Archive for September, 2012

How does he do it?

Paul Wilborn is one amazing guy. He manages to book a whole summer of incredible performers and bands in the intimate Side Door Cabaret. Creative Loafing is so impressed they give the Side Door a “Best of the Bay” Award. And now he proves that he can also predict the change of seasons.

Chris Thomas King

That’s right. the Side Door Summer schedule was set back in June just as the humidity really started to rise. The season kicked off  with two great rock bands – Coo Coo Ca Choo and The Marty Balin Band. Through the long, hot summer there were  blues bands like Selwyn Birchwood, Sarasota Slim and Lauren Mitchell Band (don’t miss her next time she’s in da house – the girl can sing!), and  jazz acts like La Lucha, Stan Hunter and Denise Moore and Then Some. We threw an aAll-Blues Weekend and packed the club three times for the St.Pete Blues Allstars, Backtrack Blues Band and Chris Thomas King (King’s show was a highlight for many).

Lauren Mitchell

Of course, Damon Fowler steamed up the place in August, as did another Palladium regular – Nate Najar.

Side Door Summer ended with a big weekend on Sept. 21, 22 and 23. Friday night featured Doug Deming and the Jewel Tones, who celebrated the release of a new CD of blues, swing and rockabilly; Whitney James, the incredible jazz songstress, sold out her Saturday night show. She offered songs from Rodgers and Hart, Sting and Neil Young and made them all sound like she owned the tunes. Keyboard master Shawn Brown was in the house on Sunday as we celebrated the upcoming release of a new music documentary – Killer B3s.

Then on Monday, as if drawn by an occult hand (oops, maybe too mild a metaphor); No, as if Mother Nature was keeping track of time by consulting the Palladium music schedule – the weather changed.

Side Door Summer ends on a Sunday and fall arrives on Monday.

Paul Wilborn. Is he a master prognosticator? Or was it just dumb luck?

I think the evidence speaks for itself.

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We’ve got something very special this Friday in the Side Door – St. Petersbug Opera is presenting a night Broadway songs by the principal singers in their upcoming production of Sweeney Todd. Tickets are available through SPO. Here’s an excerpt from the SPO’s newsletter about the show:

What’s your favorite Broadway song? We asked our principals from Sweeney Todd that question and got some interesting and fun answers. We just HAD to hear some of these selections, so we have put together a fun event for you to join us in celebrating the musical richness of Broadway. 

Friday, September 28, we’ll be in the Side Door at the Palladium Theater at 8:00 p.m. The bar will be open (2 drinks included in your ticket price) and decadent desserts will be available to tempt you. At 8:15, 8:30 and 8:45, we will lead groups upstairs to the stage to get a sneak peak of the Sweeney Todd set, including the infamous barber chair. While we will demonstrate the chair, no patrons will be harmed in the course of this evening. Promise. 

At 9:00 p.m., the principals of the Sweeney cast will start to sing and you will be back at your intimate table (seating for 2 or 8), ready to hear their selections. Remember Buffy Baggott’s touching rendition of “Send in the Clowns” from our production of A Little Night Music in 2010? She’ll be reprising that number.

There will be music from Into the Woods, Man of La Mancha, La Cage aux Folles, Jesus Christ Superstar, My Fair Lady, and more.  Maestro Sforzini has been hinting that there will be surprises too.

For tickets and information visit: www.stpeteopera.org

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Regulars know the Side Door Cabaret is the top music listening room in the area. Great sound, low lights, a bar, cabaret tables and an audience that comes to listen. Now, the world knows about the Side Door as well. The Side Door is a Best of the Bay winner in the upcoming issue of Creative Loafing.

Here’s what Creative Loafing said:

Creative Loafing Best of the Bay – Staff Pick

Best Underground Music Series
Side Door Cabaret at Palladium Theater

 By David Warner

It’s not underground, actually — it’s just down a short flight of stairs from the Palladium lobby — but the Side Door Cabaret is the closest thing to a basement boîte à la the Village Vanguard as you’ll find in these parts. Palladium Executive Director Paul Wilborn is a piano man himself, so he knows how to set the scene — round tables, low lighting, slightly raised stage. Even more important, he knows how to program, bringing in top-flight jazz, roots and blues performers as well as Broadway spellbinders like Susan Egan who sing as if they’re having a private conversation with everyone in the room. Coming attractions include jazz vocalist Whitney James and cast members from St. Petersburg Opera’s Sweeney Todd. 253 Fifth Ave. N., St. Petersburg. 727-822-3590, mypalladium.org.

If you want to visit the Side Door this is a perfect weekend to do it. We’ve got Doug Deming and the Jewel Tones, doing Chicago Blues, swing and rockabilly on Friday at 8. Saturday night at 8 is the exciting return of Whitney James, the great jazz vocalist and her quartet. Whitney lives here, but plays jazz clubs around the country. Both of these shows are back by popular demand. Get your tickets early.

And Sunday afternoon at 4 we are featuring four of the Bay area best’s musicians – Shawn Brown on Hammond B3, Nate Najar on guitar, Jeremy Carter on sax and Kenny Suarez on drums. The show celebrates the release of a new documentary film – Killer B3s. You’ll get to see the trailer for the film along with the show, which will cover jazz, r&b, soul and rock.

Go to www.mypalladium.org for tickets and show info. To read more from Creative Loafing and see all the Best of the Bay winners check out: http://cltampa.com/tampa/BestOf

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The Palladium’s new season kicked off with a syncopated dose of Brazilian jazz, courtesy of La Lucha and a great Nate Najar quartet featuring John Lamb, Jeff Rupert and the great D.C. drummer, Chuck Redd.

The show celebrated the 50th anniversary of Jazz Samba– the Grammy winning album by Charlie Byrd and Stan Getz.

Bob Seymour

More than 400 jazz lovers gave the show repeated ovations. WUSF-Radio jazzman Bob Seymour did the introductions. Downstairs at a members reception, the great pianist Pat Cole Henry, recreated his old lounge piano days.The show was also a kickoff of the Palladium’s new “Friends With Benefits” membership program. For information on becoming a Palladium friend, call Cory Adler-Leidersdorff at 727 341-7918 or email her at adler.cory@spcollege.edu

Nate Najar, John Lamb, Jeff Rupert and Chuck Redd

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New Orleans bandleader Trombone Shorty, former Allman Brothers Band guitarist Dickey Betts and blues whiz Jonny Lang lead the bill for the 2013 Tampa Bay Blues Festival. Tab Benoit, Curtis Salgado, Lucky Peterson, Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers and the Royal Southern Brotherhood featuring Mike Zito, Devon Allman and Cyril Neville will also appear. The festival runs Friday-Sunday, April 12-14, 2013,

The Palladium will again be the site of the intimate “after-shows” on Friday and Saturday night when the main festival closes down at 10. If you haven’t been to an after-show, you’re missing some of the best times at the Blues Fest.

For the full story from Tampa Bay Times, please click here:


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Here’s a Ruth Eckerd Hall press release regarding the Jeff Garlin show:

 September 13, 2012, Clearwater, FL – It was announced today by artist management that Jeff Garlin has been confirmed to star in a major motion picture and therefore is forced to cancel several concert appearances including his date at The Palladium at St. Petersburg College on Saturday, November 17 at 8 pm.   

To avoid delays in processing refunds, it is requested that patrons return their tickets to the point of purchase by Monday, October 15.  Tickets currently being held at the Ruth Eckerd Hall or Palladium Ticket Offices will automatically be refunded.  Once tickets are received, refunds will be issued to the credit card of purchase.  Refund checks will be mailed to those who purchased with check or cash.   

 For more information, patrons are encouraged to call or visit the Ruth Eckerd Hall Ticket Office located at 1111 McMullen Booth Road in Clearwater or by calling 727.791.7400.  The Ruth Eckerd Hall Ticket Office is open Monday through Saturday, from noon to 6 pm and one hour prior to show time.

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In the harsh light of summer, Florida’s cultural offerings mostly whither and dry up.  Truth is, Florida is not alone. Cultural meccas like New York, LA, Chicago – they all slow down in the summer.

The action is in the hinterlands – the summer places – like the beautiful section of Western Massachusetts called the Berkshires.

Just before Labor Day, a group of friends descended on a rambling, summer house – built in the late 1700s before there even was a Florida – for an extra-long weekend of swimming, cooking and seeing shows.

The Berkshires in the summer brims with theater, orchestral music, folk, acoustic, and dance. We only had a few days but here’s a sampling of what we saw and heard:

SHAKESPEARE AND COMPANY: This is always my favorite stop during a Berkshires visit. The company produces plays by the Bard along with more contemporary work in a farm-like setting near Lenox.

We were here for a one-man show called Satchmo at the Waldorf, starring John Douglas Thompson. Thompson was dubbed “the best stage actor of his generation” by the New York Times a few months ago.

He played a profane and funny Armstrong, in his dressing room after a late-career gig at the Waldorf. He also became Armstrong’s mob-connected manager, Joe Glaser, and at other times, Miles Davis, who had accused Armstrong of being an Uncle Tom.

Terry Teachout, who wrote the recent Armstrong bio – Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong – adapted the play from his book.

It was powerful stuff, with Armstrong looking back at a magical career, but finding himself shunned by black audiences and undercut by the manager he thought was a friend.

As Thompson moved effortlessly through the characters, the intimate stage was always filled with life and music.

THE GUTHRIE CENTER: This was a new find for us this summer. The Guthrie Center, named for it’s owner, Arlo, who made this former Trinity Church famous in the ‘60s as the place where Alice lived when she wasn’t running her namesake, Stockbridge restaurant.

Along with such ‘60s events as “A Global Sound Meditation,” and a Thursday night Hootennanny, the place is a haven for acoustic troubadours during the summer. The list included Christine Lavin, Tom Chapin, John Gorka and the Saturday night we stopped in – Lucy Kaplansky.

Kaplansky, who I first heard on WMNF, started slow but by her second set was owning the place, with beautiful versions of Springsteen’s Thunder Road and Loudon Wainwright’s Swimming Song.

The walls of the center, with pictures of the Guthrie Family and Woody’s lyrics on yellow legal pads, is worth the trip.

TANGLEWOOD:  On a Labor Day Sunday afternoon at the lawn and the shed at this outdoor music mecca were filled for an American Songbook show, featuring Michael Feinstein, along with Broadway stars Betty Buckley and Christine Ebersole.

The show had two great surprises for this St. Pete guy.

The first, was the inaugural appearance at Tanglewood by Thomas Wilkins, the former resident conductor of the Florida Orchestra. He was leading the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra with his usual charm and style.

Then, after two sets that included riveting versions of  Leonard Bernstein’s Somewhere from West Side Story and lots of Gershwin and Mercer, Feinstein brought out a surprise guest – Liza Minelli. She didn’t sing too much on a rousing version of New York, New York, but she tossed off a couple of signature Liza dance moves and drew a pair of standing ovations from the crowd.

That was all we could pack into a long weekend, since we also had to check out the great restaurants, do some hiking,  and throw a house-party or two.

After that, it was up to the Adirondacks where you go for the nature, not the culture. Fall hiking up here is a beautiful as it gets – the leaves are turning, the bugs are gone and the  wind is pushing through the tall trees.

Today, I’m looking out at a beautiful lake while wearing a sweater since the daytime temps are in the 50s. A neighbor girl stopped by to warn us – “It’s going to get down to freezing tonight!”

For a Florida boy in early September, those are very beautiful words.

I’ll be back later this week and hope to see you on Friday night for our season kickoff concert – Jazz Samba! It won’t feel like fall, but culturally, St. Pete is starting to heat up!

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