We're roasting in the summer heat here in the Keys, though we are still cooler than almost every other part of Florida! ;-) As usual there are Floridians making their way down here to hang with us. Traveling to other areas of the world to relax, or in my case, to play music, is really fun and enriching for the spirit and many musicians make their way all across America and overseas. Sixteen year old Shastina Chiles, my feature artist this month, plans on doing some traveling herself sometime after she graduates high school this December to check out the music being played in other areas of the country. I met Shastina at Terry Cassidy's Super Bowl Sunday party at Watson Field in Big Pine Key a few years ago. She was performing with Ray West at the Habitat for Humanity Benefit. Shastina was rockin' out with the tune "Someone Like you", and also sang a great and catchy original called, "Country Girl in Paradise", a song she wrote with Ray West that has since become a keys favorite. To say I was impressed with her, is an understatement. I think at the time she was 13 years old maybe, and I was like, wow, this girl is a natural: talented guitar player, singer, and comfortable in her skin on stage, something that took me quite a few years to accomplish! Her parents, Steve and Shelly Childs couldn't be more supportive of her. Shastina says her parents help her with everything. She buys her own instruments but they help her travel and really encourage her when she may not be feeling as driven with her music as she would like. Well at 16, there are a lot of distractions! Still, I see quite a driven girl who works at Grateful Guitar, as well as performs at some of the most notable places in the Keys: Hogsbreath, Margaritaville, Boondocks and Blue Heaven, to name a few. This is no small feat even for an established performing musician in the Keys. Her strong voice, and stage presense, at such a young age, coupled with her determination to be the best she can be is rightfully getting noticed. Shastina says she's been singing since before she could even read, singing with Kareoke games on playstations. She began taking guitar lessons with Ray West at age 11, took some online music courses at Berklee College of Music this past year but prefers the interaction with a teacher to an online course. I couldn't agree more. :-) Shastina now studies lead guitar with Topher James, who is both a guitar tech and teacher at The Grateful Guitar in Key West as well as an extraordinary and loved guitar player and performer himself. When asked about her future, Shastina says, "my big focus is to come out with my own record so I'm working on my songwriting, guitar playing and a website as well." This year a mutual friend introduced Shastina to19 year old guitar playing prodigy Myles Mancuso who has also lifted a few eyebrows with his immense talent since he moved from NY to live here in the Keys. They started playing together right off the bat and call themselves, The Rumors. "Myles also writes really good music. " says Shastina, "This one song, I love it. I always ask him to play it. He's fun to be with on stage and he doesn't care if something gets messed up. He just laughs it off." Sounds like my kind of music partner. :-) If you haven't yet seen Shastina or Myles Mancuso, I suggest you check 'em out. Follow her on Facebook and also check out their duo, The Rumors. I may be starting a rumor, but I can't imagine these two staying in the Keys for very long. In five years or less you may be saying, "I remember seeing those guys when they played the HogsBreath Saloon." That's right. Have a beautiful August!