Back in the '70s, when Joe Collado was a boy living in New York City, he was lucky enough to witness many of the greatest percussionists in the history of Latin music. It was during that time when Collado — taken in by the rhythms of Fania legends such as Ray Barretto and Mongo Santamaria — decided to become a real life conguero. So he began practicing and soon developed an exceptional style that mixes salsa with other popular styles such as reggae, Latin jazz, and even some good ol' rock 'n' roll. The past decade has seen Collado honing his skills around town with his superb group, the Latin Groove Project. He also moonlights with the exquisite Galo Rivera Band and a Santana tribute group. A truly creative percussionist, Collado has even played with some international salsa superstars, including the legendary Angel Canales. Never one to forget his salsa roots, and clearly passionate about his craft, Collado and his captivating congas will definitely lift you into a paradise of exotic rhythms.

Join us live, all stream-of-consciousness style, as we browse the MySpace page of local electro maven Kentsoundz, AKA Kent Hernandez. Oh, look up there in the music player. There's his well-loved tune "Not Goodbye" with folkster Raffa Jo Harris. It reminds us of those simpler times when we first heard the warm vocals of a more twee-inclined singer against the gentle electronic swells in the Postal Service. Except, unlike "Such Great Heights," we will never tire of this song. Ah, and here's a new one: a banger called "Jungle Fever" with singer/rapper Jason Scott. Let's take a look at the top friends: Junc Ops, his postapocalyptic rap project with PG-13; Tree Sounds, his soulful group with singer Treesa; as well as Cuci/Soundz, Sleepsoundz, and Inner City Bonfire, all projects Hernandez has been a part of. Unlike other hyper-collaborators, he's not hiding his musical shortcomings behind a constant stream of guest stars and side projects. Kentsoundz is the real deal and brings the best to whatever project he's working on.

Honor Roll Music

Around the turn of the 20th Century, the New York City songwriting collective that came to be known as Tin Pan Alley turned out some of the most memorable hits from that era. Sixty years later, the Brill Building housed legendary songsmiths such as Carole King, Burt Bacharach, and Neil Sedaka, whose output is something of legend. Fast-forward to present-day Miami and you'll find a similar songwriting force taking shape at Honor Roll Music — part label, part creative force for hire, all located in an unassuming white building in Little Haiti. Honor Roll and its founders — Nick Scapa and J. Reade Fasse — have amassed a roster of local notables including Awesome New Republic, Nick Kruge, Bob LaDue, and Dead Hookers Bridge Club (many of whom are graduates of UM's Frost School of Music). They've scored commercials for big campaigns such as Geico, State Farm, and Visa. They also created the score for Cocaine Cowboys II and placed songs in prime-time TV shows. Perhaps their catchiest collective effort to date is ANR's latest single, "Birthday." Originally shopped around as a single for a pop chanteuse (Gossip Girl's Leighton Meester infamously recorded a demo version), the infectious tune features writing contributions from all over the Honor Roll family. Some detractors might dismiss it as a songwriting factory, but if this is what they're capable of, we can only hope they make the assembly line work faster.

Die-hard Ramones fans will readily admit it doesn't take a lot of technical skill to faithfully reproduce the New York punk rockers' power-chord assault. What it takes, though, is a kind of scrappy joy that revels in that simplicity and harnesses it into a slap-happy party. South Florida's Rockit to Russia has plenty of that, as well as a near-obsessive devotion to the Ramones oeuvre. Not only have the members individually renamed themselves as Ramones (i.e., Nicky Ramone), those Ramones then, uh, play the real Ramones (i.e., Nicky Ramone as Joey Ramone). Heck, the guys of Rockit to Russia have even commented on New Times' music blogs in "character" (think, typing a lot of "Gabba gabba hey!"). You have to admire that kind of dedication and also the musicians' equal-opportunity spirit. They're quick to point out on their MySpace page that, among them, they speak Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, French, Italian, and Japanese — perfect for all of your multiculti Ramones booking needs. Hey, ho, vamonos?

This quartet's appellation is as plugged-in, fuzzed-out, and likeable as its lo-fi garage punk.

Best Band to Break up in the Past 12 Months

The Remnants

Since the Remnants' inception around 2004, the foursome had been a live favorite across the South Florida rock-dive circuit. The group was a grimy, swinging, rock 'n' roll outfit, led by firecracker frontwoman Cynthia DuVall, that described itself — quite appropriately — as "the Who fronted by Tina Turner." In fact, in 2005, New Times awarded DuVall Best Female Rock Vocalist, describing her as "the ass-kicking, sass-spewing, rock-star love child Janis and Iggy never had." Alas, day jobs and other real-life concerns led the Remnants to finally call it quits last year, giving South Florida a little less maximum rock and soul to go around.

It's been a good year for South Florida's quirky local indie darling, Rachel Goodrich, what with a glowing shout-out from the New York Times this past November and her official debut appearance at South by Southwest in the spring. It was all well deserved and timed with the October 2008 release of her debut full-length, Tinker Toys. Like the actual Tinkertoys, the album is sophisticated in its simplicity and a whole lot of fun. A real lover of whimsy, Goodrich eschews the typical singer/songwriter guitar in favor of a wider swath of instruments, applying liberal doses of harmonica, banjo, mandolin, ukulele, xylophone, and even kazoo. She toys with her voice as well, shifting from a breathy whisper to an almost bluesy sigh, sort of like Billie Holiday gone twee-pop (just try to imagine it). Rather than insufferably charming, though, the result is mentally indelible. For all her faux-naif trappings, Goodrich is an astonishingly mature crafter of melody, able to cinch clever wordplay and slightly hippied-out narrative into a recognizable pop structure. Occupying a rare creative space between the experimental stylings of acts such as CocoRosie and the polish of VH1 faves such as Sara Bareilles, Goodrich should soon rightfully take her place as South Florida's Next Big Thing.

The underground metal cognoscenti revered the 2005 self-titled debut album by heavy hometown heroes Torche for its melodic take on sludgy sounds. But it was last year's followup, Meanderthal, that won the band a wider audience and even more critical praise. (And even though at the time the album was recorded, half the musicians lived outside of their hometown, we'll still claim 'em.) Torche kept the down-tuned riffage cranked to 11 but at the same time explored more left-field influences, with shades of My Bloody Valentine and Sonic Youth brought to the fore. It earned the group prime-time slots at a slew of international festivals, as well as glowing reviews from Mojo, Spin, Pitchfork, and pretty much every other magazine. On a bittersweet note, the record is also the last capturing of the band's classic lineup; guitarist Juan Montoya, who wrote a large chunk of Meanderthal's riffs, was booted last year. Luckily, the album remains as evidence of Miami's best recent heavy exports in their prime.

South Florida had two kinds of rock aficionados in the '80s: those who whined about the barren wasteland before them and those who thanked their lucky stars for a musical oasis named Charlie Pickett. In reality, the scene wasn't quite that bad, but mention Pickett to a roomful of veterans, and you'll find a diverse assortment of grateful fans. Whether they liked the blues, punk, country or straight-up rock 'n' roll, there was Pickett (and various friends) grinding out a wicked set of originals and covers that pleased everyone. Thirty years down the pike, Pickett still owns the stages around town, and now he has a new anthology: Bar Band Americanus: The Best of Charlie Pickett and... It serves up a warm introduction to long-out-of-print hits and other great moments from Pickett's distinguished career as a Miami institution. It's a must-have for any local music connoisseur. Yet as great as this CD is, the fury and fun of a live Pickett show don't quite translate to vinyl or plastic. It's at the bar where it all really kicks into overdrive. Pick up this gem; then go see Pickett play.

Best Music Festival to Die in the Past 12 Months

Langerado Music Festival

The sudden cancellation of the Langerado Music Festival this year was one of the sadder events of the local scene. Critics, however, would say it was expected. Long ago (well, in 2003), Langerado began as the brainchild of hometown promoters Ethan Schwartz and Mark Brown. At first, it was an informal jam-down at the smallish Young Circle in Hollywood. By 2005, it had blossomed into a two-day event at the larger Markham Park in Sunrise. But it was still an informal jam-down based on communal camping and dancing till the wee hours to tripped-out sounds from the likes of Umphrey's McGee and String Cheese Incident. Later years saw the festival grow even larger in attendance and length (three days). It also became more inclusive in its musical lineup, inviting a host of indie-rock (Vampire Weekend, the Walkmen) and even hip-hop luminaries (Beastie Boys, the Roots). The jam-band crowd, however, fretted that the festival was losing its original soul, and all message-board hell broke loose when organizers announced the 2009 edition would take place in downtown Miami. There would be no camping, and the lineup would be decidedly less jammy — its headliners including acts such as Snoop Dogg and Ryan Adams. The result? Poor ticket sales — so poor that Langerado pulled the plug barely a month before the assigned date. It remains unclear whether it'll bounce back in time for a 2010 edition. Langerado, we hardly knew ye.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®