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After nearly four years of doing this job, I should be jaded or, at the very least, nonplussed by certain things. But once again, I was wandering around town on a Friday night (June 9), muttering to myself "Who are these people?"

It's very likely that I could have been overheard muttering that same phrase during FMF, but that event brought a tone of caustic cynicism to the question. On this particular evening, a sense of dazzled amazement brought on my query.

How is it, I wondered, that a bill like the one featuring Rogue Wave and the Stills sells out The Social on the same night that an excellent, off-kilter local band (Summerbirds in the Cellar) packs out Will's Pub? It's something that I cannot get my head around, and not because I think those bands are unpopular or because I think our city is too parochial for indie rock.

No, even though there is little mainstream institutional support here for left-of-center rock & roll, I know that Orlando is home to a broad and deep pool of music-lovers who are interested in quality, creative sounds.

I know this primarily because well-attended performances like these are the proof. What's puzzling is how inconsistent these music fans are in their dedication and how some shows will do incredibly well, while others of equal (and sometimes greater) quality will go virtually unnoticed.

Is it because the Stills are on Vice and Rogue Wave is on Sub Pop? Probably not. If label status were the only deciding factor, there would have been more than 100 people at New Mexican Disaster Squad's recent release party for their Jade Tree CD.

Is it local versus national bands? Definitely not. It's worth noting that the Summerbirds drew a ridiculously large crowd into Will's at the same time the Stills were onstage at The Social. Which also puts the lie to the notion that there's a limited crowd for good music and that only one decent show a night can hope to do well at the door.

I don't have an answer to why all these people are occasionally drawn out of their house to see some bands but can't be cajoled to see others of equal caliber and stature on other nights.

Maybe you readers can enlighten me. Are ticket prices too high? Do smoky clubs make you feel too shitty the next day? Do shows start too late? Been disappointed by mediocrity too often? Or do you just go to hear the music that your girlfriend/boyfriend/ drinking buddy/Pitchfork tells you to?

The right Touch

Go ahead and mark the weekend of Sept. 8 off your calendar, because if you've got the slightest shred of musical taste in your being, you won't be in Orlando on that weekend. No, my friends, Chicago will be where it's at for those three short days; it's in the Windy City that The Best Punk Rock Label Ever will celebrate its 25th anniversary.

Touch & Go, the label that got its start a quarter-century ago with a Necros single, blessed the world with Songs About Fucking and was home to many of the best bands of the past two decades will throw themselves exactly the right kind of party: one with a spectacular lineup. When I found out Killdozer was playing, I started shopping for a plane ticket. But the weekend will feature a total of 25 (natch) bands. Well-known acts like Girls Against Boys, Man or Astroman?, Calexico, the Ex, Pinback, Ted Leo, Shellac and Enon are onboard, along with cornerstone legends like Scratch Acid, Negative Approach, Pegboy, the Didjits and Three Mile Pilot. Two bands are yet to be announced; although I'm sure Butthole Surfers won't be one of 'em (just Google up "Butthole Surfers" and "lawsuit"), I'm dying to know who the additions will be: Big Black? Big Boys? Slint? Tar? The Jesus Lizard? The Meatmen? Die Kreuzen? Hell, I'd be tickled if it was the Laughing Hyenas, but with my luck it'll end up being the goddamned Mekons and, like, Dirty Three.

Vote now or shut up

Voting is happening RIGHT THIS MINUTE for this year's Best of Orlando issue, and ballots are available in the paper (see page 53) and online ( I tried to get a "Best Indie Act" category in the music stuff, because I thought that would be a swell idea, but it got left off the ballot by accident. (Or maybe by design; perhaps our ballot-makers secretly despise me.)

So, if you want to cast a vote for Best Indie Act but don't know where to put it, you have two options: 1) just put it under "Best Rock Act" or 2) write "Jason Ferguson" next to the "Best Local Writer" category. Don't worry, the ballot-counters will know what you mean.

Download these

I haven't done a make-your-own-podcast in a while. So here are a few songs that are making me happy right now that I think will make you happy too.

Oum Khalsoum: "Araka Assi Addami"

Red Red Meat: "Flank"

Roxy Music: "Do the Strand"

Skinny Puppy: "Jahya"

Tabla Beat Science: "Devotional"

Vetiver: "You May Be Blue"

Os Mutantes: "Panis et Circenses"

Standells: "Why Pick On Me"

Venom: "Buried Alive"

Sun Ra: "Nubia"

Osaka Popstar: "I Live Off You"

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