Music & Nightlife

Power-pop legend Paul Collins says rock ’n’ roll thrives in South Florida band scene

Pete Dacko, 49, the lead bass player for The Done, a South Florida-based rock-and-roll band.
Pete Dacko, 49, the lead bass player for The Done, a South Florida-based rock-and-roll band. Miami Herald Staff

At Kenny Budowsky’s East Hollywood home, Thursday nights usually start with a few drinks, laughs and talk about music. It’s always about business, however.

Two years ago, Budowsky, now 54, his brother Rob, 47, and their friend Pete Dacko, 49, started a part-time rock-’n’-roll band called The Done.

In Kenny’s garage, which he transformed into a practice space and recording studio, the floor is filled with guitars — some new, some old — that tell a story. The walls, decorated with framed vintage photographs of the Beatles and other rock icons, are a testament to their love for the genre, he says.

The Budowsky brothers and Dacko have each been in and out of bands since they were teenagers, but this current project gives reason to their late-night sessions. Kenny, who plays drums and guitar, says their last practice was something of “a dress rehearsal.”

Saturday night, the Done will be one of three bands opening for Paul Collins, the front-man of The Paul Collins Beat, at ArtsPark at Young Circle in Hollywood.

“His album, The Beat, has always been one of my favorite records — I’ve loved it ever since it first came out,” Rob said. “It’s a thrill to play with a guy who been so influential to this genre.”

Collins was the leading push behind rock bands of the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, including The Nerves and The Breakaways. He helped coin the term “power pop,” used to classify the fusion of 1960s British and American popular music and garage rock.

Since early January, The Paul Collins Beat has performed across the United States in shows aimed at engaging local rock-’n’-roll communities. Collins says his Garageland Presents tour is his personal “crusade” to keep the genre thriving.

When it comes to smaller, local rock shows, Collins says, the biggest problem these bands face is getting people to pay $5 to $10 to support a touring band and a few local acts.

“All these bands are connected with several different things,” Collins said. “We all play the same venues, we all use the same gear and we all share the same problems.”

“When the tip jar comes around, a lot of people act like we’re asking for too much,” he said.

For older touring bands not in the limelight, the problem can become a career impediment.

“I have friends in bands who are getting older; they’ve had their first or second kid, and their wives are saying, ‘No, you’re not taking 500 bucks of household money to go out and play rock ’n’ roll for a couple of weeks,’” he said.

In South Florida, old or young, it’s even harder to attract out-of-town touring bands to visit, Rob Budowsky said.

“The more I traveled, the more I saw that we really are an oasis,” he said. “People think of [South Florida] as very far out of the way.”

Two years ago, he started to change that.

Aside from playing in Saturday’s show, Rob Budowsky also manages Strutter USA Productions, the promotion and booking company that helped put the concert together. After years of working as a CPA, he “parlayed” his business relationships to start this two-man rock-and-roll operation.

Through Strutter USA, Budowsky not only invites out-of-state touring bands down to South Florida, he helps book shows for bands throughout Florida, which makes Miami a more attractive offer. “The way to get bands to come to Miami is to help book them shows around the state,” he said.

Last month, he put together his biggest show to date in Little Haiti’s Churchill’s Pub where the Jacuzzi Boys, one of the city’s most successful local bands, opened for King Tuff, a Los Angeles-based power-pop and garage band with a nationwide fan base.

The concert, energetic and, at times, boisterous, sold more than 500 tickets.

“You go to a garage rock show in New York and everyone has [his or her] arms folded. And [in Miami], if you have your arms folded, you’re going to get kicked in the head by a crowd surfer,” Budowsky said.

The city’s growing reputation for participatory crowds — especially at Churchill’s — is making it easier to invite out-of-town band, he said.

Collins, who has previously played at Churchill’s, says this kind of show has an audience, despite the misconception of being a rowdy gathering of metal heads and hipsters.

Before the show, Collins will host a vinyl listening party at Fort Lauderdale’s Radioactive Records. The biggest change in touring these days, he said: Meeting fans at “record-fair-happy-hours.”

Touring the past two months, Collins has visited the nation’s most well-known record stores–– Wax Trax Records in Denver; Antone’s Record Store in Austin, Texas; Burger Records in Los Angeles; and Singles Going Steady in Seattle.

Collins, like Rob Budowsky, says his campaign is for the music. He says rock musicians, especially local ones, need local support.

“People need to know that there’s a very vital scene at their local club, and it’s the real deal of rock and roll in America,” Collins said. “You can’t get it anywhere else.”

If you go

What: Garageland Presents The Paul Collins Beat with Charlie Pickett, The Talking Dogs and The Done

Where: Hollywood ArtsPark, 1 Young Circle, Hollywood

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Cost: Free