In sharp contrast to the cynical pack of corruption mongers that constitutes the overpaid writing staff here at New Times, the Calibrator steadfastly maintains that it is Fort Lauderdale's open, culturally progressive attitude -- not wolfish developers and ethically challenged politicians -- that is chiefly responsible for the city's present global status as a great American boomtown. Why does every rich bastard from San Juan to Zanzibar yearn to invest in the future of Fort Lauderdale? Three words: rampant social enlightenment.
Now, in such an open-minded civic paradise, one might reasonably wonder how a self-described "yuppie type" like Mandy Leigh can possibly claim that the Fort Lauderdale rock scene lacks diversity. Leigh is the frontwoman for Swing Sister, a moderately successful local band whose particular brand of alternative rock leans toward radio-friendly, adult-contemporary fare. Surely the foursome's music is not the howling, brutish, hip-hop-inflected wall of black noise that often passes for alternative rock these days. No, Swing Sister's is a gentler breed of alternative music, and Leigh's beef is that there's no place to play it in Fort Lauderdale. "It's very difficult to find a band around here that's just sort of cool and fun to hang out with," she says. "Everything here is really hard rock."
Leigh is polite as she explains her band's quandary over the phone, but it's obvious that she's at the end of her rope. The Calibrator scratches his flaky scalp and otherwise listens attentively as she outlines her imminent course of combative action: The third Saturday evening of every month will henceforth be alternative music night at Kim's Alley Bar in Fort Lauderdale's Gateway Shopping Center. Along with Swing Sister, two fairly well-mannered bands will play hourlong sets on each of these nights. Leigh herself will be in charge of booking the bands and promoting the shows. Her plans will be carried out in conjunction with the owner of Kim's, Tom Eckerle, who was unavailable for comment last Tuesday afternoon at approximately 3 p.m. A helpful waitress on hand at Kim's at the time, however, did give her assurances that Eckerle fully supports live, local music.
Leigh is certain that Kim's "is the perfect venue for this. It's the coolest place I've ever played," she says. "You can actually sit back and listen to good music, play pool, and there's that good, college-pub atmosphere. People are dancing, and it's fun dancing -- not mosh dancing where people are killing each other . Believe it or not, the last time we played there, it was crowded. It was packed. There are more yuppie types like me around than you'd think."
Whatever the tally is on yuppies in Fort Lauderdale, Leigh is right about that: There are undoubtedly more than the Calibrator wishes to think about.
Swing Sister, the Chemicals, and the Groove Lizards perform at Kim's Alley Bar, 1920 E. Sunrise Blvd., every Saturday at 10 p.m. Admission is free. Call 954-763-7886 for details.
The Calibrator has been the beneficiary of several CDs put out by local artists. Superhuman efforts will be put forth in the future to mention them all and whatever other locally produced releases eventually wind up in the dreaded mailbox. For now here's the lowdown on the first three.
Jim Wurster & the Atomic Cowboys, Dangerous Men: This is a fine collection of eight original tunes, a swell cover of John Prine's "Paradise," and a pedestrian cover of Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues." Jim Wurster's vocals are wry, understated, and slyly effective. Bob Wlos' accomplished guitar- and pedal steel guitar-playing heightens the classic country and occasionally old-timey Appalachian ambiance of the material. With several nods toward more commercially viable styles of contemporary American roots music, Dangerous Men adds up to a strong, promising entrant in the very crowded alternative country field.
Jim Wurster & the Atomic Cowboys perform Friday, October 22, at the Underground Coffeeworks, 105 S. Narcissus Ave., West Palm Beach. Cover is $3. Call 561-835-4792.
Nezrok, Broken Sound: The six-cut disc begins with "Mantovani's Revenge," a pretty, 62-second, piano-heavy instrumental that sounds like a prelude to a long evening with Barry Manilow. From there, Chris Korzen -- a.k.a. Nezrok -- assisted by a handful of local musicians, runs through an agreeable set of original tunes seemingly inspired in equal parts by '70s AM radio and the ghosts of Beatles and Beach Boys past. Somewhere between lounge music and light, mainstream rock, Broken Sound is a moderately intriguing sampler from a newcomer to the South Florida music scene.
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The disc is available at local Peaches and Uncle Sam's record stores.
13, self-titled: Here are four fun ditties for the headbangers, compliments of 13, a local hard-rockin' quintet straight out of the Judas Priest School of Taste and Subtlety. It's hard to go wrong with lyrics like these from "The King": "Now my queen, now she's a frigid thing./Wipe my head on the guillotine./Piss girl, piss girl, give me a tap or two./Lift that skirt, baby, now feel my rule." This is great stuff for your next medieval glam party. Until then enjoy or despair at your leisure.
13, Dharma Bomb, and Big Sky compete Friday, October 29, in the finals of the "Lucky Strike Band to Band Combat" at the Culture Room, southwest corner of Oakland Park Boulevard and Federal Highway. Call 954-564-1074.
Send all your love in a clear plastic baggie to Calibrations, P.O. Box 14128, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33302 or e-mail to: David_Pulizzi@newtimesbpb.com.