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Music News


Last week's column detailed the ongoing noise problems associated with West Palm Beach's weekend fun destination, Clematis Street. This week Mayor Joel Daves, who lives just blocks from the street's busiest section, details his hands-on involvement in the continuing decibel debate.

For the past 20 years, Daves has kept a residence downtown, and in that regard he's sort of a trendsetter in WPB's urban rejuvenation. Historically, however, individuals who start to move back into a city's urban core generally do so because they want to be in the vibrant, exciting (and sometimes loud) thick of things. Daves wants this urban renewal to happen but doesn't want loud bars and saloons scaring off potential residents. With another 700 apartments and townhouses being built between Okeechobee Boulevard and Clematis Street, he's concerned that too much loud music may make potential buyers and renters hesitant.

"We have temporary prosperity along our downtown core," he says, "but if we can't get people to come and live back downtown, it's not going to last very long. These changes will turn out to be superficial."

For now, however, the mayor plans on staying put despite construction that's taking place right outside his front door. The resulting noise and traffic are bothersome, he concedes, adding that he's one of the most vocal opponents of the loud music emanating from bars and clubs in the 500 block of Clematis. Two venues, he reports, have been primarily responsible for rousting him out of bed.

"Respectable Street has had concerts for the last ten years," he reports. "They started long before the general renaissance started on Clematis Street, but you couldn't hear it. They kept it inside. If you opened the door and stuck your head in there, it'd blow your head away. Occasionally, on Wednesdays, I'll hear outside noise coming from Respectable's. What I hear is the bass thumping -- it's like knockin' at my door. I go down there and walk up to the manager at the front door, and he says, "Is it too loud?' I've been over there about three or four times. I say, "Just tell 'em to turn the bass down,' turn around, go back home, and it's fine."

The real bone of contention, as reported last week, has been Spanky's, where bands occasionally set up and play on an outdoor patio stage.

"That never should have been permitted," explains Daves, who has complained several times about loud music there. "I call the police and say, "Hey, I'm a citizen….' No, I don't. I call and say, "Hey, it's the mayor. Tell 'em to turn the noise down at Spanky's.'"

A new noise ordinance for the city is being drafted, and that proposal will become part of the city council's agenda, with an open forum including statements from citizens, bar owners, and the mayor to follow.

Will wonders never cease department: Some sort of award should be bestowed upon the minds that came up with the title of the R&B fashion fest featuring Gerald Levert, K-Ci & JoJo, Kevin Edmonds, and Maze, which hits Miami's James L. Knight Center on August 3. The name "Honey Nut Cheerios SoulFest 2000" just makes one's mouth water in anticipation of that sweet, nutty, wholesome goodness. Got milk?

But even that cannot hold a candle to the semantic cesspool known as "PublicistSpeak," which George Orwell would have examined in 1984 had it been perfected at that time. The biografia that accompanies Marivan-era, the debut disc from Italian singer Marivana, a recent Broward transplant, is the stuff of which legends are fabricated. To wit:

Knowing Marivana means being instantly projected into another dimension. The unique dream-like horizon she evokes is something that exults any senses and inspirations deep inside. It is an irreplaceable experience of immersion into the marvelous human world of an artist who knows how to discover and describe a new way of perceiving, giving always more space and intensity to the feelings. Marivana has the universal key to open every heart.

Caution: Does not work on hearts filled with the spirit of Charles Manson or Burl Ives.

A pure talent with truly charismatic intuition that is able to transmit everything in a word, in a note, in a look so profound that it materializes in the soul to stay there as a joyous witness of something unforgettable. Marivana, one voice… a thousand emotions.

And in desperate need of a publicist with a new thesaurus. The author should have let the music stand on its own -- the mix of English, Spanish, and Italian lyrics; Marivana's husky, flexible voice; and the opera-disco hybrid tunes are all interesting in their own right.

On Friday, August 4, Alligator Alley is hosting a show featuring Dixie Dregs and the Steve Morse Band, with both outfits benefiting from the nimble guitar work of Mr. Morse. Long considered one of the most technically proficient guitarists in the business, Morse has served as inspiration (and probably humiliation) to countless aspiring players.

But this concert, which kicks off a national tour, should prove even more inspirational, since Morse is playing these dual sets with a potentially career-threatening injury that he has transcended with style.

Just two weeks ago, while trying out some moves with his son at a skateboard park, Morse broke two bones in his left wrist, ending up in a cast and in a good deal of pain. Through a combination of visits with an orthopedic specialist, some serious intestinal fortitude, and kick-ass painkillers, Morse is soldiering on. "If you go to any of the SMB/Dregs shows and notice an incredibly authentic rock and roll grimace worn by the guitarist whenever a left hand finger moves," he reports on his Web page, "now you know why."

Of course some patrons will experience similar facial contortions when scoping out the ticket prices for the gig: $25 gets you in the door; $35 buys you a seat.

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Jeff Stratton
Contact: Jeff Stratton