Nearly 4 years ago, Carlos Garcia and business partner Sasha Torres had a vision to create a live music venue in Miami that would mirror a typical New Orleans live experience where, “on any given night you could sit in at the bar side by side with people of all walks of life…an eighty year old next to an eighteen year old enjoying the same amazing live music,” explains Garcia. They wanted the music to be the central character in their new venue. Open for just under two years, Garcia and Torres have held tight to this vision. In a town where one would usually choose their venue based on one’s musical tastes and age group of its patrons, The Stage randomly presents a large range of musical styles, attracting all types of music lovers, and on any given night, a forty-five year old can be sharing the same space and groove as a 22 year old. Garcia explains, “We try to be strategic with the music. We like to try different styles of music but we understand that each style will attract a different type of crowd. Regardless of the genre, we just try to throw a good party where everyone can enjoy themselves.”
Garcia and Torres have not only brought well sought after New Orleans bands to The Stage, but they have introduced a genre of music to Miami that, without The Stage, would not have otherwise made its way into Dade County on any sort of regular basis. In the Miami club world of DJ House Music, punk, and Latin bands, The Stage has all that AND the great sounds of New Orleans’ brass and funk beats with the likes of such bands as Dumpstaphunk with Ivan Neville, The Stooges, Hot 8 Brass Band, Soul Rebels, Brass-a-Holics, and Shamarr Allen and The Underdawgs. In addition to the great sounds of NOLA, other touring bands that have made it on stage include indie rock band, St. Vincent, as well as Stokeswood, Jimkata, and the Legendary JCs.
In 2005, Garcia bought a small place in New Orleans and thus began his intense love affair with the city, it’s gracious people, traditions and amazing music, “We really enjoy going to New Orleans, spending time with our friends there, and supporting the city. I especially love bringing people from Miami and showing them the real New Orleans, not just Bourbon Street.” In fact, while this article was being written, he was in the Big Easy for the annual Running With The Bulls. Word is, he survived.
Garcia’s passionate love for music spilled over into conceptualizing, producing and hosting his live show on WDNA, Sound Theory Live, beginning in March 2009, where he was named FM Personality of 2010 by the Miami New Times. His role at WDNA exposed him to the live music void in Miami, “AT WDNA I was able to get closer to many of the musicians in town and obtain a better insight into their world. I learned that this kind of space was needed. Now it continues to provide an avenue to support the music scene in Miami and better connect the public to the Miami music scene. That is the real mission of the radio show.” Not only does The Stage bring in musicians from outside of South Florida, it whole heartedly supports and promotes local musicians and bands, giving them equal opportunity to exposure. Local favorites play on a regular basis including Suenalo, Locos Por Juana, The Spam Allstars, Dangerflow, Electric Piquete, Fusik, Nil Lara, Afrobeta, and Rachel Goodrich.
The space is like none other in Miami, or other cities for that matter. The performance stage sits center in a warehouse space, in front of a large dance floor, flanked by two strategically placed bars. At the back of the dance floor two large garage doors open wide to an outdoor space peppered with couches, bar tables and stools, planters, large umbrellas, another bar and on most nights, a food truck. What could be better during a night of drinking and dancing than to have your munchies satiated? Gratefully, the indoor music and dance scene is a non-smoking environment and the outdoor area accommodates those who have yet to kick the habit.
One would never know that Garcia has had a “day job” as a CPA for the past 18 years, that he is now a partner in accounting firm Goldstien Schechter Koch, and serves on numerous boards, including several non-profit and community organizations. Where the average person might feel overwhelmed, Garcia seems to need the balance of the two diverse lifestyles and possibly thrives on it, “As a partner in an a large local accounting firm and an owner of a live music venue, time is precious. I spend an inordinate amount of time working with my teams in both organizations. The worlds are so wildly different yet it’s incredibly entertaining and rewarding much of the time. Miami needs this. I just wish more people felt the need to experience the variety of live music in our town, but I know we are getting better as a community.”
If you’ve never been to The Stage, run, don’t walk, and don’t miss this upcoming weekend line up for their second annual Soul Fest featuring Glen Douglas Andrews and The Iguanas from New Orleans with Miami’s own Ketchy Shuby and LEBO takes place this Friday and Saturday July 20 and 21. Harry’s Pizzeria (affiliated with Michael’s Genuine) will be making some soulful food and Ryan Godspeed from Michaels Genuine is developing a special shot menu for the weekend. For more details of the weekend, you can go to their Facebook event, 2nd Annual Soul Fest.
For those interested in getting your inner-rock-star on, beginning July 31st, The Stage will have a weekly karaoke night.