As bleak as 1994 was, with deaths of important figures too numerable to list here, it's nice that the time is neatly framed, as if calendar measures meant something. As for 1995: Think positive. I'm predicting that to be the next year's big trend: a move toward positive approaches, a consistently upbeat attitude in dealing with what fate puts before us. I'm all for it, anyway.
Early this year, in February, it was announced that Mary Karlzen had been signed to Atlantic Records. Her long-awaited debut for that major label, Yelling at Mary, is due out in a few weeks, and the former Vesper Sparrow member performs on New Year's Eve at Tobacco Road. Karlzen, of course, is a member of the Y&T Music stable, which released the first Mavericks CD and this year saw that country act achieve wide popular success with a gold album and massive critical acclaim.
In March Bruce Springsteen won an Oscar. Such mainstream validation takes away from what made him the single most important rock artist of the Seventies and Eighties. He grew up, as people are wont to do, and he lost the edgy, angst-driven connection he once had with all those tramps on the run. He lost his poetry.
Things turned ugly in April when Kurt Cobain ended his own life. As if his death weren't bad and sad enough, I opined that he, and his demise, were overrated. Nirvana fans also were upset (to say the least) because I suggested that the suicide was the beginning of a whole new career for Nirvana, at least in terms of product. Geffen released an album and a full-length video (both culled from Nirvana's December 1993 appearance on MTV Unplugged). In reflection, and having listened to the offensively titled Unplugged, I now feel sorry for Mr. Cobain.
In May Blockbuster, which has been attempting to monopolize music retailing as well as video rentals, fired two employees because their hair was determined to be too long. A problem then-owner Wayne Huizenga avoids naturally.
We offended readers again by allowing Ted Nugent space to hype his passion for hunting. Gee, and we thought we gave him plenty of rope.
Throughout the past year, this column featured a running gag: we kept saying Natural Causes had broken up, even though they hadn't. In August they did. About the same time, South Florida lost an original-rock venue when the Plus 5 shut its doors.
In September we cried when Broken Spectacles called it quits, and laughed when the Violent Femmes named their new album New Times.
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October must've been a confusing time for local rock fans. Leonard Pitts, Jr., gave up his gig as the Miami Herald's pop music critic, and New Times republished -- unannounced and without explanation -- the first "Program Notes" column I ever wrote. Reruns -- now there's an idea for '95.
Back to the future: The new issue of Village Voice (December 20) includes a list of the best jazz albums of the year. Making the grade is local sax-hero Keshavan Maslak (Kenny Millions) with Loved By Millions, originally recorded back in 1981.
Marilyn Manson comes home for a December 31 show at the Edge.
New Year's Eve is up to you, but we recommend the following non-New Year's Eve shows: The Elysian, Notch Above Kafka, the Rails, the Way, and Sway at Churchill's Hideaway tomorrow (Friday). Valerie Archon and band in the Evolution Room at Button South, also tomorrow (Friday). In January Archon plays every Thursday at Tavern 213, with guests. Milk Can and Sixo tonight (Thursday) at Stephen Talkhouse. Sixo also appears tomorrow (Friday) at Reunion Room.
Butthorn of the week: South Florida's commercial rock stations (meaning they're both commercial stations that play rock, and stations that play commercial rock). The constant complaint is that not only does FM suck, but the stations ignore local music. The stations' programmers are not obligated to play certain music just because it's from here, but sometimes it seems that WSHE and the others deduct points simply because the music is locally made. Many believe that an objective listen would prove to the stations that they can make money playing homegrown stuff. Complaining and arguing isn't going to change anything. Think positive, take action. Lydia Ojeda is leading a petition campaign to show the stations that there is an audience for Nil Lara, the Goods, Rooster Head, and others. Already ten pages of signatures have been gathered. The top of the petition (you can find copies in local clubs) states, "Give us a local original music show! We, the undersigned, firmly believe that you have a unique opportunity to make a difference in our community by playing and supporting local original music." This could force the stations to accept the possibility that either they listen to their audience, or their audience might just stop listening to them.