City Link's intrepid music columnist, Bob Weinberg, should be all over the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra's bankruptcy announcement. You'd think his single-genre, twice-monthly column would zero in on the fact that 84 musicians -- all of 'em orchestra members who were finally given notice last week that the organization has officially run out of green -- are singing the blues.
"We are without anything -- just unemployment," says violinist Mariusz Wojtowicz, whose wife stays at home with their 18-month-old baby. "She will have to go back to work to be able to make ends meet. We have a new house and a mortgage to pay. You cannot survive summer if you are a musician -- there is nothing here." Holding out hope that the Phil can pull it together during the summer downtime, he continues: "Maybe something good will happen over the vacation if they have more time to collect some money. I hope that maybe at the last moment somebody will be able to turn a profit. It will be very easy to close, but to reopen is not so easy. It's very sad -- what else can I tell you?"
Fellow violinist and friend Marion Myszko isn't as confident. "It's just so sad," he says, "so stupid. It's like murdering in the daylight. I thought this career would be different -- in South Florida, especially. But it proved me wrong. I was an optimist." What is Myszko's backup plan? "I don't really know," he sighs. "I can try to teach, but that's all I can do. This is all I've done all my life. I'm too old for auditioning because they won't take the people who are 40-something, approaching 50. It's impossible."
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Yet as our esteemed calendar editor, Dan Sweeney, put it, "Symphony of the Americas hops on the FPO's death like sharks on a warm bucket of chum." He was referring to the SOA's announcement ("South Florida still has great classical music!") that it'll offer half-price ticket discounts and $105 season subscriptions when its season opens in the fall at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. However, that won't be enough to turn the tide; as state legislatures cut funding down to the bristles and orchestras disappear, schools will have even fewer kids who consider classical music anything more than an anachronism. A demoralizing week for the arts in South Florida.
"If Memorial Day is a day of remembrance," says Spy-Fi Records boss Ed Artigas, "then this is a justifiably fond blackout." Artigas is babbling about the Sunday, May 25, show at the Billabong Pub in Hallandale that he and fellow local promoter J.C. Moya have put together. Moya's going to be "performing his personal songs of love and melancholy," explains Artigas, who will present his Zira side project ("two electric guitars, no rhythm section, really bad jokes") as well. I'd recommend not missing Weston's own Scott Nixon (formerly with A Kite Is a Victim, Ed Matus' Struggle, and Disconnect). Artigas calls him "South Florida's answer to the Red House Painters," and the last several shows I've seen Nixon perform have been spellbinding, mostly acoustic affairs. Also intriguing is a rare, unplugged set from the Stop Motion, whose excellent Spy-Fi release, Crushed, remains near the top of the heap of recent local releases. Guitarist Alex Garcia is making a pilgrimage Down Under, so his remaining 'mates -- Juan Lopez (guitar/vocals), Gaston De La Vega (bass), and Ari Dimitriou (drums) -- will perform as a trio.
Artigas, who seems to turn up anywhere along the tricounty strip whenever something cool and indie is going down, gives Spy-Fi's motto as Muy conocido en mi casa, which roughly translates to "known only to my homies." To this end, he's bringing down David Dondero to headline the show. "His music is pure Americana storytelling with a Violent Femmes-type swagger," Artigas explains, calling Dondero "the legendary train-hop flop." Dondero -- who isn't exactly a household name -- sounds like a hard-nosed country-folker in the mold of Woody Guthrie or Townes Van Zandt, but he has fans in the alt-rock playground. Conor Oberst, the boy wonder from Bright Eyes, and Ted Stevens, who plays with Mayday, Cursive, and Lullaby for the Working Class, are in love with Dondero albums like Shooting at the Sun with a Water Gun. One of those true troubadours who has lived all over the United States -- probably in his car -- and writes confessional tales like "Analysis of a 1970s Divorce," Dondero doesn't appear to have a permanent home. The Billabong sure beats a boxcar. And it will cost only $5 to check out all the above bands at the 'bong. Show starts at 8 p.m.