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Parsons Dance

Folks are still raving about the Parson’s Dance show last week. Here are some notes sent to us on Facebook:

“Was it just a dream? Did I really get to meet my favorite dancer in the WHOLE WORLD? Incredible performance last night. Kudos to you my friend! You are the reason the burg is such a special to live! Thank you Paul!”

“I caught Parsons Dance tonight at the PALLADIUM in St Pete ! what a great night! how refreshing, a modern dance company / dancers / choreographer not afraid of displaying “virtuosity”; not afraid of giant smiles on stage and not afraid of presenting an evening of joyous, exuberant and “gasp!” entertaining dance ! ! The audience ( and a good house it was ! ) was enthusiastic to say the least! big atta boys to Paul Wilborn and the gang at The Palladium for making the commitment to present dance of this calibre! Sarasota friends, they are at Van Wezel tomorrow evening ! don’t miss it!”

“A thrilling and amazing night at The Palladium! Thanks Parsons Dance, Paul Wilborn & Cory Adler Leidersdorff and your great teams for making this a night to remember! More dance, please!!”

side-door-2012The Palladium’s “Best-of-the-Bay” nightclub – The Side Door – is alive and kicking this weekend with two great shows.

Friday night, 3-22, marks the return of Denise Moore and her annual Songbirds – Women of Jazz show in celebration of Women’s History Month. This time Denise is singing with another Palladium favorite, Andrea Moraes Manson, who normally fronts O Som Do Jazz. The show will celebrate the music and lives of American artists Peggy Lee, Dusty Springfield (during Denise’s set) and Brazilian legends Elizette Cardozo and Elis Regina (during Andrea’s set). Backing up the Songbirds are more Palladium favorites – the La Lucha Trio — Alejandro Arenas (bass), Mark Feinman (drums), John O’Leary (piano). Showtime is 8 p.m. and tickets are going fast.

Selwyn Birchwood

Selwyn Birchwood

Saturday night, 3-22, is a celebration of a home town star who has gained a big interntional reputation. Tampa Bay’s own Selwyn Birchwood returns home for a show to celebrate his winning the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. Selwyn and his band beat out some 200 other bands last February. Opening the show will be Bradenton favorite Steve Arvey with his swamp rock trio, the Delta Swamp Rats. Get your wading boots on for a night of swampy southern blues, rock and boogie. Showtime is 8 p.m. and the dance floor will be open.

For tickets and information visit http://www.mypalladium.org or call the box office at 727 822-3590.

Parsons Dance 2Last night’s dance concert by NYC’s Parsons Dance Company was surely one of the highlights of our 2012-13 season.

More than 400 dance lovers turned out on a Tuesday night and at the end of each piece, they shouted, clapped and even offered up some pleasurable moans. One of the dancers told me he’d never played to such an appreciative audience.

The opening piece of the second act – Caught – was one of the highlights. One male dancer and strobe lights created the visual image of a man in flight – always a foot off the floor. Breath-taking is the only word that describes it.

Here’s what a couple of folks said via email:

“Just wanted to let you know we LOVED the show last night…it was AMAZING. Oh to be limber young and talented. The dance with the strobe light was unbelievable …we talked about it the whole way home!”

“OMG! What a thrilling evening. I am still floating. Love being a part of the Palladium family!!”

And this one:

“WOW!! And again. That was outstanding. I’ll wager you fill the house if you bring them back sometime. Thank you for bringing such superb programming our way.”

Dance will be on our schedule next season as well. If you were there, please send me your comments. If you want to be a supporter of dance at the Palladium, you can write me at: wilborn.paul@spcollege.edu

Special thanks to Sylvia Rushe, WEDU, Kahwa Coffee, and all the members of our Palladium Dance Committee for helping to make the night so special. – Paul

And the hits keep coming at the Palladium. After consecutive weekends of packed houses and three, count them, three sold out shows, we’re geared up for more, starting tomorrow night with the Canadian Brass. We had the opportunity to talk with their hornist Eric Reed about the group’s performance at the Palladium this weekend, Friday, March 15 at 8.  Presented by Bill Edwards/The Mahaffey Theater, don’t miss the only Tampa Bay performance of this legendary group!

 Canadian Brass - Eric ReedUpon joining the Canadian Brass in 2010, Eric Reed said “It is a huge honor to be a member of the Canadian Brass. I grew up listening to them on record and in concert and I feel so incredibly fortunate to now be a part of their storied legacy. There is nothing like the experience of performing with Canadian Brass – the energy the group puts into their presentation is only matched by the enthusiasm of our amazing audiences, and the result is something unparalleled in the music business. I’ve never experienced anything like it.” We had the great opportunity to talk with Eric about the Canadian Brass, and started with a question inquiring out the group’s significant history:

The Canadian Brass has been performing and recording for a long time.  How and where did the group first come together?

The group was formed in Toronto in 1970 by Chuck Daellenbach and Gene Watts, two colleagues that simply wanted to play music, and to do so at the highest level. They started out playing concerts for children, almost 300 per year! The next thing they knew they were on stage at Carnegie Hall as the first brass group to grace that legendary stage. The rest, as they say, is history.

How is the music you began playing then, different from the music you’re playing today?

The main difference is that there’s so much more of it! In 1970, there was basically no music for brass quintets to play, so Canadian Brass set out to create a repertoire for this ensemble. We have done so by taking a “masterpiece approach,” taking the finest music from all repertoire and genres and adapting it for brass quintet. This is what Canadian Brass has done since the very beginning and what we continue to do today, and the vastly increased repertoire for brass quintet is a testament to that. 

How does Canadian Brass’ current music, differ from those of other brass groups?

Canadian Brass is known for the variety of music that we play in any given show, as well as the way that we present it. Not only do we perform music of all time periods, from Bach to the Beatles and Gabrieli to Lady Gaga, and of course Dixieland and early Jazz, we present it in a way that’s not only entertaining but accessible to audiences of all ages and levels of musical understanding. 

Do you use traditional instruments?

We use modern instruments based on the finest traditional models. The instruments themselves are made here, in North America, by the Conn-Selmer Company, and are 24k gold-plated. We are proud of the legacy we continue by playing the finest and most respected instruments in the world, and that they are basic, standard instruments available to everyone.

Tell us about the program you’ll be playing at the Palladium on Friday, March 15 at 8.

As always, the audience can expect an entertaining concert with a large variety of musical styles and sounds. We offer a sort of chronology of the very best music for brass; we start with some early Baroque and late Renaissance (Scheidt, Dowland, Gabrieli) followed by staples, Bach and Brahms. Traditional showpieces will feature members of the group (Carnival of Venice among others) and we’ll even play a tango (Killer Tango by Sonny Kompanek). We always end with a pageant of sorts – I believe for this concert we’ll be doing a bit of “choreography!” (Tribute to the Ballet)

Do you have any new recordings on the horizon?

Yes, we have a number of great new recordings on the horizon; some are recorded and nearly finished, some in the process of being recorded or arranged, some being dreamt about and others still mere twinkles in our eyes. What they are specifically, you’ll have to wait and see! Rest assured, they’ll be purely Canadian Brass, and they’re certain to be a great continuation of the group’s recorded legacy.


Tickets and info are available for the Canadian Brass from The Mahaffey Theater, (727) 892-5767, or call The Palladium Box Office, (727) 822-3590.

Selwyn Birchwood

Selwyn Birchwood

Tampa Bay’s own International Blues Challenge winner Selwyn Birchwood returns home for a show in the Side Door on Saturday, March 23 at 8. Selwyn and his band won top honors in the IBC competition in early February in Memphis. Opening the show will be Bradenton favorite Steve Arvey with his swamp rock trio, the Delta Swamp Rats. Below is a story about the competition from the Memphis Commercial Appeal:

Feb. 3, 2013 Memphis Commercial Appeal

Atlanta musician Little G Weevil and Florida’s Selwyn Birchwood Band took home top honors in the 29th International Blues Challenge.

The four-day competition concluded with finals in the solo/duo and band categories Saturday night at the Orpheum. The annual event is presented by the Memphis-based Blues Foundation, which also stages the Blues Music Awards.

The competition began last Wednesday with more than 231 acts from 40 states and 17 countries playing at 22 venues in the Beale Street historic district. After quarter- and semifinals on Thursday and Friday, the action moved to the Orpheum, where Weevil, a longtime Memphian and Beale Street club fixture who relocated to Georgia in 2009, edged out the Suitcase Brothers, a duo from Barcelona, Spain, for the win as best solo /duo act.

Tampa-area outfit the Selwyn Birchwood Band earned top honors among bands for their brand of swamp blues. They also beat out another international competitor, second-place act Michael van Merwyk and Bluesoul of Germany. Colorado ensemble Dan Treanor’s Afrosippi Band with Erica Brown finished third.

Selwyn Birchwood took the award for the IBC’s top guitarist. Judges also recognized Canadian Steve Hill for the best self-produced CD.

Continuing a decade-long trend, the 2013 IBC marked another year of increased attendance and revenues. Organizers are still tallying numbers, but estimated attendance for Thursday and Friday was roughly 3,600 people per night. The event was projected to generate more than $3.5 million in economic activity in Downtown Memphis. Overall, this year’s IBC proved to be the biggest to date.

“We exceeded all records. That’s what I do know,” said Blues Foundation deputy director Joe Whitmer. “The crowd definitely grew this year. We had record sales of on-site tickets. More individual tickets sold to the finals than we have before, and more of our passes sold in advance. All in all, it was a huge success.”

The 30th International Blues Challenge is slated to begin on Jan. 29, 2014.

For tickets and info on Selwyn’s show visit http://www.mypalladium.org or call the Palladium box office at 727 822-3590.

CJ Harding as Patsy Cline

CJ Harding as Patsy Cline

By Patty Ewald
Tampa Bay Times

CJ Harding was an 8-year-old girl when she met Elvis.

It was in Savannah, Ga., in June 1956 — six months after he recorded Heartbreak Hotel and Blue Suede Shoes, six months before his first film, Love Me Tender, premiered and a mere three weeks after his sexy bumping and grinding to Hound Dog on the Milton Berle Show got him dubbed Elvis the Pelvis.

CJ and her friend Cecile, who were in shorts and no shoes, were standing outside the Sports Arena where he was to appear, which just happened to be in their neighborhood. (It was back in the day when parents thought it was safe to let kids roam the neighborhood.)

One of the policemen guarding the entrance to the arena befriended the starry-eyed girls and told them if they were good, he would try to take them back to Elvis’ dressing room to meet (meet!) him and maybe get his autograph.

The policeman told them that Elvis would sneak in through the back while an empty limo would drive near the throng of screaming fans as a ruse. That’s when the policeman rushed them into the back of the building and into Elvis’ dressing room.

“He was just standing right there with a gold jacket on and black pants. His hair was different than anybody I had ever seen. It was long and wavy and combed back with a lot of hair product. He must have had trouble with acne, because he had some scarring and makeup on.

“He seemed restless and said, ‘How are you little girls doin’?’ ” Then he asked them if they wanted a picture of him.

Of course they said yes. That signed 8-by-10 black-and-white was a prized possession — it went to show-and-tell before being tacked on her bedroom wall where she could kiss it over and over again — until it sort of fell apart and disappeared, she said.

Touched by the King, this little 8-year-old girl would never be the same.


It’s as if CJ Harding’s embodiment of Patsy Cline was written in the stars, out of her control.

She always had show biz in her blood and her goal has always been to be on the concert stage. She’s been singing songs and playing her guitar since she taught herself how when she was 14.

Harding worked in the film industry in Vancouver, British Columbia, often called the Hollywood of the north. She did acting, modeling, dancing and costume designing.

In commercial advertisements, she pitched Budweiser, orange juice and panty liners.
And, in her most “famous” role, she had a bit part in the 1989 movie Cousins, with Ted Danson.

She moved to St. Petersburg in 1992 to take care of her dad after her mom died. She jammed in Ybor City. When she played her songs, audiences liked her but whenever she played a Patsy song, they loved her.
So, she put together a tribute and took it on the road — on cruise ships, at fairs, in Las Vegas and the Largo Cultural Center — to sellout crowds.

She has been accompanied by a band in the past but for the last 16 years, she’s been doing her Patsy performance with taped musical tracks.

That will change March 9 and 10 when she brings Sweet Dreams, a special tribute to Cline, who, if she hadn’t died in a plane crash in 1963, would have been 80 last September, to the 800-seat Palladium in St. Petersburg with a band she pieced together from Craigslist.

A Craigslist hunt is risky but it panned out big time for Harding. She’s delighted with her band.
All transplants from other parts of the country, they now reside in Pinellas County: B.J. Steinberg on lead guitar, David Hardy on piano, Jay O’Neal on bass, Stephen Buckholtz on drums and T.J. Weger on guitar.

Harding, unlike other impersonators, does not do a myriad of entertainers. She performs only as Patsy Cline. She also gave a lecture this year on Cline’s life as part of the biography series at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Eckerd College.

“I do performing arts stages, not bars and lounges. My goal all along has been to be on a concert stage,” Harding said.

She is a songwriter herself and is still hoping to sell one of her songs one day.

CJ Harding’s Sweet Dreams, A Patsy Cline Tribute, appears at the Palladium for two shows. Saturday, March 9 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, March 10 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $28 and $35 and available at mypalladium.org or by calling 727 822-3590.
To read the full story follow this link: http://www.tampabay.com/features/humaninterest/senior-impersonators-delight-as-elvis-dolly-marilyn-and-johnny-in-gowns/1276607