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Adios, Franni

Don't make plans to hit the final Frannipalooza -- the blowout that was scheduled for early September in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Founder Franni Howe-Southern, who recently unloaded most of her overgrown land south of Sailboat Bend, has sniffed out some new digs south of St. Augustine and won't even be in town Labor Day weekend. "So I canceled the party," she says sadly.

This past summer's annual 'Palooza (held on a balmy summer day on a Dania Beach canal) was unquestionably a good time, though 2001's bluesy showcase was pretty much ruined by inclement weather.

Who will carry the blue torch in Franni's absence? Most likely, the South Florida Blues Society. "It looks like it'll be a fairly powerful organization," opines Howe-Southern, "whatever that means." Some sort of a farewell event will take place on her shady acreage, possibly in November. "I will have one hell of a blowout before I leave," she insists. "I promise you that!"

NFG wears DBY T-shirts on MTV's TRL!!! Suburban Broward's theatrical metal band Death Becomes You makes no secret of its mushiness for Coral Springs pop-punk sensations New Found Glory. DBY's principals were among the Glory's earliest supporters and have even inked themselves with New Found Glory tattoos. Now that NFG has blown up real good, as they say, Death Becomes You is feeling a bit of dampness from the spillover.

On Monday, August 12, bassist Ian Grushka wore his black (but of course) DBY tour shirt featuring two-color stylized caricatures of your favorite undead superheroes for an appearance on MTV's Total Request Live, which is watched by the billions of teen souls who belong to the disposable-income diaspora. The next weekend, guitarist Steve Klein modeled his casual-yet-sporty DBY T-shirt during a taped interview at a New Jersey stop on the Warped Tour.

"I've received e-mails from kids who never knew we existed," raves Death Becomes You drummer Christopher Lee via bat phone. In fact, he reports about 50 inquisitive correspondences, adding that DBY is a hot topic on New Found Glory's 9000-member-strong Yahoo! club. But Lee says he's made certain to warn these teens that Death Becomes You's frenzied, pummeling, horror-show onslaught isn't quite as friendly as its happy, spiky-haired heroes.

"I always say, 'We're nothing like New Found Glory,'" Lee explains, entreating these potential new fans to give a listen to tunes like "The Dead Don't Die" without prejudice, telling them, "If you want to be open-minded and find out what's going on on the other side of the punk-rock coin, you know, whatever.'" Lee also makes no secret of the fact that he's overjoyed at the announcement of a tentative date (November 15) for the long-awaited return of Hall and Oates to South Florida. Yes, that's true. His enthusiasm, that is. The show is still unconfirmed.

Death Becomes You is among the regional outfits planning to rally around Mercury Rehearsal Studios in Deerfield Beach, which was destroyed in a fire last week. On Wednesday, August 14, paint fumes at a furniture maker in the Interior Design Center Building ignited.The rehearsal space and four-month-old recording studio were destroyed.

"Ninety percent of everything I own got burnt to a crisp. I'm still trying to figure out who lost what," says Joey Callari, who ran Mercury with partner John Spran. "We were just starting to kick ass. We were booked for the next three months solid."

An understandably harried Callari reports trouble returning to a regular sleep schedule. "It's quite devastating. I built this place from the ground up with a very low budget." Insurance, he says, will cover equipment losses and lost wages, but finding a new place and outfitting it with studio gear could cost anywhere from $80,000 to $100,000.

Lost in the blaze was an as-yet-undetermined amount of equipment belonging to the bands who practiced there, including Nonpoint, whose second album, Statement, was written at Mercury, according to Callari.

Fort Lauderdale's Freez nightclub will host a daylong benefit show to help offset some of Callari's losses. The event is set for Sunday, September 8, and will include, in addition to DBY, locals Simplekill, Time Will Tell, Westview, the Mary Tyler Whores, and possibly Darwin's Waiting Room and Endo. In the meantime, Callari wants to thank all the clients who have rattled his now-toppled walls and recorded more than $10,000 worth of demos in the past three months. Searching for a new location, real estate agent in tow, he predicts it will be at least four months before he's back up and running. Lee has pledged to help plan the benefit show and do anything he can to help out.

"I'm not a fuckin' philanthropist," explains DBY's stick-figure-thin drummer, "but if people are cool to you and they do you right, you should take care of them."

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Jeff Stratton
Contact: Jeff Stratton

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