Program Notes 4

One of the coolest-vibe clubs on South Beach, one with extra friendly service and reasonable prices and a clientele made up of people whose company actually was enjoyable -- and one with excellent live local music -- has closed its doors. Blue Steel might not make news like the Stephen Talkhouse, but it sure made many people happy. It'll be missed.

Meanwhile over on the mainland, a club that gave plenty of worthy local rock bands a stage on which to perform, a club whose atmosphere was as real and true as an Iowa farm, a club that was in biz for five years, also has gone away. The Brickell Tavern. Not for a lack of business, but because the club operated under the same liquor license as a neighboring package-goods store that has moved. Owner Diane Berlin-Darsey says she's proudest of the fact that "so many bands with original music had a place to play. The music was always the best part of it, letting people express themselves." She says bands are still calling, asking to play the club. It'll be missed.

According to reliable sources, Tobacco Road is still open. This weekend the 82-year-old club (that's not a misprint, Pete, it's 82 years old) presents a Cajun-Zydeco blast with Sheryl Cormier tomorrow (Friday) and Fernest Arceneaux on Saturday. If you miss either, you can catch them at the Cajun/Zydeco Crawfish Festival at Mills' Pond Park tomorrow through Sunday (see "Calendar").

Slide guitar great Bill Wharton (who plays the Road May 26-27) is jetting from his North Florida pepper farm to France for a -- get this -- press conference. That's to promote the La Creusot bluesfest that takes place in Paris on June 29. Wharton will headline. The Wharton show at the Road taped in January will air on NPR's Bluestage the first week in June, and soon the Sauce Boss heads to New Orleans to tape a show with fellow blues guitarist Jimmy Thackery at the House of Blues for nationwide broadcast on the syndicated radio show named after that club.

Red Road rolls into Marsbar on Saturday.
At last report, Musicians Exchange is still open. Instrurockers Mosquito play there tonight (Thursday), and Kenny Neal tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday.

Acoustic guitarist-singer Bob Bonnen is playing every Saturday at the Smokeless Pub (in the Crossings at 13067 SW 112th St., call 382-1516). This is a strange venue -- you can drink but you can't smoke (unless I set you on fire). Bonnen says it's hilarious to see occasional mad dashes to the parking lot by the nicotine-addicted members of the audience.

Squeeze brings in Black Janet tomorrow (Friday) to perform in conjunction with the screening of a new short movie called Nicole Is Painting. Next Wednesday the club hosts Anal Cunt and Jack Off Jill.

Randy Ruffner and the rest of Johnny Tonite celebrate the release of their unpretentious, unadulterated rock album, Time of Arson, on Saturday at Rosebuds.

We hear that Churchill's Hideaway is still open and will feature the superpsychomindfuck Red Road with guest Rey "Conga Gay" Diaz and a band called Grooveyard tonight (Thursday). Tomorrow (Friday) the venerable club offers the Elysian, Loose Fragments (from Gainesville), and the Baboons.

On the 'zine scene: The new issue of Rational Inquirer features an interview with the Goops, a report from Croatia, an essay pitting vinyl against CD, and, in the book review section, an excellent take on Betty Page, in which reviewer Nelson Magana raves about the tome's masturbatory value. The new issue of The Voodoo Highway reports about local music shows on SHE and ZETA, profiles Death and several other bands, and, in a column, takes exception to all the hubbub surrounding the Talkhouse, which, I understand, has closed.

Tonight (Thursday) the Chili Pepper hosts the Beach High Musicfest, which features a few decent rock and roll bands: Avalon, Gramma Factor, Brothers of Different Mothers, Sabatella, Me, Suzy Creamcheese, Arlan Feiles Band, Milk Can, and Manchild. Sean Gould will front Brothers, then perform as part of the Arlan Feiles Band. Joel Schantz will front Milk Can, then perform as part of the Arlan Feiles Band. Floyd Freeman will perform with Suzy Creamcheese, then get in a fistfight with the Arlan Feiles Band.

So I'm looking at this music chart and here's who's on it: Offspring (passe), nine inch nails (boring), Veruca Salt (remember them?), Green Day (posers), Nirvana (dead), and the Nixons. Yeah, boy, from Oklahoma by way of Austin, the Nixons, making their major-label debut any minute with FOMA, rock Jessie's on South Beach tonight (Thursday). One of the most dynamic and powerful rock bands in the world, Cell 63, opens.

UM kids are graduating, so that means Day by the River will be making the trip down from Athens for another show here in the town where they began. This time it won't, uh, be at the Talkhouse. The River flows instead at Rose's, tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday. The band has been playing ten to fifteen gigs per month throughout the Southeast. They intend to take a break this summer to record a followup to the wonderful Shimmy CD.

South Beach is closed.