Maybe "American Idol" winners aren't abandoning their guitars to play conch shell concerts, but fans of the fluted, pink-lined shell are puckering up for the 50th annual test of "conch musicianship" in Key West. The Conch Shell Blowing Contest takes place Saturday, March 3, as a salute to Key West's seafaring heritage.
The tradition of blowing a conch shell in the Florida Keys began centuries ago. In the 1800s, when the local economy was largely based on salvaging cargoes from ships wrecked on the nearby reef, sailors attracted attention by blowing piercing blasts on the shell.
"There wasn't a ship that went out that didn't have at least one conch shell on it for communications," said veteran contest winner Clinton Curry.
Here, Curry offers conch shell blowing tips for aspiring "pucker pros."
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