Program Notes

As you probably know, the national concert-tour business is in worse shape than my liver. Volume this year is down some 30 percent, which explains all those illogical package tours (Sisters of Mercy on the same bill as Public Enemy?) and other tricks of the trade, such as a Warrant-Trixter-Firehouse metalfest with tickets in most markets capped at $13.

Everybody and his homeboy has a theory about the decline. Some say the problem is that the studs - your Bruces, Michaels, Princes - have been absent from the circuit. (The biggest moneymaker for the first half of this year, according to Pollstar, was the Grateful Dead, followed by ZZ Top and Bell Biv DeVoe. Yes, Bell Biv DeVoe!) Others blame it all on the recession. Another villain is MTV and the generation of couch boulders it's bred. I prefer to blame the outrageous cost of a concert: You'd better budget $100 to take a date to a big-draw show. Ironically, industry sources say, clubs around the nation are thriving with live-music formats.

That makes perfect sense to me. Why spend a yard to sit in a giant arena and hear heart-not-in-it stars walk through tired sets? For the light show? Smoke machines? Cram it, buckwheat. Few if any acts in the nation can top a Goods time at Churchill's, or the Mavericks burning up Island Club, or other local bands kicking it out at places such as Washington Square, Cactus Cantina, Tobacco Road, Bedrock....

You can get in for a Lincoln, drink to your kidney's content, see a def show, move around without getting yellow-shirted, and still have change left over from your $100 bill. Try it: Tonight (Wednesday) the Holy Terrors tear up Squeeze. This Sunday at Button South you can see Yak Man and the Burning Bushmen. Washington Square will be recording several acts for a live CD the next four days, and also hosts Green Day, with Quit and Milky Filth, Sunday. Saigon Kick, yet another area band with major-label status, plays Summers on Saturday.

And then there's the Island Club itself. I desperately want to like this South Beach joint, but it ain't easy. Rude door people, a clientele prone to yammering, shabby acoustics - I'm just not comfortable there. The recent Mavericks marathon was amazing, as long as you stood near enough to the stage to hear the MCA band's wild Latin-country-rock jams. The Island has also launched an acoustic -sorry, unplugged - night, Tuesdays. This Thursday's "Underwater Ball" is devoted to the Everglades Earth First! organization. I'll give the club this much - it serves Rolling Rock.

For a real twist, check out the Rock Box, a warehouse space at 10772 SW 190 St. A one-night (Saturdays only), the recently opened Box this week stages Emerald Steel, a "progressive, medieval, heavy metal" outfit. Call 252-3272 for details.

The many-clubs-in-a-theater Cameo presents a bit of both worlds with trendy Jesus Jones closing for the Goods on Thursday.

The next edition of Lee Zimmerman's Tuesday evenings "The Business of Music" course at Palmetto High begins September 3. Get the biz by calling 235-1360.

Nestor Torres is such an all-around fine human being who's endured such devastating physical trauma that it would be blasphemous to say something bad about his second major-label release, Dance of the Phoenix. That's okay -there isn't anything bad about it. Listen to other big-time flutists working in the jazz-Latin-pop realm - Alejandro Santos, for example - and then listen to Phoenix. Nestor's the one, folks. His new album is now available at better record stores. In September the local fave travels to New York for a celebration and performance at the Blue Note. His next Miami concert is November 27 at the Knight Center.

Butthorn of the week: Jesus Jones. They can take time to sign autographs for fans at a record store - Peaches on South Dixie Highway tomorrow (Thursday) at 3:30 p.m. - but they couldn't be bothered to spend a few minutes chatting with Suzan Colon for a New Times feature. I could care less about JJ, but they had no good reason for not taking the time to inform their fans through this newspaper. The folks in the glass offices tell me that 200,000 people read this rag. Wonder if that many will show up during the one-hour in-store at Peaches?

The media circus: A little more than a week ago the Miami Herald's "Action Line" published a letter from a woman who went to a store to pick up a ring she was to give her husband that night at a party. There was a mistake and the item wasn't available, but store managers later obtained it and drove it all the way to Fort Lauderdale in time for the celebration. Very nice. And somewhat surprising in today's hurried world. The woman closed her missive with this: "I was as shocked as I was happy. I'll be honest with you. I am black and I thought they wouldn't bother with me." So who still thinks this is 1991?