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Mr. Smith Goes to Los Angeles

Like a trail of ants, our talented musicians always seem to pack bags and leave South Florida, making a straight line for Los Angeles. There oughta be some kind of technology available so we can seal the borders, tag the fleeing perps, and make 'em stay here where they're needed. But in a world still waiting for technology to advance to the point where we can take an SAT test with a #1 or #3 pencil, I bet it's low on the laundry list of priorities.

Unfortunately, that means we'll soon be losing Josh Smith of Josh Smith and the Frost (and before that, Josh Smith and the Rhino Cats), who will relocate to Los Angeles after a final gig next week. The 22-year-old hotshot blues guitarist (who just got married last weekend) hasn't found the fame he figured on. A few years back, what with Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Jonny Lang selling millions right out of the box with the same formula he'd been using here since he was 14, Smith saw his chance.

"I thought, 'The market's right for this,'" he says. "But it never came along."

While tooling around town and country with various incarnations of the Rhino Cats and the Frost, Smith imagined himself playing the big shows and making the big bucks. "For a long time, that was my goal," he says.

Recently, however, Smith watched the few opportunities Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties offered dry up faster than a splash from the pool. "Everything slowed down in the last year. I've had the least amount of shows I've ever had and the least amount of things happening," he points out. "But I have the best band I've ever had too."

That trio (keyboardist Pete Solley, drummer John Yarling, and bassist Jason Rosner) will stay put as the newlywed Smith heads west. Smith's manager of eight years, Don Cohen from Musician's Exchange, wishes his protégé the best.

"He thinks that California is going to be better," Cohen says. "Could be. Everyone goes out there."

Smith, who spent the past three months checking out L.A., agrees.

"There's way too much opportunity to not be there," he says. "I'm hurting myself if I stay here. We've never been a dance band, and this is a dance town. The lowest common denominator is I can play more shitty gigs [in Los Angeles] than anyplace in America."

He doesn't even expect to end up leading a band out there as he did in South Florida, saying he'd be happy to start as a sideman with someone better-known. "Becoming the best guitar player I possibly can, that's what it's all about," he says. "So you can turn on radio and know it's me after two notes."

Smith regrets leaving his band behind, but he sounds plenty excited about his imminent move.

"I'm only 22 years old," he notes. "What do I got to lose? I probably waited too long as it is."

Come seething with jealousy and wish good riddance upon Smith at his last South Florida show, at 8 p.m. Saturday, June 22, at One Night Stan's in Hollywood.

Frannipalooza's Sunday session, outdoors at the Harbor Grille and Pavilion in Dania Beach, was spared a biblical deluge this year. From a green swale along the water, we watched all sorts of pleasure craft, including audacious yachts, docking in the Dania Cut-Off Canal, passengers disembarking to investigate the music and the crowds. Highlights included the Kinsey Report's wily brew of hard-cider blues and a beery reunion of local scalawags the Groove Thangs. Remember Altamont? We never saw any sawed-off pool cues strike the back of anyone's head, but the burly, leather-vested, biker-gang security force lent an unmistakable whiff of nostalgia.

Please join Bandwidth in issuing a bouquet of congratulations to Johnny Five of Fort Lauderdale's own We Got the Missiles, who's welcoming a brand-new daughter, Gohanna Sarah Oehler, into the world. Like any proud papa, Johnny had to e-mail multiple scans of the minutes-old Gohanna a sight far preferable to that new Heart publicity jpeg, believe me. Gohanna was born Sunday, May 26, at 10:32 a.m. "A close friend alerted me that at that moment on the other side of the world in India, the celebration for the birthday of the Compassionate Buddha was taking place," writes the Fivester. "I am in love."

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Jeff Stratton
Contact: Jeff Stratton

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