You might have noticed on your way to Vagabond that the Overtown area is getting a bit of a touch up. In fact, you might be wondering if the shiny new Shell station, Tower Records, The Bourbon Room and Roxy night club that sprung up seemingly overnight are part of some downtown revitalization project. The fresh layers of paint and store fronts hitting the rundown stretch of North Miami Avenue are actually set designs for the film Rock of Ages starring Russell Brand and Tom Cruise. Rock of Ages is an adaptation of the eponymous Broadway musical set in the Hollywood hairband scene during the 1980′s.
South Florida is no stranger to the film industry thanks to the attractive tax breaks, tropical scenery and industry promotion from groups like Film Miami. However, Hollywood and Southern California have usually served as Miami stand-ins for famous films like Scarface and shows like Showtime’s Dexter. The Rock of Ages shoot is a rare instance where the opposite is true; Miami standing in for Hollywood. Producers even went as far as putting up a replica of the Hollywood sign on our own famous landmark stinking up the Miami-Dade/Broward line known as Mount Trashmore.
The stretch of North Miami Avenue between 13th and 14th street has been busy with activity as crews recreate the setting for the heyday of 80′s rock. The past half century has turned the area into a far cry from its own heyday as “the Harlem of the South” during the time of Thurgood Marshall and Langston Hughes. The neighborhood would later host James Brown and other soul singers in late-night shows after they played for all-white crowds in Miami Beach during the civil rights era. The Overtown Music Project contains a wealth of pictures and information on this historically rich pocket of Miami.