Post Andrew, Slowly Miami returned to business as usual, not South Dade though that took longer. The rainbow picnics moved to Peacock Park. Smoking Toad finally did play on the U.M. patio and continued to do so for years. We also played in Coconut Grove at a few places on Commodore Plaza.
The Toad became a really good little band. All the things we had been through Hurricane Andrew, living with no power at Manor Lane, playing all the tent cities etc. had brought us together. We got along and liked alot of the same music. we soon took off. Our audience was definitely the deadheads and we played a lot of that but also we had a bunch of originals. Me and the other guitarist became a decent songwriting team and I’m proud of those tunes. Now, if I could only remember how any of them went…
We scored a big gig ( for us anyway! ) across the street from campus at this sports bar called Coaches. They could hold a good 300 people and we packed the place every Thursday for their Dead night. I remember this ridiculous radio promo on the Dead Hour that aired every Sunday night. You know those guys that do the monster truck shows in the deep growly voice?
COME SEE SMOK-ING TOOOOADDDDD!!! AT COACHES!!!!CCCCCCCCOOOOAAAAACHESSSSSS!!!!!
STEAL YOUR FRAT
The music of the Grateful Dead was pretty popular with the frats and we played a whole bunch of their parties too. Old timers fondly remember the influx of frat boys at Dead shows after they played “Touch of Gray“ on MTV, I say in jest. Yes, they were loud and obnoxious and from New Jersey but their love and devotion was just as real as any macrobiotic flower child of the 60’s. When the Dead played the Hollywood Sportatorium back in 1986, Sigma Chi chartered a bus with a keg. You were either on the bus or off the bus. I was definitely off! I drove with some guys from my dorm that had never been to a show and didn’t know what to expect. What they got was a really weird show. We pull up in the parking lot next to a van of federal agents ( tye dyes, short hair, BROWN SHOES ) I guess they were doing Dead tour too. The whole lot was sweaty, scruffy heads who were looking rough after making the long trek from the previous show. This was the end of the line, last show of the tour. Something sketchy was in the air.The carnival atmosphere had a tinge of the macabre. This one mime clown was freaking me out. Shakedown Street looked like Desolation Row. Just as I thought I was going to lose it, my friends who had walked around the lot looking for mushrooms, came back with a baggie full of grocery store bought mushrooms, big white caps, the kind you put on your pizza! I laughed my ass off.
The show was awesome even if the venue was a cauldron, a corrugated tin roofed hangar in the Everglades, the Hollywood Sportatorium. No seating.We sat right on the concrete floor. Well not for long but incredibly we walked right up to the stage and sat down. First set they did the Cowboy Bob show which was absolutely what I wanted to hear. I had been playing a lot of bluegrass and country. I think it was the only time they did El Paso into Mexicali Blues. The Snortatorium. Yeah the Dead came to Miami pretty regularly. After that they were at the Miami Arena. ( Look up this show: Miami Jai Lai Fronton 6- 22- 1974)
One year, my buddy flew into town for the Miami Arena shows and we went to Woody’s on the Beach the night before. Woody’s was a club on South Beach owned by Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones. The house band was led by sax man Bobby Keyes, the man who played on all those Stones classic ( and still tours with them today. ) In walks Brent Mydland and Bill Kreutzman ( the Dead’s keyboardist and drummer ) they sit in and tear the roof off the place. We got to meet them afterward my buddy’s giving them his card telling them if the ever need lawn service…( weeks later I got a chance to play with Bobby Keys and the band at Ron Wood’s club no less, with my creamed colored ’58 reissue tele…I was walking on cloud #9 for a week! )
One memorable gig was with another U.M. band ( and jam band legends look them up! ) DAY BY THE RIVER. Our home base was at a place that’s not there anymore Brickell Tavern. It was a cosy bar with a stage right around the corner from Tobacco Road. That place was great for us because all the rainbow hippies would show up and take over. We had insane gigs there. I remember one night it was $5 at the door which included helping yourself to a handful from a huge bowl of freshly picked Psycilocibin Cubensis, ( which is a really good deal, I wish more places would do that! ) The décor inside featured melting paintings that dripped down the wall. My amp would pick up these radio signals there, static and bits of talking in Spanish, that somehow would really fit in to the jams we were doing!
A lot of good stuff happened at that place. We played outside on the sidewalk one year at Brickell Tavern for Calle Ocho, the big latin music fest. ( it was on the corner of s.w. 8th street and Miami Ave. ) That was the year Gloria Esteban was playing on a stage all the way down the other end of the street ( 27 blocks or so ) They broke the Guiness World record for longest conga line which ran all those blocks overlapping our gig! Also Brickell Tavern was also where I met August Campbell, the writer of the I – 95 Asshole Song ( “ You piss me off you fucking jerk… “ ) which had been a jukebox smash. He soon was to have a big influence on my new musical direction.