Arlan Feiles, of Natural Causes, on the stage of Stephen Talkhouse at the My Only Problem record release party, strumming an acoustic and singing the first verse of "God's Country" as beautifully, just tonewise, forget the emotion, as he ever has. To his left stood Rene Alvarez, the Forget the Name vocalist who combines technical precision and great range with soulful passion as well as any singer in the world, stepping up to sing the hell out of the second verse of Feiles's great American anthem. For the chorus Rene steps back from the mike and does this thing -- that's the best I can do here, folks, he does this thing -- and the harmony and the power and the glory remind you what this rock and roll stuff's all about. And they're maybe halfway through the song, and some shaved-head guy runs on to the stage and grabs mike number three and improvises a verse: Nil Lara. The three turn the rest of the song into harmony heaven. And by the time the silence fell and Arlan cut loose that killer break -- I don't know what the fuck it's for -- we all knew right there what the fuck it's for. Let me put it this way: After the song ended I stumbled outside and collapsed on the sidewalk. Literally. And I wasn't drunk or on drugs.
And while that may have been one of the most exhilarating moments in the history of rock and roll, the whole night burned. Earlier, in a separate show at Talkhouse, Magda Hiller used her gorgeous jazz-blues-whatever voice to drive wild a sizable crowd as she opened for Rich Kurschner. It took Kurschner all of two songs to bust a string. This guy plays with abandon, writes real smart songs like the one where a car is not some macho metaphor but a machine with working (or not) parts, and others where dreams are real and reality is a dream. He closed with a killer cover of the Replacements's "Unsatisfied," minus the angst.
Meanwhile, over at Coyote, Johnny Tonite was rocking their guts out for a crowd of approximately four people. Outside stood two members of the Goods (John: Your little quip made me feel really good about what I do for a living). Three members of the Causes walked past. There was more talent on that sidewalk than there is in most cities.
The acts at the Problem party were, without exception, brilliant. When R.W. Kingbird sang about playing 24 hours a day in front of a Publix you could imagine him doing just that. Joel Schantz's guitar accompaniment, and the six-string jams he and Kingbird teamed for, took the venerable instrument to new heights. They nailed it. I wasn't working, and I lost my pen anyway (Sandra: thanks for the assist), so I don't know from titles, but the second song in Karen Friedman's set is a major keeper. Cool guy Wurle B. Free and his anonymous, grooving rhythm section rode the big rock wave, and the Whistling Tinheads came through, too, with Chris DeAngelis using placards to illustrate "Homer Goes to Hollywood." When they closed with their Tinheads theme song even Causes drummer Jim Wall -- just hanging out at the bar on this occasion -- was singing along.
Look folks, this is out there, now, it's there for you:
Arena-worthy rockers Voidville cut loose at the Reunion Room tomorrow (Thursday). Falling Corpses open the show. Tonight (Wednesday) at Talkhouse Forget the Name will perform with a string quartet (including Debbie Spring!) and a horn section (do the letters F.O.C. mean anything to you?) and Albert Menendez on piano as a farewell show as they begin another, and their biggest, tour. The Miamiway Theatre has just started up a jazz series. Call 893-0005 for the scoop. Huge rave on October 30 (the new date for the holiday Halloween, apparently, being a Saturday and all, gawd holidays are a stupid concept) at the Oceanfront Auditorium on South Beach. Heard Melton Mustafa on WLRN-FM the other day -- what a guy, what a player -- and you can hear him jazzjam with his octet on Sunday at MoJazz Cafe. The Livid Kittens dream in color on Friday at Squeeze. Black Janet unmasks on Friday at the Button South. Lynne Noble and Rob Friedman do the duo thing on Saturday at Thai Orchid in Coral Gables (443-6364). Don't forget the pain-and-gore fest at the Cameo on Saturday A the Genitorturers and Marilyn Manson, truly scary stuff. Texas West roughs things up tonight (Wednesday) at Cheers in Fort Lauderdale. The Baboons monkey around at the Ambient Acropolis 2 event this Saturday at the Mud House and on Sunday, with Collapsing Lungs, at Reunion.
ESP Records, which folded in 1974 after releasing Sun Country's first album in 1969 and stuff by Sun Ra and Pearls Before Swine, is back and will soon re-release the Sun Country album. Sun Country is now and better known as Tiger-Tiger. They'll tear up the Musicians Exchange this weekend. Check out their new album, Tamiami Station, too.
To the extremely polite -- considering how offended he was -- young Cuban American who's been reading this paper for six years and was disturbed by last week's blather about El Ocho and whether you'd get a ticket for driving through marching mobs there: Sorry, bro. No, it wasn't a racist thang. If we wanted to get into that, we'd ask how many of those proud marchers secretly whisper in their hearts "yo no voy" even as they hum "cuando sali de Cuba, deje mi vida, deje mi amor." No, I don't really want to run over anyone with my car. Cuban, Haitian, North American, Martian -- the situation would've been just as absurd no matter ethnicity. Bizarre is bizarre in any language. And when I said "you folks are nuts," I meant South Floridians, not people of Cuban heritage. And you are. That's why I love ya.
Couple of quick follow-ups re: My Only Problem, things I forgot to mention. Much of the magnificent drumwork on the CD is by Jim Wall, and the fine engineering is by studio owner Vinnie Alibrandi. That's Arlan Feiles singing backup and Chris DeAngelis playing bass on Jonathan Blake's "Hide and Seek Woman." And, for all my non-Cuban friends, the translation of that line in the Tinheads song -- a la cama, a la cama santa pinga de puerco -- is roughly "to the bed, to the bed holy dick of a pig."
Over at WSBH-AM (1490) Stu Goldstein has taken over morning drive (6:00 to 9:00 a.m.). He says he'll be doing talk and shtick. Veteran record critic Lee Zimmerman will phone in reviews on Thursdays at 8:05 a.m.
Butthorn of the week: Um, that would be me. I really screwed up last week. No, not by running over marching Cubans. By hyping hard the Delmar Brown-Arthur Barron weekend at Rose's. Which is this weekend, not last weekend. Believe it or not, I actually work on more than one column at a time, plugging stuff in for the appropriate week, and sometimes I get way confused and screw up, although that's no excuse. Ay dios mio. Then again, I'm not the only media-ite who goofs. The other night WSVN-TV's Sally Fitz reported that Minute Bowl was coming to Miami. A high-speed toilet? A new video game? Some sort of rice? Closer to Glen Rice A Sally later corrected it to Manute Bol, the Miami Heat's new shot-blocker. And then there was this photo caption in a recent Tropic magazine: "Yakov presides over the circumcision of the Blank family's sixteenth child, a boy." A boy? God, I hope so.
The media circus: Congrats to my old friend Marty Klinkenberg (we went to school together back in the Thirties and worked together at the Miami News) and his wife, Elizabeth Leach, on the publication of their book The Green Guide to Florida by Country Roads Press. Marty, who chronicles the great outdoors for the Miami Herald, grew up in Miramar and has always loved fishing and naturing in Florida. It's a travel guide spotlighting natural environs and the adventures he and Liz have had there. The book is taking off, the Maine-based publisher says, with half the printing already ordered by bookstores. Grab a copy and get outta town.