Event promoters, however, have continued to adapt and charge onward to reclaim the once-lucrative industry as more and more Americans receive their COVID-19 vaccinations — and newly approved boosters — heading into the year’s end. Fortunately for music fans in South Florida, two ambitious brothers who see Miami as an untapped market are planning to bring the liveliness of funk and the unpredictability of improvisational jamming to the sunny shores of Miami Beach with their inaugural North Beach Music Festival at the North Beach Bandshell the weekend of December 10-11.
Twin brothers Gideon and Noah Plotnicki, who have spent the past decade learning the ropes of the concert business, will apply their collective experience, industry contacts, and brotherly instincts to produce the two-day festival. The event will look to cap off live music’s comeback year along Collins Avenue with performances by a mix of national touring acts, including Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Spafford, Ghost-Note, Aqueous, and Marco Benevento, and bands familiar to the South Florida music scene like Electric Kif, Juke, Tand, and the Heavy Pets, with that last act scheduled to kick off the festival’s first day on Friday.
Following the festival’s initial announcement back in August, the artist lineup has expanded with the additions of singer Shira Elias (Turkuaz) and percussionist Jason Hann (the String Cheese Incident). They will join the Motet for a collaborative set during the event’s first day alongside Jennifer Hartswick (Trey Anastasio Band). Other recent additions include artists-at-large Josh Schwartz, Greg Sanderson, and Chris Brouwers, who made up the horn section of Turkuaz before that funk band’s sudden and surprising dissolution earlier this month.
Gideon moved to Miami in 2019 to launch his own concert promotion company, GMP Live, and has been throwing a mix of jam and funk shows at the bandshell in the hope of establishing a footprint for the niche genres in a market dominated by electronic music. His brother Noah, who lives in the New York City area and works for Wasserman Music, has an equally impressive career résumé. He came up in the industry booking shows and tours across the U.S. in the symphony space for the boutique promoter MGP Live before moving to Paradigm Talent Agency, where he worked until the start of the pandemic, helping to book shows for acts like Trey Anastasio, Herbie Hancock, Idina Menzel, and Maxwell, to name a few.
“Paradigm exploded during the pandemic for a variety of reasons,” Noah tells New Times during a video chat that also includes his twin brother. He has dialed in from his NYC office with the Brooklyn Bridge as a picturesque backdrop, while Gideon joined from his Miami apartment. “It gave me the opportunity to go back to being entrepreneurial and work with Gideon on stuff that we’ve always talked about doing, which is producing a festival together within the jam, funk, and live improvisational space that both of us personally love and spend our free time and money going to see as fans.
“So all these different components during the worst part of the pandemic winter conspired in a good way to provide this opportunity that we saw to build on the success of the shows that Gideon had in Miami and the great run he had over the spring.”
The shows Gideon has booked at the bandshell this year have included a who’s who of names within the eclectic funk and jam scenes, including Dumpstaphunk, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Oteil Burbridge, and Big Gigantic. He plans to bring Lettuce, Flamingosis, and the Floozies to the bandshell in the coming months under his GMP Live promotional banner.
“At the time, the rest of the country was closed and very few places could hold concerts, so there was a lot of attention on Miami, especially for jam bands and funk bands who are constantly touring and looking for places to tour,” Gideon notes. “It seemed like everyone wanted to come here, so the idea of doing a festival started to make sense because a lot of bands want to play in Miami but maybe not necessarily tour all of Florida.”
The Plotnicki brothers hope to attract the growing fanbase for jam bands beyond the festival in the South Florida region. After all, they come from a market where the jam scene thrives, where venues like Brooklyn Bowl provide a churchlike setting.
“What I’ve found out living here in Miami for the past couple of years and really being involved in this scene, is there is a community of live music people just like in New York, but they don’t have a Brooklyn Bowl, or someplace that is like a totem to center themselves around,” Gideon says. “That’s one of the things we’ve been trying to do with the North Beach Bandshell, is to make it a destination for this genre of music.”
“Places like New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Denver — the really big jam-band markets — the fanbases there are so mature in terms of where they receive their information,” Noah adds. “Because there’s never been a jam festival like this in Miami, at least that we could find, it creates an amazing opportunity to be a first-mover in that way, particularly since Miami in the wintertime is one of the few places in the country where you can have an outdoor music festival.”
The collaborative, entrepreneurial spirit between the two goes beyond just putting together a lineup. Their multiyear vision for the festival includes utilizing the bandshell’s 44-foot-wide stage in addition to the park surrounding the venue as possible footprints for performance spaces and activations by local artists. The outdoor venue also recently announced plans for a $1.5 million technological upgrade, which the Plotnicki brothers are certainly eyeing for potential livestream opportunities should the festival return in 2022 and 2023.
“We want to put on the most perfect event that a first-year festival could be and establish what the vibe of our event is and what we’re about,” Noah says of their three-year plan. “Year two, build on that. Where can we improve? Year three, pop. That’s the hope. Maybe we pop year one; maybe we pop year two. We’re coming into it with sober expectations, and we want to do everything right before we go nuts with it.”
“This is all about establishing, building, growing, and planting our flag so we can do whatever we think the festival should be in the future,” Gideon adds with confidence. “It’s all about getting the word out as much as we can right now, so people know about it, or know about it after the fact, so they want to come next year.”
North Beach Bandshell. Friday, December 10, and Saturday, December 11, at the North Beach Bandshell, 7275 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-672-5202; northbeachbandshell.com. Tickets cost $80 to $155 via northbeachmusicfestival.com.