Miami Perspectives

Published on August 31st, 2013


It’s Tuesday night . . . Miami, you’ve come a long, LONG way.

A few nights ago I was getting ready to play a gig at one of my favorite spots, The Corner, in Downtown Miami. This wasn’t a Gold Dust Lounge gig. We’ve been taking some time off to finish our upcoming album, Lost Sunset, and run a Kickstarter to support its release. On this night, I was playing in a group led by Gold Dust Lounge (and The Tunnel) drummer, Arturo Garcia. We were about to play a set of tunes by noted Ethiopian jazz pianist & composer, Mulatu Astatke, one of my personal favorites. But it wasn’t even the particulars of the gig or the music that were already making the night so important to me personally. I can sum it up with my Facebook post from that night.

“So…Tonight you’ve got Shark Valley Sisters at Kenny Millions’ event at Churchill’s, The Tremends at Blackbird Ordinary, and I’m standing here at The Corner ready to hit with a killer band about to lay down the music of Mulatu Astatke. It’s Tuesday night…Miami, you’ve come a long, LONG way!”

I grew up playing in some pretty good bands down here (Cynic & Quit). I also spent 15 years living out of state, mostly in the northeast. I played in bands in those places and experienced those scenes too. I moved back to Miami in 2007 and my first weekend out was the Saturday night of Art Basel. The entire evening was spent in Wynwood and we ended up at Moksha Family where I became delirious with the psychedelic world beat of Lanzallamas Monofonico. This new Miami was a revelation—and it has shaped my music in ways I never could have anticipated.

I grew up under the heavy influence of 60’s & 70’s pop culture, In Search Of, Bigfoot, Spy-fi, Six Million Dollar Man, Mod Squad, Emergency 51, and later skateboarding & punk. Now all of that is coming out in my music, and there’s room in the scene for it all.

The Miami I moved away from in 1994 was growing up and taking chances. Perhaps it was a brash teen heading towards late adolescence. Spirited. Irreverent. Pure. It seems different now–expansive and full of surprises–but maybe I’m different. I think it’s likely we both are. All I know is there was never a Tuesday like this back in 1990.

Maybe you can chalk Miami’s uniqueness up to a geographic isolation that even the Internet can’t fully resolve. It’s bred a culture of creativity so strong it can’t help itself.

For all the talk I hear about what’s lacking in our scene, to me it seems like the biggest thing missing is perspective.

A few years ago I discussed this very topic at length with Charlie Pickett at the end of the bar at Churchill’s. We both share the opinion that Miami has the most original, independent music scene of any city either of us ever encountered across the great expanse of our country.

If you don’t believe me, come check it out.

~ Russell Mofsky

R. Mofsky is the founder of Gold Dust Lounge, a band with a rotating cast of musicians who’s sound is influenced by acid surf, spy-fi, punk, & exotica. On September 1st they launched a Kickstarter for their new album, Lost Sunset. This one is definitely gonna be worth it!