Best Shocking Performance 1999 | Amanda Green | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
While her drummer Derek Murphy remained in New York working on other (read: well-paying) gigs, and bassist Matthew Sabatella concentrated on his own impressive musical projects, everybody's favorite silly little girl-genius kept a hand in by performing solo. During one such highly charged sho, in April at Power Studios in the Design District, it wasn't just Green who was electrifying. Some sort of glitch caused her microphone to send jolts of current through her each time she and it made contact. Although she admitted later that it was painful and distracting, it didn't short-circuit her scintillating performance.
While other Latin bands come and go on the infamously thankless local live-music scene, trailblazer Carlos Oliva salsas on. And on. Godfather of the Miami Sound (he was the Miami Sound Machine's first producer), Oliva formed Los Sobrinos del Juez as a trio in 1967. Today his eight-man band features top players with diverse Latin and jazz backgrounds: saxman Camilo Valencia; bassist Omar Hernandez; congueros Richard Bravo and Manuel Torres; pianist and vocalist Jackson King; trumpeter Jason Carter; and percussionist Charlie Santiago. The group specializes in bilingual salsa with rock, pop, and jazz influences. Because of the dearth of live venues for Latin music, Oliva has sought to make his living by playing private celebrations and corporate events, making Los Sobrinos del Juez the most popular party band in town. With his new CD Yayabo, on the Max Music label, the venerable band leader continues striving to reach wider audiences.
Only months ago Al's Not Well was on top of the local rock hill. The exotically coiffed and coutured crew's blend of pulsing rhythms, psychedelic meanderings, and solid New Wave sounds had landed them a deal with Tommy Boy's Beyond Music imprint, touring gigs, recording sessions. The queen goddess of New Wave, Deborah Harry, even guested on their reworking of Blondie's classic "One Way or Another." The area faves were about to become a national rage. But then Joce Leyva, the group's singer-guitarist and primary songwriter, left town. And didn't return. The remaining members are climbing back up, having added a new guitarist and assigned singing duties to back-up vocalist/percussionist Bleu. There's nothing rarer than a band continuing after losing its front person, but if anyone can pull it off, it's this seasoned crew. They've changed their name to Al Is Well, reflective of their sense of fun, buoyant optimism, and underlying determination. Oh, and their music rules, too.

In these black days it's mighty difficult to find music that will piss off parents. If anything should make mom or dad cringe, it's heavy metal. But bust out some Black Sabbath and there's a good chance Pops will turn it up to eleven and tell you how he saw 'em in '77 at a San Francisco show where he tripped on Mr. Natural blotter. Fortunately for the young and angst-ridden, Cavity goes one step beyond metal. Heavy and sonically unearthly, their feedback alone will shatter the eardrums of anyone over age 35. This year, in an homage to one of the bands that started it all, Cavity laid down a searing version of "Into the Void" for Hydra Head Records' In These Black Days, a double seven-inch tribute to Sabbath. See what Dad thinks of that.
Willy Chirino's feel-good nostalgia album showcases the chops of local Latin talents such as Arturo Sandoval, Albita Rodriguez, Jon Secada, and Roberto Torres. With a little help from his friends, Chirino departs from his formulaic pop-salsa format to shine on a merry mix of Cuban classics, including "Guantanamera," "Son de la Loma," and "El Manisero," celebrating along the way a bygone Cuba. Even Chirino's wife Lissette and his daughters join in. Aggressive playing, influenced by contemporary Cuban bands, and giddy singing make this an infectious and fun listen.

In their debut performance, dubbed "a tribute to Sun Ra," the Afro Polyphonic Space Orchestra displayed why the approach of their oddball jazz-pioneer hero still sounds not just out of time, but out of this world. Playing as part of the first annual Afro Roots World Music Festival at Tobacco Road, the A.P.S.O. filled an entire outdoor stage with members from a broad spectrum of Miami's music scene -- from straight-ahead horn players to an R&B bassist, from a rock guitarist to an electronica keyboard maven. Decked out in glittery blouses that looked as if they'd just been stolen off the back of a truck at Mardi Gras, the A.P.S.O. proceeded to jam out on a variety of Sun Ra's Arkestral standards. Hopscotching from wiggy Dixieland to mind-melting fusion, it wasn't long before the ensemble stepped off into the void, chanting "we travel the spaceways" as disembodied saxophones dueled with eerie blasts from a Moog. Theirs was a freaky musical ride like no other on Earth.

In real life Sean "Birdman" Gould is a Southern boy who came to Miami Beach to make rock and roll and pick up chicks. In this exuberant clip, the Clambake singer-guitarist portrays a Southern boy who comes to Miami Beach to make rock and roll and pick up chicks. In the fictional version the women are Latin, the setting is Wet Willie's, and the results are -- let's just say Birdman and his bandmates come up short, tequila-tossed-in-their-faces short. Fortunately for our heroes, this is a video scripted, storyboarded, and produced by Gould. They head to Hialeah Park, where they cash in on some ponies and, newly bankrolled, find the drink-flinging females more receptive, with everyone ending up dancing the Mamacita on the sand. The vid captured Clambake's fun-first attitude and the colorfulness of the location, leading to airplay on MTV Latino. Filmed in one day by cinematographer Mark Moorman and edited in one day by computerographer David Chaskes, the entire project was completed on a minuscule budget of $1000. The results look like a million bucks.

Could be Alex Diaz lives in a parallel universe. His surreal songs certainly come from one. An alternate possibility is that he writes from the other side of the looking glass, which might explain why he sometimes bills himself as Xela Zaid. As he sings and strums (sometimes playing solo using bass as his instrument, other times plucking acoustic guitar, occasionally backed by a drummer or a full rhythm section), one variously hears echoes of Lloyd Cole, Paul Westerberg, Kurt Cobain, even Led Zeppelin in his guitarcentric tunes, which are full of unexpected rhymes and melodies lashed together with rich chording. Take "Honeycomb," which appears on his band Ho Chi Minh's 1997 album Motorama. It begins with a bright and bouncy guitar arpeggio: "Indeed, indelibly keyed, ode to my sweet honeycomb/Oh is that light in your head?" The paean then dissolves into a stormy, minor-key refrain: "Roam, the night as night shines/Hard upon as the river will storm/Creeds and deeds will make ends meet." Huh? Well, like so many semilucid dreams, songs too can have their own nonlinear logic. Diaz matches his mystical lyricism with prolificacy: his repertoire ranges from driving, head-bobbing rock to melancholic, cockeyed love songs, like "Poison Ivy," one of his latest creations (unreleased at press time): "I'll always remember the month of June/When all the kids are out of school/You know that summertime is near/It plays like a song you hope to hear/Then as my heart beats into your arms, I know who you are/You're poison ivy, how I want you still." Diaz creates absorbing, drug-trip songs best described as otherworldly.

With little local fanfare, the soft-spoken Seven has made an international name for himself and his record label, releasing joyously skewed takes on premillennium DJ culture. Artists as disparate as Germany's drum-and-bass deconstructionists Funkstörung and Miami's down-tempo mixologist Push Button Objects have graced the label with twelve-inch vinyl; a single from Brooklyn's East Flatbush Project, which married Japanese-tinged chopstick percussion to a slippery hip-hop beat, caused such a sensation it inspired an entire album of remixes (Tried by Twelve on Ninjatune Records) from British artists such as Autechre and Squarepusher, Japan's Bisk, and hometown turntablist DJ Craze. Where Chocolate Industries goes from here is anybody's guess, and that's precisely what makes this label so tasty.

¡Viva las comunistas!

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®