Archive for July, 2012

Lauren Mitchell played her first Side Door Blues show last week, bringing in a great band, her big voice and stage presence and a very tight pair of leopard skin slacks. What more could you ask for in a show?

Lauren Mitchell

She and the band will be back soon. In case you missed it, here’s a You Tube video from the show to check out. I loved the opener, but my favorites were “Dr. Feelgood” and “I’d Rather Go Blind.” Lauren is a star in the making, so don’t miss her the next time she’s at the Side Door.

This You Tube video includes an intro by Palladium Paul, at no extra charge.

Click on: http://youtu.be/tVd3ZJgacMA

The video is great, but this posting is actually just another excuse to use Lauren’s picture in my blog.

Lauren also posted some nice words about the Side Door on Facebook:

I was recently fortunate enough to have my band, The Lauren Mitchell Band, play a show at The Palladium’s Side Door Cabaret. Everything about this venue exceeded my expectations. The sound was amazing (thank you Josh!), the space was neat & well appointed, and all of the staff I came into contact with were warm, friendly and helpful.

Everyone I met from Lene, the custodian, all the way up to Paul Wilborn, the Executive Director, made the band feel right at home. This operation is a class-act! I would encourage anyone to visit The Side Door or The Palladium Theatre and support the great work they are doing to support the Arts Community.
~ Lauren Mitchell


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Today’s Tampa Bay Times featured a great interview with Gwen Ifill, host of Washington Week on PBS. The show is being recorded at the Palladium on Aug. 24, in advance of the Republican Convention.

The story says, in part:

NewsHour co-anchor Gwen Ifill‘s mind is on Florida and St. Petersburg, where her Washington Week show will tape the Friday before the Republican National Convention in Tampa, taking over the Palladium Theatre Aug. 24 for a look at the issues facing the GOP and the state.

For the full story visit: http://networkedblogs.com/AfII9

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Hedda and Faye

Hedda Lettuce, the beloved “Queen of Green,” dropped in from New York on Wednesday night to share her now-infamous talkback presentation of “Mommie Dearest.” The show was a benefit for the Tampa Bay International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and the place was packed.

“Mommie Dearest,” with Hedda’s quips and commentary, is more fun that Rocky Horror, with costumed characters in the audience and folks shouting along with the now-infamous lines like “NO MORE WIRE HANGERS!.”

Hedda is a real talent, and an emerging star, appearing on TV shows like Ugly Betty, and opening at the New York cabaret, Feinstein’s at the Regency. We hope to have her back for her cabaret show in the Side Door sometime this season. For now, enjoy these photos of Hedda and the evening, courtesy of photographer Nick Cardello:

The Mommie Dearest audience. Photos courtesy of Nick Cardello Photography.

Hedda and her piano player

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Did you make it for at least one of the shows on our Blues Blowout Weekend? I’m still recovering from three nights of fun.

Lauren Mitchell

St. Pete Blues Allstars – sold out. Backtrack Blues Band CD release party – sold out. Chris Thomas King, impeccable bluesman and star of O Brother Where Art Thou – filled to capacity. The Side Door was the place to be.

There’s more great music to come in July and August, with Damon Fowler, Billy Seward and his horn band, Soufonic, Gypsy Star, The Stolen Idols, plus lots more.

This Friday is one that all my male blues pals have been waiting for – the arrival of Lauren Mitchell and her band at the Side Door. Lauren delivers the goods – rock, soul and blues, and she looks great doing it.

But don’t believe me – check out this item from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune’s Scenestress:

By The Scenestress, Herald-Tribune

In a dark, industrial neighborhood near Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, a comfy hideaway ensconces a happy crowd and a rockin’ band while bold strikes of lightning crackle in the distance.

I credit the buzz of energy here to The Lauren Mitchell Band live on stage, with their eponymous lead singer looking sassy in denim and red high heels, purring and roaring into the microphone and tossing her curly mop about with true rock star abandon. When I arrive, she’s on stage, visibly feeling the music, lifting and lowering her very well-defined eyebrows and gesticulating wildly with a single diva-esque hand. From “Beast of Burden” to “Pride and Joy,” the band sticks on soul, jazz and rock favorites that Lauren can sexify with a wink or a hand running up her torso and through her hair.

Lauren Mitchell in concert

But each of the musicians is in his respective zone. Mike Hensley on keyboards closes his eyes and raises his shoulders when playing accent notes, savoring each keystroke like a delicious bon-bon. Michael Dempsey on bass and Howlin’ Bob on guitar do their standing, strumming thing, but once I notice drummer Step in the back I can hardly take my eyes off him. He’s got a wide, toothless grin and a Buddha-like stance on his seat, looking oh-so-cool in his shades and occasionally playfully flailing his sticks  in a wide crisscross for dramatic effect. And his feather earrings rival Lauren’s!

Patrons get up from their seats on more than one occasion and they’re actually dancing — like with steps and twirls and all that good stuff. When the band does “Piece of My Heart,” everyone sings along with Ms. Mitchell, whom I could swear was Janis Joplin with my eyes closed, and throws their hands in the air, generating a shared excitement and aliveness between performer and audience that spreads all across the room.

 We had to turn people away last Friday and Saturday when the shows sold out. Don’t let that be you this week. Get your tickets early for Lauren’s show. Showtime is 8 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $12 advance and $15 at the door. For tickets and info visit www.mypalladium.org

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As a blues musician, Chris Thomas King, has his feet firmly planted in boththe past and the present. His music honors the roots of the blues but reaches for a unique, present-day sound.

Chris Thomas King

Thomas, now in his 40s, grew up the son a Louisiana bluesman – the late Tabby Thomas – and learned from the masters, even playing with them as a young man. By 30, he was a major name on the blues circuit, known for his finding a way to infuse primitive blues with hip-hop and other modern styles.

Then came the movie: in  the Coen brothers’ cult classic O Brother, Where Art Thou? in 2001 Thomas transcended the blues and gained an international mainstream audience. The movie tells the story of escaped convicts who become singers in Mississippi, and starred George Clooney, John Turturro, and  King. King portrayed Tommy Johnson, a true-to-life blues singer from the 1930s, who sold his soul to the devil in return for his musical talent.

Of the songs on the movie’s Grammy-winning soundtrack, King’s Hard Time Killing Floor Blues was one of the only few recorded live during filming. The soundtrack, produced by T. Bone Burnett, reached No. 1 on the billboard charts and has since sold ten million copies. The subsequent, Down From the Mountain tour, took King around the world with artists like Emmy Lou Harris, Gillian Welch and Ralph Stanley.

That success gave King a broader audience for his music and led to roles in the other films, including the Ray Charles bio-pic, Ray.

“Now I can’t go through the grocery store or the airport without being recognized,” he told me recently by phone from his home near Baton Rouge.

The best result of the film was the exposure it gave the blues to a young audience.

“You had a lot of young kids who saw those movies and I introduced them to the blues. Now they are playing banjos and guitars and leading bands of their own.”

Thomas’ latest album is called Antebellum Postcards, and the concept is summed up in the title.

“Traces of the blues all the way back to Congo Square in New Orleans,” he says.
The album is me communicating back to the roots of the music and the people who made the music. It’s like I’m sending them a post card and getting a post card back from them.”

The album reflects the struggle of an artist who works in a now-historic genre, with lots of implied and implicit rules, to find his own sound – his own way.

“I’ve always wanted to be honest with my music. I didn’t want to be an imitator of my dad. Real artists want to get to a point where they have their own identity and their own sound.”

Thomas is on a small tour through Florida and for his stop at the Side Door Cabaret, he’ll be backed by his band – drummer Jeff Mills and bassist Danny Insente. He’ll play guitar and some piano. And he’ll be doing music from the films, from Postcards, and songs from his favorite music town – New Orleans.

“Even though Katrina forced King to move from New Orleans his shows “always have a touch of New Orleans.”

King’s show is one of three nights of great blues music this weekend at the Side Door. Our Blues Blowout Weekiend features the St. Pete Blues Allstars on Friday at 8 p.m.;  a celebration of the release of Backtrack Blues Band’s brand new CD, recorded live at the Palladium on Saturday at 9 p.m. 

Chris Thomas King’s show,  in the intimate Side Door Cabaret, closes out the weekend on Sunday, July 15 at 7 p.m. For tickets and information visit www.mypalladium.org or call the box office at 727 822-3590.

The Backtrack boys in the Palladium’s historic elevator

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Our renovated Side Door Cabaret – the best music nightclub in the area – has had a case of the blues this summer. In case you haven’t caught it yet – this weekend is your chance to go deep down into the blues.

 We’re featuring three nights of great music: The St. Pete Blues Allstars on Friday; the release of Backtrack Blues Band’s brand new CD, recorded live at the Palladium this Saturday; and a special Sunday night show by Chris Thomas King, the grammy-winning guitarist and actor featured inthe film O Brother Where Art Thou and the album and documentary Down From the Mountain.

The shows  were previewed in Tampa Bay Newspapers. That story follows, or you can follow this link: http://www.tbnweekly.com/editorial/local_entertainment/concerts/content_articles/070912_leconcert-01.txt

Here’s the story:

 ST. PETERSBURG – Get ready for some blues at the Palladium this weekend with St. Pete Blues Allstars, Friday, July 13; Backtrack Blues Band, Saturday, July 14; and Chris Thomas King, July 15. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 day of show.

Chris Thomas King

A rockin’ night of music featuring seven of St. Pete’s best blues musicians, the St. Pete Blues Allstars takes the stage at 8 p.m. Friday, July 13.

The players are renowned for their work with their own bands, along with stints with Diamond Teeth Mary, Rock Bottom and the Cutaways, The Backbreakers, Treblemakers and The Hawks. The All-Stars perform Chicago blues, jump blues and more. This show is back by popular demand!

Backtrack Blues Band CD Release Party is Saturday, July 14, 9 p.m. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 day of show.

Backtrack Blues Band is a Florida act which performs original, high energy blues with blistering guitar and great harmonica and vocals. Backtrack has been performing original blues music since 1980 and is one of the longest running blues bands in Florida.

The group has won multiple Tampa Bay music awards for ‘Best Blues Band’ and has appeared in concert with some of the greatest blues legends. The band has opened shows for B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, John Lee Hooker, Buddy Guy, Greg Allman, Robert Cray, Koko Taylor, Delbert McClinton, and others. The band has released four CDs, including its most recent CD/DVD project, ‘Captured Alive,’ which was recorded at the Palladium Theater.

Chris Thomas King takes over on Sunday, July 15, presenting a concert, starting at 7 p.m. Tickets are $18 in advance and $22 day of show.

Grammy-winning bluesman and film star, Chris Thomas King, brings his blues guitar and his trio to the Side Door for an rare, nightclub appearance. King was a featured actor in the hit film, ‘Oh Brother Where Art Thou.’ He also performed on the legendary ‘Down From the Mountain’ concert and tour.

For tickets or more information, call the Palladium box office at 727-822-3590 or visit www.mypalladium.org

The Palladium is located at 253 Fifth Ave. N., St. Petersburg.

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St. Petersburg College’s Music Industry and Recording Arts Program is a big part of all our shows at the Palladium. We have student interns working with our tech crews, learning the business hands-on. For a great update on this program, check out this post:


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