Miami Beach native and promoter Jose Pulido is all about passion. His enthusiasm is clear in the way his eyes light up when he remembers the "golden age" of Miami's rock scene — of which he was a dedicated part — and the intensity with which they sadden when discussing the unexpected loss of his best friend Stephanie Whitener two years ago. He'll combine two of his great loves on the stage at Churchill's Pub in Little Haiti this Friday with the concert Miami Rocks for Love, which will feature classic, Miami-bred acts such as Forget the Name, Diane Ward, Matthew Sabatella, and Manchild.
After a long absence from his hometown, Pulido has returned, ready to stir up the scene. "I'm back here to make it fun again!" he exclaims. In 1996, the young promoter found himself in Atlanta managing British alt-rock band Muse and touring with Collective Soul and Luscious Jackson. But after that, he transitioned out of the industry for 13 years to work as a headhunter for civil engineers.
Now Pulido is all about revitalizing Miami's aging rockers. He wants to shine a light on artists further along in their careers, way out of the garage but still as vibrant as ever.
Another longtime Miami promoter involved is Woody Graber, president of public relations firm Woody Graber & Associates, who was co-owner of the legendary Miami Beach live music spot Stephen Talkhouse, which thrived from 1992 to '97 as a haven for acts such as Forget the Name, Nil Lara, Manchild, and Diane Ward. Graber remembers the same vibrant scene Pulido recalls.
"It was like a growth area for local bands," Graber recollects. "Jose is putting together this great concert, bringing together the history of the rock-music golden age in South Florida."
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Miami Rocks for Love will offer an eclectic mix of music while also honoring the foundation formed to honor the memory of Pulido's late friend: the Stephanie Whitener Love Heart Trust Fund. Proceeds from the show will help fight inequality by distributing funds for the education of underprivileged kids who have lost a parent.
Pulido loves the songwriting and the talent of the Miami community, as well as the fact that everyone here supports one another. The show will feature people who have been performing in Miami and around the world for years, such as singer/songwriter Diane Ward. There will be plenty of one-offs too. Bob Marley's nephew Charles Mattox will perform "Redemption Song" with Rene Alvarez and Diane Ward. Nuclear Valdez's Robert LeMont will do a David Bowie "Heroes" tribute. He'll bring in a young country musician whose father, it turns out, went to the same elementary school Pulido attended.
"I've had a lot of fairy-tale moments with this concert," Pulido says. A dedication to his late friend will include a surprise for her husband and toddler — candles and a song they used to sing together in the car, the Smiths' "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out."
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"It's going to be a bunch of musicians spreading love through their music. These are musicians who have beautiful hearts," Pulido says. He's thinking of doing more one-off shows and maybe even record releases under the company name Tiny Sounds — it's already a sponsor of the Hollywood Film Festival.
Graber adds, "This concert is sort of the impetus for more shows down the line. This is like the first step to making a scene," one that features all kinds of acts, "but with a respect for the history of live music in South Florida."
8 p.m.-Benay Pugh
8:05-Charles Mattox with Rene Alvarez and Diane Ward
8:10-David Bowie Tribute Heroes Robert LeMont, Rene Alvarez, Bueno Demetrious
11:45-Forget the Name
Miami Rocks for Love with Forget the Name, Diane Ward, Brian Franklin, Jim Wurstler, Matthew Sabatella, DJ Carlos Menendez, and others. 6 p.m., Friday, February 26, at Churchill's Pub, 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-757-1807; churchillspub.com. Admission costs $10 at the door, and proceeds benefit the Stephanie Whitener Love Heart Trust Fund.