Music is everywhere in the Florida Keys — even beneath the sea. Don’t believe me? Check out the Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival set for July 13.

This friendly mermaid was spotted at a previous Underwater Music Festival at Looe Key Reef in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo by Bill Keogh, Florida Keys News Bureau)

This is the 29th year for the wacky event, held at Looe Key Reef about six miles off the coast of Big Pine Key. Attracting divers and snorkelers of all ages — as well as those who prefer to remain dry — the festival has earned wide acclaim for its originality and fun-filled Keys revelry.

Founded and overseen by WWUS Radio’s Bill Becker, the event features music from the station piped underwater by speakers suspended from boats stationed at the reef.

Divers and snorkelers from teens to seniors flock to the reef. Some, costumed to portray mermaids and other characters, “perform” on faux musical instruments designed by Lower Keys artist August Powers.

Others simply enjoy the undersea panorama while listening to such selections as Jimmy Buffett’s “Fins,” the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine,” and other favorites like the themes from “Jaws,” “The Little Mermaid” and “Titanic” — as well as humpback whale “music.”

According to Becker, he and his team look for selections that sound good under the waves, as well as tunes that have an underwater reference in the title or some other association. When heard under the sea, he explains, the music seems to come from all directions.

"Eel-vis Presley," portrayed by diver Eric Rolfe, strums on a colorful faux guitar during the Underwater Music Festival. (Photo by Bob Care, Florida Keys News Bureau)

In the past, the festival has featured divers costumed as musical legends “Eel-vis Presley” and “Bob Marlin” among others. “Simon Coral” and “Carrie Undersea” starred last year when the event’s theme satirized “American Idol” and its fellow reality shows.

The 2013 underwater fun salutes a group of now-seniors, Mick Jagger and the legendary Rolling Stones, in their 50th anniversary year with an appearance by the “Rolling Stone Crabs.” So watch for “Mick Jawfish” and “Keith Pilchard” spoofing a performance of such hits as “HonkyConch Woman” and “Jumping Jack Fish.”

Those who don’t choose to snorkel or dive can listen to the radio broadcast while relaxing on the deck of a boat. Private and chartered vessels flock to the scene for a most unusual musical day celebrating the ocean and its inhabitants.

Get ready to rock the reef at the upcoming Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival. Event founder Bill Becker can be glimpsed here waving the American flag. (Photo by Bill Keogh, Florida Keys News Bureau)

There’s a serious side to this lighthearted celebration, too. The WWUS broadcast includes information promoting awareness of the need to preserve and protect Keys reefs — and encouraging everyone to enjoy them while minimizing environmental impacts.

So, seniors, join “Mick Jawfish” and the other “Rolling Stone Crabs” in a joyous day honoring 50 years of good music and the wonders of the Florida Keys’ underwater world. The Underwater Music Festival takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, July 13. Whether you snorkel, dive or just listen to the broadcast, you’re sure to have a wonderful time.

Previous Next