Musician wins conch shell blowing contest

In this photo released by the Florida Keys News Bureau, a group of conch shell "musicians" play and dance to a recording of Abba's "Dancing Queen" Saturday, March 5, 2011, during the annual Conch Shell Blowing Contest in Key West, Fla. The contest drew entrants who were judged on the quality, novelty, duration and loudness of the sounds they produced. (AP Photo/Florida Keys News Bureau, Rob O'Neal)

March 5, 2011 6:38:11 PM PST
A Key West musician is the winner of the Florida city's 49th annual Conch Shell Blowing Contest. Steve Gibson played parts of two classic rock songs on a pink-lined shell to take top honors today at the island's offbeat test of pucker power.

Gibson blew excerpts from the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction" and Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water.

The top group entry was a self-described "conchestra," whose 24 members saluted the queen conch with a conch-shell accompaniment and dance to a recording of Abba's "Dancing Queen."

Blowing the conch shell has been a Key West tradition since the early 1800s, when seafaring settlers used it as a signaling device. The shell of the mollusk is a symbol of the Florida Keys, often called the Conch Republic.

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