Program Notes 34

Yeah, so there's this thing, like when you ask someone if they like a certain song, say Joshua Kadison's "Jessie" (yo, Brother Chuck, check it, that's the best I can do to plug the tune you turned me onto 'cause I think it's overproduced, but it's nice, bro, a tinge smarmy but elegant), and they say "I like it" or "I don't like it" when what they should really say is whether they "get it." I get "Jessie" whether I like it or not. I first heard that one from Mr. Billy "The Man" Mann (update: last time I talked with him he was in New Yawk dancing with the big dogs) about a year ago. "You heard the new Tonto Tonto?" Billy would ask. "Do you get it?" Now it's damn near a cliche. And frankly, I don't get it.

What I don't get is what the hell's going on in this city. Okay, so you don't know what the hell was going on in that first paragraph. Call it even. And call it totally fucked. But not. Like confronting -- or even tasting -- your molester, you know?

I get phone calls all week long from editors at national magazines and major-label A&R dogs interested in South Florida's rock. Oh, kids, we have us such a great damn scene, Miami rules. But not rocks -- I've confirmed through three primary sources that it's out of limbo, there will definitely be no Miami Rocks convention this year. The organizers took a financial beating and they got tired of it. Don't blame them. Blame the masses -- you get what you deserve.

And South Florida's most successful (in terms of national visibility and selling records) rock band, Saigon Kick, has broken up. Original members have been leaving to form their own bands for some time, but the Kick persisted on Jason's shoulders. No more. Several reliable sources say that during the group's recent tour the whole thing went kaput.

I also hear that SoFla's prime local-rock recording studio, the venerable Sync, is temporarily without quarters, out of the Lincoln Road spot. The producers who form the co-op continue to work on projects at other studios (Rat Bastard is on vacation and couldn't be reached for comment) until new digs are found. Big scary stuff, kids. Get it?

The scene is dead. Too much tragedy to go on. And the kicker is I don't care, because right now I'm in that other world, the one without promoters and distributors and MTV and bullshit, the one where Rooster Head is on stage ripping out rock for drunken angels, guitars screaming like tortured children, drums skittering like a stone shower on a frozen pond, the bass dancing on fire, the pure power of essential rock music unbound. And then it's near the end of the set, and the Roosters whip out their joyous Xmas ditty, "Mr. Lampshade's Violent Christmas," and the members of the Goods jump on-stage (Kasmir playing this reindeer-bell percussion instrument and Jim shouldered next to Wlos just...), and Julie from Zen Dog and Bongo God Hawn and who knows who else, and the chorus comes down so hard A everybody sing along A a whole lot of joy. Glenn Richards, just back from the goodnight Saigon Kick tour, is hosting and when he walks up to the mike he says, "Boy, I'll sure miss playing that song this Christmas." Get it? Glenn used to host this local-music show on WSHE but WSHE knew way before the rest of us that nobody cares about rock made in Miami...

...excuse me. I was interrupted by an A&R exec phoning from Private Music in L.A. to ask me about all this great rock and roll in Miami she's been hearing about... anyway Glenn doesn't have a show, so he won't be able to turn people on to "Mr. Lampshade," but you can get it on their new cassette Tasting Your Molester.

During the Head's profound and moving set, Kennedy forgot a few words. That was only one of many highlights. Vullo played bass and Cook played drums. Tillman was on another planet, zoning, meltdown. And Bob Wlos -- the best, the very best.

There was trouble. This was the Swelter Records party. It was one of the best biz parties I've ever been to, and I've been to plenty. Eiseman and Blum and Sammons worked their tails off, and the results they're still resounding three days later. Clang rules, but they're from Tampa, so who cares?

The Goods played one of the best sets I've seen them play, and I've seen them, what, 6000 times? I remembered that time 30 or 40 years ago. The Goods were playing Who's in the Grove and me and a couple of my brothers were going up the escalator while John was coming down. John said something about where's my brother and I said, "These are my brothers. This one's Chuck and that one's Roger and Doug's not here tonight." "No," John said, "my brother, Jim. It's time to play and we can't find Jim!" At the Swelter party, the Goods rolled out the hard stuff -- "Roaches" hurt my throat, and when they went to "Fucked Up," Kennedy joined them on stage and lent the song even more vigor and raw emotional strength. Fucked me up. In the middle of the fury, the Goods whipped out that gentle acoustic thing I saw them do at Churchill's, so beautiful, like a sincere prayer.