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Joshua Harmon’s savagely funny “Bad Jews” is an emotional cage match set in a pricey Manhattan studio apartment. The combatants are Daphna Feygenbaum (Hannah Benitez), a soon-to-be Vassar grad who plans to move to Israel, marry a man no one in the family has met and become a rabbi, and her cousin Liam Haber (Joseph Paul Pino), a master’s degree candidate and atheist who intends to..
The play begins, as it must, with the velvet voice of Nat King Cole crooning “Mona Lisa.” After all, how many paintings inspire an Oscar-winning song? For that matter, how many masterpieces survive damage, theft and the rapacious covetousness of collectors for more than half a millennium? Leonardo da Vinci’s “La Gioconda,” popularly known as the Mona Lisa, is that inspi..
A casual conversation with a fellow theater artist prompted José Manuel Dominguez, founder and artistic director of Antiheroes Project, to produce the company’s latest piece, “El tiempo de las mandarinas,” (“Season for Tangerines”) by Argentine playwright Rafael Nofal. “I am drawn to themes of memory, dreams, and paradise lost, but for a long time I’ve wanted to do a play based on reality,” sa..
The 32nd International Hispanic Theatre Festival kicks off on Thursday, July 6 with the Mexican company Los Tristes Tigres’ irreverent spin on Shakespeare, “Algo de un tal Shakespeare” (“Something by One Shakespeare”). Founder and director Mario Ernesto Sánchez, the festival’s engine that could and still can, identifies this raucous play as part of the festival’s larger goal of attracting..
Nowadays, it’s tough not to feel worried, paranoid or in need of some escapist relief from the steady flow of oh-no-he-didn’t news out of Washington. Miami playwright Theo Reyna feels your pain. His response is “Firemen Are Rarely Necessary,” a jet-black satire now getting its Mad Cat Theatre Company world premiere at Miami Theater Center’s Sand Box. The play takes intricately aim..
Pearl Cleage’s play “Flyin’ West,” an M Ensemble production currently on stage at the beautiful new performing arts center in Liberty City, the Sandrell Rivers Theatre, is set in humble Nicodemus, Kansas, the only remaining western town established by African Americans during the reconstruction period following the Civil War. Set in 1898, the play focuses on the lives of Sophie (Brandiss ..
Esteban, (http://estebanlapelicula.com/en/) the debut of Cuban director Jonal Cosculluela being premiered at The Miami Light Project tells the story of a 9 year old, living in Havana with his mother, who’s raising him as a single parent, and his perseverance following his dream of becoming a musician. The challenges seem overwhelming. Esteban and his mother struggle to make ends meet (htt..
Desperate times call for desperate measures. For some, that might mean taking a second or third job. Or robbing a bank. Or moving in with family. For Casey, a straight lip-syncing Elvis impersonator in a Panama City bar, desperation means forsaking the King’s rhinestone-studded jumpsuit for leg hair-hiding pantyhose, fake boobs and big-hair wigs, the better to sell himself as a fa..
Writing about “Broken Snow,” the Ben Andron thriller now getting its world premiere at the J’s Cultural Arts Theatre (JCAT) in North Miami Beach, is a proposition almost as tricky as the play itself. The intricately structured 90-minute drama is loaded with surprises, twists and turns, all revealed at precisely the right moment so that the play builds to its shattering conclusion..
When Ballet Flamenco La Rosa takes to the stage this weekend, it will present a program based on traditions which were handed down through the ages. A program filled with the mysteries of fl..
With every great new love, the beginning is a crucible of extremes – will it endure for decades or permanently scar?The program for Dimensions Dance Theater of Miami’sJuly 8show, “Fiebre: A N..
With a heightened emphasis on “Noise” as an innovative musical genre, this sixth installment of the Miami Performance Festival International (M/P’17), running June 23 to 25, challenges South..
After 17 years as a principal dancer with the esteemed San Francisco Ballet, dancing every major role and style possible, Lorena Feijoo is retiring from that company to embark on a new journe..
Miami choreographer Marissa Alma Nick is a storyteller. Her company Alma Dance Theater brings a particularly female inner world to the stage, through lush and sensual choreography. Nick’s..
Pools are ubiquitous in Miami. They dot the landscape like Jackson Pollock drip paintings. Residents swim or idle the hours away by or in the pool – and dancers of Momentum Dance Company also perf..
May’s “Mujeres” series of strong, multi-faceted, women-focused productions, commissioned for Miami Theater Center’s SandBox space, concludes with Spanish-born dancer-choreographer Carlota Pr..
One could say that Bistoury’s 305 & Havana International Improv Fest, which debuts this Saturday at Miami Theater Center, has been in the works for almost 20 years. In 1999 Cuban-born cho..
The process of creating “Shade,” choreographer Augusto Soledade’s latest full-length work, has been one of remembering and reconfiguring memory to discover new ways of talking about identity ..
Ask about the Miami Sound to 10 people in South Florida and you’ll get 11 different answers. And yet, for more than 20 years, the Spam Allstars, a group founded and anchored by DJ Le Spam (aka Andrew Yeomanson), has been an unquestionable reference in the Miami music scene. For a city with a notoriously short memory and an insatiable appetite for the latest new shiny thing, it is a remarkable achievement.
The Allstars’ music is an untidy mix of turntable scratches, loops, samples and spirited live playing. It’s built on driving grooves that draw freely from funk, R&B and Afro-Latin music, topped by shout-out-loud, jazz-inflected improvisations. And it’s also music that makes its statements subtly, making you move while threading the needle regarding Miami’s music and social history, with echoes of local labels such as Deep City, Saadia Records and TK, and the layers and layers of sound from the Caribbean and Latin American migrations.
DJ Le Spam and The Spam Allstars are presenting Trans-Oceanic, their new album, 10 years in the making, in a party at the North Beach Bandshell, Saturday, April 29 at 7:00 p.m.
“We had a certain approach, a descarga formula, more or less, and I didn't want to do the same record again, I wanted to break from that,” says Yeomanson, explaining the time between releases in a conversation at his City of Progress studio in North Miami. “I didn't want to just keep churning things out. Then the studio got busy and I would get into the different projects that came in and I loved it. I fell in love with the process of recording and producing. It was great, and I really needed to get away from the routines with the band.”
As it turned out, as the studio continued to expand, adding new instruments and recording tools, the practice of working with a wide range of music styles and an ever-changing cast of players, opened for Yeomanson unexpected possibilities.
“I finally got a Hammond B3 [organ] and I couldn't wait to record with that,” he says, recalling the excitement of the moment. “And when I got a new keyboard I had to get someone to play it and put it on tape. [The music] became more about keyboards and guitar than horns. We didn't have to have horns in all the songs. But I didn't have a concept [for the album]. That was something I struggled with a bit, so it was about sound gathering at first and eventually I kept stripping things down, more and more.”
As a result, the sound in Trans-Oceanic “has much more space, more clarity in it.” As for the overall concept of the record, the theme became the radio, once the primary tool to find out about the world and discover new music — and part of Yeomanson’s personal story.
Born in Montreal to an English father and Venezuelan mother, he lived in London, Tampa, Bogota and Toronto before settling in Miami in 1990. It was in Miami where the once self-described “bedroom-guitarist” with minimal performing experience, found an unlikely opportunity with a popular Haitian band, Lavalas. “I've always wanted to be in a band, playing out with Lavalas was an amazing experience. That was what got me over a lot of the anxiety I had about performing.”
By 1993, the band was “disintegrating.” It was then that Yeomanson, at the time working at a record shop in downtown Miami and already a serious record collector, met saxophonist Robin Carter who was looking for people with which to jam. By trial and error, at a friend’s studio, Yeomanson began to develop a sound built on pre-recorded material, spoken word bits, loops and live playing. He and Carter became the core of the early Spam Allstars.
But in 1995, the project was put on hold as he joined the backing band of local Cuban-American singer songwriter Nil Lara, who was then developing a national following. By 1998, tired of life on the road, Yeomanson settled back in Miami, where he began working at a pirate radio station. His shows included improvised live performances in the studio by the Allstars, by then a trio. It was, he once said, “the genesis of what I’m doing now.”
In fact, those performances led to Pork Scratchings (1999), the Allstars debut CD and a brilliant piece of theater-of-the-mind, constructed from samples, loops, found bits and, oh yes, smart dance grooves. It includes absurdist tracks such as “El Mozambique,” featuring a mocking Fidel Castro impersonator, or “Shiringi shirini,” a collage of snippets of various language recordings, playing all at once. “The way I imagined that song was thinking of me sitting at an international airport listening to all these people around, having their conversations,” he once explained.
The Allstars played around town developing a modest following — but also regularly trying out new material before live audiences. Then in 2001, they got a weekly show at Hoy Como Ayer, a small club in Little Havana. That Thursday-night residency, said Yeomanson, is when “things really clicked and started to evolve quickly.” Word got out and their Thursday night show became a must for locals and tourists. The band and their music, under the label “electronic descarga,” got national attention as the sound of a new Miami in the making. With such success came a fee renegotiation for the band, recalls Yeomanson breaking into a laugh, “and then I could bring more musicians and make it better.” It is an expanded format that he has maintained since, featuring a changing lineup drawn from a solid repertory cast.
Trans-Oceanic looks forward as it glances back.
“The title comes from this model of a Zenith short-wave radio,” Yeomanson says. “When I was 11 or 12 I had a few radios that were from my grandfather and were like my toys and I would take them apart. What I was going to do originally, like I had done in the ¡Fuacata! Live (2002) and the Contra los Robóticos Mutantes (2004) records was to knit something together with bits and pieces that I had recorded from radio over the years. At the end, we didn’t do much with that because of clearance issues, but that’s why we start the record with a snippet of the weather radio.” (Check the title track, “Trans-Oceanic”)
As for the Allstars becoming a Miami institution, Yeomanson’s laughs at the notion.
“I just hope that just as I once discovered TK Records or Deep City Records, one day people will find these artifacts we are creating in a thrift store and say ‘Ah, I see, this goes with this and this and this [that was happening in Miami at the time],’” he says. “MaybeI'll be around to see it, like Willie Clark with his Deep City. For now,I just need to keepworking at it.”
Spam Allstars Album Release Party, Saturday, April 29, starting at 7:00 p.m.; North Beach Bandshell, 7275 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; tickets $5; northbeachbandshell.com.
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