Letters

St. James and his boosters are even further off the mark in suggesting education as a solution. If Alvin really believes he can help by teaching an audience "to like live rock music," then maybe he needs to be taught that a crappy upstairs shoebox like Tobacco Road will never be attractive to either bands or audiences. Alvin paints himself deeper into a corner of ignorance by referring to his potential but unlikely patrons as "sheeple" who "seem far more interested in the dance scene." In a town where places like Tobacco Road or Churchill's are the premier rock clubs, it's no wonder the scene sucks.

There's money on the table for the first rocket scientist who opens a club that's production-friendly to bands and their would-be promoters. The audience doesn't have to be taught anything. This town is starving for entertainment. There's just nowhere to go. St. James could have summed it up in six words: no clubs, no shows, no scene.

James Ivers
North Miami Beach

Dead Music: Please Don't Remind Me
As a musician and former Miami resident, I salute Adam St. James and his well-researched article, which brought back painful memories: playing in back yards to indifferent, drunken teenagers; the horribly inadequate PA at Churchill's; the utter lack of venues.

Aside from the lack of small venues where local bands can establish a fan base, one problem in Miami is the lack of midsize to large venues in which well-known national bands can perform. The Orange Bowl and Miami Arena are accessible only to the really huge acts, not to mention being the acoustic equivalent of an elementary school cafeteria. A city without access to recognizable performers cannot propagate a music scene of its own.

Otherwise, St. James's piece was brilliant. New Times truly is the only reliable bastion of cultural knowledge in Miami. You'd never see this article in the Miami Herald. I even caught myself longing for a Thursday in Miami (I can't believe these words even as I write them) if only to read New Times.

Dave Snetman
New York, New York

Dead Music: UM In Not the Problem, Chump
I was very pleased to read "Live Music: Dead on Arrival." Actually, I should say I was initially pleased. Many of the problems concerning Miami's local music scene were finally being addressed. It is always positive for the media, as well as the community, to hear a little (or a bunch) of people expounding on a topic that is so important.

But some grossly misleading statements were made by Adam St. James about the University of Miami's music school and its musicians. Does the university really lack fresh blood? Once again we have another music editor speaking from his proverbial behind. Here is a list of the best bands in Miami, some signed, some unsigned, some having received national acclaim, and some yet to. Pay attention, now, because all the groups (and I'm sure I've missed some) are composed of University of Miami alumni, current students, or sabbatical students, from one member to the entire group. Here they are: Raw B Jae, Nil Lara, Iko-Iko, Fulano de Tal, Kynch O'Kaine, Trophy Wife, Second Nature, Raul Midon, the Kind, the 18 Wheelers, and Omar Stang.

Let's move to the next piece of brilliance from the St. James State of Musical Affairs address. He cites a WVUM-FM DJ (and UM freshman) who says that "many of UM's 700 to 800 music students are studying jazz and classical, and are more likely to seek out those types of entertainment." This reeks. A totally unsubstantiated fact! I admit, though, DJs know a couple of things: how to get to work on time, how to log tunes for performing-rights organizations, how to read copy, how many requests they receive for a given artist, the call letters, and, most important, they know what they like to hear. But they usually know absolutely nothing about real musicians, what they do, or who they go hear on their time off. St. James has successfully misled readers about what music students or music pros are likely to go see.

The University of Miami music school did see the likes of Pat Metheny, Jon Secada, and Bruce Hornsby stroll through its halls, but remember, folks, these guys were not students at the time they achieved their fame. Greatness requires nurturing. Don't fault hard-working students who frequently choose to stay "in the shed" at night honing their craft instead of going out to see the neighborhood's best high school ska band.

Because of lazy journalism, St. James came up with only three names and then accused UM of not supplying much fresh blood. The list of heavyweight musicians who are UM alumni and who play or have played in many of today's national and international touring acts would be too large to list, people who play with Bruce Springsteen, the Bee Gees, the Sound Machine, Lari White, David Lee Roth, Bob Seger, Julio Iglesias, Chayanne, Tom Jones, Ilan Chester -- the list goes and on and continues to grow. And let's not dare to drag into this the music industry or music engineering alumni, because you would need a small book to list their accomplishments as musicians, recording engineers, and record company executives.

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