Members: Yarko Antonevych (bandura).
Comments: Antonevych, who lives in Miami Beach, grew up in Canada and is of Ukrainian ancestry. His instrument, the bandura, is quite unorthodox in the United States, even though its the most popular instrument in the Ukraine. Antonevychs oblong-shaped banduras range from 50 to 72 strings and sound like a cross between a harp and a harpsichord. While most bandurists in the Ukraine concentrate on sacred, ancestral music, Antonevych blends folk, classical and even Led Zeppelin songs. Hes opened for Richie Havens on an Indian reservation and played a corporate function for the Florida Legislature in Tallahassee. Hes working on a compilation CD encompassing his three albums.
Members: Scott Avery (vocals, guitar).
Comments: "Acoustic music with loud shirts" is how Avery describes his performances at venues like The Kings Head Pub in Sunrise and The Duck in Boca Raton. "I say that because right now Im wearing a shirt with ukuleles on it. As you get older, your shirts get louder and your music gets quieter." Actually, Avery has a background in Irish pop, which he still plays at Waxy OConnors in Fort Lauderdale with bassist Peter White, who also joins him for gigs at Tavern 213. Avery, White and drummer Tim Kuchta play every Friday at The Duck while Avery goes it alone every Thursday at The Kings Head. "Theres a different vibe there because I can just go in any direction," Avery says. The singer-songwriter had planned to release a solo CD called Pseudo Beach this year, but instead became involved with another, more important production: the birth of his daughter. "The baby thing sort of put the CD on ice," he says.
Banyan Street Jug Band
Members: Bob Kendall (guitar, vocals), Greg Burdick (mandolin, guitar, vocals), Vanessa Walker (vocals, washboard, spoons), Glen Moody (fiddle, harmonica, mandolin), "Twenty-Dollar Bill" Rusch (washboard, washtub bass), Russell Hibbard (jug, vocals, washtub bass).
Comments: Named for the street in downtown West Palm Beach, Banyan Street Jug Band describe their repertoire as a mix of "1920s and 30s Memphis street band, good-time blues and hillbilly music and a few classic rock and original tunes in the jug-band style." With longtime partners Kendall on National steel slide and six- and 12-string guitars, and Burdick on mandolin and guitar, this talented bunch also includes "North Carolina songbird" Walker on vocals and the Bamboo Rooms own "Twenty-Dollar Bill" on washboard and Russ Hibbard on jug. Hibbard, who owns and operates the Bamboo Room with his wife, Karen McKinley, plays an old cider jug tricked up with a tuba mouthpiece, which allows him a degree of chromaticism unavailable to his predecessors. The Banyan Streeters frequently play Wednesdays at the Bamboo Room and have been working on a CD.
Contact: 561/832-4263 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Members: Peter Betan (vocals, guitar).
Comments: Finger-style guitarist Betan is quite proud of the fact that when he plays acoustically, he really plays acoustically, meaning you wont hear sequencers or drum machines at his performances. I pride myself on being one of the few unsequenced acts in South Florida, says Betan, overlooking every other artist in this list. I have more of a purist attitude when I play. I rely on my instrument and my abilities. So far, that attitude has led to Betans selling more than 100,000 copies of his original-music cassettes as well as a once-a-year gig in New York City and a recent article in the trade magazine ASCAP Playback that garnered Betan worldwide attention. At home, Betan plays most Borders bookstores as well as the occasional Friday at Chocolada in Hollywood. Hes working on two new CDs, Higher Ground and the all-instrumental The Angels Are Listening.
Members: Daniel de Vise (vocals, guitar), Skip Sheffield (vocals, guitar).
Comments: This year, Dos Gringos marked a decade of playing 1960s-inspired rock by the likes of The Byrds, Neil Young and, of course, The Beatles. While Sheffield and de Vise, both local journalists, are veterans of the Borders bookstore circuit, they also have played an array of atypical venues, including Boca Raton City Hall, Mars Music Amphitheatre, the opening of a Linda McCartney photo exhibition (the very pinnacle of cool gigs, de Vise says) and many environmental-themed charity events. The duo also has backed Jefferson Airplane singer Marty Balin as well as Miami Herald humor columnist Dave Barry in a Rock Bottom Remainders-type outfit at benefits and parties.
Members: Scott Goldblatt (guitar, vocals).
Comments: Im going back to the roots, admits Dania Beach singer-guitarist Goldblatt, doing a lot of the things Jorma Kaukonen from Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna did. Goldblatt also admits an appreciation for the Rev. Gary Davis, whose songs he performs at venues like Java Island in Plantation, the Chat Room Cafe in Hollywood and the Chocolate Moose in Davie. Goldblatt recently discovered he had a knack for childrens music when he began writing songs for his niece and nephew. And when he doesnt have a guitar in his hand, its usually because hes holding a camera. Goldblatt is also a nature photographer whose underwater shots of sea turtles in the Bahamas and sunsets on Hollywood Beach recently were displayed at the Schacknow Museum of Fine Arts in Plantation as part of the show Harvesting Floridas Best. A lot of the shooting inspires the lyrics to the songs, Goldblatt says, citing as an example the song Silence of the Mountains, which he wrote following a trip to Yosemite National Park. People call it my masterpiece, he says. That whole journey led to a lot of really positive things. With the art shows, the lyrics from the songs have been incorporated into the photography displays. Its more than I ever thought I would be doing artistically.
Members: Darrell House (vocals, guitar).
Comments: It was both a good year and a bad year for singer-guitarist House, whos been a fixture on the local acoustic scene for the past 26 years. Bad because some of his longtime gigs began drying up like puddles in July. Pier 66 let me go after three and a half years, and Im down to one night [Thursdays] at Brus Room, House says, adding with a laugh that he recently has worked some yacht club jobs. House credits the relaxing of his gig schedule to the slumping economy. But in keeping with Houses jovial nature, theres a positive side to this, as well. Im at the point where I would like to move away from the bars and more into the kids stuff, he says, referring to the childrens music and books hes been writing for the past several years. Houses CD Under the Cushions on the Couch has earned him a number of fans in the 2- to 4-feet-tall range, as have his books A Dolphins Tale and Miller the Green Caterpillar. The kid shows are getting better and better, House says of his performances at local libraries and bookstores. Ive added stories to it and am doing some poetry. I get so tickled with these kids. I laugh at their responses to my songs. Recently, House returned to the place of his own childhood, Middletown, Ohio, to play for about 100 kids at the elementary school he attended 40 years ago. My great-niece and great-nephew now go there, House says. It was just the best show I ever did anytime, anywhere. People who say you cant go home again dont know what theyre talking about.
Little Jack and Friends
Members: Little Jack (vocals, guitar, mandolin), Stephanie (vocals), Jim McBride (guitar, vocals), Dutch DuBois (bass).
Comments: Little Jack and Friends are influenced by the great singer-songwriters of the 1970s (including Leonard Cohen, Phil Ochs and, especially, Fred Neil), whose songs they perform alongside their own roots-rocking originals. The quartet recently released its debut CD, Past Due, a collection of acoustic and electric folk-rock songs written by Little Jack, McBride and vocalist Vanessa Wright, with whom Jack once performed in the band Empathy. As for this groups singer, the one-named Stephanie, Little Jacks daughter discovered her at a karaoke bar last year and shes been a Friend ever since. Look for the troupe at neighborhood bars like Rosey Baby in Lauderhill.
Members: Grant Livingston (vocals, guitar).
Comments: For the past 20 years, Livingstons music has documented the other Florida -- you know, the Florida obscured by all the Miami City Hall scandals, O.J. Simpson dustups and butterfly ballots. Of course, no Floridian songwriter worth his guitar strings could ignore the tabloid culture thriving right in his back yard, and Livingston doesnt. But hes much more concerned with the Florida he fell in love with as a boy, the state where he can go fishing just about anytime he wants to, where he can actually breathe clean air when he so desires and where history is written on everything from the sand on Miami Beach to the stones of Coral Castle. Livingstons songs can be both down-home and whimsical, a dichotomy thats in full bloom on his new CD, Let Me Off the Leash. Whether giving a brief, rewarding history lesson about Floridas discovery by Spanish explorers on Walk With Dr. George or stalking through an old graveyard on Le Chat Gris Gris, Livingston is clearly in his element, as his deft finger-picking is augmented by a rootsy assortment of fiddles, accordions, clarinet and ragtime piano. Livingston also contributed to several compilation CDs this year, including a disc devoted to Florida songwriters sponsored by the Will McLean Foundation called These Diamonds, named after one of Livingstons own songs. Livingston can be found at most folk showcases and festivals and often at the Main Street Cafe in Homestead, where he plays alone or accompanied by various guitarists and percussionists. Im primarily a solo act, Livingston says, but when I get a chance to play with other people I do.
Members: Rod MacDonald (vocals, guitar).
Comments: An internationally known singer-songwriter with roots in the Greenwich Village folk scene of the 1970s-80s, MacDonald has made his home in Palm Beach County since the early 90s. Hes a born storyteller, relaying songs of personal and universal experience with great insight, empathy and humor on albums for labels such as Gadfly and Shanachie. He hasnt produced a new CD since 1999s Into the Blue but his first album, 1983s No Commercial Traffic, is finally being released on CD. I remember when we shot photos of me playing the guitar walking across the Avenue of the Americas in SoHo (when the light changed and there were no cars), MacDonald writes in an e-mail, with the twin towers [of the World Trade Center] high in the background, just lighting up in the indigo sky of early evening. Look for the CDs release date, as well as MacDonalds performance schedule, at www.rodmacdonald.net.
Members: Vince Seiberling (vocals), Anthony Alfano (guitar, vocals), Bill Meredith (drums, percussion, vocals).
Comments: Longtime friends Seiberling and Alfano formed the acoustic duo version of NetheresQue to play at area open-mike nights in hopes of recruiting a bassist and drummer to eventually form a band. Earlier this year, they got halfway there by incorporating Meredith, who doubles on drums and percussion (as Alfano does on electric and acoustic guitars). They recorded a four-song demo in November with fretless wiz Randy Ward, but are still in search of a bassist. The acoustic trio often performs at the Underground Coffee Works in West Palm Beach, playing originals and an array of covers from Radiohead and Pearl Jam to Bob Dylan and a slate of unorthodox Beatles tunes (Happiness Is a Warm Gun, I Am the Walrus, So Tired, Glass Onion, Yer Blues).
Contact: 561/478-2231 or NetheresQue@aol.com. Marie Nofsinger
Members: Marie Nofsinger (vocals, guitar, percussion).
Comments: In 1998, Delray Beach singer-songwriter Nofsinger released Boots, a brilliant album of blues- and country-inflected narratives written by a woman whos seen it all, and still hungers to see some more. The CDs depth of character and musicality made it South Floridas equivalent of Lucinda Williams Car Wheels on a Gravel Road and it earned Nofsinger tons of recognition and countless fans. A followup, however, has been long in coming, as Nofsinger was sidelined for much of 2000 by a nasty throat ailment, and this year, long past tired of dealing with unscrupulous bar owners, Nofsinger began to ask herself why she even bothered. And then she found the answer -- three times. First, a musician friend in Austin graciously began posting her songs on MP3.com in hopes of turning more people on to her music. Then, I went to Florence, Italy, she says. I needed to be where people loved music and art. ... I learned that 90 percent of the people in Florence were artists and were supported by the other 10 percent. Thats love. Back home in November, Nofsinger appeared on Michael Stocks Folk and Acoustic Music show on WLRN (91.3-FM). She was there to promote her show that evening at Miamis Luna Star Cafe but really wasnt anticipating a large turnout. She got one anyway. I needed that gig, she says. It was so real and so unpretentious and so genuine. God, it was a shot in the arm. Nofsinger says she now has enough new material to fill a double-album, which shes considering recording entirely at home. I need to make a record now, she says. I just want to get back in it. In the meantime, look for the ever-engaging artist at venues like the CG Cafe in Lake Worth as well as that citys Bamboo Room, where she and fellow songwriter Theresa Lindstrom host a monthly bluegrass night.
Peters Road Swamp-Blues Band
Members: Boomslang Swampsinger (banjo), Wardog Vanderplate (guitar), Bobcat Sweet (guitar), Mark Crocodile Harris (bass, flute, drums).
Comments: Formed in 1988, Peters Road Swamp-Blues Band claims to be the oldest swamp-music group in the country. Whether or not thats true, its certain that the band members have no problem getting their mud boots wet on original, Florida-centric numbers like Flamingo Road Kill Cafe, Take a Right Turn at the Dead Dog and Jim Billies Hat, written in honor of the Seminole Indian chief. Its basically acoustic roadhouse country music, says Boomslang, who plays a pre-World War I plectrum banjo he found as a boy in his familys attic. One would think you couldnt find that many songs about the Everglades, but we do. Even though the band is based in Broward County, local performances by them are rare, although the group often plays festivals and events in Central and North Florida. Peters Road was scheduled to play a recent benefit for Fort Lauderdales Stranahan House, but that was scrapped over fears that Hurricane Michelle would hit our shores. The band will play Fridays City Link Music Fest, however.
Members: Jeff Maldonado (guitar, vocals), Christine Maldonado (vocals, guitar, percussion).
Comments: Self-described flower children, the Maldonados perform original, harmonious, folk-based pop and rock. In 1999, they released their first album, Blue, which is receiving airplay from WVUM (90.5-FM) and contains 13 melodic tunes written, performed and produced by the couple, including Nature of Your Way, Leaving Us Alone, Isles of Blue and Sensitivity. The Maldonados say they wanted the album to capture the beauty and simplicity of live acoustic music. The songs, which mostly are about love, contain introspective lyrics and climactic, inspirational arrangements. Blue is available at the Virgin Megastore in South Miami, Borders in Aventura and Fort Lauderdale and Warehaus 57 in Hollywood. The Providence plays an array of venues including Oasis at Sawgrass Mills, Borders and the Chat Room Café. They will appear Friday at Now Art Café from 1-2 a.m. at the City Link Music Fest, performing their originals and accompanying singer-songwriter Genene (see Alternative listing). For a schedule of other performances, visit their Web site at www.theprovidence.net.
Contact: 954/927-9390 or email@example.com.
Members: Joann Scott (vocals, guitar).
Comments: Scott primarily is a vocalist, having filled that role for most of this year in City Lizard, a duo with guitarist-vocalist Rob Strauss. After their weekly gig at Ralph & Rosies restaurant in Boynton Beach ended in October, Scott chose to concentrate on a demo recording with help from guitarist Tom Lippincott, bassist Randy Ward and drummer Fred Weng. Scott now flies solo playing originals like the country-tinged Crazy Dog and covers like Kris Kristoffersons Me and Bobby McGee, but she still hopes to form a band.
Members: Laura Sue Wilansky (flute, vocals).
Comments: Wilansky calls her music flute fusion, a hybrid of jazz, New Age, classical, Brazilian and Celtic music that she performs solo or in a duo, trio or quartet. She plays everywhere from corporate functions and health food stores to Unitarian churches and bookstores like Borders in Coral Springs, where she hosts a monthly Musicians Support Group, which last month celebrated its second anniversary. Wilansky has released an album called Sarabande and has recorded another called Return to Avalon, which she recorded at sacred places in France and England, including Stonehenge. See her Web page at www.silvernightingale.com.
Members: Skeedlepop (guitar, vocals).
Comments: For legal reasons, we agreed not to mention Skeedlepops real name -- hes embroiled in ongoing litigation over a botched surgery -- but suffice it to say, hes a deeply revered figure on the local music scene whose open mikes were a training ground for many area performers in the 1990s. He treats everyone with respect, says South Florida-gone-New York singer-songwriter Kathy Fleischmann. I have always had a problem with stage fright but never at his open mikes because he made everyone feel welcome. [Skeedlepop] is a gentle, kind, considerate, thoughtful and overall magnificent individual whose ethic I highly respect, e-mailed Miami singer-songwriter Diane Ward. His love of music as an expression radiates throughout his performances and in his conversation. Skeedlepops genuine compassion and integrity also shine through his original music, as heard on last years recording Dont Get Your Hopes Up, where hes backed by his talented sons on harmony vocals and guitar. Original songs include the lovely Storms Out of the Season, the wistful Marie -- The Waitress and the humorous title track, which is illustrated by the cover photo of a dejected hound dreaming of T-bones sizzling on the grill. Newly available is the 12-track Rough Cuts but Hardly Bleeding, which consists of originals in their seminal stages. During Skeedlepops live gigs, however, youre more likely to hear his vast repertoire of rousing Irish drinking songs and ballads or classic rock by the likes of Jimmy Buffett, Bob Dylan and Van Morrison. Of course, he has to be sure Kellys Pub owner Jim Kelly isnt around when he plays American Pie; Kelly mooned him for playing it. Find Skeedlepop most Saturdays at Kellys Pub in downtown Hollywood, where hes sometimes joined by Outta dBlues bassist and vocalist Deny Rowand. Cue up his Web page at www.skeedlepop.com for info on how to order CDs, or you can always buy them off the bandstand.
Members: Andy Stein (vocals, guitar).
Comments: Stein was the last musician to join InHouse, a popular Lake Worth band that played Palm Beach County throughout its 1994-99 tenure. His acoustic playing -- through a maze of pedals that sometimes made him sound like an electric guitarist playing distorted power-chords -- now graces stages alongside vocalist-guitarist Jason Colannino and fellow guitarist Steve Jones. But Stein also does occasional solo gigs and duo outings with former InHouse drummer Bill Meredith on percussion. The guitarists playing is akin to an acoustic John McLaughlin, and regular monthly bookings at the CG Cafe in Lake Worth showcase InHouse tunes, the occasional cover, improvised instrumentals and new songs.
Members: Gin Weintraub (vocals, guitar).
Comments: Weintraub was the creative force behind InHouse, the rock act she led with her twin sister, Evi. When Evi moved to New York to get married in 1999, the band members went their separate ways, but Weintraub and InHouse guitarist Andy Stein (see above) played together throughout 2001 at places like the CG Cafe in Lake Worth and Duffys in West Palm Beach. Shes also in the pre-production stages of her debut solo CD, but a full schedule as a production manager at West Palm Beachs Kravis Center may push the discs completion into late 2002.
Contact: 561/547-2028 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Valerie C. Wisecracker
Members: Valerie Caracappa (vocals, banjo, guitar), Wes Malkin (guitar), Mitch Mestel (bass).
Comments: She really is like the Utah Phillips of Florida, says Marie Nofsinger of her friend and fellow singer-songwriter Caracappa, comparing her to the folk firebrand known for his left-leaning politics and uncompromising music. Nofsinger respects Caracappa so much that she recently wrote a song about her called Valeries Back Yard. Caracappa, who Nofsinger says doesnt want pats on the back, nonetheless was flattered by the song. She talks about how Floridas my back yard and if you mess with it, Caracappa says, youre messing with me. Indeed, Caracappa is a staunch defender of Floridas environment and culture in her music, best exemplified by her now-classic, anti-Walt tirade The Dirty Little Rat That Ate Orlando. This year, Caracappa has been playing like crazy under the name Valerie C. Wisecracker at everything from the Hialeah Arts and Crafts festival to a Green Party rally to northern gigs in Sarasota, Atlanta and Gatlinburg, Tenn. She also lost a partner in song and crime early this year when Brazilian vocalist Angela Patua left Miami for San Diego. The dynamic duo, Caracappa says of herself and the Portuguese-singing woman with whom she spent much of 2000 performing. Nobody else can party that hard. Angela was the party queen. Locally, Caracappa continues to share stages with longtime accompanists Mestel and Malkin, who plays, according to Caracappa, everything you can put around his neck.
Members: Zac (vocals, guitar).
Comments: Known to disappear into the Everglades with Haitian voodoo priests to record their ceremonies for use in his music, Zac is certainly someone for whom predictability holds no interest. His performances have incorporated everything from taped loops of his ethnomusicological exploits to applying body paint to those audience members who dare to stand too close to him. For the past couple of years, Zac has been performing undercover as an obnoxious, Tony Clifton-like character named Joey Fagioli at coffee shops and rock clubs such as Churchills, where Fagioli recently emceed Matt Sabatellas CD release party, insulting anyone and everyone within eyesight and earshot.
Members: Mark Zaden (vocals, guitar).
Comments: With a voice that recalls Freedy Johnston at times, Cat Stevens at others, Fort Lauderdale native Zaden performs autobiographical songs that, he says, juxtapose a sensitive view of the human condition with a hard, roots-rock edge. Zaden recently released his second CD, Green Enough to Grow, which he recorded in Brooklyn, N.Y. He says the album is a chronicle of the past two and a half years of his life, although he hopes songs such as Making Other Plans and Goodbye Avalon will hold universal appeal. I want these songs to affect people emotionally, he writes in a press release. I want peoples hearts to swell when they hear them. While theres much electric instrumentation on Green Enough to Grow, in performance, Zaden prefers a stripped-down, emotionally bare setting. Look for him often at Fort Lauderdales Himmarshee Bar and Grill and at Las Olas Riverfront.
-- Additional listings by Bill Meredith and Bob Weinberg