Thursday March 21, 2013
Dude, I am totally going to see Fela! (the musical) this weekend. Seems like it would be a dumb idea, but apparently it’s totally awesome even if you’re not a fan of Fela Kuti, which I totally am. (Expensive Shit!) But so, I already got my tickets, but I just got an email from my pals at Rhythm Foundation saying that the promo code “MUSIC7” will totally get you 20% off. What’re you waiting for?
Tuesday March 5, 2013
Are you like me: the jerk who didn’t get his xx tickets in time and missed a must-see show (however mediocre it is reported to have been)? DON’T BE THAT GUY. Not this time. Grizzly Bear tickets, on sale this Friday.
Tuesday October 23, 2012
Seeing Load in the early 90s (opening for Marilyn Mason at Squeeze, whazzup) was a pretty formative experience for me. Bob Johnston, lead singer of Load, died recently. This would be an excellent time to listen back to their music, and since it’s not available for sale I’ll just link to the complete Load discography at Cosmic Herse.
Thursday July 19, 2012
It would be extremely easy to overstate the importance of LCD Soundsystem, the musical project of James Murphy. He makes dance and pop music. It’s very very good dance music that grooves with the best of them while hitting all the pleasure centers available to pop music. It’s epic and casual, bombastic and primitive, and arty and absolutely straightforward, but towering over all of that is Murphy’s knowledge of the history of the music he cares about and his extreme self-consciousness about his position in it. In conversation, stage persona, and appearance, he comes across as modest, and he’s managed to convince himself and the world that his centrality to the music he makes is unconnected to his ego. Famously, Murphy creates almost all the music on LCD Soundsystem’s albums himself, and while his live shows are joyous and free-seeming, the large group of talented musicians he’s assembled to perform the songs have little musical freedom.
Wednesday July 18, 2012
Shut Up and Play the Hits, the L C D Soundsystem film, is playing tonight only at Tower Records, and as of right now there are still tickets available for the 9:30 pm showing. If you miss this you will be very sad watching it on your VCR or whatever.
Friday July 13, 2012
This week in local cultural malice, incompetence, and shoddiness, sung to the tune of the seven deadly sins. I’ve only got four this week, so I guess we’re not doing so bad
I am sure that the Florida Cultural Alliance does important work, and deserves all the support we can muster for them. But when I saw the email they sent out yesterday, I just had to share it as an example of the worst kind of corporospeak, and the worst in online interaction design. Try — just try — to have any sense of what the purpose of the email is and what they want you to do after reading it just once. Not possible. I’ve ready if about a half donzen times and I get it now, and it’s stark. The FCA has apparently submitted SUGGESTIONS to a Florida State government entity. They want you to familiarize yourself with the state program they’re addressing, read their dense PDF suggestions, write a letter indicating your support for their suggestions and fax (Yes. Fax. In 2012.) it to the number provided TODAY BY 5 PM. Doesn’t say who you’re faxing it to, and doesn’t say why it has to be today. But hey — this was dated 1:25 pm, so they’re giving you more than three hours. Get on it.
Oh! And as an afterthought, yeah, you can submit your suggestions for the Five-Year Strategic Plan. Oh wait no, that’s for the Six-Pillar Framework. You do it by clicking into a PDF (this one created by the State) that takes your comments and has a “email this form” button which to me looked suspiciously like just a text box with no functionality.
It’s not in my nature to wipe lipstick off a pig, but the Jewish Museum of Florida couldn’t hack it anymore and signed it’s buildings and collection to FIU. And that’s fine. The Wolfsonian certainly seems to be thriving under FIU’s wing. But tacking the initials of the university to the organization’s name, which henceforth will be “Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU”, is galling. It makes perfect sense from the institutional ego perspective, but would have been overruled by typographic aesthetics and all-around sanity at a classier organization.
While Googling around for the previous article, I perchanced to click on a link to a Sun Sentinel article. You will probably not get it, but here’s what I saw:
“Hey, you found a link to one of our articles in a search engine! Can we interest you in a home-delivery subscription to our newspaper?” Look at your statistics Sun Sentinel — this is not helping your subscription rates. And I guarantee you that it’s hurting your readership and credibility. And while we’re on it: I understand why your pages need to be choked with ads, but spam popover links? Really?
Next February, the Arsht Center is hosting a concert tribute to Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane. It’s part of a series of six concerts, half of which are these condescending “tributes” to Jazz Names You Recognize, which in my opinion are demeaning to the performer, the legendary figure, and the audience. But something (and I’m assuming it’s actually not the Arsht Center’s people) has sunk to a particularly odious level with this, which I received in yesterday’s email:
Thelonious Monk is died in 1982 after a heartbreaking final few years. He is a hero to musicians and creative people everywhere. And while this concert does include his son, using the man’s name and image like this is repugnant. There is a special place in hell for the people that did this, where they can hang out with the folks behind the John Lennon shirts
Tuesday July 3, 2012
Any article about Al Green written in 2012 is required to mention that the president recently sang one of his songs at a public event. With that out of the way, you’d be surprised at the altitude of the average age at Hard Rock Live last night. For better or worse, the youngs have not gotten the memo on Al.
Which is a shame, because and to answer the question that will be foremost on your mind, the man has still got it. Al belongs to the group of singers, including Antony Hegarty, Tom Waits, and Sinead O’Connor, for whom musical talent and imagination, however great, always seem secondary to the physiology of their throat and lungs. Al Green was given an incredible instrument, and at age 66, it’s still there. He is careful to save his voice, frequently dropping lines in his under-90-minute set, and he occasionally makes oblique references to his age. But when he brings it, which is often, the voice is all still there. The first time you hear it it’s a relief, but that melts away. It’s a thrill. Just as it was for me some 20 years ago discovering his music, and just as it must have been 20 years before that when he was rising to fame, hearing Al sing is sublime and transportive.
Now let’s talk about the thing that was exactly as important as Al’s voice in the magic of his early music, the band. The pairing of Al’s singing with Willie Mitchell’s production resulted in a perfect musical partnership. The Hi-Records band and recording setup is warm, rich, and satisfying in a way that nothing was before or since. (Others recorded with the same house band, but they clearly were saving their best licks for Al.) The drumming of Al Jackson Jr. and Howard Grimes is particularly iconic.
So, how does his current touring band stack up? Well, they’re at a significant disadvantage for having to be playing in a big shoebox-shaped arena and with a sub-optimal mix. That said, they do pretty well. Three horns, bass, guitar, drums, percussion, backup singers (two of whom are Al’s daughters), and two keyboard players (who handle the original piano and organ tracks as well as the string parts). The bass player was particularly good. The keyboard players had few opportunities to shine but held everything together spectacularly. The guitar player had the unenviable position of having to play a couple of Claptonesque solos, which he did not execute with much finesse (and which would had been out of place even done well). But the one truly glaring weakness was the drummer. Who, let us stipulate, had the almost impossible task of matching the parts, sound, and feel of the aforementioned masters Jackson and Grimes. Well, he matched them note for note, but seemed not to even try to replicate the feel, going instead for a laid-back arena hired gun ease. A bummer, but not bad enough to detract too much from the overall effect.
Al is a showman. He comes out and has a pile of long-stemmed roses to pass out to the women in the front rows. He dramatically removes his jacket and throws it away during key moments in the show. He delivers the world’s shortest sermon midway through. And he performs a somewhat silly medley of soul oldies midway though the set, including Sitting on the Dock of the Bay and My Girl). And he shows off his voice, yowling, purring, and scatting almost like it was 1972.
Update: And here’s the New Times’ review of the same show.
Tuesday June 19, 2012
I’d have to say the #1 upcoming concert I’m exited about right now is Dirty Projectors at Culture Room on August 7th. If ya didn’t know, now you know. You will unfortunately have to navigate Ticketmaster’s user-hostile, scammy, impossible to figure out online ordering, and pay $16 in fees for two $20 tickets. Fucking Ticketmaster.
Thursday July 24, 2008
Dino Felipe reviewed on Pitchfork. 7.2: not bad.
Monday May 19, 2008
Haha — Rick Ross’ new album gets a 2.4 on Pitchfork. Update: Ross’ fried seafood joint, Hip Hop Grub Spot, was highly praised in the New Times’ best-of. It’s on 441, a couple of blocks north of Ives Dairy Road. (thanks, CB)
Wednesday April 30, 2008
Blah, now I feel like throwing up: Studio A is closing. Why?? If a sharp and trendy live-music venue in a low-rent part of downtown can’t make it, what hope is there for this god-forsaken hell-hole of a town? (Translation: Now you have to go to Revolution in the-fort-that-dare-not-speak-its-name to see new national acts.) BLAH! Isn’t there a petition we can sign or something?
Saturday March 29, 2008
Thursday March 27, 2008
The Cleveland Orchestra once again rolled into town this week for their all-too-brief Miami season. They performed a concert last night in honor of Israel’s 60th anniversary, and perform a second program this Friday and Saturday. Last night’s program, a nod to Leonard Bernstein’s historic performances in Israel in 1948, included Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, a Mozart Piano Concerto, and Prokofiev’s Overture on Hebrew Themes.
The show opened with readings of the US and Israeli national anthems, which musically work very well together, the latter’s sombre slow build a nice counterpoint to the Banner’s usual pomposity. This was followed by a rather lengthy curtain talk by the executive director of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation (at one point, he launched into a list of technologies invented in Israel!).
Originally composed for clarinet, string quartet, and piano, Prokofiev transcribed Overture on Hebrew Themes for orchestra himself, and it does as advertised, running medley-like through Klezmer and other recognizable ideas, toe-tapping one moment, morose and swooping the next.
So, how do you get a piano to the front of the stage in the middle of an orchestra performance? Like this, my friends — you break down as many of the band risers as you need to wheel that puppy out. I’m not sure they needed to bother, actually. Mozart always sounds like Mozart, but the Piano Concerto No. 21 is almost a self-parody, the most Mozarty construct ever, a summation of every fun idea out precocious Austrian buddy ever had. Well played by the 31-year old Shai Wosner, who’s nervous tics complemented the music pretty well. He fidgeted with the height-adjust on his piano stool, made motions as though wiping dust off the keyboard and shaking it onto the floor, and shook his head quickly during the more stirring piano-less passages. A couple of times I caught him sort of shaking his fist at the keyboard before launching into one of his slow phrases. He seemed to take less relish in delivering these than the 32nd note runs and trills, which he handled with commanding smoothness. Don’t let me mislead you, though — Mozart is always a delight to hear, and this was a big, delicious slice of Mozart (who, first and foremost a keyboardist himself, is arguably better represented by this concerto than by, say, one of his symphonies or operas).
But it was all preamble, because after intermission came LvB’s Symphony No. 5, one of the most gripping pieces in western music. It’s on pieces like this, that you’ve heard 100 times before, that you truly begin to appreciate the unparalleled mastery of the Cleveland Orchestra and the rich sound of the Arscht’s concert hall. Sounds and details I’d never noticed before snuck out at every turn, and the whole thing was alive in a way which few things are. Opening with the heavy, stark, almost modernist first movement, the symphony has light moments, but they are few. Mostly it’s dramatic and full-throttle, and fainting and heart attacks do not seem like inappropriate responses. A friend once explained to me that while the string quartet is his favorite sound in terms of timbre and nuance, the appeal of an orchestra is its sheer visceral power, and that power was in full force last night.
Well, you missed it. No worries — you can catch the Cleveland Orchestra this weekend, in a program built around a Tchaikovsky violin concerto. Tickets available for Friday and Saturday, tho only Saturday has some of the cheaper seats left.
Wednesday March 26, 2008
Hey everybody, the Cleveland Orchestra is performing Beethoven’s Fifth, tonight only.
Tuesday March 25, 2008
Liz goes to the opening of The Vagabond, in the former location of I/O, and notes that the stage is gone, indicating that there probably will not be any live shows in the space. Bummer, that was a really great spot to see bands. Update: Three commenters in 12 minutes confirm that a stage can be set up on an as-needed basis, and bands will in fact perform. This is cool, because as I recall the space is a nice smaller-scale/more intimate alternative to Studio A.
Monday February 25, 2008
Langerado schedule: No excuses, you’re going to have to take Friday off this year. And pack a minimum of three hits of acid per person.
Thursday February 14, 2008
Late dinner at Canela Cafe yesterday, primarily because it was the only thing open at 10:30 pm on a weekday; and a very pleasant surprise. Great crusty sandwiches, yummy tapas, and just about the perfect atmosphere. You know places like Lime — chain restaurants where they take the Starbucks aesthetic and attempt to apply it to a homey restaurant setting? Well, Canela is no chain, and it splits the difference between that a genuine comforting/dive type mood.
The only real problem was that out of a list of about 10 beers only 4 were in stock (the restaurant also turned to be out of ketchup?!). This was for the best, though because the star of the evening was the Sangria — a humongous 15-glass (orange glazed ceramic) pitcher full of sweet delicious redness plus tall glasses with fruit and a small pail of ice. Yes, technically this is not how you do Sangria but trust me it works.
The food was all neo-rustic, with fresh quality ingredients. Came out fast, too, which is always nice. And the service was great. Oh: Cholula hot sauce right there on the table, which is not something you see every day. And the menu turned out to be a real treat — the entire first page is charming preamble and background explanation on the various foods. It’s obviously lovingly typed by the owner, and obviously subject to frequent revision, because the online PDF version is quite different, and ends with a 24-point note: “Please excuse me with Spanglish menu.” (The prices have substantially risen since the online version, but what can you do?)
Oh, and did I mention the live music? When we arrived a Gibson SG and amp were set up outside, and shortly arrived a dude, back to us, who proceeded to noodle casually for awhile and finally sang a few songs in a hushed mumbly voice. It was perfect near-empty-restaurant music, and I didn’t realize until later that it was none other then Jesse Jackson. There you are then — a perfect meal.
Update: An unfortunate habit of closing before the regularly scheduled 11:30 pm kind of sours me on the place.
Monday January 28, 2008
Monday morning in Miami music. It would appear that Jesse Jackson just walks around all the time with a little guitar.
Heads up: Girl Talk at Studio A this Saturday. Via Duran, who will give you a cookie if you can identify “that sample.” Huh? There are like three dozen identifiable samples in that song. But the Scentless Apprentice/Tiny Dancer/Juicy trifecta that closes the song is the pièce de résistance of that album. Sardines for dinner . . . yum. Anyway. Tickets available online, and highly recommended.
Wednesday January 23, 2008
A review of all the venues for live music in town. It’s a little depressing to see like this . . . I can’t think of any others, but I’d have thought the list would be longer. Anyway, it’s fun to read, and includes a review of the women’s bathrooms at each location. (via MN)
Wednesday January 2, 2008
The band that plays Tap-Tap on Thursdays is hot. Bass, electric guitar, tenor sax, and light drum-machine percussion, with revolving vocalists. I’ve seen them a few times, and not only are they great, but they really inhabit the space and fill the room without being overwhelming. They do traditional Haitian songs and jazz standards.
Wednesday December 19, 2007
As promised, here is your photo of DJ HOTTPANTS, DJ Of The Future.
Tuesday December 18, 2007
I’ve been sitting on these photos for a couple of weeks, waiting for an opportunity to post them. The short version: The new Sweat record store (/coffee bar!) is impressive, with fully-stocked bins and empty-canvas walls, and the evening was lots of fun.
Here we go. So, count me forever among the hordes of Rachel Goodrich devotees. One nice thing about having 3751 MySpace friends is that when you play a show, the people that pack your house have an undeniable affection for you. Rachel returns that affection, and was as exited about her crowd as they were about her. Her songs are great, and her performance was homespun and rollicking. Typical between-song banter: “We’re going to fuck this next song up, but that’s okay, because you guys are drunk, right?!” Also, the kid seen holding the kazoo for Rachel in this picture was great. Perhaps a younger brother that got dragged along to help, he was perfectly bored-looking and reluctantly, eye-rollingly supportive throughout. Great bass player, too.
After a big autoharp number (“Can somebody run out to my car and get my autoharp?” (which actually happened)), Rachel closed with a sweet song on ukulele. Note the semi-audience, semi-crew guy holding her microphone. There were lots of these folks at the show, sort of like a living-room performance.
The Jacuzzi Boys, sort of a Velvets-influenced thing, but with stuffed birds, only good. Really. Going on tour in January, I see. Send us a postcard, gang.
Update: Article in the Herald.
Tuesday November 13, 2007
Can I get a laptop orchestra up in here?
Wednesday November 7, 2007
The new CEO of the Carnival Center, Lawrence Wilker, will also act as Artistic Director. This is a good thing — it’s important for the chief of the organization to be intimate with the actual programming. By the way, Target Globebeat, which brought in the Center’s opening last year, will take the form this year of monthly free outdoor performances by local groups on the second Saturday of every month.
Monday October 22, 2007
The Spiegel Tent, seen here in it’s usual home under the Brookly Bridge, is coming to Collins Park in December for a couple of months. I’m hoping they plan to flesh out the season with some local acts. (thanks, Mr. Entertainment)
Wednesday October 3, 2007
Classical music comes back to Miami radio: I don’t know how I missed it, but WMCU 89.7 FM has been purchased by a company that intends to turn it into a classical station. May begin broadcasting later in this month. Yay! (via 26th Parallel)
Wednesday September 26, 2007
Miami Light Project, one of my favorite organizations in the county, is opening their season with the Hip-hop project mini-festival, now in its 5th year. Performances, residencies, film screenings, and other events, most free, happen daily tomorrow through Sunday. This is ‘hip-hop’ in the broadest cultural sense, and filtered through an arts/cultural perspective, so nobody should feel unwelcome. Watch the video, and come out for an immersive mini-festival done up right.
Thursday, September 27, 2007 8:00pm
YOUTH EXPRESSIONS’ PERFORMANCE
The Light Box, 3000 Biscayne Blvd #100 Miami, Fl 33137- FREE-
Hip Hop Culture can be proud to have given birth to Youth Expressions (YE), a not-for-profit organization (501c3) committed to helping at-risk urban youth develop into self assured, focused, productive and skilled adults. Now in the 4th year of partnership with MLP, members will perform an original work developed during their MLP residency.
Friday, September 28, 2007 8:00pm LIGHT BOX STUDIO SHOWCASE
The Light Box, 3000 Biscayne Blvd #100 Miami, Fl 33137- RESERVATION REQUIRED-
This showcase features Rudi Goblen’s Insanity Isn’t and the Nicole Klaymoon’s Into the Fourth Dimension.
Saturday, September 29, 2007, 2:00pm
HIP-HOP: BEYOND BEATS AND RHYMES FILM SCREENING AND DIRECTOR Q&A
The Light Box, 3000 Biscayne Blvd #100 Miami, Fl 33137- FREE-
Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes is a riveting documentary that examines representations of gender roles in Hip Hop and rap music through the lens of filmmaker Byron Hurt, a former college quarterback turned activist. Conceived as a “loving critique” from a self-proclaimed “Hip Hophead,” Hurt examines issues of masculinity, sexism, violence and homophobia in today’s Hip Hop culture.
Saturday, September 29, 2007, 8:00pm
UNIVERSES- LIVE FROM THE EDGE
Colony Theatre, 1040 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, Fl 33139- $20.00-
Miami Light Project proudly presents the seminal NY-based theater company Universes’ in Live From the Edge, an evening that showcases the ensemble’s special brand of fusion theater in a “best of” evening that tracks the evolution of their poetic language from childhood rhymes and community rituals, to poetry and theater, Hip Hop and gospel. Redefining what theater is and who it speaks to, Live From the Edge is a unique performance event that turns the poem into a communal act.
NOTE: as of right now, you can get two-for-one tickets to this event (the only non-free event in the series) by entering the code ‘MPH10’ at this page. No idea how long this will work.
Sunday, September 30, 2007, 11:00am
Jeff Chang Book Signing and Discussion
Jeff Chang has written extensively on race, culture, politics, the arts, and music. His first book, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, garnered honors including the American Book Award and the Asian American Literary Award. He has also edited an anthology entitled Total Chaos: The Art & Aesthetics of Hip-Hop, released in February 2007.
Hey, would anyone be interested in creating a Wikipedia article about Awesome New Republic?
Monday September 24, 2007
It never ceases to amaze me how many frickin blogs there are. Behold Miami Drums, dedicated to . . . well, drums in Miami. You’d think it’s new, but you’d be wrong: been around for over a year. No cheesy blogspot address, either. Update: Also — a list of Miami food blogs.
Friday September 14, 2007
Awesome New Republic reunite: Sayeth John Hancock in an e-mail five minutes ago: “It’s all official. I announced last night at the show that we’re getting the band back together. We added a real tight rhythm section so ANR will be a four piece. We’ll only be playing once in awhile to begin with until B Rob and his lady have saved up and taken care of business things to move back down to the MIA.”
Monday August 20, 2007
Disturbing Force, Back in ’92. Sure, the song is great. But to not lose sight of the message: that we’re all going to die. Also: lyrics about $26 billion in damage and a 5.2 meter storm surge. (via Awesome-ish)
Thursday August 16, 2007
Monday August 13, 2007
Miami Nights’ review of M.I.A.‘s Kala. I too have been listening to it non-stop, and loving it. I thought Bird Flu and Boyz were great, and they sound much better on the album then on crappy YouTube stream.
Michael Tilson Thomas has been doing a radio program, The MTT Files, which spotlights trends in the history of music. The first one, You Call That Music?!, is particularly interesting. They’re broadcast on WLRN’s digital substation, but are also available at the link, unfortunately only as streams, not mp3 downloads.
Friday August 3, 2007
- Tonight: Please report to Miami Beach Cinematheque for Herzog’s Aguirre, the Wrath of God, promptly at 8:30 pm, and pick up a schedule of the monthlong festival, charmingly entitled “The Wrath of WERNER HERZOG.”
- Et tu, Brute? Bill Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar at the New Theater. (All weekend.)
- Attention Goth children: The, um, “What The Fuck Is Wrong With This Tour,” at Studio A, featuring Combichrist, Modulate, Helltrash (stop me if you actually listen to any of these bands) and Aryia. But more importantly, the DV8 Fetish Party, a “fully equipt [sic] cybersexual flectro fetish playground.” And yes, it’s a 12 hour event: 8pm to 8am.
- Saturday: Rock the Bells . . . Wu-Tang (?!), Nas, Mos Def, plus a stage with local hip-hop, breakdancers, battles . . . what more do you need to know? (Oh, right: contrary to what you heard, Cypress Hill is not on this stop of the tour.)
- Also of possible interest is Erykah Badu and Common at Chakra, but you won’t get in so don’t worry about it too much.
- Everything Will be Different: a Brief History of Helen of Troy, by Mark Schultz, at the Light Box. ‘Mad Cat is awesome’, but her MySpace is very difficult to read, so you’ll have to get details yourself.
- Yes, yes: Air Supply at Gulfstream, but please don’t. Just don’t.
- Sunday: Purdy Lounge Chocolate Sundays monthly Drunkin Spellin Bee.
- I will also mention that the heat index for this weekend is in the low 100’s, so the sunblock will not save you. Stay inside and play scrabble or something or you will get heatstroke and die.
Tuesday July 17, 2007
Tuesday July 10, 2007
Thursday July 5, 2007
Thursday June 28, 2007
Tuesday June 19, 2007
So, the Battles show at Studio A last night was, surprisingly to most, packed. Also: the Battles’ ethereal, otherworldly on-record sound becomes something quite different live. Pitchfork’s observations notwithstanding, when you take a laptop-assisted rock band, and remove the post-production laptop aspect, you’re mostly left with a band jamming along to, and with, loops. E.g.: Guy plays a riff on a bass, which is recorded into a loop device. He continues playing, layering the sound. Two guitar players follow suite. Uber-heavy real drums come in. Mix-n-match to fade.
Or so it would be if Battles weren’t four exemplary musicians. But they are, and by throwing three different versions of guitar/laptop-based multi-instrumentalism into a pot with an absolute beast of a drummer, they’ve arrived at something special. I don’t know that it’s a finished product yet, but they’re on to something — or, on their way to something (or, at least, pointing the way to something).
Oh, about that drummer. John Stanier used to play for Helmet. I don’t know about you, but the chance to hear him take an “arty” turn was one of the thing that got me off my ass and down to the show. Shure enough, his kit is minimalist (save a singly showy-high cymbal) and front-and-center on the stage (“He’s a real showman,” said Cohen). It’s tough for a drummer to interact with loops, but you’d never know it watching Stanier — he’s as natural as he is heavy. Another thing — one thing he does not make it look is effortless. Three songs into the set and there wasn’t a dry stitch in his shirt. He nails everything perfectly, but the Sisyphean effort he’s putting in is inescapable. It would be forgivable — hell, it might be musically advisable — for him to ease off on the attack a bit here and there. But he is either unable or unwilling — alternating strictly between full-on and full-off.
So, there I am about half way through the show, and something’s nagging me: this music is reminding me very strongly of something that the record didn’t. Then it hit me: The Feelies! The Battles are The Feelies + laptops. It’s all there — the angular guitar interplay, the fronting of strong and unusual rhythms, and the barely-there vocals. (It appears that The Feelies’ seminal Crazy Rhythms is out of print, but I’d encourage Battles fans to seek it out, um, “by any means necessary.”)
In the meantime, I note how moving music can be when it is this reduced to formal qualities. Like Helmet, the Battles’ sound is mostly devoid of emotion (well, there is a sort of glee to it), but it’s somehow infectious. It’s strange how potent cheap music is, but it’s even stranger how fun really cerebral music can be.
Finally, yes: Studio A deserves credit for bringing down bands like this. The probably wouldn’t have been any other place that’d have hosted them. (And believe it or not there was even some sporadic dancing.)
Friday June 15, 2007
The Herald profiles Mika, the gay/ambiguous singer who’s playing Studio A Sunday. I skipped it in my weekend roundup because the show is $20 and his album got crazy panned in Pitchfork. But check out the profile — they’ve got audio clips, and it just might be your thing.
Thursday June 14, 2007
“Ms. Drucker was a master of ignoring budget or board to book a stellar performer.” — Michael Lewis’ touching tribute.
Wednesday June 6, 2007
Now, Drucker is a phenomenon. In 2003, the SunPost said, “Drucker virtually created the vibrant performing arts cultural scene in South Florida over which she reigns as supreme and indispensable diva.” But the Concert Association has a deficit that from the sound of the article is approaching $3 million. Drucker is described as “feisty,” which many who have worked with her translate to mean “difficult,” “obstinate,” and — well, you get the picture. She’ll be replaced by Al Milano, who’s been with the CA less then a year, but she’ll stay on as an adviser, so I don’t think this will really tarnish her reputation.
The bigger question is what this portends for Miami’s future. There are two ways to read the events. It’s possible that Drucker simply made some mistakes, and with someone else keeping an eye on the books everything will level itself back out. A more ominous possibility is that if Drucker couldn’t make it work, maybe nobody can. Remember that a chief justification for building the Carnival Center was six major performing arts organizations that needed a home. Well, the Florida Philharmonic folded before the center was even completed, and now we’re down to four. The Herald article lists the increased “rental costs and other service fees” at the Carnival Center as one of the main reasons for the Concert Association’s troubles. Remember the tense negotiations early last year between these organizations and the center? What if the center just pushed too hard, and the fees are such that, especially after a little miscounting, they end up sinking the Concert Association?
It’s just possible that Drucker couldn’t make it work because nobody can make it work. And if the CA folds, it’s just going to make life that much worse for the Carnival Center. Heck, it’ll make life worse for everybody. I talked this over with Tiffany Hill, who is on the board of directors of the Florida Dance Association and Artistic Director of the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood (yes: where I work), who helped me think this through. She summed it up this way: “It’s all bad for the cultural scene of South Florida.”
Monday May 21, 2007
Tuesday April 17, 2007
- He’s working on his second album.
- He’s being sued by his former manager, Kevon Glickman, who claims Ross intimidated him into releasing their contract.
- He’s moved to Pembroke Pines.
The management disputes I could understand — there’s a history of that stuff in hip-hop that goes back to Suge Knight. But what’s up with the move to west Broward? First Trick Daddy (currently residing in a McMansion somewhere in centralish Florida) and now this. I mean, I can dig wanting to buy a house in a posh neighborhood, but what’s wrong with Coral Gables?
Image: Rick Ross, BMI’s President & CEO Del Bryant, BMI’s Vice President Catherine Brewton. Click for larger.
Wednesday April 11, 2007
Charlie Crist is considering pardoning Jim Morrison for indecent exposure in Coconut Grove in 1969.
Wednesday March 14, 2007
Miami’s house band, the Spam All-Stars, have been playing all over the place lately; here they are on Ed Bell’s show on WLRN a couple of weeks ago. They look like the Hipster Village People and they sound like . . . hmm, I guess they sound like Miami — a little of everything. Le Spam’s beats and Tomas Diaz’s percussion ridiculously very well, retaining the thump of a beatbox and the organic quality of live drumming; it’s only seeing them play live that it’s possible to tell where how exactly the sounds fit together. Guitarist Adam Zimmon delivers funk, reggae, and rock riffage without making the it sound like a “guitar band.” And they have this neat trick where LeSpam drops a beat, lets it go for a few bars, and silences it exactly at the moment the horn section comes in, which sounds impossibly like a perfectly mixed dance record.
The horn section is (left to right) Mercedes Abal, AJ Hill, and Chad Bernstein (there are a couple of other members that weren’t there that day), and they’re all great in a soul, not really a jazz, sort of way. They have an effortless quality about them that comes from playing together for almost 15 years, and a box-full of little tricks (at one point Chad jammed out on two conch shells). Most of the members contribute little vocal flourishes here and there, but mostly it’s instrumental jams, which is why this is more of a dance band then anything else — Hoy Como Ayer is the place to see them (they play there most Thursdays). You can download their new album from their site for 99¢/song, or grab some older stuff for free.
By the way, this is in Studio 1 at WLRN (that’s Ed taking pictures in the bottom photo). Here’s Ed (a one-time contributor to CM) rocking the mic, and here is a pretty lousy picture of Studio 2, where most of the live shows get recorded. Behind that is the control booth. The building is owned by the school board, and it shows, but different parts of the building feel, alternatively, like a corporate office, like a dorm room, and like a slick modern lounge.
Wednesday March 7, 2007
Fluxus Eve was lots of fun. Clockwise from top right: George Brecht, Motor Vehicle Sundown Event (for John Cage), Larry Miller, Remote Music (for Keyboard), fire piece (not sure of title), and Alison Knowles, Onion Skin Song. Most of these pieces are around 50 years old, and Knowles and Miller were on hand to perform their compositions and add some character (not to mention gravitas) to the performance — both were great. Note that they have these corridors that run through the Carnival Center that are wide enough to drive a car through — and they did!! Also, the highlight of the evening was when Knowles took off one of her shoes, explained where she got it and why she liked it, and invited audience members to share about their shoes. Tigertail’s Mary Luft: “These are Birkenstocks. I’ve never liked Birkenstocks, and I only bought these because they match my silver toenail polish.” Yeah!
I saw the FIU New Music Ensemble a couple of years ago performing the music of James Tenney and Christian Wolff at the Wolfsonian, and remembered being extremely impressed, so I had misplaced expectations of greatness for their Subtropics performance. Maybe the Earle Brown pieces were intended to sound hesitant, creaky, and atonal, but even if so I’m convinced that the performers enhanced those qualities with their natural tendencies (re. which: “Sit up!”). Yes, they’re students. But I’m not going easy on them — someone obviously thought it was a good idea to include them in the festival, and people paid the same money to see them.
Their musical director apologized because they couldn’t perform the first movement of Lou Harrison’s Varied Trio (because of a “missing microphone” — wtf??), but didn’t see fit to mention anything about a missing clarinet player that is listed for the two of the pieces which thus became quartets instead of quintets. Pianist Marta Milosevic showed the most promise out of the group, but her solo performance, of a propulsive John Cage prepared piano piece, was marred by sloppy page turning — she actually had to pause because fool turned two pages at once.
Jan Williams performing Pickup Sticks by Gustavo Matamoros (1998). The snare drum is microphoned and connected to a Powerbook, triggering digital sound/noise sequences whenever the player makes a mistake and disturbs the snare head. So yes, the point is to make as little sound as possible, and Williams looked genuinely frustrated whenever he messed up (but he was probably pretending). Another composition consisted of whole notes played on a muted gong for what I seriously estimate was 45 minutes and nothing else. This was more interesting then it sounds, but only slightly. I didn’t realize it was a La Monte Young young piece, and I think if I had I’d have heard it differently.
Friday March 2, 2007
This weekend is probably the peak of the season. Get your butt out there and do something… but bring an umbrella just in case. Weather looks like it’ll be gradually cooling off, but possibly rainy.
- It’s the final weekend of Merce in Miami, and it concludes with the spectacular Ocean. Read here, and purchase tickets for performances, tonight and Saturday, here.
- Also the last weekend of Subtropics. Tonight: FIU’s surprisingly excellent New Music Ensemble (7pm) and Indeterminancy Too — stories and anecdotes about John Cage from artists who knew and worked with him (9:30pm). Then Fluxus Day all day Saturday, and Sunday, a 14 hour (10am – midnight) performance of Vexations (x 1/2) by Erik Satie. Read Lawrence Johnson’s piece on Subtropics in the Herald.
- The 62nd Miami International Orchid Show.
- And as if all that wasn’t enough, it’s the opening weekend of the Miami International Film Festival.
- Bob Marley Movement of Jah People festival, Saturday. Old school reggae 1pm to midnight.
- Wow, more: it’s the opening weekend of the International Tropical Baroque Music Festival.
- Believe it or not, the Harlem Globetrotters play American Airlines Arena on Sunday! Bonus Miami-bloggosphere Globetrotters fact: the HG’s longtime rivals, the Washington Generals, were coached for many decades by one Red Klotz, uncle of our own Steve Klotz.
- Two Latin festivals with unforgivable flash websites: Carnaval on the Mile and Festival Vallenato. Click at your own risk.
Thanks to the good people at Carnival Center, I finally got my taste of Merce in Miami. To wit: the 90 minute 1994 piece Ocean.
Intended to be performed in the round, with the dancers on a circular stage surrounded by the audience, and the audience surrounded by the orchestra, the piece was a brave, if imperfect, fit for the Knight Concert hall (my second favorite room in the city, second only to my living room, and it would even upstage that if they got rid of the bizarre fabric hanging in the middle behind the stage — teal and with a pattern that doesn’t go with anything else in the building — in fact, it sort of looks like a “it was on clearance at the fabric store” type of situation — what gives?).
Oh shit sorry for the digression. Anyway Merce Cunningham sort of invented Modern (with a capital “M”) Dance in the 1940/50s, and his work comes across as stark and formal to this day. This is hardcore, rigorous choreography, with no allusion to an external story, or even to regular human interaction.
Basically, Cunningham is to dance what the abstract expressionists were to painting — a reduction to the essence of the art, with references to outside phenomena (i.e. human story-lines) minimized. This is pure movement, and it’s not for everyone.
The piece builds slowly over exactly 90 minutes, the musicians and dancers synchronized by large digital timers clearly visible to the audience. At 1:29:59 the last of the dancers disappears from the stage and that baby is over. That is preceded by a gradual and methodical development (Supposedly the piece is divided into 19 sections, though I read it as maybe 7.) — we begin with very stiff movements, and angular relationships of bodies, which gradually become more organic and energetic. The piece builds to a sort of crescendo (pictured) of movement and color, much more satisfying then what the beginning sections promise. There are dazzling moves, unexpected relationships, and novel ideas at every turn.
What I’m getting at is that it was spectacular. Cunningham (who attended the performance) was 75 when he put Ocean together, and he’d mastered the art of working the crowd — the piece starts out difficult, and gives off hints of beauty grudgingly at first, then introduces new ideas and variations, never allowing the attentive viewer a moment of boredom.
Or does it? I noticed a beautiful review by Jane Simpson of a true in-the-round performance of the piece, and she had some issues with it (go read, she’s great). But the Carnival Center performance of the piece was I guess the polar opposite to what Simpson saw — the musicians sat on the upper level of balconies, far from most of the audience, and the round mat on the stage hardly masked the fact that most of the audience were, in fact, seeing the performance from roughly a single perspective.
Reservations aside, this is a masterwork by the founding father of modern dance. It’s the culmination of Merce in Miami, which is exactly the sort of thing that Carnival Center should be doing — the sort of thing that makes all the heartache surrounding its construction worth it. It’s being performed again Friday and again Saturday, and anyone who loves dance, or likes to challenge their aesthetics, should get down there.
Wednesday February 28, 2007
Jackie Gomez took photos at the International Noise Confrence. Hey, I met Jackie at the Joan LaBarbara concert last night!
I didn’t quite know what to make of these two during the group pieces the other night. Their contribution was wispy and ethereal, and most difficult to register of the group. But when Helena Bugallo and Amy Williams took the stage, it was obvious from the first notes that they are a powerhouse. They opened with a set of pieces by Conlon Nancarrow written for the player piano. That’s right — they performed music written to be played by a machine. These pieces often involve simultaneous lines at different speeds, notes played together very close to each other on the keyboard, and a general cacophony of piano. Imagine the trip from Keith Jarrett to Cecil Taylor, and then go again as far in the same direction, or imagine ten schoolchildren hitting keys at random on a single keyboard, but then imagine that notated note for note . . . well, it sounds unplayable because it is unplayable, and if I hadn’t seen Bugallo and Williams do it I’d not believe that it was possible.
They actually somehow made it look effortless, too. Working almost as a single being at one piano (the picture above was taken during a later piece by a different composer), their hands frequently crossing and overlapped in bizarre configurations (sometimes all four hands in the space of one keyboard octave), taking turns turning the pages of the score, and hitting each jarring note exactly dead on. It was simply breathtaking.
Bugallo and Williams took a break from Nancarrow to perform three longer compositions by other composers, most notably the Sonata for Two Pianos by Salvatore Sciarrino. From the Subtropics site:
The two performers must simultaneously operate in two mindsets: one characterized by a great deal of indeterminacy (no precise rhythms, pitches, dynamics, or tempi are specified) and the other dominated by extremely precise ornamentation (black and/or white note glissandi of varying lengths, no less than fourteen different types of trills, and a wide range of clusters). The gesture of ornamentation is brought to the forefront.
They’re not kidding. The performance was a romp through ultra-fast repeating patterns on the upper range of the pianos, full of the aforementioned glissandi and trills, and it was positively dazzling. I think iSAW has been recording the whole festival, and this piece belongs on any collection of highlights.
What’s surprising about the work of Joan LaBarbara is actually how unique it is. Voice is such a primal component of the human experience, yet we spend so little time considering its possibilities beyond utilitarian speech and a still relatively conservative approach to “singing.” LaBarbara has been exploring the other possibilities of vocal performance in the 1970s, and remains one of the very few artists working in this mode. Trained as a classical singer, LaBarbara began toward the end of her training to gravitate towards the extended vocal techniques and an experimental approach out of a desire to work with living (read: avant-garde) composers, and hasn’t looked back since. I cherish my copy of Voice is the Original Instrument, and I was blown away by seeing her live.
She performed an all-Cage concert, suitable to the theme of the festival but highlighting her (considerable) talents as a traditional singer more so then her “extended technique.” But the material was impeccably chosen, and we did get a taste — a piece where LaBarbara dueted with a pre-recorded version of herself (synchronized with a stopwatch — see the photo!), hissing, yelping, and . . . actually nevermind, verbal descriptions will never do this music justice. Suffice it to say that it’s transportative in a way that nothing else is. She also performed a piece with short phrases interspersed with long silences (Cage trademark), which was the height of drama (at least until someone’s cell phone went off).
I could go on and on about Joan LaBarbara, but suffice it to say that she’s a legend, and it was a privilege to see her perform.
Tonight: The Subtropics Marathon! (7 pm, $10)
Tuesday February 27, 2007
Last night, a group performance by some of the biggest names in contemporary avant-garde music, in town for Subtropics. From left: Christian Wolff behind the upright piano, Joan LaBarbara on the microphone, Helena Bugallo and Amy Williams on the grand piano, Gustavo Matamoros on saw, Jan Williams on percussion and Robert Black on bass.
They performed two stunning pieces as a group which were synchronized to preset points by the powerbook in the foreground, as well as a few pieces in smaller groups and solo. LaBarbara was fantastic. Black did a great little silent pantomime performance on the bass. But probably the best moment was a Wolff composition, performed with Black and Williams, a long weaving melody traded between the instruments, each note played by a different player at a different articulation. After the show I bumped to Wolff waiting for the bus (me, not him), so at least I got a chance to thank him for coming to Miami, ‘cause the attendance was not in line with the excellence of the performance (then again, 2 to 3 concerts a day for 9 days in a row is tough for anyone).
Tonight: Solo performances by Joan LaBarbara at 7 pm and Helena Bugallo and Amy Williams (performing the player piano pieces of Conlon Nancarrow) at 9:30 pm.
Sunday February 25, 2007
Subtropics kicked off last night with concerts by two masters. Takehisa Kosugi went first, opening with a piece that used his own breath as a sound source. Two tubes with attached transducers fed into a tangled web of signal processors, including guitar pedals, a motion sensor, and several custom built boxes (here is the rig). The sound was distorted and pitch shifted, mostly loosing its connection to human breathing — and, occasionally, hints of singing — but retaining its organic musical quality. Probably most surprising about this piece was how naturally it moved from delicate quiet moments to dense, swirling rushes of sound.
Many of the effects in that first piece were simple distortion and delay, but Kosugi put to rest the impression that his electronics arsenal was primitive with his second, all electronics-based piece. Nice, but it lacked the visceral impact of the breathing music. Then he moved to an extended piece for the violin, which fed into a multi-pitched ring modulator.
That all would have been enough, but Kosugi had one more trick up his sleeve. He dramatically unrolled a large piece of paper that had stood behind him throughout the performance and walked to a previously unused floor microphone. He caressed the mic with the paper, then slowly and deliberately crumpled the sheet into a ball around it (this all sounded exactly like you’d think, except much lower in pitch (perhaps because the paper was unusually thin?)). Then proceeded a long solo performance by the paper ball, producing an unlikely symphony of low-pitched thuds and pops as the crumples settled themselves.
During this Kosugi sat at his table, still and contemplative, while the light gradually crossfaded from his table to the microphone. When the paper was finished, so was the concert. Spectacular.
Takehisa Kosugi’s performance was all body, instinct, and drama, and Christian Wolff is in some ways the the polar opposite, his manner much more casual and his music much more cerebral. He opened with a perfect little piece for prepared piano, all quirky phrases with lots of space in between. The photo above is of him “un-preparing” the piano afterwards (incompletely as it turned out — in the second half of his set he suddenly stopped in the middle of a piece, bent over the piano, and found one last little object he’d missed before!). He played a collection of short pieces for the piano, with a little set of melodica pieces in the middle.
Wolff’s music is at its best when it’s at its most angular, so it works great on the piano. All of his music has an internal logic, but it takes lots of concentration to get into that logic for each piece. When the listener’s concentration fails, the music can come across as meandering, and it’s open to debate whether the composer should share in the blame for this. As is the case with this sort of music, there was no big finale — Wolff simply announced he was about to perform his last piece, and proceeded, with whatever the antithesis of bombast is, to delicately tear the roof off the place.
A killer start to Subtropics, which goes almost every day until March 4th. Bring your ears.
A note about the photos: I’m trying to minimize the annoyance to my fellow audience members with my clacking shutter. Kosugi’s performance had plenty of loud moments where I could safely snap away, but it simply wasn’t worth disturbing Wolff’s piano pieces. Plus, the piano manipulation is the better image anyway (though I wish I’d framed it better).
Wednesday February 21, 2007
A rundown of the upcoming Subtropics festival, including an interview with Subtropics’ founder, Gustavo Matamoros. “Miami has been a big failure at trying to be like New York. This is because to be like New York one must start with the subway.”
Tuesday February 13, 2007
Monday February 12, 2007
Another Miami Pitchfork review: The Postmarks.
Thursday February 1, 2007
Yo La Tengo at Studio A last night, their first show in Miami in 22 years. Endless noisy jams interspersed with quiet numbers, eccentric covers, and extreme musicality are I guess to be expected from Yo La; the big surprise for me was that yes, three people play almost all the parts you hear on the records live. On “Sugarcube” for example, James played keyboard bass with one hand and shakers with the other, with Georgia on drums and Ira on guitar (he was also great on keyboards off and on throughout the night).
The high points early in the set were “Little Eyes,” and a hornless but still funky “Mr. Tough,” during which I’m pleased to report that there was even some (ironic?) dancing. The crowd was great, by the way. Kudos to Studio A for managing the event really well — anyone who showed up before 8 pm got in, probably because they packed in enough people to possibly violate fire codes, but not enough that anyone was uncomfortable. Good balance, well done.
Ira serves up another bottomless bowl of whoop-ass. On more then one occasion he concluded a guitar freakout by setting down a still reverberating guitar with broken and detuned strings, only to pick up his other guitar and seamlessly segue into the next song. (His guitar tech would then frantically restring and tune.) He also worked in a dig at New Times about this, and took advantage of the opportunity to slip an Indianapolis-based cover into the set (it registered as vaguely familiar, but I’ve no idea what it was).
The first encore included a we’re-slightly-over-this-song version of “Autumn Sweater” (James on snare and shakers, Georgia on drumkit, Ira on Farfisa organ (obviously hauled around specifically for this song), once again coming dangerously close to the dense sound of the original recording) and the final encore concluded with their now-famous cover of “I Found a Reason.” My one gripe was the absence of any of the great mellow songs from And Then Nothing, but what can you do. Maybe in another 22 years.
Wednesday January 31, 2007
The old Cameo theater, which is no longer Crowbar, is going to be the Cameo theater again. I hope they start having concerts there again.
Friday January 26, 2007
- Men-Jaro, a contemporary South African dance performnace at Miami Light Project, tonight and tomorrow. ($5 tickets for students under 22 through Culture Shock, $28 otherwise)
- Musical Xchange at New World Symphony tonight at 8pm. These informal small-scale performances by the NWS musicians are really interesting. (free) Also Symphony with a Splash Saturday, sort of a cocktail hour followed by a light concert, which in my opinion is not the right order.
- Playground Theater performs Arthur Miller’s The Creation of the World and Other Business. All weekend long, $15. Arts organizations take note: PT has a perfect website — simple, easy to use, and attractive.
- Cleveland Orchestra’s second weekend at Carnival Center.
- Bill Frisell on Sunday! (Tigertail, $25)
- Viernes Culturales/Cultural Fridays
- The Fourteenth Annual Miami International Map Fair, Saturday and Sundaym, 10 am to 5 pm,
- Merce Cunningham Art Talk with Trevor Carlson at MoCA, Saturday at 1 pm.
- Cage + C-Chan at Studio A, Sunday.
Wednesday January 24, 2007
photo: Roger Mastroianni
For all intents and purposes, this past weekend was the night everyone was waiting for with respect to the Carnival Center’s concert hall — the first performance by by a full-scale, professional orchestra. The Cleveland Orchestra did it right, too, performing Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, paired with Leonard Bernstein’s 1st, to a sold-out audience. We already know that the Cleveland Orchestra is considered the best in the country, so the real question regards the Knight Concert Hall’s acoustics. (Although “Are they so good that a few performances a year make up for not having a local orchestra?” comes to mind.)
So let’s just get it out of the way: the room sounds great. When the music goes lound and fast in the 4th movement of the 9th it was almost overpowering. But where it really shines is on the quiet bits. Bernstein gets all 20th-century-American experimental in the first movement of his symphony, and there are little one and two bar solos for various instruments. Each time, it sounded like the player was sitting in my lap. Your ear adjusts for dynamic levels the same way your eye does going from a darkened theater into bright sunlight, but the Knight hall made everything sound just right.
The hall’s sound-modifying features were in their medium-intimate setting, with the canopy in its lowest position and the sound-doors partially open. I spoke to Gary Hanson, the Cleveland Orchestra’s executive director, who told me that this was the orchestra’s preferred configuration, giving the Knight Concert Hall an intimate sound, not unlike that of their own Severance Hall. The configuration was determined during the orchestra’s tuning visit to Miami last year, and will be used for all Cleveland Orchestra performances at Carnival Center. Other orchestras may choose a different configuration; for example, the New World Symphony actually changed the configuration between pieces during their inaugural performance last year.
Hanson was enthusiastic about the sound. He pointed out that like any concert hall, the sound is a little more reverberant in the top balconies and a little more present on the floor, but it is generally very consistent, which is in fact one of the marks of a great hall. The Cleveland Orchestra is very happy in the Knight Concert Hall.
So on to the show. The performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony was spectacular, comparing very favorably with my London Symphony Orchestra recording, especially in the third movement, which sounded the most modern. The biggest difference I noticed was in the opening; whereas on my recording the first movement opens with a bang, on Saturday it built dramatically from a quiet foundation. This performance featured 180 singers from the U/M Frost Chorale and the Master Chorale of South Florida. They sat motionless behind the orchestra for the first three movements, and only came in for the grand fourth movement (the longest), which goes full-tilt almost from beginning to end. Wow. Lawrence Johnson checked the Friday show out for the Herald, and he was also thrilled. (By the way, here is an interesting radio interview with conductor Franz Welser-Möst about his views of Beethoven’s 9th.)
What do you pair the most famous symphony in history with? Welser-Möst chose Leonard Bernstein’s 1st symphony, which seems odd only at first blush. Bernstein’s three movements are very different from each other; one is probing and experimental in a early-20th century sort of way (quirky two-bar solos! woodblock!), the second is fast and dramatic, and the third is mournful, and featured Kelly O’Connor’s vocal (which was wonderful, but honestly I couldn’t even tell what language she was singing, and it was English); this was the perfect thing to wake up the ears.
And so we have one of the best orchestras in the world in town for a few weeks every year. And while some former members of the defunct Florida Philharmonic feel that this will make it more difficult to re-form a local orchestra, as an audience all we can do is enjoy it. Apropos of that, extra seats have just been released (on the choral riser! should be a great place to sit) for the performances this weekend (Mahler!), and tickets are also available for the March performances (Tchaikovsky!).
I wouldn’t let the high-art thing intimidate me, by the way. Dress nice and bring your active-listening ears and you’ll be fine. If you can avoid wearing a loud jangly bracelet and moving around all night, you’ll be doing better then the woman sitting across the aisle from me (what was she thinking?). There is nothing quite like being in this particular room listening to this particular band; it’s something everyone should do.
See also: More information about the Knight Concert Hall at my Carnival Center writeup.
Sunday January 21, 2007
I started working on a post about Dino Felipe months ago but never got around to finishing it. If your computer speakers are experiencing any kind of difficulties, turn the volume up. Yes, turn the volume up.
Friday January 19, 2007
- South Beach Comedy Festival, including Margret Cho, Bill Maher, and Jon Stewart, plus free performances at an (outdoor?) stage on Lincoln Road Mall every night at 7 and 9:30.
- The aforementioned Reggae and Social Change festival/exhibit.
- The Cleveland Orchestra’s first weekend at Carnival Center
- The Miami Jewish Film Festival.
- Medical Marijuana Benefit Concert at Tobacco Road, Saturday.
- Opening at MAC, tonight, plus Artist Talk with Tacita Dean on Saturday.
- The Manchurian Candidate screens at the Miami Beach Cinematheque, tonight.
- DJ Craze and MAYDAY! at Studio A, also Saturday.
[MDPL press release]
Equal Rights: Reggae and Social Change
January 11 – February 28, 2007
Main Library, Auditorium
This traveling exhibition tells the story of 30 years of Jamaican art, music, and social change throughout the African Diaspora with words and amazing album cover art from landmark records by Ras Michael, Louise Bennett, The Skatalites, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Peter Tosh, and many more. Co-curated by Herbie Miller and Josh Chamberlain, and organized by Catherine Amidon and the Karl Drerup Art Gallery and Exhibitions Program at Plymouth State University.
On January 20th, from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m., get schooled in reggae consciousness, culture and history, as Herbie Miller, manager of the late reggae legend Peter Tosh, reggae historian, and co-curator of Equal Rights: Reggae and Social Change, presides over an afternoon of art, performances, and discussion, including performances by Millenium Band featuring King Arthur and dub poet Malachi Smith; and a conversation with radio host, historian, and community leader Winston Barnes; Lloyd Campbell (Producer, Joe Fraser Records); Reggae Vibes DJ Lance-O; Hal Anthony (of Millennium Band) and Malachi Smith.
[also on view:]
To the Barbershop: Call and Response Series #2
New work by Noelle Theard and Works from the permanent collection by Richard Davenport
January 11 – March 20, 2007
2nd floor exhibition space, Main Library
Author Craig Marberry writes that the black barbershop is “a world of kinetic jazz and air you could see and grownups who actually knew how to laugh…a think tank…a comedy showcase.” The show started with a series of photographs by Richard Davenport from the Library’s permanent collection, depicting black barbershops in Miami during the early 1980’s. Miami photojournalist and documentarian Noelle Theard created a new body of work, snapping some of the same barbershops—including Liberty City’s Mop City and Overtown’s Green & Fort—26 years later. Together, the old and new sets of photographs convey a sense of the permanence of these neighborhood institutions—the decor and “No Profanity” signs have pretty much stayed the same—and the breakneck change of the Magic City outside.
Friday January 5, 2007
Heads up: Yo La Tengo at Studio A, January 31. Early warning because it’ll sell out.
Thursday January 4, 2007
You might could take some issues with this list of the 100 greatest Miami Bass songs of all time (Sir Mix-A-Lot?), but you’re better off trying to figure out how many you’ve danced to. OK, how many do you know?
Thursday December 28, 2006
Fun with the Rick Ross Wikipedia page: Calvin Godfrey pointed out some earlier vandalism (error? methinks not). Here is another version that existed for about ninety seconds, before it was reverted and a stern warning issued. Interesting discussion at the talk page: “Why name yourself after someone that pumped crack and other drugs into the Black Community for years…..WHY? I didn’t want to believe it at first, but there is no valid way to get Rick Ross from William Roberts. There is no excuse for this.”
Sunday December 10, 2006
This one and the next one are the only thing I have from Pulse, which was pretty small, cramped, overcrowded, and cost $10. There were, however, lots of great pieces. This scary little photograph is by Roger Ballen. It totally fooled me into thinking it was a real Joel Peter-Witkin-style photograph, but for some reason on screen now it looks much more like what it is: a digital composite.
More obviously digital, this is a detail from a big image by Dionisio Gonzalez.
Jesus looks over the entryway to NADA.
This little joke piece shows up every year. At $200, (unframed) in an unlimited edition, it makes a killing.
Installation with a customized Gucci suitcase at the Sister gallery (L.A.).
An arresting photograph of an empty Jack Daniels bottle by Melanie Schiff, titled Emergency. Not the only alcoholic humor art we saw: a David Kramer print at Pulse prominently read, “WHOEVER IT IS THAT SAID ‘LESS IS MORE’ PROBABLY OWES ME A ROUND OR TWO.”
Here’s the NADA building from the outside. Very relaxing, with a big lawn, hammocks, and a little restaurant (nothing to write home to mom about there, though).
This guy performed on the lawn, heavily reverberated voice, guitar, and chime percussion. He sounded a little bit like Panda Bear, but he kept stopping to chat with his friends who came up. We got impatient and left.
An opportunistic resident outside Scope, spraycan-changing the price for parking on her property from $10 to $15. I think her logic was that if someone eventually did park there, she’d boost her profits by 50%. Unfortunately for her, everyone was just parking on the street.
One of the things I really enjoyed about Scope (oh, sorry: ~scope) was the outdoor scene. There was a lot more there then I’m going to show you, including a big stage, a bus with a tent in the back that you entered to see a light show, and some extremely fancy porta-potties. This is the immortal Eric Doeringer, hawking his bootleg versions of contemporary art. Eric is beyond cool: I have a picture of him holding up a fake Art Basel VIP card, with which he apparently got into the Vernissage, among other things.
The Blood for Art table. This idea is simultaneously great, depressing, morbid, and inadvisable on a long weekend of running all over town and spending most of your time on foot.
Oh the art. This amazing drawing by Mat Brown.
Other then the Nike logo, a great sculpture. Christopher Cutts Gallery, Toronto.
Sometimes you just can’t pass up a picture.
Locust Projects contacted Flight 19 (Tampa) to co-present something at Scope this year. They came up with this Negativland piece, Rightmanland, a singing animatronic Abraham Lincoln. Efforts to bring Negativland to Miami are in the works!
Photo Miami was excellent, and for some reason sparsely attended.
Here’s one piece, by Luis Molina-Pantin.
Opening/party for the Monster Show, Thursday night. This is a link to a photoset; click the picture to see more photos from the evening (probably not interesting unless you were there).
Opening at Carol Jazzar’s on Friday evening.
One last visit to Basel.
This wasn’t up before: a loop of magnetic
cassette video tape hovering in the field between two fans. No artist info, sorry. Zilvinas Kempinas, Spencer Brownstone Gallery.
Saturday night in the Design District/Wynwood. This is the incomparable Cody ChesnuTT. Cody was performing a new suite of songs, solo electric, and recording it, so he asked us to hold our applause until the end. He was great, and a surprisingly agile guitar player, though I’m not sure the self-indulgence that bugged Pitchfork is waning anytime soon.
We spent the rest of the night hanging out at Lenny’s. The show he has up includes pieces from his private collection, including a Gregory Crewdson, a Robert Rauschenberg, and this lovely drawing by Hope Gangloff.
“Instead, [Chan Marshall, a.k.a. Cat Power] flew home to South Beach, pulled the shades, turned off her phone and began drinking herself to death.” Interview by Brett Sokol in Ocean Drive. Here is the picture she’s talking about in the first ‘graph.
Friday December 1, 2006
USB Turntable. spotted at Urban Outfitters.
Tuesday November 28, 2006
Friday October 27, 2006
Tonight, two of my friends have openings. (left) Felice Grodin (with Matthias Saillard and Veronica Castillo) at Carol Jazzar‘s home gallery. Felice uses abstract-expressionist ink drawings as her starting point, then meticulously applies the language of architecture to them, creating delicate, multi-level maps. (right) Erika Morales, with drawings and an installation at Leonard Tachmes Gallery. Erika’s last installation was a home made set of monkey bars that were wired to produce sound when someone monkey-barred across them, so this should be impressive.
More this weekend:
- Two Rooms: terrorism theater! At Nova, Friday and Saturday.
- Inner City Bonfire at Poplife Saturday.
- Official Halloween content: Italian horror movies at Miami Beach Cinematheque, Saturday and Sunday.
Tuesday October 24, 2006
Blue Note Records sits just off 163rd street on 15th Ave in North Miami. Back in the early 90’s, it was an absolute palace. I used to work at a Peaches around the block, and we’d send people there all the time for anything we didn’t carry. And honestly, it still has a lot of the same charm.
The inside bears an uncanny resemblance to the cover of that Shadow album — here’s one place that doesn’t particularly cater to DJs, but where records outnumber CDs. I browsed around, hoping to find something that prominently featured the color yellow. No luck with this or this. They do, however, still have very strong Jazz, R&B, and Hip Hop sections, about in that order.
Not to mention knick-knacks. Really, this is the place to come if you want to stumble onto something you didn’t know you needed. Like a Bee Gees lunchbox. Or that Stevie Wonder CD. The typewriter’s not for sale. Wait, you don’t have Songs in the Key of Life? Get down there right now and grab that copy. Quick!
Back in its heyday, Blue Note used to take up this whole building, holes in the wall connecting separate rooms. The middle section was full of jazz records and a lounge, and the far end was full of rock, broken down into about five different sub-genres. At some point, I think they actually took over part of a warehouse space down the street. Then Amazon came along and sort of changed the world for independent (and not so independent) record stores. A few great ones are still thriving in Miami, though, and Blue Note is worth a visit if you’re in the neighborhood.
Friday October 20, 2006
- Tonight at Books and Books, the launch party of Damn, a new local magazine started by my friends Erika and Julian. I’m all up on the staff of Damn (along with a bunch of notable Miami artists), so I’ll be there. Yay!
- Then it’s off to Churchill’s, where Lolo is throwing Plug Miami. Playing: the Down Home Southernaires, Jesse Jackson, Velveteen Pink, and DJ Hottpants. Plug website.
- Saturday, the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood (where I work!!) is presenting Up on Stage, a sort of a season-preview grab bag of dance performances by companies from all over Florida.
- Sorry if I’m plugging two Churchill’s shows in one weekend, but oVo, who killed shit last Summer is playing on Saturday. (I bought their t-shirt at that show.)
- Get your cheese on: Appetite for Destruction a Guns ‘n Roses tribute band (!!), plays Studio A on Saturday.
- Sunday: finally check out the Lorna Simpson show (would it kill the MAM to fix their website and get some permlinks going?).
- Sunday evening (6pm): a good time to check out the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens, and plus a performance by the South Beach Chamber Orchestra. No cost listed on their website, so maybe it’s free?
Monday October 9, 2006
Target GlobalBeat was the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts’ giant opening party for Miami: a free, 10-hour, 50-performer festival, where the doors were basically thrown open and anyone who wanted to could roam the entire complex unrestricted. And it was expertly organized, too: I suspect that anyone who caught even one of the shows would have been impressed: especially the indoor performances were all first class, many were exotic, and they worked together to create a seamless kaleidoscope of music from around the world by featuring mostly local performers and with international talent. A class act. There were some minor problems with the sound, which I’ll mention as I go along, but for the most part they take nothing away from the excellent performers or the Center; after all, each venue (and there were seven) had at least six different performers, who went on in quick succession and with little to no sound check. I’ll talk about the performers today, and get into looking at the buildings themselves tomorrow.
The Florida Memorial Steelband opened things in the Knight Concert Hall. Their MC explained how a steel band works—there are 10 players on the steel drums, plus two “percussionists.” They played a few original compositions, then brought out the horns and launched into some Sonny Rollins. It was all quite beautiful, even for the faint-of-steeldrum. Featured audio issue: a hissing (almost buzzing) sound from the speakers between songs, probably from a piece of the band’s equipment, because it was gone later.
Bharti Chokshi, of the Association of Performing Arts of India, rocks the sitar, with a tabla player, in the Studio Theater. The sitar/tabla combination is the quintessential configuration for Indian classical music. Both instruments are so complex that if you close your eyes, it’s difficult to imagine that only two people are making it. Both the performers were masterful, but the 15-minute set, all with people crowding in and taking flash pictures, was hardly ideal for enjoyment of this type of music. Featured audio issue: a strange reverb on the tabla that made the dāyāñ (the smaller of the two drums) dominate the mix a bit. (And yes, my photo is out of focus; I was there to enjoy myself, not fuss with photography.)
Next up were two Indian dancers. They were completely spellbinding, as was the choreography. Their movements were sometimes in unison, sometimes sequential, and sometimes complimentary, and were punctuated by pauses, during which the dancers stood motionless except for subtle movements of their heads. They were, in a word, tight. I cannot possibly explain how great the Association of Performing Arts of India is, or the completely otherworldly beauty of Indian culture. Update: The dancers are Madhavi and Meenakshi Menon, and they have a website.
Outside, the giant dragon puppet, brought by the Miami Overseas Chinese Association, rages to the accompaniment of giant drums.
Fusho Daiko, a Taiko ensemble, at the Ziff Ballet Opera House. They cranked it up to 10 right at the start, and then turned it up to 11 later, blasting the place out with just enough rhythmic variation (and almost no harmonic content, except for the occasional conch blow) to be mesmerizing. In a word: fierce. They generally rearranged the drums between every piece, varying the organizational structure of the group. This was one of the highlights of the day. (An inquisitive reader will want to know: “do the men in the ensemble shave their armpits?” Answer: some of them.) Featured audio problem: none—they were unamplified!
One of several parades/street parties in the plaza.
Peru Expression. The band played one song (featured audio problem: the singer and guitar were almost inaudible for most of the song), and then the singer launched into a long story, in Spanish, before bringing out the dancers. I was out of there.
Black Violin, who bring the hip-hop approach to, um, violins. Their act consists of playing violin along with existing songs, and setting classical pieces to beats. The latter approach works a little better, but overall I can imagine this group being more effective in concert, going back and forth with 50 Cent (as they recently did). Still cool, though.
A reduced version of the normally 30-member Klezmer Company Orchestra played around, setting old Klezmer songs to South American rhythms, which worked surprisingly well. Not as joyous and unrestrained as I’d have expected, but they played well, and their musical director’s between-song history and anecdotes were interesting. Featured audio problem: couldn’t hear the bass(!), except when she played one particular note, high up on the neck.
I was in the nosebleed section for the Delou Africa Dance Ensemble, which turned out to be a bad choice, because I couldn’t see the dancing very well, other then to get a sense of joyous abandon. The music was a different story, though. Employing a similar ensemble and soloist strategy as the Taiko group, but to completely different ends, it was precise, aggressive, and had the feeling of one-upsmanship, but with a constant give-and take. The drummers would lay low, and the African Xylophone would play some polyphony, and then they’d come to the front of stage and trade solos, walking while playing. Great. Featured audio problem: feedback.
Conjuncto Progreso. Featured audio problem: not sure, they were arguing with the sound guy and hadn’t started yet. I couldn’t stick around, because I was on my way to see . . .
The Cooper Temple Church of God in Christ Mass Choir, which was a powerhouse. This is the contemporary gospel choir in full force, and everyone was suitably impressed. Maybe there was a little too much emphasis on the drums, and not enough on the singers, but it worked perfectly for me. Wow.
One of the many performances in the lobby of the Concert Hall. I believe this was Los Tangueros.
Back over to the Studio Theater, where local break-dance crew D-Projects was doing their thing. I only caught a little, but again, it looked like one of the highlights. Breaking done right is still impressive. And it’s still being done right, twenty-five years later. Crazy.
Mayday [Flash!] was in the house, playing to what looked mostly like fans, and impressing the crap out of everyone. Not bad for a white, 4-piece (keyboards, bass, DJ, MC) outfit. Featured audio problem: a horrible crackling distorted sound every time the DJ tried to scratch. This was in the Peacock Studio, which is really a dance rehearsal space. It was set up without seating, and black fabric covering the walls, sort of club-like.
DJ Craze, three-time World DMC Champion, closed out the night with some of his jaw-dropping turntable dexterity. Actually, I take that back: there are other scratch-DJ’s who focus on show-off DJ techniques, and while Craze has his share of show, what puts him over is his musicality. Dude is dope. Don’t take my word for it, check him out here. Dang!
There you have it: a class act all around. I can’t imagine anyone going to this event and not feeling right about the Performing Arts Center. Maybe they’ll throw a big party like this once a year? There’s hoping. My biggest quibble with the day was the annoying plastic rattlers that someone was handing out to the kids; whoever had that idea deserves eternity in a purgatory where a hundred kids shake those things at random while they’re trying to pay attention to something. Also, I think there was a fear of having the place overrun with an unmanageable amount of people, hence the wristband thing, which allowed the organizers to reserve the right to exercise some sort of control. No worries, though: while the event was well attended, there was no shortage of wristbands, and I didn’t hear anyone complain about not being able to see what they wanted to see. And everyone was walking around with smiles on their faces; I think it was a genuine pride and excitement, that after all the problems, this thing is finished, and it’s being done right. Tomorrow: the building!
Wednesday October 4, 2006
Hey, cool, Rat Bastard has his own wikipedia page. Years ago, I was playing in a band, and Rat took us into his studio (the old one on Washington Ave) and recorded a pristine 4-song demo for some absurdly low amount of money (I think it might have been a hundred bucks). He did the same for probably thousands of bands, including Marilyn Manson, and has been a catalyst in bringing tons of notable bands to town, and organizing shows for local nights. Oh, and I also played with Rat’s Laundry Room Squelchers for a while.
I haven’t seen Rat in years, but then my attendance at Churchill’s has been pretty spotty. It looks like he’s doing fine; him and V, who took that last photo, are an item. And the Squelchers website has him touring with a bunch of boys (as ‘To Live and Shave in L.A.’) and a bunch of girls (as LRS) in 2006. Go Rat!
Thursday September 21, 2006
An interview with Nancy Spungen and Fancy, two of the founders of Studio A. Update: A choice quote (from Fancy): “This is another strange thing about Miami. The Rub in New York is, like, that’s just how people deejay. This is something I learned coming down here. There’s a certain New York style. We call it “hip hop and classics,” which really simply means party stuff when you go out. That’s what every single place does. There is no dance music in New York, well there is, but nobody cares about it. Like in Miami, they have an actual word: open format. In New York, ‘80s and hip hop that’s just called deejaying. Miami sees that as two separate levels. Miami is also very segregated, people-wise and musically. There’s parties for black people, there’s parties for white people, and there’s, like, clubs for house music, everyone gets their own space and there’s really zero sharing.”
Thursday September 7, 2006
Friday August 25, 2006
Tuesday August 22, 2006
The mythology behind Rick Ross is staggering: he began dealing drugs in high school, gradually transferring his profits into legitimate businesses: a record label (Poe Boy Entertainment), a lawn-care service, and condos he bought and rented out.
Now, a background in crime can be a useful asset in business, but it’s not a regular everyday thug that buys his first house at the age of 21, and a Rolls-Royce Phantom by 28. Mark that: he owned the Rolls before he had the record deal. What we have, then, is a guy with serious force of will, which happens to be the very thing that is most crucial for an MC.
Throughout his 20’s, Ross worked on his mic skills too, releasing mix tapes, ghost-writing lyrics for other rappers (he won’t say who), and building up underground cred. And so the release of his first album, Port of Miami, isn’t the result of a lucky break—it’s the product of a bidding war for his contract that Def Jam Records won. (And it’s interesting that as he transitions from businessman to rapper, he is aligned with Jay-Z, who has recently retired from rapping to serve as president of Def Jam.)
OK, so let’s cut to the chase: Port of Miami is a great; it stops just short of being a classic. The beats are slow and funky. The songs are mostly good; though cutting a few of them would have improved the album (I don’t know what it is about the hip-hop industry lately that makes everyone feel that they need to fill up the full 78 minutes of every CD released: some of the best albums of all time, including hip-hop albums, barely break 40 minutes); see for example the slightly new-jack-swing I’m Bad. But for the most part, fans of Hustlin’ will not be disappointed: similarly perfect beats, mostly slow and blunted, abound, and Ross has more then enough charisma to sustain interest. And the 808 is in effect throughout most of the album.
Occasionally clunky lyrics (like infamously rhyming ‘Atlantic’ with ‘Atlantic’ on Hustlin’) are mostly overlooked in the wake of better lyrics. Lil’ Wayne has the misfortune to have to deliver one of the particularly silly lines: “bullet-proof car got me feelin’ like a turtle.” Mostly, though, the few guest appearances are great, particularly Akon on Cross that Line and Jay-Z himself on a remix of Hustlin’. And yes, this isn’t just an album from Miami, it’s an album about Miami, references to the city are peppered throughout, and it’s fun to pick them out.
Monday August 21, 2006
Tuesday August 8, 2006
Friday July 28, 2006
Friday July 21, 2006
Hey, did you notice how I’m not doing the “it’s Friday, here’s what to do this weekend” sort of posts anymore? Well, I figure it’s the summer, there’s not that much to do, not that many people in town, and not that much desire to do anything but sit at home and bask in the warm glow of netflix. However, in the spirit of teaching a man to fish and he’ll eat forever, might I suggest signing up for the Sweat Records e-mail list. Well, ok, you’ll actually also have to get on Lolo’s friends list and read her bulletins. Had you done so last night, you might have been one of a small group that saw Price last night (pictured).
Which band was, by the way, quite wonderful in a white-soul, 1970’s, ironic-Michael-Bolton-t-shirt-wearing (and pointing it out) kind of way. And funky. Which brings me to my question:
What is up with the dancing thing? The DJ was playing before the band’s (tastefully brief) set, and there were a fair number of people dancing. Another DJ began to play right after the band, and actually a lot more people danced then. But for the entire time Price played, everyone stood there motionless. Now first of all (1), the boys were not that beautiful. I mean worth a look or whatever, but not worth staring at. Secondly (2), and I mean really, they were jamming; just as or more danceable then the DJ music preceding and following. I was noting this to an old friend I bumped into randomly there, and he had an answer for it which I forget now (it was that kind of night), so help me out here: why do people dance to records and not to bands??
Thursday July 20, 2006
Monday July 17, 2006
‘Before it was Mansion, Club Z, Club 1235, or Glam Slam, the trendy South Beach venue was Cinema Theater, a popular movie house where for almost 30 years the hot attraction was Yiddish-American vaudeville.’
Friday July 14, 2006
Friday June 30, 2006
Down in Florida City, on the way to the Keys, Card Sound Road splits off from US-1, providing an alternate route for one leg of the trip. Card Sound Road takes a straight two-lane shot through some classic Florida brush. There’s very little to see, and the lack of any particular place for a speed trap makes the posted speed limit a moot point for many drivers. The Village of Card Sound Road is a couple of shacks and houseboats clustered around the one little curve in the road. At the very end there is a toll bridge ($1) which officially takes you to the first of the keys and begins the stretch back towards US-1. Just before the toll sits Alabama Jack’s.
Built on stilts over the water channel next to the road (you can see water between the slats of the floor) with no air conditioning, Alabama Jack’s is an airy place. The menu is all about seafood beer, and various types of fries: everything a grown boy needs. (Respectively, I’m going to recommend the crab cakes, Key West Sunset Ale, and sweet-potato fries.)
Hell yes: the Cardsound Machine Band plays country music (with the occasionally obligatory Jimmy Buffet tune thrown in) Saturday and Sunday afternoons. If you’re expecting The Gambler, you’ll not be disappointed. The hours are a bit funky: the band quits at 5 pm, and I believe the whole place shuts down an hour or two after that. Odd for an open-air place that you’d think could do good business with folks coming back from the Keys late on a Sunday night, but there it is.
Just past the restaurant, the grand gateway to Monroe County. See the bridge in the background?
We climbed to the top; this is an idea of what you’re way into the middle of. Pure Florida loveliness.
On the way back to the car, the restaurant was empty except for a few bikers, the band having long packed up and left. And so it goes. I think I would have liked Key West more in the old days, before air conditioning. There’s something about resigning yourself to being hot and sweaty all the time that beats darting in and out of air conditioned little buildings that seems to be right for that place. Almost every restaurant and bar on the island has AC now, so maybe Alabama Jack’s is more Key West then Key West?
Sunday June 25, 2006
Monday June 19, 2006
Cool looking: the 2006 Miami International Guitar Competition and Assemblage, which goes Wednesday through the weekend. Steep prices, though. (via KH)
Sunday June 18, 2006
Lawrence A. Johnson reports that members of the defunct Florida Philharmonic Orchestra are miffed about the Cleveland Orchestra’s 10-year deal with MPAC. Seems they believe that the deal will make it more difficult to reform a professional orchestra of our own.
Monday June 12, 2006
Looks like all the hipsters that dragged themselves out to see the Stills last week were mostly disappointed.
Friday June 9, 2006
- Tonight, the Super Show + b-day party for Lolo at Churchill’s. She’s also doing epoplife on Saturday, and promises “Britpop, J-Pop (Japanese pop!) and Hip Hop.”
- Do we really have to do a gallery run? It’s second Saturday, but it’s the middle of summer . . .
- I do want to see Cliff’s new movie, though (production still above).
- Ok, so also Jordan’s curated a show at Dorsch which all my friends are in.
- Samantha and others give a talk about their work at ArtCenter, Saturday at 2 pm.
- In theatER, Teatro Avante does an adaptation of Shakespeare, and there’s Summer Shorts at City TheatRE, who’s website I will not link to due to absurd and annoying flash content.
- Something about a basketball game?
Sunday June 4, 2006
Notes from the Laptop Battle at Churchill’s on Saturday. It was much stranger, and much more fun, then one might be led to expect. The performers fell into two categories: the straight-ahead music types, and the performance-oriented types, who often just hit ‘play’ on their computer (an MP3 player might have sufficed) and did some performance art. Seen above: Line Noise.
Here we have an attempt at a hybrid. I think this group was called
Pet Sounds Kentsoundz, though i was a little too loaded to catch the other names. We have a guy in a wolf mask working a computer an a girl in an angel outfit dancing the Muse behind him.
The judges take this shit very seriously. There was a ‘no microphones’ rule, and the one guy who bent it (by singing without a microphone, at the top of his lungs, into the audience) passed on to the next round (he was wearing a New Kids on the Block shirt, so there was that).
DJ Saul DJ Je Nais Se Qua entertained the audience between matches with silly fake-Frence schtick and cheesy music (The Police? Aphex Twin!?). He would have stolen the show, at least until . . .
This guy WDF fired up his powerbook, pulled his overalls down around his ankles, and jumped into the audience, raving lunatic-like. He has on a leopard print g-string and a little monkey backpack with a strange strap hanging off it.
Ravelstein and friends rounded out the evening with a performance on the back patio. Hell yeah.
Anyone know any of the other names of acts in the pictures? Got ‘em – thanks!
Friday May 26, 2006
Tuesday May 9, 2006
Holy crap: on Metroblogging, Bianca writes the ode to Mondays at Churchill’s that I wish I’d written. “Churchill’s…it’s like my dirty living room. I can kick my feet up, sit on the tables, but never do I sit on the toilet seats.” Let’s have more shit like this out of Metroblogging!
Friday May 5, 2006
The South Beach Chamber Ensemble performs at MAC at 4 pm on Sunday. I caught them doing the same program a few weeks ago at the Miami Beach Community Church, and they are excellent. Drawn from the teaching staff at New World School for the Arts, SBCE is a surprisingly hip string quartet. This program, for instance, includes nothing older then 1957. Between pieces, they explain, give background, and tell stories, sometimes interrupting each other to jump in on a point.
They open with Shostakovich’s String Quartet #7, which is Russian modernism at it’s best – dissonant, dramatic, and in places just plain weird. It’s the sort of piece that demonstrates why the string quartet can be the most effective of classical music units – it is able to create rich layers of texture with unusual techniques on each instrument, while allowing each of the instruments to be heard as a distinct voice. The show continues with Osvaldo Golijov’s “Tenebrae” (composed in 2003) a shimmering, slowly developing tribute to a visit to a planetarium, and concludes, fittingly, with a string quartet by Villa-Lobos, the Brazilian master.
The show is part of the ensemble’s “Music in Beautiful Spaces,” a good execution of a good idea. ($5)
- Miami Light Project throws Project Hip Hop. Beginning at 3 pm on Saturday with a Youth Expressions performance, the festival runs through next weekend, with performances, a panel discussion, a photography exhibition, a film screening, and a break dancing demonstration. Yay!
- I don’t know why I have to go to Broward to see Indian music, but there it is.
- Something opens at Locust Saturday.
- The opening for “Persian Visions: Contemporary Photography from Iran” is next Thursday, but the show will be up this weekend at the Main Library.
- Lots of music at Sunfest, and not a drop to drink. Well, actually there’s there’s Bill Frisell and the surviving members of Sly and the Family Stone, but it’s slim pickinz after that.
- A trip to the Air and Sea Show is not supporting our troops: it’s reveling in hardware that is being used to do some really fucked up shit in the world. I’m staying the hell away.
- And don’t even get me started on Miami Fashion Week. Ugh.
Saturday April 29, 2006
“The bridge separates South Beach from my Miami. The real Miami.”
Rick Ross: representin’ Dade County, Carol City, BMW 745’s, and a very prominently product-placed Treo 650.
Friday April 28, 2006
- New World Symphony has their kids’ program, Orchestra Let Loose, and something called the ‘Instrument Petting Zoo’ (pictured). Get kids together, let them play with the instruments (under serious-musician-supervision) and let them hear some zingers from the repertoire. Sounds like a winner. Sunday, 12:30.
- The Wolfsonian screens Wondrous Oblivion, tonight at 7 pm.
- The Miami Performing Arts Center presents Walking Tall Circus, wherein 120 local children in colorful costumes get down with trapeze, juggling, stilt walking, puppetry, and clowning. Saturday, 2 pm, North Shore Park and Youth Center
(501 72nd Street, Miami Beach). Free. (And yes, the MPAC site talks about it like it happened already, and doesn’t give the location, but it’s on the arts calendar, and here, so go figure.)
Just in case you’re an adult
- Tonight, the Rhythm Foundation presents Seu Jorge, who I can’t find a reasonable web site for, but who’s cool; trust me.
- The M-Ensemble presents Seven Guitars. “In the backyard of a Pittsburgh tenement in 1948, friends gather to mourn for a blues guitarist and singer who died just as his career was on the verge of taking off. Pulitzer Prize-winner August Wilson’s “Seven Guitars” is the sixth chapter in the continuing theatrical saga that explores the hope, heartbreak, and heritage of the African American experience in the twentieth century.” Runs for the next few weekends.
- BB King at the Mizner, Sunday.
- The FIU BFA, mentioned previously.
Monday April 10, 2006
The New World Symphony’s performnace of Steve Reich‘s Drumming on Saturday was pretty mind-bending. Exploring the same themes that occupied Reich’s entire career, the piece is built up from simple rhythmic motifs which grow increasingly complex through layering, variation, and “phasing.” The later technique is particularly key – it involves a repeating pattern played by two musicians, whom gradually fall out of sync with each other (one playing just slightly faster), then back into sync (when the “faster” variation gets a full eight-note ahead of the other). The effect is maddeningly complex when done by two musicians, let alone 13. Drumming opens up on four pairs of tuned bongos, moves to marimbas for the second section, to glockenspiels for the third, and finishes with all the instruments playing together. At various points, vocalists, a piccolo, and whistling augment the percussion. All of the action of the piece takes place in a very limited frequency range, and often with incredible density of notes, which result in overtones and perceived sounds that cannot be coming from the actual instruments. The piece also challenges you to “follow the pattern,” knowing full well that the variations will grown too complex by several orders of magnitude for that to be possible — at one particularly hot moment, there are nine musicians playing different patterns on the marimbas. Think of future robots playing patty-cake, fractal/chaos theory, and the game simon, but mostly nevermind: you just have to listen to it from beginning to end to get it.
What I’m trying to say is that this shit is weird. And that gets me to how cool the New World Symphony is for doing it (and doing it well: the performance was easily as good as the one one my box cd.) And getting people to come hear it: the 704-seat theater was maybe 90% full. I was skeptical of combining a show like this with a 90-minute cocktail reception (“Symphony with a Twist,” indeed), but the proof is in the pudding: no more then one person left during the performance, and most of the crowd cheered furiously at the end (from the balcony, I saw a few people sitting with arms folded across their chest throughout the standing ovation, but that’s less then I’d have expected). Before the show, Michael Linville came out and explained the basic concepts of the piece (with a quick demonstration by a couple of the musicians) to give the audience a little background, but mostly they were just thrown in the deep end. So we have another case of NWS doing uncompromising work, and getting people to hear it. Bravo!
Friday April 7, 2006
- Steve Reich‘s Drumming, [listen to samples at this link] will be performed by the New World Symphony Saturday. This is a modern masterpiece, but please listen to the samples and decide if you can take a whole evening of it before you go — it splits the difference between music and doing your math homework. (There’s a “Happy Hour” at 7:30; concert starts at 9 pm.)
- Speaking of 20th century composers (and 21st), the New Music Miami ISCM Festival looks awesome (the program, not the web page), and it’s all free!
- The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Ft. Lauderdale.
- The Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival at Cinema Vortex (Saturday afternoon, free).
- The South Beach Chamber Ensemble does the string quartet thing at the Miami Beach Community Church on Lincoln Rd., 4 pm Sunday.
- It’s 2nd Saturday, and openings abound.
- For the brave: some UM students got together and made a musical based on the Breakfast Club (free).
- At Jimbo’s, Jimbo Luznar celebrates his 79th birthday on Sunday. You are encouraged to “Bring a little something to the party if you can, or perhaps a token of your appreciation.” Noon ‘till ??
Don’t ask me:a Memorial for “Julie Sparker”:http://www.undergroundparis.com/chapter22.htmlJulie Starker at Churchills on Sunday. (Thanks Christian; the spelling came from the pub’s calendar.)
- Not ‘till next Thursday, but the Black Eyed Peas play at the BA Center (wtf?! – you have to “join” their website to “read more“ about their concerts? Somebody needs an urgent clue-implant).
Update: Immigrant solidarity rallies (from the Herald):
- Sunday 3 p.m., rally and march by various groups including Archdiocese of Miami and Florida Immigrant Coalition, starting from the Stephen P. Clark government center, 111 Northwest 1st St., in downtown Miami, to the Torch of Friendship on Biscayne Boulevard.
- Monday 10 a.m., rally and march in Lake Worth at City Hall, starting at 7 North Dixie Highway and marching toward Bryant Park.
- Monday 3 p.m., rally in Fort Lauderdale between Broward Boulevard and 3rd Avenue in front of the federal courthouse.
- Monday 6 p.m., rally in Homestead at Harris Field, Campbell Drive and U.S. 1.
Tuesday April 4, 2006
- Thursday is the panel I’m on with Franklin, Kathleen, Onajide, and Alfredo. There are discussions at Artblog and TNFH, and a blurb in the Herald [second thing down].
- Can we say ‘good riddance’ to the Marlins yet? Even their biggest fans are pissed off.
- Arturo Sandoval is opening a jazz club on Miami Beach.
- Critical Miamista.
- Gulfstream to add poker in mid-April.
- Sorry, but I just think it’s kind of cool that a bunch of people bailed out of a Metromover after it got stuck on the track.
- It’s getting difficult keeping up with all the new Miami blogs, but here’s Miami Transit.
- Speaking of the Port of Miami Tunnel, read the Critical Miami report from November.
- Marc photographed the orchid festival.
- According to this LA Times Article, Miami is leading the country in staged car crashes (bugmenot.)
Friday June 24, 2005
Alanis Morissette is playing tonight at the Jackie Gleason theater. Please don’t go. Morissette used to be cool, but recently she’s totally sold out, releasing an acoustic version of Jagged Little Pill. As if to make it clear that she wanted the last shreds of her credibility converted to cold hard cash, the album is available exclusively through Starbucks for the first six weeks of its release.
Now that you’re thoroughly disgusted, we give you the Stay Free Alanis Morissette Delocator. The idea behind the original Starbucks Delocator was to help people find non-Starbucks coffee shops. Same idea here.