Back in April, the Poor House hosted a pair of fine hip-hop-influenced acts from our sultry neck of the woods, giving this observer the impression that some pretty good local music was lurking around. However, the two bands -- the Square Egg and Hashbrown -- have done an admirable job of making themselves scarce in the meantime. Luckily, as this column reported last month, Hashbrown is poised for a recording and live-performance comeback.
As for the Square Egg, the new-school R&B band has lain low while undergoing a radical lineup change and is prepared to hit the stage again. But as singer Lee Williams admits, few if any of the band's shows are planned for north of the Dade County line.
Williams had a few painful, albeit truthful, observations when asked why the Square Egg has kept such a low profile of late. "There's not a lot going on in Broward for our style of music, quite honestly," he says. "It's mostly cheese-rock bands. It's a hard niche for us to get into up there." He has a point, given that a new space like the Metal Factory doesn't exactly fill the void created by the demise of FU*BAR, where less commercial hip-hop stood a better chance of survival.
"We're a live band doin' this style of hip-hop," he continues. "And it's not straight-up hip-hop; it's not DMX or whatever. It's a little too mindful for the 17- or 18-year-olds, or even the kid with baggy jeans wearing his hat backwards. We're not going to draw that crowd," he admits, noting that the Square Egg's Miami supporters tend to be older and more sophisticated.
The band's second album, A Segue 2 Grits 'N' Eggs, was mostly recorded in Fort Lauderdale at Soulpro Studio, the remainder taped at Birdsnestudio in Miami. Williams is in extremely good voice, special guest rapping from Emcee Jak Trippah is exceptional, and the production, although credited to various knob-twiddlers, is warm and inviting. "We started the project as a straight-up hip-hop project along the lines of Digable [Planets] or De La [Soul]," Williams explains. At keyboardist-saxophonist Brian Wolf's instigation, the Square Egg began to incorporate jazzy sounds into the blend, and now the band's sound is jazzy, funky, laid-back, and smooth. But as Williams admits, it's not always easy to find fans who aren't of the middle-of-the-road variety.
"Long ago I accepted that there's a genuine idiot factor in music. And that's not to insult people's intelligence but to say that the masses don't really get into anything until it takes off -- and their attention span with it depends on how much it's promoted. As long as they hear enough of it, they think it must be good. And once people see it on MTV or the Box, then it's the greatest thing since Jesus walked on the water."
Tasty little musical items: Finding Friday-night entertainment could take you all over this suburban gutter, with a wide spectrum of fun from which to choose. Locals Big Sky and Super Model traipse the runway at Nova Southeastern University; the Rev. Billy C. Wirtz and the Polyester Prophets return to Alligator Alley armed with the Reverend's wit, wrestling knowledge, and caustic sarcasm, while Betsy Ross, with Endo (the most recent area rock band to be awarded a major-label deal), Blindsyde, and Breech, tears it up at Spanky's in West Palm Beach. At that burg's Underground Coffeeworks, tip a glass with Rhett & the Pawnshop Drunks. Don't make the mistake of visiting Manray South in Pompano Beach that evening hoping to hear "Rock and Roll Fantasy" when Bad Company rolls in, for fantasy is all you'll get: This Company is a U.K. drum 'n' bass outfit, supported by Stakka, Skynet, Element, and Mr. Mendez.
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Saturday night Dionysos pays a visit to Club M in Hollywood, where band members Jondalar, Swyn Carbh, Bel Geode, Shoshona, Bombadil, and Ferren promise a pagan celebration of all things Mother Earth.
Meanwhile Sister Hazel and Guster appear Saturday at Meyer Amphitheater in West Palm Beach along with Neve and Beth Hart. The event dubbed "The Hot Summer Mixer" collects these acts, best known for the massive numbers of their discs that are sold back to CD stores.
Things are looking up in time for Sunday, when Atlantis on Fort Lauderdale beach hosts a CD-release party for bigtime reggae act Inner Circle (now making its home in North Miami), joined by former genre giants Third World. (See "Reliable Connection") Big Tings is the new Inner Circle release: no doubt the band's still trying to cash in on its successful "Bad Boys," which is the theme song for the television show Cops. If for some reason that combination doesn't exactly fry your burger, try Respectable Street in WPB, where the amazing local entertainment Website thehoneycomb.com celebrates its first anniversary with alterna-pals Legends of Rodeo, Mindlikewater, and Whirlaway.
The rest of the week, you'd best buckle down and do some work. Then you can release your inner Cajun at Alligator Alley Thursday, August 31, when Donna Angelle and the Zydeco Posse roll into town. Be sure to stock up on pork rinds.