One of the most influential black leaders of the 1920s, Marcus Garvey, the founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL), cut a controversial and imposing figure with his "Back to Africa" ideology, in-your-face oratory, and penchant for eccentric military regalia.
This weekend, fans of Bone Crusher's Fat Man Stomp can shout out their tributes to the original Imperial G at Lionsplash 2004, a 12-hour Pan-African fête celebrating Garvey's August 17 birthday.
If getting the grind on and bumping it back with a tall boy is more your speed than sitting in on a lecture, Lionsplash features reggae, hip-hop, dancehall, gospel music, poetry, and food and spirits. Performers include Screwdriver, Hopeton Lindo, SupaDave, Jah High Towa, DJ Stereoman, Black Warrior Movement, Ethiopian Lion Family, Third Level, and the Drums 'n' Unity posse, among others.
Plenty of activists, from Rastafarians to academics, will be on hand to teach about Garvey's legacy.
With Garvey's hand at the rudder, the UNIA-ACL grew to more than 1000 branches in 40 countries during the 1920s. Advocating black-owned businesses as a vehicle for economic freedom, the organization established a chain of grocery stores, a laundry, a publishing house, and the Black Star Line Steamship Corporation.
Garvey's popular Negro World newspaper was published in Harlem from 1918 to 1933. A feud with W.E.B. Du Bois, founder of the NAACP, whom he derided as an "integrationist," and the memory of a UNIA-Ku Klux Klan summit in 1922 wiped out his base of support among conservative blacks in America at the height of his troubles.
But such acts of brazenness and daring still earn Garvey the respect of contemporary thinkers, artists, and activists.
Hey buddy, what's in the bag? Once a month at least, the brown baggers along Biscayne Boulevard have an excuse: lunch at the Miami Performing Arts Center for the Hard Hat Performance Series. In lieu of a building with actual walls, the MPAC is holding concerts on the grassy knoll across the street, where Biscayne Boulevard meets NE 13th St. The series began back in March of 2002 with shows that have included mostly South Florida acts such as jazz singer Nicole Henry and funky Afro-Cuban rockers the Baboons. This month features jazz-funk band Way of the Groove, formed by Felix and Julius Pastorius, twin sons of jazz legend Jaco. The combo plays funked-up classics by Herbie Hancock, the Meters and, of course, the elder Pastorius. If the noise of the construction hasn't already dulled your hearing, don't worry, the workers break for the music, too. Expect the series to continue far into the future, to at least the summer of 2006. The music starts at noon. Admission is free. Call 305-375-4634 for info. -- John AndersonRock Reality
On the road again, again
If you are an aging lead singer with a certain degree of fame, rock and roll is a dependency more than an addiction. For Brian Howe, former vocalist for Bad Company, hard-driving music is building his dream home. According to his online diary, Howe is on a quest for the perfect plot of land to settle. In the meantime he'd better play some gigs. The tough-voiced singer of such hits as "Bad Company" and "Rock and Roll Fantasy" this year has played the London Balloon Festival in Ontario, the Special Olympics in Rolla, Missouri, and various club gigs from Las Vegas to Cheyenne. Tonight he brings his show to Solid Gold (2355 Sunny Isles Blvd.), a North Miami Beach strip club. At least it's not a county fair. The show starts at 11:00 p.m. Tickets cost $20. Only those 21 and older will be admitted. Call 305-956-5627. -- Juan Carlos Rodriguez
Laughter Con Sabor
What's so funny about being Latino? It's a question we in Miami don't have to ponder too heavily. Every day we see the divine comedy of life played out in a variety of Latin accents. Still stereotypes persist, providing creative fodder for Latino artists and writers to use as material. For Los Angeles-based writer and performer Rick Najera, growing up Mexican-American has been a source for his riotous Latinologues, a multicharacter play that has been touring the U.S. since 1999. His characters include a wily would-be coyote who teaches immigrants how to handle border patrol officers, an East L.A. beauty queen, and a passionate busboy who falls hard for a Hollywood blonde. The show arrives in Miami for the first time this weekend featuring Najera and actors Rene Lavan (Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights), telenovela actress Cynthia Klipto, and Lina Acosta (Real Women Have Curves). Latinologues opens at 8:30 p.m. at the Actors' Playhouse, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables. Tickets cost $25. Call 305-444-5885. -- Juan Carlos Rodriguez