New York City had Simon and Garfunkel, so it's only fitting that Miami's most dynamic songwriting duo should have come together in a tribute to our city. Before September 11 Elsten Torres and Juan Carlos Perez Soto had been writing songs separately for years. They had even been writing songs together, off and on, for about two years prior. But when they decided to collaborate on a tune for DESCARGA, a benefit show at Café Nostalgia that marked the one-month anniversary of the terrorist attacks, the partnership took on a new urgency. Moved by a newspaper account of a woman who refused to believe her beloved, killed in the World Trade Center, would never come back, the pair penned one of the most beautiful memorials of that tragic event: "Hasta Que Regreses" ("Until You Return"). Since then the two have been writing and performing together regularly, hitting audiences with the triple threat of songs Torres created for his band Fulano, such as the slinky "Caramelo" ("Candy") and the anthemic "En Nombre De" ("In the Name Of"); Soto's more introspective "Si Te Vas" ("If You Go") and "Duenos de Este Mundo" ("Owners of This World"); and the beautiful "Hasta Que Regreses" as well as the team's lively "Dejala que Baile" ("Let Her Dance") and "Mañana." Now the Magic City has Torres and Perez.
We waited and waited (and waited) for the old Bass Museum to reopen after an extensive, eight-million-dollar renovation and expansion. It turned out to be worth the wait. For more than three years the City of Miami Beach, which owns the museum, suffered through interminable, costly construction problems. First the roof fell in. Then a new concrete floor came crashing down from its broken support beams. Then the new climate-control system had to be completely retooled. Then a water valve burst and soaked the hardwood floors. Then the new roof began to leak. It was as if Job were building the museum. But now that it's open (we hope for good), the Bass is a beautiful structure to behold, thanks to the design of Japanese architect Arata Isozaki. Added to the old Bass's 11,000 square feet is a skylight-connected new wing with twice the room and a spectacular 22-foot ceiling in the second-floor gallery. The lighting is better too. The addition of a café, outside terrace, and typically overpriced gift shop complete the Bass's transformation into a truly modern exhibition space.
McGrath, a Miami Beach resident and professor at Florida International University, moved here a few years ago and then set for himself a Whitmanesque challenge: Write a defining poem about his adopted home state. And then he had the temerity to call it "The Florida Poem." This piece, a highlight of the book, is long, sardonic, and conversational, and as the poem threads its way through the conquistadors and swamp-draining history it is often sad. But McGrath is a romantic optimist, and so he offers hope: "And yet, all it takes/is a day at the beach/to see the slate scrubbed clean/and scribbled anew/by the beautiful coquinas, to witness/the laws of hydraulics rendered moot by the munificent/tranquility of their variegated colonies/thriving amid the chaos of wave-break and overwash."
Who knew Desi Arnaz would come back as a Brit-pop-loving hipster with a penchant for vintage clothes? Only a kid who grew up in Miami could bring such left-field treatment to classics "Babalú" and "Como Fue." Moreno may have a face that teenyboppers love, but his voice is for the ages. Whether in the studio with avant-Latino producer Andres Levin or onstage surrounded by screaming pre-fans, Moreno careens from Clasica 92 (WCMQ-FM 92.3)-style schmaltz to Beatles-with-a-Latin-tinge rock, colliding along the way with the 21st-century sensibility of nuestra america.
Love, like everything else, has imitations, but Dean Fields is the real deal. We just hope we can keep him here, at least for a little while. The curly-topped Virginian has stopped off in Miami for a little booklearnin', but his heart is in his music and it shows. Fields conveys the deepest feeling with the sparest of arrangements, his guitar a simple undercurrent to the emotional surge of his clear, mournful voice. If this is altfolk, we're all for it.

There can't really be a more authentic South Beach tale than the rise of Chris Paciello, the New York small-time mobster who headed to Florida and glamorously reinvented himself as the crown prince of clubland. Splashed across the gossip pages, there he was canoodling with supermodels, dancing with Madonna, downing shots alongside Dennis Rodman inside his nightclubs Liquid and Bar Room, and at his restaurant Joia. It was quite a life -- that is until his goomba past in Staten Island caught up with him in the form of a murder indictment. Michele McPhee chronicles it all in a hard-boiled noir style whose dime-store prose is often as overheated as the lurid tales themselves. Given the literary attention span of most of South Beach's habitues, what could be more appropriate?

This Peruvian native likes intimacy. He uses words (English and Spanish), everyday items, penciled sketches, postcard-size spaces, kinetic video, even entire houses to bring us into the world of the private life. Cordova has described his art as a diary, but his personal life reflects our own colorful, diverse, alienated Miami life, which is one reason his works are so memorable. He's only in his early thirties but already he has left his mark all over our city. His miniature paintings are his trademark so far, but you've encountered Cordova in many other forms. He was part of Miami Art Museum's December video installation (along with an earlier MoCA video show), and his arrangements incorporating stereo bits and car tires were an ingredient in the Kevin Bruk Gallery's "Summer Tossed Salad" exhibit. Cordova has also joined the growing ranks of artists-as-curators. He organized the creatively titled and executed "You were always on my mind" at Ambrosino Gallery, and together with artist Eugenia Vargas took over her home in North Miami and filled it with the intimate and quirky works of seventeen local artists for "Homewreckers: It's Over," one of Miami's first "home shows." For being both at the forefront of creating art and standing behind interesting local artists, Cordova gets our nod this year.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to these three. R-E-S-P-E-C-T so rare for women in the compas industry. Saima, sisters Sabine, Yves, and Martine Francoeur, got tired of serving as back-up singers to a slew of male stars, so they struck out in search of their own spotlight. You'll still hear their roof-off-the-house voices on T-Vice tracks, but the North Miami ladies have proved they can pack their heat with their CD Chale. Last October the trio joined 25 other Haitian artists at a benefit for victims of September 11 to sing the song written by their father, esteemed compas composer Assade Francoeur, "Lavi Telman Kout" ("Life Is Short"). Whether getting down with compas-muffin, getting dirty with hip-hop, or getting serious with a September 11 ballad, the Saima sisters have the pipes and the pip to take on any all-male Haitian outfit anytime.
DJs Oscar G (Space) and Ralph Falcon (Billboardlive) first hit the scene in 1997 with the club classic "Fired Up." In 1999 they avoided the sophomore slump by releasing "Body," a smash hit that swept across dance floors worldwide. Now the duo, along with singer Tamara, have scored again with their latest album Super California, which promises to continue their winning streak with a fresh slew of vocal-driven house that's sure to get the remix treatment. The first single off the new album, "You Got Me (Burnin' Up)," has already enjoyed a number-one slot on Billboard's dance charts, and other tracks are sure to follow. Both DJs enjoy popular residencies here in Miami and are known for their harder edge when it comes to spinning live. But don't blame the boys for cashing in on the vocal style the Funky Green Dogs are making soar.
At the risk of starting a family feud, we'll venture to say that it isn't the accomplished Robert Thiele who's the true shining art star in town. It's Robert's own daughter Kristen, who's returned home from a spell in Chicago to take a studio at Lincoln Road's ArtCenter South Florida. And the Windy City's loss is definitely our gain. Kristen's whimsical use of anthropomorphic cats and dogs may be initially, intentionally goofy and cartoonish, but it's also moving. Like vintage Fifties Peanuts strips, her work disarms with its misleading simplicity and then turns downright sublime. Her latest series, "The Masters," transposes these furry critters into a slew of hallowed works. You'll never look at Mona Lisa the same way again.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®