Archive for June, 2012

The three musicians at the heart of the band La Lucha all hail from different parts of the world – Colombia, Mexico & United States.  They met studying music at USF six years ago and launched a band that mixes originals, Latin rhythms and jazz interpretations of popular songs.

Along the way, Mark Feinman, the U.S. born drummer, Alejandro Arenas, a bassist from Colombia, and John O’Leary, a pianist born in Mexico, have played in lots of other bands, doing jazz, rock, Latin music and classical.

Saturday night at the Palladium the three best friends, along with singer Jun Bustamante and guest sax player Austin Vickrey, will celebrate the release of their new CD, simply titled La Lucha.

“We’ll do some originals, a whole bunch of pop songs redone in jazz style and some traditional Latin music – even a salsa arrangement of Stella By Starlight,” Mark Feinman told me, as the band broke from rehearsal Tuesday.

Jazz greats like Miles Davis and John Coltrane often worked with the pop music of their day as the basis for their jazz excursions. That idea provided inspired  La Lucha.

“Like Miles and Coltrane, we wanted to do some music from our own generation,’ Alejandro said.

La Lucha was featured in TBT recently and here’s what they said about the band:

“Pianist John O’Leary, bassist Alejandro Arenas and drummer Mark Feinman  have all toured and performed at jazz festivals around the world, including events in Italy and France. Their music puts unique twists on non-jazzy songs — their 2009 album A Cup of Fuzzy Water features smooth covers of David Bowie’s Space Oddity, Britney Spears’ Toxic and Deftones’ Change (In The House of Flies); and they were recently commissioned by American Stage to perform jazz versions of songs from The Rocky Horror Show.”

For their Palladium show, the band will be doing some tunes from their first CD – A Cup of Fuzzy Water – and lots from the new CD. Their new disc was partially funded by a mini-grant from Hampton Arts Management, run by local creative kingpin, Hampton Dohrman.

You can see and hear this hot young band on Saturday night at the Side Door Cabaret. You can probably also corner Hampton and see if he’ll bankroll your next project. I’m told the guy is awash in cash.

Showtime is 8 p.m. For tickets and more details visit www.mypalladium.org or call 727 822-3590.

And don’t miss the great blues guitarists, Sarasota Slim and his band on Friday night and the 18-piece Helios Jazz Orchestra on Sunday, doing soundrack music from spy films and TV shows. It’s another great weekend of Side Door Summer at the Palladium.


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Our friends at the Hotel Indigo, at 234 3rd Ave. N, in beautiful downtown St. Petersburg are again hosting a special art and music event with the Palladium. Start your weekend by at the Indigo this Friday, June 22 from 5 – 8 p.m. That’s  Happy Hour, for heaven’s sake. And it’s free.

You can enjoy free appetizers, wine, and beer, tour the hotel, hear great jazz featuring Nate Najar and John Lamb, and see a collection of pastels and portraits by artist Kris Gregg.

Paul Wilborn, better known as your favorite blogger and Palladium director, will be the emcee. I’ll tell you about all the great shows coming up during our Side Door Summer!

We did this once before at the Indigo and it was so much fun, nobody wanted to leave. Please join us and make sure you say hello to the emcee! I’d encourage you to buy me a drink, but the drinks are free!

For details visit www.mypalladium.org or hotelindigo.com/stpetedowntown.

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Our Side Door Summer got off to a rockin’ good start with sold-out shows featuring Coo Coo Ca Choo, the hands-down best ’60s rock band ever, and Jefferson Airplane founder Marty Balin, and his tight-tight band and a string of hits.

Both shows had the crowd on the their feet – dancing during the sets and with a standing ovation at the end.

The Side Door is dark this weekend, since we have some rental shows on our mainstage, but it returns with a bang on the last weekend in June. The lineup features three don’t-miss shows:Friday, June 29, is the return of the blues guitar master Sarasota Slim. His last show was completely sold-out and he’s back with a great band in an intimate concert setting.

On Saturday, June 30, we feature a brand new Latin Jazz band, La Lucha, featuring some of our favorite jazz musicians including Alejandro Arenas, bass; Mark Feinman, drums; and John O’Leary, piano. Special guests are Jun Bustamante, vocals and Austin Vickrey, sax. They are celebrating the release of a new CD.

And we close out with a very big show on Sunday afternoon at 3. This one is so big – we’ve moved it upstairs to Hough Hall. It is License To Thrill – a show featuring theme music from the spy movies and television shows including James Bond and Austin Powers films, Mission Impossible, Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Prisoner, Get Smart and other favorites.

The 18-piece Helios Jazz Orchestra directed by David Manson, will be joined by vocalists Denise Moore, Bryan Hughes & Andrea Manson.  If you haven’t caught Helios at the Palladium you are in for a musical treat. These are powerful, horn-driven arrangements. Don’t fight the Sunday afternoon heat, come inside for a cool afternoon of Spy Music!

We’ve got lots of other great bands and artists coming up – including a Blues Blowout weekend in July, featuring the St. Pete Blues Allstars on Friday,July 14,  the Backtrack Blues Band CD release party on Saturday, July 15, and “Oh Brother Where Art Thou” star Chris Thomas King bringing his blues trio in on Sunday, July 16 at 7.

For details and tickets for all the shows and more, visit www.mypalladium.org

Helios Jazz Orchestra with Bryan Hughes

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We’re closing out June with a Side Door show by the great new Latin jazz trio, La Lucha, which features some of our favorite local players. The gig in the Side Door is a CD release party for their brand new disc, which was funded by a micro-grant from Hampton Arts Management.

The band were listed as “Artist of the Day” in today’s TBT. Here’s some what was written:

“Jazz group La Lucha plays Latin-inspired jazz with true global inspirations — its members are from Colombia, Mexico and the United States.


“Pianist John O’Leary, bassist Alejandro Arenas and drummer Mark Feinman (pictured with guest vocalist Jun Bustamante, above, who will appear on their upcoming sophomore album) have all toured and performed at jazz festivals around the world, including events in Italy and France. Their music puts unique twists on non-jazzy songs — their 2009 album A Cup of Fuzzy Water features smooth covers of David Bowie’s Space Oddity, Britney SpearsToxic and Deftones Change (In The House of Flies); and they were recently commissioned by American Stage to perform jazz versions of songs from The Rocky Horror Show.


“This creative spirit led them to a grant from Hampton Arts Management (the same group that awards the Awesome Tampa Bay grants) to help fund their next album, which will be released June 30 with a concert at the Palladium in St. Petersburg.”

For more details follow this link: http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/soundcheck/content/artist-day-la-lucha

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The Palladium, built as a church in the 1920s,  was featured in a Tampa Bay Times story today on historic preservation. The Palladium received a landmark designation from the City of St. Petersburg earlier this month.

To read the entire story click on this link: – http://www.tampabay.com/news/localgovernment/palladium-theater-is-designated-st-petersburg-historic-landmark/1234968

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 Once upon a time in the very late 1960s, I sang with a sweet and earnest folk/rock group. We strummed guitars and harmonized in local coffee houses and school parties. We lit candles by the stage and hoped the dim lighting hid the pimples.

Our big number was “Comin’ Back To Me,” from the Jefferson Airplane Surrealistic Pillow album. It was a beautiful song – so beautiful even we couldn’t really screw it up. We introduced it an Airplane song, but as I got older and learned more about music – I knew that my favorite Airplane songs were really Marty Balin songs.

Marty wrote most of the best songs for the Airplane, and then did the same for the next incarnation – the Jefferson Starship. He has a talent for writing hits that never seem dated.

Love brought Marty to the Tampa Bay area years ago and here he remains – still writing songs,  painting, and playing with top musicians. He sat in briefly with the Rowan-Cunningham band in our Side Door last year.

I’d hoped to get Marty to the Palladium with his own band and it all came together a few months ago. He’s coming with his band for a very intimate evening in our Side Door Cabaret this Saturday, June 16. He’s helping kick off our Side Door Summer – a season of great rock, blues, jazz and acoustic acts.

When we talked by phone last week, Marty says Saturday’s audience will get a little bit of everything from his long and impressive career.

“I’ll do some Airplane stuff, Starship, some new stuff. I’m always creating new songs,” he said.

That’s not as easy as it sounds. Most of his contemporaries, if they are still playing at all, are just recycling their old hits.

For Marty, it isn’t so much about then and now – it’s a continuum; a musical and artistic life that is all about creating.

“I’ve got to keep moving with new things. I always did (the music) because I enjoyed it,” he said. “If you are meant to do that, you just do it until you collapse.”

That said, he considers himself very lucky to have been front and center during one of music’s most interesting eras – the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Marty in 1968

“I am grateful for all the cats I got to hang around with – Janis, Hendrix, Morrison, and Bill Graham and all those folks at the Fillmore. I got to see Muddy Waters, Lightning Hopkins, Howlin’ Wolf, Ray Charles, Otis Redding – I got to dig those cats when they were in their prime.”

I heard Marty and his band perform a few songs at the WMNF Peace Awards last year, and I can attest – Marty is still in his prime.

Don’t miss this musical legend in a very intimate setting. The Side Door holds only 170 folks, and this show is on the way to a sellout. Get your tickets early.

For tickets and info call 727 822-3590 or visit www.mypalladium.org.

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Two big televised political events are coming to the Palladium this summer which will bring statewide and national exposure to the theater and St. Petersburg College.

Tampa Bay Times, Bay News 9 and FPBS are partnering to produce a U.S. Senate Republican Debate for Florida voters on Thursday, July 26 – at The Palladium at SPC.

* The national PBS program, Washington Week, with Gwen Ifill, will be taping their show on Friday, August 24 – at The Palladium at SPC – in advance of the Republican National Convention.   We will be working with WEDU on this event.

Stay tuned to this site for details on the Washington Week event. Tickets for both events will  be free. Here’s a release from the Tampa Bay Times with all the details on the Senate debate:

The Tampa Bay Times, Bay News 9 and FPBS and its member stations are partnering to produce a U.S Senate Republican debate for Florida voters before the Aug. 14 primary. 

The debate, scheduled for July 26, will be broadcast live to a statewide audience from the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg on Bay News 9 and on the Florida public TV and radio stations. It also will be available on Orlando-based Central Florida News 13, and online at tampabay.com and fpbs.org.

Candidates who have at least 5 percent support in a statewide poll of Florida voters will be invited to participate in the hourlong primetime debate, which will be moderated by Times political editor Adam Smith and Bay News 9 senior anchor Al Ruechel. 

Candidates in the Republican primary race include U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, Col. Mike McCalister and former congressman Dave Weldon. The winner of the August primary will face U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, in the general election this fall.  

The Times, the largest newspaper in the Southeast United States, has for years presented debates that have aired statewide and nationally, including a Republican presidential primary debate in January moderated by NBC’s Brian Williams.

“For as long as I can remember, the Tampa Bay Times has been sponsoring debates in campaigns for every office from City Hall to Capitol Hill, and I am delighted we are extending our series this year in the U.S. Senate race,” said Paul Tash, Times chairman and CEO. “Debates give voters a good chance to look over the candidates for themselves.”

FPBS and it member stations also have provided statewide debates to Florida citizens for more than 37 years. 

Bay News 9 and the Times partner each week in the production of Political Connections, the politics program hosted by Ruechel and Smith.  

“Bright House Networks is thrilled to partner with Florida PBS and Tampa Bay Times to bring this primary debate to people throughout the state of Florida,” said Rod Gramer, Bay News 9 vice president and general manager at Bright House Networks.  “This is gearing up to be one of the most important election years to date, and it is exciting to offer this in-depth coverage to interested viewers.”

 Free tickets to the debate will be available to the public at the Palladium box office in early July.

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