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Most of the time South Florida seems even farther than a whole peninsula away from the rest of the United States. The wave of benefit concerts in our area, with proceeds to be funneled to victims of the September 11 terrorist disaster, proves that this is far from an un-American locale.

Last weekend at Orbit in Boynton Beach, sponsors as diverse as the American Red Cross, Gravity Smokeshop, Orbit, Dada,,, Universal Music, and Renzo's came together in a Palm Beach County show of support. Donating time and effort were Pank Shovel, Tumbleman, the Protagonists, the Belligerents, Zigjaw, Whirlaway, the Livid Kittens, Dot Fash, and Alex Bach.

Bach, a 22-year-old Boynton Beach resident, was born in France; her dad is a Tunisian Frenchman, her mom an American. She grew up in France, Abu Dhabi, and Germany; speaks four languages; and is enjoying a surge of interest on, with three of her original tunes cracking the Top 10 download list. It's not exactly my bag (sorta froufrou, albeit competent, Natalie Imbruglia-type stuff), nor does the title of her album (Alex in Chains) strike me as a classy marketing move, but you may well feel differently.

About the music, I mean. Alex in Chains is just stupid.

An even bigger benefit hits Orbit on September 28 and 29, with 50 bands performing over two nights. Freedom Fest Two follows in the footsteps of the punk protest that local promoter Jim Hayward and teen rapper Betsy Ross put together last November to pillory Fort Lauderdale's under-21 nightclub ban. David Thomas of the Palm Beach Post, local promoters Grant Hall and Robert Gregory, and Pete Gross from Orbit will be overseeing this installment. Admission is $10 a night or $15 for a two-night pass. Friday night's confirmed acts include Anchorman, Audio Kung Fu, the Belligerents, Bitchslap, Bum Ruckus, the Come Ons, Corky, Creative Pain, Damsel in this Dress, Emigrants, Fas Eter, Five Cent Wish, Kokosante, Lords of Volume, Protagonist, Pygmy, Rocking Horse Winner, Soundsystem, Third Gear, Visionary, Words Now Heard, and the Young and the Useless.

Saturday continues with Baby Robots, Billy's Problem, Blue Ruin, Code 55, Cyst, Dot Fash, Fundamentals, Glasseater, Mary Tyler Whores, Monster Zero, No Way Out, Pank Shovel, Simplekill, Switch Mode, 13th Floor, 30 Odd Six, Trapped by Mormons, Used Goods, Wet, Xeon Switch, Zen Dog, and Zigjaw.

Across the country, all 48 MARS Music locations will be simultaneously hosting an event called Band Together, with proceeds benefiting the United Way's September 11 fund. At 5 p.m. on September 30, the stores at 5300 N. Powerline Rd. in Fort Lauderdale and 1801 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd. in West Palm Beach will shut their doors and turn off their cash registers. Employees are volunteering time to turn the store into a stage for a slew of live acts, identities unknown at press time. The event is free.

On October 5 Hashbrown, Crazy Fingers, Jerrod's Door, Cosmic Revolution, Great Society, Campfire Nightmares, Linda Rain, and Terri Catlin gang up for a Disaster Relief Fund benefit at the Culture Room. The suggested donation is only ten dollars, and more information is available from

Internet rumors have been swarming about the latest draconian action taken by Clear Channel, which, don't you know, is well on its way to owning every radio station and concert venue in the land. It seems the company knows what songs we should -- and should not -- hear in this time of raw nerves. Since these songs we hear aren't even selected by real people, just machines, no wonder Clear Channel is concerned that citizens may stumble across something insensitive while scanning the dial. Good thing Big Bro Clear Channel is being proactive.

Of course we shouldn't be hearing any Cat Stevens on the radio -- everyone knows he changed his name to Yusef Islam, and his song "Morning Has Broken" may well have sinister implications.

Now, some of the choices are obviously wise: Springsteen's "I'm on Fire" may have to be placed in cold storage for a spell. "Eve of Destruction," "My City Was Gone," "Leaving on a Jet Plane," and "Jet Airliner," all are probably good candidates for a little radio R&R.

Some of the decisions, however, seem positively strange, or maybe there are connotations we haven't realized yet. "Stairway to Heaven"? "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"? Alanis Morissette's "Ironic" does make sense, and I would ask that the order stand in perpetuity, for safety's sake. You can't be too careful.

Clear Channel has done an astonishing amount of ass-covering in the wake of these reports, but internal memos circulated into the wrong (or right) hands, leaving little doubt the conglomerate was engaged in some artistic tinkering.

Something about banning "Imagine," "American Pie," "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother," seems a little more insidious. What gives? But at least a few of the tunes to make the list should be there: If silencing "Walk Like an Egyptian" saves a few innocent people from harassment, I'm all for it.