Program Notes 40

Dateline: January 19, 1997. The ViaWarSon corporation -- formed last year with the mergers of Viacom, Warner Bros., and Sony -- announced today that their Blockbuster Entertainment Division has completed negotiations to purchase Yardbird Records, the last remaining independent record store in Florida. All recorded music -- from the inception of the songs to the recording, manufacturing, computerized electronic distribution, and retail sale A now falls under the control of ViaWarSon. Now that rock and roll has been banned by the corporation and become available only through underground recordings exchanged on the black market, and the last remnants of jazz have disappeared thanks to the Yardbird buyout, a great boon is expected for the genres of easy listening and classical music. Since MTV (ViaWarSon's television subsidiary) went to an all-symphonic format earlier this year, it has been clear that the goal of achieving musical consensus and eliminating problematic areas of the arts nearly has been reached. "The days of inappropriate hairdos and improper clothing are behind us," a company spokesman said in a prepared statement. "The revolution has been quashed. America is moving into its greatest hour, when the distractions of individuality will no longer hinder our collective dream of making this the greatest and wealthiest nation on Earth."

Meanwhile back in the real world, New Times has learned that the Peaches record store at 6605 S. Dixie Hwy. A a veritable institution where many of South Florida's rockers and scenemakers have been employed over the years -- is shutting down. The Sound Warehouse outlet at 6460 S. Dixie Hwy. became a Blockbuster Music in November. Draw your own conclusions. Executives at Peaches refused comment.

A couple of very good North American bands are playing out this week. In a rare live gig is Rooster Head, tonight (Thursday) at Musicians Exchange, performing cuts from their four full-length releases, including the new one, Traditional Cock. Jennifer Culture this week releases its eponymous CD. It's a remarkably well-crafted effort, from the funky tunes to the cover art by Clifford Nolan Bailey and the package design by P.R. Brown (Peter Gabriel, Megadeth), especially considering it originally was intended only to be a four-song CD cut in eight hours of studio time; that was before they hooked up with Lee Popa of Chicago, who was starting a label and facilitated the full-length CD. Barbecue/party/shows celebrating the release take place tomorrow (Friday) at the Edge and on Saturday at Rose's. The latter will feature 'qued chicken and sweet potato pie prepared by Elder Harris, the legendary chef whose culinary creations were regularly ordered by Sammy Davis, Jr., when he was alive and in town.

On a sadder note, but no less promising musically, is the Sunday salute to the late blues belter Big Mama Blu. Beginning at 4:00 p.m. at Cheers in Fort Lauderdale and featuring local blues stars Jeff Prine and Joey Gilmore (and many others), the event will raise money to buy a headstone for Big Mama's grave. She would've been 52 years old this month. If you'd like to help, or need details about attending, call 278-9158.

Late last week local band the Goods reached number one on WSHE's Top 10 at 10:00. That means the unsigned band's "I'm Not Average" was the most requested song on the station.

Two of South Florida's most accomplished and interesting musicians, Dennis Britt and Doc Wiley, now host Monday night open mike sessions at Blue Steel, one of the most neighborly and fun music venues in town. No cover charge. Top area artists -- Diane Ward, Rene Alvarez, and Paul Roub -- already have performed at the event.

To follow up on Steven Almond's recent essay about the U.S.'s neglect of Canada's most popular current rock group, the Tragically Hip: The band recently announced a nineteen-venue (mostly arenas) tour of Canada. All 150,000 tickets sold out within a half hour. The Hip's new album, Day for Night, will, as Almond suggested, be released by Atlantic, likely in February.

The History of the Blues is part of the curriculum this semester at the University of Miami (only UM students can attend the class for credit, although others may be able to audit it if the course doesn't fill). Professor Steve Gryb thinks this is an academic first locally and a big step for the underappreciated genre. He's wrong and right. Fleet Starbuck has taught blues courses at Miami-Dade Community College. But Gryb is right that this is just the sort of recognition and acceptance the blues has long deserved.

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Greg Baker