A dream I have. I originally worded that the other way around, but didn’t want to trivialize the brave vision of Dr. King, who, as I was explaining to the kids the other day, should be represented right next to Lincoln on Mount Rushmore, which purports to be a place to “learn about the birth, growth, development and preservation of the country” and “[from] the first inhabitants to the diversity of America today … brings visitors face to face with the rich heritage we all share.”
But I digress. My dream is slightly more humble.
One of the things that makes South Florida so unique is the authenticity that we bring to the retro, the nostalgic shtick that bubbles up in other cities in ways that seem more calculated, less genuine. And many of our historical bona fides are earned by virtue of being surrounded by such a wealth of real, old stuff: the thrift-store clothes, the vinyl and, yes, the people. You know, the ones with stories from times they actually lived through?
When Thomas Lauderdale’s hipster (in a good way) ensemble Pink Martini sings the enchanting “Sympathique,” with its echoes of Edith Piaf, at the Fillmore Saturday night (as they must), does it not energize them a little to know that the crowd may include folks who have real, albeit secondhand, familiarity with Piaf’s heyday? I like to think so.
But back to my dream: Burlesque is a now-ubiquitous throwback art form that, happily, has a home with multiple tassel-twirling troupes in South Florida. For the most part, the local dancers traffic in a brand of burlesque that celebrates leather-jacketed, ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll menace.
On Saturday, the Shimmy Shake Revue, led by Morgan La Rue, of Fort Lauderdale, will do their thing at Mickey’s Bar (350 SW 12th Ave., Pompano Beach; 954-941-1611), featuring the distinct talents of Val Vampyre, Jenna Beth Smith from Cupcake Burlesque and Kissa Von Addams from Orlando’s Big Bang Boom Cabaret. The invitation to the no-cover “cruise night” party urges guests to “bring out your hot rods, rat rods and custom cars … Motorcycles are always welcome and us ladies love them.” (Info: Facebook.com/TheShimmyShakeRevue)
La Rue (pictured above), a founding member of Miami-based Shameless Burlesque, says her “American Graffiti”-meets-Bettie-Page look has been with her even before she started performing eight years ago. Shimmy Shake nights at Mickey’s have a definite vintage-rock vibe, she says.
“There’s a big rockabilly crowd, mostly the crowd that would come to my shows at the Monterey,” she says of the Fort Lauderdale club that preceded the Five Points Lounge. “Cruise nights have been doing really well, with the rockabilly crowd, vintage cars and vintage motorcycles.”
And the leather is not limited to the dancers.
“Mickey’s is a biker bar. We love them, and they love the show. They look scary sometimes, but they’re teddy bears,” La Rue says.
The ladies will be accompanied by the twangy Americana of the Darling Sweets and the muscular pop of the Howling Winds. Good bands, good times. But … What if your saucy burlesque troupe were backed by a band exuding authentic ‘50s-era rock ‘n’ roll swagger because they actually lived it?
About the time that La Rue and friends take the stage at Mickey’s on Saturday, the debonair Jimmy Cavallo will do the same at 9 p.m. at Blue Jean Blues (3320 NE 33rd St., Fort Lauderdale; 954-306-6330). The set will likely include high-energy songs from the days when R&B was just ripening into rock ‘n’ roll, and Cavallo’s House Rockers were the first all-white band to play Harlem's famed Apollo Theater for the premiere of “Rock, Rock, Rock.”
For pure style, swagger and stage presence, Pompano Beach resident Cavallo and his gleaming tenor sax may be unmatched in these parts. And, yes, he’s nearly 86, but that’s the point.
“I was 'rock' before rock 'n' roll was even invented,” Cavallo reminded me between sets at Nick’s in Fort Lauderdale last year. As a pal of Nat King Cole and Bobby Darin, “He’s got stories that would burn your eyebrows off,” Cavallo's longtime drummer Val Colombo said.
Imagine going to New York, L.A. or Chicago and seeing the local burlesque troupe accompanied by a band led by a riveting octogenarian who’s also the coolest guy in the room. “Hey, that’s just New York for you,” your buddies would say on your return. But he’s not there, he’s here.
A guy can dream, can’t he?
BLUES ALL OVER
Saturday’s daylong Sunshine Blues Festival at Mizner Park in Boca Raton is the show this weekend, with Dr. John (onstage 6:30-7:30 p.m., we’re told) and the Tedeschi Trucks Band (8:30-11 p.m.) the big acts you’ll get for your $62.50. Info: SunshineBluesFestival.com. Nearby on Saturday night, Derek Trucks’ younger brother Duane performs with his band, Flannel Church, and “special guests” at the Funky Biscuit (303 SE Mizner Blvd.). In Fort Lauderdale, the inaugural Las Olas Blues Fest brings 17 bands, including local favorites Iko Iko and Joel DaSilva, to downtown Friday-Sunday on the Riverside Hotel lawn, created when Las Olas’ favorite blues and jazz venue, O’Hara’s, was torn down. Poetic something, for sure. Tickets: $10, $35 for weekend pass. Info: LasOlasBluesFest.com. One of the best reasons to go to O’Hara’s back when was the soulful Juanita Dixon, who returns with the Jeff Prine Band Tuesday night at Blue Jean Blues (3320 NE 33rd St., Fort Lauderdale; 954-306-6330).
Yes. Fort Lauderdale-based Cupcake Burlesque rested up for the holidays (well earned) but returns on Jan. 26 with a show at Five Points Lounge, when Jenna Beth and the ladies will be backed by beer-friendly rockers Audio Heist (below). The night includes an opening set by Brooklyn’s jaunty Les Raquet and the auditions for three new Cupcakes. Doors at 9 p.m., show at 10 p.m. and free domestics for the first 20 paying customers. Here is more info.
Kevin Bacon’s much-anticipated Fox drama “The Following” debuts Monday. So it may be a good idea to get your tickets this weekend for his band’s Feb. 23 show at Seminole Casino Coconut Creek (5550 NW 40th St.). Tickets for Baconfest 2013, featuring the Bacon Brothers and the Dan Band, cost $25 via Ticketmaster outlets. Info: SeminoleCoconutCreekCasino.com, 954-977-6700.
Leonard Cohen, somewhere between Cavallo and Bacon on the cool meter, this week added a second North American leg to his “Old Ideas World Tour,” including a performance March 20 at the James L. Knight Center in Miami. The AEG Live tour celebrates Cohen’s 12th studio album, “Old Ideas,” which debuted at No. 1 across the globe and is the highest-charting album of his career. Tickets cost $28.50-$248 and go on sale 10 a.m. Friday at the Knight Center box office (400 SE Second Ave., Miami; 305-416-5970), Ticketmaster.com and charge-by-phone at 800-745-3000.
ALICIA IN WONDERLAND
The 14-time Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and producer Alicia Keys will perform at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on March 23, a stop on the 24-city North American leg of her “Set the World on Fire Tour.” Opening is R&B star Miguel. Tickets cost $58-$100 and go on sale 10 a.m. Friday at all Ticketmaster outlets.
TOTEM POLE DANCING
When Tim Smith, artistic director of Cirque du Soleil’s “Totem,” told my colleague Rod Stafford Hagwood that the show features “beautiful ladies from Inner China on these 9-foot unicycles doing these amazing stunts,” my reaction was probably a lot like yours: Does Charlie Sheen know about this? “Totem” returns to the tent at Sun Life Stadium (NW 199th St., Miami Gardens) for performances continuing through Feb. 24. You may be on the fence about this, but our focus group, conducted over beers at Tap 42 recently, came down firmly on the side of yes, worth your while. Since you probably don't trust such imprecise judgment, check the video below. Tickets: $58-$143.50. Info: 800-450-1480, CirqueDuSoleil.com/Totem.
The rolling pub crawl known as the Fort Lauderdale Bus Loop will make its popular Himmarshee-beach circuit on Saturday night, with admission $30 advance (by noon Saturday), $35 at check-in at Yolo (333 E. Las Olas Blvd.) or the Office Pub (201 SW Second St.). Designated drivers free. Proceeds benefit Covenant House Florida, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Jessica June Childrens Cancer Foundation, Jack and Jill Children’s Center, Riverwalk Trust, and the Broward County Gator Club Scholarship Fund. Info: BusLoop.org, 954-574-6000.
New this year at the Palm Beach Jewish Film Festival is Saturday’s “sports night,” an eclectic triple feature that includes a depiction of the life of boxer Max Schmeling; a documentary, “Beyond the Boundaries,” which follows four severely injured Israeli soldiers who take part in an annual ski program called Golshim L’Chaim (“Ski to Live”) put on by the Jewish community in Aspen, Colo.; and a 9-minute short, “Evan Kaufman: Fathers’ Land,” about the former University of Minnesota hockey star who gets an offer to become the first Jew to play professional hockey in Germany, where many in his family died in the Holocaust.
PBJFF director Larry Ferber says “Max Schmeling” was a revelation: Its subject was reviled in the U.S. for defeating Joe Louis, but a loss in a rematch with Louis did not sit well with the Nazi regime, who made Schmeling’s life miserable. Later, Schmeling would hide Jews during the 1938 Kristallnacht, and support an aging Louis financially until he died. "He was an extraordinary person," Ferber says.
The three sports films begin at 7 p.m. at the Cobb theater in Palm Beach Gardens (561-253-0819) and the Regal Delray Beach 18 (561-272-2900). The PBJFF continues through Jan. 27 at a half-dozen locations in Palm Beach County. Tickets: $10, $5 children. Reel Pass, with entry to all screenings: $125, $100 members. Call 561-736-7527 or go to PBJFF.org.
On Friday, the New World Symphony offers its innovative annual shout-out to that young arty crowd that’s also not afraid of DJ music. PULSE 2.0: Late Night at the New World Symphony turns NWS’s Frank Gehry-designed campus (500 17th St., Miami Beach) into a high-energy lounge with sounds by DJ Sean Drake and acclaimed Miami- native soprano Elaine Alvarez. The party, which runs from 9 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. is free for NWS members, $25 for the rabble. Info: NWS.edu, 305-673-3331.
DANCE, DANCE, DANCE
The relationship between Miami City Ballet and innovative young British choreographer Liam Scarlett is one that has brought special excitement to the world of dance. Scarlett, a relative unknown before MCB’s former artistic director Edward Villella saw a rehearsal of his work in London a couple of years ago, quickly “has achieved the status of an important classical-ballet choreographer,” in the words of The New York Times’ dance critic, Alastair Macaulay. So when Scarlett has a world-premiere of a new work, “Euphotic,” and MCB puts that piece right in your lap, with performances this weekend at the Broward Center, how can you resist? Performances are 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Tickets: $25-$175. Info: BrowardCenter.org, 954-462-0222. MCB will bring “Euphotic” and the rest of Program II to the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach Jan. 25-27. Info: MiamiCityBallet.org.
MUSIC OF YOUR SOUL
South Florida’s adventurous young choral ensemble Seraphic Fire continues its season with “Gregorian Chant: Ave Maria,” performed Thursday at St. Gregory's Episcopal Church in Boca Raton, Friday at First United Methodist Church in Coral Gables, Saturday at All Saints Episcopal Church in Fort Lauderdale and Sunday at Miami Beach Community Church. Tickets, which go fast, are $35-$50. Info: SeraphicFire.org, 888-544-3473.