Program Notes

Just another funky day, as Greg Brown would sing. Dear diary: 8:30 a.m., car starts, gets me home. 9:00 a.m.: car won't start. 9:00 to 10:30 a.m.: work on car. 10:30 a.m.: car still won't start, screw it. Left knee stiff, left ear swollen with infection. Stop by McDonald's for 62-cent hamburger. Walk through double glass door just as someone opens other door, slamming it hard into my left knee and left ear. A/C at house breaks down, stereo receiver goes hooey, debilitating entire system. Hey, who needs a hurricane to live like this?

So it's off to Homestead to cheer me up. Eddie's visiting the tent cities to drop off bundles of New Times, the issue with the ad for a writing contest, so it makes sense to take the info to the people, the only people, who can tell the real stories, even if there is no reality down here. The spray-paint scrawls on the walls of houses are stories in themselves, or at least viable slogans: "For Sale -- As Is" and "Fuck You, Andrew" the two best. Eddie and I both like to fish and have lived in South Florida forever, but neither of us can identify the bizarre fish schooling in a canal by Mt. Trashmore. Paul Simon is conducting a press conference in one tent city, but we manage through diligent effort to completely avoid him. Charity for the sake of publicity is not charity. The food at the army kitchens looks a lot better than a McDonald's burger, and I think maybe I should just stay here. But after a few hours in Homestead, the ridiculousness of that notion overwhelms. This twists you mentally more than drugs ever could. I'm dizzy, maybe the fish were a hallucination, or maybe it was the door to the head that's messing me up.

So we're late to the Roger McGuinn show at Stephen Talkhouse. We catch his Byrds set -- "Turn! Turn! Turn!" and "Eight Miles High" and "So You Want to Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star" -- and an encore that included a nifty jam with Jorma Kaukonen (wish they would have gone through with "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," though). The folks at Talkhouse were especially cordial -- I still don't understand how any club could front rude door people and expect us to smile while paying three or four bucks a drink. The audience was, um, amazing. McGuinn always won over any crowd I've seen him play to, but this was a step above, an unbelievable, almost exaggerated, symbiosis between (big) crowd and (great) performer. And the stars were out: Alan Ogg from the Heat, Bill Henry, Evan Chern, Chris Train and a contingent of top Miami flacks, an even bigger contingent of New Times staffers, Jorma, of course, and anyone I'm forgetting to mention because my head's still spinning.

Gee, I guess I'll have to go to Stephen Talkhouse to have a cold Rolling Rock now. Island Club -- five-year cog in the South Beach scene wheel -- is outta here. This Friday is the club's "Final Encore" with Natural Causes. This Monday is the last Island of Lost Souls shindig with DJ Carlos Menendez. And then, that's all folks.

Memphis, Chicago, and the rest -- back off, 'cause the world capital of the blues is, in fact...yup, Miami, F-L-A. Stick your history, Miami has the best blues bands in the nation. How else to explain: Last year, homeys Roach Thompson Blues Band won the B.B. King Lucille award as best unsigned blues band in the nation. This year, homeys Piano Bob and the Snowman have won the B.B. King Lucille award as best unsigned blues band in the nation. Not only is that two in a row, that's batting 1.000, because SoFlo has entered the contest only the past two years. ("Next year," jokes South Florida Blues Society honcho Mark Weiser, "we'll just send a kid with a tape.") Piano Bob and the Snowman manufactured a tour out of their trip to the compo in Memphis, stopping in New Orleans and other regional hot spots. As winners, they go back to Memphis to play the W.C. Handy Awards on October 4. Catch 'em this week at Big City Fish (Wednesday through Friday in the late afternoon/early evening) and at Sushi Blues in Hollywood (Thursday through Saturday from about 9:00 p.m. to midnight). And congratulate them.

The shows, most go on: Plenty of locals out of town this week for the NewSouth Music Showcase in Atlanta. TCA's Marilyn Manson and Factory Black are going; TCA also has announced signing Holy Terrors. Groove Thangs, too, will be up there, but they're resting from their touring and breaking in a new drummer with a show at Squeeze tonight. Picasso Trigger is at the Ambassador, also tonight. Good Rockin' Johnny and the Wiseguys with Lynne Noble Saturday at Cheers. Gary King and the Dream with Timmy Thomas on Friday at Stephen Talkhouse, where Pearls at Swine also stop in, on Saturday.

The other night I stumbled into the Cactus Cantina for some beer-and-nacho fuel and happened into one of the Women in Music Month sets, by Circle and Star, and it was killer. Keep an uninfected ear out for this band, and get over to the Cactina this Sunday for a benefit on behalf of UM's female-health programs. The emphasis is on women with AIDS, there'll be free condoms and AIDS testing, and everything gets going about 2:00 p.m.

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