Program Notes 17

Summer is the lean season. No good shows. Nothing happening. There isn't one song by a South Florida artist good enough for commercial radio to play. Local music sucks.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, it's the last day of July, the dead-hot center of summer, and Charlie Pickett and the MC3 are ripping through a daedal set that concludes with a version of "Phantom Train" that flattens me like a penny on the tracks. No matter how self-effacing Charlie is later in the parking lot, the performance was a steamer -- guitarist Johnny Salton at his most tasteful and tasty, drummer Cortland Joyce crisscrossing the patterns like he really cared, Marco Pettit in the role of jazz god on bass, Charlie violently twisting the keys on the head of his guitar to create superpsychedelic effects. Brilliant stuff. Ask my wife. Ask Ray Roberts. Ask Rat Bastard or Rob Coe or Jim Camacho or Tony Oms. Just don't ask Charlie.

Rock and roll at its apex -- you won't find it on local radio (unless you're lucky enough to be able to pick up WVUM-FM) or on the national charts or on MTV -- but you can find it again at Churchill's this Saturday when the greatest rock band of all time takes the stage there for the first time in two years. And if you've seen the annual Miami concerts performed by the Chant (see "Calendar") in the past, prepare for something completely different. "We're hoping not to push our luck," Chant bassist Jim Johnson says by phone from Atlanta. "'Here come those guys again.' We actually rehearsed more than once for this one, and we'll be playing two new songs I wrote and one new one by Walter [Czachowski], plus stuff we haven't played in more than six years. We hope it'll be refreshing, not just for the people who come out, but for us, too." I don't know. During the Eighties, when the band was based here, I saw the Chant live approximately 10,000 times -- in living rooms, rathskellers, big clubs, little clubs, in a van -- and I was always eager to see them again. And again. Once a year is hardly enough to satiate anyone, Jim. Forever I'll never forget that Valentine's Day show years ago at Flynn's, a night when it was 50 degrees weatherwise and hotter than the surface of the sun musicwise. Heck, I'll never forget plenty of Chant concerts. Though the members now play in several different bands, they occasionally reunite for Chant shows, including one this past March in Georgia. It was the night of the Storm of the Century. "A few people got in the club before they started charging the cover," Johnson says. "Pat Johnson was supposed to join us, but he was in Tennessee and they wouldn't let him cross the border because of the storm. We made seven dollars that night." Drummer Joe Hamm had moved back to South Florida, but hurricane ramifications have sent him back to Atlanta. The reason for this trip -- besides satisfying the Chant jones of South Floridians -- is to help Hamm finish relocating. The boys, including guitarist Greg Smalley, will bullet down, play, zip back up. So let's not let em offstage with fewer than five encores. Also playing that night are the aforementioned Charlie Pickett and company and the Goods.

Showjobs: Life on Mars lands at McFly's tonight (Wednesday) and at Washington Square on Saturday. Next Tuesday Voidville and Black Janet double up at Stephen Talkhouse. The savage ones -- Pete Moss and Randy Ruffner, known as Johnny Tonite -- have added Rob DiAco (guitar), Clint Lewis (bass), and Arthur Neil Ashworth (drums) to the lineup and will play McFly's this Friday. Ruby Baker and the Future play Bimini Boatyard Bar & Grill on Friday and Saturday.

Now that everyone's finished mourning the demise of Broward rock anchor the Reunion Room -- it's closed! another blow to local rock! the scene is doomed! -- the club is back. Tomorrow (Thursday) there'll be a reopening party with Love Canal. On Friday it's Collapsing Lungs, Saturday features Dore Soul and the Baboons, and on Sunday Mark Scandariato hosts an acoustic evening.

Also coming back -- Amboog-a-lard returns for a live show on Friday at the Plus 5 in Davie.

Fatal retraction time again. In a "Music" story last week I mentioned Natural Causes's Bomb in the Shelter CD. Hey idiot, says band manager Keith Schantz, we never released a CD. Whoops. Maybe I got confused because there's a Causes tune on the Washington Square CD and another on the Naked Rhythm complilation CD and I only have Bomb on a "proof copy" advance cassette. Okay, you stupid moron, Schantz says, here's the rap: "Bomb in the Shelter never came out on CD. After two pressings the cassette is sold out. In January we will reissue Bomb as a CD with bonus tracks, including one of the songs we recorded with legendary producer Tom Dowd. There's so much demand for product." As for me, I'll take it in any configuration. The Causes perform at Borders, the new bookstore at 9205 S. Dixie Highway, on Saturday at 8:00 p.m.

Back from Nashville, Mary Karlzen plays the opening of Borders on Friday. Tomorrow (Thursday), Karlzen debuts her new band (and some new songs) at the Talkhouse. Jim and Jonelle open. Her new video, currently in production, is for "I'd Be Lying."

I'm sick of hearing about the Red Hot Chili Peppers and their search for a new guitarist (look under the bridge, guys, shoot for the top). Apparently Brent Jest from the Itch did not get the gig. And now he's out of the Itch as well, which leaves the band in the same boat as the Chilis. If you're a serious musician ready to be signed to a deal and would like to audition for the Itch, call 922-8400. If you'd rather play for the Chili Peppers never mind.

Speaking of getting signed, sources say Purple Mustard is on the verge. They'll play a special showcase on Monday at Stephen Talkhouse.

The Brickell Tavern hopes to raise some money for diabetes research next Tuesday, when the cool neighborhood rockspot hosts a dart tournament, beginning at 4:00 p.m. Food and fun and a good cause, if you get the point.

The deadline for the Billboard Songwriting Contest is August 31. For info, call 918-627-0351.

Butthorn of the week: WPLG-TV (Channel 10) News. Historian Paul George was interviewed at length by the station recently. He was wearing a New Times cap. When the clip aired on the news, the top of his head was cropped out of the frame so you couldn't see his New Times cap.

The media circus: Our spies inform us that Spy magazine has dispatched a team of investigative reporters to revisit the recent "Program Notes" item involving John Detrick, Linda McCartney, and hot dogs.

More media circus: Kirk Biglione, writing in The Realist, brings up one of my old arguments about censorship, namely that if anything should be censored, it's the Bible, where you find rape and murder and genocide to spare. Biglione points out that Texas psycho David Koresh found his main inspiration in the book of Revelation. Biglione says that any bible containing the Revelations should carry a warning sticker and be shrink-wrapped to keep minors from being exposed, and that the Good Book should be sold only to those with proper indentification. If the Bible was a rap album, you can bet people would be trying to ban it.