Charlie Pickett

In the early/mid-80s, Charlie Pickett and the Eggs were — hands down — the punk gods of South Florida. They anchored the Open Books’ “Land That Time Forgot” compilation. They had college radio, when it was fomenting alternative as a genre, with “If This Is Love (Can I Get My Money Back),” “Overtown,” “Marlboro Country,” massive press in NME, Melody Maker, Trouser Press, NY Rocker, and CMJ. The band caught the notice of REM’s Peter Buck, who championed the band, and appears as a special guest on this “See You in Miami”, out August 24st on Y&T Music.

Because rock & roll is still the spark and promise of being alive, of feeling the kick inside, the roar of potential and the molten center of midnight. It doesn’t matter the age, the region, the economic sector…when it’s true, when it burns, that’s when it’s stripped to the essence. “See You In Miami” is that. From “Travelust Revisited” with its scalding lust for sex’m’gone, “Four Chambered Heart” and its thundering truth about real love, “Teajay & Mindy” paying homage to the Velvet Underground and the scene or “Miami Interlude” a stripped to the floorboards, hillbilly boogie, careening out of control. This is what punk meant then, and still means now.

The Eggs released the flaming “Live at the Button,” then made an album called “Route 33” for Twin/Tone. Pickett contends Soul Asylum had more momentum because Pirner was cute, but it may be this was a working-class rock band on the fringe of punk (two of the Eggs were bad junkies, all were surly types). Regardless, he lived the Minneapolis alt/indie dream for a year and he had some success, but you know the wear and tear on bands in vans, scratching it together, living for the glory of feedback and slide guitar, at a point, the fire of the performances burns you out, or you have to grow up.

Buck brought Charlie and the MC-3 to Athens to record 1987’s “The Wilderness.” Buck produced it, coaxed it into existence and would’ve paid for it, but bulldozer /quarry worker Pickett wouldn’t allow it (he went back to Dania, earned the rest of the money running heavy equipment in the rock yard, and went back.)

Pickett went straight and opted for law school around age 35, played around Florida (where if he walks into a bar with him, the local girls all flock around) and didn’t think too much about any of it — until the guy who co-founded Bloodshot Records reached out about a compilation. Seems the Bloodshot guy saw Charlie Pickett & the Eggs in college and the passion hit him. Ergo, Bloodshot’s Pickett compilation, “Bar Band Americanus” was born. David Fricke raved about it in Rolling Stone, saying “That rattle ‘n’ smack now sounds raucously prescient, like a long-lost high-time link between the Replacements and the Drive-By Truckers, while this collection’s one new track, “Penny Instead,” shows that Pickett — who now works as an attorney but still finds time to play for the door hasn’t forgotten how to set a saloon afire.” Pickett did CMJ, did SXSW. Had a bit of resurgence.

“See You in Miami” is an homage to the scene that was, carrying the colors nationwide, and reminding people there’s more to South Florida than EDM. The album is populated by lots of characters. Rich Ulloa from Y&T Music (who brokered the Mavericks, Mary Karlzen and For Squirrels to national attention in the ‘90s) released a Record Store Day 45 with the local anthem “What I Like About Miami” (featuring Peter Buck on guitar) b/w “So Long Johnny,” written by Peter Buck about Pickett’s lead guitar player John Salton, the lyrics really encapsulate Buck’s own relationship to his success and the purity of the punk junkie’s “art.” The 45 sold out, and now Pickett and Ulloa have teamed up to release a full length album.