Part of her success has come via a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation's Knight Arts Challenge. Entering its
third year, the Miami-based initiative funds locals to transform the community through the arts, giving organizations and individuals whom they deem
worthy the support necessary to thrive. This money has strengthened not only the record store’s capacity to sell and entertain, but also
contributed to a cultural renaissance taking place in South Florida.
And for people like Reskin, the renaissance feels long overdue.
“It took the work of a lot of different entities planting their feet in the ground saying, I’m not going anywhere,” she says.
“I’m going to keep doing stuff here until people are paying attention and start going to it.”
Years of limited musical options often used to send Miami’s talent running out of town. For the better part of the last decade, there were only two
consistent “indie” nights in Miami—Revolver on Friday and Poplife on Saturday—that attracted alternative listeners to
dance and, occasionally, see live music.
“If you wanted to do something on Friday, you basically had to talk to one of the dons of Friday or Saturday night, and say, ‘Hey,
I’m doing this thing.” remembers Miami scene veteran Adam Gersten. “Or not, and then piss them off and they’d do something to
ruin your night.”
Gersten has been DJing around Miami since 1994, throwing parties at places like the former Two Last Shoes, which is now the Electric Pickle, a popular
electronic music venue. He started his night, FM, when it was still, in his words, “a Nicaraguan cowboy bar.” Gersten puts out records with
his label Needless and is looking to open a bar in Wynwood, the arts district.
One of the “dons” he refers to is Poplife’s Aramis Lorie, owner of Grand Central, probably the largest mid-sized live music venue in
Miami. It celebrates its one-year anniversary this Saturday. Poplife went from being a weekly party that ran for more than a decade—bringing bands like Interpol, Modest Mouse, and TV on the Radio to town when no one else would—to becoming the name of Lorie's successful booking company.
Lorie believes the scene is maturing. Thirteen years ago, he points out, it was hard to bring acts to Miami: “It wasn’t as much of a viable market at that
point,” he says. “It’s definitely come a long way.”
“Nowadays, I can call a band like Cut Copy,” Lorie says, referring to the acclaimed dance-rock act that's playing Grand Central in September. “Before, only big
corporations like Live Nation could have booked a band of that magnitude.”
What’s changed? The 2002 arrival of the Art Basel Miami fair—a spin-off of the renowned Swiss Art Basel festival—has played a
role. As pioneers like Lorie and business partner Barbie Basti opened venues and galleries in previously untapped neighborhoods of Miami mainland, the auxiliary fairs and events associated
with Art Basel brought an influx of culture to those areas and downtown Miami as well.