These are hard times for Latin singers. What with everyone playing reggaeton and Latin hip-hop, there's almost no room on the radio for traditional Latin artists. So what's a young tropical singer to doç Adapt, of course. Miami's Andy Aguilera is the best example of the new breed of Latin crooners. After debuting in 2003 with the wonderful bachata-infused Cita de Amor, the Cuban-American vocalist invited Luny Tunes, from the top production team in reggaeton, to help him craft his new record. The result was Reggaeton Bachateo, a tropical bachata album with a modern reggaeton twist. A gifted singer/composer with a voice made especially for ballads, Andy Aguilera excels at bridging the gap between two generations of Latin music, while at the same time revitalizing the good old bachata ballad.
The rhythmic history of Cuban music rests firmly in Lazaro Alfonso's hardened hands. Every Thursday night the conga maestro joins Miami's celebrated Spam Allstars collective and turns up the heat at Little Havana's Hoy Como Ayer nightclub. Those fortunate to see Lazaro let loose will undoubtedly come away with one conclusion: When it comes to Afro-Caribbean rhythms, no one in Miami can hold a candle to Señor Alfonso. A youthful man, Lazaro has an enviable musical pedigree, earning his chops in the late Eighties as a conga player in Havana's world-famous Club Tropicana, where he performed as a member of legendary Cuban band Irakere. In Miami Lazaro has kept busy working on various projects with DJ Le Spam — who confirms that Lazaro is now officially working out cuts for a planned solo album.
As comedy icon/Tenacious D frontman Jack Black will attest, rocking is a serious endeavor, and only the truly righteous should attempt it. Miami's foursome Torche has proven its devotion to the fires of aural bombast. Established in 2005, Torche is the brainchild of lead singer/guitarist Steve Brooks and fellow guitarist Juan Montoya, who, along with Juan Nuñez and Rick Smith, produce the hardest, fastest, no-nonsense riffs in all of Miami-Dade. After making their eponymous debut, the local heroes earned critical raves in the national alternative music press, which celebrated Torche's groove-laden, multilayered sonic arrangements. The last two years have seen the boys hitting the road, touring the States and Europe, and even siring a coveted gig opening for the legendary group Mogwai. Having earned a rock-solid rep as one of the fiercest bands on the heavy music circuit, the members of Torche plan to release a batch of new material later this year, which should make the hometown's metal hipsters misty-eyed.
While some bands like to hide their musical influences, others proudly wear them on their sleeves. Latin rock band Feneiva belongs to the latter group and are all the better for it. Fronted by Miami Beach High alumni Fabian Hernandez and lead guitarist Angel Batrez, the chicos from Feneiva share as much with British band Coldplay as they do with Colombian roots music icon Carlos Vives. Founded in 2003, Feneiva has been hitting local clubs like Churchill's, the now-defunct I/O lounge, and Circa 28. Last year the band's hard work paid off as they scored a coveted weekly gig at Miami Beach's live music club Jazid, where they play original songs like the sentimental slow burner "Te Perdí" ("I Lost You") and improvise live jams in which drummer Victor Kirk, bassist Bruno Mendez, and guitarist Jesus Ortis effortlessly fuse the rhythms of R&B with the sounds of Brazilian samba. The group recently debuted a video for its song "Vacante" ("Vacant") on MTV Tr3s and hopes to release a full-length album that captures the unique Latin vibe of its live shows.
Local thrashician Mess €nger captured metal in two languages last fall when he released his two-DVD, two-CD box set, Monster of Loch Mess. Raised in a land where Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osborne, and Metallica never went out of style, the Guatemala-born artist has metal down to perfection, incorporating distorted guitar riffs, energetic synthesizers, classical violin, and dark, philosophical lyrics into his own signature sound of glam and hard rock.At the insistence of industry gurus, €nger stepped into a studio in 2003 to begin recording a greatest-hits compilation of his works that had already spent years in heavy bootleg circulation throughout Central America, Los Angeles, and Miami. The four-disc indie box comes with music videos, video clips about the making of those videos, and both English and Spanish versions of the album. It features a crazed blend of emotions. Songs like "I'm a Mess" and "Angry Little Angel" have listeners pounding three-pronged fists, while "Mama (I'm Gonna Change)" prompts introspective, child-pose rocking.
Some gals got all the skills, and local Argentine artist Jimena Fama, frontwoman for the electronica ensemble Tango Conspiracy, has the term "multifaceted" down to a musical science. In the last couple of years the young singer, producer, composer, and guitarist has masterminded three electronic tango, dub, acid jazz, and bossa nova albums on her Maktub Records label. She also performs regularly at sleek venues such as the Delano and Arturo Sandoval Jazz Club; has opened for the likes of Bajo Fondo Tango Club and Jorge Drexler; and contributed much of the stock music used in the 2006 Miami-based documentary La Gata, about a 79-year-old tango-singing diva. Fama is an empress in her own right. With half a nod the charming, soft-spoken artist has the ol' bandoneón players tangoed around her finger and catering to her every musical whim, of which there are plenty. The ching-ching of champagne glasses is about the only sound missing on Tango Conspiracy's latest album, Electro Dub Tango Meets Bossa Nova, one of a series of branded CDs Fama produced for Graziano's Argentinean restaurant chain here in Miami.
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.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®