Day 3: My Miami Music Fest triathlon concluded yesterday with a two-part event: the Miami New Times stage at Bayfront Park in the afternoon, and Charcoal Studios at night.
I was looking forward to both because we got to share the stage with the likes of King Bee and the Auctioneers from New York. The funny thing is that Juke was cofounded by myself and Auctioneers guitar player Erik Broberg some years back when we met at the Titanic Brewery's blues jam. He was a frustrated University of Miami blues disciple. Those jazz kids really frown on the blues.
Shortly thereafter, Ryan Gregg, another UM music school rebel, joined Juke as a keyboard player. Both Erik and Ryan graduated and then moved to New York, joining the Auctioneers. So while most of the jazz-snob graduates are playing in '80s coverbands and teaching untalented 12 year olds guitar in the back room of some lame music store, Erik and Ryan are touring the country and doing what they love.
But I digress ... The Bayfront New Times stage was apparently on the highest point in Florida. As we pulled the van to the base of "Mount Miami," the confusion and frustration was almost palatable.
It is obvious that an event of this size and magnitude will have some logistical issues. Parking, load-in times, and backline are issues that need to be addressed. Also, the treatment of the bands could use some work. The New Times events we played certainly provided food and drink for the bands. But I believe this wasn't always the case at other shows, and the MMF should provide the basics to all these bands that are playing for free. Some sort of gift basket, perhaps, can go to all musicians They can be filled with snacks, coupons, and musical gifts provided by MMF's sponsors. Just a thought.
Nevertheless, the Bayfront Show, though poorly attended, was superfun. The sound crew was friendly, able, and helpful. (You have no idea how hard that is to find.) I had a blast sitting in with King Bee before my set, and the Auctioneers after my set. That really is more harmonica than anyone should be allowed to hear.
A little later, it it was time for the night shift. And anyone who's been to Charcoal Studios knows that the neighborhood looks like something out of Grand Theft Auto. But the inside is about as cool, serene, and Miami as you're ever going to find.
We played first this time. And there was barely a soul in that huge, spotless cavern of a club. I didn't much care. I was pretty tired and hungover. It was actually kind of cool to play a more mellow, loungier set.
I was all set to go home, but the Auctioneers insisted that I sit in. The tequila I was drinking out of my water bottle during my set seemed to creep up my spine and into my brain. The room began filling, and all I remember is smiles for the rest of the night.
All in all, I believe the Miami Music Fest can work. Look, I am tired, hungover, and broke as a joke. I didn't get paid a cent this weekend, and I feel like I got into three little car accidents. To my knowledge not one connection was made this weekend to benefit my band. But I will play it again next year.
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If everyone backs off now and throws rocks, we'll only have a shell of a live music event in Miami, proving us a big town not quite ready to be a real city.
MMF not only can work, it has to work.
-- Eric Garcia