The Fish House: Home for live blues and jazz

There is something profoundly permanent about the blues.

One of the few original genres of music created in the United States, this truly American art form has remained largely unchanged despite countless offshoots and subgenres since its birth in the early 1900s. In its purest form, it is is a warm blanket for the eardrums — an all-inclusive coupling of familiar melody and storytelling that is simultaneously old and new every time it’s heard.

Jose and Angela Rivero, proprietors of The Fish House on Miller Drive, are lifelong lovers of the blues and supporters of the musical arts.

They have been hosting some of Miami’s best blues, jazz and R&B performers since the day they opened their seafood grill and raw bar in January 1996. Almost 20 years later, they’re still going strong.

Except for two days (Tuesday and Sunday), The Fish House hosts live music in their back room, a medium-sized hall sporting colorful New Orleans style décor that serves as a perfect contrast to their Key West style front room. There is Jazz Wednesday, over which the David Leon Quartet presides, welcoming guests to join them onstage; Blues Thursday, comprised of The Fish House Blues Band featuring Mel Seba, Michael Wainright, Darrell Raines, George Caldwell, Randy Robins and Bill Clark, and a rotation of live music on Friday and Saturday that usually features guitarist Steve Duell, Seba and Wainright.

However, their Stormy Monday Blues night, regularly emceed by Rachelle Coba or IKO-IKO band leader Graham Wood Drout, has steadily grown in popularity as a converging point for likeminded musicians in different stages of artistic pursuit.

On any given Monday evening, diners will likely witness unforgettable intermixed performances between tenured professionals — such as Drout, “Piano Bob” Wilder, drummer Juda Shkolnik, jazz violinist and UM educator Nicole Yarling and blind recording saxophonist Jeff Zevac, who works in the Better Chance Music Program at Lighthouse for the Blind — and gifted aspiring instrumentalists like Kobie Alleyne, a 14-year-old Nova High School student who joined Drout and company onstage with a rather atypical instrument — the steel pan.

“On Monday night, the professional musicians are off, which is why artists like Graham [Drout] can do this; the rest of the week, he’s working,” Rivero said. “Here, you can see musicians workshop their craft with other local musicians they might otherwise never play with.”

More than anything else, the Riveros want the Back Room Live to be a place where young, developing musicians like Alleyne can gain confidence by playing alongside professional talent.

“The jam sessions are especially done for the kids so they can have somewhere to play their instruments and practice with us,” she said. “The kids can benefit greatly from the experience that is available to them here.”

The Fish House’s musical accommodations have made it a darling among local jazz and blues aficionados (including 88.9 WDNA, with whom they collaborate on local competitions). But if it’s the phenomenal live music and authentic, rustic ambiance that brings people in, it’s their fantastic, robust menu full of locally caught fresh fish, a raw bar and non-aquatic fare that makes a return visit all but guaranteed.

They have weekly promotions, such as their weekday happy hour, 50 percent off wine bottles and 50 cent oyster Tuesdays. Seasonal promotions also are strewn across the calendar as well, the most notable of which being their huge Mardi Gras celebration complete with a Louisiana crawfish boil and four hand-picked bands.

“People have a hunger for live music, especially in an atmosphere where there’s great food, drinks and people,” he said. “You have to have it; it’s part of our culture.”

The Fish House is located at 10000 SW 56 St. For more information, visit online at www.TheFishHouse.com, call 305-595-8453 or stop by their Facebook page (which is updated regularly with live music footage) at www.Facebook.com/TheFishHouseMiami.


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