More an exercise in performance art than a rock concert, Cat Power (the name used by singer Chan Marshall) took to the stage at I/O five days before Christmas and proceeded to test the resolve of even her most fervent fans. Cat Power's past few studio albums have been tour de forces of urban folk, true gifts to music. Live in Miami, Marshall stood alone and offhandedly strummed a guitar chord, intoned the opening words to a song, then came to a screeching halt. There were mumbling pleas to the soundman to turn her amplifier mix dramatically one way, then back again, until it was restored to its starting point. A wasted moment followed by another false start, more bantering with the increasingly dumbfounded soundman, and soon enough audience members began shifting from one foot to the other. They weren't dancing. Marshall plunked herself down at a piano and revealed a glimpse of what had drawn so many to hear her. Then it was back to the fumbling around and tuning problems. Less than an hour of this fulfilled her contractual obligations, and off she went, payment in hand. Equally inept, the audience was accepting, even though they left empty-handed.

More an exercise in performance art than a rock concert, Cat Power (the name used by singer Chan Marshall) took to the stage at I/O five days before Christmas and proceeded to test the resolve of even her most fervent fans. Cat Power's past few studio albums have been tour de forces of urban folk, true gifts to music. Live in Miami, Marshall stood alone and offhandedly strummed a guitar chord, intoned the opening words to a song, then came to a screeching halt. There were mumbling pleas to the soundman to turn her amplifier mix dramatically one way, then back again, until it was restored to its starting point. A wasted moment followed by another false start, more bantering with the increasingly dumbfounded soundman, and soon enough audience members began shifting from one foot to the other. They weren't dancing. Marshall plunked herself down at a piano and revealed a glimpse of what had drawn so many to hear her. Then it was back to the fumbling around and tuning problems. Less than an hour of this fulfilled her contractual obligations, and off she went, payment in hand. Equally inept, the audience was accepting, even though they left empty-handed.

Their five-tiered, twelve-foot-tall House of Cards, inhabited by humanoid dummies, was a big hit at Miami Art Museum. This artistic duo also deserves credit for a shack they never built. They had planned to construct Casa del Pirata on a wall of the historic La Cabaña fortress using boards they had hoped to find in Cuba. "A sort of romantic monument to individuality and courage, misfortune, and hope," Behar says. "Maybe the house implies a shipwreck, the search for a treasure, or a story of love and betrayal." Maybe a little too pointed for paranoid government curators afraid that a dummy of the dreaded dictator as buccaneer would appear. They nixed the project, citing rules against tampering with the fort's infrastructure. Yeah, right. Meanwhile authorities in Brussels let the Argentine couple play with the façade of the Centre International pour la Ville, l'Architecture et le Paysage. For a work called The Mask, they draped a beautiful rainbow spectrum of 40-foot-long plastic streamers from the roof of the sullen brown brick museum to the sidewalk, forcing people to penetrate the strips to enter the building. R & R's surreal outdoor living room has long been a Design District icon. They're currently plotting to transform Monument Island into The Star of Miami, a huge painting visible from jets landing at MIA. See some of their works at Placemaker Gallery (3852 N. Miami Ave.) in the Design District and you'll see what we mean.

She's impossibly great, this veteran of rock bands (Bootleg, the Wait, Voidville) who, since 1995, has created three CDs and a one-off cassette with co-producer and guitar god Jack Shawde. Blessed with a conscience and a voice like honey in a blender, Ward always finds a way to sweeten her woeful lyrics while stirring up those themes that deserve the whirring-blade treatment. Her gift has made the Miami native a regional attraction, and after spending a year and enlisting a number of top musicians to craft her latest recording, The Great Impossible, Ward should reach an even wider audience. The world deserves nothing less.

She's impossibly great, this veteran of rock bands (Bootleg, the Wait, Voidville) who, since 1995, has created three CDs and a one-off cassette with co-producer and guitar god Jack Shawde. Blessed with a conscience and a voice like honey in a blender, Ward always finds a way to sweeten her woeful lyrics while stirring up those themes that deserve the whirring-blade treatment. Her gift has made the Miami native a regional attraction, and after spending a year and enlisting a number of top musicians to craft her latest recording, The Great Impossible, Ward should reach an even wider audience. The world deserves nothing less.

Rumors of South Beach's demise are greatly exaggerated -- at least according to Wire, the Beach weekly published and written mostly by Carl Zablotny, a one-man cheerleading army for the city's enduring charms. Since buying the paper from founder Andrew Delaplaine in 1999, Zablotny has continued its mission of chronicling the city's queer social whirl. Dashing from nightclub event to art happening, profiling local entrepreneurs and visiting celebs, as well as shooting photos of it all, Zablotny takes a refreshingly catholic view of just what constitutes a notable cultural event. It makes for a wacky mix, but Zablotny is at least as political in his outlook as Delaplaine's often over-the-top editorials were. If his impassioned campaign endorsements seem to change wildly depending upon which Beach candidates buy full-page Wire ads, as when a commissioner labeled a nightlife "Nazi" suddenly transformed into a well-meaning civic leader, well, that's part of the fun. After all, as Zablotny himself has wryly quipped in his own pages, "It takes more than a pretty face to make the cover of the Wire ... or does it?" Upton Sinclair he ain't, but for a vivid slice of the Beach life -- high, low, or in drag -- Zablotny delivers week after week.

When he was fourteen, Alvarez realized that, no matter fate nor destiny, he would someday be in a band. Soon he was, playing at age eighteen in Eruption and a series of amateurish groups, first as a keyboardist, then as whatever the next group called for. Bassist needed? He learned bass. Guitarist wanted? He learned guitar. Struck by the power of vocalists such as Sting, U2's Bono, and, especially, Cheap Trick's Robin Zander, Alvarez added singing to his skill set. He fronted the fondly remembered rockers Forget the Name for five years and three full-length recordings. When FTN folded in the mid-Nineties, Alvarez took his sometimes sweet-as-honey, sometimes bitter-as-alum pipes and formed Sixo, which released four CDs. Currently working as a video producer, Website builder, and newspaper columnist, Alvarez continues writing and recording, preparing a new CD that should show off once again the power of his versatile voice.

When he was fourteen, Alvarez realized that, no matter fate nor destiny, he would someday be in a band. Soon he was, playing at age eighteen in Eruption and a series of amateurish groups, first as a keyboardist, then as whatever the next group called for. Bassist needed? He learned bass. Guitarist wanted? He learned guitar. Struck by the power of vocalists such as Sting, U2's Bono, and, especially, Cheap Trick's Robin Zander, Alvarez added singing to his skill set. He fronted the fondly remembered rockers Forget the Name for five years and three full-length recordings. When FTN folded in the mid-Nineties, Alvarez took his sometimes sweet-as-honey, sometimes bitter-as-alum pipes and formed Sixo, which released four CDs. Currently working as a video producer, Website builder, and newspaper columnist, Alvarez continues writing and recording, preparing a new CD that should show off once again the power of his versatile voice.

Singer with acoustic guitar (Paul Feltman). Singer with upright bass (Chris DeAngelis). One of the best drummers alive (Robert Slade LeMont). Stinging electric guitar leads (John Gilson). Songs about trucks, drinking, trucks, women, trucks, prison, and trucks. For seven years these virtuosos have been providing the purest, sweetest mix of covers and originals in true country style. The itch has finally pried from them their first CD, the live Songs from the Road, which just came out. "We recorded everything and the ones that didn't have too many mistakes went on the CD. It's exactly what we sound like live," says DeAngelis. That means it sounds fantastic. Hundreds of live shows have proved the Wheelers to be the real deal, the best band in Nashville that isn't in Nashville, and certainly the finest performers of true country music in Miami. They've already begun work on another CD, but a live show is recommended as strongly as the recommendation to not drive a big truck drunk with a woman on your lap as you pass a highway patrolman. Especially if you have the new Wheelers CD in the player, which would be a real distraction.

Singer with acoustic guitar (Paul Feltman). Singer with upright bass (Chris DeAngelis). One of the best drummers alive (Robert Slade LeMont). Stinging electric guitar leads (John Gilson). Songs about trucks, drinking, trucks, women, trucks, prison, and trucks. For seven years these virtuosos have been providing the purest, sweetest mix of covers and originals in true country style. The itch has finally pried from them their first CD, the live Songs from the Road, which just came out. "We recorded everything and the ones that didn't have too many mistakes went on the CD. It's exactly what we sound like live," says DeAngelis. That means it sounds fantastic. Hundreds of live shows have proved the Wheelers to be the real deal, the best band in Nashville that isn't in Nashville, and certainly the finest performers of true country music in Miami. They've already begun work on another CD, but a live show is recommended as strongly as the recommendation to not drive a big truck drunk with a woman on your lap as you pass a highway patrolman. Especially if you have the new Wheelers CD in the player, which would be a real distraction.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®