Tag Archives: Latin

Gramp’s in Wynwood Loves the Everglades – 8th Annual Everglades Awareness Benefit Concert

This past Saturday, the already-popular Gramp’s transformed into the place to be in Miami for both music and activism. The funky Wynwood bar known for karaoke and 80’s power hour dance parties, played host to a massive, 11-hour Everglades Awareness Benefit, featuring some of Miami’s biggest bands and over 18 short talks by local politicians, environmental activist groups, and Floridian non-profits.

Ploppy Palace Productions and Love the Everglades, the movers and shakers behind the Benefit, utilized Gramp’s three different performances spaces to host the volume of events, featuring headlining acts and speakers on its Outside Stage (complete with dance floor, et al), a lineup of performers on its smaller “Inside Stage” in the back barroom, and its main entrance as a performance space for acoustic acts, DJ’s, and speakers. At any given point in time, from 4 pm Saturday to 3 am Sunday morning, one could weave through the venue and focus in on their pick of musical style or political discourse. Gramp’s is an interesting choice for such a large event, given its size – but the close quarters worked to the Benefit’s advantage, as participants were forced to brush elbows. The effect cultivated an overall “party” environment that celebrated the art and music on display as much as it illuminated the plight of the Florida Everglades and the many efforts by present organizations to restore and preserve them.

The event kicked off with speeches from the Love the Everglades movement, then ran a tight schedule through the afternoon. Highlights of the speakers on the main stage included an appearance by Mayor Phillip Stoddard of the City of South Miami and Rep. David Richardson of the Florida House of Representatives, and Laura Reynold, Executive Director of the Tropical Audubon Society. In true Miami fashion, the lengthening of the shadows did little to turn numbers away: Mike Antheil, the Executive Director of the Florida Alliance for Renewable Energy, wasn’t slated until after 11 pm.

Musical highlights included Magic City Hippies (until recently known as the Robby Hunter Band), an indie-funk staple that has captured an infectious throw-back sound, and always draws a regular crowd. Acoustic act from Hollywood, Fl, Brendan O’Hara, also managed to still the inside room with a set of originals, relying upon looping equipment and the wonders of modern technology to fully produce his songs as he performed. A simple midi keyboard, guitar and pedals, and sparse auxiliary percussion transformed into multi-tracked indie-pop replete with harmonies and modern dance rhythms. The headliners, Spam All-Stars and Suenalo, weren’t slated until later in the evening, with Spam All-Stars on at 11:30 pm-12:20 am, and Suenalo on at 1 am. Almost the entirety of the outdoor space was packed with audience members dancing, spilling off the dance floor into side spaces where local artists and artisans had set up shop.

The Benefit comes at a time when the Florida Everglades have been front and center in state policy dialogue. A source of water for over 20 million Americans and home to 20 different species on the Endangered Animal List, the Everglades have been the victim of much state legislative controversy. Though an “Land and Water Amendment 1”  to the state’s constitution received 75% approval of voters in 2014, partitioning off $700 million for the state’s Land Acquisition Trust Fund over the next 20 years, only $109 million was approved by Florida Legislation and Gov. Rick Scott for Land acquisition and Everglades Restoration. A number of wildlife groups have filed a lawsuit charging the Legislature with violating the State’s constitution.

Anyone who missed this event should absolutely keep a look out for follow up performances by the many artists who performed and next year’s Benefit. In addition to Ploppy Place Productions, promotional materials listed The Miccosukee Tribe of Florida, Dr. Michael Lemus and VolunteerCleanup.org as sponsors as well.

Contributions can be made at:  www.gofundme.com/LoveTheEverglades

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Stacked Deck of All-Stars @ Miami Light Project

Never judge a book by its cover. Or a classical music concert by its warehouse location.

Miami Light Project rounded out their Bang on a Can All-Star Marathon with a stacked deck at last night’s closing performance, featuring a lineup of Nu Deco Ensemble, Bang on a Can All-Stars, and Latin-funk favorites Spam All-Stars.

Performed at the Light Box in Wynwood’s Goldman Warehouse, the Miami Light Project is our favorite recent discovery… but it’s not so new. The M.L.P. was founded in 1989 as a non-profit, and provides multi-format performances of both international and local artists alike, with a strong community outreach presence. The Light Box is a special artistic space, tucked in the heart of Wynwood and easy to pass on the street without notice. From the website:

“Envisioned as a laboratory for artists and an intimate place of gathering where new work is experienced in its various stages of development, The Light Box will provide a creative setting in which artists are able to intersect with audiences in new ways.”

Last night’s concert was indeed an intersection of classical music and the breakdown of classical performance traditions.

Miami’s Nu Deco Ensemble opened the concert with their small chamber orchestra conducted by the charismatic Jacomo Rafael Bairos. Instead of grimacing with the furrowed brow we’ve all come to expect from classical conductors, thanks in part to Bugs Bunny, Bairos presides over his ensemble with a handsome smile and energy for days. The entire orchestra, a non-profit “designed for the 21st century,” performs with a joyful presence. Of their set, the most fun was co-founder Sam Hyken’s own composition, “Daft Punk Suite,” a fantasia on the work of the French DJ group. While attempts at integrated classical music into pop repertoire can often come off as camp, the infectiousness of the dance rhythms and lush instrumentation pulled it off and got the audience loose and moving early in the concert.

The headliners, Bang on a Can All-Stars, jumped in next for a set of truly “new” music that paired well with their industrial venue. Led by guitarist Mark Stewart, the NYC-based ensemble specializes in the performance of post-minimalism and ‘alt-classical’ works. Their penultimate set piece last night, “Closing,” by Phillip Glass, features the clunky rhythmic hydraulics that give the composer away instantly. The ensemble, however, managed to impart a larger sense of phrasing to the composition by leaning into its ethereal harmonic development to a lovely, serene effect. Their standout number and closing piece was Louis Andriessen’s “Workers Union,” a cacophonous hum of dissonance and rhythmic variation. The piece requires excellent artistry despite its seeming raucous nature. With no one conducting, the ensemble members must coordinate exact attacks and releases collaboratively, and the instruments are often used in non-conventional ways (pianist Vicky Chow could be seen arpeggiating across the piano with balled fists). The crunching dissonance and energy of the group was more hypnotic than jarring, and stood at as a favorite performance of the evening.

After a short breather, hometown heroes Spam All-Stars performed the least classically composed set, but their self-imposed genre, “electronic descarga,” is still a carefully crafted sound. Anyone who’s been dancing in Calle Ocho recognizes their blend of hip hop, dub, and Latin beats, with a small horn section and Afro-inspired calls and responses. The decision to send these guys on last was a smart one; Miamians can’t be asked to sit still even in a traditional black-box format when there’s dancing music on… and dance they did. Though the venue is more reserved than Spam’s usual haunts, they had audience members salsa-dancing in the aisles within the first couple songs of their set.

The program itself demonstrated an awesome evolution of new music composition techniques and the relationships of old and new: from the opening traditionalism of a chamber orchestra breaking boundaries with repertoire, to the amplified contemporary sextet defying performance traditions, to the fusion of improvisational jazz and electronic DJ arrangements, the Miami Light Project put on a concert last night that maintained interest the entire time.

The Light Box is constantly hosting events across all performance platforms, and we’re not going to miss anymore now that we know how special its offerings are.

For more information about the Miami Light Project and Light Box, visit:
http://www.miamilightproject.com

The Light Box is located at
404 NW 26th St
Miami, FL 33127
(305) 576-4350

For more information about the ensembles who performed last night, check out their websites below:

Bang on a Can All-Stars
http://www.bangonacan.org

Nu Deco Ensemble
http://www.nu-deco.org/

Spam All-Stars
http://www.spamallstars.com