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.

North Shore Park Band Shell
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.

A coffeehouse without a screeching espresso machine? Sans cigarette smoke and incessant chatter? Could it be? It is, in a suburban Kendall neighborhood where a house doubles as Temple Beth Or, the main sanctuary of which is transformed every other month into the concert venue Sacred Grounds Coffeehouse. Launched in the fall of 1997 by graphic designer and musician Ellen Bukstel Segal, friend Gerald Weissfeld, and Rabbi Rami Shapiro, the Coffeehouse has staged a who's who of folkies (Rod MacDonald, Magda Hiller, Marianne Flemming, Grant Livingston, Amy Carol Webb, Mindy Simmons, Marie Nofsinger, Ron and Bari, James London) picking and crooning in front of appreciative crowds numbering close to 150. An evening at Sacred Grounds opens with a one-hour open-mike segment followed by two acts performing brief sets before the crowd breaks for refreshments and mingling. The finale features artists and musical audience members engaging in a good-natured song swap. The ten-dollar door charge is divided between the featured entertainers and a different charity each show, a spiritual gesture suited to a relaxed night of entertainment in an atmosphere of warmth, joy, and contemplation.

Best Band To Leave Miami In The Past Twelve Months

The Psychonauts

With their tape-loop, sound bite effects, pro-wrestling masks, endless Elvis iconization, and wall-rattling sonic attack (armed by all-'abilly influences), the 'Nauts amazed locals by bringing to the stage a slew of visual distractions without sacrificing any of their musical power. That's entertainment, sure, but their sound was on the cusp of the whole surfabilly/punkabilly/rockabilly trend that's either about to catch on in a big way or fade into obscurity. If these serious but still winking rockers don't elevate interest in rootsy sounds, they'll likely move beyond categorization and make a niche for themselves apart from any trends. Sadly it looks as if they'll be doing it from their new home base, New York City.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®