Aquapalooza: Welcome To Your New Favorite Music Festival ... Under The Sea Reporter Nancy Klingener takes NPR to the annual Underwater Musical Festival in the Florida Keys, as part of All Things Considered's feature on off-kilter summer festivals.
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Aquapalooza: Welcome To Your New Favorite Music Festival ... Under The Sea

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Aquapalooza: Welcome To Your New Favorite Music Festival ... Under The Sea

Aquapalooza: Welcome To Your New Favorite Music Festival ... Under The Sea

Aquapalooza: Welcome To Your New Favorite Music Festival ... Under The Sea

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/487665593/487665594" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Reporter Nancy Klingener takes NPR to the annual Underwater Musical Festival in the Florida Keys, as part of All Things Considered's feature on off-kilter summer festivals. A system pipes a fully submerged dance party below the sea. There are mermaids, too.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

A little diversion now from politics and trouble everywhere - time to go to a festival, and not just any old festival. This summer, we are visiting some offbeat festivals and we start by venturing to that string of islands at the bottom of Florida.

NANCY KLINGENER, BYLINE: I'm Nancy Klingener on Big Pine Key, Fla. reporting on the Underwater Music Festival.

Can you sort of describe what happens?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Well, everybody goes down, the - they pipe the music underwater. Sometimes they have people that are dressed up and doing some fun stuff under the water there, and it's just a beautiful reef.

KLINGENER: Bill Becker founded this festival back in 1982.

BILL BECKER: Bill Becker. I'm news director at US1 Radio. Sound underwater is a lot different than sound in the air. It travels five times faster, so you feel like the sound is all around you. And it comes not just through your ears, but through your jaw, through your head. You feel the music as much as you hear it.

KLINGENER: How do you choose the music?

BECKER: Oh, I look for music that has a nautical theme, and then I also look for music that sounds good underwater.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "KNEE DEEP")

ZAC BROWN BAND: (Singing) Wishing I was knee deep in the water somewhere. Got the blue sky breeze and it don't seem fair. Only worry in the world is the tide going to reach my chair.

KLINGENER: Tell me about what you're doing here today?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Well, I do the fish-inspired-type instruments. They're all made out of copper and a little bit of brass.

KLINGENER: Can you name some of them for me?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Here's the flying fish whistle, the saxeelphone (ph), the conch horn and fiddler crab, wahoo kazoo and a sitar fish.

KLINGENER: Can you guys kind of describe what you're doing?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: Right this moment, we're going to be magically transformed into some mermaids. The tail I'm wearing - pretty much a tight Lycra suit that goes up to the waist and it has a mano fin built into the bottom. And it looks like - kind of like a pink disco ball.

LARRY: OK, guys, everybody take a seat at this time. We're going to get underway. First, my name's Larry (ph). Our mermaids will be Sarah (ph) and Nikki (ph). Let's have a round of applause for our mermaids.

(APPLAUSE)

KLINGENER: Is this your first time at the festival?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: This is my first time, yes, and that was a lot of fun.

KLINGENER: Could you hear the music down there?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Yes, I could hear it. It was fantastic.

KLINGENER: What was your favorite thing?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Seeing different kinds of coral that I've never seen before and tropical fish where it's in abundance and they're just swimming all around you. It's very exciting.

KLINGENER: Plus mermaids, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Plus mermaids, yes.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "KNEE DEEP")

ZAC BROWN BAND: (Singing) Sunrise there's a fire in the sky. Never been so happy, never felt...

KLINGENER: For NPR News, I'm Nancy Klingener at the Underwater Music Festival at Looe Key reef off the Florida Keys.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "KNEE DEEP")

ZAC BROWN BAND: (Singing) Wrote a note said be back in a minute. Bought a boat and I sailed off in it. Don't think anybody's going to miss me anyway.

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