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Yankee Jack

Yankee Jack's a blast - and that's no bull!

by Dick Conklin

You are doing the Duval Crawl one afternoon when you come to the corner of Duval and Caroline Streets. The open air bar on the corner is filled with a noisy crowd that is laughing at the guy playing the key- board. His songs are absolutely outrageous, so you stop to listen. A few minutes later you are inside, finding yourself taking audience participation to a whole new level. Congratulations - you have just become part of The Yankee Jack Entertainment Experience.

Yankee Jack, a.k.a. Jack Pittorino, sometimes refers to himself as The Biggest Performer in All of Key West. This big guy is big on music and big on comedy, and his shows are pure Key West. He can draw in both tourists and a few stray locals with his off-the-wall lyrics and humor, and everyone is sure to have a good time.

Jack plays guitar and keyboard, and sings an interesting mix of music, from country and folk to 50's and 60's rock and - of course -

some Jimmy Buffett thrown in. Much of his music has a definite local flavor, written in a style he likes to call "Key West Country."

Yankee Jack's songs are known far and wide. While we can't list all of the titles in this "family newspaper," we can mention a few of them. The other night we stopped at Larry Smith's Sunday Showcase at the Pier House, and someone took the mike to sing "Manatee Woman" - a Yankee Jack original. Others include the infamous "There Ain't Enough Whiskey in Tennessee To Drink The Ugly Off of You," "Botox Bimbo," "Are You Deaf or Stupid?" "Beauty is just a Light Switch Away," and a personal favorite, "Boca Raton".

Recently we ran into Jack at a private party, where he played just the right kind of music for the crowd, a "PG-rated" version of his Bull routine. Sales of his six CDs are brisk, since many who catch his gig at the Bull want to take the show home with them. The most recent, "The Best of Yankee Jack, Live," and his video, "Live at the Bull," capture his unique form of Key West music and humor. The CD features his 25 most requested

originals. You couldn't find a better souvenir of the Southernmost City.

The Massachusetts native has been performing professionally since 1964, and has been in Key West for the past sixteen years. These days you can find him at The Bull & Whistle Bar every day except Wednesday from 1 - 5 pm, and at the Geiger Key Marina every Friday between 6 and 9. He also plays the Sugarloaf KOA on a "random basis."

Before becoming a Key West funny man, he worked the country circuit, opening for superstars like Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, the Oak Ridge Boys, B.J. Thomas, Tammy Wynette, Mel Tillis, Charlie Daniels, Eddie Rabbit, and Wilson Philips. He says that Willie Nelson and Jimmy Buffett have had the most influence on his music.

While living in New England, Yankee Jack won over 50 state, regional and national country music awards, was a headline performer on over a dozen cruise ships, and starred in his own

cable TV show.

Jack says that music is his only business. "1 have no day job... my Father asks the same question," he says. "I play golf and have a wife, Kate, from Wales who I met on the Internet, hence the song 'Interface' - check it out:' He plans to continue playing the Duval Street music scene, but he wouldn't mind having some of his songs "discovered by some superstar:' As you might imagine, this guy has plenty of stories to tell, both on stage and off. "The most memorable one was about the two Brazilian women. Come into the Bull and I'll gladly tell you all about it," he says.

You can find a cyberspace version of Yankee Jack on his Web site, or the real version l at 305-292-9832. Now, about those two Brazilian women. .

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