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Program Notes 47

I'm sitting and sipping in an upscale boozery as an olderly couple is walking out. The old man says to his woman, "Do you realize it's three o'clock already?" Oh, God. Someone please smash me across the face with a tire iron. These people are from someplace I've never been. Vacationing, I'm sure, and eating at this joint will become a memory, if they have any time for memories, and I can't stand it one more minute. They probably get up at 7:00 every morning, and I'll bet a buck they eat cream-of-wheat for breakfast and they do things, and that it's three o'clock in the afternoon means something to them.

Now it's 3:00 a.m. or close to it, and John Camacho of the Goods is trying to make me fucked up, make me say fuck it to hell, it's just as well. Moments before the Goods have finished reinventing rock and roll for a dull crowd at Stephen Talkhouse, and now badly injured (broken hand, pinched spinal nerve causing numbness in his other hand) but unstoppable singer/keyboardist Camacho is being totally honest, just like he was the first time I met this band a lifetime ago and like when they came back from El Lay's biz and we were tossing a football around in a downtown park and trying to figure it all out. "We're going industry," Camacho says. "Nine Inch Nails, you know, that would really allow us to express ourselves, to get our frustrations out. From now on the Goods are an industrial band." John, my brother, can we talk? What about that heart-stopping acoustic number y'all just played? What about rock and roll, for God's sake? What about if I whip out this straight razor and slash your pretty face wide open? As I was excusing myself for the evening Camacho finally broke down and admitted he'd been jivin' me. Then he started trying to involve me in a deep discussion of Bruce Springsteen, how my review of the Floss's November 24 Arena concert needed some more explaining. Go ask your brother, bro, I explained it all to him, or go ask Alice for chrissakes.

The Goods opened with "Fucked Up" that night. Channel 6 News had a live-remote truck out front, and the Goods were asked to change their opening number to something broadcastable, according to drummer Kasmir Kujawa. The Goods said no thanks and then shocked and rocked and cold-cocked through much of 5 Steps to Getting Signed, which people tell me won a Jammy for best album of the year. (Channel 6 spokesmen say the Goods segment did not air live, natch. And I, for one, hope Channel 6 doesn't get frustrated in its efforts to publicize local music. They really deserve credit and kudos.) One highlight of the show wasn't off the album, it was a riveting "3-D." And the new acoustic number, "Larry and Vivien," about Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, was as powerful as anything I've heard in the Talkhouse, known for its acoustic vibe. But it was the rockers that kept me alive for one more minute.

Do go see the underpublicized but terrific trio Drive Choir tonight (Wednesday) at Plus 5. Get to the Spec's on Dixie Highway at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday to catch Mary Karlzen (with that amazing band you've heard so much about) playing live and releasing her new CD, which I've listened to and recommend strongly. Drive up to Route 66 in Boca on St. Patrick's Day for Slang and Sekret Oktober. Or, if you have no transpo, hitch to the Talkhouse for the Volunteers and other emerald festiveness. This Friday Halo and the Bellefires share the bill at Cactus Cantina. Jazz-rock electric violinist Hugo plays Penrod's tomorrow (Thursday). Head north for Kilmo & the Killers, tonight (Wednesday) at Calico Jack's in Plantation, Friday at Dirty Moe's in Boca Raton, and Saturday at the Inn-Field Pub in Sunrise. The Wanted, from Columbus, Ohio, visit Churchill's Hideaway on Saturday.

I must apologize twice for last week's story about the music at Miami Rocks. First, I'm sorry for all the foul language. I regret offending y'all's delicate sensibilities. It just pis A um, upsets me that the music always seems to come second. Second, I think I went overboard in my effusiveness for Natural Causes. I'm not qualified to be a critic, you know that, and I really laid it on thick, so much so that I had to go see the band play live again, last week at Talkhouse. Me and my pal Large promised ourselves that we'd bolt over to the Beach, catch an hour's worth of music, bolt back. Didn't happen. Couldn't leave. Stayed for the whole night.

There is no praise effusive enough for the Causes. Through two hourlong sets, the sextet reaffirmed the power of music, the way it can sustain and soothe and compel and inspire, the way it can turn that frown upside down. In concerts this big and good and right there are moments: Arlan Feiles blocking out a big-time piano solo on his Roland and megaguitarist Joel "Junior" Schantz reaching down and turning Feiles's volume knob all the way up, surprising the singer/keyboardist, who recovered quickly and turned it back down. Megaguitarist Sean Edelson breaking strings on both of his guitars during "You Would Too" at the end of the first set, forcing him to stand and watch as the others jammed and Schantz filled the "void" with the sort of licks Jimi Hendrix would've stayed alive to hear. Megabassist Matt Coogan refusing to "march" along with Schantz during the finale, "Bomb in the Shelter." Jim Wall's blinding and exhausting extended drum solo, which John Bonham would've stayed alive to hear. Karen Friedman's elegant and perfectly placed colorings throughout. Feiles gently and melodically crooning, "I never found the time/And I never found the tools/And I never found the means/To satisfy you" bolstered by truly monstrous riffs from his cohorts, including a guitar hook I'm glad I stayed alive to hear, the momentum building back up, all six instruments blending together and bouncing off each other, then Feiles tearing into "you can let the leeches suck up to you" and the bottom dropping out again. What incredible musical precision, what a way with peaks and valleys, what irony there is in the repeated lyric, "I can't satisfy you." Satisfied? Try blown away.

 

If I had to choose a highlight, it would be the as-yet-unrecorded "God's Country." The band was momentously grooving away, subtle and intricate but rockin', and suddenly Feiles was on his feet, grabbing the microphone to his face A silence A and the singer lacerating the room with a roaring, I mean brutally roaring a cappella moment: "Keep the faith/God will always light the way/And if I pray to Jesus/Don't know what the fuck it's for/I don't want to live in God's country any more." Unforgettable. Undeniable. Ungodly.

I just went to have some fun, didn't want to talk to anyone, and I came away saved. That's the power of music, the power of Natural Causes. Now if we could just get Jim Wall a drum-company endorsement and Sean Edelson a guitar tech. I guess that'll all come from the band's development deal with Atlantic Records. Gee, maybe the whole premise of that Miami Rocks story was wrongheaded. Atlantic (and other labels, who made offers as well) heard the magic and did the right thing. Wonders never cease. The legendary Tom Dowd is slated to produce. And now we have for you a new contest. Soon we will reveal Arlan Feiles's deepest, darkest secret. But first I'd like to invite all of you to try to guess what that secret is. Call or write. Next week we'll give you a clue. In the meantime, get to Tropics next Tuesday and experience Causes for yourself.

Another top local outfit, Forget the Name, should also be signed soon A that's both a hunch and a belief. Please note that the photo of their award-winning lead singer, Rene Alvarez, accompanying today's column was not submitted for publication. I found it in an alley while crawling around outside Washington Square about 2:00 a.m.

It was about 6:00 p.m., I think, and Rich Ulloa and I were in Cactus Cantina drinking soda, and some guy at the bar asked if we were in the band that would be playing that night. Yes we are, we lied. We're called Rooster Head. Ha, ha. Then a Rooster Head song happened to come on the jukebox. Sometimes rock and roll really scares me.

And how frightening is this? Hard rockers Extreme, in town this week after years of not touring, feature a horn section, namely the touted Heavy Metal Horns. Check it out.

Butthorn(s) of the week: To all who conspired to cause the postponement of George Clinton's scheduled show at the James L. Knight Center. Reason: slow ticket sales. And another 'horn to Cactus Cantina for charging two bucks for a soda. Is that standard in Beach clubs? Wouldn't know. Don't drink much soda. Won't at those prices, either. And one more to the Miami Heat folks who gave my homey Frankly Frank so much hassle after he forgot his ticket the other night. He called to arrange admittance and they told him to bring a picture ID, which he did. But on arrival he was informed he also needed to leave a deposit if he wanted to sit in his seat for that game. Then he was treated far too rudely for someone who pays these peoples' salaries, for someone who's been a season-ticket holder for three years. Hey, Heat employees: This team is not the Chicago Bulls (yet). You need all the friends and fans you can get.

 

The media circus: From Charlie in Hialeah comes criticism of a recent TV Guide for its lame "Jane Seymour's Back" cover, and syndicated columnist Ronald Reagan for claiming that medieval alchemists were revered for turning base metals into gold. "They despised the alchemists," Charlie says. "They hanged them!"

Skels lyric of the week: "There's no world for us to live in/Let's burn this one down and warm ourselves/Down at the edge of our mind/There's a place that'll do for a paradise/Yeah well we can be Vikings and tear up the night/And swallow it slice by slice/This life's driven us to silence/We need evil noise to drown it out" A from "Misery Loves Company."

Pet corner: Some people say this silly column strays too often from its premium A music. Quit indulging in your little spiels about social issues and politics, they tell me. So it was sweet when I found myself in the middle of a room filled with musicians, managers, promoters, agents, producers, critics, publicists, all of them involved in the music business. Don't know what time it was. I'd just finished moderating a press seminar, and now a bunch of people wanted to introduce themselves, chit and chat a bit. One was Tina Marer, who works with blues smokers Mr. Twister and the Homestead haven called Blarney Stone Tavern. "I just want to tell you one thing," she says. "I want you to know how much I appreciate 'Pet Corner.'" Sorry, Tina, but we canceled that feature.

And you know, even qualified critics do it sometimes. Obtain the current issue of Rock & Rap Confidential (#104, available from RRC, Box 341305, Los Angeles, CA 90034) for proof. With self-consciousness and defensiveness, Dave Marsh uses space to write about the death of his daughter. Very personal, and somewhat out of place. Even so, the piece reveals that music, good ol' music, helped Marsh deal with the tragedy.

And by the way, there is no God. Except maybe Greg Brown. The other night I was fishing on a boat in the bay and I saw two young porpoises roll by. Toss me into the ocean. Or get me to the Talkhouse Saturday night for Brown's fifth Miami live performance. Beats a crowbar across the chops. Keeps me living one more minute.


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