The Music’s Not Over

Last January, a special kind of memorial concert was held at Club Cinema in honor of Fort Lauderdale resident Sheila Witkin. Witkin passed away at 66, but she left a legacy as the godmother of South Florida rock ΄n’ roll – a manager, agent, and friend to many of the dozens of influential and, in some ways, successful rock, punk, and new wave bands that formed the local scene in the late 1970s and early ΄80s. The concert was a triumph for the music scene, drawing folks from around the world and reuniting some of the era’s most important bands, The Kids, Z-Cars, Critical Mass, Charlie Pickett, The Cichlids, Slyder, and Tight Squeeze. These were bands on the verge of stardom, which played at packed clubs every night of the week and earned press across the country, but never quite made it to elite stardom. Blame the pigeonholing of Miami as a disco scene, the raising of the drinking age to 21, or even blame the weather, but for whatever reason, this bright spot in Florida’s musical history had all but been forgotten until this concert.

Now, 25-plus years after these bands owned the South, their history is finally being recovered. Local filmmakers Diane Jacques and Aaron Wells spent two years compiling archival footage, unearthing lost recordings, and conducting interviews for their new documentary A Rock and a Hard Place: Another Night at the Agora. The film, rooted in footage from the stunning memorial concert, jumps back and forth in time to tell the tale of a scene forgotten. “It was a time when rock was really reinventing itself,” says Jacques, the film’s writer and producer. “Anyone that grew up during that era would say it was the best time of their life.” Featuring now-infamous South Florida musicians like Coz Canler, the late Bruno Martinez, and – yes – Johnny Depp, Another Night at the Agora screens tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Sunrise Cinemas Mizner Park (301 Plaza Real, Boca Raton). Tickets cost $7. Visit
Thu., April 17, 2008

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John Linn