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.

Traditional feminists (but not Camille Paglia's pro-sex sect) will likely be aghast, but our choice features locally based and produced comedic porn "films," weekly episodes showing random women bribed off the street and into a van, then into depravity. This isn't your run-of-the-mill autoerotic stimuli. The site states: "The true story of two guys, a video camera, a big fucking bus, and a lesson on the depths of human debauchery." Each guy comes equipped with an enormous member and a mischievous sense of humor. Questions like, "How do you feel about political ethics in America?" are routinely asked during bonings. Segments featured in the blooper section include episodes where the Bang team misses the targeted girl ("Dude, you just came on my leg!") and a classic wherein a girl's mom calls her cell phone during filming. Of course it's answered, and the mother's voice is actually heard asking for her daughter. "She can't talk" was followed by an obscene description of the slightly perverse activity the girl was involved in at that moment. In case you miss the point, the objective of this Website is not to arouse anything but disgust in what the Bangs see as an "offensively politically correct world."

Launched in 1996 by three Miami brothers-in-law who love to fish and eat la comida Cubana, this is a mouthwatering source of opinions about local Cuban cuisine, from restaurants to recipes. The three guys -- Jorge Castillo, Raúl Musibay, and Glenn Lindgren -- have made several appearances on various Food Network shows and in media articles. But more than a foodish curiosity, the Website is a celebration of Cuban neighborhoods (Little Havana, Hialeah, and others) that offers insights into the differences between the citified Cuban food at Versailles and La Carreta's traditional fare, the advantages of buying produce from street vendors, and, not least, how to party like a Cuban.

The twang-filled guitar notes opening Lantana Sunrise offer a reminder of the days when South Florida roots music had little to do with complex polyrhythms, driving percussion, or so much as a splish-splash of the Caribbean. The grooves laid down by Jim Wurster's outfit are built for comfort, not speed, and as the tasty licks played by pedal steelist Bob Wlos prove, there's little in the way of a broken heart or a weary spirit that a taste of the Cowboys' high lonesome sound can't soothe. Synthless but sensible, the Cowboys may have one boot in bluegrass (picking fluttery acoustic-guitar runs) and the other in Grand Ole Opry-steeped but amped-up rock (think Sweetheart of the Rodeo-era Byrds), but it's pure country, a child of hillbilly, and it has a hold on Wurster. His drawl keeps the group reined in, tied to Nashville tradition, even when Fred Neil's airy melancholia in "Everybody's Talkin'" gets stamped on by a crunching two-step shuffle and some extra evocation of resignation. These are horseless cowboys, makers of driving music, not drovers of overproduced mishmash. Old-fashioned can be better than fashionable.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®