Published Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cory Heydon is the featured entertainer on the Fury Catamaran’s Commotion on the Ocean sunset cruise Tuesdays through Sundays and it only seems fitting that the singer-songwriter from Montana makes his living on the water.

It was a cruise ship that brought Cory to Key West for the first time, but he wasn’t a passenger, he was the cruise’s featured guest entertainer. His cruise-ship gigs helped him see the islands of the Caribbean and even a stint to Hawaii, before he found – and fell in love with – Key West.

“I came here about four years ago,” Cory recalled as he and band members set up for the sunset sail. “I was talking to the bartender at club that was on Duval back then, and when he found out I was an entertainer, he offered to let me play on the empty stage.”

There were a few more cruise ship stops and afternoon gigs at the Duval Street club, before he knew he had found a home.

“I have never seen anything like it,” Cory said. “For a singer-songwriter, playing opportunities are great in Key West. People come here wanting a good time and live entertainment is part of what they want.”

Cory played the early afternoon gig at the Hog’s Breath Saloon for three-years, before the Fury Catamaran and the Hog’s Breath got together to arrange entertainment for the Fury’s Commotion on the Ocean.

For a while, Cory played at the Hog from noon to 5 p.m. and then set up at the Fury for the nightly cruise. Not sure of what to expect, the live entertainment was offered on the weekends, but it soon became obvious to all concerned that people were enjoying the music so the live entertainment is now scheduled Tuesday through Sunday. Now, Cory is exclusively on the Fury.

Cory and his band begins playing as the large catamaran pulls out of its slip and continues until about 15-minutes before sunset, when they stop so everyone, including the band, can enjoy nature’s show. After the sun has set, the band plays as the catamaran heads back to its slip.

Cory played the club circuit around the Pacific Northwest for eight years and toured Europe. He has shared the stage with Michael Martin Murphy, New Riders of the Purple Sage, and others on his tours.

“I know it’s kind of a cliché but one of the first things that caught my attention in Key West was the laid-back attitude of the people,” Cory smiled and tried to hide a soft laugh.

“I had a lifetime of snow and cold, so, yeah, the great weather is another attraction I love.”

What’s the biggest attraction to him right now?

“I love the sunsets,” he said. “I’d be downtown watching them anyway, but here I am getting paid to perform for a captive audience and watch the Key West sunsets.”

Can life get any better?

“I hope so,” Cory said, “because I just put a bid on a house, so I am here for the long run. I also need to get into the studio for a new CD, I’ve been writing songs, and I want to record them.”

Cory has two CDs out now and both are available on the sunset cruise and at his website:

While Cory and his band – Jeffrey Shenandoah and Tom Conger – were setting up their equipment, something that takes about an hour six nights a week, people walking along the boardwalk to the Ocean Key’s Sunset Pier for an early dinner or cocktail stopped to watch. They yelled questions to the band and some decided to buy tickets for the cruise after finding out there was live entertainment to go along with the free drinks and hors d’oeuvres.

The short sound check stopped even more strollers and new questions yelled from dockside to the band.

Jeffrey said it’s like this most nights, with people walking by and stopping, curious about a band setting up on the bow of a large catamaran.

Tom likes the gig because it leaves him available to fill in with bands on late night gigs around the island.

Because of the popularity of the Fury’s Commotion on the Ocean sunset cruise, reservations are suggested.