Father Time hasn't always been good to the elders of rock 'n' roll. Too many bands that once rocked the block have long since crossed over into the realm of pretension, pomposity, or (gasp!) gross self-parody. Fortunately, there are bands like the Fleshtones that've managed to survive the past two and a half decades without compromising the underlying dynamic that separates real R&R from the boring miasma of mediocrity that passes for garage rock these days. The Fleshtones formed 27 years ago in New York City as part of a burgeoning punk-rock scene that shared a back-to-basics approach while everyone else was turning to disco. The Fleshtones held on to their roots a little tighter than most of their punk-rock neighbors, drawing heavily on British-invasion groups such as the Yardbirds (read: harmonica, tambourine) and the Detroit rock 'n' soul sounds of the great Mitch Ryder (the Fleshtones do a mean cover of "Little Latin Lupe Lu"). As such, the Fleshtones managed to avoid the "punk" label, preferring instead to create their own genre: super rock. Having just recorded their new full-length album, Do You Swing?, the Fleshtones have been busy playing throughout North America and in Europe. Guitarist Keith Streng proudly describes the new album as "more of the same but newer." Perhaps Streng's affection for the new album has something to do with its being recorded by Rick Miller, of Southern Culture on the Skids. "He did a great job getting great sounds on that record," Streng notes. "I don't know where else I'd rather record at this point." And if you think your puny little garage band can hold a candle to this super rock, think again. "I'd like to say that the Fleshtones are still the best band on the planet," Streng declares. "We'll challenge any band to a battle of the bands. They can even use an applause meter track, if they think it'll help." The Fleshtones perform at Fuzz Fest, a two-day show at Churchill's Hideaway, 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami. Show starts at 9 p.m. and costs $8 each day. Call 305-757-1807. -- Jason Budjinski
Gettin' Hot in the Broward Center
Native sons and daughters of Florida whose personal experience with hip-hop relies solely on the Dirty South may have a difficult time comprehending just how huge Nelly was when he first busted out of Missouri. Let's face it, the Midwest has never had much of a rap history. It's either West Coast, East Coast, or South, period. When Country Grammar dropped in 2000, there was not a street corner one could go to in St. Louis without hearing "Ride Wit Me." Seriously. From cars, street corners, windows of apartments and shops, and in neighborhoods of varying class and race, that song and the title song played over and over again everywhere for several months. To those who were there, it explains the title of his next album, Nellyville; for a while, St. Louis was Nellyville. Despite offering a thuggish image, Nelly is as pop-conscious as they come. So even down here in South Florida, he'll likely draw an audience that will defy rap conventions. Every demographic under the age of 35 will be shakin' it to "Hot in Herre" when Nelly and the St. Lunatics come to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale). Tickets cost $39.50 or $49.50. Call 954-462-0222. -- Dan Sweeney
Funky Roots Rule the Roost with King Johnson
Bow to the King
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A trip to the Bamboo Room (25 S. "J" St., Lake Worth) at 9:30 p.m. would warm the souls of roots and funk fans alike. Though King Johnson has been around in its present incarnation for a couple of albums, this year's Hot Fish Laundry Mat blows away previous efforts and shows a band that has changed for the better. Rooted primarily in an unusual combination of Southern rock and New Orleans jazz, the Atlanta-based sextet blends a heap of other styles into its latest release, from straight-up blues to syncopation with a Latin feel. With Greg Baba and Chris Uhler on drums and percussion, Adam Mewherter and Marcus James on horns, bassist Chris Long, and guitarist Oliver Wood (trivia note: Wood is the brother of Chris Wood of Medeski, Martin, and Wood fame), and at least half of those men contributing to vocals, King Johnson puts out a lot of sound. Tickets cost $15. Call 561-585-BLUE. -- Dan Sweeney
Forget all these "extreme" (or is it "X-Treme"?) sports that take up space on ESPN. It's time for some extreme poetry to stimulate your brain. Now, before you go envisioning some smoky coffeehouse with pretentious fops sitting around debating the merit of Kafka, get a load of this. "Hot Air 2003" is the third-annual Florida poetry-slam competition held at Respectable Street Cafe (518 Clematis St., West Palm Beach). This event includes teams consisting of four poets each, hailing from Tampa, Orlando, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Delray Beach. They all qualified by winning their respective local competitions, and they get three minutes to impress the crowd with their verbal karate. The team with the best total score wins. The evening also showcases the talents of singer-songwriters Matt Mahady and Grant Balfour and a set by local favorites the Yoko Theory. The war of words starts at 8 p.m., and tickets are $10. Call 561-832-9999. -- Audra Schroeder