Like many frustrated surfers on the commercial radio airwaves, Michelle Naples finds cultural comfort in the eclectic programming of WLRN-FM (91.3), Miami's public radio station. And like a lot of listeners with bigger hearts than bank accounts, Naples wanted to help the station, which is feeling the crunch of recent cuts in federal financial aid, including a reduction of close to $200,000 in grant funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. And since Naples -- who under the name Majica sings with the local world-beat fusion group the Baboons -- can't afford to simply cut the station a check, she's doing the next best thing: organizing a fundraiser.
"I had heard that the station was losing a lot of their funding and I wanted to do anything I could to help," says Naples, who came up with the idea with her bandmate, Baboons drummer Manuel Mano. "I listen to the station every day and since I couldn't just donate money, I wanted to do the best I could the old-fashioned way." The Mardi Gras-themed fundraiser is being held tonight (Thursday, February 15), from 10:00 to 2:00, at Tobacco Road (626 S. Miami Ave.; 374-1198), and features performances by jazz-funk group A.J. and the Stick People and blues rockers the Shack Daddys, as well as the Baboons. Proceeds raised from the four-dollar cover charge will go to WLRN.
The station -- which is reliant upon federal and state funding, corporate underwriting, and listener contributions -- can no doubt use the help. WLRN program director Joseph Cooper says the $150,000 it receives each year from the Florida state government will probably be gone within the next three years, and that 30 percent of its federal funding will be cut in the current fiscal year. "We're trying to hold our own, but there are going to be more federal cuts coming," Cooper states. "Very soon we'll have to start thinking about having zero community federal service grants, and the state legislature can't guarantee their funding. And the next legislation session is around the corner now, so we have to start the battle."
WLRN offers a genre-jumping hodgepodge of nearly everything imaginable, from jazz shows and reading services to African music and public-affairs programs. The Public Radio International affiliate also carries popular National Public Radio shows such as -- Prairie Home Companion, All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Living on Earth, The Talk of the Nation, and Car Talk. That kind of varied approach to radio is what attracts Naples to WLRN, and what inspired her to produce the benefit without the assistance of the station.
"It's really the only station around that's worth listening to, and the only one that is truly multicultural," notes Naples, who tunes in to WLRN for the blues, jazz, and Afropop shows, among others. "Public radio is the best thing out there these days, and it's hard to find something that's so educational and offers so much knowledge about all different types of music. I'm just glad we can do something for them."
Roasted pig and punked-up power metal are on the menu at the Edge for the CD release party being hosted Saturday, February 17, by L.U.N.G.S., the Fort Lauderdale septet formerly known as Collapsing Lungs. Better Class of Losers, the band's debut album for the Zoo-distributed label Pavement Music, will be released February 27. Doors open at 8:00 p.m.; admission is free for 21 and overs, $3 for those under 21. The Edge is located at 200 W. Broward Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale (525-9333).
Better Class of Losers was produced by Steven Haigler (knob-twiddler for the Pixies and Quicksand, among others), and fuses hoarse hardcore vocals, hip-hop beats, and fuzzy sludge-metal guitar like the three were meant to be together. Along the way you get tender confessions such as "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee/I'm a freaky motherfucker, not Mohammed Ali" (from "Around"), and "What's going on in the world today/I'm sick of all the bands and the shit they play" (from "Rovated"). Most certainly, words to live by.
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RSC Respectable Street is the site for another CD release wingding. This one's being thrown on Wednesday, February 21, for keyboardist Delmar Brown, whose debut solo set Fully Loaded was released in late January on Crazz Records, the Boca Raton label run by musician/studio-owner Daryll Dobson. Brown will perform two shows at 9:00 and 11:00 p.m.; cover charge is five dollars. You'll find RSC Respectable Street at 218 Espanola Way in Miami Beach (672-1708).
Although Brown's background is in jazz (he's recorded and performed with Miles Davis, Cecil Taylor, Stanley Jordan, and many others), Fully Loaded is a mostly pop-tinged set of contemporary R&B laced with Brown's calls for human decency ("Be a Friend") and environmental bliss ("My World," "Candle of Hope").
They look goofy as hell in their wide-collar shirts, flame-resistant leisure suits, and platform shoes, but Gainesville's What It Is isn't just another cheeseball retro-funk group. In fact, as proven on their 1995 debut album When Groove Was King, they lay down a convincing brand of loopy, bass-heavy cosmic funk, steeped in the whacked-out tradition of George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, and, of course, James Brown.
They're performing two shows Friday and Saturday, February 16 and 17, at Rose's Bar & Music Lounge, located at 754 Washington Ave. in Miami Beach (532-0228). Cover charge is five dollars for each night, and showtime is 11:00.