With a wide range of musical influences that don't often occur in the same setting, Miami-based band Pygmy makes no bones about standing out among the numerous emo, punk, and hardcore bands it regularly plays with. "We don't write music for the times; we write music for all time," posits Edward Adames, the group's keyboardist and vocalist. Adames notes the variety of influences among band members includes the Flaming Lips (experimental), Faraquet (indie rock), Majority Rule (DC hardcore), John Coltrane (jazz), and even Billy Joel (come on, do you have to ask?).
For Pygmy, Adames says, songwriting is all about arrangement, with each tune meticulously constructed piece by piece. And it's a group effort. "We'll start with a riff, then add another, take one out," Adames explains. "It's more like glue and paper than someone coming in and teaching the song."
Sounds like a "studio" band, right? Well, not really. While Pygmy is 100 percent behind its recorded work, Adames notes that nothing is more enjoyable to the band than a live show. "It's a top priority," Adames says. "It's not about having the perfect record, awesome gear, or a guarantee. It's about playing shows. That is the most important thing a band can do."
And if you think a band with such musical ambitions can't rock the stage, you've never seen Pygmy live. Just as each song has its ups and downs, so goes the movement of each band member. "If the music is doing this much, how can you not react?" Adames asks.
One way you can react is to buy Pygmy's upcoming CD, to be released on Goodbye Blue Skies (Records). The disc features rerecorded songs from Pygmy's early demos as well as some new ones. "At this level in the game," he says, "we play to live or to die, because you don't have guarantees." Check out the funk when Pygmy plays at Spanky's (500 Clematis St., West Palm Beach) with What Wishes Can't Mend and Tessai. Call 561-832-7964, or visit www.i-am-pygmy.org.-- Jason Budjinski
C'mon, Get Happy
C'mon, Get Happy
What's that you say? You want a lighthearted comedy about the Holocaust?
Well, you're in luck. Better Don't Talk is the perfect musical for the holidays: part comedy, part drama, and, of course, it throws in a little bit of the old tugging on the heartstrings for good measure. Better Don't Talk tells the story of Holocaust survivor Chayela Rosenthal, who, as a teenager, joined the ghetto theater in Poland as a Yiddish singer, actress, and comedienne in an effort to bring some joy to an otherwise dismal situation. Rosenthal's admonition "not to speak of sadness" is the common thread in her songs, and she never spoke to her own children about her wartime experiences. What makes this sentimental journey even sweeter is that those songs are now performed by Rosenthal's daughter, acclaimed playwright Naava Piatka. She expresses the dynamic of their relationship by playing both mother and daughter and by using the very art form passed down to her. Better Don't Talk runs through December 21 at the Hollywood Central Performing Arts Center, 1770 Monroe St., Hollywood. Tickets cost $25. Call 954-921-3274. -- Audra Schroeder
Bringing life back to the scene, one beer at a time
The Dismemberment Plan got it oh-so-right with its song "Doing the Standing Still," which oh-so-subtly pokes fun at the ubiquitous "arm crossers" at shows. Yeah, you can bitch about there being no "scene" in South Florida, but is it going to help? Dominic Sirianni, bassist for the Remnants, is doing something about it. "We're trying to promote an artist-centered event that could promote the scene here and bring together original music," he says. "And by scene, we don't mean 50 hipsters nodding their heads." Indeed, the Remnants bring their punk/blues/rock 'n' roll therapy (they also cover a Chaka Khan tune) to Churchill's Hideaway (5501 NE Second Ave., Miami) along with the Hooples, Dragster, Fantastic Five, Two Story Double Wide, and the Creepy T's (pictured below). Three local artists are also showing their work on the back patio, and DJs Thrift and Scottie Upton spin between sets. The rock 'n' roll hootenanny costs $5 and starts at 9 p.m. Call 305-757-1807. -- Audra Schroeder
Maya. Who Else?
New York-based rhythm-and-blues chanteuse Maya Azucena takes the long trip to South Florida this week to perform at Sax on the Beach's (1756 N. Bayshore Dr., Miami) weekly Thursday event, Funk Jazz Lounge. Azucena's debut album, Maya Who?, was more than just an obvious admission that her last name is unpronounceable to some. A listen to the album reveals an artist's statement of purpose. Drawing heavily on the soul-tinged '70s, Azucena updates the sound for current day by incorporating hip-hop into the yesteryear funk. Azucena wears her influences on her sleeve -- the ghosts of fellows like Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye float through the record, despite its modern sound. If Azucena bears any more likenesses to her artistic ancestors, one should be that a live show brings with it a power and electricity that simply cannot be conveyed through the recorded medium; you can really catch the soul sound only when it is offered up in front of you. One of Azucena's more literal ancestors, New Times Managing Editor Ed Newton, would no doubt agree. But you know how fathers are about their daughters. Call 786-924-5535. -- Dan Sweeney