Sound Check

With so many local venues showcasing the jump-swing-blues sound -- everyone from O'Hara's Pub and Jazz Cafe in Fort Lauderdale to Cafe Tu Tu Tango in Coconut Grove -- how is an uninformed patron supposed to know what's worth checking out?

"We're unique because we do covers of songs that other bands are not doing," says pianist Bob Wilder of the quartet The Jumpstreet 88s, featuring Piano Bob and Stan Street. "We go for a sound that isn't what all the other bands are doing. We find [our] music to be more interesting than the usual suspects. We do the bluesier side of jump-swing-blues. [We get] down home, closer to the roots."

Those roots include '50s New Orleans blues (Fats Domino, Professor Longhair), jump blues (Wynonie Harris, Dave Bartholomew), and boogie-woogie blues (Amos Milburn).

Just as important as the music the band plays is the atmosphere it creates, according to Stan Street, who sings and plays tenor saxophone and harmonica. The band dresses up in hats, suspenders, and suits, and the stage area is sometimes decorated by Street, a mixed-media artist who believes that decor and music go hand in hand.

"For example, if you go into a club and you're hearing blues and you're seeing scenes of sea gulls and water on the walls, that's fine, but it doesn't lend itself to an atmosphere," he explains. "But if you see original artwork on the walls, and the music is connected, it creates a great atmosphere."

A self-taught artist, Street uses pieces of driftwood, plywood, and metal, as well as tin cans, bottle caps, and oil paint to create three-dimensional portraits of blues legends. The style is "a mixture of blues, voodoo, flaming saxophones, zombies -- stuff like that, real primitive stuff."

"We're basically preserving a style," Piano Bob says regarding the music, style of dress, and atmosphere the band is trying to create. "We feel that this music is special -- you know, the stuff before the technology-age music."

Currently backing the duo at their weekly Wednesday-night gig at Cafe Tu Tu Tango in Coconut Grove are upright bass player Paul Shewchuk and drummer Marlon Moore. The foursome will also play at Tobacco Road in Miami Friday.

Some of Street's artworks are on display at Brickell Village News in Miami. And he wants the public to know that he can do any blues artist on commission and would also love to decorate a local blues bar. Interested? He can be reached at 954-760-9964.

 
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