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The S-N Word

Just in time for the six-month marker of the nation's worst terrorist attack, a year-old Dania Beach record label and studio, Full Moon, has produced United, a collective project by Local Artists Against Terrorism, who dabble in every shade of patriotic paint in an attempt to raise funds for the National Organization for Victim Assistance. But LAAT's healing agenda comes with a disclaimer that reads: "Though we do not personally share all the views in all of these songs, we do know the feelings are real and everyone has the right to express themselves without harming others. We find this outlet to be much more appropriate than harmful."

Yet discriminating listeners are likely to find some of the treacly tracks to be nearly as horrific as the events that inspired them. Singer-songwriter signees to Full Moon, including Ean Poteat, Kat Harris, and Chris Bright turn in respectable offerings. Problem is, United is fleshed out with questionable contributions from an 11-year-old rapper, tear-stained evangelical gospel choirs, and some reactionary vitriol from the still-pissed-off contingent.

Even Lisa Holden-Todd, who owns Full Moon, stops short of throwing full commercial support behind the inspirational R&B work "Tragedy":

"Would I buy that song?" she asks herself. "No -- it's not my style of music."

But Holden-Todd professes to enjoy the crunchy industrial beats of "America the Beautiful," the compilation's most controversial track and the one that likely precipitated the disclaimer.

"You think you're going to God," it begins. "You're going straight to hell, sand nigger!" it bellows before calling for "revenge on these camel jockeys/stupid towelheads now!" Holden-Todd characterizes the sound of the responsible party, Cruxagogo, as "a whole new style of music that I'm glad that I heard." (Evidently, she missed out on Skinny Puppy circa 1985.) But she's setting the record straight on giving Crux and his crew -- Pistol Whip, DJ AZZLIQUOR, and Porno Cop -- a platform from whence to spew material better-suited to a neo-Nazi recruitment pamphlet.

"I think saying, 'I'm going to kill somebody,' and turning around and killing somebody are two different things. I spent five and a half years working in a jail, and I've yet to see anyone incarcerated because they didn't follow through. Words are just words. Following through is a totally different ballgame."

Holden-Todd says she gave the matter careful thought but ultimately decided the First Amendment makes provisions for such expression.

"I personally don't use the word nigger, and I don't believe in blowing up every Pakistanian [sic] or every person that doesn't believe in what I believe in, but I feel like everyone has the right to say what they want to say. I knew there'd be some controversy, but I wanted to take advantage of the fact that we live in a country that allows us to speak our minds."

Despite the unusual juxtaposition of songs of faith and devotion next to racist tirades, she plays down any potential conflict. "I haven't had anyone say to me, 'Hey, I don't like being on this disc because of Cruxagogo or 'Jihad Johnny,'" she insists.

Bruce Yarock's "Jihad Johnny" (see Bandwidth, January 17, 2002, and Letters to the Editor, February 14, 2002 ) is far more idiotic than dangerous, following the parodist bent of morning-radio shock-jocks and Weird Al Yankovic, albeit with nary a laugh to be had. But the tune has racked up a lot of downloads on MP3. com., Holden-Todd relates -- as has Yarock's satiric "Enron Song." "I'll be 1000 percent honest with you -- I thought about that song a lot. And I said, 'We have the freedom to say what we want to say, and if I like the sound of it, I'm going to go with it.' I was actually very skeptical about 'Jihad Johnny.' But I say, if you can enjoy that song, please do so. I think it was done in good taste."

"I know humor can be used to heal," acknowledges Christian rocker Kat Harris, who contributed "Another Whiskey" to the comp. But she didn't hear the finished product until after it had been released and therefore hadn't heard the lyrics to "America the Beautiful." She says she was dismayed when she did.

"I am not for this word being used -- at all. At all," says Harris, who sounded physically ill at being even peripherally associated with the song. "My personal thing is writing for God. I'd better go pray."

Let the tolerance begin!

Federal Highway-facing Millenium Nightclub, which was shaping up to give Pompano Beach a baby foothold in the music world, is no more. Local promoters Grant Hall and Jim Hayward were just starting to see some progress at the dance club/small concert hall, which has hosted a few successful shows lately from the likes of Dashboard Confessional and Unwritten Law.

"It was a first-rate, 800-seat room. One of the best-ever listening rooms in South Florida," laments Hall, who will have to move concerts from Hatebreed, Dashboard Confessional, Bouncing Souls, Millencolin, and Face to Face (all scheduled for April) up to Ovation in Boynton Beach. Unfortunately, Millenium never could decide if it wanted to be a South Beach surrogate with velvet ropes and VIP booths (and a duct-taped-titillating Fetish Night) or a centrally located live-music room with good sightlines and sound that didn't travel to the coat room, backstage, and across the bar before landing on one's eardrums. So it undertook a half-assed attempt at juggling both. The result: Millenium survived just six months -- a typical time line for self-destruction.

Look for a new Millenium (correct spelling optional) opening soon at the same location. The space will probably fall into the hands of another hapless investor who will slap together a half-baked concept and a few marketing gimmicks and reopen the room. Here's hoping that whoever does has the good sense not to dismantle the stage.

Finally, on April 3, Hollywood institution One Night Stan's will invite visiting Canadians the Downchild Blues Band to help raise the roof for Stan's Sixth Anniversary Bash. Just a week later, Stan's joins forces with the Musician's Exchange to reinstall a three-decades-old regime, as the two have teamed up to pump up the music lineup, transforming the restaurant into a New Orleans-style affair. Sounds tasty. I could so use a shrimp po-boy about now....

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Jeff Stratton
Contact: Jeff Stratton

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