In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Stephen Kitsakos, Opera creator, stage director and Artist Advisory Council for The Studios of Key West.

We talk about his career in NYC and how he made it down to Key West.

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STEPHEN KITSAKOS is an opera librettist and stage director. With the American composer, Sheila Silver, he wrote libretti for The Wooden Sword, winner of the Sackler Prize for Composition (World Premiere 2009), The White Rooster for the Smithsonian Institution (World Premiere 2010), and A Thousand Splendid Suns, adapted from the international bestselling novel by Khaled Hosseini, commissioned by the Seattle Opera (World Premiere scheduled 2022, previously presented by the National Opera Center New Works Forum). With the composer Martin Hennessy he wrote the opera-theatre one-act operas, An Incident in Sutton Place & The Woman in Penthouse A (World Premiere 2020) & the upcoming  The Pleasing Recollection (2021) and A Fairy Tale (2021). Other opera & music projects include The Other Voice with Robert Starer & Gail Godwin, Ashokan with Greg Allen & The Woodstock Cycle. Kitsakos is the recipient of grants or commissions from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Commission on the Arts, the Florida Council on the Arts, the Catskill Watershed Commission, the Episcopal Diocese of New York, the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys, the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, NYFA and American Opera Projects.

His work as a stage director concentrates on new works with established and emerging playwrights and includes Smithtown by Drew Larimore starring Michael Urie, Ann Harada, Colby Lewis & Constance Shulman, The Thing About Pipecleaner People by Drew Larimore with Constance Shulman, Anne by Adi Eshman, Red Masquerade by Jack Wade, and Here’s Your Hat, What’s Your Hurry? by Eric Weinberger. Since 2018, he has focused on both directing and engaging in scholarly research for the lesser, unknown and experimental one-act plays of Tennessee Williams including Lifeboat Drill, Kingdom of Earth, Green Eyes The Traveling Companion as an Artistic Associate of the Tennessee Williams Key West Museum. 

A graduate of New York University and the BMI Musical Theater Workshop, between 1999 & 2013 he was a member of the Theatre Arts Faculty at SUNY New Paltz in New York’s Hudson Valley teaching courses in theatre studies, musical theater and performance as well as at Shantigar,the spiritual retreat of playwright Jean-Claude van Italie, and at Kripalu. During that time he was a contributing writer for The Sondheim Review and ABC-CLIO’s Music in American Life. Professional affiliations include a librettist member of Opera America, the Dramatists Guild, and a writer member of ASCAP. His experience as an opera-theatre writer has informed his approach to directing and his approach to directing has informed his writing libretti for the opera stage.

In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter James T. Slater to talk about how he got started, and where he is headed in his amazing career.

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James is a two time, grammy nominated, piano-playing, bilingual singer-songwriter of Bolivian American descent signed to BMG Music Publishing/Nashville with songs recorded by everyone from Carrie Underwood to Tim McGraw to Willie Nelson and Kenny Chesney.






In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with singer-songwriter Cliff Cody.

We talk about how he went from bouncer to songwriter to give it a shot in Nashville.  With nothing lucrative insight and family life calling, Cliff gave up music and moved to his wife’s hometown in Ohio.  

After many nights staring at his guitar sitting in the corner, Cliff picked up that 6 string again to give it one more shot, (with a little motivation from his wife), and the rest is now history!

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Working as a bouncer at a West Texas honky-tonk, Cliff Cody’s life changed forever when the waitress dared him to sing at Karaoke Night. Lucky for Cliff, a band was in the audience looking for a lead singer. They offered Cliff the job that night. The next day he bought a guitar, a week later he had written his first song and 6 months after that, he moved to Nashville.  

After living in Nashville for 4 years with little success, Cliff went back to school and became an RN. While at a songwriter’s retreat in Wyoming, he met his songwriting hero—D. Vincent Williams and he told Cliff something that would change his path. “Whatever “it” is, you’ve got it and I don’t think you even realize it.” That was the encouragement he needed and in 2005 Cliff signed his first publishing contract with EMI/Sony Music.

“Chasin Whiskey” was Cliff’s first cut and recognized as a highlight of Julie Roberts’ album “Men and Mascara” by Rolling Stone Magazine. Cliff’s second cut was “Glad You’re Gone”, a song he co-wrote with the members of Halfway to Hazard David Tolliver and Chad Warrix.  He co-wrote “Gotta Go to Heaven” with artist Josh Thompson and co-wrote the first single on D. Vincent Williams’ freshman album, “Down by the River.”  Since first playing the Key West Songwriters Festival 12 years ago, Cliff has become a favorite and regular performer in the Keys. He has opened for Dwight Yoakam, Gary Allen, Jamey Johnson, Randy Houser, Phil Vasser, Aaron Lewis, Blackberry Smoke, David Allan Coe, Parmalee, Tracey Lawrence, Travis Tritt, The Charlie Daniels Band, Chris Young, Justin Moore, Ashley McBride and many more. Cliff made the Top 15 national finalists on the ABC talent Show “Rising Star” and wrote a song for the book, “The Shoe-Burnin’ – Stories of Southern Soul” available on Amazon. His soulful voice and story telling style of writing has helped Cliff build a loyal following. He makes fast friends and forever fans and once you hear him, you become both.

Cliff met his wife Amy at the legendary Bluebird Cafe and they married in 1998. They live in a log cabin with their 125 pound rescue dog–Bronx in the hills of Appalachian Ohio. They are enormously proud of their only child, Veronica who is an honor student at Ohio Wesleyan University—who doesn’t call home nearly enough. 

Where to find Cliff


Where he’s playing:


In this episode of the show, Mark Baratto sits down with Jenny Lorenz and Emily Nixon, the women behind the Local Life Media agency.

We talk about how they got started and how they are helping local Key West businesses go from the unknown to socially outgoing 😉

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In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Key West local musician Jason Lamson.

We talk about how he got started in the business, where he is at in his career, where he plays regularly, and where he is headed.

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Soul-filling, southern vocalist fusing island style, down-home soul, and a touch of funky personality to create a unique sound filling the streets of Key West.

Jason Lamson Key West



In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with coffee connoisseur and barista Kaia, in the Backyards of Key West Gallery.

We talk about how she got into coffee, why she does everything by hand with no electricity, and why she only uses the best natural ingredients to get the best coffee.

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Love for coffee and sustainability brought this amazing idea together. All off-grid cart, delicious organic coffee, environmentally-friendly supplies, plant-based ingredients. Kaia’s passion for healthy living transformed into something magical.

Coffee here takes time. Every cup is prepared by Kaia with love and care. Manually made espresso, delicious pour-over, daily made iced coffee or iced latte with choice of organic Oat milk or organic Soy milk. Option of organic syrups. Doesn’t matter which one you pick, you will love them all.





In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Shay Spence, the traveling food editor for people magazine. We talk about how he got this dream job, how he went viral on TikTok, why he moved to Key West, and his future podcast 😎.

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People Magazine:






In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with the musically talented husband and wife dynamic duo, Cole Michael Porter and Kendra Porter.

We talk about how they got started in the business, how they met, and how they are able to separate music and their career from everyday life.

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Porter Union, led by husband and wife, Cole Michael Porter and Kendra Porter, is the result of the two old souls spending the better part of the last decade traveling the country together to play their music everywhere from the dive bars and honky-tonks to festivals and theaters. When you hear the story of Cole and Kendra meeting in a hometown bar, falling in love while writing and playing together, it sounds like a fairy tale built by corporate music row. Luckily, that’s where the comparison stops – you won’t find overproduced, cliche-filled songs here. Their honest approach to songwriting combines raw emotional themes with a traditional country sound to bring the listener into the story. It’s no surprise they’ve shared a stage with a variety of notable artists including many of their own heroes.

Porter Union was recently selected by Travis Tritt as a contestant on REAL COUNTRY on USA Network. 





In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Laurent, one of the owners of Le Creperie. We talked about how he got started in the restaurant business, how he made it to Key West, and all of the amazing French specialties served daily.

More on La Creperie French Cafe

Just logged back into Yelp, realizing I forgot to finish this review. I spent two and a half months there earlier this spring from March to mid-May and I absolutely loved this restaurant. There is one other (Russian)Creperie in town, but La Creperie blows that place out of the water. This restaurant is, in my opinion, one of the top 3 breakfast/brunch restaurants in Key West. Deserves multiple visits for anybody staying more than a week. I really hope this place didn’t close permanently due to any damage from the recent string of hurricanes. Cant’ wait to go back.” Jon T 10/15/17 (after Hurricane Irma).

Life is Organic!

We think that life is nature rather than marketing, so we prepare food from scratch that is fresh, as much as possible organic, natural, and non-GMO. We are gluten-free, vegetarian & vegan friendly, ask for these options, we have plenty! 

Ask for your needs…and drink biodynamics wines!

La Crêperie French Café Key West is located in Bahama Village, come to experience authentic traditional French Cuisine.

300 Petronia St #1,
Key West, FL 33040
+1 305 440 2240

Dine-in & Pick-up from 7.30am to 3pm.