It's easy to fall victim to glitz and glamor. It's easy to see the big stars, the bright lights, the sandy beaches, or the half-naked wannabe strippers of Ocean Boulevard in hip-hop videos and think, "This is Miami."
Reality programming and big-budget Hollywood films portray Miami as a land of plastic obsession and high-rolling lifestyles. But every true Miamian knows the heart of Dade County is Hialeah.
Sure, Hialeah could easily boil down to Spanglish stereotypes and streams of bros, ños, and ¿Que Pasa, USA?. But to many, it's Miami's cultural mecca.
It's the home or birth place of several famous artists and musicians, like Henry Wayne Casey of KC and the Sunshine Band, Vincent D'Onofrio, Jon Secada, and Catherine Keener.
The country may have no idea about this artistic playground, but that doesn't mean the locals aren't out to celebrate it. This Friday and Saturday, Churchill's Pub will be hosting the longest running music festival in Miami, Hialeah Fest. Humbert's Tony Landa and Ferny Coipel started the celebration in 1994, mainly as a way to showcase friends' bands. Local bands are yet again the feature of Hialeah Fest as a mind-blowing 34 bands are set to play.
This year is especially important as Landa and Coipel, along with current Humbert drummer Izo Besares, reunite with vocalist Mark Ruiz to play together as long defunct I Don't Know, which was the predecessor to Humbert and one of Miami's most successful local bands of the '90s.
Proceeds from the event will be going to Manos International, a non-profit organization started by former Hialeah musician John Alvarez, dedicated to helping educate disadvantaged children around the world.
In the spirit of this celebration of the city of Hialeah, Crossfade contacted some of the bands playing the festival and asked them what Hialeah means to them. Their responses reflect the appreciation they feel towards the city that nurtured and cradled many an artistic ambition. You know, mainly because of cheap warehouse space.
Gaston de la Vega, Hit Play!
"I love Hialeah! There's definitely a sense of all for one and one for all. The guys of Humbert, who started this event, epitomize this feeling of genuine caring, loving, sharing and rock 'n' roll. Viva la ciudad de progresso!"
Jota Dazza, Radioboxer
"When we were starting some years ago, we felt like we didn't fit in any place. We started to record in Hialeah at The Shack North with Ferny and he asked us to play Hialeah Fest. Needless to say, we were thrilled. [But] I asked him if he realized that none of us were from Hialeah, grew up there, studied there, or in fact were too familiar with the area at the time. He told me, 'You guys record here, practice here, and have spent the better part of this year recording your first record here. You are a Hialeah band.' That really stuck with us. It means a lot to be welcomed somewhere, especially somewhere you want to be. The city has its own personality and makes things work its own way, which is something we try to apply to Radioboxer. Since the first time we played Hialeah Fest, there has not been one single concert in which we don't say with pride,'We are Radioboxer. And we are from Hialeah.'"
Juan Fernando Oña, Haochi Waves
"I love Hialeah! It's the closest you can get to being in a third world country without leaving the USA. I was shaped almost entirely by all my influences from Hialeah: Omar Garcia, Ferny Coipel, etc. It's where I learned all my tricks."
Ed Artigas, Planelifter
"If necessity is the mother of all invention, then Hialeah is the mother of necessity."
"Of course, Hialeah has had an impact in my life. I was born and raised there. It's made me who I am. Hialeah is interesting, because in a big way, its people embody the struggle for the American Dream. Many people see it as a Latin ghetto. But for me, Hialeah is a place where anything is possible and creativity is challenged daily. In Hialeah, people don't make excuses, they just make shit happen. La gente resuelve! Personally, this is what I've tried to take from my city of progress. I love Hialeah. It and its people together, they have taught me everything I know."
"I've been to Hialeah, to the Cafeteria Santeria, I shared an empanada with the Chupacabra, and bought a haunted harmonica at the local botanica. When Hialeah's a rockin', don't come a knockin'!"
Ferny Coipel, Humbert
"Traffic doesn't suck any worse than any other part of South Florida. It's not scary, we do have a few nice yards, we have loads of talented residents, some cops are bi-lingual, and it's the only city in Florida with no parking meters. This is only a few of the many reasons why Hialeah kicks ass. And this is why we will be debuting the new HIALEAH KICKS ASS t-shirts at Hialeah Fest. They really are cool.
"Once people visit Hialeah, they can walk away with a better understanding of its charm. I've lived it, seen it happen right before my eyes."
Hialeah Fest featuring Humbert, I Don't Know, Hamerhed, Pink Garcia, Radioboxer, Electric Piquete, YOYOXO, Black Jacket, Low Visibility, Stop The Presses, Medina, Franklin's Wheel, Haochi Waves, Leo Valencia, The Holstered, Planelifter, Lavola, Riot Agents, ico?o, Death Becomes One, Dear Darling, The Bum Hips, Morning War, The Deadly Blank, Goodbye Pluto, Phineas J Whoopie, Mind You, Brand Name Punk, Luna D' Lunes, Miles Fink and the Revelators, In Habit, F, The Mirrors, Anderson Council. Friday, October 21, and Saturday, October 22. Churchill's Pub, 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami. The festival starts at 9 p.m. each night and tickets cost $7 with proceeds benefitting Manos Internacional. Call 305-757-1807 or visit churchillspub.com.