Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman offers his insights, opinions and observations about the local scene. This week: For the ex-Goods guy, the play's the thing.
Jim Camacho has always struck me as either multi-talented, a multi-tasker, or perhaps a combination of both. And, for the record, I'm not alone in that assessment.
For more years than I can remember, he's reigned as one of South Florida's most accomplished singer/songwriters, first at the helm of his band The Goods, and later on his own. Considering his many milestones, it's no wonder that he's earned a reputation as an exceptionally prodigious musician, both in terms of quantity and, most importantly, quality.
His last rock effort, the brilliant Beachfront Defeat, was actually one of two new discs he released in 2009, the other being Hail Mary, an equally impressive collaboration with an equally accomplished singer/songwriter Jodi Marr.
Known for his angst-inspired melodies and a declarative quality that frequently brings to mind Tom Petty in its harrowing exhilaration, Camacho has garnered numerous locals awards, among them New Times nods for "Best Songwriter" and "Best Acoustic Performer," and a coveted award in the Music Video category at the WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival for his song "Houdini."
Still, what makes Camacho's work so remarkable is his willingness to venture into other realms. Aside from various soundtrack contributions, one of which won him kudos at the Sundance Film Festival, he's also delved into musical theater. The concert version of his sprawling original musical Fools' Paradise previewed in Miami and New York, and later garnered a full-scale workshop. He followed it with Guru, a well-received stage show of equally ambitious proportions. Then late last year, Camacho unveiled his first children's musical, The Cavie Islanders and the Troll, which earned excellent reviews and confirmed Camacho's status as a multi-talented producer and composer.
This weekend, Camacho delves further into the world of theater by actually stepping in front of the spotlight via a starring role in RPM, a musical about a club deejay who turns his back on fame and travels the world in search of his true desire. The play, written by director, writer, and actor Paul Tei, and produced under the auspices of the Mad Car Theatre Company, will be presented at Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center this weekend.
"I'm excited to participate in RPM," Camacho explained. "It's really a great experience to be working with such a talented team of creative people. I've known Paul Tei forever, but this is the first time we've actually worked on something together."
In addition to Camacho, who plays the lead character Spin, the cast also includes Joe Kimble, Paul Homza, Annemaria Rajala, Rachel Chin, Giordan Diaz, and Jessica Farr. Molly Gandour, producer of the Academy Award-nominated film Gasland, co-directs. Besides acting in the play, Camacho also contributed some incidental music to the production.
Interestingly enough, this isn't the first time Camacho has acted onstage. "My old band, the Goods, was kind of birthed from the theater," he notes. "I met our drummer Kasmir while I was performing in a play called Root of Chaos, an insane black comedy we both happened to be acting in at the time." The rest, as the saying goes, is history.
Fortunately, Camacho hasn't shelved his musical ambitions either. He reports that he's in the mixing stages of a new EP that will be released in the spring on the local Forward Motion Records in conjunction with his own Broken Records label.
Consider him one rocking renaissance man.
Catch the show at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts (1300 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami) on March 2 and 3. Tickets are free on a first-come, first-served basis and available at arschtcenter.org or the theater box office. There is a limit of four per person.