Barracuda Taphouse & Grill

When it comes to keeping it classic, Barracuda Bar & Grill in Coconut Grove does it right in every sense of the word. Instead of succumbing to the futuristic, flat-screen jukebox mounted on a wall, Barracuda owner Lee Kessler opted for a more nostalgic, bulky box with a dash of technology. It's equipped with a touch screen offering thousands of songs. If the track you want isn't on the playlist, the jukebox goes online to find your tune. "I think this bar lends itself more to a traditional-style jukebox," the 38-year-old Grove native says. "It's worth the four square feet of space it takes up." Kessler purchased the bar more than a year ago to ensure that Barracuda remains an institution in the neighborhood in which he grew up. Popular with the college crowd, this watering hole has been serving suds and greasy bar food since 1995. Since then, the tavern — decorated with wood salvaged from an old Florida shrimp boat — has been a staple for locals and tourists to eat, drink, and play. The food menu features Barracuda's famous sandwich of fresh snapper or mahi-mahi on crisp garlic bread, along with a large selection of bar favorites. Grovites can attest to the friendly staff, local history, and attractive happy-hour specials. It's an ideal spot to play beer pong and billiards while crooning to the sweet '80s glam-rock sounds of Whitesnake or dropping verses from '90s gangster rap like Dr. Dre's The Chronic. "During the day, people play more classic rock," Kessler says. "At night, when we get a younger college crowd, the selection is more bass and hip-hop music. It definitely varies."

Shots Miami

Shots Miami might be best known as the spot where you have to wear a sombrero, sing a song, or otherwise embarrass yourself in front of your friends before pounding some liquor. But there's another reason you should know this Wynwood joint: Thirsty Thursdays, when $3 and $4 shots can be had all night long. In a city where the average price of a shot is $10, the $3 to $4 price (plus $1 tip — always tip your bartender) can't be beat. Soon after downing three or four of these appropriately priced drinks, you'll forget where you put your dignity, strap on an inflatable prop, and dance around the table. As the master poets of LMFAO once said: "Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots! Everybody!"

The Voice continues to grow louder. What began as a pirate radio station in 1967 has become one of the most powerful college radio stations in the nation. And we mean "powerful" quite literally. Last fall, WVUM, the University of Miami's student-run station, underwent a massive signal boost, which means listeners can tune in from up to 30 miles away from the Coral Gables transmitter. That upgrade doubled the station's reach, and it can now be heard as far north as Fort Lauderdale. Watt quantity is nothing without quality, though, and WVUM remains on the cutting edge. Sure, new students filter through every year, putting their own unique stamp on the station, but for more than a decade the Voice has favored an eclectic playlist that embraces everything from folk to electronic to world. It's a station that kicked the stereotype that college radio plays only forlorn indie rock. The staff's eclectic music taste fittingly remains as diverse as the community it serves.

The walls at Audio Vision Studios are pure gold and platinum. Owned and operated by brothers Ron and Howard Albert, along with TK Records alum Steve Alaimo, this North Miami operation and the dozens of hit records, framed and hanging in the lobby, are monuments to Miami music history. Throughout the '60s and '70s, Ron and Howard, longtime local studio pros who were recently inducted into the Florida Music Hall of Fame, were chief engineers at Mack Emerman's legendary Criteria Recording Studios, shaping songs and albums by the Rolling Stones, the Allman Brothers Band, Eric Clapton, the Bee Gees, Barbra Streisand, Kenny Rogers, Dionne Warwick, Dolly Parton, and Crosby, Stills & Nash. Meanwhile, Alaimo was holed up at TK's Hialeah shop, producing and polishing the funky disco and smooth soul sounds of KC & the Sunshine Band, Betty Wright, George McCrae, and Bobby Caldwell. And now, 40 years later, Ron, Howard, and Steve share Audio Vision, where superstar clients such as Lil Wayne and other local hip-hop heavies cut Top 40 rap tracks. "I think we have 40 gold records to our name," Howard once told New Times, "and about 30 or so platinum." Of course, there's always room for another dozen.

With an ever-thickening catalogue of raw offerings from Leroy "Big L" Brown, Sex Sells, S.K.A.M., Sishi Rösch, and a bunch of other hard-core party boys, this 305 label is all about that deep and dirty booty-tronic sound. Run by filthy EDM genius Jesse Perez (AKA the musical mind behind "Dejen de Comer Tanta Pinga," "We Get Fucked Up," and "Interracial Booty Calls"), Mr. Nice Guy Records has a simple priority: ass-clapping! "Been grinding on all types of females since I was 5," Jesse once told New Times. "I used to get thrown out of United Way school dances for dry humping." But even if the track titles and related come-ons are raunchy as hell, Perez and his crew's stroke is smooth and sophisticated. "I just look for real talent, no phonies," Jesse says. "We push a very distinct sound from what everyone else is doing. Some call it hood house or gangsta house. I refer to it as ass-clapping music or bump 'n' grind." It's sticky. It's stanky. It's real. Or in the words of the boss: "No hype, no all-American smiles. Just talent and dick length."

Traditional radio is boring and predictable. Your music-discovery engine needs a swift kick in the ass — a jolt even. Just turn off that old FM receiver and plug into the constant stream of melody on JoltRadio.org. Playing the best in local, national, and international jams, this is homegrown internet radio you can enjoy all over the world. It drops indie, dance, classics, hits, and anything with a progressive sound. Tune in and you'll catch anything from !!! to the Shins, Grimes to the Magnetic Fields. Even though an internet base makes Jolt global, it represents the 305 in everything it does. Its website offers an in-depth look at all of Miami's happening bands, producers, and musicians, plus a calendar of events cataloguing the best live music in town. You can even stay up to date with artist-of-the-month spotlights. Give Clear Channel a rest; it's making plenty of cash without your car radio. Get involved with your city and your community instead — all by listening to some great tunes.

LIV
Courtesy of LIV

How can anyone fill an 18,000-square-foot club night after night after night? Ask David Grutman, the man behind Miami Marketing Group (MMG). After cutting his teeth at Tantra and the Opium Group, Grutman started MMG and later launched the Fontainebleau's LIV in 2008, creating one of the most talked-about and hard-to-access nightclubs far from the pulsating heart of South Beach. But when you have the iconic Fontainebleau as your home, it's not exactly difficult to draw the well-heeled clientele needed to sustain such a massive space. To prove he wasn't a fluke, Grutman partnered with the Fontainebleau for its second nightlife space, Arkadia, and then launched Oro Nightclub at the Hard Rock Hotel in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. But his biggest success to date might be Story (136 Collins Ave., Miami Beach), which is located in a troublesome spot that's seen many endeavors come and go. So far, at least, it seems to be a runaway success, borrowing cues from downtown Miami's nightlife (more relaxed door policy, riskier bookings, more dance-music-oriented) along with South Beach staples (bottle service, beautiful girls, and elegant décor). What's next for Grutman? Who knows. Whatever it is, put your money on a hit.

Metro Zu has a message for the galaxies, and it's available on all of their 39 — yes, thirty-nine — wildly experimental albums: Art over everything. Between Lofty305, Ruben Slikk, Freebase, Mr. B the Poshtronaut, and a universal gang of allies, the Zu collective has generated a rapidly accelerating interest in the sound of young Miami by reaching out and making fans through the cyberwebs and through touring the world's capitals in physical reality. Just because they rhyme words over beats doesn't make their music rap. And just because the music is electronic doesn't mean they're robots. By surfing the collective consciousness of wholly improvised lyrics on an ocean's worth of ever-shifting beats, they're creating a tsunami of musical energy that's just about to crash ashore.

It's a tough racket being a DJ in Miami. In a nightlife capital that moves to that uhntz-uhntz beat 24/7, there's bound to be a constant surplus of hungry wannabes fighting over gigs for their measly share of the limelight. Only genuine talent, hard work, and dedication set apart the pros. Take Miami clubland mainstay Jason Baez, known professionally as BAEZ. After patiently and diligently working his way up in the competitive local scene since the late 2000s, BAEZ has emerged as the go-to DJ for practically every promoter of underground house and techno nights in Miami. There are few DJ booths in town he hasn't graced, and he's opened for some of the biggest names in the game, including most recently Maceo Plex and Damian Lazarus at Club Mansion. There's also the matter of BAEZ's own Sub-Motus parties, which bring serious international bookings to Miami every month, and his budding work as a producer with releases on labels such as Wehppa and Deep Tech. In short, BAEZ has risen above the noise by being the hardest-working DJ in Miami, without ever compromising his commitment to pushing underground and cutting-edge dance music.

Gramps
Photo by Alex Markow

Finding a DJ in Miami who still hauls a crate full of vinyl from gig to gig is as rare as stumbling across a mint-condition, lost '70s funk classic wedged under your grandma's couch. But there is one DJ who won't give into the ease of Traktor, Ableton, and other spinning software. DJ Benton, AKA Benton Galgay, has an insane encyclopedic knowledge of music that comes only when someone is whole-heartedly devoted to worshipping the cult of vinyl. He's spun everywhere, from Electric Pickle to Grand Central to Bardot, but currently calls Friday nights at Gramps home. From Kraftwerk to Talking Heads to the latest DFA release, Benton's mixture of the old and new always seems to be a crowd pleaser. And while there are plenty of other DJs in the city with name recognition and aspirations of a Skrillex-level career, Benton seems perfectly content to DJ as an exercise in musical education for those within earshot. If you wander into Gramps and can't find him, don't worry: He probably just disappeared behind the decks for a moment to rummage through his crate.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®