Those of us who were privileged to be present during that time can appreciate the frustration of not being able to know the history of our musical roots here in Miami. No books or Google searches can produce any information on this period , a time when we were defining ourselves musically.
We had embraced soul music and rock as the ” listeners”, but we wanted to make our own music, a style that would reflect our ethnicity and our ability to adapt. Groups like Earth,Wind and Fire and Santana would influence us ,and we would take those styles and fuse them together. Musical groups formed in our High Schools when friends from Band class got together to jam in their parent’s garage or ” Florida Room” The ” OPEN HOUSE ” was born out of necessity,we needed a place to show off , our clothes ,our shoes , our ” Muelas”. We needed to show America we could take all it offered and make it our own. According to Legendary radio personality Maria Cristina Ruiz of Super Q” The pioneers of the Open Houses, were the late Eddy Martinez, and Francisco Calvo. They were strong promoters at the time plus, Martin Roque and the late Ray Aviles who came down from New York and partnered with Eddy Martinez. They used to have dances , TRES ORQUESTAS POR EL PRECIO DE UNO! ” was their tag line .It is unclear where the term ” Open House ” originated, but it meant “all where invited ” and we ALL went. We know the names Boa,Trapp, Heaven ,Mantrap,OUI,Mint, Unit 3 ,Antiques, Coke,Rapid Transit,Unit 3,BABE,Pearly Queen, Adam’s Apple,Clockwork, World of Matter ,Ecstacy, Queen’s kids,Warlock, Heroes of
Cranberry Farms,Shuffling Kind, Trap,The Warlocks,Wildwind, Majesty, and those who were destined to stay just jamming together in their parent’s spare bedroom. These were our superstars with a twist, they sat next to us in Math class. They had grown up with us, we could hear them practicing from our backyard, but most of all , they were our own. Latin teenagers mostly from Cuba arriving in the US in the early and mid sixties,still Cuban at heart ,faced with the reality that they would never return to their birthplace , but with the desire to make our mark and be noticed as contributors to this great land. Although I must give credit where credit is due, a few local Gringos did pave the way and they are also recognized on this page.
Who in Miami didn’t skip school once to attend a Mantrap or Heaven concert in the Miami High auditorium? Where else could they come up with something so official sounding as National “Skip ‘ day? The word got out somehow and we all showed up at the South Beach Pier. We would also show up at Club de las Americas, Salon Sofia,Electrician’s Hall. Our Lady of Lebanon, Polish American , and anywhere we knew the guys would be at. Of course we need to mention Carlos Oliva y los Sobrinos del Juez ,Willy Chirino , Hansel y Raul and the Miami Sound Machine all talented artists that defined the ” Miami Sound ” to the mainstream . It was these groups that bridged the generational gaps that existed between us and our parents , musically , if only for a brief moment in time.
When Disco exploded on to the scene it made these “Open House ” groups shine even more. Groups began adding local female vocalists ,that would solidify their male fan base . Their playlists were as fresh as the newest Bo Crane Disco report .The faceless songs we heard hundreds of times a week on the radio now had a group of young men to interpret the feelings of that particular song. The Cuban Dick Clark of course was WRHC’s Enrique de la Maza who hosted the popular AM radio show ” El Show de Rikki Tikki ” on a local level de La Maza was a key figure in the promotion of the Open House scene early on, later by Leo Vela,Maria Cristina Ruiz, Mike “in The Night ‘ Triay, Albertico Rodriguez, David Verjano and all of the Super Q team.
This page is an attempt to record some of that history ,through recollections of those of us who were there in some capacity either as DJ,musicians,or the audience that supported it all. If you were part of that scene and feel you should be mentioned here please contact me .