Nearly two decades after the Baboons first started swinging at Fort Lauderdale’s late-great Squeeze nightclub in 1993 — introducing a then-audacious blend of funk, rock, jazz and Latin influences cloaked in masks, body paint and daring, interactive theatrical flourishes — the band took a break for some well-earned baby making.
Among those happily in the market for a stroller then were Baboons founder Mano Pila and his wife, the singer-songwriter known as Majica, now the North Miami parents of a son, 5, and daughter, 3.
But on Saturday at Tobacco Road, after a three-year hiatus, the duo will join band members new and old (including Isaac Rodriguez, Miguel Rega, Dominick Cama and Michael Mut) to re-create the Baboons’ signature musical mayhem for a 20th anniversary performance. A throng of friends and former Baboons are expected.
Majica can’t wait to get back to her “second family,” the fans who were such an integral part of any Baboons “event.”
“We just want to feel that brotherhood and sisterhood of whoever is there, whoever wants to take part,” she says. “The reason that we do it is not money, it’s to spread joy. It’s healing everytime I’m onstage. I make eye contact with every single person in the room, and I send them my light.”
In 1993, Majica was Michelle Naples, a graduate of highly touted Lower Merion High School on Philadelphia’s Main Line (alums include Kobe Bryant, Secretary of State Alexander Haig and “Gong Show” host Chuck Barris) who had come to South Florida to study marine biology at Nova Southeastern University. One night a friend, fellow poet and band member Adam Matza, invited her to catch one of the first shows by the Baboons, where she saw a sign by the stage that said “Feed the Baboons” and some bananas. Matza asked her to be part of the show.
“Once I experienced that animalistic banana-feeding experience, I knew I had to be part of this,” says Majica, describing infamous performance-art shows that found her swinging from a rope over the stage at the Chili Pepper in Fort Lauderdale and being covered in mud at Fort Lauderdale’s Mudhouse. “It got a little muddy that night. The dancing was, uh, pretty interesting.”
Majica, who with her husband hosts WDNA's 3-5 p.m. Sunday "Global Gumbo" radio show and has worked in the nonprofit education arena for the past decade, says those days are gone — but she can still rock.
“It’s almost at a higher level of experience, uncovering the true essence of yourself,” she says of her recent songwriting. “Creating another person? That’s huge. It takes [artistic] creation to the next level. Chrissy Hynde of the Pretenders is a mom, too, and she rocks her socks off.”
Majica says that on Saturday night she’ll debut a song written with her new maternal enlightenment, “Crazy Confirmation.” It was inspired, she says, by a moment of spiritual connection: A rainbow she saw while waiting for word about potential surgery for her daughter, which she then learned was not needed.
“It’s about those crazy confirmations that you get, and somehow you know that something is telling you everything is going to be OK, that you’re on the right path,” she says.
The song may surprise longtime fans of the Baboons: “It’s actually a country gospel. I don’t know where it came from. I’m not into country that much, but now that I’ve written this song, I’ve started to listen to more Willie Nelson and Emmylou Harris, though I’ve always been a fan of her,” Majica says. “It’s interesting how you grow musically.”
IF YOU GO
The Baboons reunite for a 20th anniversary show at 10 p.m. Saturday at Tobacco Road (626 S. Miami Ave., Miami). The Nag Champayons open. Admission is free. Info: 305-374-1198, Tobacco-Road.com, TheBaboons.com.