Electronic music has come a long way since the days when indie icon Beck sang about "two turntables and microphone." Nowadays it's all about having your laptop souped up with the latest music-making software. In Miami, no one rocks the MacBook Pro quite like PG-13, a.k.a. Paul Gaeta, a DJ/producer with a knack for creating fun and intelligent dance music. Last year was a busy one for PG-13. After cofounding the Miami-based label Circuitree with fellow artist Dam Octo, he released the excellent Seven Songs for My Friends; a record full of intricate electronic bleeps that blur the line between electro and hip-hop. On a recent February night at the downtown Miami club PS 14, he showed off his skills to a mostly local crowd of electronica lovers. Using just his laptop and a synthesizer, PG-13 blended techno riffs with throbbing hip-hop beats, even throwing some Miami Bass rhythms into his eclectic mix. The crowd loved it, but PG-13 didn't notice. He was hard at work looking into his laptop screen, trying to find the perfect beat.

Best Funky Fusion Band Even Your Mom Would Like

The Elastic Bond

Imagine a world beat band cool enough to vibe in Miami's hottest young clubs and smooth enough to make your easy-listening mom break out doing the samba in the elevator. Since its formation last summer, the Elastic Bond has been expanding its retro-futuristic sound all over Miami's live music circuit and onto Madrugada, a CD that's been making its way into family gift boxes in places as far away and foreign as the Pacific Northwest. Venezuelan producer Andrés Ponce has shown that he has a tight grip on Miami's sometimes-unwieldy musical tastes by braiding together a slick mix of Latin jazz and funk, hip-hop, turntables, and even mysterious wind and rainmaker sections. A rotating cast of local characters is the gel that holds this chilled-out fusion together. Among them: guitar gurus Flero, Zuse, and Buffalo Brown; horn puffers John Speck, Claudio Cruz, and Patrick Converse; and breakbeat sampler and keyboardist Ponce, with satin-lunged Sofy EnCanto, jazzy Jason "Fitzroy" Jeffers, and funky MC Orion on vocals. Yes folks, the day has arrived when your mama comes storming down the hall to yell, "Damn it, dear! Turn that music up!"
When Nadia Turner appeared on American Idol's fourth season — hereafter known as the one that Carrie Underwood won — Simon Cowell lavished praise on her. "In a competition full of hamburgers, you are a steak," the smug Brit smirked after a jaw-dropping rendition of Dusty Springfield's "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me." Too bad this contest is based on the tin-eared response of a whim-driven listening audience that cares more about appearance than talent. Turner made the top eight before she was unceremoniously booted — some say after she rocked a fierce-beyond-words fro-hawk while singing a reggaefied version of "Time After Time." It seems that she broke the American Idol wacky hair curse (although it ultimately didn't work for Sanjaya), and she was ahead of the mohawk comeback. ("I know! It's funny; after I wore the mohawk, I started to see it everywhere!" she says.) Local fans who loved Turner and her fabulous 'fro will be delighted to know that this Miami girl hasn't given up on her dream. It turns out that Ms. Turner has been quite busy in her post-Idol life."Let's see. I did a movie [Lord Help Us, which costars Mad TV's Debra Wilson] that will be released on May 8. I recently cohosted The View with Barbara Walters and Rosie O'Donnell.... The royal family of Kuwait invited me to perform for them for New Year's, so I flew over there and that was exciting. I'm starting my own clothing line ... I've been very busy! I'm a hustler." More than anything, Nadia's been fine-tuning her long-overdue album, which promises to stay true to her funky rock roots. "I was supposed to release this album like three months ago. It's totally a rock-soul kind of vibe.... The only problem with that is, when you go against the grain, people are afraid to take chances. They want to go with what they're familiar with. That's unfortunate." She's actually had well-connected record execs express concern and doubt about finding a niche for a black rocker chick with a mop of fabulous curls on mainstream radio and MTV."My comeback is: Black people are the originators of rock. Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix ... we are the founders of rock and roll. We started it, how come we can't have it backç" When the album finally drops, Nadia Turner might not get the love that she deserves from cookie-cutter urban radio stations, but she's definitely not planning on giving up on her ambitions anytime soon. "My mom raised me this way, that things will never come to you, you have to knock and let God open the doors that are supposed to be opened. And I've been knocking at a lot of doors," she says. "I've been told for most of my life that, you know, you have to do it their way. And I refuse to do it that way."
Typically this award goes to a singer-songwriter-guitarist — some guy or gal carrying on the troubadour tradition, like a Grant Livingston or August Campbell type, to mention two worthy contenders. Sometimes, though, talent trumps tradition, and Robert Thomas Jr. has talent to spare. If the name rings a bell, you must have heard of Weather Report, the famous Seventies jazz band. Thomas gained some of his fame for his work with the founders of that group, Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter. Thomas (who can, in fact, play guitar, as well as many other instruments from numerous cultures) is a hand drummer. He was born in Miami Beach and is this area's leading jazz light since the passing of Jaco Pastorius (a friend and collaborator). Among Bobby T's many rhythmic innovations is his main claim to fame: sitting at a kit, with drums and cymbals and cowbell, and playing away — without sticks. Look, Ma, all hands! Thomas is also a serious collector of indigenous instruments of all types, most of which he can play with virtuosity. And what he plays is serious jazz. You may not find him playing Thursdays and Saturdays at the neighborhood joint, but you will find him in the music history books.
The name makes us hungry for a Cuban steak sandwich, but the jazz this duo makes is even tastier. Violinist Federico Britos and flautist/saxophonist Bobby Ramirez play jazz standards, Latin jazz, and even a bit of bebop. Ramirez is from Cuba and Britos is from Uruguay, but their music crosses continents. More often than not, the band plays outside of South Florida — so if you see a listing for an upcoming show, check it out.
Lucciano "Luchy" Pizzichini, age seven, glumly kicked a soccer ball on the sidewalk outside a Little Havana steakhouse this past February as he waited for his dad, guitarist Adrian Pizzichini, to finish setting up the stage for rock and reggae outfit Kayak Man. "I hope he lets me perform," the kid sniffed. Asked what song he'd use to open the stage if he could, Luchy straightened up, narrowed his eyes, and said coolly: "Why Don't We Do It in the Road." Surprised passersby giggled at the comment as they meandered down Calle Ocho during the monthly Viernes Culturales ("Cultural Fridays") street fair. But Luchy had an even bigger surprise in store. Those same observers turned on a dime and came running back when a childlike voice suddenly blasted the Beatles number out of the restaurant's patio speakers. Soon a crowd of adults had squeezed its way around the tables to witness Luchy's skillful guitar picking and soulful singing on his renditions of "Suzy Q" and the Pink Panther theme song. It took some coaxing to get the cocky little rocker off-stage for Kayak Man's act, but who could blame himç Luchy has performed some of his 24-song repertoire at venues such as Arturo Sandoval's new Rumba Palace on Ocean Drive. In between scribbling autographs and accepting accolades, Luchy told New Times he'd be happy to offer some friendly advice to the young'uns: "Two hours of practice a day and lessons from my daddy."
What do 50 Cent, Christina Aguilera, and Beyoncé have in commonç They all have sought the golden ears of Miami's top beatmaker/producer Scott Storch, who at just 33 years of age has written a string of hits for many of the top-selling acts in the music industry. From Fat Joe's 2004 hip-hop banger "Lean Back" to Beyoncé's delicious "Baby Boy," Storch's distinctive Middle Eastern-inflected keyboard arrangements have earned him the nickname "the piano man." In 2004 he was named "songwriter of the year" at the prestigious ASCAP Music Awards, whose past winners have included Quincy Jones and Burt Bacharach. Mr. Storch is equally known for his over-the-top lifestyle. Living it up in his waterfront Star Island estate, he reportedly owns thirteen cars (the luxury kind), has christened his yacht "Storchavelli," and briefly dated Paris Hilton. Storch is currently in the middle of a high-profile beef with super producer Timbaland over production credits for Justin Timberlake's 2003 smash, "Cry Me a River." Regardless of the controversies, the main attraction remains Storch's uncanny ability to come up with bouncy summer hits like "Impacto," the new hit single from Daddy Yankee. Which is why high-profile artists head down to Miami when they want to score a number one.
This is such a devious award. Drout (famous as frontman of Miami's premier blues-rock band, Iko-Iko) and Castiglia (a local blues vet perhaps best known as a longtime sideman for Junior Wells) have won "Best of Miami" and all sorts of other awards in the past. They're stunning talents to be sure. And when their paths crossed — well, consider the fate of just one of the collaborations from their 2006 album, The Bittersweet Sessions. It's called "The Ghosts of Mississippi." Castiglia recorded another version for his 2006 album, A Stone's Throw. And soon after that, Joey Gilmore cut a treatment of it for his own album, which was itself named for the song. How good is "Ghosts"ç Gilmore won the International Blues Foundation's award for best blues performance with his version. Drout received the Blues Critics' Choice honor for song of the year. Living Blues magazine put Bittersweet in its top twenty CDs of the year, and "Ghosts" went to number one on MusicChoice. So what's so devious about one more award for Mr. Drout and Mr. Castigliaç While we can't imagine musical life without Iko-Iko (currently on a major tour of the Southeast) and Castiglia, we do want to encourage these two super-talented bluesmen to continue their collaborative ways. After all, we'll need a winner for this category next year, too.
Imagine having to perform your job in the middle of a party — music blasting, people talking and dancing, buzzed eyes focused on you. That's exactly what artist Kiki Valdes does — he paints live to music at events, setting his brush strokes to the tempo. "He uses the energy from the event around him and focuses it on the canvas," says Luis André Gazitua, president of Next in Line, a local networking organization for young professionals, at whose events Valdes has appeared. "He's a firecracker; he just goes for it." The young Cuban-American artist has painted at the Biltmore Hotel alongside Latin Grammy-nominated Locos Por Juana, at Princeton University for the Princeton and Harvard Cuba Conference, and at the B.E.D. club/restaurants in Miami and New York. His style taps into Thirties and Forties avant-garde Cuban art. "There's passion in the person and artwork. When he paints, it's like a fire," adds Gazitua, who owns one of Valdes's "Medusa" paintings, along with two others by the artist. Inspiration for the Medusa comes from a girl Valdes knows. "She has a strong stare. You can't look at her too long," the artist says. "She's like Medusa. When you go into the cave, she looks pretty from the distance, but as you get closer, she's deceiving." Valdes, who is actually good friends with his muse, is all about the transformation of images. When he paints live, he starts with one image, which evolves into something else as the music bumps and the evening progresses. Just when you really come to love the image on the canvas, Valdes messes with you, splashing color on it and starting over. The experience is all-consuming for both him and the viewer. "With him," says Gazitua, "it's hard to separate artwork from the person."
When Michael John Hancock and Brian Robertson took off their shirts, put on their sweatpants, and covered their faces in a rainbow of grease paint, Miami's small cadre of indie rockers would gather and dance. The duo was a mainstay at Poplife and the anchor of the label Sutro Music. They were also really good musicians. Hancock played drums and sang (at the same time, with arms, legs, and vocal cords all performing flawlessly at once). Robertson accompanied him on the synthesizer and sang back-up vocals. It was an unlikely combination, and it worked. Performed in the parking lot behind the old location of Sweat Records, on the stage at I/O, and before a smattering of strangers at Titanic Brewery, ANR's songs were about bicycles, love, and "killing South Beach dead." When their own extensive repertoire ran out during a performance, they would launch into cover songs by the Band or Michael Jackson. They once devoted an entire show to Prince. But then we heard they were going to New York, and then that they had fallen in love with other people, and then, there was only silence. Their only album, ANR So Far, preserves them for posterity's sake. But this was one band that was truly better heard live, for it was a spectacle: Robertson playing the keys, and Hancock pounding out a dance beat while hitting a falsetto that was nothing short of perfection for a room full of people that seemed genuinely moved by the music. It was fun.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®