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Second Best?

See those red cheeks? No, over this way. Sorry -- we're blushing with pride up in here.

This paper has held an unenviable underdog status when it comes to local music festivals. Behind the competition's formidable stranglehold on the music-fest market, any attempt by New Times to begin its own annual showcase would have a hard time against the tide. Tanks of thanks to Dave Heikkinen of Fort Lauderdale's Livid Kittens and Greg Aliferis of the Culture Room for concocting our own little indoor, late-night moment in the sun.

On Friday, August 16, this paper's 2002 winners for Best Band (Baby Robots), Best Bar Band (Avenging Lawnmowers of Justice), Best Female Rock Vocalist (Paige Harvey of the Livid Kittens), and Best Male Rock Vocalist (J.C. Riley) will meld like conjoined quadruplets to bring a night of local indie fun in a way Fort Lauderdale rarely sees.

Riley, who will join the Kittens in some as-yet-undecided on-stage antics, has seen his last name misspelled in every single reference this paper has made to him over the past 18 months. Thus, I've been stripped of my shoulder stripes, spending three horrific weeks in the piss-stinking broom closet the NT brass calls "the quiet room." (Of course, once I got to sobbin', it wasn't quiet at all.) Riley just laughs. He never pointed out the error, he says, because he couldn't honestly say that our spelling, Reilly, was in fact incorrect. "It all means the same thing -- Riley, Reilly, O'Reilly, O'Raghallagh," laughs the big galoot, at my expense. Obviously, I just had a little Charles Nelson on the brain -- again.

Last month, Baby Robots' Lakitu: The Baby Robot album received a nifty write-up in online e-zine Splendid, showering singer/guitarist Bobby Baker with praise for accomplishing "something that might otherwise have been considered impossible: He's made Boca Raton (or at least his little corner of it) cool." I'm not sure why Splendid insists on comparing the Robots' sound to "Astronomy Dominé"-era Syd Barrett and Obscured by Clouds-period David Gilmour, but the review finishes by insisting, "If Baker keeps producing albums like this, the next generation of fuzz-psychedelicists may find their music referred to as 'Baker-esque.'"

Yeah, what they said!

Chris DeAngelis, main hedge trimmer with the Avenging Lawnmowers, has been busy working on a new album with guitarist Fernando Perdomo. He says he's trying to concentrate on the task at hand but made a special exception when Heikkinen called, explaining, "I want to try to get the CD done more than I want to play gigs, but..." DeAngelis didn't come right out and say it, but I could tell by his voice that he's got mad love for his peeps at 16 NE Fourth St., Ste. 200, yuhknowwhamsayin'?

Heikkinen has chosen to do us so right, and Bandwidth cannot bestow enough second and third helpings of gravy-laden gratitude. However -- infinitely compounding a host of personal problems afflicting me -- this now officially makes me his band's bitch.

"Hey, no problem," chirps Heikkinen. "I just thought, 'What a cool idea -- it'd be fun to play with those bands.' It was as simple as that."

Thanks to all the pesky-pawed Kittens. Despite the scant rewards offered to rock bands in this often culturally unfriendly locale, the Livid Kittens improve the quality of Lauderdale life.

"Being in the band is what makes all the rest of it bearable," Heikkinen says. "We all have regular lives and families and jobs and everything. This is the world's most expensive hobby. Well, maybe fly-fishing is more expensive." (Actually, The Compleat Hobbyist indicates that bowling-ball scrimshaw can get awfully pricey as well.)

More thanks and praise again to the Culture Room, who found a coveted Friday-night slot for the New Times Best-of showcase. That means all the writers you know and love will be bathed, powdered, and paraded around. And we'll have plenty of prizes, clowns, rides, games, homemade fudge, and lemon squares.... OK, that last part is made up, but it'll still be a good time.

Heikkinen asks if notoriously shy Bandwidth boy would be interested in master of ceremonies duties that evening: "Think it over," he suggests. "You know, you could have fun up there."

Right now, I'm letting you know that I'll probably chicken out -- the last time I graced a stage was a seventh-grade Catholic school talent show, performing "Stairway to Heaven." Still, the combination of talent Friday night is bound to excavate your cranial vault (that's "blow your mind," folks), and attendance is mandatory.

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Jeff Stratton
Contact: Jeff Stratton

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