Program Notes 34

Yeah, so there's this thing, like when you ask someone if they like a certain song, say Joshua Kadison's "Jessie" (yo, Brother Chuck, check it, that's the best I can do to plug the tune you turned me onto 'cause I think it's overproduced, but it's nice, bro, a tinge smarmy but elegant), and they say "I like it" or "I don't like it" when what they should really say is whether they "get it." I get "Jessie" whether I like it or not. I first heard that one from Mr. Billy "The Man" Mann (update: last time I talked with him he was in New Yawk dancing with the big dogs) about a year ago. "You heard the new Tonto Tonto?" Billy would ask. "Do you get it?" Now it's damn near a cliche. And frankly, I don't get it.

What I don't get is what the hell's going on in this city. Okay, so you don't know what the hell was going on in that first paragraph. Call it even. And call it totally fucked. But not. Like confronting -- or even tasting -- your molester, you know?

I get phone calls all week long from editors at national magazines and major-label A&R dogs interested in South Florida's rock. Oh, kids, we have us such a great damn scene, Miami rules. But not rocks -- I've confirmed through three primary sources that it's out of limbo, there will definitely be no Miami Rocks convention this year. The organizers took a financial beating and they got tired of it. Don't blame them. Blame the masses -- you get what you deserve.

And South Florida's most successful (in terms of national visibility and selling records) rock band, Saigon Kick, has broken up. Original members have been leaving to form their own bands for some time, but the Kick persisted on Jason's shoulders. No more. Several reliable sources say that during the group's recent tour the whole thing went kaput.

I also hear that SoFla's prime local-rock recording studio, the venerable Sync, is temporarily without quarters, out of the Lincoln Road spot. The producers who form the co-op continue to work on projects at other studios (Rat Bastard is on vacation and couldn't be reached for comment) until new digs are found. Big scary stuff, kids. Get it?

The scene is dead. Too much tragedy to go on. And the kicker is I don't care, because right now I'm in that other world, the one without promoters and distributors and MTV and bullshit, the one where Rooster Head is on stage ripping out rock for drunken angels, guitars screaming like tortured children, drums skittering like a stone shower on a frozen pond, the bass dancing on fire, the pure power of essential rock music unbound. And then it's near the end of the set, and the Roosters whip out their joyous Xmas ditty, "Mr. Lampshade's Violent Christmas," and the members of the Goods jump on-stage (Kasmir playing this reindeer-bell percussion instrument and Jim shouldered next to Wlos just...), and Julie from Zen Dog and Bongo God Hawn and who knows who else, and the chorus comes down so hard A everybody sing along A a whole lot of joy. Glenn Richards, just back from the goodnight Saigon Kick tour, is hosting and when he walks up to the mike he says, "Boy, I'll sure miss playing that song this Christmas." Get it? Glenn used to host this local-music show on WSHE but WSHE knew way before the rest of us that nobody cares about rock made in Miami...

...excuse me. I was interrupted by an A&R exec phoning from Private Music in L.A. to ask me about all this great rock and roll in Miami she's been hearing about... anyway Glenn doesn't have a show, so he won't be able to turn people on to "Mr. Lampshade," but you can get it on their new cassette Tasting Your Molester.

During the Head's profound and moving set, Kennedy forgot a few words. That was only one of many highlights. Vullo played bass and Cook played drums. Tillman was on another planet, zoning, meltdown. And Bob Wlos -- the best, the very best.

There was trouble. This was the Swelter Records party. It was one of the best biz parties I've ever been to, and I've been to plenty. Eiseman and Blum and Sammons worked their tails off, and the results they're still resounding three days later. Clang rules, but they're from Tampa, so who cares?

The Goods played one of the best sets I've seen them play, and I've seen them, what, 6000 times? I remembered that time 30 or 40 years ago. The Goods were playing Who's in the Grove and me and a couple of my brothers were going up the escalator while John was coming down. John said something about where's my brother and I said, "These are my brothers. This one's Chuck and that one's Roger and Doug's not here tonight." "No," John said, "my brother, Jim. It's time to play and we can't find Jim!" At the Swelter party, the Goods rolled out the hard stuff -- "Roaches" hurt my throat, and when they went to "Fucked Up," Kennedy joined them on stage and lent the song even more vigor and raw emotional strength. Fucked me up. In the middle of the fury, the Goods whipped out that gentle acoustic thing I saw them do at Churchill's, so beautiful, like a sincere prayer.

So many cool people turned out for the Swelter party: Tovar (thanks for the ride home, my brother); Ralph Cavallaro (Quit is not breaking up, Addy is healing and the others are committed to resurrecting the band; Ralph will soon move to New Yawk to create music-biz computer thingies); the members of Young Turk (gosh, a Miami band that's been signed by two major labels); Island's Joe Galdo, a legend; Matt and Ed and Dave from Broken Spectacles; Steve Hack from Big State Distribution; the guy from Third Wish; Jason Gordon from WVUM; Fritz from Excessive (buy their CD, for chrissakes); Jen (local-music show host on, I mean WVUM); Jen Birchfield from JAM; Nil "The Fish Man" Lara; Ferny from I Don't Know; Keith Schantz (I forget what he does) and Lee and Mindy although I didn't see any of the Causes guys (or gal); Jim Murphy; Jeff Lemlich; Jim and Jonelle along with their friend Warren Hicks of MSI; Robin Simon; Rob Gelbman; some guy named Billy with the killer; Rich Ulloa; oh, Christ, who am I forgetting? Plenty. But you get the picture. Those who I forgot, do something, I'll put your name somewhere.

Speaking of pictures, I got photos that night of Kennedy having extremely kinky sex with Sandra Schulman on the patio over by the pay phones. As if Mr. Kennedy weren't in enough trouble already. Eiseman broke the news to me: "Can you believe this guy?" Well, no. Eiseman explained that Kennedy did something really stupid A posting a flyer in record stores hyping Tasting Your Molester A at the same time the band is receiving all kinds of support toward signing a big major-label contract. Eiseman had to go around and undo Kennedy's propaganda blitz. What did the flyer say, you ask? Well, I'm no censor. I don't want Rooster Head to sign a big major-label contract because that would mean fewer live shows in South Florida:

"Wanted: People to purchase the new album by local supergroup ROOSTER HEAD. Along with each purchase you will receive a large vial of anal drippings supplied by the band and their mothers respectively. The first 500 women or transsexuals to buy the album will get a vigorous clit massage with a hard bristle oven brush. The first 450 men will have their testicles cut off, they will then be sent to Lampur for a very sacred testicle torching ritual. And finally anyone under 18 regardless of sex will be sodomized until rectal bleeding occurs."

Grammar needs work, but I get it. After their set Kennedy told me that Rooster Head is breaking up. Bob Wlos was sickened and disgusted and revolted by Kennedy's advertising methods, and if he heard one more thing about it he was outta there. So I'm standing in the back of Stephen Talkhouse with Wlos on one side and Kennedy on the other. "Tell Bob anal drippings are a good thing," Kennedy whispered in my ear. "Hey Bob, anal drippings are a good thing," I told Bob. "Depends on who's licking 'em," Wlos spat back before stomping off in a rage.

Mike, you'll never get to heaven if you're sodomizing God. Does anybody out there get it?

Oh, one problem with Swelter party. The copies of the CD A 48:06 -- weren't ready. The manufacturer in Texas received a huge emergency Xmas order from some major label, delaying the 48:06 order. God, is that fucking perfect?

I don't know, but several of these scenester types -- not to mention Michael Lacey, one of the owners of the sprawling New Times corporation, who visited Miami a few weeks ago -- came up to me and said, "I really like what you wrote about your father and your family. Touching et cetera." So my mom and dad, who moved to South Carolina a few years ago, are doing fine. Brother Rog came over the other day and helped me fix my car. Doug's working for the City of South Miami now. Chuck's listening to Joshua Kadison.

And what else is going on?
Day By The River plays Beatles covers tonight (Wednesday) at Stephen Talkhouse.

Nil Lara and Beluga Blue's new CD, My First Child, will be released this week and the band will smoke the Talkhouse on Sunday. Street buzz has it that some other local superstars will jam with Lara and company that night.

Swelter Records honcho and band manager Michael Eiseman and his wife Anna celebrated the birth of their first child just two days before the Swelter bash. It's a boy (six pounds and eight ounces, twenty-and-one-half inches) named Austin Scott Eiseman. Congrats.

Zen Dog plays East 50th Rock and Roll Cafe next Tuesday.
Oh, at the Swelter Records party, Edison Shine opened the showcasing with a rock-ass set, but they're from Tampa, so who cares.

Big CD release and performance and party for Nancy Hartline and the Rhythm Republic this Saturday at Musicians Exchange. R&B and blues and jazz.

The club that's opening up Mid Beach (north of South Beach, natch), Blue Steel, opens up its microphones every Tuesday for an acoustic jam beginning about 7:00 p.m. Zac and 7 are the hosts, so you know. The low-attitude joint is at 2895 Collins. Call 672-1227.

Day By The River plays country swing pop tonight (Wednesday) at Stephen Talkhouse.

Tonight (Wednesday) Valerie Archon and Muse play Squeeze.
The subject of a New Times feature story and a follow-up "Music" story in which he said every single local musician sucks, Billy Yeager is up to new tricks. Fed up with having to deal with Chris Blackwell's personal assistant, rather than big-shot Blackwell himself, Yeager sent said personal assistant a blank cassette as his demo. Huh? the personal assistant responded. Huh? Billy said back. Why are you listening to it, little personal assistant lady, I sent it to Chris fucking Blackwell. The P.A. found this less than amusing. So Yeager sent a pair of severed bull testicles (in a jar, of course) to Mr. Blackwell. Well, to his personal assistant. Miss P.A. said that would pretty much end the negotiations -- "He's a madman...disgusting...animal parts...anal drippings" were her exact words. Meanwhile, Yeager is in New Yawk, where his handler is meeting with the vice president of A&R at one of the major labels. And by the way, the story about how local musicians suck? It pissed off Arlan and other people, but that wasn't the point. He was trying to make a point. Get it?

Ruby Baker and the Future hit Dominique's on Sunday.
Reggae, raggy, a little breather. Next Tuesday Kevans the Frenchmon is hosting the biggest reggae jam reunion in this city's history. Of course Le Coup will be there (at Velvet is where), along with members of most of the great reggae bands: Zero Crew, Tishan, Spice Roots, Broken Sound, Copacetic, and more. L'Ambience is what they're calling it. The Frenchmon (that's the way he told me to spell it) is a long way from Quebec and a short way from becoming an international star. Just a hunch, what do I know? Besides a great jam you get a history lesson, and a chance to wish Frenchmon a happy birthday. Happy Birthday, Kev. Maximum, always.

Day By The River plays neo-psychedelic postpunk tonight (Wednesday) at Stephen Talkhouse.

This Friday the Baboons and I Don't Know and Second Son play at the Mud House in Fort Lauderdale. Theme: "Love and Sex." Three great bands from South Florida. Get it?

Two amazing bands -- Halo and One -- light up Coyote this Friday.
Live Bait plays tomorrow (Thursday) at Musicians Exchange.
Zac and his Artist Support Project take over the Reunion Room tomorrow (Thursday). "Home" is the theme and A ready for this? A it's about "the South Florida music scene and coming together for community and getting food to homeless people." Diane Ward will be singing some of Zac's songs. Other people will be singing Zac's songs. There's a CD of Zac's songs. Am I imagining this? Just bring food and ask Zac. Support A get it?

By the way, are the Baboons still banned from Reunion?
Day By The River plays hard-core gypsy opera arias tonight (Wednesday) at Stephen Talkhouse.

The Goods A who you may have heard of somewhere -- hit Button South tomorrow (Thursday). Kniption Fit shares the bill.

Butthorn of the week: Spec's for making its employees work on Xmas. Peaches for fretting about Michael Kennedy's offensive way of promoting Rooster Head. And so on. Shop at Y&T. Shop at Open. Shop at Flippers. Get a fucking clue. Get it. The release is called Tasting Your Molester. It is the best piece of recorded music currently on the market. Get it?

The media circus: Sandra Schulman wrote up some band called Natural Causes (I'm not sure where they're from) in last week's Billboard.

Pet corner: Thanks, thanks, thanks to my (forced) roommate of the past month, Alonzo Lively. 'Lonzo is the NT computer god, a genius fisherman (catch and release, donchaknow), a former roommate of a member of Marilyn Manson, ex-Navy, and all-around cool cat. The editorial department here is moving into new offices in another area. Due to construction nuances, I had to give my office over to computers and, until my new office was ready, I had to share (cramped) space in his. He made it a lot less bad than it sounds. Just the way Miami rock makes life a lot better than it is otherwise. If only more people got it.

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Greg Baker