Photo by Kacey Davis

Backroom Sessions Partners With the Fair for Its New Locals Stage

Last year, the Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition's Main Street Stage hosted a nostalgic concert lineup including TLC, Nelly, Ginuwine, the Sugarhill Gang, and others that proved a real treat for fans who grew up in the '90s and early '00s. New Times even deemed TLC's performance the best Miami concert of 2018.

Though no heavy hitters have been announced yet for this year's edition, the Fair is working to give up-and-coming local musicians a major platform. The Fair is unveiling its new Boulevard Stage, dedicated to local talent, and has teamed up with Miami's Backroom Sessions to program more than 45 hours of emerging acts.

Backroom Sessions is a roving music showcase that presents local visual and performing talent. The team, which recently celebrated the showcase's second anniversary, consists of Bause Mason (cofounder and codirector, as well as New Times contributor), Angelina Rivero (cofounder and codirector), Joe Blandon (director of photography), Lui Vigo (creative director), Robert Silva (creative director), Ariana Teran (head of visuals), and Susi Marz (event manager). Their mantra is “Putting the bottom of the map on the map,” and they'll be doing just that when the Fair returns March 14 through April 7.

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"When we got this opportunity," Mason recalls, "the very first thing I thought was, This is an opportunity to show off a lot of the young talent on the scene." The lineup, which includes New Times' recently dubbed best bands from Kendall, are mostly budding acts whose members are in high school or college. Says Mason, "The way we saw it is, most of us in our age bracket, we remember the Fair, we have a very nostalgic feel with the Fair from when we were kids, and most of us haven't been to the Fair in a very long time... The young bands, I felt they were the ones that would benefit the most from this. I feel like most of them are very hungry because they just started or they're young enough to still have fun at the Fair."

Catch a live show before you enjoy the rides and other attractions.EXPAND
Catch a live show before you enjoy the rides and other attractions.
Courtesy of Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition

Performances will take place nightly for an hour beginning at 6, 8, and 10 p.m., which will leave guests enough time to stuff their faces with extreme carnival foods and enjoy the rides and other attractions.

Mason and his team have worked with most of the bands during previous Backroom Sessions showcases and are familiar with their music and performance styles. "The next generation, they've really wowed me," he says proudly. "They're a little more, I think, secure in who they are; they're a little bit more confident in being themselves — it's very admirable. I feel like our generation is paving the way for them. It was a little bit harder for us to get off the ground, and we're kind of doing it for them, so I felt this was a really good opportunity to plug them into something else."

Asked about his showcase's mantra and the importance of supporting local music, Mason says, "Miami, I think, is next up. I feel that it's been boilin'; it hasn't fully exploded yet. There are little parts of the city that are already on fire, and it's just going to get ready to spread." He adds, "I think the reason we're next is because it's very saturated in New York and California, places traditionally people have felt they have to go in order to make it."

He credits Atlanta's successful music scenes to its collaborative creative communities. "I feel Miami is simmering with so much talent; we're just missing that collaborative feel. So I think by properly nurturing and giving this area the type of platform it needs, it can literally go to the next level." Mason is extremely passionate about the city's creative communities. He and a few friends opened Kendall's 1FiveTwo, an intimate coworking space aimed at connecting local creatives.

"I think a lot of people don't look at [Miami] like that yet," Mason says. "They still look at us like the beach or that travel destination or whatever it may be rather than a breeding ground for talent — how I believe that we are. By giving people a platform like the Fair, giving people a platform where they feel that they're of importance, it kind of builds that talent, it kind of builds that artistry, and it gives people the chance to grow, and I think that's the most important thing... With Backroom Sessions, I don't want to be the place that people talk about; I just want to be the place [where people think], Damn, I remember Backroom — that's where I started."

Photo by Sleeping Sparrow Photo and Ariana Teran

Here's the concert lineup so far (other acts will be announced soon):

  • Pear
  • Tides of Tomorrow
  • Remyz
  • Culture X
  • Cynfully Sweet
  • Supergold
  • Moonlight Sunrise
  • Ela
  • Mahogany Purple
  • Glass Orange
  • Cloud Pavillion
  • Rafael Teuxeira
  • The Mojo Hands
  • Leila Sunier
  • Tongue Tied
  • Lucas Lomonaco
  • Sweet Surrender
  • Eva Westphal
  • Loyal to a Fault
  • Beauty Lies Band
  • Peep
  • 1FiveTwo
  • SoulPax
  • Above the Skyline
  • Moving in Slow
  • Aurora Dream
  • The Vandertraps
  • MyFriendShawn
  • Clearwaves
  • Rich on Earth
  • Blossom
  • Midday Moon
  • Sid Blake
  • Kathy Lazo
  • The Treetop Band
  • Claudia Sings & Isis
  • Yung Americans
  • Band of Papos
  • Strictly Commercial

Backroom Sessions at Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition. March 14 through April 7 (except March 18 and 19 and April 1 and 2), at 10901 SW 24th St., Miami; 305-223-7060; fairexpo.com. Fair admission starts at $10 presale and $14 beginning March 14; opening-day admission costs only $5.

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