Howard Livingston and the MM24 Band
By Ralph De Palma
Howard was born and raised in Cumberland, Kentucky. Music was part of his growing up – they always had a guitar in the house. They moved to Marion, Indiana where Howard played in the high school band, graduating in 1969. He moved to Chicago, studied engineering, and launched a business manufacturing parts for diesel engines.
Howard’s first visit to the Keys was in the 1980s. He rented a sailboat in Islamorada, fell in love with the islands and waters of the Keys, and purchased a house on Summerland Key in the 1990s.
According to Howard, the music in his life happened because he was inspired by Key West and the Keys. He started writing music, “working for my dream”, even before he moved here. He had photos of the Keys and Key West on his Chicago refrigerator door. He jammed with friends in the basement in Chicago. In 2005, they recorded songs in Nashville, producing a CD and printing 1000 copies that he thought would end up being gifts to his grandkids.
He says the impact of Jimmy Buffett on Key West is enormous. Buffett music piques the curiosity of people to visit Key West. The songs are about Margaritaville and the characters that inhabit Key West. When folks visit Key West, they start looking for good music. Key West is compact and safe, allowing visitors to go from venue to venue, day or night, and enjoy the music. Everyone embraces music in Key West and musicians are respected here.
After moving to the Keys permanently, he put a band together with friends on Summerland Key where they all lived. Since Summerland was located at MM24, it was only natural the band’s name should be Mile Marker 24. The first album contained, “Living on Key West Time” and many other songs that have become local favorites. He and his wife delivered copies of his CD to every radio station in town. On the way home, he was listening to US 1 Radio’s Leigha Fox and heard one of his songs playing on the car radio. He was so overwhelmed he had to pull the car over and listen.
According to Howard, the Key West spirit was all over the first album. He was writing music about how he felt about the Keys, and as it turned out, a lot of other people felt the same way. A few nights after the US 1 Radio experience, Howard Livingston and the MM24 Band played their first gig at Mangrove Mama’s. The CD’s sold like hot cakes – they sold out in a week. While playing that first time at Mangrove Mama’s, Howard looked out at the audience and could see people singing along. They already knew the words to the songs. Several local stations had been playing his songs for almost a week and people loved them.
Howard tries to stick to playing his show with his music at every gig. Some venues have a playlist or rules. Whenever anyone tells them to play, or not to play, something, Howard just tells them, “I’ll do my job and you do yours.” The way he looks at it, they’ve hired the MM24 Band for a reason. A “normal” show is doing all Howard Livingston music. When people go to hear the band play, they hear the original MM24 music. Before most songs, Howard tells a little story of how that song came to be and what/who inspired him.
The Keystock Music Festivals were a harbinger of things to come for Key West. Howard and Joe Cleghorn were partners in the biggest successful music festivals in Key West history. One of their biggest fans and supporters, then Mayor Craig Cates, was instrumental in building the long- planned amphitheater in the first phase of the Truman Waterfront.
During the pandemic lockdown, Howard and Cyndy Livingston mostly stayed home but continued to host “back porch concerts”, raising money for Care Camps helping children fighting diseases. He thinks more and more original music will be generated in Key West.
Howard performed at the sold out 2021 Meeting of the Minds. Howard will be collecting Christmas gifts for children at his November 27th gig at Boondocks Grille, Ramrod Key. He says, “2022 is going to be a great music year.”