Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman shares observations, insights and updates relating to South Florida's musical environs. This week, the Livesays' live life as a local band...
The Livesays is clearly one of the hardest working bands in South Florida, not only due to the fact that they gig consistently, but also owing to its consistent releases. The band's new effort, aptly titled Faith, Hope and Love, provides an ongoing example of those efforts, but as namesake William Livesay explains, it didn't come without its challenges.
"It's special just in the fact that we made it," he admits. "That in itself is an accomplishment for any self-funded independent group." Each of its songs was inspired by real life circumstance -- some of it quite turbulent (his mother's experience as a battered woman, a wife from Pennsylvania who decided to leave her family and start life anew, those he knew facing lie-threatening illnesses, a dashed first marriage). "When you consider the painstaking process from pen to disc. It's special because of the history behind it... It being a personal dedication to my close friend Mario and the people with deal with life changing illnesses every day," Livesay explains.
But he is quick to focus on its musical achievements as well. "The band was able to imprint more of its personality on this record. There is a chemistry and camaraderie between us which is obvious when we perform live. We're accepted everywhere we play and I'm deeply proud of that. We always connect, and that's part of the process that keeps the songs evolving. We try to keep the music real, with real instrumentation. We try to keep it organic. We always try to record with the premise that we'll be able to duplicate live what we do on our recordings."
Indeed, the band -- Livesay (lead vocals, guitars), Eddie Zyne (drums, percussion), Victor "Cuqui" Berrios (organ, vocals), Tim Murphy (piano, vocals), Jorge Laplume (bass) -- has clearly outdone itself this time around. Bursting with vibrant, anthemic melodies, Faith, Hope and Love is unerringly infectious from start to finish, a set of songs that recalls Bruce Springsteen in its call to arms and Rick Springfield in its obvious accessibility.
Nevertheless, as Livesay is quick to point out, South Florida isn't exactly the most nurturing locale when it comes to bands willing to offer up something of their own creation. "Because we live in an area that isn't particularly original-music friendly, in order to do longer shows which are typically at places that only hire cover bands, we mix our original music with our own twist on classic covers that fit our style and genre. It's important to us to maintain our original integrity."
By Livesay's own admission, that in itself can be a challenge. "The South Florida music scene is alive, but a little sick. You really have to search for the good. There are some promising artists and venues, but because of the almost nonexistent original scene, it takes an artist longer to develop unless they travel and hone their craft, or just perform constantly by playing the clubs. There are only a handful of venues that are original music friendly and that compensate the artist fairly. We're fortunate that established venues that predominantly book cover bands -- Boston's on the Beach in Delray, Blue Jean Blues in Fort Lauderdale, the Funky Biscuit in Boca Raton, Will Call in Miami, and Hard Rock in Hollywood -- all have us in regular rotation and actually appreciate out original material."
Livesay accepts the challenge every budding band faces in South Florida. And yet, it doesn't blunt his determination. "I'll never truly be where I want to be," he admits. "I think that's what keeps us moving forward: Trying to find that connection with the listener, whoever he or she may be."