Program Notes

The hype continues: Latest word is that the Slammie Awards will now take place June 25 at Button South.

Nuclear Valdez blows up! Purple Mustard murders perfect psychedelia! Billy Mann sells out! Picasso Trigger shoots for the top! All lies! (God, I wish I worked for a tabloid.) May Day. Square.

How's all that work? Find out in the latest installment of Lee Zimmerman's The Business of Music course at Palmetto High School on Tuesdays. The new semester begins May 5, and the fifteen-week course is a bargain at $11. Call 235-1360.

Jeff Sadowsky needs a couple more local bands for his latest compilation project, Just Say Thanks. Dial him up at 220-0431.

Recordings to keep an ear out for: Wire Train's No Soul, No Strain due May 12 from MCA: delightfully casual and smartly cool real rock. Anything by the Manic Street Preachers from Columbia. I've heard various advances, and while I'm not buying into "the new Clash" hype, I am convinced this band's gonna ring some bells. And topping the list, out now from Jeterboy, a super slab (oh, okay, cassette) of American rock called The Savage Ones by Johnny Tonite. Starring local stalwarts Randy Ruffner and Pete Moss (with plenty of groovy guests), Johnny rocks true and right, no phony, manipulative, smoky-mirrors b.s. here, just simple rock songs beefed up by invention and raw sincerity transmitted by voice, guitar, bass, drums, hand claps, and incidentals. You need this album if only to hear "The Great Pretender," a majestic piece that might be the most infectious (in a good way) song released anywhere this year. The whole thing is pensive-angst munchable tasty, and I can't recommend it highly enough. Seek it out, dear rockers.

Sax man Arthur Barron is back in town after touring the Far East. He'll play at Erny's on Tuesday. Call 407-276-9191.

Some time ago I was talking to an industry insider about Rooster Head, originally a studio band with two masterful albums to its credit. The career prognosis was not good, this person said, because the Roosters couldn't cut it live on-stage. Maybe this person was/is a bonehead, or maybe something supernatural happened in the meantime, but I saw the band live ten days ago, and wow. Psycho-Nazi-barking drummer Mike Vullo ravaged the place, smacking the two dozen or so Cactina attendees in the face with devastating tempo shifts and backbeats. Bassist Dave Cook (one of the groovy guests on the Johnny Tonite project) moved and grooved and provided a perfect rhythm second to back front man Michael Kennedy, lead guitar wizard Pete Moss, and pedal-steel colorman Bob Wlos. We already knew R.H. was a great studio band. Now I know they're equally awesome live. Check 'em yourself Friday at the Plus 5 (with Black Janet, Big Tall Wish, and Lyrics for Lunch) or May 16 at Washington Square with the Mavericks.

Instructor Doug Burris's Miami Beach High Rock Ensemble hit the road late last week. The itinerary called for them to compete in Lakeland and then perform four shows up in Pensacola.

Now if we could only come up with a better name for it than "World Beat." Otherwise the music Miami knows as well as anyone has been granted full legitimacy via Peter Spencer, former Trenton Times music writer turned book author, and his tome World Beat: A Listener's Guide to Contemporary World Music on CD ($12.95). From Fela to Marley to Valerio Longoria, from Hawaii to Turkey to Africa, Spencer covers the basics and all his bases. It's a fun musical travelogue and a handy-dandy reference in one, and it's available from A Cappella Books. To order, call 800-888-4741.

Butthorn of the week: Miami Herald columnist Robert L. Steinback. It's nice to know he devotes prime research hours to reading New Times. But if he's going to write commentary based on New Times stories, as he did in a piece last week rehashing Jim DeFede's expose of the flawed Andrew Morello shooting inquest, he should either get a job here, or mention where his information comes from.

The media circus: In Living Color, like so many things born fresh and outrageous, has evolved, grown up, and is apparently on the fat-soft tip these days. According to TV Time magazine, the once-rad show wimped out when it came to booking rappers TLC. "Fox censors," as TV Time aptly puts it, were scared of the group's "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" and the members' "condom accessories." The censors asked the rappers to tone down, to which TLC said no thanks. So much for a Men on Hip-Hop skit.

Pet corner: Two items from what is becoming the premier must-read, Animals' Agenda: 1) South Carolina state representative Tom Rhoad has worked to soften cruelty legislation involving hunting, and it's little wonder why. "If my bird dog goes into a covey two or three times," he reportedly told the SC legislature, "a few shots of number nine won't hurt him." Yeah. If only there were a way to arm dogs. 2) The government of Bangladesh set a bounty on rat tails in an effort to cut rodent numbers. Earnest citizens deployed pesticides in their pursuit of rats. The poisons wiped out innumerable snakes, owls, and cats - the predators that kill rats, or would kill rats if left alone to do so. There has, of course, been no discernible decline in the rat population. God, people are wonderful.

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