Willie Nelson at Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 S.W. Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 8 p.m.; $35 to $75; 954/462-0222 or www.browardcenter.org
Nelson’s soybean-fueled bus will motor into Fort Lauderdale for a set of music from an artist who once typified the label “outlaw country.” In his personal life, Nelson is still a maverick—living off the grid in Hawaii, speaking out on whatever political issue is on his mind and running into frequent trouble with the law over marijuana possession. But his music has taken a traditional—one might say conservative—turn. He is touring in support of “Country Music,” his latest album of lovely genre standards, as well as 2009’s “American Classic,” a collection of songbook and jazz interpretations.
YMCA Prayer Breakfast at Boca Raton Resort and Club, 501 E. Camino Real, Boca Raton; 8:30 a.m.; $75 and up; 561/237-0944 or www.ymcaspbc.org
Regis Philbin may have finally retired from morning television, but he is by no means fading quietly into the twilight. He’s still active touring and promoting his book (he’ll also be appearing Wednesday at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood), which continues this morning at the Boca Resort, where he is the featured speaker at the YMCA of South Palm Beach County’s 10thAnnual Prayer Breakfast. Philbin is touring in support of his critically acclaimed memoir “How I Got This Way,” and he will share humorous stories of his life. He’ll be joined onstage by the West Boca High School choir and the leaders of several religious organizations. Tickets are $75 to attend, but sponsors who donate between $2,000 and $5,000 will receive numerous perks; visit the website for more on that.
The Avett Brothers at Sunset Cove Amphitheater, 12551 Glades Road, Boca Raton; 8 p.m.; $35; 561/488-8069 or www.ticketmaster.com
Music as timelessly tuneful as the Avett Brothers’ cauldron of Americana usually doesn’t make the Billboard charts; pop this smart and sophisticated is usually relegated to niche audiences. But this trio (which becomes a quintet for tours) hit it big – and I mean, selling CDs at Starbucks and hearing their songs piping through Applebee’s sound systembig– with the release of 2009’s “I and Love and You,” a near-perfect collection of sinuous ballads, upbeat rockers and folky in-betweeners that peaked at No. 16 on the charts. It has been three years, however, since we’ve heard anything new from the Brothers; hopefully, their current tour will provide fans the first chance to hear some yet-to-be-released material.
“The Searchers” and “True Grit” at Society of the Four Arts, 2 Four Arts Plaza, Palm Beach; 2:30 and 8 p.m. for “True Grit” and 5:15 p.m. for “The Searchers;” free for members or $5 nonmembers; 561/655-7227 or www.fourarts.org
Every two weeks from tonight through April 13, Palm Beach’s Society of the Four Arts will be celebrating the history of the American Western film, presented in conjunction with the center’s visual arts exhibition “Recapturing the Real West: The Collections of William I. Koch.” The series couldn’t have started on a better note than 1956’s “The Searchers,” which, in my mind, is the apex of the Western. John Ford’s seminal psychological drama, about a Civil War veteran whose brutality and prejudices cloud his quest for his missing niece, regularly makes lists of the 10 greatest films ever made, and it presents one of John Wayne’s darkest character studies.
Opening night of “Top Gun: The Musical” at Empire Stage, 1140 N. Flagler Drive, Fort Lauderdale; 8 p.m.; $25; 954/871-0168 or www.topgunftl.com
“It is a story about a man's struggle with his own homosexuality. It is! That is what ‘Top Gun’ is about, man. You've got Maverick, all right? He's on the edge, man. He's right on the line, all right? And you've got Iceman, and all his crew. They're gay, they represent the gay man, all right? And they're saying, go, go the gay way, go the gay way. He could go both ways.’’– Quentin Tarantino, acting in the 1994 movie “Sleep With Me.”
The subtext of homosexuality in “Top Gun” has been around, well, ever since “Top Gun” became such a mammoth hat and launched Tom Cruise into the Hollywood stratosphere. It was only a matter of time before the story translated into the world of musical theater. “Top Gun: The Musical,” which first premiered at a fringe festival in 2002 and which opens in South Florida tonight, doesn’t ignore this hilarious subtext, but the show is more satire than parody of the movie. It’s about the very making of a disastrous musical version of “Top Gun” financed by an ex-Navy Seal, and it contains 13 inspired songs.
Friday to Sunday
Delray Beach Garlic Festival at Old School Square, 51 N. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach; 4 to 11 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday; $10; 561/279-0907 or www.dbgarlicfest.com
The Garlic Festival bills itself as “the best stinkin’ party in town,” and it remains the only place you can buy garlic ice cream. Fans of the aromatic spice have been making this festival one of downtown Delray Beach’s flagship annual events, and this weekend’s festivities should not disappoint. Visitors can chow on garlic pizza, crab cakes, chicken kabobs and other unique delicacies, imbibe wines from around the world at the Clove & Vines Wine Garden, watch renowned toques vie at the Garlic Chef Competition and, of course, enjoy live music from local and national acts. Friday’s headliner will be Uncle Kracker, a rocker with three Top 40 hits and a new album due this year; Saturday will be headlined by laid-back blues band G. Love and the Special Sauce; and Sunday will feature tribute bands covering the songs of Journey, Bon Jovi and Billy Joel.
“Five Guys Named Moe” at Wold Performing Arts Center at Lynn University, 3601 N. Military Trail, Boca Raton; 7:30 p.m.; $45 to $65; 561/237-9000 or www.lynn.edu
Originating in London’s West End in the early 1990s before transferring to Broadway, the Tony-nominated musical revue “Five Guys Named Moe” has become a perennial favorite for arts centers and regional theaters alike, and it’s easy to see why: It’s composed entirely of music by Louis Jordan, one of the most renowned African-American bandleaders of all-time. Dubbed “The King of the Jukebox,” Jordan helped catapult swing-era audiences into the happening movements of jazz, blues and R&B. The show includes hits such as “Early in the Morning,” “Saturday Night Fish Fry” and “Let the Good Times Roll.”
Sleigh Bells at Revolution Live, 100 S.W. Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 8 p.m.; $23; 954/449-1025 or www.jointherevolution.net
I’ve reviewed both of Sleigh Bells’ prior headline appearances in South Florida, and my complaint was the same both times: The set list was too damn short, and virtually identical. Armed with only the 11 songs on its 32-minute noise-pop debut “Treats,” Sleigh Bells’ live show was as predictable as it was enjoyable. This time, however, the duo is touring in support of its new album “Reign of Terror” and its jaunty debut single “Comeback Kid.” More focused on organic instruments and pop structures than “Treats,” it looks to be one of the year’s hottest releases, and I can’t wait to hear its songs for the first time alongside fan favorites like “A/B Machines,” “Crown on the Ground” and “Rill Rill.” Get on your dancin’ shoes.