Archive for October, 2010

The Palladium goes Celtic in November with three great concerts, starting on Friday, Nov. 5 with Solas. The series also features Celtic Harpist Patrick Ball on Friday, Nov. 12 and the legendary Scottish group, The Battlefield Band on Sunday, Nov. 21.  I’ll have more on Patrick Ball and Battlefield Band in future posts. But let’s focus on Solas.

This critically acclaimed group, based in the U.S.,  has won praise from Celtic fans and music writers both here and in Ireland.

For a taste of their music, check out the attached clip on You Tube. Solas on The View

And read some of the critical acclaim in this excerpt from the band’s website (www.solasmusic.com): 

Since its birth in 1996, Solas has been loudly proclaimed as the most popular, influential, and exciting Celtic band to ever emerge from the United States. Even before the release of its first Shanachie CD, the Boston Herald trumpeted the quartet as “the first truly great Irish band to arise from America,” and the Irish Echo ranked Solas among the “most exciting bands anywhere in the world.” Since then, the praise has only grown louder. The Philadelphia Inquirer said they make “mind-blowing Irish folk music, maybe the world’s best.” The New York Times praised their “unbridled vitality“, the Washington Post dubbed them one of the “world’s finest Celtic-folk ensembles” and the Austin American-Statesman called them “the standard by which contemporary Celtic groups are judged.

The Solas sound today is anchored by founders Seamus Egan, who plays flute, tenor banjo, mandolin, whistle, guitar and bodhran, and fiddler Winifred Horan. They are two of the most respected—and imitated—musicians anywhere in acoustic music. Mick McAuley from Kilkenny plays accordion and concertina; Eamon McElholm from Tyrone plays guitar and keyboards.

The Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine says, “Seamus Egan and Solas make mind-blowing Irish folk music, maybe the world’s best,” while the Los Angeles Times says, “Solas offers a compellingly original, strikingly contemporary view of traditional Celtic sounds.” Although Solas can play undiluted traditional Irish music as well as anyone alive or departed, they are always varying the mix of fire tested tradition and contemporary sensibility with an ease and naturalness that is as astonishing as their overwhelming musicianship. As a result, they transcend musical genres into the realm of pure musical expression that only a relative handful of musicians attain.

 The internationally acclaimed supergroup has not only captured the hearts and ears of Irish music fans, but fans all around the globe with their blend of Celtic traditional, folk and country melodies, bluesy sometimes jazz-inspired improvisations and global rhythms. Solas has built a fanbase that includes the likes of Bela Fleck, Emmylou Harris and the much sought-after rap producer Timbaland who surprisingly sampled the band on his radio hit “All Yall.” Their latest release is “The Turning Tide” available on Compass Records.


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If you grew up in Tampa in the 1960s, as I did, you were lucky. Tampa had lots of great bands and lots of places to hear them – teen clubs, rec centers, union halls, rock clubs, and opening for big names at Curtis Hixon Convention Center.

Now, a bunch of guys who were my idols during my pimple phase  have gotten together to form the band they wish they had played with back in the day. Coo Coo Ca Choo is a stageful of veteran musicians and showmen – only now they’ve got better equipment! And a light show!

Seriously, if you love hits from the 1960s, this is the best band you are likely to hear anywhere. They sing in perfect five-part harmony. They do the hard songs that other bands don’t attempt. The Hollies. The Zombies. The Beach Boys (singing better harmony than you’ll hear at a current Beach Boys show). They do the last half of Abbey Road, for God’s sake!

Since they are all old and rich now, they have the best music website that money can buy.  Check it out at: http://www.coocoocachooband.com/

 Catch them this Saturday night in the intimate Side Door Cabaret starting at 8 p.m. I suggest you see them now before they all decide to retire from the music business – again!

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After explorations of the music of Duke Ellington and Elton John, Los Angeles pianist, composer and arranger Ted Howe is going deep undercover – into the land of James Bond, aka Agent 007.

He is bringing new arrangements of more than a dozen Bond film themes to the Palladium on Saturday, Nov. 6 in Shaken Not Stirred: The Music of James Bond. The show features a five-piece band, two vocalists and Howe at the Steinway.

“This isn’t a jazz show,” said Howe, though there are elements of jazz in some of the songs. “These arrangements are a mix of Broadway, Latin, cabaret, swing, jazz, funk and hip hop.”

He was commissioned to create the show in 2008 by Hofstra University, which presents a pop culture seminar each year around a particular theme. That time the theme was all things “Bond.”

“People showed up who made the gadgets, the props. Some of the actors came. Pierce Brosnan was there,” Howe recalls. “The guy who was running the whole thing wanted to wind up the week with some Bond music.”

Howe enjoyed the gig, but wasn’t happy with his arrangements. So he’s spent the last few weeks in Los Angeles revising them, looking for a little more punch from the brass.

Songs include the James Bond Theme, Goldfinger, All Time High, Look of Love, Nobody Does It Better, Diamond Are Forever, From Russia With Love, Mister Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, The World Is Not Enough, Thunderball, We Have All The Time In The World, You Only Live Twice and For Your Eyes Only.

This appearance at the Palladium is a homecoming of sorts for Howe. His family moved from Boston to Shore Acres when he was in high school and he attended St. Petersburg Junior College in 1959 before signing up for the Army. During his service, Howe played in some great Army bands.

After the Army stint, Howe returned to his hometown of Boston and became the bandleader at The Surf Supper Club, one of the city’s top nightspots. He worked with lots of name entertainers and honed his skill as an arranger.

Howe later moved to Atlanta, where the helped created a jazz education program at Georgia State University and shared stages with lots of musical greats including Mel Torme, who insisted Howe be his accompanist anytime he visited Atlanta.

Los Angeles is now his home, though his touring schedule keeps him on the road a lot. Along with his own shows, he  has worked with Lainie Kazan and the renowned jazz baritone, Giacomo Gates. He records for Summit Records.

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One of the highlights of the Palladium’s 2010-11 season is coming up this Sunday, Oct. 17 at 8 p.m. Bombay Bellywood is a  touring show that is amazing audiences around the world. In case you haven’t heard of this show, I wanted to share this from the website for Bombay Bellywood:

With 6 years of performing over 700 shows in 22 countries the Bellydance Superstars have earned the accolade given them by the Sunday Times of England “ the most important dance troupe in the world.” They have taken an ancient art form previously seen in clubs and restaurants and turned it into a mega show to compete head on with the likes of Riverdance and Stomp. They have also added to the interpretation of Bellydance much as Cirque de Soleil has added to the interpretation of the Circus.

 They have given bellydancers worldwide the confidence that their dance art can now present them with the opportunity to dance in the world’s most prestigious venues just like any primo ballerina.  The BDSS has in fact opened doors and invigorated the art of Bellydance beyond recognition.

They have also inadvertently ended up as cultural ambassadors between East and West prompting the accolade from the Sunday Times. Now they add to that momentum by adding new cultural elements from India blending them to the already rich tapestry of Bellydance they have created so far.

The new show will merge traditional, and Tribal Bellydance with Indian dance styles rich in costuming and exciting emotive, infectious music. We are calling it BOMBAY BELLYWOOD. Cairo meets Bombay in San Francisco and New York with a touch of Buenos Aries and Chicago

To be sure, the Bellydance Superstars are not purists, and proud of it. They see the art of Bellydance as a living art capable of absorbing new elements and spreading its wings to captivate ever more people in ever more cultures. Indian dance has also morphed in unique ways so that the term Bollywood means different things to different people but to all it spells exotic India today. The Bellydance Superstars motto could be “creatively true”. Don’t lose the essence of the dance art but don’t be afraid to expand its horizons.

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I told you last week that Pump Boys and Dinettes, produced at the Palladium by New American Theater, was a must-see show. Now John Fleming, theater critic of the St. Petersburg Times, confirms it. Fleming says the show is a lot of fun, the cast is great and the songs are toe tappers.

But don’ t take my word for it. Read John Fleming’s entire review at:


And don’t wait. The show closes on Sunday.

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 Brian Becker’s dream of a Tampa Bay theater company devoted to musicals comes to life this weekend at the Palladium. The rollicking gas station-and-grill musical Pump Boys and Dinettes opens for a two-week run on the Hough Hall stage.

Brian has worked incredibly hard to bring New American Theater to life. The company has three more shows planned at the Palladium through next summer. Check out the New American Theater website for details. Help out this great new company and buy a ticket. Bring some friends.

I’m seeing the show on opening night, but several Palladium staffers have seen rehearsals and report that Pump Boys is going to be a hit. Great music. Great singing and playing. A terrific set.

Hope you’ll come out to the diner and gas station at the corner of 5th Avenue North and 3rd Street (also known as the Palladium at St. Petersburg College) for a fun night with the Pump Boys and Dinettes.

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