Homegrown for Christmas

Packages for the mid-decade wrapped in South Florida

The centerpiece of the album is the group composition "GOT (Get on Top)," an irresistible rocker that will require a time-edit for radio airplay. Its three-dimensional lyrics leave stains of blood and semen and the meaning of life (the Son of God, Nobel-winning biochemist Julius Axelrod, Simon and Garfunkel, and violent pedophilic bestiality form just one A-B-A-B half-verse in the bridge).

This over-the-top, gotta-be-a-hit entry is followed by the unlisted "Mr. Geffen," originally included on their album Legendary Cock but remixed here, a tongue-in-cheekiness jab at the archetypal mogul who wouldn't know good rock and roll -- and all the emotional significance it entails -- if it launched a hostile takeover (which is exactly what this humorous, Beatlesque circus song attempts). But defeat is self-evident; Geffen can't hear enough to get it, so why bother yelling at him? For our amusement? Okay. Thanks for the chuckles.

Yes, there's lots of laughs to be had here, but those are countered in equal measure by Kennedy's insightful and touching skill with troubling topics. "Sometimes I think it's gibberish, and sometimes it comes out sounding profound," he says. In the dozens of original songs this band has put to disc during its career, profound is winning by a mile.

Along with redefining what composes a rock band these days, Rooster Head in many ways defines what a rock band can be if it puts a great mind to it.

By Greg Baker

Jim Wurster
Goodbye Paradise
(independent CD)

What if Lou Reed found a trunkful of undiscovered Buddy Holly songs? What if John Prine fronted Poco back in the Tim Schmit days? What if David Lynch filmed an episode of Twin Peaks in a motel's poolside tiki hut off Federal Highway?

They all might sound somewhat like Jim Wurster's Goodbye Paradise.
Wurster wraps his world-weary vocals around unabashedly romantic lyrics; even song titles sound like Hallmark sentiments: "Never Let Me Go," "Fallin' Again," "Something So Good." But Wurster's sly delivery lends a hint of irony, the old weasel-in-the-woodpile kind of subversion that puts the tang in the Sweetart.

Paradise begins with the Black Janet front man's Holly homage, "Never Let Me Go," blending the hiccup and cry of Texas hillbilly with a twinge of over-it-all ennui on top of some blistering rock and roll. "Fallin' Again" is a gentle folker that rings with bright acoustic guitar (damned if this doesn't sound like the beginning of about a dozen Poco tunes!) behind Wurster's mellow-whiskey voice. Standouts such as the snarky "The Wind Cries Kathryn" and "Goodbye Paradise" are aided by Bob Wlos's plaintive pedal-steel guitar and John Tillman's rhythmic six-string. Mary Karlzen also guests, dueting with Wurster on the countryish "Over You," and, adding to the family feel, Rooster Head's Michael Kennedy provides guitar on the title track. (Janet's drummer Frank Binger is also here, here being Wlos's L7 Studios in Deerfield.)

Rootsy and intelligent if not lyrically profound, Paradise gets the feel and attitude right. Makes you want to stop in at a dark bar in the middle of the day, have a shot and a beer, and play Roger Miller songs on the jukebox.

By Bob Weinberg

Josh Smith and the Rhino Cats
Born Under a Blue Sign
(independent CD)

As with Charlie Sheen's character in Platoon, there's a war going on for the soul of fifteen-year-old blues guitarist Josh Smith. Only instead of Tom Berenger doing battle with Willem Dafoe, it's Eddie Van Halen versus Albert King in the fight to win over the blues prodigy. So what'll it be: rock and roll godhood provided by flurries of furious, unrestrained riffing (as on this album, which isn't aided by its mediocre original material; however, we kinda dig "Guitar Jones," a slow-grinder where Josh's playing is sure to introduce your jaw to the carpet) or stinging, concise blues soloing bred of years of hard work and learning life's lessons? We know who we're rooting for. When Josh reins it in, as on the Stevie Rayish shuffle "Little Baby" -- his own composition, as is "Guitar Jones" -- he shows his brilliance; same with his off-hand riffs and fills. But as for most of Blue Sign, we'd like to crib another movie example by quoting the king from Amadeus who says to Herr Mozart -- another child superstar -- "Too many notes!"

By Bob Weinberg

Johnny Conga and Caribe + Roots of Rhythm
Johnny Conga and Caribe + Roots of Rhythm

Despite the ocean, despite the sun with its tongue of fire, despite the aroma of multicolored beans, even despite the recent powwow of diplomats, the true measure of a city's greatness is its art. Several mediums have already flourished and carved themselves a small niche in our coconuts. Yet it is only recently that Latin/Afro-Cuban jazz has let its sonorous gun-gun pa-kin waft into the warm breeze.

Co-producer and musical director Johnny Conga (J.C.), himself a New York via L.A. transplant, assembled some of the highest caliber Latin jazz musicians in South Florida, including extraordinary bassist Eddie "Gua Gua" Rivera of Batacumbele fame, trombonist Juan Pablo Torres (founding member of Cuba's Irakere), timbalero Edwin Bonilla, pianist Mario "Del Barrio" Marrero, saxman Johnny Padilla, and many more. The result is a terrific blend of the Latin jazz band Johnny Conga and Caribe and the Afro-Caribbean percussive quintet Roots of Rhythm, also fronted by J.C.

« Previous Page
Next Page »
My Voice Nation Help
Miami Concert Tickets

Concert Calendar

  • March
  • Thu
  • Fri
  • Sat
  • Sun
  • Mon
  • Tue
  • Wed