RIP: Miami Music Matters 2009-2011

So long

The Rapture didn't go down Saturday, but the axe fell on this blog today.

Thanks to those of you who read Miami Music Matters over the last two years. It's been fun having the chance to report on the Magic City's live music culture in this medium.

I'd like to thank Jim Murphy for bringing me aboard in 2009. Michelle Ashmun, thank you for your grace and making sure I got paid.

Thank you to the numerous folks who sent supportive emails and suggestions. I hope we'll meet each other again real soon. Adios Amigos.






Posted by Tom Bowker at 03:09 PM in Music
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¡Fuácata! Anniversary Party Commemorates 10 Years Of Spam Allstars Funking Up Little Havana


It's been a decade since local promoter/actor/bon vivant Ralph De La Portilla and his trusty sidekick Erik Fabregat went for a coffee at the former Cafe Nostalgia in Little Havana and saw opportunity where most would see a little dump in a neighborhood way past its prime.

After convincing Hoy Como Ayer's ownership to invest in a lighting rig and let them redecorate the joint with santo candles and burn enough incense to mask the smell of 50 years of cigars and stale beer, De La Portilla and Fabregat brought in Andrew Yeomanson, aka DJ Le Spam, and his latin funk band the Spam Allstars and founded ¡Fuácata!, the most successful and enduring weekly live music party this town has ever seen.

De La Portilla and Fabregat handed over the reins to the Allstars in 2003, and the night has amazingly continued without a hitch, attracting celebrities like Mick Jagger and Prince and forging  musical bonds with JBs sax man Pee Wee Ellis and Phish keyboardist Page McConnell.

Tonight, De LaPortilla and Fabregat are back, and one expects some of their original crowd, maybe even some from the video posted below, will be getting babysitters and drinking extra coladas in order to throw down on a school night.


The 10th anniversary ¡Fuácata! party happens tonight, Thursday, May 24, at Hoy Como Ayer: 2212 SW 8th St, Miami.

Posted by Tom Bowker at 02:54 PM in Music
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Hipster Duo Crocodiles Play Friday At The Vagabond, Continue San Diego Music Scene Traditions


If there's one thing the gorgeous city Of San Diego is good at, it's producing local rock stars. Thanks to a music scene rich in both all-ages and 21+ venues, bands in San Diego are allowed enough time  to get better, enter different musical phases, get notoriety and implode just as the rest of the world catches wind of them.

Thankfully, San Diego indie rock musicians rebound like Dennis Rodman. When Pitchfork (yes, it was a the name of a band before the e-zine) imploded, guitarist Jon Reis took his bounce from that and simultaneously rode both Rocket From The Crypt and Drive Like Jehu into legendary status. When Heavy Vegetable, Thingy, and the 10 other bands guitarist Rob Crow was in simultaneously hit a wall - he formed Pinback with his buddy Zach Smith, and became famous enough to start another 4-5 bands and a solo career.

So it comes as no surprise that singer Brandon Welchez and guitarist Charles Bowers have found themselves as trendy up and comers following the demise of their provocative noisecore band The Plot To Blow Up The Eiffel Tower.  After 5 years spent pulling audiences pants down, groping unsuspecting dudes and dressing up like fascists, Welchez amd Bowers rightly knew that their days of having to go nuts and playing difficult music were over. They had already fulfilled the press kit section of "paying dues."

Like Crow and Smith before them, they combined forces as a duo, under the name "Crocodiles." Gone was the quirky head snapping stomp of TPTBUTEF, and in its place a Jesus & Mary Chain-ish approach to surf rock that bordered on psyche rock. The pair wrote all the songs themselves -  thus having less people to share royalties with. Also like Pinback, after going as far as they could onstage as a two piece, which was pretty far as they landed a deal with Fat Possum records - one of the few independent labels to thrive in 21st century - they invited several of their friends to back them up on tour to fill out their sound, while (hopefully) not emptying their wallets.

Seeing how Crocodiles' dreamy power pop is like crack to a skinny pants-wearing, 4AD records worshipping nu new wave head, it's easy to see them crossing the pond and reintroducing the brits to the music they abandoned 15 years ago. In the meantime, Friday's Crocodiles show at the Vagabond will be a great time to see the well-known local music impresario / anglophile known as Lolo in a state of contagious musical bliss.



Posted by Tom Bowker at 05:20 PM in Music
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RIP Miami Chum Bucket version 1.0: 3/26/2011 - 5/15/2011


I wish I could say I didn't see this coming - but the age old conflict between punk rockers and the men in blue flared up and shut down DIY punk venue Miami Chum Bucket this weekend. Sudden permit trouble forced a day-of-show move for day 3 of the Chum Bucket's "305 Fest" to Churchill's this past Sunday and forcing the co-op to move all of their upcoming shows to different venues.

Today, multiple posts on the Chum Bucket's facebook page have announced they will be shuttered for shows for "an unknown period of time" while they attempt to get their doors back open. They will be opening a both a kick starter project and a paypal account so musical do-gooders can help them out. When they get those going, I'll post.

Posted by Tom Bowker at 02:52 PM in Music
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Americana Lovebirds Hymn For Her Have Airstream (and 4 year Old Daughter), Will travel.


These are trying times for touring musicians. Between the death of the music industry, high gas prices and the "seen it all before" malaise sweeping hipsters away from clubs and in front of their Imacs -it's no wonder musicians are shedding bassists, vans and drummers and devolving from bands into duos.

Philly's MPE band took that one step further after  shedding a member and reforming as   "Hymn For Her."  Rather than have a home base, they went all-in and split town for good in favor of living on the road as a transient family in a 16 foot, 1961 Airstream Bambi trailer. The Airstream serves as both recording studio and home for multi-instrumentalists Lucy Tight, Wayne Waxing and their 4 year old daughter - who has spent most of her short life travelling with her parents as their roadie/mascot and crayon-wielding merch table guardian.

It's an inspiring take on "Take This Job And Shove It." Rather than dream about living on the road permanently, HFH have done it. One can only imagine what it must be like to grow up with hundreds of new people every week in this unique brand of mobile home schooling - though somehow I doubt their kid will have a problem with geography.

The music has definitely been affected by their constant moving. Their lead instrument these days is an electrified, three-string, cigar box guitar given to them in Memphis after a chainsaw mishap. It's helped Hymn for Her evolve from a folky duo who sang old timey tunes, to a red-blooded Americana rock act whose co-ed harmonies evoke LA punk legends X.




Thanks to the aforementioned high gas prices, Hymn For Her Have pulled a rare booking feat. South Florida will have four chances to catch Hymn For Her: Tuesday at The Stage Miami, Wednesday at Propaganda in Lake Worth, Thursday at Dada in Delray Beach and Friday at the Poorhouse in Fort Lauderdale. As these are "family values" everyone can support - I suggest you hit up one of these gigs and do just that.










Posted by Tom Bowker at 02:01 PM in Music
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Oakland Rap God Del The Funky Homosapien Throws Down His Lyrical Mastery Tonight At Churchill's


Oakland rapper Del The Funky Homosapien might not be the most famous Oaktown rapper - that would be Too $hort - but he may very well be the most skilled Oaktown MC to ever spit into a microphone.

Del first burst on the scene after a period spent in his cousin Ice Cube's posse, which helped him land on Elektra for a two album salvo in the early 1990s that both established his game - and convinced him to go indie. His Hieroglyphics crew went from a posse of friends, to a worldwide rap emporium which spread Del's unique world vision and skill set like musical fertilizer - never allowing his career to go stale, no matter how frequent or rare his tours or albums became. Considering Del's career has spanned nine solo albums spread out over two decades - an eternity in the rap game - that's no small feat.

In 2002, Del collaborated with Gorillaz on their monster hit "Clint Eastwood." Del wrote his lyrics after reading the book "How to Write A Hit Record" and following its instructions.

According to Del, writing songs and rapping is not unlike playing Sega Genesis - you just need to learn the basic moves until you can do your own thing. So it's fitting that he's playing Churchill's -  where local rockers have learned to do their own thing for 30 years. This is the first time a rapper of any note has ever played the house of Dave Daniels, so it behooves the magic city to turn out in force tonight. Because this is a treat that may very well never happen again.


Posted by Tom Bowker at 12:56 PM in Music
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Phillip Roebuck Takes His One Man Band Stylings To The Stage


About a year ago, I was hanging out at in a South Miami bungalow with a few wild peacocks and fellow musical miscreants when Juke singer Eric Garcia whipped out his laptop and introduced me to the oddball one man band know to the world as Phillip Roebuck.

The first thing that distinguishes Roebuck from your average guy who plays a stringed instrument and kicks something to keep time, is that his performances occur standing up. This is thanks to a bizarre, stirrup-like contraption of Roebuck's invention that  connects his feet to a tiny bass drum strapped to his back. Every time he takes a step with his right foot, he hits the bass drum. Each time he makes a step with his left foot, he smacks a tambourine.  This makes for a hunchback-from-notre-dame stance, and a pimpish gait that is hard to take your eyes off.

While Roebuck's  gimmick keeps your eyes busy, his unique slide banjo technique and vocals that harken back to early 20th century country blues make for a nice musical meal. It's a dish Roebuck's been serving to subway commuters in NYC for a decade. From that busking base, he's launched into a 24/7 touring career in both the small clubs you'd expect him in and giant festivals like  England's All Tomorrow Parties.


Tonight, Thursday, May 12th -- Phillip Roebuck plays The Stage, 170 38th St, Miami. Joining him are Garcia's OMB act, Uncle Scotchy, and the Wholetones. Showtime is 10PM. For more info go to: The Stage's website.

Phillip Roebuck is also playing The Poorhouse in Fort Lauderdale, on Sunday, May 15th with Lone Wolf OMB.

Posted by Tom Bowker at 02:24 PM in Music
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Unity Crew? Fort Lauderdale & Miami Offer Up Dueling Hardcore Festivals This Weekend


Back in the Regan era, there was a music scene revolving around hardcore punk. It manifested itself locally around joints like The Cameo Theater, Flynn's, The New Wave Lounge and 27 birds. Like most things made in the 1980s, hardcore just won't die.

It doesn't matter how hard you beat the dead horse. It doesn't matter how much you hard twist the ethos from DIY (do it yourself) to commercialism, nor does it matter how true  or how metal and lame you make the music. At the end of the day, suburban teenagers still want to scream at  society and no genre of music better facilitates that than hardcore.

This weekend, the two factions of local hardcore are throwing competing weekend mini-festivals: The 305 fest at Allapatah DIY punk co-op Miami Chumbucket and "Bringing It Back For The Kids" at Rocketown, a Fort Lauderdale youth center. 

The 305 fest is certainly closer the spirit of 1980s hardcore. The gig is at a club founded by punks, and for punks -much like Berkeley's 921 Gilman st or NYC's ABC No Rio. The music is mostly provided by regional and local bands, with a few decidedly non commercial headliners sprinkled in. Most of those bands sound like 1980s hardcore punk acts, an exception being Houston grindcore act PLF. While The Chumbucket is a no-booze facility, chances are you'll find several dozen punks drinking outside - hopefully on the DL enough to not get the show busted.

"Bringing It Back For The Kids" is an unusual proposition, as it's put on by a clothing line called "1981 Straight Edge Clothing" founded by a couple of guys who came of age during Broward county's mid-1990s metalcore scene. As these guys were maybe 5 years old in 1981, it's interesting that they want to bring kids back to an era that they themselves never experienced. It's also interesting that they started a clothing line named after a song/movement created by a guy who hated commercialism so much that he refused to sell T shirts on tour. 

Save for co-headliner Shai Hulud's screamed misanthropy  and the savage pit violence one could expect during Until The End's alleged final set, BIBFTK is positioned as a wholesome affair. Twister, dodge ball, spin the bottle and vegan food tasting are listed high on the festival's activity list. Certainly Rocketown's north Fort Lauderdale location is a lot less sketchy than Allapattah. Unlike 305 fest, they have well-known bands on globally-distributed record labels that survived the great music industry meltdown.

But what,exactly does BIBHFTK have to do with hardcore rather than short haired heavy metal? Not much, other than giving a payday to Shai Hulud's Matt Fox, who has forged a 15-years-and-counting music career out of a  shaky project created with a fellow Uncle Sam's record store clerk and three other dudes who dropped out within two years to do other projects.  Anyone who can break out of Broward County with that level of support is as hardcore as John Brannon, Ian MacKaye and Ron Jeremy combined.


Bringing It Back Home For The Kids takes place Friday and Saturday May 13th & 14th at Rocketown, 371 s. federal hwy, fort lauderdale. Admission is $20 a day or $40 for a weekend pass. Shai Hulud co-headlines the Saturday lineup. For more information go to rocketown.com

305 Fest takes place May 13-15 at Miami Chum Bucket 1545 NW 28th st, Miami. Tickets are $25 for a 3 day pass, or $10 on Friday, $15 on Saturday and $10 on Sunday. For more information go to www.305fest.com

Posted by Tom Bowker at 03:00 PM in Music
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Local Nu Metal Heroes Nonpoint Headline "SW 3rd Ave Music Festival" Tonight At Revolution


It's been 14 years since drummer Robb Rivera slowly fired each member of his ex-pat Puerto Rican thrash band Nonpoint Factor, dropped the "Factor" from the name and replaced the players with nu metal musicians more conducive to breaking out of South Florida's metal scene.

To put it mildly, Rivera's method worked. With the help of ex-manager/label owner/Saigon Kick guitarist Jason Bieler, Nonpoint became a mainstay of the global nu metal scene via constant touring and occasional pop culture crossovers, most notably, getting their cover of Phil Collins' "In The Air Tonight" placed as the theme song for the Miami Vice  movie.

This spring marked both Nonpoint's first appearance at the massive Australian touring festival "Soundwave," and the release of a greatest hits album entitled "Icon."  Tonight, Nonpoint will be shooting their show at Revolution for a live DVD. So if you'd like to be a part of local metal history, put on your best black t shirt, stretch out your neck and get ready to bang your head until it falls off. 


Nonpoint play Revolution as part of the SW 3rd Ave Music Festival on Friday, May 6th at 11pm. Admission is $11.

Posted by Tom Bowker at 12:06 PM in Music
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Israeli/Brooklynite Duo Hank & Cupcakes Put A Sexy Spin On Nu New Wave Friday At Bardot


Sometimes you wonder when a trend is going to run it's course. The 80s new wave revival has been going on longer than the original decade lasted. Since the beginning of this century there have been more acts with angular bass lines, synth patches and funny haircuts than hippies to shake sticks at them for not playing "real music."

You'd think that nu new wave had finally jumped the shark. But instead, the extremely photogenic Hank & Cupcakes emigrated from Tel Aviv to  Brooklyn to show America how it's done. Despite being brought up on a musical diet of classical piano and low key acts like Tori Amos and Paul Simon, Cupcakes eats up the scenery like a 60s Bond girl. Imagine if Eartha Kitt played the drums while setting fire to the stage during one of her torch songs, and you might get an idea of what's going down at Bardot Friday night. 

Playing the drums standing up while singing lead is a neat trick. Even Sheila E. doesn't use a kick drum when she's out front. So when Cupcakes sings and dances behind her kit, the sole other instrument to Hank's heavily processed bass guitar, it is almost as impressive as the  funky hooks they pump out on tunes like " Ain't No Love." Making the evening more fun for those revelers being inducted into the world of of Hank & Cupcakes tonight, is their knack for covers. You can expect both their slinky version of Joy Division's "She's Lost Control" and their punky take on last year's dancefloor mega-anthem "Like A G6." And that, dear readers, is a good thing.



Posted by Tom Bowker at 05:12 PM in Music
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