Dear Tamara,Ever since the first time I laid eyes on you, I knew one day the celestial gods would bring us together. Every time you twist a knob or scratch a record, it's as if you are gently caressing my body with your skill and knowledge. We become one on the dance floor; I hope someday we can consummate our love to the bass-heavy track of your choice. I have the Overthrow — the nightlife collective founded by Alexis Mincolla and Samuel Baum — to thank for finally persuading you to play more local gigs on the regular. Now your hometown has discovered what people in far-flung areas such as Turkey and Mexico already know: You are beyond awesome behind the decks.Love,Your #1 Fan
DJ Skidmark's chosen name on the decks might be puerile, but his musical selection is anything but crappy. A tried and true punk rocker of a certain age, he was around for the genre's mythical golden years in the '70s and '80s. Some 30-plus years on, he's still carrying the torch for punk rock: fast, loud, sloppy, and loose. A onetime DJ on Fort Lauderdale's WSRF 1580 AM, the Detroit native now plies his trade live, spinning in dives around South Florida. A staple gig is — where else? — at Little Haiti's Churchill's Pub, where he often chooses vintage vinyl nuggets to set the mood between bands' sets.
Dan Martin arrived in sunny South Florida on the usual serendipitous winds that blow people here from all over (in his case, frigid Wisconsin) a few years ago. Back then, he was known as DJ Doormouse, and he scared the crap out of people. One of the pioneers of an underground American scene of noisy, experimental music, he churned out the kind of confrontational sounds and unpredictable performances that made him huge in places such as the Netherlands and Belgium. But all that DJing involved late nights full of smoking, drinking, and bad posture, and by his early 30s, it was taking a toll. Martin recalled his past as a top-level amateur track athlete and soon threw himself as intensely, eccentrically into fitness as he had done with music. These days, he's co-owner of a scrappy but rapidly growing Crossfit gym on the Morningside-Little Haiti border, where he leads his new fans in hoisting barbells instead of record crates. While you can still catch him DJing at a few low-key venues such as the Vagabond — sometimes even with a gas mask on to filter out the smoke — his most exciting residency is definitely in the weight room.
John Gregory II, the not-so-jerky guy known as Somejerk, isn't exactly a new face on the local underground electronic music scene. But only in recent months has he finally garnered his deserved accolades. He is no dubstep trendy-come-lately. Rather, he boasts roots in the earlier genre form that produced dubstep: drum 'n' bass. While d'n'b fizzled out and everyone moved on to cornier music, though, Somejerk kept mining the low end and biding his time. Then he began quietly releasing his own dubstep mixes and productions. These days, he stands apart from the crowd by not always going for the heavy rinse-outs. Instead, Somejerk sometimes bombs the bass. Then he wanders into the subtler points of a surprisingly variable genre. Either way, we're always happy to go along for the sonic journey.
Casa Tua
It is exclusive, extravagant, and posher than any other karaoke party in Miami. But if you can make it upstairs to the second floor of Casa Tua's private club on a Wednesday evening, you'll be in for a helluva night. Here, socialites, minor European royalty, and celebrities belt out international classics such as "The Girl From Ipanema" and "Volare." Botoxed singers are accompanied by a drummer and a DJ, who keep the caterwauling at bay. One night, we witnessed Emilio Estefan take over the bongos. The talkative crowd didn't seem too excited about this impromptu jam session, but we rocked out to his Latin beat. Upstairs, other famous patrons have included Marisa Tomei, George Hamilton, Boris Becker, and Priscilla Presley. No word on whether they participated in karaoke night. The décor is sumptuous and reminiscent of a chic nightclub in Italy, and the visitors are truly international. Drinks are crazy-expensive, and there is a gourmet lounge menu (caviar, anyone?), but the real draw to this members-only space is watching drunken blue bloods tackle karaoke after too much gin. And like karaoke anywhere in the world, pretty it ain't. That's probably why Casa Tua hosts this soirée only once a week.
The Fish House
In a drab Kendall strip mall, right in front of Porky's Gym II, hides a jazz open-mike night that would make WLRN stalwart Len Pace proud. Every Thursday, a different South Florida jazz band jams until midnight on the stage in the backroom of this Cuban seafood joint. By 7 p.m., the nautically-themed room fills with goateed guys sporting berets and carrying harmonicas in their pockets. No reservations needed, and no cover at the door. Better yet, no signup for the open mike. Papa Joe, the avuncular musical director, rules the jazzy alcove like a benevolent overlord. When he sees a regular who can sing, or someone who's brought an instrument, he'll invite them up to jam. And the food is cheap too: The late-night menu includes 99-cent garlic bread, two-for-one $3 Buds, and $7.99 chicken wings. All of that would be enough to set the Fish House apart from every other open-mike in the county, but it actually hosts two other nights: Wednesday is reserved for rock, and Mondays for blues.
The average man is a fragile creature cursed with an overactive inferiority complex. And guys who happen to be comics are even worse. So when they run into a chick who's better than they are in almost every way, it's like dream date and nightmare all rolled into one. Meet local lady standup Jessica Gross. She's almost six feet tall. She's pretty. She's funny. And if that isn't enough to force her male cohorts into paroxysms of fear and pleasure mixed, Ms. Gross is also a brutal truth-teller. She out-dudes the dudes, running the show at the Miami Improv and Sweat Records' Casa de Haha while tossing off jokes about hilariously dumb stuff like poop, midget boyfriends, and half-assed karaoke. She'll even let all of you bros know you're nothing but a tool to tickle her urinary tract infection: "And you thought that pretty lady with the pink drink was bumping and grinding on you 'cause she liked you. Nope, she was working a scratch out on your leg." Tall, cute, zany, and possibly afflicted with a UTI... Where does Jessica Gross go from here? Network effing sitcom. Or at the very least a Vagisil commercial.
Purdy Lounge
Are you one of those people who love doing their Tony Montana imitation for friends at parties — even though it's essentially butchering an already butchered rendition of a Cuban accent? Perhaps you have or at one point had a poster of Al Pacino's pivotal antihero gracing your walls. Or maybe it's a lifelong dream to seamlessly work into conversation a line such as "Manolo. Choot dis piece of chet!" Well, if any (or heaven forbid, all) of the aforementioned describes you, there's really only one place you should spend your time imbibing. And that's the northwest-of-SoBe institution Purdy Lounge. Head to the backroom and enjoy your tequila shots or Jäger bombs to the vista of Frank Lopez's iconic palm trees and sunset wallpaper while listening to everything from current hip-hop to the B-52s' "Love Shack." Ask for Steve-O, Dan, or Cary, all of whom are the shiznit.
The Fillmore Miami Beach
Photo by Jason Koerner
Three years ago, concert promoting giant Live Nation took over the historic Jackie Gleason Theater, celebrating the opening with a concert by Ricky Martin. Though there was some initial grumbling about the theater's corporate control — and its choice of a first act — most skepticism has fallen away. While the new Fillmore Miami Beach preserved the exterior of the old Gleason Theater, on the inside, it is a distant relative to the old venue. This new version is darker and sexier, a place where you might actually want to hang out rather than suffer through yet another production of The Nutcracker with Grandma. Where some acts would previously have been routed north to Broward County, they have been trickling into the Fillmore instead. In fact, just during the past six months, the venue's booking has really begun to cook, with names such as Wilco, Band of Horses, and the Arctic Monkeys all playing in a spectacular April.But the future of the Fillmore hangs in the balance. Miami Beach commissioners have agreed to hear a proposal that would raze the theater and turn it into yet another hotel. At the same time, Live Nation posted a loss again on the venue — and that might repeat next year. A grassroots campaign is underway on Facebook; search for the group Save the Fillmore at Jackie Gleason Theater. Music and culture fans of all stripes are banding together to sway Beach commissioners. If the hotel plan is approved, it would be a major blow to both historic preservationists and those with hopes for Miami's position as a music hub.
In a splintered local musical climate, Day-Glo duo Afrobeta is beloved by all. The band can credit some of that to its members' varied musical pedigrees. The duo's instrumental mastermind, Tony Smurphio, has tickled the ivories for Latin-scene staples such as Suenalo and Bacilos, and even Pitbull. Frontwoman Cuci Amador has earned major hipster cred with her cartoonish style and has even laced a track for reggaeton group Calle 13. Then add sonic confections that straddle many genres and spin them into something futuristic. Sometimes Smurphio's synth lines squiggle and thud with the best vibrations of Miami bass; other times they head for a sweeter, almost radio-friendly electro lite. Amador goes for sassy, almost-rap spitfire; then lets out a freestyle-esque, lovelorn sob; and then goes for all-out next-wave pop princess. No matter the direction of individual songs, though, it all comes together in a sweet form that goes down easy and makes locals proud that the band continues to rep Miami in ever-widening global circles.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®