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True -- unless Toth's up to something with his other band, the Tiny Show. Dan Hosker (drums) and Clif Lee Roy (washtub bass) round out this equally unlikely trio, which started out playing on miniature instruments. The rules have changed now, and the band can congregate on a tiny stage, play a tiny set, or perform in front of a tiny crowd, and still uphold the charter of the Tiny Show. "It's a roll of the dice every time the Tiny Show plays," notes Toth.
With a stripped-down rig, the trio can raise awareness -- as well as a ruckus -- on short notice, in any location. "You can find us on any street corner in Broward County on any given evening," says Toth. Just last week Toth and his pals set up on the pavement outside of Churchill's, North Miami's venerable punk dive, performing twisted versions of "Folsom Prison Blues," "The Kids Are Alright," and Toth's own demented originals. The Tiny Show's racket proved inspirational to a female member of the Laundry Room Squelchers, a chaotic noise ensemble that happened to be performing at Churchill's the same evening. "She's kind of crazy and an exhibitionist," reports Toth. "She basically stripped in the middle of the street while we played and rolled around on the ground." The usually bewildered passersby appeared more confused than ever. Some even seemed scared.
The leader of the Squelchers, Miami's Frank "Rat Bastard" Falestra, occasionally collaborates with Toth. The two met while Toth was in charge of a band called the One-Eyed Kings, and they recently mixed and mastered 1926 Funstown Street at Falestra's studio. "He lives up to his name," says Falestra of Mr. Entertainment. "He's what we call the ultimate music fan. Even though there's a lot of records bought in this city and a lot of concerts attended, there's very few real music fans in this town. When 25 people show up for an interesting national act, he's one of them."
Self-proclaimed "fan-boy" Toth immersed himself in South Florida's underground music scene, befriending Southern oddballs like Man or Astroman? and Mr. Quintron and dabbling in various musical projects. Just before Toth quit his job at the phone company, which he'd held for 13 years, he and his wife purchased the Funston Street "Land of Entertainment," and made music his main priority. "I've played music down here for about eight or nine years, but I've never put any of my crap out," he explains. "Last year I took my time and recorded it all, got a really good graphic designer, and made a really freaked-out little piece of packaging."
Completely homemade with help from Toth's friends ("It was done in true punk rock fashion -- no one charged me for anything," he says), 1926 Funstown Street looks more like a handmade birthday card than a CD cover. The gaudy, fluorescent art was a gift from an artist friend, Chuck Loose. "I bought him lunch," Toth says, "and he donated about $1000 worth of printing."
Don't look for Toth's colorful debut on Amazon.com or in your local Best Buy yet. He's planning to give away most of the first pressing to friends and family. Not into the rock-star game or any of its trappings, he's eschewing a CD-release party or anything formal to announce his album. "I don't really play by the rules," says Toth, stating the obvious. "South Florida is extremely fickle. It's always a struggle; you've gotta do it all by yourself down here. It's fun -- we do it because it's art."
However, interested parties can check Blue Note Records (16401 NE 15th Ave., North Miami Beach), or just send a $7 check to Mr. E himself at 1926 Funston St., Hollywood, FL 33020. He'll also accept e-mail at email@example.com.
Contact Jeff Stratton at his e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org