We at The Standard Miami love and appreciate the fine stories the city has to offer. Despite the chic rebirth of Miami Beach in the last 20-30 years with it’s tourist offerings, it was the neighborhood of Overtown that truly held some magic dust in terms of arts and culture. Once called “the Harlem of the South”, dozens of nightclubs dotted the streets and hosted marquee acts like Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie. Keep in mind that before desegregation, African American musicians who performed on Miami Beach were unable to sleep or dine in the hotels in which they performed. Instead, they went “over town” to the dozens of juke joints of Overtown and performed in front of integrated audiences into the wee hours. This is where the REAL parties went down in history.
Once recognized as the epicenter of music in Miami, a place where Thurgood Marshall vacationed and Langston Hughes wrote poetry, Overtown is now considered by most of Miami as a dangerous and blighted area with more vacant lots than buildings. However, despite its proximity to Miami and hotspots like South Beach, Overtown is a shadow of its former self. All of the clubs, hotels and commercial centers that lined Overtown’s bustling streets have been demolished.
Here’s the exciting news for those craving a history lesson with some good music. The organization called Overtown Music Project will be celebratong the music, history and spirit of Overtown in its heyday. The event takes place October 1st, 2011 from 7pm -9:30pm.
The Overtown Music Project’s goal is to bring back some of the area’s historic luster with a series of concerts in historic Overtown landmarks as well as in venues all over the City, a documentary showcasing the musicians who made their living in Overtown and a project creating a blues and jazz residency in Overtown’s former entertainment district. The events will draw a diverse audience who pay homage to Overtown, shining a light on the different genres of music that once made Overtown’s integrated nightclubs the rhythmic epicenter of musical Miami.
MC’d by the one and only Monie Love, there will be an 18 piece big band performing mashed up with some hip hop. Now picture some vintage images of Otown streaming in the background and you have a multisensory event. Expect some delicious Prohibition era cocktails. The dress code asks you to channel your “swankiest outfit” celebrating all the juke joints that lined Otowns’s streets in its prime.
Join the tribute and get your tickets in advance ($40) atwww.overtownmusicproject.org or $50 at the door. Proceeds from this event will benefit our blues and jazz residency in Overtown.