IF YOU KNOW anything about South J Street in downtown Lake Worth Beach, you know that its two main live music venues cater to vastly different crowds.
On the east side of the street, there’s Propaganda, where punk bands shred to pierced energetic grungesters known to let loose in mosh pits every now and then.
Across the street, and just a few steps down the block, there’s Rudy’s Pub, where very much softer rock bands and blues musicians perform for Deadheads with AARP cards and graying flower children, some dancing with hula hoops.
The two venues have operated in independent harmony over the last 10 years, keeping to themselves as separate but vital anchors of a musically-vibrant block.
Now, those music worlds are about to collide.
In an experiment that could help boost South J Street’s profile as a regional music destination, Propaganda and Rudy’s are joining together to co-host Postcards from Paradise, a two-day music festival April 14-15 featuring 18 indie rock bands.
“I think it's going to be really cool,’’ said Propaganda owner Natalie Jaramillo, who runs the popular club with her husband, Franco. “It's going to be really interesting to see the two music venues sort of merge together and create a sort of unity for J Street.’’
The vibe of the whimsically-named festival is more conducive to Propaganda. But Rudy’s was only too happy to offer its intimate inside stage, which over the years has hosted an eclectic range of musicians from blues guitarist JP Soars and Allman Brothers tribute group Marshall Brothers Band to blues rock trio Shaw Davis & The Black Ties and Americana Jones.
“It's going to be a blast,’’ said Rudy’s owner MaryBeth Sisoian. “The most attractive thing to me is I've always wanted to work with Propaganda. I love bringing South J Street together in any way possible.’’
The collaboration is really a marriage of convenience, a ceremony performed by the festival’s organizer, longtime music promoter Steve Rullman, who helped launch Propaganda in 2009.
Rullman, publisher of PureHoney Magazine, is known for hosting the popular Bumblefest alternative music festival, held every fall in downtown West Palm Beach since 2016. As a Propaganda co-founder, he’s always wanted to launch something similar in downtown Lake Worth Beach, sort of a bride of Bumblefest.
He decided to pull the trigger this year.
Initial plans called for a modest one-day event at Propaganda but soon snowballed with interest for more bands and more days, which meant a need for another venue.
Unlike the thriving 500 block of Clematis Street, where multiple SubCulture Group venues host the usual 40 or so Bumblefest bands, the pickings for easy-to-access stage space on South J Street are slim.
The Bamboo Room, located upstairs above Rudy’s, has a stage with a history of hosting big-name blues and rock acts. But for the first Postcards from Paradise festival, organizers wanted an intimate, easy-to-access space allowing festival goers to see as many bands as possible simply by walking across the street.
Rudy’s seemed like a no-brainer, even if its typical customers have never had the sadistic pleasure (or misfortune) of experiencing a mosh pit.
Here is a typical mellow music scene at Rudy's:
Here is one of the more tamer mosh pits that have erupted at Propaganda:
Rullman made sure the bands scheduled to perform at Rudy’s are more in line to the kinds of sounds Rudy’s is known for. Friday will feature Thorns, The Honeycreepers, Nervous Monks and Gold Dust Lounge. Saturday it’s Man Made Weather inside and the reggae band Spred the Dub outside on the rear patio (separate $5 ticket required.)
And the bands scheduled to perform at Propaganda are more in line with the sounds Prop is known for. Brooklyn-based synth pop musician Frankie Rose and glam rocker Scott Yoder of Seattle are the headliners on a bill that includes Haute Tension, Donzii and Rude Television, among others.
“The music I play is sort of like what you might hear in a Pulp Fiction soundtrack or a David Lynch film,’’ said Russell Mofsky, the Miami Beach-raised leader of the instrumental band Gold Dust Lounge.
“I grew up with punk rock and got into jazz and now my music is neither one of those but influenced by both. It might be influenced as much by old Godzilla and western films as much as anything else.’’
Propaganda and Rudy’s may seem like strange musical bedfellows, but they’re really not. Some Rudy’s patrons frequent Propaganda, whose own patrons have at least peeked inside Rudy’s.
At Rudy’s, the decor includes photos of Bob Dylan and John Lennon and a psychedelic dayglo Jimi Hendrix poster. A closer look reveals a bit of the punk vibe, be it the skeleton in the corner by the stage or the bar’s motto: “No Grouchy People Allowed.”
“It will be great cross-promotion,’’ Jaramillo said.
“I want people to have an opportunity to step outside the box and come in here. People who have never been to Prop, the regulars from Rudy’s, are going to come in here and go, ‘Wow, this is really cool,’ and vice versa.’’
When Gold Dust Lounge was approached by Rullman about playing at Rudy’s, Mofsky figured why not.
“My crowd skews a little older at this point,’’ he said. “Everybody has had families and or is having families and so (Rullman) thinks it'll be a good fit for us.’’
Mofsky said he’s mainly excited to be part of something that will help two popular South J Street venues —and their respective regulars — get to know each other a little better.
"Community is lacking in our current day and age,'' he said.
“I think anything that can bring people together, especially through music, which is something that has the potential to be a great uniter, is wonderful. Without a community, none of us have any place to play.’’
If Postcards from Paradise is successful, Rullman hopes to expand the event in future years to possibly include more musical genres and The Bamboo Room as a possible third venue.
“This is all about building or at the very least maintaining a framework for the community to develop,’’ he said. “We love turning people on to bands they’ve never heard before. Postcards will be a ‘vacation’ experiment for all involved.’’
Rullman’s final word of advice: Get tickets as soon as possible.
Capacity at the two venues will be limited and there may be few, if any, tickets available the days of the shows. Tickets can be purchased by clicking this image:
(Editor's note: Joe Capozzi is an occasional contributor to PureHoney Magazine, sponsor of Postcards from Paradise. His latest story, in the magazine's current issue, is about Postcards from Paradise. That story contains material used in this story.)
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About the author
Joe Capozzi is an award-winning reporter based in Lake Worth Beach. He spent more than 30 years writing for newspapers, mostly at The Palm Beach Post, where he wrote about the opioid scourge, invasive pythons, the birth of the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches and Palm Beach County government. For 15 years, he covered the Miami Marlins baseball team. Joe left The Post in December 2020. View all posts by Joe Capozzi.