Local Heroes

18 Wheelers
If the notion of a revved-up rockabilly band specializing in pure Southern honky-tonk seems somewhat out of sync with South Florida's tropical leanings, then perhaps we ought to remind you that this isn't the first country combo molded in Miami. The Mavericks were regulars on the local circuit, serving up tears for beer-drinkers in the late Eighties and early Nineties before heading to Nashville, where they eventually staked their claim to fame and fortune.

Whether or not the 18 Wheelers will follow that same route remains to be seen. But if their debut CD, the aptly titled Songs from the Road (recorded live at Tobacco Road, natch), is any indication, these four good ol' boys are every bit the real deal. Drawing their repertoire from well-worn Americana standards -- rockabilly raveups and redneck anthems written by Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, Tom T. Hall, and Carl Perkins -- and a handful of like-minded originals to boot, the Wheelers rail on about hard-drinking losers, heart-breaking women, busted lives, and withered affairs.

The 18 Wheelers are in the studio prepping a set of home-grown material, but as the live album indicates, they're at their most down-home when trucking onstage. Catch the group's upcoming rig ... er, gig ... at Churchill's and see for yourself. -- Lee Zimmerman

The 18 Wheelers, Jim Wurster and the Atomic Cowboys, Southern Flaw, and Two Story Doublewide perform at 9:00 p.m. Friday, May 21, at Churchill's, 5501 NE 2nd Ave. Tickets cost $6. Call 305-757-1807.

Little Steven's Rockin' Garage
If you're not watching The Sopranos on Sunday nights, then chances are that you're listening to Steven Van Zandt's other gig, Little Steven's Underground Garage. Broadcast locally on Big 106 (WBGG 105.9 FM) from 10:00 p.m. to midnight, it's for the discerning ear with a love for good fuzz and Farfisas, offering the best in garage rock before, as Little Steven says, "the machines took over."

It's not all nostalgia and dusty old 45s, though. Recently Little Steven teamed up with Dunkin' Donuts in hopes of drawing newer bands out of the garage for a little friendly contest, Little Steven's Rockin' Garage. After stops in East Coast cities such as Boston, Philadelphia, and Providence, the regional competition works its way down south this Friday to I/O, where twenty bands are scheduled to take the stage. Five bucks will get you performances by the Hairy Buzzard Gizzards, the Heatseekers (full disclosure: I play bass in the Heatseekers), the Creepy T's, Southern Flaw, and headliners the Crumbs. Each band gets to play two songs; you get to decide who wins and goes on to the New York finals in July. -- Terra Sullivan

Little Steven's Rockin' Garage takes place at 9:00 p.m. Friday, May 21, at I/O, 30 NE 14th St. Call 305-358-8007.

Frankie Knuckles
Chicago's "Godfather of House" spends 75 percent of each year on the road DJing in clubs spanning the East Coast to the Far East. So A New Reality, his first album of original material (i.e. not a mix CD) in over seven years, is a welcome treat. It's one that befits his big title. Unlike an overwhelming amount of house music out there, the album places its emphasis on strong songwriting and live instruments without relying on samples, managing to capture a slice of Knuckles's club performances through sounds such as cheering and clapping.

Expect to hear highlights from A New Reality (including the recent single, "Bac N da Day," which features his first collaboration in almost twenty years with deep-throated vocalist Jamie Principle), along with both freshly minted and inarguably classic selections. A fierce groove is the only prerequisite. -- Tamara Palmer

Frankie Knuckles, Sheldon Prince, Vaughan Lazar, and Jon Huang spin at 10:00 p.m. Saturday, May 22, at Nerve, 247 23rd St, Miami Beach. Call 305-695-8697.

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