Program Notes 42

In the great cosmic connection, karma, whatever you call reality, I'm the man. That's what they say: Dude, you the man. My power and influence over South Florida's rock scene is immeasurable, my word is gold, I rule. Don't believe me? Okay, a recent example, then. Not long ago I wrote in here that a new rock club was opening, a big space called 901, near Tobacco Road and Firehouse Four. The venue would debut with a live concert by a band I often recommend -- though no one, including New Times, has adequately covered their soaring career and the personalities behind that -- called Natural Causes. Being the superstar I am, I actually followed up by going to the show. I knew that because I had mentioned it in this almighty column, the place would be packed. Right. There were about eight people there for the first two sets -- in a room that could probably fit in 800 (or at least a couple of hundred). Essentially, 901 is the Stephen Talkhouse writ large. Same horizontal setup, same wide but not deep stage, same arrangement of tables down front, bar in the back. The dramatic difference at 901 is the impossibly low ceiling, which destroys the sound if you sit at the bar. The sound's fine closer to the stage.

It sounds fine -- what a brilliant comment about Natural Causes. Here was one of the best rock bands on the planet -- winners of a national battle of the bands, an outfit that is ready now, today, to play arenas -- up on stage in a big room with a handful of fans. Cut the sets short, play the songs fast, get the hell out of there. Right. The Causes performed as if they were in a sold-out arena. The dynamic was different -- even Leonard Pitts has recognized the symbiosis that occurs between this band and a sizable audience; it is a spiritual experience. In an empty room, the music sounds just as good. I had to go get dinner after the second set and somehow got back too late for the third. (The club manager says 150 people went through the door, and the place was crowded later in the night.) Check the Causes out if they play any more live shows at local clubs. (That's sarcasm.) The new songs are as amazing as the old. And check out 901. With clubs closing, this space has a chance to light things back up.

By the way, the Causes's Karen Friedman did get married, according to a couple of National Enquirer friends of mine. The tabs are reporting that the outdoor ceremony was lovely, with the bride entering by horse-drawn carriage. One friend of the bride who attended describes it as "just like a Guns N' Roses video." Congrats again.

Tomorrow (Friday) Mardi Gras comes to Squeeze, with the infamous In Progress Arts Festival (think graffiti), body painting, mask contest, Chez Doug's Cajun cooking, everything but the beads (bring your own). The winner of best mask gets two minutes on stage with the Baboons and a $50 bar tab. Performing along with the 'Boons will be Duo Da Da Dance and DJ Danny Bled, one of the best in the biz. "It'll be drunk people in masks going nuts," says one organizer. By the way, the Bowel Movement has added Purple Kush, the Goods, and DJ Danny Bled.

The Holy Terrors, Cell 63, and Twenty-three are slated for Saturday at Zipperhead.

I can't believe Michael Kennedy doesn't call me on this. (I thought of him because I'm still listening to Rooster Head's Tasting Your Molester daily, or nightly, or usually at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning). Last week in this space I earnestly and accurately displayed unmistakable signs of a mental illness I won't specify so as not to belittle it by having its name appear in this column. Kennedy, a mental-health professional, often calls and advises me in strong terms to seek help. "I can get you in group therapy...I know some good clinics...Baker, you really gotta get some treatment" and all that noise. Now that I've truly gone over the edge, he doesn't care any more.

Rooster Head isn't the only thing in my box these days. Steve Ellis's debut album, called Pleasures of the Past, due out soon on the Steam label, is eating up a lot of my listening time. (Don't worry, I'll remind you later, when it's available.) Heard the new Bruce, "Streets of Philadelphia" I think it's called, on Zeta and I will pass on the cream cheese jokes, thanks anyway. I remember when I used to rush out to buy Springsteen's 45s just to get the non-LP B-sides. I haven't even bothered to phone a flack and ask to be sent a free copy of the Philadelphia soundtrack. Don't intend to, either. I also have a guilty pleasure to confess: Pet Shop Boys's "Can You Forgive Her?" -- the biggest hookfest since the Archies's "Sugar, Sugar." I love hearing it, though I know I'll be sick to death of it in two or three weeks. I don't have a copy of it, either, but WVUM plays it six or eight times an hour, so dial up 90.5 FM. Was that a dis? No. As usual, VUM is kicking the asses of its commercial competition. There's nothing wrong with a manipulative, frothy, pointless song if it's enjoyable, just like there's nothing wrong with eating ice cream if that's what you like. For every "Forgive Her," VUM drops the shit, such as the rap show I heard this past Thursday, which, bad Michael Jackson jokes aside, was mind-blowing. (That's good.) I've also been dropping outtakes from the Fog album (see "Music"). Sorry, not available to the public. Speaking of which, are Springsteen bootlegs still worth anything? Or are they worth more now?

Black History, huh? February. Every year since 1976. Black History Month. Read all about it. Or listen to NPR (on WLRN-FM [91.3]), which will feature appropriate programming all month.

Groove King Entertainment and Mr. Productions present Hip-Hop '94 at the Mahi Temple Auditorium (1500 NW North River Dr.) this Wednesday. J. Groove is one of the people making rap happen here, including the Underground Compound (738 NW 62nd St.), which jams every Saturday. Haven't heard of him? That's because nobody covers hip-hop in South Florida. (Pandisc has released so many bass CDs here in Bass Town I've lost count. Did you know that? Not from the press you didn't.) Anyway, the launch concert of Hip-Hop '94 at Mahi features Wu-Tang Clan, Deme-D, Mother Superior, XXXES Weights, Funky Black Sno and the Nation of Hoodz, Solid Waste, and DJ Chris. Call 655-2129.

Third Wish hits Reunion Room tonight (Thursday).
Acoustic nights and jam sessions are so cool (you even read about them in the newspaper), and a couple are starting to really happen. Cafe Bacala at Blue Steel sets the pace every Tuesday evening. Zac and Seven are staging many of the greats, including Diane Ward, Paul Roub, Omine, Louis Jurika, Doc Wiley, Phil T. Rich.... Go and make your own list. Meanwhile, Wednesday nights at Hooligan's (at Briar Bay) are kicking with open mike. All you musicians can go there and be the greats. The rest of us can enjoy.

Germany-based Massacre Records has signed Naked Rhythm. Congrats, guys.
To answer some of my phone calls the easy way: Yes, the Cocteau Twins are scheduled (cough, cough) to play here, on March 2 at the Cameo. And, no, as I've reported here, there will not be a Miami Rocks this year. However, all this week, through Sunday, ASCAP reps are in town scouting. They will select a few of our best bands and stage a showcase in late March or early April. Somebody tell those guys in Natural Causes that they should play their best this week, if they have any shows, because people who can make them rich and famous will be watching. That's a as good a reason as a packed house to play your best. Right.

Madera plays tomorrow (Friday) at Borders at 8:00 p.m. I've seen 'em live, I know the members, and if you dig truly virtuosic playing without regard to genre, be there. This is the real deal.

Note to David P. and also to Carla H.: I'm on the Greg Brown tip soon, I promise. Keep reading. You know I'm the man.

This Monday Itanna plays Plus Five.
Every Monday this month MoJazz Cafe will show classic-jazz footage on big-screen, with historian/musician Eric Bogart serving as host. Beginning at 9:00 p.m., the club will show two hours of clips and then stage two hours of jamming, lead by Bogart on drums. This Monday it'll be the music of Duke Ellington.

Butthorn of the week: A reader -- they exist! -- nominates Nancy Wilson and the organizers of her recent concert, primarily SunBank. "I bought my mom $50 tickets," the complainant says. "That included a meet-and-greet. All the bank people got let in first. It was impolite."

The media circus: Allegedly Tonya Harding's bodyguard was somehow involved in the brutal attack on figure skater Nancy Kerrigan (sorry, I haven't read the newspaper stories about this fiasco). My question: Where the hell was Nancy Kerrigan's bodyguard?

Pet Corner: I'm sure you readers have been following the saga of Sarah, the woman who, out of the goodness of her heart and her own wallet, took an abandoned stray cat (she called it Maggie) for neutering and emergency followup surgery (to the tune of $250, courtesy of some greedhead vet with less heart and a much fatter wallet). Okay, so Hillary calls up and claims to have one of Maggie's kittens (Maggie's Kittens -- great band name). "Yeah, I know Sarah. The cat lived under our apartment building on South Beach. When she had kittens, we left them for a few months, and then we all took one. Sarah sort of looked after the mother. Joel Schantz, the Causes guitarist, took one of the kittens, too. In fact, all of the kittens were taken home by someone. Sarah took one, too." Sorry, Hillary, but my Sarah lives in South Miami, not the Beach. I like hearing about good people doing good things anyway, even if there is no place for such stuff in the newspaper. Plus that two Sarahs thing is freaky. A regular cosmic connection, karma at work. Or at least it's the best I can do. Sorry.

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