Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of Gold Dust Lounge’s weekly sunset gig at the Lido Restaurant and Bayside Grill. Come out and celebrate with us! To honor the occasion, we asked frontman Russell Mofsky about how his band came to be …
What’s the story behind the name, Gold Dust Lounge?
We’re named after a lounge that once existed in what is now the Upper Biscayne MiMo District. It was in the Gold Dust Motel, in the basement of what is now Motel Blu, across from the Playboy Club. When the musicians of that era finished work, they’d hang out and play music at the Gold Dust until the sun came up. A couple of important mentors of mine came up playing there, and I chose the name in homage to them.
“Wynwood Bootleg” by Gold Dust Lounge
Russell Mofsky at Standard Sunset Cocktails
Where sorts of things inspire you?
I started Gold Dust Lounge I wanted to play in amazing locations—places that by their very nature would influence the mood and performance on any given night. Playing bayside at The Standard, Miami is a great example of that. I can’t think of a more beautiful spot in Miami.
You used to play in a punk band called Quit. Now you play jazzy surf music. Discuss!
Well, I grew up skateboarding in Kendall and South Miami, listening to bands like the Descendents, Black Flag, Minor Threat, the Misfits and Fugazi. Then one day I heard a guy named Keith Jarrett play the piano. That was a revelation. He played his mood. So I jumped into the world of jazz and didn’t look back. That switch eventually opened me up to all types of music from around the world—everything from country and bluegrass, to mid-century exotica and tiki. In terms of the surfy stuff, one of my all-time favorite bands is Sonic Youth. They’re not at all surfy, but they play a Fender Jazzmaster which is the archetypal guitar of surf rock. About four years ago I got my own Jazzmaster and appropriated the sound for my own purposes. Now it just is what it is.
We hear you also teach “punk-rock kindergarten.” What’s that like?
By day I work with four-year olds at Miami Country Day School. Like all four-year olds, these kids still have their imagination, creativity, and sense of wonder intact. I see it as my job to make sure they learn how to share and treat each other respectfully, and are able to ask for what they need and say what they want. There’s a DIY aesthetic so my students help run our classroom. We put them in the center of our teaching because they learn better that way. Kids have plenty of time in their lives to learn skills, but they don’t have that much time to be four. I try to help them along the path they already walk. Hopefully, the world will be a little bit of a better place down the road as a result. Both my teaching and my music come from the same place