I am absolutely blown away by this place (and I ain't only talking about Tobacco Road). It's true when they say that everything is bigger in America. I was driving to Miami last night with a pretty good set of directions, thank God, and I was amazed by the sheer amount of concrete used in the construction of the highways. As an engineer (or just a generally inquisitive person), I am in awe at how all of this stuff is designed and built. I start thinking about it and then give up because it hurts my head.
I must also add however how unimpressed I am by some engineering efforts, especially in car design. I will have to review the Oldsmobile Alero in a following post and give my thoughts on just how crap I think it is. Thank *GOD* I am not paying the rent for that thing.
Anyhoo, I found my way to Tobacco Road ok. It's a very narrow, long, 2 story building and its claim to fame is being the oldest bar in Miami. The place just absolutely oozes character. It has an outdoor beer garden, a downstairs section which normally accommodates a Jazz/Blues band, and upstairs is normally reserved for the rockier acts. Both floors have acts going at the same time. I started my night in the beer garden and some guy says to me "where are you from, Australia?" after he heard me talking on the phone. Now I befriended this guy called Mark who originally was from England but has lived in the US for the last 15 years or so. He's a pretty funny chap - early 40s I think and an absolute geezer. He's been going to Tobacco Road for the last 10 years and was absolutely amazed that I'd discovered Tobacco Road already, as it took him years before he found the place. I guess I'm just ahead of the curve :-) One very interesting thing that Mark the Englishman said was that Miami has very little original music performers. Most of the bands are cover bands, and he said this was probably because they get paid a lot more for that than they would performing original songs. Personally, I'm not a huge cover band fan, nor would I like to be in one. There is only so far one can go regurgitating other people's songs.
At around 10:30pm I headed upstairs to because Santos Renuentes were supposed to have already started playing. I don't know where Mark the Englishman had gotten to at that stage, I think he was off having a smoke somewhere. Santos Renuentes were fantastic. The lead singer, Sophia, had an absolutely fantastic voice. In fact, she sounded a lot like Gwen Stefani from No Doubt. That's pretty darn good! Omar is a great bassist too. He's got that whole bass player groove thing going on, and actually has a 5-string custom made Fender bass guitar. It sounded really, really good. The group as a whole was just amazing - hats off to Santos Renuentes!
The next act was called Cana. They most certainly didn't look like a real rock band, but they sure as hell sounded like one! I must admit to start with I was only mildly impressed. However after they had warmed up they were fantastic! The lead singer sounded a lot like the singer from Hootie and the Blowfish. Good stuff!
I didn't get the name of the last act. I don't think they were on the list as three bands had already played for the night. They seemed to have a significant goth influence but their music still sounded pretty good. I had a chuckle to myself because when they were setting up there was a geeky goth band member with a Legend of Zelda t-shirt on. Ok, I'll admit, I wanted that shirt. Truth be known, I wouldn't mind that shirt and another one with Kid Icarus on it. That would rock! Anyway, the geeky goth was the gizmo guy in the band who used his laptop to generate effects sounds over the top of the guitars. It seemed to work pretty well.
I ended up leaving at around 1:30am to the most vicious rain I've ever been in. It was absolutely *bucketing* down. I couldn't see 10 metres in front of me and I don't know how the hell I navigated my way back home. I think that sort of rain is going to be the story of the weekend what with all these tropical storms and hurricanes hitting Florida. One really unusual thing I did see driving home was the clouds being illuminated orange and blue by the lightning. I haven't seen that before. Weird.