Love the Fillmore Miami Beach? Show your support Thursday night.
As the beloved concert hall at the Jackie Gleason Theater prepares to celebrate 10 years of bringing exceptional entertainment to town, there’s an ominous cloud hanging over all the hoorays and hoopla: Miami Beach commissioners are pushing to demolish the iconic Fillmore and build an 800-room hotel on the site, which could cast a very sober pall over the party.
Thursday night’s blowout jam, curated by DJ Le Spam, aka Andrew Yeomanson and mastermind of the Afro-funk electronic band the Spam All-Stars, will be a lively, festive fiesta, to be sure, enhanced even more by the fact that it’s free and open to the public. The concert features Yeomanson’s Modern Tropical Soul Revue, plus the Bobby Lee Rodgers Trio, live art by LEBO and cigar rollers.
The good news is that no wrecking balls will commence before the summer of 2018, and the folks at the Fillmore are operating under a “business as usual” plan in the meantime.
Here’s their official statement regarding the situation, provided by a Fillmore spokesperson:
“We’re committed to bringing great live music and events to South Florida and hold a deep appreciation for the storied history, dating back to the 1950s, at the Jackie Gleason Theater and now the Fillmore. Our goal is to continue to bring more great acts to Miami Beach without interruption for many years to come.”
For one night, however, you can forget about the drama over whether or not the Fillmore will be torn down, and let loose and have a great time. That’s exactly what Yeomanson plans to do.
“I’m just gonna go put on the best show that I can, and hope for the best that in another 10 years the Gleason is still a place where people in Miami can enjoy a great show,” he said. Yeomanson’s Revue will consist of Rumberos de la 8 (Cuban traditional rumba), Cortadito (acoustic Cuban son), Inez Barlatier (Haitian), Jason Joshua & The Beholders (soul/funk) and the Lemon City Trio (funk).
“I wanted to try to be as diverse as possible,” Yeomanson said. “That’s the spirit of it.”
It’s a fitting philosophy, as the Fillmore (the historic Jackie Gleason Theater opened in 1958, but Live Nation re-branded it in 2007) in just a decade has brought in a remarkably varied array of musical acts, among them Sting, ZZ Top, Jack White, Jackson Browne, Jay-Z, the Pet Shop Boys, Guns N’ Roses, George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic, Mary J. Blige, Jane’s Addiction, Iggy Pop, Lenny Kravitz, Fiona Apple, New Order, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Tori Amos, John Legend, Kendrick Lamar, Chris Cornell and Janet Jackson, among dozens more.
Comedy giants such as Bill Maher, Sarah Silverman, Lewis Black, Dave Chappelle, Gabriel Iglesias and Margaret Cho were also drawn to the intimate venue.
“These mid-sized venues are crucial,” said Yeomanson. “It’s a different type of musical experience.”
Yeomanson aims to add to the Fillmore’s legacy with a little musical magic at the end of the night.
“What I’m hoping for is, the final band, the Lemon City Trio, will act as the rhythm section for a more expanded P-Funk kind of sprawling funk jam,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ll get it, but that’s what I’m trying to achieve there.”
For Yeomanson, the possibility of the Fillmore’s demise is an agonizing thought.
“As a musician, I can say that these venues –when you stand on that stage, you have the sense of being part of a legacy or a greater musical history,” he said. “And so, in a sense they’re like temples, or something like that. And at the end of the day, we have to ask ourselves, what kind of a city do we want to live in? Do you want to live in a place where everything you look at is a brand new building that just went up two months ago, and it’s all slick and shiny and everything else?
“Every time we lose a place like this – and I’m really thinking of places like Tobacco Road, venues that are just wiped off the face of the earth, essentially – our city loses a piece of its soul,” he continued. “I find it physically painful to go past where Tobacco Road used to be. It kills me – I don’t even drive there anymore. It does drag you down after a while when you see your memories being erased.”
Let’s hope the Fillmore’s are not.