The Chili Pepper offers the most flexibility of any midsize venue in Broward and Palm Beach. With two stages outside and one inside, the club can host as many bands as one could possibly want to see in a night. The indoor stage, with its front-and-center recessed dance floor, eye-level bars and tables, and catwalk around the perimeter, offers the best sightlines for catching your favorite local and national acts. The Chili Pepper also offers some of the best touring bands to hit South Florida -- everything from snot-punkers NOFX to glam-godfather David Bowie to pop-troubadour Matthew Sweet.
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This South Florida institution is the area's best because they are, well, more than just a blues band. The group's founder and lead singer Graham Wood Drout helped pioneer this region's blues scene back in the early '80s with the Fat Chance Blues Band, and his knowledge and understanding of the form is uncontestable. But along the way he has crafted an original body of work incorporating a host of roots influences, not the least of which is the swampy Louisiana groove and imagery evoked by the band's name. The current version of Iko-Iko is the strongest yet, featuring multi-instrumentalists Ron Dizubla and Doug Leibinger on saxes, guitar, and keyboards, and the band's most recent CD, Protected by Voodoo," is as finely tuned a product as any yet-to-go-national band could hope for. Tight, experienced, Iko-Iko satisfies the blues purist while forging its own more unique path.
This South Florida institution is the area's best because they are, well, more than just a blues band. The group's founder and lead singer Graham Wood Drout helped pioneer this region's blues scene back in the early '80s with the Fat Chance Blues Band, and his knowledge and understanding of the form is uncontestable. But along the way he has crafted an original body of work incorporating a host of roots influences, not the least of which is the swampy Louisiana groove and imagery evoked by the band's name. The current version of Iko-Iko is the strongest yet, featuring multi-instrumentalists Ron Dizubla and Doug Leibinger on saxes, guitar, and keyboards, and the band's most recent CD, Protected by Voodoo," is as finely tuned a product as any yet-to-go-national band could hope for. Tight, experienced, Iko-Iko satisfies the blues purist while forging its own more unique path.
Histrionic vocals, drop-dead good looks, the haughty grace of a queen: LaGaylia is pure diva and then some. Holding court for years at Coconuts in Fort Lauderdale with the understated backing of acoustic group Wooden Ships, LaGaylia has recently been hitting local stages with Nickel 'N' Dime frontman John Eatmon in a much louder R&B configuration. All peak and no valley, her performances start at the top and then go over it. (Think Patti Labelle.) Pressing all the right buttons for those who demand emotional exhaustion over subtlety, LaGaylia slays her fans, who shower her with bouquets of flowers like any true diva deserves.
Histrionic vocals, drop-dead good looks, the haughty grace of a queen: LaGaylia is pure diva and then some. Holding court for years at Coconuts in Fort Lauderdale with the understated backing of acoustic group Wooden Ships, LaGaylia has recently been hitting local stages with Nickel 'N' Dime frontman John Eatmon in a much louder R&B configuration. All peak and no valley, her performances start at the top and then go over it. (Think Patti Labelle.) Pressing all the right buttons for those who demand emotional exhaustion over subtlety, LaGaylia slays her fans, who shower her with bouquets of flowers like any true diva deserves.
She came from Massachusetts and has long inhabited South Florida, but Marie's songs seem to drift out of western borderlands, all smoky with mesquite and a Texas-size longing. Standing resolute, cradling her guitar as both friend and shield, she sings of big empty skies and worn-out boots, looking back wistfully on love and history with a knowing voice that would almost break your heart if not for her punctuating smiles. After years of hustling cassettes, Nofsinger proudly released her first CD this year. Entitled Boots (Nofsinger is one folkie you won't see in sandals!), it is a great collection of acoustic originals featuring her confident strumming augmented by friends like Dusty Rhodes on bass and Bobby Hester on harmonica. Marie is a troubadour of the first order, gracing not just the stages of the region's top folk festivals but the late-night song-swaps around the campfires where reputations are made, places where she is known as one of the best.
She came from Massachusetts and has long inhabited South Florida, but Marie's songs seem to drift out of western borderlands, all smoky with mesquite and a Texas-size longing. Standing resolute, cradling her guitar as both friend and shield, she sings of big empty skies and worn-out boots, looking back wistfully on love and history with a knowing voice that would almost break your heart if not for her punctuating smiles. After years of hustling cassettes, Nofsinger proudly released her first CD this year. Entitled Boots (Nofsinger is one folkie you won't see in sandals!), it is a great collection of acoustic originals featuring her confident strumming augmented by friends like Dusty Rhodes on bass and Bobby Hester on harmonica. Marie is a troubadour of the first order, gracing not just the stages of the region's top folk festivals but the late-night song-swaps around the campfires where reputations are made, places where she is known as one of the best.
It was the setting as much as the set that made this jazz funk trio's performance the best concert of the year. Keyboardist John Medeski went to high school at Pine Crest, a tony academy nestled in a northeast Fort Lauderdale neighborhood, and this show was a homecoming of sorts. Fresh from an appearance on the PBS series Sessions at West 54th, Medeski, bassist Chris Wood, drummer Billy Martin, and turntable artist Logic blazed through an inspired showcase of MMW's new album, Combustication. The crisp acoustics of Pine Crest's pristine auditorium and a hometown crowd of parents and friends made for a cozy high-school ambiance at a most uncommon venue. Inexplicably, punch was not served.

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