Jeff Fritz has left Drive Choir. As you may know, all local bands break up as soon as New Times writes about them. Fritz is heading to Atlanta to front his own group. "I still don't quite get the vibe down here," says Fritz, "but I'll miss the obvious bright spots -- Rat Bastard, your columns, Churchill's, the other open-minded establishments."
Here's a scene to visualize in your mind: Marilyn Manson, members of Saigon Kick, and Julio Iglesias crossing paths at Criteria. The Manson family and the Kick were finishing up their new albums -- Saigon's will, a source says, be titled Water and will feature Jason on vox. I have no idea what Julio was up to.
Watch out for the La Brea Stompers, this Saturday at Churchill's. They're from Athens -- Georgia, and I have to point that out. They sound nothing like most of what comes out of the hilly college town. All local funksters -- check it out. All local hard rockers -- check it out. Blues and rock fans (and especially players) -- you, too. The Stompers do it all, inviting plenty of comparisons. I'll pass, thanks, but from an advance listen to their upcoming album, I'll recommend seeing 'em highly. One and all. Also on the stage that night: the Elysian, I Don't Know, and Sway.
I had the pleasure of catching I Don't Know -- not to mention Natural Causes and Broken Spectacles -- at the Cactus Cantina on Saturday. As Causes guitarist Joel Schantz -- bopping furiously to Know's accordion-laced punkbillycorepop -- put it: "These guys are freakin' pathetic!"(Pathetic, for those of you out of touch with the lingo, means excellent.)
Fresh from wowing the Sunsplashers in Jah-make-yah, Le Coup plays Washington Square for the first time in three years -- it's this Sunday. (And thanks for the postcard, guys. Yeah, I wish I was there.)
Due back soon: Vandal. They've been corrupting L.A. for a couple of months and hooking up with a major producer. They'll be around town this fall for shows and recording sessions.
Like the people themselves, more and more music is escaping Cuba. Albita Rodriguez, who sought political asylum in Miami a few months ago, resurrects the traditional Cuban folk sound of guajira, a rural form that had long been forsaken by the island's younger generation. The k.d. lang-en espanol stylings of 30-year-old Albita helped change that, until she herself abandoned the sinking Castro ship. This Saturday she performs at Stephen Talkhouse, followed by Nil Lara and Beluga Blue.
I won't say much about the concert of the decade, because it already happened and you missed it. The Charlie Pickett and Three, the Chant, and the Goods at Churchill's went way beyond the wild blue yonder right into nirvana. Thanks to Jim Camacho for letting me sit between his legs during one song so I could see how John Salton -- who had his back toward where we were sitting -- was getting those impossible sounds out of his old Marauder (that's what my brother Chuck says it was). And one more note: Any of you who can specifically identify that Neil Young reference in the Chant's "Perfect World" get your name in this space. Call me.
Another major show that you can still experience: Carla Hall, Second Son, and Natural Causes at the Talkhouse this Friday. (Voidville was, as of press time, off the bill. Apparently Diane Ward is still having throat trouble. As more than one person has said to me recently: God, I hope she's okay. We need that voice.) Hall has an excellent if melancholy tape out. Second Son is celebrating the birth of their First Born tape. Natural Causes? Never heard of them. Actually I should note that the Causes will play an extended set (don't they always?) to fill the Void void. The Causes have recently rocked venues ranging from a bookstore to Chili Pepper. (Yes, Chili Pepper. I can't even imagine.)
The Brown Talkhouse Curse is apparently real. Greg Brown -- probably the greatest singer-songwriter of all time A was petitioned and prodded by local fans to play down here. He skedded a March 13 appearance at the Stephen Talkhouse on South Beach. The Storm of the Century hit, trapping Brown in the Carolinas. Two weeks ago he was slated to play the other Talkhouse, in the Hamptons. His route required him to take a ferry. He had a ticket. The ferry was overbooked, he couldn't get on, and had to cancel. Beach Talkhouse spokesfolk say they hope to have the master play here next spring, which means the end of the world must be near.
Gary King & the Dream spend the weekend at Bimini Boatyard in Fort Lauderdale. Call 525-7400.
Butthorn of the week: Me, for one. I tried to plug myself (for a change, ha!) last week. But I wasn't on a radio show on 1400 AM. It was 1490. Hope you heard it anyway. Also, a butthorn to whoever's responsible for the empty bottle in the six-pack of Busch I bought recently at the Varadero on NW 7th Street and Red Road. Another to my pal Deborah Wilker of the Sun-Sentinel for her whining about H-Town's sexy stage show at the Ohio State Fair or whatever the hell it was Wilker was babbling about this past Friday in her column. Deb has always been a guardian of family values, but Ohio? There's plenty to censor right around here, kiddo. And you slow, rubberneck drivers on South Beach...in fact, everyone on South Beach. In fact, everyone. You're all butthorns. I think.
The media circus: Leonard Pitts, Jr., update. We mentioned a few weeks ago -- incorrectly as it turned out -- that Pitts was departing the Miami Herald. Actually, the daily was hiring a second big-gun musicrit. Pitts has been away, but no one believes he's going to the New York Times, as rumored. (Okay, so I'm starting the rumor myself, so what? Someone told me the Times wooed him, but he'd spent so much time, money, and effort putting up storm shutters that he couldn't accept the offer.) Herald features honcho Steve Sonsky continues to apologize for not yet hiring the new person and promises an announcement soon. We'll keep you posted.
Pet corner: A shout-out thanks to Ana and gang for naming their new dog -- a cute (is there any other kind?) little black pup I've actually met -- Kinabaker, at least partially in my honor, if having a dog named after you is, in fact, an honor. I think so.