A white rhinestone-studded jumpsuit once worn by Elvis Presley during a 1970s concert in Miami. A 1964 mug shot from the Tallahassee Police Department depicting the handsome mug of Doors singer Jim Morrison. The piano on which the memorable refrain from Eric Clapton's "Layla" was pounded out. The Gainesville High School yearbook from 1963 featuring a teenage Stephen Stills wielding an acoustic guitar. The detritus of rock and roll. Guitars that never got smashed onstage. Clothing that never got shredded by groupies or auctioned off to the highest bidder. Records -- gold, platinum, and even vinyl. All with a Florida connection. Conceived and organized by the Museum of Florida History in Tallahassee, the exhibition "Florida's Rock & Roll Legends" landed at Miami's Historical Museum of Southern Florida this past July. Highlighting the strong ties the state of Florida has to rock and roll music, from its beginnings in the Fifties to the present day, the more than 400 items on display inevitably refer to the musicians -- those who began their careers in the Sunshine State, those who hit their peak here, and those who call it home. From the obvious names -- Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Allman Brothers, Tom Petty, KC and the Sunshine Band -- to the more obscure -- Mary "Diamond Teeth" McClain, Vassar Clements, and the Royal Guardsmen.
In addition to showing off the memorabilia emanating such good (and bad) vibrations, the wags at the museum felt the need to honor stuff in another way, through music. Teaming up with Miami Art Museum, whose wildly successful genre-crossing JAM at MAM musical events have lured crowds in droves, the institutions launch Rock & Roll/JAM at MAM, monthly concerts highlighting local musicians. Beginning this evening with Afro-Cuban funksters the Baboons and classic rock and rollers Men from Mars, the series continues through January and includes alternative rockers Derek Cintron, Sixo, Jim Camacho, and electronica purveyors the Green Room. December offers an aberration via a performance by the New Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church Gospel Choir. But perhaps it's not so odd: Gospel music has influenced popular sounds, and if anyone should be thanking the lord they're still around, it's rock and roll musicians.