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A New Subculture

According to Artigas the only criteria he uses in selecting bands is "that they have their own identity, sonically speaking, as opposed to some band that sounds like Pearl Jam. The bands tend not to be cover bands because not only do you sound like somebody else, but you're also playing somebody else's songs. I want original music."

The acts that Artigas books to play Subculture are generally young and ambitious, an alternative to what you'd expect at a bar with beer specials and pool tables.

Gemma has been playing out in the music scene for a little more than a year. The quartet teases the audience with catchy melodies and dreamy female vocals that often abruptly change into meandering instrumental passages driven by erratic time signatures, like the sonic equivalent of a patchwork quilt. Machete has a similar, though more polished style. Its songs are simpler and decorated with unique sonic effects like a guitar that runs through a PA speaker. Swivel Stick's lineup includes an upright bass, clarinet, saxophone, electric guitar, drums, and assorted percussion, from ancient African drums to electronic programs. The quintet plays instrumental rock that's influenced as much by Miles Davis as it is by Sixties-era King Crimson.

These bands may not be household names, but Hassib Chelbi, who's in charge of the door at the Sailor on Mondays, says the club does attract its share of fans off the street. "There's a lot of people that walk by and say, 'Hey that sounds pretty cool,' and walk in," says Chelbi, who plays bass for Gemma.

Artigas is doing more than creating an affable environment in which people can hang out and bands can perform. He's also keeping the bar owner happy.

"He's doing everything right and the vibe is there," attests Dinu. "I see the numbers as far as bar sales, and I see more and more clientele every week. It's working well. There's nothing really going on Mondays like that, anywhere ... It's going to be Ed's night for a while."

Almost everyone, from musicians to patrons, has said they would like to see Artigas improve one thing: promotion.

But Artigas insists he has made a strong effort to get the word out. "You can check it out on my Website (www.bigdis.com/spy-fi/shows). I e-mail people. We have done flyers," he says. "Besides, the fact is that our core is word-of-mouth, which seems to do okay. We'd like to do better, but what's your potential on a Monday night?"

Dinu, for one, isn't worried. "The word hasn't gotten out yet, but slowly but surely it's going to get out," he vows.

Artigas is modest about his role at the Sailor. He maintains he's just a musician who's facilitating a place for bands to play. Still, he can't help but issue a rallying call to the foot soldiers in South Florida's beleaguered live music scene: "I'm calling the people and the fans to action: Hey, come out and support, there's something cool going on. I'm calling out to the eighteen-year-old and nineteen-year-old kids: Hey, come out and make a band, and I'm calling out to the other kids to open their own venues. It's not hard. Find places to play, whether its another night at the Sailor, or a skate park, or a warehouse. Just do something because if more of us do something it's going to grow."

Subculture will host Machete with special guest Azalia Snail (New York), January 25 at The Hungry Sailor, 3064 Grand Ave, Coconut Grove, 305-996-1549. Doors open at 10:00 p.m.; cover charge is $2.

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