"I gave you Quaaludes/I held your cock/We spoke in diphthongs/ Clubnite!" Update the drug of choice in this bitter early Eighties anthem from West Palm Beach punkettes Sheer Smegma, and it's clear some things haven't changed in South Florida's nightclub scene. "Clubnite" is just one of dozens of singles released by Floridian punk outfits in the darkest days of the Reagan era, artifacts from a time when looking weird and sounding weirder were solid bets for getting your ass kicked, rather than being a good musical career move. Some mysterious soul over at the La Republica Libertariano de Florida label (don't bother looking for a phone number) has thoughtfully gathered up twenty of these forgotten obscurities, blown the dust from their grooves, and lovingly pressed them up as a bootleg album under the appropriate moniker Killed by Florida. Appropriate because, with the notable exception of the Eat and the Trash Monkeys (whose members can still be found haunting the stage at Churchill's) and Charlie Pickett (last spotted practicing -- ahem -- law), most of the bands compiled here literally have been destroyed by their home state, their members missing in action. But boy did they know how to kick up a racket. Whether you hear the Front's "Immigration Report" as a finely nuanced satire on the Mariel boatlift or as puerile thrashing; whether you hear the Essential's "Turn Off Your Radio" as a trenchant critique of blandness on the FM dial or as an anguished cry for a skilled mental-health professional, it's hard not to want to throw on a battered leather jacket and hit the pit -- at least for old time's sake.
Whatever you do, don't refer to saxophonist Keshavan Maslak as an avant-garde musician. "You know what an avant-garde musician is?" scoffs Maslak. "It's somebody who's starving!" That may be the reason Maslak finally bailed on his adopted home of New York City in 1986 -- despite a résumé of playing that read like a who's who of that city's left-field music scene, jamming with figures ranging from John Zorn and Philip Glass to Rashied Ali and Sam Rivers -- and headed for South Florida. To signify the break, he even adopted a new name (the purposely show-bizesque Kenny Millions). Still, Manhattan's loss is our gain, and you can now easily find Maslak ensconced in the corner of his own pan-Asian restaurant, Hollywood's Sushi Blues Café, happily honking away in a blues mode. For an earful of Maslak's famed outside jazz playing, be prepared to travel: He reserves that facet of his muse primarily for out-of-town gigs and high-profile European festivals. "People come to my restaurant to eat and relax," he wryly explains, not to turn their brains inside out. For that the curious are advised to take a listen to last year's Without Kuryokhin, a live tribute to departed friend and master pianist Sergey Kuryokhin. Recorded in Russia alongside Japanese turntablist Otomo Yoshihide, the album showcases the two musicians bouncing ideas back and forth, trading squealing licks and trilling notes, and ultimately expanding the boundaries of jazz and (better whisper it) avant-garde sonic exploration. It's thrilling stuff: challenging at times, never academic, always engaging. Maybe one day this massive talent will give audiences in his own back yard a little taste.
The fallen in search of a strong dose of that old-time religion should skedaddle posthaste to a particular stretch of strip mall in Hialeah. It's there on most Saturday afternoons, near the corner of East Tenth Avenue and NW 62nd Street, outside the Flamingo Plaza, that you'll find James Kendrick. Respectfully bow your head as he straps on his accordion, assembles his back-up singers, and then proceeds to summon the Holy Spirit. Musicologists might scratch their heads over just where Kendrick picked up his blissfully singular take on the gospel (the accordion isn't exactly a staple of the genre), though a looping flourish with which he often ends songs sounds vaguely New Orleans-ish. When Kendrick hits his stride, however, forcefully pumping away and soulfully imploring, "I want to talk to you, Lord!" the only real response is: "Amen, brother!" Should a particularly loud truck rumble by, well, just sing along a little louder. And, hey, don't forget the collection plate.
Latin rock veteran Pepe Alva and his band Alma Raymi ("soul celebration" in Quechuan) spent much of the past year in the studio, working on the follow-up album to 1997's Pa' Mostrarte Mi Amor (MATT Entertainment). With a new disc tentatively titled Comprometida (Engaged), Alva makes a bid for the big time, hiring top-flight producers and stellar New York session musicians to bolster his local six-piece ensemble. On Comprometida the rock-and-Andean-rhythm fusion Alva and his brother Carlos have experimented with since 1990 is carried into the mainstream. "Our music has a little more attitude now," Alva says. "At the same time, it's a little more commercial." While many of Alva's tunes could be anybody's altrock, other songs emanate a distinctive sound thanks to Peruvian instruments such as the quena, the Andean flute; charango, the world's smallest guitar; and zampoña, bamboo panpipes, which the Incas used as a form of communication. Listen for the new songs at Latin-rock hot spots the Grill and Club Millennium.
Chances are if you've heard any of the big-name Jamaican toasters or crooners in concert here, then you've heard Hal Anthony and his Millennium Band backing them up. The ensemble of choice for visiting vocalists holds up quite well on its own. Playing regularly for the past two years at South Florida venues such as Bayside in Miami and Alligator Alley in Sunrise, the six-piece outfit brings on real roots reggae with two keyboards, drums, bass, and two guitars. The group mixes soul-stirring original tunes like the praise song "Blessings" with innovative arrangements of reggae standards. A recent tour took the Millennial sound to 44 U.S. states and a number of Caribbean islands. The recent release of their CD Cool It means fans still can groove to the righteous rockers even when the band is out of town. Always true to the roots philosophy, the members of the Millennium Band say their motivation to play comes not from money but from love for their listeners, which is why we love them, too.
New World Center
While the rest of the free world consumed itself in the anticipatory hype over Star Wars: Episode One -- The Phantom Menace late last spring, the precocious members of the New World Symphony staged a more twisted salute to the glories of Chewbacca: an opera. Transposing sections of John Williams's original Star Wars score on to their own chosen instrumentation, the ever-so-proper stage of the Lincoln Theatre suddenly became host to a wide range of oboe-playing aliens and a very imposing Darth Vader (no Michael Tilson Thomas jokes, please). Frankly by the time the NWS got to the "death star" scene, it was hard to tell who was having more fun, the audience or the musicians themselves. One thing's for sure, after watching a brace of finely choreographed bassoon-blowing Stormtroopers bring down the house (while gliding on rollerskates no less), anything further from George Lucas is bound to be anticlimactic.
As South Beach slowly filled with New Year's Eve revelers looking to ring in the millennium underneath a glitter ball, a far more curious spectacle was unfolding deep within the Everglades swamp. There, on a swath of semidry land inside the Seminole Indian Reservation, nearly 80,000 folks from across America converged for an old-fashioned campout-cum-rock fest, complete with an on-site radio station to remind them not to feed the alligators. The soundtrack (and the magnetic draw that saw a virtual city appear overnight on a scrubby field) was the little cult phenomenon that could, Vermont's premier improvisatory neohippie outfit, Phish. While news choppers buzzed overhead and newspaper critics scratched their brows, Phish's devout fans gleefully settled in for two days of Little Feat-style guitar play and whimsical freeform jamming. A Porta Potti even was rolled out onto the stage to enable a midnight-to-dawn uninterrupted set, a supreme test of endurance. After all, what better way was there for a jam band to properly christen the century turnover? Pundits may have argued over the concert's cultural significance and made tiresome Woodstock references, but Phish's flock was much more concerned with boogying.
Live blues seems rather common in South Florida clubs. Blues on the radio is another story. Jazz DJs such as WDNA's Frank Consola, WLRN's Len Pace, and WTMI's China Valles occasionally spin the blues, but full shows are sparse. WDNA's weekly program Portraits in Blue is a bright star in a dark sky. Portraits (Monday from 11:00 a.m. to noon) devotes its entire hour to a single artist's music. Brief, often poignant, biographical information about the artist also is included throughout a set of tunes spanning the musician's career. Informative and entertaining, Portraits is produced in New Jersey. Too bad. Let's hope more local radio programmers take note and follow suit with shows of their own.
Saturday night, eyes bleary, rain slapping hard on your car. You turn up your radio to hear her silky narration, the aural equivalent of hot chocolate during a snowstorm. Although Fields, who studied broadcasting and journalism in college, makes her living as an Associated Press reporter, she confesses, "Radio was always my love." Since 1995 on WLRN, her sultry jazz selections and intimate intonations have conveyed that romance, wooing listeners and providing a cozy respite from the elements. Hear her 8:00 p.m. until midnight Saturdays.
Many a fan of local Latin pop band Rock'n Son have heard tunes in the group's repertoire played by other musicians. That's because the band's keyboardist and writer, Raul del Sol, still has a soft spot for songs he has peddled to other artists. During Rock'n Son's live sets, which begin at 10:00 Thursday evenings at Starfish, you might hear ballads like "Encuentro" and "Diferencias," both recorded on Spanish-language rocker Amaury Gutierrez's latest album. Francisco Cespedes, Chayanne, and even Jamaican pop sensation Beenie Man also have tapped del Sol's gifts for composition and arrangement. While love often is del Sol's subject, his music recalls the confections of the troubadour-style Cuban nueva trova movement of the Sixties. He writes polished, apolitical folk rock with a tropical feel.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®