Local Music

After a False Start 30 Years Ago, Miami's the Wind Gets Back in the Studio

Even those of us who have resided in these parts for a very long time — as in a few decades — might be forgiven for not remembering a certain local band from the ’80s named the Wind. Not that it wasn’t worthy of recognition — quite the opposite. By any standard, it was one of the best bands South Florida ever produced, but its sound — a clever combination of the Beatles, ELO, Cheap Trick, and other rock idols of the era — seemed wholly out of sync in a place where new and original music was sparse at best. At a time when the local populace was still caught up in the afterglow of dance and disco and witnessing considerable competition from the then-budding Latin music scene, the Wind’s ultra-melodic, easily accessible soft rock sound was destined for indifference.

The band's influences were derived from the usual suspects — sounds culled from classic '60s and early '70s AM radio, the music of Burt Bacharach, the Stones, the Kinks, Motown, early Elton John, and Steely Dan. Sadly, though, the group’s original incarnation was short-lived. After it formed in 1981, the trio — native Floridian Steve Katz (AKA Steve Barry), Miami transplant Steve Burdick, and Long Island native Lane Steinberg — managed to record only a single LP, Where It’s At With the Wind, in 1982, followed two years later by an EP, Guest of the Staphs, produced by Mitch Easter, the man behind the boards for R.E.M., among others. When Burdick left the band in 1988, the two remaining members added some new musicians for one final album, but shortly thereafter they opted to move on, trading South Florida for a new start in Queens, New York.

Steinberg and Barry each released various solo projects before morphing into a duo they renamed Tan Sleeve, releasing three albums, Bad From Both Sides (2004), American Blood (2005), and Too Big to Fail (2011), with Burdick occasionally joining his former partners along the way. It seemed only natural to give the Wind another shot, so a couple of months ago, the first new Wind album in more than 25 years made its way to the marketplace.

Looking back on their early experience, Barry suggests that initially the timing was less-than-ideal. “The '70s, which coincided with the latter part of our childhoods, was a low point for Miami glamour," he says. "The whole beach scene from South Beach to Fort Lauderdale was dead compared to both past and future decades. So there was kind of a faded glory about South Florida in the late '70s that inspired our appreciation for what we felt was forgotten: innocent pop music from the past.”  
At the same time, they were mindful of what was transpiring elsewhere. “We were in our own little bubble and going to used record fairs,” Barry recalls.” Each of us was writing songs that were influenced by the records we bought. The alt/punk New York, L.A., and London scenes seemed like a million miles away, and we were just having a blast, writing and playing new songs and dreaming. You could hear the energy and optimism in the music at that point.”

Despite the passage of time, the band members haven't seemed to have lost their initial enthusiasm. Consequently, the decision was made within the past year to record a fresh Wind effort, slyly titling it Re-Wind. For the moment at least, they’ve put Tan Sleeve aside and redirected their energies toward reviving the sound they started out with in the first place.

“We wanted to do a full-fledged Wind album with Lane and I writing some songs together and Steve adding one of his own,” Barry explains. “We figured, as long as we're all still alive, we should add at least one more album to the Wind catalog.”

Still, he admits that as far as the future is concerned, there’s no real plan going forward — no hyped-up reunion tour, no late-night television appearances, none of the usual over-the-top marketing campaigns that accompany long-delayed reunions.

“Things are pretty up in the air right now,” Barry concedes. “Making this album was a long-time project. The main problem is that Steve lives in Florida, so that severely limits our ability to function as a band. But I'm planning a solo album, and I'm hoping to have Steve play drums on several tracks and hopefully get some help from Lane too.”

He pauses a moment and adds, “This is really Tan Sleeve trying to sound like the Wind. But they do a pretty good imitation.”
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Lee Zimmerman