Best Acoustic Performer 1999 | Midon | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
From 1998's "Best Solo Musician" item about Midon: "... Hear him quickly before a major record label snaps him up." Snap. Now that Raul Midon is signed to BMG US Latin, you might think success has changed the long-time Miami resident. But the only thing that's changed is his name: The multilingual artist now goes simply by Midon. His debut CD, Gracias a la Vida, a collection of Latin classics, hit stores in January. Even so, our urging was a bit off. His busy gig schedule still allows for plenty of local shows in varied venues in various configurations (trio, solo, sitting in for jams). The flamenco-style guitarist's performances soar beyond the confines of a CD, with Midon adding skittering scats, surreal improvisations, and his signature trumpet tone (created vocally) to boleros, jazz standards, and bluesy originals. A man, a guitar, limitless musical accomplishment.

Prolific conductor and composer Michael Tilson Thomas is so in demand he often needs to appear in two places at once. On any given Sunday he can be found at the Lincoln Theatre in South Beach conducting an afternoon performance by the New World Symphony, where he's artistic director. Just a bit later, there he is on the other coast, wielding the baton at a San Francisco Symphony concert broadcast at 9:00 p.m. on WTMI-FM (93.1). What's even more amazing than Thomas's apparent faster-than-the-speed-of-sound feat is the amount of advertising during this two-hour broadcast: Commercials run only between works. An unusual approach for revenue-hungry WTMI, which has resorted to playing more movie soundtracks and hackneyed orchestral versions of hackneyed show tunes in an effort to widen listenership. Apparently on Sunday nights some things are still sacred.
With song titles such as "1 Horse Town" and "Cowboy Ways," the Holy Rollin' Hellfires are a little bit country, but a bootload of rock. After a series of rhythm-section changes, the Beach-based Hellfires solidified, released an eponymous CD, and can now be found detonating their yee-haw ya-yas from Fort Lauderdale to the Keys. The dinner-plate-size belt buckles worn by singer W.D. McKelvy (a.k.a. Billy Velvet) and the preponderance of cowboy hats among fans have more to do with Reverend Horton Heat than they do with Garth Brooks, while the stompin' cow-punky tunes about drinking, driving, and women strike that universal chord in male American rockers, spurring bouts of drinking, driving, and chasing women.

While WLRN-FM's (91.3) overnight institution Clint O'Neil remains a favorite, WDNA-FM's (88.9) Steve Radzi edges him out solely for the diversity of his playlist. Each Saturday beginning at noon, Radzi works his way through the entire history of Jamaican music, from early-Sixties ska to Seventies dub, from Eighties dancehall to the latest records fresh off the boat from Kingston. Try this simple and fun experiment: Take a radio along on your next Saturday-afternoon beach trip. Tune in to Radzi's show. Then attempt to argue the fact that nothing makes a better accompaniment to the rolling waves and crackling sand than Radzi's rock-steady selection of thick, skanking grooves.

Best Band To Break Up In Past Twelve Months

Fay Wray

Is it really the end? We fear it is. On a Saturday in February, guitarist Rob Coe and producer Jeremy DuBois are in the upstairs room of North Miami's Tapeworm studio, mixing songs for a new Fay Wray album. The following Thursday the fiery, clever, and (this description is becoming a cliché) Replacements-like band is playing its rip-roaring farewell show at Churchill's Hideaway. Always a bit tenuous (singer/lyricist Jeff London lives in Gainesville), the band made its live mark with mosh madness that often left its lead singer bloody and bruised. Although the urgency of the live act shattered London's lyrics into shards of shouted rage, on record the cleverness and irony come through loud and clear. London left the group to move to Denver. Until the reunion, spin those discs.
The witching hour seems an appropriately freewheeling time for the joyously disorienting sounds emanating from WLRN-FM's (91.3) The Modern School of Modern Jazz. Every Saturday from midnight until 2:00 a.m. Sunday morning, Steve Malagodi guides his listeners through this oasis of avant-garde tunes, wading waist-high into a world of free jazz otherwise considered too deep for South Florida's ears. Although it's no surprise commercial radio fears to tread these challenging waters, it's a relief this show wasn't lost in LRN's recent purge of high-quality local programming. For more than a decade Malagodi has been spinning a mélange of honking saxophones, whispering cymbals, and shuddering drums, making him Miami's source for everything from classic heavyweights Ornette Coleman and Roscoe Mitchell to today's Young Turks. Beyond that his on-air patter never gets mired in the academic aspects. Instead he presents the music with an eagerness as impassioned as the artists he plays. It's an enthusiasm that's infectious.

Some years ago Magnum Band was part of a spirited Little Haiti scene, when there were clubs and cafés dotting the neighborhood and attracting dancers and partiers of the most festive sort. Now the lights in Little Haiti have dimmed, and some local musicians have forlornly returned to their homeland. Magnum Band, founded by master guitarist-songwriter Andre "Dadou" Pasquet way back in 1976, has held its ground, still making beautiful compas in South Florida. Dadou, his brother Claude "Tico" Pasquet (a percussionist), and bassist Laurent Ciceron still ignite crowds with their so-danceable "Ashadei" (an ode to a vodou god), "Pa Ka Pa La" ("Got to Be There"), and the classic "3 Feiulles" ("Three Leaves"), among scores of other Dadou-penned numbers. The group's staying power is outshined only by its potent music.

In its Sixties prime, the North Shore Band Shell provided the setting for a television variety program. In fact the Mike Douglas Show logos can still be found in a dressing room. Recently, in an effort to build a sense of community among residents, Miami Beach officials revamped the shell and began sponsoring an array of activities: jazz bands, symphony orchestra performances, an Afro-Caribbean festival. On Friday nights the terrazzo dance floor becomes a roller rink. On Sunday nights seniors dance to a live band playing the hits of yesteryear. The multihue structure has stood its ground in the face of changing cultural tides, a fact made clear on the nights when the shell is spotlighted by the shimmering moon and the only music to be heard comes from the whistling wind and the rippling currents of the nearby ocean.
A boisterous crowd gathered outside the Miami Beach Convention Center in August to protest a performance by Cuban musicians invited to the MIDEM music conference. Inside a more joyful noise was heard as the show went on right in the face of bomb threats. Since April acts from the island have taken area stages: Issac Delgado, Vocal Sampling, Carlos Varela, Manolín, Chucho Valdes, Irakere, Compay Segundo, La Charanga Rubalcaba, Omara Portuondo, Paulito FG, La Charanga. The crowds may have been too busy dancing to realize they were making history, so we now congratulate the pioneering artists who came and conquered, and those who had los cojones to make it happen.

The backbone of Miami rock and roll resides in Little Haiti with Dave Daniels and Churchill's Hideaway. Daniels provides a stage for aspiring bands, touring national acts, and just about anything that might lure a few people in to enjoy a pint or two. If there's a touring act you'd like to book, give Daniels a call. Do you think your band is ready for its first gig? Daniels will grant a slot. Want to see the good and bad of Miami's cutting edge? Go to Daniels's place. Rock and roll is about experimenting and taking chances, and Churchill's is about rock and roll.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®