Diane Ward and Jim Berry: Two Local Timeless Musicians

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Diane Ward

Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman shares observations, insights, and updates relating to South Florida's musical environs. This week, different avenues back to the future.

Music is a transcendent thing, and the process of experiencing it can take both artist and audience into realms where past and present become indistinguishable. I offer as examples two recent releases from a pair of South Florida artists, each very different from the other, but whose grasp of the timelessness of treasured styles shows certain similarities.


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13 Acts That Rocked the Sail Across the Sun Music Cruise

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Alisa B. Cherry
Train: All aboard!
Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman shares observations, insights, and updates relating to South Florida's musical environs. This week, a shipload of fun.

I'm a big fan of music cruises. For me, they are ideal entertainment. You get a bunch of great bands onboard, all the food you care to gorge yourself on, nice accommodations, a friendly service staff, and a party atmosphere like no other. Suffice it to say, these excursions are like traveling seaworthy festivals, except at the end of the day when you've burnt yourself to a crisp, you don't have to go back to a tent and flounder in the mud. Instead, you can beat a retreat to your stateroom, where you'll find your bed all made up, a porter that's all too eager to cater to your every need, and, if you're really lucky, a towel animal to give you that extra added levity.

Really. If you're a music lover or if you just like your entertainment coming at you fast and furious, a music cruise is the way to go. Whether you're ship-faced, full of ship, or just in the mood to kick some ship, it's all good.

Natch, the wife and I couldn't resist the temptation to explore Sail Across the Sun, the inaugural cruise curated by the band Train, featuring a shipload of great bands offering around-the-clock musical mayhem. I have to admit, I was never a huge Train fan -- that's my wife Alisa's domain -- but they were damned good, DAMNED good, and the perfect hosts to boot. And hey, it was a Valentine's Day outing, so it proved a good way to make points with the spouse. Guys, take note for next year.

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Sharing a Bed With Savoy Brown's Kim Simmonds, and Four Other Awkward Interviews

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Photo by Arnie Goodman
Kim Simmonds of Savoy Brown: Fully dressed and out of bed.

Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman shares observations, insights, and updates relating to South Florida's musical environs. This week, Lee's weirder encounters...



In the world of music journalism, an otherwise run-of-the mill meeting with a rock star can suddenly become awkward. Take these scenarios as examples...

Those old enough to remember the group Savoy Brown will likely think of them as a terrific British blues band, while recalling classic albums like Blue Matter, Street Corner Talking, Raw Sienna, or Looking In. Newcomers may even latch on to the group's new current release, Goin' to the Delta, a fine example of a reborn band getting back to basics. Or they might have memories of the band's mainstay, guitarist Kim Simmonds, a man whose blonde, wiry good looks belied his dedication to hard-edged blues.



When I think of Savoy Brown, what comes to mind for me is a first-hand encounter, nothing unusual considering the fact that I interviewed a number of classic bands back in the day, either while attending the University of Miami or immediately thereafter in my fledgling career as a journalist. Rarely was an interview less than memorable, but some, like my chat with Kim Simmonds, stood out for an entirely different reason.

See also: Jimi Hendrix, Miami Pop Festival, and Hear My Train A Comin'

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Miami Vice Memories Inspire Fun and Fantasy at the Mayfair

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Martin Kreloff

Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman offers his insights, opinions, and observations about the local scene. This week: aching for the '80s.

Hey, kids, remember the '80s? That era of big hair, leisure suits, and Phil Collins? Yeah, a lot of Phil Collins. Maybe too much Phil Collins, in fact.

While most people tend to latch onto the musical aspects of that otherwise forgettable decade, we locals can be grateful for a signature show that brought us worldwide notoriety. We're talking about Miami Vice, of course, an extraordinarily popular network program that made pastels, flamingos, and going sockless ever so popular.

Aside from introducing its signature characters, Crockett and Tubbs, the show was also the first to license original music for each episode, spending up to $10k a shot to secure the rights to songs by Collins, Billy Idol, the Pointer Sisters, Sheena Easton, Jan Hammer, Glen Frey, and others that were considered the height of hipness in that otherwise lackluster decade.

I'm obligated now to mention that back when I was a thespian (for those unawares, a "thespian" refers to one who acts onstage, as opposed to acting out one's sexual preferences), I got a bit part on a Miami Vice episode. I played a stretcher-bearer whose job was to remove a body after the individual it once belonged to was tossed off a bridge.

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Wurster Goes Raw: "I Wanted to Reproduce My Acoustic Show as Closely as Possible"

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Jim Wurster: Darkness becomes him.
Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman offers his insights, opinions, and observations about the local scene. This week: Jim Wurster returns with his boldest effort yet.

Jim Wurster can claim credit as one of South Florida's most original musicians, not simply because he possesses a singular sound but, more important, because he continually ventures into new terrain and does so without regard to commercial consequences.

Beginning with his tenure at the helm of the goth-like band Black Janet and continuing through his stint with the Atomic Cowboys, a series of rootsy ruminations on his own, and a one-off collaboration with the Skyrider Band, Wurster has eschewed any need for fashion or frenzy in pursuit of his muse.

Currently referring to himself simply as Wurster, the Broward native is preparing for the imminent release of his latest album, Raw, an apt title considering the set's stripped-down feel. However, don't be tricked into thinking this is some kind of exercise in sleepy acoustic balladry. In fact, it's infused with eerie effects and electronic drones seemingly at odds with the laid-back motif.

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Marilyn Manson Rocks Your Baby to Sleep

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Really parents, do want this guy as a role model for your newborn baby?

Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman offers his insights, opinions and observations about the local scene. This week: How to screw up your kid from day one.

The holiday season is only now getting underway. but it's the perfect time to pick out a musical gift for any child on your holiday list. But a word of caution. Better to consider Twinkle Twinkle Little Rock Star, a new collection of lullabies adapted from rock 'n' roll classics, for April Fool's Day instead. A dubious entry in what has become a new trend in children's music, these tunes for tots are hardly PG and may cause the parent of the tot you give them to to forever banish you from their premises.

Although I'm not totally clear on the reasoning behind this somewhat twisted premise, it does appear to serve one of two purposes. One, it offers the child ample opportunity to elevate its hipness level from an insanely early age, thereby offering the chance to impress fellow toddlers with the fact that they know the entire Metallica catalogue, as translated into lovely and cuddly nocturnal melodies specially adapted for the postnatal set. Hey, it's more impressive than sucking on a stuffed animal or pooping in one's diapers. Or two, it serves the infant's parents' unnatural obsession with rock 'n' roll, an obsession so overwhelming that they need to force feed it to their newborn, thereby increasing the chances that fully half of the baby's brain cells will be turned to mush by the time it enters kindergarten.

Okay, I exaggerate, but there is cause for suspicion given this latest outrageous entry in the baby rock juggernaut, one that really calls into question the reasoning behind the product and the logic of any caregiver that might actually think it appropriate for any kind of crib consumption.

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Jimi Hendrix, Miami Pop Festival, and Hear My Train A Comin'

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Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman offers his insights, opinions, and observations about the local scene. This week: South Florida's first festival and a memorable moment with Jimi Hendrix.

In May 1968, South Florida had very little to boast about when it came to placing its imprint on the national music scene. The Beatles made their bow outside New York City when they appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in a telecast from Miami Beach, and Criteria Studios had already begun its run of notable R&B hits (James Brown recorded his signature song "I Got You (I Feel Good)" there in 1965), but for the most part, our environs were a kind of musical nowhere land that few in the business ever thought about twice.

That made the first Miami Pop Festival, which took place over two days, May 18 and 19, all that more auspicious. Though many may think of it as footnote in rock's larger trajectory, it was in fact a critical lynchpin between the two festivals that would eventually overshadow it: Monterey Pop, held 11 months before, and Woodstock, which awaited 15 months later.

See also: Jimi Hendrix Albums Possibly to Be Released in the Future

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SOSOS: Far Better Than Merely So-So

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Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman shares observations, insights, and updates relating to South Florida's musical environs. This week, SOSOS's Americana indulgence.

I've mentioned it before in this column, but I suspect I'm slowly losing the argument. "South Florida has never been a haven for genuine Americana." We are, after all, more acclimated to tropical climes, hardly synonymous for the wide prairies and dusty realms that inspire rootsy inclinations. But, I'm being proven wrong. Take a look at the music made by Jim Wurster or the 18 Wheelers or any of a number of singer-songwriters eager to sing their heartfelt laments. Indeed, maybe I needn't grouse at all.

The latest outfit to convince me I'm mistaken is SOSOS, a band I was introduced to by promoter Chrystal Hartigan. She was touting the fact that the group has been selected to participate in this year's Rombello Cruise, which departs from Miami this Friday, November 1. They'll be appearing alongside Michael Franti and Spearhead, G. Love & Special Sauce, State Radio, Donavon Frankenreiter, and Rebelution. Not bad, especially considering the fact that over 1,500 acts submitted their music to ReverbNation, the cruise's sponsor, and only one -- that being SOSOS -- made the cut.

See also: Aura Music Events Close Thursday Nights at Funky Biscuit With Sosos; Organizers Guarantee Expanded Fest at Suwannee

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Bill Blue's Still Got the Blues, and Also a New Album

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Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman offers his insights, opinions, and observations about the local scene. This week: A local shade of blues.

There's an old axiom that suggests all good things come to those that wait. Or something like that. But when the wait is 30 years, you have to wonder just how far that meaning can stretch.

At age 70, Bill Blue is certainly seasoned, and given his surname, clearly tempered by blues of any sort. He learned his craft playing alongside some of the genre's most legendary performers. Most notably, Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, the man responsible for penning "That's Alright Mama," one of Elvis Presley's biggest hits. Blue later went on to share the stage with folks like ZZ Top, the Allman Brothers, Albert King, Johnny Winter, and Hank Williams Jr. Mostly though, he's played the local haunts of his native Key West, which he still does six nights a week.

Still, it's been thirty years since Blue's offered up an album, a wait that's come to an end with the release of Mojolation, a set of songs produced by Key West transplant Ian Shaw at his Warmfuzz Studios in Key West. An encapsulation of both the sound and spirit of this tireless troubadour, it boasts an authenticity that can only come from a true blues practitioner. We recently chatted with Mr. Blue and asked him to talk about his long overdue return.


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The Lovers Key Make Music With "a Sense of Energy and Soul"

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Photo by Heather Nigro

Christopher Moll's musical ambitions have always extended far beyond South Florida. His previous band, the Postmarks, made a mark on the national -- and international -- scene, releasing a trio of excellent albums with a precious, semi-prog pop sound. Now, Moll is back with a new entry, a group formed in partnership with singer Maco Monthervil that the duo has dubbed the Lovers Key.

Moll himself describes his new outfit as "a mix of retro-tinged pop, garage and soul... like a great big box of vintage records; well-worn and a little ragged around the edges but full of warmth and heart."

We'd describe it as something like the Animals performing Motown music. Either way, the descriptions seem to line up. The band is currently in the process of readying its debut album, and it'll be performing at Moonfest in West Palm Beach. We opted to get a teaser of our own by talking to the two principals about their plans for the new project.

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