By Rebecca Bulnes
By Laurie Charles
By Chuck Strouse
By Lee Zimmerman
By Laurie Charles
By Falyn Freyman
By Hans Morgenstern
After a lengthy holiday hiatus, live music has returned to South Florida with a vengeance that can be described only as deeply disorienting. So disorienting that we've temporarily shelved our plan to firebomb Ticketmaster and instead would like someone to prepare us warm milk with brandy. Lots of brandy.
This week's schedule might rank as the strangest slate of concerts in the long and storied history of South Florida rock journalism hyperbole.
You don't believe us? Let's rack 'em up, boys....
John Mayer performs at 8:00 p.m. Friday, January 26, at the BankUnited Center, 1245 Dauer Dr, Coral Gables. Admission is $40. Call 305-284-8244 for more information.
Agnostic Front performs with Madball, Murphy’s Law, Know the Score, the New Threat, and Ramallah as part of the Gold Coast Tattoo Expo, beginning at 4:30 p.m. Friday, January 26, at the Broward County Convention Center, 1950 Eisenhower Blvd, Fort Lauderdale. Admission is $15. Call 954-765-5900 for more information.
The Idan Raichel Project performs at 8:00 p.m. Sunday, January 28, at the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts, Knight Concert Hall, 1300 Biscayne Blvd, Miami. Admission is $25-$55. Call 786-468-2000 for more information.
Live performs at 7:00 p.m. Monday, January 29, at Revolution, 200 W Broward Blvd, Fort Lauderdale. Admission is $35. Call 954-727-0950 for more information.
Prince performs at 8:00 p.m. Wednesday, January 31, at Seminole Hard Rock Live, 5747 Seminole Way, Hollywood. Admission is $100-$400. Call 954-797-5555 for more information.
Official promotional drivel: Kenny G is the king of jazz!
It's tempting to ridicule Kenny G, because it's so easy. For example, there's a rumor about the nearly Jheri-curled saxophonist joining Michael Bolton, John Tesh, and Yanni in a supergroup. Cruel joke, right? Except the rumor and Mr. G's sober denial are both posted on his Website. (See for yourself, and adore many lovely photos, at www.kennyg.com.)
Few artists so readily invite the scorn of the musically erudite. Pat Metheny famously called Kenny G's cover of Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" "a new low point in modern culture something that we all should be totally embarrassed about." Metheny added that G "shit all over the graves of all the musicians" who were inspired by Armstrong. Richard Thompson chipped in with a song that called G's thang "an abortion," and Mos Def ventured the opinion that "Kenny G ain't got no soul."
We could ream the guy, too, but that is not for what we are paid the big bucks. We are paid the big bucks for constructing elegant sentences like the preceding one. We also spend our waking lives iPodded to the bequeathals of John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis (excluding the bossa nova stuff from '62 and '63), and Oscar Something, who banged the piano keys so hard.
Kenny G, on the other hand, set a world record for longest-held sax note. He won a Grammy. He's sold approximately 800 billion albums. He is to the sax what Chuck Mangione is to the trumpet, minus the running bit on King of the Hill.
Peterson. Oscar Peterson. Yeah, that's it.
Contract rider: Kenny G travels with his own chef and requires promoters to provide all the accouterments for an upscale dining experience. "No plastic, no Styrofoam."
Official promotional drivel: You gotta love John Mayer!
No other artist in the history of, um, art so carefully straddles the line between love and hate. Every time he does something laudable, he chases it with something despicable. He reverently pursues his other career as a stand-up comedian, but he's a big fan of Will Ferrell's Ron Burgundy. He accompanies Dave Chappelle on a quest to make white people dance; then he tours with Herbie Hancock. He has tattoos, but he writes for Esquire. He toured with Sheryl Crow, but he dates Jessica Simpson. He stays connected to his fans by constantly blogging; he constantly blogs.
And round and round he goes. "Waiting on the World to Change" might be an anthem for the apathetic, but it's also solid proof that popular music and politics make for a lousy mixed drink unless you're Joe Strummer. Senator, I saw the Clash live, and you, Mr. Mayer, are no Joe Strummer. But you sure do have nice breath.
Official promotional drivel: Punk is so not dead!
There are five members of AgFro and nineteen former members. Such is the nature of the hardcore beast. Vinnie Stigma formed the group back in 1982, and he takes much pride in the fact that his band outlasted contemporaries such as Black Flag and the Dead Kennedys.
What does AgFro sound like? Grrrr. Subtle thrash-metal influences ... grrrr ... with touches of deathcore and neopunk underpinnings ... grrrr ... while holding true to the harmonic demands of pure hardcore ... grrrrrrr-rrrr-rr.
To put them in context, the members of Agnostic Front have never heard of Kenny G and would eat John Mayer's minty-fresh penis for breakfast. Agnostic Front's stated goal is to give voice to the oppressed, a noble pursuit that would be even more noble if you could understand a word they were saying. Then again, you have to love a band that titles anything Dead Yuppies.
Contract rider: What's a rider? What's a contract?
The Idan Raichel Project
Official promotional drivel: Ethiopian-flavor world music yummers! (We think.)
Any of you who missed his December shows in Beer Sheva, Tel-Aviv, Kibutz Beit Keshet, Tel Nof, or Kfar-Saba can now see him at this performance, which is sandwiched between appearances in Mexico City and Chicago. Pretty nice itinerary for an artist who, his own publicists admit, plays to the "ever-so-small niche of world-music fans on the Israeli music scene" and is "an anonymous composer/producer."
Raichel spent a decade playing keyboards and accordion, as well as producing, for a number of Israeli pop-rock acts. In late 2002 he released his soulful solo debut, built on a foundation of Ethiopian folk music and modern-urban loops, with a plan to gradually build an audience.