The American Legion Harvey W. Seeds Post 29
Half of this CD jukebox's playlist is what you would expect in an American Legion hall, generally a venue occupied by octogenarians. Thus the juke is well stocked with crooners (Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin are here) and country standards (Merle Haggard and Hank Willams make appearances). But the surprising thing is its eclecticism. Perhaps because this Legion hall is only one of two open to the public, there are some uncharacteristic choices, like R.E.M.'s greatest hits, Modest Mouse, Smashing Pumpkins, and the Pixies. There's even a Funk's Greatest Hits CD (check out the look on the geezer at the bar when "Atomic Dog" starts up).
If you are going to get up on a stage and sing Dolly Parton's "Jolene" in front of 250 people, you want it to be the right kind of environment. You want bawdy but not loud. And while a part of you wants the crowd to watch, it's something of a relief to see them distracted in a game of pool. Most of all, you want cocktails, and you want them cheap. Our Place has this and more. Its karaoke nights on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday attract one of the most diverse crowds in town, ready to belt out hits in English and Spanish. Most drinks are less than $4, and Thursday is two-for-one for the ladies. Releasing your inner Celine Dion is free.
In the heart of Allapattah, a rather unglamorous storefront bathed in the Dominican Republic's red-and-blue national colors has long been a gathering place for Miami's true salseros and merengueros. These are people willing to endure the occasional thug brawl or carjacking just so they can grind to the pulsating music of La Banda Gorda and Los Hermanos Rosario. Here you'll encounter a sort of summit of the Americas, as Cubanos, Boricuas, Dominicanos, Colombianos, and everyone else from the Western Hemisphere gyrates to Frankie Ruiz and Elvis Crespo. You'll notice that the men are dressed in the Latin club standard uniform of irridescent long-sleeve shirts and dark dress slacks. Watch them as they -- using their lightening-fast hip-shimmy-shaking -- try to woo the voluptuous women in tight spandex club gear. Club Típico is open Friday through Sunday from 10:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m.
A lesbian bar is difficult to find south of the Broward County line, but fortunately for women who love women, Miami's ongoing parties compensate for the lack. On Fridays, for an $8 cover, Pandora Events joins forces with Ultra Events for Cherry Pie at Club O'Zone, where girls can dance to house music and salsa, play pool, and sip two-for-one drinks from 10:00 to 11:00 p.m. "Please dress to impress," reads the polite flyer. "Our gay gentlemen friends are always welcome." On Saturdays, ICandee Productions runs Siren, at Creme Lounge, located directly above the boy party at Score. Siren's soundtrack changes from week to week, ranging from hip-hop to house to rock to Brazilian. There's a $6 cover before 8:00 p.m.; after that, it's $8.
Cuban-born Jorge Gonzalez Graupera, a.k.a. Jorges, might just be the hardest-working musician in Miami. After his band the Brand, which was founded in 2002 (and was Jorges's first live music venture), broke up in 2004, solo artistry became a necessity, so Jorges picked up his acoustic guitar and began playing on his own, quickly realizing he didn't need anything but himself. "I'm all about simplicity. When you just hear the voice and guitar, you're hearing songs in their purist form." Jorges, age 32, is constantly performing his interesting pop/rock love songs live, usually at PS 14, Churchill's, and I/O. He also recorded an excellent album, Possibly Now!, completely on his own, at home on the computer, which you can (and should) buy at his shows. Jorges's diligence has paid off: His song "Girlfriend," which female audience members mouth during his perfomances, has been played on the hit television shows Summerland and One Tree Hill as well as on various MTV programs. He also tours as much as possible. "When I'm on tour, all I want is to make enough for a $40 room and something to eat. Sometimes it doesn't happen, so I'll sit somewhere with my guitar, put my hat out in front, and make up the difference." Check out myspace.com/Jorges for show dates and times.
Dewey's Tavern
Despite its location amid million-dollar bayfront condos and a bunch of tanning salons and expensive cafés on South Beach, Dewey's Tavern, which is nestled on the corner of Ninth Street and Alton Road, does not wear the fancy pants. Instead Dewey's is a tight, cozy little hole-in-the-wall, one of the few places on the Beach where you won't find anyone wearing a $300 T-shirt. According to the staff, the tavern is rarely crammed with customers, usually just a relaxed local crowd that comes for happy hour weekdays from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. to get two-for-one well drinks, two-for-one wines, or a beer for $3. If you think you're like Paul Newman in The Hustler, you'll love Dewey's $5-entry-fee, winner-take-all pool tournaments every Tuesday night beginning at 6:00 p.m. And for those of you who like to get drunk and embarrass everyone else, karaoke night is every Saturday from 10:00 p.m. until 3:00 a.m., and because of Dewey's small size, you can really get the audience involved (in dragging you away from the microphone). Dewey's also has a great little dining menu that includes grilled mahi-mahi sandwiches for $7.95 and fourteen-ounce hamburgers for the same price. Or you could be a cheap bastard and come for the free buffet Fridays at 7:00 p.m.
One of the few local bands that actually has living, breathing groupies -- who aren't friends and/or family -- the duo known as Awesome New Republic (or simply ANR) recently took off to New York City. Fans, however, can keep a little piece of ANR in their hearts and iPods with ANR So Far. With blunt, passionately delivered lyrics and a soul-folk electro beat that keeps the masses dancing, the album received accolades from critics local and national, including the kids at the musical cool table Pitchfork, who gave the disc a rating of 7.9 out of 10 -- indie-rock gold.
Anyone can throw a bunch of random nouns and adjectives together and come up with a pretty amusing band name (in fact there are Websites for that kind of thing), and the number of prostitutes, dead or otherwise, who engage in complicated card games is probably on the low side. But a band is allowed to have a ridiculous, nonsensical name if the music rocks. And rock the Dead Hookers' Bridge Club does. Jack Switchblade, Ace Roller, and Dr. Johnny Thunder do what they like to call "dirty rock and roll," performing songs like "Hung Like a Whale" and "F--k Texas" from their album Fast Cars! Stiff Drinks! Loose Women!. Sure it's all shtick, but then again, the Beatles posed as the Sgt. Pepper Band, and that album was pretty good.

Best Band to Break Up in the Past Year

Vidavox

Some bands break up over raging drug habits; others break up over egos or money. But anyone who's heard the audio-sensory treat that is Vidavox probably wouldn't be too surprised to learn the reason for the group's split: Guitarist/keyboardist/bassist Carlos Vega is heading off to Michigan to pursue his Ph.D. Fans of electronica, jam bands, and plain old good beats will miss Vidavox's formulaic (in a good way), flowing rhythm; syncopated beats; and tracks that simply add up from beginning to end.
The multimember collective known as Locos por Juana -- which includes Itagui, Guillermo "Chamo" Cabral, Carlos "Negro" Viafara, Marc "JC" Kondrat, Marcos "Matatigre" Delgado, Camilo "Tumbao" Sierra, Jonathan "Boricua" Marrero, Javier "Lakambra" Delgado, Emiliano "CheFunk" Torres, Carlos "C-Bone" Avila, Alan Reyna, Claudio, and CALI 3000 -- would never, ever marginalize its music by calling it Caribbean, yet that global term, encompassing the sea and islands from Europe to the Middle East to Africa to the more familiar Bahamas and Puerto Rico -- is a good metaphor for the shifting energies and personalities of Miami's true identity band. This ambitious multicultural mélange mixes salsa, timba, ska, reggae, and cumbia in a wild stage show that is enhanced only by the aesthetically pleasing members. After completely upstaging, in the nicest way, headliner Lila Downs at this spring's Latin Funk Festival, and with a new album, La Verdad, dropping in June, LPJ shows no signs of slowing down or taking time off -- good news for its ever-growing legion of devotees.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®