Program Notes 43

Isn't this starting to read like an obituary column? If it isn't a club closing, it's a band breaking up -- we have some bad news and some bad news. What's ironic is that 1994 was a boon year for the (inter)national music business. Nearly 200 concerts grossed a million bucks last year, up from a mere 85 in 1993. All but 35 of those 1994 golden-goose concerts featured "scaled" seating, wherein you pay more for better seats. (Most of the one-price-fits-all moneymakers were Grateful Dead gigs.) So it's not necessarily that more people are going to shows, but that they are paying more to do so. And the new R.E.M. CD costs eighteen bucks at Sam Goody. And the multinationals are snapping up indie labels like Thomas Kramer snaps up South Beach real estate.

But even as the national industry thrives, South Florida dives. Local venues are suffering, and now Fort Lauderdale's Reunion Room, according to a number of sources, has closed. We have been unable to reach the club, other than to leave messages, over the past couple of weeks. You already know about the Talkhouse's imminent demise in April. And Plus 5, Cactus Cantina, Washington Square, and on and on. Who's next?

On the band front, Sixo and Milk Can were two bands in one A now they're one band in two. Rene Alvarez is taking Sixo to New York City at the end of this month. Joel Schantz and Derek Murphy will stay in South Florida and continue to deliver the Milk Can.

Then there's Flippers, one of Miami's cool record stores, formerly located in downtown Miami near the campus of Miami-Dade Community College. It will become a CD Solution soon. So now you can get that new R.E.M. album for $7.95.

And you can still catch plenty of worthwhile music around town. A few examples: Mr. Tasty and the Bread Healers tonight (Thursday) at Rosebuds. Jodi and the Rodeo come out of hiding for a show tomorrow (Friday) at the Talkhouse, with the great Jorge Barcala sitting in on guitar; Stevo and the Strength of Unity close out the night. At Squeeze tomorrow (Friday), Black Janet gets venomous, with Betty at the Station (featuring Janet's Amy Baxter) opening the show. Itanna plays Sunday at the Zoo. Mosquito flies into Musicians Exchange tonight (Thursday). And Cell 63, with a horn section(!), hits Marsbar tomorrow (Friday).

As you know, WSHE will soon start airing a local-rock show. Well, the station needs some local rock to play on said show. Call Lydia Ojeda at 952-0618 or simply send CDs, DATs, or high-quality cassettes to the station. They already have A I'm serious A a copy of To Live and Shave in L.A.'s CD, although that doesn't mean they'll play it. More details about the show should be available soon.

The local jazz scene seems to be picking up steam. There are Monday-night jazz jams at Rose's. O'Hara's Pub celebrates its sixth anniversary this Sunday with an all-star lineup (Lonnie Smith, Jesse Jones, Danny Burger, Don Miller, and Eric Allison) at 9:00 p.m. (See "Calendar.") Jazzman Arthur Barron, who runs Rose's, has signed to Milestone Records, which will release Latin Jazz Dance, featuring Barron, Hilton Ruiz, Nicole Yarling, Melton Mustafa, and several others. And on Friday at Cool Beans, the no-name jazz band (Jet Nero, Renee Wood, Jeff Caldwell, and Mike Wood) performs. This weekend MoJazz Cafe presents Eddie Higgins and Betty Dickson with backing band.

Tomorrow (Friday) from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., one of the world's top reggae experts, L.A. DJ Roger Steffens, will be in town conducting a book signing for his new tome, Bob Marley: Spirit Dancer, at the Books & Books on South Beach. Don't forget the Bob Marley festival on Saturday at Bayfront Park (see "Calendar"). Steffens also will be on hand at the festival to chat and tell classic Marley tales.

I can't explain the sudden popularity of Veruca Salt, at least not by listening to their noisy, pointless album. But we can still have some fun with 'em. One of the two photos of the band on this page was not meant for publication. The band's label, Geffen (which, by the way, grossed $505 million in worldwide sales last year), accidentally sent out the wrong publicity photo before mailing the correct one. Your mission: Guess which one is the "correct" photo. Call 579-1566 with your votes.


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Greg Baker