They stomp and sway to a battery of drums and cymbals. They pound the floor in construction boots and brag in sassy rhymes. While dueling onstage they hex each other by throwing threatening glares and crossing their drumsticks. They go by the names Cush Mob, the Delray Elegant Divas, Dem Darn Drummers, The Seven Thunderbirds, Brothers of Fury, F.B.I. Kids Dance, and Step Up For Christ. They are intense and funny and talented, and their common goal is to represent, with fierce pride, their neighborhoods, high schools, and fraternities.
They are teams of drumlines and steppers (also known as drill teams) who will be competing this weekend for more than $15,000 in the Florida Classic Stepdownat the James L. Knight Auditorium (400 SE Second St.). To the uninitiated, the teams are like a low-rent hybrid of cheerleaders and color guards who might have been trained by James Brown. And when they perform, they work like well-oiled units of pomp and funk in satiny marching band uniforms or color-coordinated T-shirts. While stepping and drumline has yet to hit the popularity of spoken word or break dancing, the recent Hollywood movie Drumline brought attention to the drill team tradition that has remained in neighborhoods and frat houses.
The cross between drill teams and funk has its roots in black American streets throughout the South and Northeast. In cities such as Philadelphia, neighborhood blocks echo the pounding syncopation as teams prepare for battle in school yards and parking lots.
In South Florida, though, drill teams remain a relatively new phenomenon. While teams have existed in Boys & Girls Clubs, churches, and high schools, Saturday's showdown is the first major competition for local teams. It could just be the start of a new tradition that promoters say maintains a positive vibe in communities as the young folk raise a wonderful noise.--JUAN CARLOS RODRIGUEZ
The competition starts at 7:00 p.m. Tickets cost $16. Call 954-567-8570.
While their name may evoke images of a pistol-packing gang riding in to shoot up a town in the Old West, the Immortal Lee County Killers II are just two guys. And a duo seems to be all that's necessary to produce music that has been described as "wild, hell raisin', raucous, and bombastic." Featuring guitarist and chief screamer Chetley "El Cheetah" Weise and drummer J.R.R. Tokien, who used to play together in the oft-lamented Quadrajets, the Alabama-based purveyors of bluesy punk rock cite influences as diverse as John Coltrane, John Lee Hooker, the Stooges, Pussy Galore, and Black Sabbath. No surprise then that they've penned songs with names such as "Let's Get Killed" or "Sometimes the Devil Sneaks Inside My Head." Supporting the latest release, Love is a Charm of Powerful Trouble, on Bellingham, Washington's Estrus Records, the band peels the paint off the walls of the newly renovated Slak Lounge (2826 N. Miami Ave.) during RealCoolTime at 11:00 p.m. Admission is five dollars. Call 305-438-0810. -- Nina Korman
Rockin' the Lyric
Historic hot spot shines again
They're getting the costumes ready, rehearsing dance steps, and polishing the phrasing on their raps. Amateur Night at the Lyric promises to get the historic Lyric Theater (819 NW Second Ave.), located in the heart of Overtown, jumping once again. With more than fifteen acts, both local and from Atlanta, the show spotlights some of the best undiscovered talent in the city. The event was created by developer/promoter Sidney Ferguson, who is working to breathe life back into OT's historic theater. It gained notoriety in the days before Interstate 95 was built, with concerts by legendary performers such as Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole, and Sam Cooke. Amateur Night will feature rapper Prettie Ricky Ricky and the Mavericks as well as a host of local singers, comedians, and rap artists. The show starts at 8:00 p.m. Tickets cost $12 to $30. Call 786-486-8531.--JUAN CARLOS RODRIGUEZ
Making Music a La Haiti
A supergroup of Haitian musicians will take the Bayfront Park (301 Biscayne Blvd.) stage at 2:00 p.m. Saturday for a celebration of twoubadou, guitar, and percussion-based acoustic street music with rural roots. Central to the twoubadou sound is the manuba, a wooden box with three steel plates that mimics the sound of a bass guitar. The revisionist Haiti Twoubadou movement, started by Fabrice Rouzier and Kéké Belizaire, has brought modern stylings and kompa, zouk, and roots music to the traditional improvisational genre, recording and performing concerts around the U.S. and in Haiti. (Their first contemporary twoubadou single, "Blakawout," topped the Haitian charts for twenty weeks.) Roberto Martino of T-Vice, Michel Martelly (a.k.a. Sweet Micky), Erick Charles of Mizik-Mizik plus other members of that band, Fanfan Ti Bot of Tabou Combo, Raymond Cajuste of Bossa Combo, and Isnard Douby of Frères Déjean are among 40 multigenerational artists expected to join in the all-day jam. Tickets cost $20; $10 for kids under ten. Call 305-888-6727. -- Judy Cantor