Despite South Florida's continuous influx of talented immigrants from South America and the Caribbean, Miami's reputation on the world music scene is about as substantial as the breakfast menu at the International House of Pancakes. Our city's musical exports are all too often flat and tasteless. Their only noteworthy quality: a syrupy sweetness that leaves listeners malnourished and slightly nauseous.
Blame it on Ricky Martin, the Estefans, Jon Secada, or the latest in a seemingly endless parade of romantic Latino crooners known in the business as "the guy in the white suit." We here in the Magic City have an image problem.
Local world-beat ensemble Mantra would like to change that. Mantra has slowly evolved from a jazz fusion group into the leader of Miami's fledgling world-beat consortium, coproducing a number of music events like the Africando Arts & Culture Fest, the Miami Jazz Festival, and the upcoming International World Music Festival. Currently they're gearing up for a national tour, culminating in an appearance at next year's Panafest in Ghana, Africa.
Diamonds on the Road, their weekly Wednesday-night international music concert series at Tobacco Road, has featured performers from Ecuador, Brazil, Cuba, and all over the Caribbean. Tortola Islander and songwriter Macarldie has been a regular guest. The next few Wednesdays should provide ample nutrition for the hungry music lover. Beginning tonight is the first of several showcases/audition opportunities for the First Annual Pensacola Music Festival, a networking music conference exposing worthy performers to major-label producers, record distributors, film directors, and the usual motley crew of starmakers. The events offer a chance for locals to present their talent to scouts from outside our city and perhaps get the hell out of Dodge for a gig or two, opening new doors for their careers.
Diamonds on the Road takes place from 8:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. every Wednesday night at Tobacco Road, 626 S Miami Ave. Admission is free. Call 305-576-6882 or visit the Mantra Website at www.mantrasounds.com for details. -Chris Deangelis
Big Bang Bandstand
It's hard to say which role suits musician and composer Ty McLeod best, performer or curandero. He and the group Inner Voice will be producing sounds to align your chakras, bring inner peace, heal your maladies, and clean your dishes. Okay, so you'll have to do your own housework, but McLeod's method, which he calls Bio Kinetic Resonance, is designed to bring you to altered states. He describes his style as a deeply relaxing experience that balances the left-brain/right-brain activity and synchronizes breathing and heart rates. "Through physics and metaphysics I came to understand how to design music to trigger the mind-body matrix," McLeod says. He discovered the universal vibration in the 1970s. The vibe lives at the heart of all music, of all energy, and of all matter, McLeod says. He'll be performing at the planetarium, a spherelike structure that will further amplify the meditative and grounding effect at the heart of his music. The show starts at 8:00 p.m. at the Miami Museum of Science and Planetarium, 3280 S. Miami Ave. Tickets cost $25. Call 305-646-4234. -- Juan Carlos Rodriguez
Belly dance among the cloisters
Think monastery and quiet contemplation comes to mind. A dusty stone pile filled with monks going about their daily business in utter silence. One thing those sacred places does not conjure: belly dancers -- hips undulating, arms raising and lowering, fingers clanging tiny cymbals together. That is, until now. Tamalyn Dallal, founder and director of the Mid-Eastern Dance Exchange, and seven other dancers and musicians will share their explorations into Apathy & Passion at 8:00 this evening at the Ancient Spanish Monastery (16711 W. Dixie Hwy., North Miami Beach). Performers include Bozenka -- Miss America of the Bellydance 2000 -- presenting her new company, and singer-songwriter Gail Warning, offering bilingual compositions. Stealing their thunder might be the venue itself. Built during the 1100s, it was home to Cistercian monks for nearly 700 years in Spain. Purchased by publishing mogul William Randolph Hearst in 1925, the structure became a South Florida tourist attraction in 1951. Tickets cost $35. Call 305-538-1608. -Nina Korman
"Robert Smith will never die, he'll just need less makeup," goes a modified version of the old Goth-rocker joke. Perhaps there's a bit of truth in this: Smith has led the Cure -- which just released its 13th studio album -- for more than 25 years of quirky, guitar-laden, synthpop hits such as "The Love Cats," "Just Like Heaven," "Love Song," "Friday I'm in Love," and "Pictures of You." The Cure was never a real Goth band, but dallied with enough of those same sensibilities to make it a melancholic dance club favorite and perfect for Goths who occasionally want to feel something that approximates "cheery." Its Curiosa Festival tour kicks off today at the Sound Advice Amphitheatre (601-7 Sansbury's Way, West Palm Beach) at 5:00 p.m. with Interpol, the Rapture, and Mogwai opening. On the now seemingly ubiquitous second stage will be Thursday, Muse, Melissa Auf der Maur, Cooper Temple Clause, and Head Automatica. Tickets cost $55 for reserved seats/dance floor; $30 for the festival lawn. Call 561-793-0445. -- Margaret Griffis