They aren't from Miami. They hail from Fort Lauderdale. And they may not be innovative, plying a brand of sleazy garage punk (à la the Queers circa Grow Up) that's been bandied about for years. But it doesn't matter. The Heatseekers have that elusive quality, that totally unquantifiable rock and roll thing that moves audiences and propels their songs along like a drunk in a '57 Chevy, careening between the highway guardrails. They go down like bourbon and make you want to fuck or fight or both. Josh Menendez, garage-rock DJ and the driving force behind the mod-themed weekly party Revolver, says the Heatseekers always get the crowd going. "They have a lot of energy and a great stage presence. Definitely one of the best shows in town."

Readers Choice: dear starlet

The recent passing of legendary producer Tom Dowd returned the Hit Factory Criteria to the media spotlight, reminding us all that the North Miami studio was the creative birthing spot for so many seminal albums, from Derek and the Dominos' 1970 Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs to the Bee Gees' 1977 Saturday Night Fever soundtrack to Bob Dylan's 1997 aesthetic return-to-form comeback Time Out of Mind. Yet what often gets overlooked is the appeal of the studio itself. Indeed it wasn't just Dowd's own production techniques that had drawn a musical who's who to work with him here. As important as the sounds being laid down on any session is the equipment being used to capture it -- and this studio's analog-style mixing boards, vintage microphones, and sumptuous wooden acoustics have artists from Christina Aguilera to DMX catching flights into Miami when it comes time to record. Accordingly, studio time at the Hit Factory Criteria is pricey, and a few weeks' worth of work can easily produce a hefty six-figure bill; this isn't the spot to cut your garage band's demo. But if you're on a major-label budget, the dizzyingly infatuated look engineers take on when gabbing about the equipment at hand seems justification enough for running up that tab.

Frank Consola is the hardest-working man in Miami radio. At least nonprofit radio. He's on the air twenty hours a week at community-supported WDNA-FM, Miami's "jazz and rhythm station." Monday through Friday Consola is at the console hosting 88 Jazz Place from 7:00 to 11:00 a.m. He does this as a volunteer -- without pay. How's that for dedication? The Brooklyn-born Consola has been pitching in at the station since the late Eighties. How's that for commitment? The show itself is an eclectic mix of jazz styles, varying from day to day. One highlight is the "Top Ten at 10," a Wednesday feature at 10:00 a.m. in which he counts down the week's top-selling jazz albums.

Unlike many a hip-hop producer, Clemetson, a.k.a. Supersoul, can't be categorized. He can make anything from a murky bass homage to Magic Mike to a dub track reminiscent of Adrian Sherwood's On-U Sound. For him hip-hop is a state of mind, even though he's been laboring under the "downtempo" epithet ever since he first made waves on Moonshine's memorable Trip-Hop Test series in the mid-Nineties. But thanks to the growing notoriety of the "Miami sound" in cutting-edge and experimental-music circles, Clemetson is building a new reputation as founder of his own label, Metatronix, and as one of the most unpredictable and enigmatic beat-makers in town.

January 2002 saw Miami's only full-time classical station, WTMI (93.1 FM), convert to modern dance music. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, and for a time the occasional hour of classical programming on public radio was the only place to get a taste of Brahms. In September 2002, however, WKAT switched from Spanish-language radio to 24-hour classical programming, including one hour reserved for playing symphonic works in their entirety without interruptions. "It's ballsy of them to run something without commercials, considering that they're a commercial radio station," says host Matt Gitkin, a University of Miami theater professor who also hosts WKAT's The Open Road, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. Gitkin got the gig because he could "pronounce the composers' names and the names of the pieces" and says that for his first few months on the air he had constant phone calls from grateful music fans. "People really missed having something like this on the air -- especially something like Symphony at Seven, where you might get a 36-minute piece with no breaks."

Chances are you've never seen a drag queen dive into a crowd and "surf" her audience. Less likely is the chance of seeing female impersonators yank each other's wigs off during performances, pull out their falsies, and riff off one another in wickedly hilarious comedy that skewers racial, ethnic, and sexual themes. Marytrini, Sophia Divine, Teresita la Bella, and Charito, a.k.a. Las Divas del Jacuzzi, do that and more. These Cuban queens are revolutionizing drag performance in the divaest of diva showplaces in Miami. Instead of simply lip-synching cheesy Latin pop, a mainstay for Miami drag performers, Las Divas use their own voices to impersonate Spanish-language TV personalities such as Laura Bozzo, Marta Susana, and Cristina Saralegui. Their live versions of television commercials, such as Ingles sin Barreras and Labelle Beauty School, are far funnier and edgier than anything you'll see on television. Meanwhile, they mix in juggling unicyclists, dancers, and, of course, more drag queens.

If you can get past the self-conscious college-kid precociousness of the VUM DJs, Wednesday night features two rock programs worth listening to. First up: From 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. distort your speakers with the mono stylings of It Came From the Garage. This fuzzed-out blast of garage rock is unabashedly primitive, and beats the hell out of the latest Puddle of Mudd, or whatever passes for hard rock on FM radio these days. By 10:00 p.m., listeners have been loosened up by the garage rock and maybe a few drinks, so VUM drops all pretense of punker-than-thou coolness and indulges in straight-up big hair riffs with Metal Revolution. The program, on the air until 1:00 a.m., is perfect for those who still secretly love harmonized twin guitar solos and the rumble of double-bass drums, and for those who never hung up the jean jacket with the skull and crossbones patch on the back.

What do you get when you put jumpy African rhythm with juicy reggae and Haitian soul? One of the few Haitian bands that Miami can still call its own. This compas band has kept the Creole flavor pumping through a steady bass, conga, and keyboards for years now and has gained a level of sophistication in the process. Don't get fooled by the leather jackets and motorcycles on the cover of their latest live album. These guys still have a soft side to their music that's smooth and infectious.

Cuba's controversial comedian Alvarez Guedes takes the lunchtime air weekdays to mix dirty jokes, political discourse, and poetry with some of the best Cuban music from the golden age of the big band. The whiskey-voiced Guedes comes across as everyone's favorite foul-mouthed uncle as he spoofs local politics and happenings with his daily Guantanameras and timba jams. Classic salsa from the likes of La Sonora Matancera is played alongside bossa nova, guaguancós, and boleros. Guedes even throws in occasional Frank Sinatra classics. His wit and fine selection of music is the perfect combination for a midday refreshment of the senses.

Armando Christian Perez reflects Miami in a way no rapper ever has, because the ones who've made names for themselves on these city streets were usually black, not Cuban. But Perez, a.k.a. Pitbull, is not about to go Cuban retro. He's all about today's hard knocks. Pitbull spits quick-witted, reality bass rhymes that tell the Miami tale, as he knows it firsthand. It was Miami's hip-hop godfather himself, Luther "Uncle Luke'' Campbell, who saw the significance of Pitbull four years ago. Campbell signed the rapper, took him on the road, and pitched him to everyone. This year, the 22-year-old who peddles his CDs on Liberty City streets is going to blow up. And he promises he's bringing the 305 with him. He made good on that promise last spring, when his hit "Welcome to Miami," an insider's ode to the Magic City, pushed its way into heavy rotation on Power 96 (WPOW-FM 96.5). Now Pitbull prepares to promote his upcoming album, Expect the Unexpected. His approach to stardom isn't cut from the American Idol cloth. His concrete stare gleams determination, and his tattoo that says "Hate Me and Suffer" is a stern warning to those who'll stand in his way.

Readers Choice: Lee Williams and the Square Egg

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®