Loose Buttons Talk University of Miami, the Strokes, and Playing with Best Friends

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Photo by J.D. Aronson
Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman offers his insights, opinions, and observations about the local scene. This week: A band consisting of (mostly) University of Miami students sets out to make its mark.

At the tender age of 21, members of Loose Buttons have already built quite a career. The foursome live in New York City, but three are students at the University of Miami's Frost School of Music. The band has, thus far, released two EPs, headlined Tobacco Road and Brooklyn Bowl, toured the East Coast, played the 2013 CMJ Music Marathon and Times Square with Grizzly Bear and My Morning Jacket. It's even teamed up with Amnesty International in Washington D.C..

Singer Eric Nizgretsky, guitarist Zack Kantor, bassist Manny Silverstein, and drummer Adam Holzberg may seem extraordinarily young to have accumulated all these accomplishments, but the truth is, some a few of them were even younger when they started out playing live. Age 14 to be precise. While still in their mid-teens, Nizgretsky and Kantor played such places as Kenny's Castaways, the Bitter End, and the Knitting Factory well before they were of the legal age to actually hang out there. The group is currently celebrating the release of its second EP, Damage Gallery, another example of its infectious, smooth sounds.

Being a former UM student myself, I was delighted to chat with Eric Nizgretsky and hear how Loose Buttons is doing both itself and my alma mater proud.


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Summer Soundtrack Comes to a Sweaty and Satisfying End (Video)


C&I Studios and Exposed PR's Summer Soundtrack came to a close last night. The pop-up concert series centered on local music, and was emceed by South Florida musician Phil Barnes.

See also: Summer Soundtrack Pop-Up Music Series: A Perfect End to the Season


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Nicole Noël & Chance Meyer: "Just a Guitar, Harmonica, and Two Voices"

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Chance and Nicole: Two of an Appalachian Kind.
Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman offers his insights, opinions, and observations about the local scene. This week: Local duo Chance Meyer and Nicole Noël take a traditional tack.

Given South Florida's decided lack of higher terrain (in the physical sense, that is), any music that takes its cue from the traditions of the Appalachian Mountains would, at first, seem immediately out of sync, like trying to grow a palm tree on a block of arctic ice. So credit Nicole Noël & Chance Meyer for daring to swim against the proverbial tide.

The duo make music that taps tradition and takes an ages-old folk stance. Their self-released debut album, A Thousand Ways Down is an unapologetic bow to simpler times, albeit with a dark foreboding edge. It's a patchwork quilt of rustic influences carefully woven together with a single guitar, a harmonica, and two voices in perfect union.

Fascinated by their daring and distinction, we sought out the duo and asked them about the inspiration behind their old-timey refrains.


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Rod MacDonald Is Fascinated by "Working People Who Vote Republican"

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Rod MacDonald; A trooper, a troubadour, and an example of true folk finesse.

Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman offers his insights, opinions, and observations about the local scene. This week: Rod MacDonald in his own words.

Folk music has always been about social commentary, a sound that enlightens, entertains, and offers observations on politics, pitfalls, and society in general. It began in earnest with the Dust Bowl tales sung by Woody Guthrie, continued through the social changes documented by Pete Seeger, and then fired up for a new generation by Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton, Joni Mitchell, and others of their ilk. In a very true sense, Greenwich Village transplant and longtime Delray resident Rod MacDonald carries on with that same mantle of musical responsibility, illuminating it through wry pronunciations, frequently tempered by acidic asides and wistful reflection, on a post-9/11 world.

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Jim Camacho Prepares For U.K. Shows

Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman offers his insights, opinions, and observations about the local scene. This week: Keeping up with Camacho.

The late James Brown was once referred to as the hardest working man in showbiz. However, if he were still alive (RIP, Godfather of Soul) he'd likely face some stiff competition from South Florida's very own Jim Camacho. Aside from the fact that he can be counted on to release excellent albums of markedly melodic music on a consistent basis, Camacho gigs regularly, devises ingenious theater productions and simply stays occupied, allowing his creative juices to flow.

All of this points to the possibility that South Florida may not be able to hold him here very much longer. In a recent email blast, Camacho announced he was headed overseas June 2 to June 5 for a series of gigs in the U.K., all in support of his latest EP, the aptly titled Everywhere. A brief but busy visit will include stops in London, Liverpool, and Birmingham. In that latter city, he'll record an appearance on a pretty cool British TV program.

"I'm extremely excited about travelling to England, to play for an entirely new set of music fans," Camacho wrote.

See also: Jim Camacho Reveals His Top Five Albums

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The Livesays on Faith, Hope and Love: "We Try to Keep It Organic"

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Photo by Donna Paul, DP Studios

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.


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Michael Koppy's Intensive and Extensive Florida Tour

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Photo by Charles Gary

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

Florida -- South Florida in particular -- isn't exactly emblematic of the South as a whole, and yet it seems somewhat appropriate that a musician who is from the heart of old Dixie and whose latest opus offers a narrative about the political and social transformation of those environs should embark on a tour of our fair state.

The musician - Michael Koppy, and the album, Ashmore's Store (which, by the way, comes complete with an accompanying mini book that uses the analogy of the namesake business as an analogy for that cultural shift), will be center stage at no less than half a dozen appearances between Key West and points north beginning last night. And while most comprise your standard venues (read: watering holes of various descriptions), at least one will be of the highbrow variety, specifically, a reading at the Florida State Historical Society's Annual Conference in Fort Lauderdale on May 23.

"Ya gotta love that," Koppy says. "How many guitar guys play some noisy-nobody-listens-or-gives-a-fuck toilet dive bar one night and formally addresses a conclave of 200 plus university professors and authors the next? Ha! Love it..."

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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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