a quiet important part of Key West music

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Fritz Sigler  – a quiet important part of Key West music

Fritz Sigler grew up in rural Clinton, New Jersey. His interest in music began with The Rolling Stones and their song, “Satisfaction”. He took piano lessons as a child but his love was the guitar. Fritz had a younger brother who played keyboard and, while both were still in grade school, they started playing at high school dances.

Sigler dropped out of high school at age sixteen and moved to New Hampshire to play music.  Jimi Hendrix, ZZ Top, and the Grateful Dead were his idols. He met guitarist Rob Leon who mentored and influenced his musical career.

In 1978, Sigler moved to Boston, attending The School of Contemporary Music, to study with the world-famous jazz pianist, composer, and educator Charlie Banacos (who had a two-year waiting list of students). Local guitarist Larry Baeder studied with Banacos at the same time. In his studies, Fritz learned harmony, improvisation, to read music, and how to elevate his level of musical competence. Banacos taught Fritz and Larry about chord tones and his special chromatic approach to jazz. Both said Banacos’ lessons took ten minutes to explain and twelve hours daily to practice and execute. His instructions were very disciplined and made them aware there were no short cuts. Fritz said, “My first lesson with Banacos changed my life.”

During his twenties, Sigler suffered from addiction. It had a terrible effect on his life as well as his ability to play music. In 1985, he attended a rehab program in New York and has been successfully living life clean for the past 39 years. His mother moved to Key West and, in 1986, Fritz also moved to Key West. He started a landscaping business but quickly returned to playing the guitar. His first gig in Key West was with Bill Blue.

Sigler began working with MIDI tracks and a sequencer in order to play gigs with a smaller number of musicians and still have a good sound. From this experience, he began working with studio equipment and sound systems. He operated a recording studio at his home producing and publishing several local talents works including amazing recordings of Cliff Sawyer released in 2002 titled “Looking Back”, and 2003 titled “Always and Forever”. He developed sound systems with Matthew Trahan, General Manager of Noble House, the management company for Ocean Key Resort & Spa, including Sunset Pier and Little Palm Island.

Sigler has since built sound systems for the Green Parrot, Turtle Kraals, Little Room Jazz Club, and other facilities. He purchased a large covered stage system that he used at Goombay Festival 2014, and 2015. It was also used at several concerts on Sunset Pier including opening night for the Key West Songwriters Festival. He also installed a sound system for the Waterfront Brewery when it opened. He keeps very busy doing sound system work but he also loves being a musician.

Fritz Sigler and Rolando Rojas cutting up at the Key West Musicians Festival

One of his best Key West musical experience was with the trio, We B Three, with Johnny Rio on drums and Tim McAlpine on a 300-pound Hammond B-3 organ. At the former Grunts (now Hank’s) on Caroline Street, they played old songs by Jimmy Smith from the album, Back at the Chicken Shack. Smith was a jazz musician who helped popularize the Hammond B-3 organ. Sigler said it was some of the best music he has ever been able to play in Key West.

Larry Baeder says, “Fritz has quietly been one of the most important members of the Key West music community.” At one time Sigler played five to eight shows weekly with Robert Albury, Rolando Rojas, and others. He loves playing music with Rolando Rojas because Rojas is a fearless musician, throwing new music at him constantly. Not a day goes by that Fritz Sigler, Larry Baeder, and Rolando Rojas don’t have sarcastic tongue in cheek comments about each other on social media – based purely on their love and respect for each other.

His favorite gigs in Key West have been with the Key West “King of Soul” Robert Albury. In the early 90s, Fritz had walked by Schooner Wharf one day while Robert was singing “It’s A Man’s World” with the Soul Party band. He asked Robert to fill in for a musician who was experiencing a serious health issue. It was a fortunate addition that has led to over 30 years of musical collaboration. With Albury’s fantastic vocals, they have been a hit since the early 1990s.

Fritz is a really good sound engineer and records all the tracks used for their gigs. Robert and Fritz have been performing at the Sunset Pier for twenty-one years. They continue to work together with drummer Ray Spence and bassist Francois Gehin.

Fritz says, “Robert is the most talented singer he’s ever worked with. His love of music and entertaining is undeniable and beyond that, he is a great person – not a bad bone in his body.” Robert also loves working with Fritz.



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