Backstage: Woody Graber Picks Music to Take to Heaven

Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman offers his insights, opinions, and observations about the local scene. This week: PR pro Woody Graber reveals the music that gets him in his groove. 

In naming him Miami's Best Flack, Miami New Times described Woody Graber thusly: "A cantankerous old-school publicist who doesn't show any shame in cutting off access to reporters who annoy him, Graber is the dean of the concert promotion scene. You could be the second coming of Hunter S. Thompson and he would still freeze you out."

Hmmm... if you didn't know better, you'd think the Wood Man was a mean

old soul whose only mission in life was to play hardass. Not so! Truth

is, Graber's devotion to the local live music scene finds him working

many an evening guarding access to South Florida's leading concert

venues... from the Cruzan Amphitheatre in West Palm to the Fillmore on

Miami Beach, with Revolution, BankAtlantic, and innumerable sites


In fact, he's been the go-to guy since the early '80s, when he was director of marketing for the Miami Beach Development Corp. and PR rep for such distinctive nightspots as the Stephen Talkhouse, Stella Blue, and Woody's on the Beach, which was not his namesake but, rather, the South Beach hangout owned and operated by Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones.

Since Woody recently spent time hanging on the set of Rock of Ages while Tom Cruise and company were shooting their scenes at Revolution, we figured he'd be primed to give us his picks as far as his musical favorites. Of course, we ran the risk we'd get nothing but '80s oldies, per the movie's music. 

Fortunately, he proved us wrong, although clearly he had some trouble making his choices. 

Woody Graber: I have so many albums I love that choosing five is almost impossible. 
New Times: Sorry, Woody, you probably got a gig to attend to, and we've got a deadline. No jive -- just five! 

My taste has always been rather eclectic, so I feel strongly about all different genres of music. 

We're still holding you to five and five only. 

If I had to single out the five I would take to heaven with me (or hell if that is where I end up), I guess these are the ones I would choose... 

You've always been pretty righteous as far as we're concerned, Mr. Graber, so we'll bet that your ultimate destination is up, not down. 

OK then, here goes: 

* Anything by Leonard Cohen -- "The man who was born with a golden voice and who writes the most incredible songs has been a life raft for me in times of sorrow and pain, and a good friend in times of joy. I find myself listening mostly to More Best of Leonard Cohen, one of the best collections of his work." 

* John Coltrane - Favorite Things -- "This is the album that truly opened my eyes to the greatness of jazz. Coltrane is a magician with a horn." 

* The first Velvet Underground album (Warhol banana cover) -- "Considered by many to be the first true punk or new wave LP, this album was years ahead of its time, a musical and artistic masterpiece. The band consisted of Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, and Mo Tucker -- who played with just a snare and a cymbal -- and of course Nico, who was just all right (the band didn't really need her). It's all in-your-face music and lyrics." 

* Flying Burrito Brothers - Gilded Palace of Sin -- "Country rock, as no one has ever done it before or since. Gram Parsons, you left us too soon. It's sing-along time, from "Devil in

Disguise" to "Hot Burrito #2" and beyond." 

* "This is a hard one. There are so many contenders, from the Beatles to the Stones to the Kinks to Dylan, etc. So I think I'll ignore the big names and go to an obscure album that I fell in love with the first time I heard it: Paul Siebel's Woodsmoke and Oranges. If an artist could only create just one album, this would be the ideal one. Beautiful lush melodies and touching poignant lyrics sung by legendary folk/country singer songwriter Siebel. And the incredible guitar work of David Bromberg is a fantastic bonus. I could not live without this music." 

Now, with my work in the music industry, I find myself listening to some new and old performers that I need to familiarize myself with in order to publicize their performances. Not all are wonderful, but a few do stand out. For instance, I'm currently listening to the following artists performing at Revolution: 100 Monkeys (7/30) and Cinderella (7/31) -- and these that are due at the Fillmore: Danish rockers Volbeat (8/5) and Brian McKnight (8/19).

Hmmm... sounds like a bit of a plug in that last part, but hey, that's a publicist for ya.

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Lee Zimmerman