Top acts coming, but local music gets a boost

When people talk about music in Miami, the buzz is usually about its nightclub scene, and with good reason: Some of the world’s hottest dance-music venues are in the Magic City, including Mansion, Space and LIV, and they routinely attract the biggest DJs on the planet, especially during Winter Music Conference week every March. But it’s not all about the big electronic beats down here – live music is also alive and well.

Of course, there are tried-and-true, globally adored acts passing through in the midst of national and world tours, such as Duran Duran (Oct. 11 at the Hard Rock Live), Taylor Swift (Nov. 13 at the AmericanAirlines Arena), Jay-Z and Kanye West (Nov. 14 at the BankAtlantic Center and Nov. 15 at the AAA), Judas Priest’s farewell tour (Dec. 1 at the Bayfront Amphitheater), Janet Jackson (Dec. 5 at the Fillmore Miami Beach) and Diana Krall (Feb. 11 at the Kravis Center).

But several new hot spots have popped up over the past year that focus more on smaller-scale shows that satisfy a variety of musical cravings. Two such places are the Performing Arts Exchange (PAX) on Calle Ocho, which offers the best in groovy Latin and world music, with groups including Conjunto Progreso, Suenalo and Afro Kumbe; and The Stage in Miami’s Design District, a laid-back joint that blends Latin rock (PALO, Spam All-Stars), hip-hip fusion (ArtOfficial) and alt-rock (Radioboxer).

And at the intimate Green Room, which opened in January next door to Revolution in Fort Lauderdale, you can tap into your more adventurous, artistic side. Immerse yourself into a truly diverse mix of entertainment – live jazz, blues, indie-rock and even burlesque shows – while perusing local artists’ works hanging throughout the space. Call it a welcome slice of New York cool.

“It’s not your typical lit-up nightclub where you’re looking at red ropes and all the glitz and the glam,” says owner Jeff John, 34, who also started Revolution eight years ago. “You have art on the walls, almost like a gallery in the old manufacturing, industrial centers in New York or Chicago. It’s more underground, artsy, darker – a city-feel.”

Green Room takes a different approach than most local clubs.

“Our mentality is one of the arts, whether it’s exhibitions supporting local artists or local, indie bands,” John says. “I’m from Chicago, and I had a lot of friends in the art scene when I was growing up, and whether they were photographers or artists, it’s not an easy go sometimes. So whether the artists are drawing or painting to the music, or hanging their pieces around the walls to get exposure and actually sell them, we don’t take any of the profits. We just want to expose the local artists and let them make some money and get seen.”

Musically, you can expect the eclectic at the Green Room. Past shows have featured indie DJ Panic Bomber, nu-Gothic rockers Astari Nite and emo-troubadour John Ralston. At the new weekly Black Fridays night, things get a little stranger, with musical offerings ranging from darkwave, post-punk, EBM, downtempo and even something called witch house, which is far more sonically pleasing than its name might imply.

And though the Green Room focuses heavily on local acts, several notable national acts are scheduled to hit the stage. Upcoming highlights include The Dirty Names, a gritty Maryland band reminiscent of early Rolling Stones and The Who; L.A. indie-rock band Toy Bombs; and an Austin, Texas, showcase with alt-country band The Asteroid Shop and the bluesy fuzz-rock of Ghost Wolves.

“We just wanted something different in Fort Lauderdale that you can’t find,” says marketing and sales director Ashlie Rolfe, 27, who books some of the bands and all of the art for exhibit. Rolfe. “So that’s why we looked into the indie and art crowd, because it’s so hard to come across.”

The venue itself stands out.

“Whenever someone walks in, they’re ‘wowed,’ ” John says. “You know, that building’s been there since 1926, and it’s been so many things over the years – an ammunition factory, a meat-processing slaughterhouse, and then the clubs.”

The Green Room isn’t trying to bring South Beach flash up north – .it’s cultivating its own style.

“One thing that’s been very clear to me is Fort Lauderdale is not South Beach,” John says. “It’s an entirely different universe. We’ve seen the growth of this indie crowd, these different indie DJs and indie bands, and it’s become very popular. And to tie that in with the art community was a good fit – a place that encompasses the arts, whether it’s live music, DJs, physical artists or dancers.”

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