, Stills, and Young more than make up for anything otherwise missing. David Crosby’s inspired acoustic playing meshed so well with Steven Stills’ impeccable acoustic and electric lead work on so many great songs. And what can you say about Neil Young? His acoustic songs are among the best ever written and played, and he invented grunge (with Crazy Horse) years before it was ever called that. The four of them last toured together in 2006, and their long and energetic 36-song set (!) put many younger acts to shame. It’s true: Old Guys Rock.

James Taylor: While his songs helped define the acoustic guitarist singer/songwriter archetype, his understated yet elegant fingerpicking and use of passing chords and moving bass lines added a lot to what otherwise would have been a standard three-chord progression. It may sound easy, but try playing a James Taylor song the right way and you’ll find out how easy it’s not.

Joni Mitchell: Speaking of chord progressions, Joni took that singer/songwriter archetype and turned it on its head. Not satisfied with the sounds she was hearing in the guitar’s conventional tuning, she would create her own alternate tunings that served to frustrate other guitarists trying to learn her songs. Her unmatched rhythm guitar playing is the foundation of nearly all her songs, and the driving force of all the various bands she has had throughout the years.

David Gilmour: The legendary Pink Floyd axeman brought the soul of a blues guitarist to the psychedelic banquet, serving up memorable lead lines on his Stratocaster. There are a million players who can shred at close to light speed, but few can make one note count the way Gilmour does. His tone, taste, and technique (as well as his compositional skills) provided the musical foundation for Waters’ conceptual ascensions. Floyd reunion tour ’09?

Jimmy Page: What Clapton and Gilmour did for the Stratocaster, Page did for the Les Paul. Building on the foundation of the blues, Page would pry, cajole, pound, and even bow his Les Paul into producing what became for many the soundtrack of the 70s. His accomplished acoustic work is often overshadowed by his unmatched body of work on the electric. Zep reunion tour ’09?

Andy Summers: The Police’s guitarist is one of the best ever at filling out the sounds of a guitar-bass-drums trio. While many bands overkill with screaming distortion and bombast, Summers used unusual chord shapes, effects, and a relatively Spartan approach that was the perfect counterpoint to Sting’s bass lines and Stewart Copeland’s syncopated reggae-infused drumming.

The Edge: Just like Andy Summers, the Edge (Dave Evans) provided the only-guitar-in-the-band (mostly) for U2. He used tone and effects (especially delay lines) to fill the holes in the band’s arrangements, and did so in as uniquely inventive a way as Summers did with the Police.

Well, there’s still more left to cover, as we’ve barely gotten out of the 70s! E-mail me with your suggestions for Part 3, and we’ll see you next week.
Don’t forget to rock on.


John Bartus & Storm Watch will again headline this year's Independence Day celebration at Sombrero Beach in Marathon, Heart of the Florida Keys.

The annual celebration starts with a parade to the beach, followed by a day full of fun, games, live music, food, and drink, and will culminate in the SkyConcert Fireworks Extravaganza at sunset.

Bartus & Storm Watch will perform a two-hour show just before the fireworks begin. "This is a great celebration and show that you don't want to miss," says Bartus.

DATE: July 4, 2008
TIME: All Day
LOCATION: Sombrero Beach Park, at the end of Sombrero Beach Road, Marathon, Florida

KEYS DISEASE - Guitarists, Part 1 - June 27, 2008

[This is the first of four columns I recently wrote for the Weekly Newspapers about one of my favorite subjects -- I hope you enjoy it, too!]

Six strings, three chords, and the truth. That’s really what it’s all about, notwithstanding the claim made by the Hokey Pokey. Rolling Stone just came out with “The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time” cover story; various other music magazines have also touched on the instrument that puts the rock in rock and roll. Here’s my take on some of the most influential guitarists of the rock era… part 1.
Chuck Berry: No one came out of the gate quicker, synthesizing the various influences of R&B, country, and the blues into classic rock licks that have inspired generations of axe slingers. He more or less founded the language that is rock guitar.
Bo Diddley: Bo knows rock and roll. Bo helped invent it, and his signature rhythms propelled everyone from Buddy Holly to the Rolling Stones and the Who. Besides, no one looked cooler playing a square guitar. R.I.P., Mr. Ellas Bates.
Scotty Moore: As Elvis’ original lead guitarist, Moore provided inspiration to the likes of Keith Richards and countless others. As Elvis took country and the blues and made it into rock, Moore defined the role of the lead guitarist in the band. As such, he’s one of the few “sidemen” to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
James Burton: the original master of the paisley Telecaster first came to prominence in Ricky Nelson’s TV band. His talents, however, took him to kings and mountain highs. From lead guitar in Elvis Presley’s best bands, to more recording session work than most guitarists could dream about, to playing tasty licks behind John Denver, Burton’s finesse and taste helped rock guitar move forward in its formative years.
The Beatles: The Fab Four featured not just one, but three stellar guitar players. George Harrison turned into a master of taste and subtlety (as well as one of the best slide guitar players ever). John Lennon was as fine a rhythm player as you’d ever want, but who could also turn in some inspired lead playing (think “Revolution” and “Get Back”). Although Paul basically turned rock bass on its head with his inventive lines, his guitar work in the Beatles wasn’t at all too shabby (“Blackbird,” “Taxman,” “The End”).
Keith Richards: The heart and soul of the Rolling Stones would be the first to admit that he isn’t the flashiest lead guitarist around. Who gives a rat’s…? He’s probably the finest rhythm player to ever strap on a Fender guitar. Not a believer? Try listening to “Brown Sugar” or “Start Me Up” or “Jumping Jack Flash” and then tell me how far rock guitar could have come without Keef’s contributions.
Roger McGuinn: Although he was Jim McGuinn during the Byrds’ heyday, his signature Rickenbacker 12-string lines defined the term “jangle” as it was later to be used to great effect by bands like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and R.E.M. Thank guru Sri Chinmoy for the name change.
Eric Clapton: Clapton is God. So said graffiti scrawled and painted all over the world in the late ‘60s. Cream, Blind Faith, Derek and the Dominoes, session guitarist for the Beatles (!), and one incredible solo career may not be actually divine, but his touch on the Stratocaster is as close as we mere mortals can get.
Carlos Santana: Sprung from the Woodstock era as a full-blown talent, composer of some of the best and truly classic rock songs, Santana is another of those few guitarists who seem to channel the divine as he plays. Not many people can claim hits in every decade from the 60s to the 00s, but Carlos still shows no signs of slowing down. And as good as he is in the studio, seeing him perform live is a truly transcendental experience. (Extra credit: if you remembered that guru Sri Chinmoy’s name for Santana was Devadip, you stayed somewhat lucid during the psychedelic era. Congrats on keeping some functional brain cells!)
That’s all for Part 1; Part 2 comes next week. Until then, feel free to e-mail me your suggestions for a potential Part 3. And rock on.

Meet Rachel McGoye - June 9, 2008

L.A.-based singer/songwriter Rachel McGoye returned to her home state (Florida--were you expecting Idaho?) and was my guest on stage for two nights earlier this month. A graduate of the acclaimed Berklee College of Music in Boston, Rachel has followed her muse to the Left Coast where she has met with some real success. Her new CD, Beautiful Disaster, was released this past January, and has met with critical acclaim.
Rachel was my special guest and she entertained the audiences with her catchy songs and her unique outlook on life. It was a pleasure getting to know her and hearing her music in person. Rachel will be performing in Florida for most of the summer before heading back to Los Angeles. Catch her if you can -- her music is definitely worth it!
For those who don't want to wait any longer, you can check out this talented musician at

New Band Name, Members; Seafood Festival Headliners - February 22, 2008

Well, the band finally has a name: John Bartus & Storm Watch! Just in time for both the Marathon Seafood Festival (we're headlining!) and welcoming two new band members: the father-son team of Marc Davis (keyboards & vocals) and Christian Davis (bass).

The Marathon Seafood Festival happens on the weekend of March 15-16, and we'll be performing both days. John Bartus & Storm Watch is the headliner on Saturday night, and the band will perform as part of the Conch Republic All-Star Jam on Sunday afternoon.

St. Pat's Day at Key Colony Inn - February 22, 2008

I've lost count of how many St. Patrick's Day celebrations I've hosted at the Key Colony Inn, but Monday, March 17 is just around the corner. Look for the all-day lineup to start at noon and run until the leprechauns pass out from overindulgence or sheer exhaustion. Key Colony Inn, 700 West Ocean Drive, Key Colony Beach, FL.

Bartus Solo Concert at Sunset Park - February 22, 2008

I'll be performing a live solo concert at Key Colony Beach's Sunset Park Sunday, March 2, 2008. I'm glad to be asked back again this year, and I'm looking forward to performing originals both new and old, and some of everyone's long-time favorites as well. The concert starts at 4:00 p.m., and I hope to see a lot of friendly faces there!

2nd Annual Rotary Benefit Concert - November 12, 2007

John & Band will perform once again at the 2nd Annual Thanksgiving Weekend-End of Hurricane Season-John Bartus Birthday Concert. This year's show will include tributes to Pink Floyd and the Beatles, original material from John, and (quite possibly) a special appearance by Sir Elton John. Admission is free; proceeds benefit the charitable works of the Marathon Rotary Club. Showtime is approximately 6:00 PM.

DVD VIDEO SHOOT - October 15, 2007

This Friday (October 19), weather permitting, my band (Dave Howell, Glenn Faast, and yours truly) and I will have our performance filmed and recorded for a possible DVD release. We'll be performing our regular gig at Dockside, and Mark Wesley (from Mark Wesley Video Productions) will oversee the video shoot. For those who can make it, Dave, Glenn, and I will be glad to see as many smiling faces as possible.

Bartus & Band to headline Boot Key Bivouac - September 24, 2007

The inaugural Boot Key Bivouac will take place Sunday, October 7, 2007 at the Marathon Community Park Amphitheater. This all day (noon until 10 PM) event is a show of appreciation for our veterans, and is also a benefit for local veteran organizations. John Bartus (with Dave Howell and Glenn Faast) will headline the event. Other performers include Howard Livingston and the Mile Marker 24 Band, Brian Roberts, the Key Lime Pie Band, the Florida Straits Band, Mark Wesley, Johnny Maddox, and more.

Admission is free, and families are welcome. There will be a bounce house for the kids, great food and drink, and all sorts of vendors. The event is sponsored by Dockside Lounge, Smorgasboats, The Weekly Newspapers, Marathon Rotary Club, and the City of Marathon.
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