Tobacco Road's 101st Anniversary: "Badass Bands, and Great Locals All the Time"
Upstairs at the Road, room full of soul.
Tobacco Road is so old that when it first opened way back in 1912 there were only 48 U.S. states.
So old that when Abraham Lincoln turned 18, he hitchhiked to Miami and had his first beer there. (OK, that's a lie.)
So old that Miccosukees canoeing the Miami River from the Everglades used to stop in for burgers and beer. And 101 years later, it's still one of the best places in Miami to grab some bar food and cold brews.
Juke's Eric "Uncle Scotchy" Garcia
The Road's talent buyer Eric "Uncle Scotchy" Garcia from the band Juke remembers sneaking into the club when he was just 18 years old. "Me and my buddy were, like, little blues heads. We used to get in however we could, just to hear the music."
In those days, Iko Iko ruled the Road, and B.B. King used to jam for hours on the second-floor stage. (In fact, King recorded his biggest hit, "The Thrill Is Gone" with Bill Szymczyk in Miami.) And though the blues scene here has faded, Tobacco Road intends to survive another century.
"I'm working to get our respect back, musically," says Garcia. "Any given night, whatever type of band you hear, it's gonna be good. I'm bringing badass bands from all over the country, and great locals all the time."
Even the club's odd historical footnotes are fascinating. The chunks chopped out of the bar top came courtesy of an escapee from a house for the criminally insane that was once on the same street, and the Tobacco Road sign hanging over the front door hasn't been fixed since Hurricane Andrew.
So, whether you're a regular or a newbie, come celebrate this brothel-turned-speakeasy-turned-roadhouse, those decades of down 'n' dirty tunes, and all of the strange stories at Tobacco Road's 101st Anniversary Bash, a New Orleans-style funk cookout with an endless-whiskey VIP tent and meat-carving stations. General admission includes five bands and, beginning at 6 p.m., 101 cent drinks for 101 minutes.
Nikki Glaspie is the drummer for Dumpstaphunk, the Nawlins band that'll be headlining the show. She has toured the world's arenas as part of Beyonce's band, and performed with Jay Z and Kanye West.
"We're nominated for a Grammy this year, but it's in the blues category," she says. "We're a funk band, but that's the only place they could put us. Neither Spotify, or iTunes, or the Grammys recognize funk as its own genre. It's an injustice, like a slap in the face."
And that's why the band's latest album is called "Dirty Word," because, Nikki says, "Funk started as a word they could use instead of 'fuck' on the radio. We're outcasted. But funk is dance music. We play funk to make people dance."
The concert lineup includes another band from the Big Easy, Earphunk. Their mostly instrumental groove is a rhythmic powerhouse full of bass, keys, and robot vocoder vocals.
They are joined by San Diego's Jimmy Lewis of SuperUnloader. He is a phenomenal guitar player mixing rock, blues, and progressive sounds who has shared the stage with Bob Dylan and Santana.
Miami's Spam Allstars, are a hell of an orchestra; A tightly syncopated always improvising groove machine that always entertains.
Openers The Eric Vick band sound like if Dave Matthews grew up thuggin' out to Trick Daddy, while smokin herbs to Pink Floyd at the laser show.
Dumpstaphunk's Nikki says, "We're looking forward to comin down to Florida cause we're on tour and it's warmer there. Good food, beautiful people. We're lookin forward to Miami for sure, and excited to be coming back."
Now, belly up to the bar, down a boilermaker with some grub, and stomp your feet for another 101 years of the best live music in Miami.
Tobacco Road's 101st Anniversary Bash. With Dumpstaphunk, Earphunk, Jimmy Lewis, Spam Allstars, Eric Vick Band, and others. Friday, November 8. Tobacco Road, 626 S. Miami Ave., Miami. The party starts at 9 p.m. and admission costs $10. Ages 21 and up. Call 305-374-1198 or visit tobacco-road.com.