Miami is well known for its array of dining options and entertainment venues. If you live downtown or in Brickell or South Beach, you’ll find dining and entertainment under the same roof almost anywhere you go. Simply walk down Lincoln Road or head over to Mary Brickell Village and you’ll be surrounded by endless options. But for those of us who live in the suburban neighborhoods a few miles west, such luxuries are harder to come by. Yet, on Miller Road and SW 100 Avenue, there is a fish restaurant called The Fish House that pairs an extraordinary dining experience with one of the best live music shows in Miami. Every Thursday night from 8 p.m. to midnight, the back room at The Fish House is transformed into a haven and an outlet for spirited musicians who let loose in an open-mic style jam session. On a recent Thursday night, I had the pleasure of hearing Motel Mel on keys, Daryl Raines on guitar and Michael Wainwright on the sax, in addition to the house favorites, the Back Room Boys. There were even a few surprise guests: the legendary big man Joey Gilmore jamming on his guitar and Jose Raul “Lips” Morales, all the way from New York City, jamming on the trumpet. These guys are really something. I won’t attempt to add up the years of collective instrumental experience they share, but let’s just agree that it’s well over 100 years.
The music was phenomenal. But what else would you expect from a room full of seasoned musical veterans? Of course these guys are going to make sweet music. But the true surprise of the evening was the sound of Julian Harris on the guitar and his 14-year old sister Victoria Harris on the drums. Apparently, The Fish House’s openmic night isn’t limited by age and it isn’t reserved exclusively for musicians with decades of experience. Instead, Thursday night’s jam sessions have served as a stepping stone for young musicians to stretch their wings and expand their boundaries. Julian, who is now studying music at the esteemed Berklee College of Music in Boston, has been jamming out to a packed room at The Fish House since he was in ninth grade. While most other ninth graders are happy to have a hundred views on their YouTube channel, Julian and Victoria are playing to a live audience of nearly a hundred. The exposure to crowds of people coupled with the opportunity to jam side-byside with experienced professionals provides these young musicians with the perfect environment to flourish and hone their skills. Maybe they are musically inclined, and maybe they spend more time practicing than your average teenagers. But when you approach The Fish House and hear that sound bursting from the back room, you don’t expect the musicians playing the music to be a minute younger than 40 years old. They sound like pros. So the next time you have the urge to have a few drinks, eat a delicious meal and hear some amazing live music, don’t trek all the way downtown or to South Beach. Just head on over to The Fish House. The menu is elaborate, ranging from seafood to quesadillas to the best cheeseburgers and fries I’ve ever had. The Fish House has sangria, margaritas, wine and dozens of beers on the drink menu. No drinks if you’re underage, but feel free to bring an instrument. Want to sneak a peek? The Fish House owner and manager Angela Rivero maintains an incredible Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/thefishhousemiami, and you can watch a clip of one of Victoria Harris on the drums. the amazing jam sessions on YouTube.