Backstage In South Florida: Native Florida Tap Room & Music Hall Offers South Florida's Coolest New Hangout

Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman offers his insights, opinions and observations about the local scene. This week: Kilmo conquers Hollywood 


It's nice to see a new venue establish itself here in South Florida. After all, if there's one thing we lack, it's places for live bands and original music that eschews the usual cover band mentality that seems so prevalent, and indeed, so mandatory in most of the live musical settings that litter our landscape. While its name may lead to speculation, Hollywood's newly arrived gathering spot, Native Florida Tap Room & Music Hall (native, as in Native American? Tap, as in a brewery!), arrives with a good pedigree. Their website -- nativeflorida.net -- proclaims the following mission statement: 

"Owned and operated by musicians for music fans, Native Florida Tap Room & Music Hall presents live music by local and national artists performing blues, rock, jazz, punk, funk, folk, jams and more with concert quality sound and production."

That's not just another bold claim. The man behind the operation, Kilmo, was also the force behind the longtime local favorite Alligator Alley, a place that was home to blues and local music for nearly a decade until its closing in October 2009. Afterwards, Kilmo turned his attention to making music on his own, playing bass behind other artists like regional Blues champ J.P. Soars, New Orleans guitarist Brian Stoltz (who promises to be a regular at the new venue), and his own outfit - the Alligator Alley Allstars, an a local blues and roots super group of sorts, featuring Dave Shelley, Albert Castiglia, Raiford Starke, members of the local band the Shack Daddys, and Kilmo's longtime musical collaborator, Bonefish Johnny. 


Even so, Kilmo still kept his focus on establishing a new forum for live entertainment, hoping to find a location for a new music venue that could feature touring artists as well as support the local indie scene while incorporating the production values necessary for such an undertaking. A fortuitous call from Hollywood Mayor Peter Bober and Lisa Liotta from Hollywood's Community Redevelopment Agency led him to an available space at 2006 Hollywood Boulevard, a spot that he deemed ideal since it's equidistant from South Miami and West Palm Beach. "It's designed with the musician and music lover in mind," Kilmos claims. "World class sound, great sight lines and a comfortable vibe, a place where we can support and help grow the local scene as well as present the most interesting touring artists."
  
Still, in a place where live music venues seem to come and go with alarming frequency, the question remains: can it succeed? "This is about creativity, not making huge bucks because often there's just no real money in the less commercial music," Kilmo explains. "That's okay though... I live life for the experience, not an accumulation of possessions that mean nothing once we leave this plane." 

Kilmo's optimistic that the place can accomplish its goals rather than succumb to the tried and true. "Hopefully both the artists and the public will support me in this endeavor," he says. "The response has been good so far, but we'll see what happens. The sound is absolutely killer both on stage and in the front of the house, so I hope everyone takes advantage of it. I'm going to try it this way for one year. If I get the necessary support, I'd love to keep doing it. If not, I'll know exactly how to make money hand over fist with commercial cover bands and I'll have to do just that. I'd prefer to make this like the club my late friend Don Cohen had, the Musicians Exchange. I learned a lot of what I know about this biz from him and would like to carry on that legacy." 

Beer connoisseurs should be pleased as well. Native Florida Tap Room & Music Hall currently offers an impressive selection of micro-brew and craft beers, wines and cocktails, but plans call for them to add another dozen taps to the 15 craft brewed and imported beers they already offer. 
 
Only one question remained. How did Kilmo acquire his odd nickname? We'll leave it to the man himself to explain. "It came about when I was in the legendary South Florida band the Groove Thangs. They were announcing my bass solo by saying 'He's killer, he's primo,' when someone yelled out "He's Kilmo." The crowd started chanting 'Kilmo, Kilmo' as I was playing my solo. The rest, as they say, is history." 

The Forward Motion Records showcase takes place at 9 p.m. on Friday, March 16, featuring Robert Goodman, Dreaming in Stereo, Chris Alvy Band and Omine. Tickets cost $5. Phone 754-234-3865.

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