Saturday, April 28, 2012
Thursday, April 12, 2012
A First “Biscuit Fest” at Funky Biscuit Boca Raton
By Skip Sheffield
The blues blossom in downtown Boca this Thursday, April 12 through Saturday, April 14 at the first “Biscuit Fest,” to be held at the Funky Biscuit at Royal Palm Place.
Featured acts are Room Full of Blues with David Shelley & Bluestone Thursday; The Lee Boys with Michael Allman and the Funky Biscuit All-Stars Friday and Jimmy Thackery & the Drivers with Sistah Mary Beth Saturday.
“We’ve been doing well with jazz at the Funky Biscuit,” said manager-partner Al Poliak. “We want to be known as the source for all kinds of popular music in Boca: blues, funk, jazz and jam bands. This will be our biggest show with the biggest names yet. We hope to offer even more variety next year”
Room Full of Blues is one of the longest-running acts in blues music. The group was founded in Rhode Island in 1967 and has played continuously with a changing cast of characters (more than 50 musicians so far) playing driving, horn-based power blues.
Singer Phil Pemberton is one of the newest members of the club, having joined two and a half years ago.
“The band last visited South Florida in 2006, but I have never been there,” Pemberton reveals. “Those are my vocals on the latest album, ‘Hook, Line and Sinker.’ We wanted to get something out quickly, so we mostly did classic covers.”
Room Full of Blues are the very definition of road warriors. They are riding all the way from New England to Boca Raton on their tour bus.
“Our bus is not the newest or the nicest, but I can say I sleep in the same bunk Sugar Blue used to sleep,” jokes Pemberton. “Last year we played the King Biscuit blues festival. Now we are looking forward to the Funky Biscuit.”
The Lee Boys and Jimmy Thackery are personal favorites of Al Poliak.
“The Lee Boys are out of Florida- a really powerful gospel-funk group,” Poliak explains. “Jimmy Thackery is a good friend of mine. We come from the same Maryland-D.C. area. As a guitarist, he rules.”
Tickets are $35 for all three days or $15 advance, $18 at the door for Room Full of Blues and Jimmy Thackery or $12 advance, $15 at the door for the Lee Boys. Call 561-395-2929 or go to www.funkybiscuit.com.
A “Younger Than Springtime” South Pacific
“South Pacific” is one of those evergreen Rodgers and Hammerstein classics that will never go out of style.
The roadshow production at Broward Center through April 22 hits all the right notes, with a perfect balance of comedy, drama and social commentary, but there are a couple of casting quirks.
Uruguayan Marcelo Guzzo has the requisite operatic baritone and regal presence as French expatriate Emile de Becque, but he is considerably younger than some of his illustrious predecessors in the role. The actors I have seen playing the role have all appeared to be in their late 50s to early 60s. Guzzo’s de Becque states at one point he is an “old man” of 44.
That makes him much closer in age to Jennie Sophia’s Ensign Nellie Forbush, who is supposed to be younger by at least 20 years than the haunted French widower.
Sophia was having a little trouble with the consistency of her “hick from the sticks” Arkansas accent but her singing is wonderful.
The two children who play de Becque’s Polynesian children look more African than South Pacific native, which adds a sharper edge to Nellie’s inherent racism, prompting the sarcastic “You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught.”
These are minor quibbles actually. Christopher Marriner leads a fine cast of comically lovesick Sea Bees. Shane Donovan has a lovely tenor that accents the yearning of his Lt. Cable for the exquisite Tonkanese girl Liat (Hsin-Yu Liao). Hannah Isabel Bautista really runs away with the comic role of Liat’s crazy mom, Bloody Mary. We really do believe this woman is chewing betel nuts and getting high all the time.
So laugh with “101 Pounds of Fun” and swoon with “Some Enchanted Evening’ and “This Nearly Was Mine.” It is perfectly all right.
Tickets start at $25.25. Call 954-462-0222 or go to www.browardcenter.org.
“Bully” a Stern, Emotional Warning About the Dark Side of Childhood
By Skip Sheffield
If you are a parent, “Bully” could be the most important film you see all year.
“Bully” is a documentary film made by award-winning filmmaker Lee Hirsch over the course of a school year in five different locations, focusing on five victims of bullying.
Bullies are nothing new. Facing a bully is considered a rite of passage by many. The biggest problem is that when you are born different or you develop in a less than conventional way you can become a target.
All five of the five subjects are different in different ways. The most obvious example is a kid named Alex, 14, from Iowa. He wears thick glasses and has a flattened nose, receding chin and protruding buck teeth. Alex freely admits the kids call him “Fish Face.” He seems resigned to a life of ridicule and harassment. We learn in the course of the film that Alex was born prematurely after just 26 weeks of gestation. He wasn’t expected to live more than a day.
In a fair and just world people would be understanding and sympathetic to such a challenged, strange-looking boy.
The world is not just or fair, and children can be the cruelest of all.
Alex is one of the stronger ones. Seventeen-year-old Tyler Long of Georgia and 11-year old Ty Field-Smalley of Oklahoma committed suicide out of despair. We see them only in home videos.
Ja’Meya, a 14-year-old Mississippi girl, became so enraged by the constant bullying on her school bus that one day she stole her mother’s pistol and threatened to shoot her tormenters. She was charged with 26 felony accounts.
Kelby is an openly gay 16-year-old girl from gay-unfriendly Oklahoma. Her way of coping is to hang out with outsiders like her.
Director Hirsch was granted amazing access to school rooms, halls and most notoriously, school buses. No one looks forward to a long bus ride. That’s when tempers flare and bullies go about their dirty work. We see kids harassing, hitting and insulting other kids in full view of the bus driver’s rear-view mirror.
Perhaps something has broken down since I had to ride a bus every day from Boca Raton almost to Boynton Beach. If any rough-housing went on, the driver would pull over immediately and threaten the perpetrators with reprisal. In case after case in “Bully” we see teachers, principals and bus drivers turning a blind eye, or minimizing aggressive behavior.
There will always be bullies. This is a sad fact of life. What “Bully’ does is show it has reached a new level of epidemic. My favorite kid in the film was a little guy who said you just have to face a bully, even if you get beat up.
It was a lesson I learned as a wee lad. Bullies are by nature cowards, and they act out of feelings of inferiority. If a child, regardless of age or size can muster the courage to call their bluff, it can work wonders. Meanwhile, this film serves as a warning something is wrong, and we can’t just ignore it.