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Wed August 6, 2014
Wanna Hear Rock 'N' Roll? You Might Have To Leave Miami
Electric Piquete is a Latin jazz and fusion band out of Miami. But when the band started in 2007, it performed as a traditional rock trio with guitar, bass and drums.
Michael Mut, the bass player, says his band just wasn't booking enough gigs, so they decided to change their sound.
"We were shooting for the traditional Latin jazz feel, where there was heavy percussion, bass and... keyboards involved," says Mut. "That really allowed the sound to evolve into something much more flavorful, much more South Florida."
Now the band is made up of about eight instruments: bass, trumpet, flugelhorn, electric guitar, congas, timbales, drums and keyboard -- all played by Hispanic musicians.
"It's a natural thing to play what we like in letting the Latin influences come through, but then it's also something of a necessity to be able to have that sound and to be able to exist and thrive in this market," says Mut.
Ever since Electric Piquete switched from rock to Latin, the band plays at least one gig a week, compared to once a month before. They play all over Miami, like at the Calle Ocho festival, Carnaval on the Mile and the outdoor stage to the entrance of Dolphin Mall.
"Latin music has become gigantic and Miami has become associated with the Latin culture," says Gary Vandy, owner of Studio Center Miami, where he's produced music for over 40 years. "For an American rock band to come here, it's not really what the demographic wants to hear."
If you want to experience a rock band perform original music, Vandy recommends you leave Miami-Dade County.
"There is very few places that will support original music in Miami," he says. "If you go to Fort Lauderdale and north, rock 'n' roll is gigantic. There's tons of clubs up there. You can play original music up there."
Clubs like America's Backyard, Stache and Revolution Live are venues out of Fort Lauderdale -- all with the same owner -- that pay local bands to play original music certain days of the week. And the Funky Buddha Lounge and the Funky Biscuit in Boca Raton also pay for local bands' original, live music.
Alex Garcia is the guitarist for Young Deville, a Rock band from Miami. He says "it kinda sucks" trying to play original music locally.
"I don't really think there is much of a music scene," he says about Miami. "Around here it's a lot of cover bands and Latin music. And a lot of these places you do play at, people are into the dance music so they aren't really there to see you or pay attention."
Eric Garcia -- no relation to Alex -- agrees with that. He's been booking bands for local venues for about 11 years.
"It's weird because the live music has become the appetizer for DJs now," he says. "The numbers are there. Cover bands: Everybody wants to hear something they know. Latin bands: Everybody wants to feel like they can dance."
Things have gotten worse for rock bands lately, Mut from Electric Piquete says.
And live-music haven Tobacco Road -- the club with the oldest liquor license in Miami -- has sold its property and will be moving after 102 years near the Miami River.
That doesn't mean the bar will stop booking rock bands, but it does represent a changing scene.
Editor's note: Following the publication of this story, the New Times Broward Palm Beach ran a response highlighting local rock bands and venues. We've had lots of comments from readers about this, so we wrote an explanation here.
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