The long-haired, natty Lazaro Casanova got his start playing at the old Malibu Grand Prix's infamous Full Moon parties in the late Nineties. But he really became a local marquee name as the musical selector du jour for indie-ish dance parties in Miami, most notably at the long-running, now-defunct Revolver. But when pressing play on White Stripes discs got boring, Casanova branched out on his own — at home. Tapping into the burgeoning underground crossover dance scene when it was still in its infancy, Casanova cranked out filthy, searing bedroom remixes that quickly spread across the Internet. Eventually he hooked up with Canadian electro duo MSTRKRFT. They recruited him for a national tour, and soon he was playing sizzling, electroey-housey sets heavily featuring his own chunky, thumping compositions. Since then, he's become a sort of unofficial third arm of that outfit, rocking international crowds of thousands both with the duo and as a headliner in his own right. In the meantime, Casanova still updates his blog, Shot Callin' (shotcallin.blogspot.com), with the latest white-hot dance music, and issues his own heavily blogged rerubs while putting the finishing touches on an upcoming EP of original material.
Jon Saxx was sleeping when the sound of a saxophone hit his preteen ears. The tones resonated in his soul, he awakened, and in that moment, he fell in love with the horn that makes us fall in love with him. He's been playing ever since. A virtuoso on the soprano, alto, and tenor sax, Saxx plays by ear — closing his eyes and "playing what I feel and getting lost in the music," he says. He would love to duet with Stevie Wonder on "Ribbon in the Sky," which we could totally see (and hear) because one child prodigy definitely deserves another. Witnessing Saxx in his element, whether or not his eyes are hidden under one of his trademark hats, you realize you're watching a man possessed by the spirit of jazz. He's not reading sheet music; he's hearing the band play or a chanteuse croon and following suit in a way that's as natural as his own heartbeat. Now that's soul music.
Remember when bands had magical powers and went on adventures and shit? Like the Beatles, for example, when they took that submarine trip; or Josie and the Pussycats, how they had their own spaceship; or the way David Bowie led that girl into his magical labyrinth just so she could be in his music video in the end. Nowadays, what the hell good is a band? A bunch of funny-hat-wearing wannabes, that's all most of 'em are these days. But not Los Primeros. Hialeah's very own boy band is made up of three young men — Pedro Perez, Andres Pita, and Ray Moreno, all homegrown. The group struck it big in 2003 with the hit single "Eslow Motion." Since they performed for a quinceañera that just happened to be featured on MTV's My Super Sweet 16, the stars are the limit. And although they might not have magical powers, per se — none that they've revealed, anyway — at least these guys have a purpose. When slot gambling at various Miami-Dade tracks was to appear on ballots this past January, historic Hialeah Park was left out from the list of potential beneficiaries. Los Primeros (with, it must be noted, the backing of Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina) rallied to the cause, releasing the single "Save Hialeah Park." Smells like Sixties teen spirit.
Born Algernod Lanier Washington, 32-year-old Plies launched his career when he teamed up with Akon for their chart-topping hit "Hypnotized." Plies released his breakout album, The Real Testament, in 2007 and went from being best known for allegedly firing a gun into the crowd at his own show in Gainesville to becoming a celebrated representative of street life authenticity. His smash single "Shawty," featuring Tallahassee's T-Pain, quickly burned up the airwaves and gave Plies an opportunity to reveal the softer side of his hard-knock ghetto persona. Having recently signed with Ted Lucas's Slip-N-Slide Records, Plies looks set to follow in the footsteps of hip-hop legends such as Trick Daddy, Trina, and Rick Ross. With a reality show in production and an eagerly awaited sophomore album (Definition of Real) due for a June release, the SoFla artist seems to have all of hip-hop under his spell.
Local quartet Black Tide has accomplished what few far-Kendall rock acts could ever even pretend to dream of doing. Within the past two years, they've been discovered by an A&R rep at a Florida music festival and been flown across the country as subjects of a major-label bidding war. They've landed a plum deal with Interscope and been duly carted off to Chicago to record a high-budget debut album. They've toured the States for half of last year's Ozzfest, hit the UK with hard-rock heavyweights Avenged Sevenfold, and then returned again to England to headline their own tour. They're heading out this summer as part of the megawatt Mayhem Tour. Can we blame them, then, for putting on hold those plans to finish high school? Yep, the old-school, thrashy metallers formerly known around the local all-ages scene as Radio boast an average age of 18. Frontman Gabriel Garcia couldn't even get a driver's license if he wanted to — the pint-size, long-haired dude with the ballsy wail is just 15 years old. He was a student at Claude Pepper — the elementary school — when he met the rest of the band, then-freshmen at Felix Varela High. Unable to legally play at most of the usual venues around town, the bandmates perfected their act by performing at house parties and the Kendall strip-mall spot Kaffe Krystal, until their first major break came at the 2006 edition of the Florida Music Festival in Orlando. Luckily they've got the chops to back it up: Light from Above, the band's first full-length, was released this past March to fanfare from national mags such as Spin and hard-rock bible Revolver. Its 11 tracks are a sucker-punch of true old-school heaviness, all Maiden'ed- and Megadeth'ed-out, a refreshing change in a sea of teenage bands wedded to their makeup kits. Forget that — the debut puts many of the peers twice their age to shame.
Exactly how much of the mysterious, greasy fellow known as José El Rey is a put-on? We don't know or care — and neither, apparently, does his rapidly growing legion of fans. His lo-fi renditions of tinkling freestyle and booming Miami bass, coupled with his flashy Miami Vice-era stage wear and rico suave sexual banter, cause unanimous commotion among the wildly mixed-up cross section of people in his audience. Old-school bros, roller rink queens, Wynwood hipsters — they all worship at the altar of this ladies'-man shaman. Seriously — so many girls jump onstage to shake their shit that El Rey's trusty security sidekick, El Tigre, often has to lay the smack down, for real. The king has scored shout-outs from Perez Hilton and a recent full-page interview in Maxim en Español, as well as an appearance (as part of the Miami Bass Warriors group) at the holy grail of local Latin culture: the Calle Ocho Festival. José El Rey loves Miami, and Miami loves him right back.
It started out silently — but violently — whispering through the speakers of local strip clubs and on in-the-know radio DJs' playlists. The voice flowing over the ridiculously hot beat declared, Shawty had them Apple Bottom jeanzzz. Then the T-Pain-crooned hook could be heard bumping out of Bentleys rolling down Ocean Drive, tricked-out Hondas roaring along Bird Road, and D'd-up Caddies cruising on NE 163rd Street. Boots with the fur. Soon the popularity of the song reached a fevered pitch and Carol City native Flo Rida was rockin' the MTV's New Year's celebration, rock prince Travis Barker was remixing the hit, and The Step Up 2 the Streets soundtrack was even getting "Low." The whole club was lookin' at her. This song, born in Hialeah-based Poe Boy Studios, broke ringtone sales records and rocked charts and iPods worldwide. She hit the flo'. Next thing you know, shawty got low low low low low low low.
With their infectious rhythms and dance-a-licious beats, Afrobeta's songs are classic yet modern, borderline underground yet so Billboard chart-friendly. Cristina "Cuci Amador" Garcia's pop sensibility resonates through a blend of bilingual proficiencies that even Shakira might covet, while Tony "Smurphio" Laurencio burns holes through his Moog keyboards with funky fire. It wouldn't be surprising to find Afrobeta writing songs for the likes of Madonna or even M.I.A. But for now, Miami is lucky to have the duo performing on a regular basis; the two are a match made in disco-house heaven.
PS14 is like the rec room that belongs to the coolest friend you had in high school (or the one with the most permissive parents). You can show up whenever, stay as long as you want (even past what would be your welcome at most other places), break things, and generally behave however you want, as long as it doesn't endanger others and you keep it within the room's confines. Plus there's a pool table, always a predictably weird cast of characters, and some great tunes you've probably never heard before. But seriously — PS14 is like an undepressing dive, where the surroundings are slightly tatty but the people are interesting and, often, cute. Maybe that disqualifies it from "dive" status and instead just makes it one of the most unpretentious, fun little holes keeping it real since before downtown was happening. Every night promises a different left-of-dial flavor, from rock en español to new electro and booty bass to forgotten rock nuggets to the infamous monthly zombie parties hosted by Notorious Nastie and Otto Von Schirach. And its, errrr, intimate size makes it feel like a private party when underground legends Little Brother and Jeru the Damaja decide to take the stage. Assholes and douchebags, stay away.
"Lemon Green Tea Martini," "Effen Black Cherry Cosmo," "Elderflower Fizz," and "Leblon Caipirinhas" are only some of the tempting concoctions luring cocktail lovers to this bar just off Lincoln Road. Already a must-stop on the gay and politico circuits, Halo Lounge is quickly becoming a favorite with straight locals looking for something a little out of the ordinary. While the drinks are colorful and complex, the bright, minimalist décor results in a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere. The low volume on the sound system allows you to actually listen to your date — whether you brought him along or just met him. (DJs turn up the volume a bit on the weekends, though.) The best thing at Halo might be what the place doesn't serve: a whole lot of tobacco smoke. Smokers have to saunter outside if they want a puff, while patrons inside enjoy fresh, clean air. Prices are about average for the Beach, but stumble by in the late afternoon for drink specials that will leave you thinking you landed in Cocktail Heaven.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®