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Movie Review: “The Exception”

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Pictorially handsome and awash in wartime intrigue, “The Exception” milks romance, sex and pathos from one of the more uncharted territories of World War II fiction: the Netherlands.

That’s where the exiled Kaiser Wilhelm II (Christopher Plummer), the last monarch of Germany, spent his final years, as the Nazi machine metastasized throughout Europe. Based on Alan Judd’s respected 2003 novel The Kaiser’s Last Kiss, “The Exception” dramatizes the Kaiser’s decline against a charged, clandestine romance between his newly commissioned guard, Stefan Brandt (Jai Courtney), and the Kaiser’s most mysterious chambermaid, Mieke (Lily James).

Light on thrills, the film coasts elegantly without them, thanks to assured, uninhibited direction from longtime British stage director David Leveaux. Stefan and Mieke meet each other sexually before they know each other’s names, in a pair of smoldering sequences that bring welcome parity to onscreen nudity, effectively demolishing the master-servant hierarchy. Keeping what becomes a string of compounding secrets grows ever more tenuous, especially considering the rules of the Kaiser’s estate: “Copulation with the servants is strictly forbidden.”

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Screenwriter Simon Burke, by way of Judd’s novel, ratchets up the drama by integrating a surprise visit from Heinrich Himmler (the great character actor Eddie Marsan), the head of the S.S., with an offer the naïve Kaiser cannot refuse, culminating in a swirl of colliding motivations.

Marsan plays Himmler as a chilling personification of pure evil, casually discussing the extermination of children over a plate of dinner. “The Exception” is more ambivalent toward the Kaiser, a character who provides a rich, complicated canvas for the superb Plummer. Famous for tactless pronouncements, he sounds Fascist-lite when bemoaning the “freemasons, Bolsheviks and Jews” taking over Germany, but he saves some of his most potent potshots for the Third Reich, Hitler and Gohring. Many of his opinions, spoken with faded stentorian authority, seem self-serving, designed to polish his shattered reputation and cling to whatever wisps of power he still commands. Mostly, he lives like an active retiree, chopping wood and feeding ducks on his still-capacious grounds.

That he lands somewhere in the middle on the continuum of good and evil is to the movie’s evenhanded credit. Burke’s script is prone to occasional on-the-nose archness (“You are the Kaiser!” his wife, played by Janet McTeer, feels compelled to remind him, and us, early on), but it’s mostly for clarity, helping to elucidate a time and place with which most audiences won’t be familiar. With acting, directing and atmosphere this unimpeachable, all minor quibbles are forgiven.

“The Exception” opens Friday, June 23 at Movies of Delray, Movies of Lake Worth, and the Tower Theater in Miami.

As the A&E editor of bocamag.com, I offer reviews, previews, interviews, news reports and musings on all things arty and entertainment-y in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
DIERKS

Concert Review: Dierks Bentley “What the Hell” Tour at Perfect Vodka Amphitheatre

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In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that I love country music. It didn’t used to be that way, but during my college years, I grew into it. I found a couple country radio stations. I listened proudly while walking to class. Before I knew it, I had songs memorized. I saw Jason Aldean and Thomas Rhett. Then I started following the lesser-known guys, waiting for them to make it big (cough, Jon Pardi, cough).

Thankfully, country music is alive and well in South Florida. This summer’s country lineup tour is one for the books, starting with Dierks Bentley’s “What the Hell Tour” this past Saturday. He performed along with Jon Pardi and Cole Swindell at Perfect Vodka Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach.

Up-and-comer Jon Pardi started the evening with songs from his newest album, “California Sunrise,” released in June 2016 and his first album, “Write You a Song,” released in 2014. Standing tall in dark jeans, a blue plaid short sleeve shirt and a light cream cowboy hat, Pardi received many cheers despite the limited crowd. He opened with “Paycheck,” followed by “Out of Style” and “Heartache on the Dance Floor.” I happily recognized these tunes from KISS 99.9. Like many country artists, Pardi’s song lyrics tell stories about experience: love, loss, working on the farm. Pardi alternated playing electric and acoustic guitar, accompanied by bass, drums and a steel guitar. It’s upbeat, fun and easy listening music. I saw plenty of couples in the VIP seating area get up and dance, laughing and singing along to the music.

About halfway through, Pardi remarked, “I feel like I just ran a marathon—sweaty. Sexy!” The (mostly female) audience applauded, and he launched into “What I Can’t Put Down,” “Night Shift,” and “Cowboy Hat.” His deep voice hit every note perfectly, even the higher octaves. After “Up All Night,” and the hit single “Head Over Boots,” Pardi paused. Finally, the opening notes for his top-charting “Dirt on My Boots” began. It definitely didn’t disappoint, and I was happy to hear the live version. This song marked the end of his show, and the stage crew began moving sets.

As they set up for Cole Swindell, I looked around. One of the best parts of country concerts is the people watching. I saw plenty of cowboy boots, plaid shirts and hole-filled jeans. Beer was flowing, and everyone seemed to be having a good time. About 20 minutes later, the lights flashed onstage and Swindell popped up from underneath a hidden floorboard. His set started with the hit single “Hope You Get Lonely” from his self-titled 2014 album. When he started “Brought to You by Beer,” he encouraged everyone to raise his or her cans (or cups) and toasted to a good night in West Palm Beach.

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Cole Swindell performs at Perfect Vodka Amphitheater in West Palm Beach. Photo by Allison Lewis

Unlike other artists I’ve seen, Swindell took the time to share a bit of his music career story with fans. He’s a songwriter at heart and wrote popular singles for Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line and Jason Aldean before ever writing his own music. To exemplify, he launched into a rendition of “Get Me Some of That,” “Roller Coaster” and “This is How We Roll.” The rest of the set was his original songs. Swindell slowed the mood with his 2016 hit single “Middle of a Memory” and “Remember Boys.” After “Ain’t Worth the Whiskey,” he dedicated “You Should Be Here,” to his father, Keith, who died suddenly in 2013. Swindell rounded out the show with “Let Me See Ya Girl” and “Closer” by The Chainsmokers. Who knew that country could meet EDM/pop effectively? I loved the mash-up, and I hope to hear more in the future.

At last, Dierks Bentley played. DIERKS. BENTLEY. (Sorry, I’m still excited and all caps are necessary.) His performance was by far my favorite, and as the headliner, it should be. I think the crowd of 18,000—the largest he’s played for in West Palm—agreed.

Bentley started with “What The Hell Did I Say,” the song that gave name to the entire tour. He had plenty of energy, jumping and walking back and forth on stage with a mic. The lights moved and changed colors, and some even flashed every now and then. Then the band segued into “5-1-5-0,” “Am I the Only One,” and a popular favorite, “Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go)” from the “Long Trip Alone” album. He brought Jon Pardi back on stage for a cover duet of George Strait’s “Cowboys Like Us,” which the crowd loved. Bentley even “sang” with a video version of Elle King for their 2016 radio hit “Different For Girls.”

Dierks Bentley performs on a mini stage at Perfect Vodka Amphitheater in West Palm Beach. Photo by Allison Lewis

Dierks Bentley performs on a mini stage at Perfect Vodka Amphitheater in West Palm Beach. Photo by Allison Lewis

Toward the end of the show, Bentley made his way to a smaller stage about 20 feet away from me, shaking hands with police and medical first responders on his way. He played “Home” and “Riser” from the little platform stage, then returned to the big stage for “Flatliner” with Cole Swindell. After “Somewhere on a Beach,” he played a few more tunes before closing with “Sideways.” It occurred to me that he hadn’t played one of his most famous songs, “Drunk on a Plane.” But I was certain he’d play that for the encore, and I was right.

It was even better than I imagined. The video boards on either side of the stage tuned in to Bentley in a captain’s uniform in a plane cockpit, sunglasses dangling haphazardly on his face. The next thing I knew, the stage lit up and the front end of a plane came into view. Bentley climbed out, stumbled around, and the melody played. It was the best way to end an incredible show, which up to that point, totaled 4 hours. If “What the Hell” is any indication of what South Florida’s summer country series will be like, it’s sure to go above and beyond expectations. Hold on to those cowboy hats.

Allison Lewis is the associate editor at Boca Raton Magazine and a native St. Louisan. She earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master of Arts in Journalism from the University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo. In her spare time, Allison enjoys cooking, playing Ultimate frisbee, reading, traveling and watching sports.
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Your Week Ahead: June 20 to 26

The Morikami toasts four decades of Japanese culture, a photography pioneer exhibits in West Palm Beach, and 40 bands blanket Dade County with noise at the Miami Psych Fest. Plus, Diana Ross, a Delray literary panel, “Manifesto” and more in your week ahead.


WEDNESDAY

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What: International Yoga Day

Where: Mizner Park Amphitheater, 590 Plaza Real, Boca Raton

When: 5 p.m. Cost: $30

Contact: 954/295-2458, namastacyyoga.org

It doesn’t get more Boca than this annual wellness festival presented in honor of International Yoga Day, hosted worldwide each June 21 since its inception in 2015. Palm Beach County’s celebration, presented by NamaStacy Yoga, features contributions from Master of Ceremonies Suzanne Boyd, of CBS-12; a one-of-a-kind VinVersion yoga class hosted by NamaStacy’s telegenic founder, Corbin Stacy; a taiko drumming performance; and a YinYoga and meditation program lead by “Vegas Gone Yoga” festival creator Kristina Blunt and meditation guru Pam Butler. Attendees must bring their own mats.

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What: The Indie Experience

Where: Murder on the Beach, 273 Pineapple Grove Way, Delray Beach

When: 7 p.m.

Cost: Free

Contact: 561/279-7790, murderonthebeach.com

Historical thrillers, eccentric South Florida-set comedies, tender romances, and private-eye mysteries will take center stage at this diverse panel discussion between local authors. Moderator Charles Todd will host six emerging and veteran wordsmiths, each of them promoting a book hot off the presses: Carol White (A Divided Duty), R.V. Reyes (Jeweler’s Mark), Victoria Landis (Alias: Mitzi & Mack), Marcia King-Gamble (Just You), Joanna Campbell Slan (Love, Die, Neighbor) and Kathy Runk (Murder at the Rectory). Pick up a summer beach read, and discover a new favorite author.

THURSDAY

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What: Opening reception of “John Reuter: Second Impressions”

Where: Palm Beach Photographic Centre, 415 Clematis St., West Palm Beach

When: 6 to 8 p.m.

Cost: Free

Contact: 561/253-2600, workshop.org

A celebrated photographer since the 1970s, John Reuter has been at the forefront of some of the medium’s most luminous innovations—especially the Polaroid Corporation’s 20X24 camera, whose instant, massive prints became the gold standard in analog large-scale photography: Its adopters included Andy Warhol, Chuck Close and William Wegman. The stunningly high-resolution format has apparently reached its twilight, with Reuter’s 20X24 Studio set to cease operations by the end of 2017. So it’s an ideal time to remind us of its capacity. Reuter’s own 20X24 shots, which broke ground by combining photography with painting and collage, will display at this free exhibition, along with his captivating infrared landscapes of Singapore, shot between 2009 and 2011. It runs through Aug. 5.

FRIDAY

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What: Opening night of “Manifesto”

Where: Lake Worth Playhouse’s Stonzek Theatre, 709 Lake Ave., Lake Worth

When: 2 and 6:15 p.m.

Cost: $6-$9

Contact: 561/296-9382, lakeworthplayhouse.org

From royal elves to wicked stepmothers, and from Queen Elizabeth I to Bob Dylan, Cate Blanchett has inhabited a remarkable range of personae in a film career that has swung, pendulum-like, from the conventional to the eccentric. In terms of the latter, it’s going to be difficult to eclipse “Manifesto,” in which Blanchett takes on 13 roles with chameleonic ease, from schoolteacher to factory worker, punk to newsreader, scientist to homeless man. Each character represents, and reads from, an important political or art-world manifesto, in curated settings that support, or ironically comment on, the spoken provocations. Originally an audiovisual exhibition by artist Julian Rosefeldt, which ran in museums on 13 screens simultaneously, this film version presents the roles in a linear fashion, but don’t expect a plot to emerge: This is Art with a capital A. It runs through next Thursday.

FRIDAY AND SATURDAY

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What: Miami Psych Fest

Where: The Bridge, 4220 N.W. Seventh Ave., Miami

When: Begins at 5 p.m. Friday

Cost: $10 per day, $15 for weekend pass (free for the first 50 entrants per day)

Contact: miamipsych.eventbrite.com

Miami has always been a haven for weird music, and this weekend’s Psych Fest gathers 40 radical acts in one compact place: the experimental arts hub The Bridge. The “psych” label is deployed liberally: Headliners and other touring acts include the inventive Memphis rapper Ash Leon; the indefatigable avant-jazz virtuoso Kenny Millions, who has released nearly 70 albums since 1964; Nashville-based No Wave/shoegaze band Sallow; and the definitive psych-pop of Orlando’s Timothy Eerie. There’s also live art-making and a lightshow, and all ages are welcome. “Trippy” attire is encouraged.

SATURDAY

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What: Diana Ross

Where: Kravis Center, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach

When: 8 p.m.

Cost: $49 and up

Contact: 561/832-7469, kravis.org

We tend to overuse the superlative “legendary,” but with a career dating back nearly 60 years, Diana Ross has earned her status as soul-dance-disco royalty. Like Alfred Hitchcock, the former Supreme inexplicably never won the premier competitive award in her industry, but the Grammys did bestow her with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012, honoring a career total of 70 hit singles and more than 100 million records sold worldwide. At 73, the singer-actress can still belt with the best of them: She’s fresh off a five-night stint in New York City, where she played two dozen songs per show, from Supremes classics to solo songs and covers, including tunes she popularized in her film work in “The Wiz” and “Lady Sings the Blues.” Her daughter, accomplished singer Rhonda Ross, will open the show.

SUNDAY

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What: 40th Anniversary Celebration

Where: Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens, 4000 Morikami Park Road, Delray Beach

When: Begins at 10 a.m. Cost: $15 (or four tickets for $40)

Contact: 561/495-0233, morikami.org

It’s been four decades since the Morikami opened in western Delray Beach, on land once occupied by influential immigrant farmer George Morikami. The relationship between Delray Beach and Japan has continued to blossom thanks to the Morikami’s remarkable growth: The institution now spreads Japanese art, culture, food and horticulture to more than 200,000 annual visitors, and its museum houses more than 8,000 objects. Celebrate the venue’s landmark anniversary at this daylong bash, which includes craft activities, live music and Museum Store discounts. Satisfy your sushi cravings with a pair of exclusive rolls as well as a special appetizer: the Pacific Yellowtail Tuna Carpaccio.

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What: “’night, Mother” reading

Where: The Vanguard, 1501 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale

When: 1 p.m.

Cost: $10

Contact: 954/610-7283, thinkingcaptheatre.com

In its ongoing efforts to bridge the gender gap in the theater community, Thinking Cap Theatre has been producing the yearlong series “Gap,” featuring readings of Pulitzer Prize-winning plays by women. It’s a small pool from which to choose: Of the 86 Pulitzer-winning plays, only 15 have been written in part or in full by women. Thinking Cap’s monthly series spotlights 11 of them, including this weekend’s entry, ‘”night, Mother”—Marsha Norman’s emotionally taxing masterpiece about a young woman who, to her mom’s dismay, has decided to take her own life. This powerful two-hander will be read by Karen Stephens and Tina Thomas, with direction by Elizabeth Price. A talkback will follow the performance.

As the A&E editor of bocamag.com, I offer reviews, previews, interviews, news reports and musings on all things arty and entertainment-y in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
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McKeever World Premiere Highlights JCC Theater Season

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“The Camp,” one of the newest works by South Florida wunderkind Michael McKeever (pictured), will enjoy its world-premiere production at the Levis JCC in Boca Raton just months after it debuted as a one-night-only staged reading at Lynn University.

The play is set in Germany in the immediate aftermath of World War II. Its title refers to the remnants of a concentration camp on the outskirts of a small village, whose elders—so-called “good Germans”—looked the other way while the Holocaust commenced beside them. Written with the pointed, vividly descriptive dialogue for which McKeever is known, the play addresses the complicity of average citizens during the rise of Fascism, a theme he found particularly timely.

“The Camp” provides the thought-provoking linchpin of the JCC’s 2017-2018 theater season, when it runs for 12 performances from Nov. 30-Dec. 17. Produced in conjunction with the West Boca Theatre Company, “The Camp” represents a coup for the intimate black-box theater, arriving just a few months after McKeever’s other 2017 world premiere, “Finding Mona Lisa,” bows at Actors’ Playhouse in Coral Gables.

“We knew this would be our dramatic historical production for the year,” says Alan Nash, director of theatre at the Levis JCC. “Myrna Loman [of West Boca Theatre Company] saw the reading at Lynn and said, ‘this is something special.’ Michael has a great foothold in South Florida, and he’s such a terrific guy.”

“The Camp” may be the attention-grabbing centerpiece of the Levis’ season, but the rest of the shows are no slouches. The ‘17-‘18 slate is arguably the venue’s most eclectic lineup yet, featuring a healthy balance of recent Tony-winning plays, familiar musicals and even a touring one-man show.

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A still from the Levis JCC’s previous production of “Driving Miss Daisy”

These include the scabrous comedy “God of Carnage” (Nov. 9-19); the absurdist Chekhov homage “Vanya & Sonia & Masha and Spike” (Jan. 4-14); “Wrestling Jerusalem” (Jan. 17-21, 2018), Aaron Davidson’s celebrated solo play about the Arab-Israeli conflict, performed by Davidson himself; the Stephen Sondheim masterpiece “Company” (Feb. 1-11, 2018); and “Handle With Care” (March 1-11), a romantic comedy with some Hebrew dialogue.

“We have a very defined audience at the Levis,” Nash says. “They love all sorts of things, everything from historical dramas to comedies and musicals. When we were programming for this year, we thought, ‘What can we give them that’s a little more sophisticated, a little more rounded?’”

If that means straying a bit from central themes about Judaism—with such universally targeted choices as “God of Carnage,” “Vanya & Sonia” and “Company”—that’s OK. “We want to make sure there’s light comedies and musicals we know people will love,” Nash says. “They’re great, enjoyable productions. All have won multiple Tony awards.”

Season and group tickets are available for the Levis JCC’s 2017-2018 season. Call 561/558-2520 or visit levisjcc.org/culture/music_theater. The theater is at 21050 95th Avenue S., Boca Raton.

As the A&E editor of bocamag.com, I offer reviews, previews, interviews, news reports and musings on all things arty and entertainment-y in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
In this Jan. 26, 2015 photo, Tig Notaro poses for a portrait to promote the film, "Tig", at the Eddie Bauer Adventure House during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Victoria Will/Invision/AP)

Your Week Ahead: June 13 to 19

The Art & Culture Center marries postcards and protest, the Stonewall Festival honors LGBTQ resistance, and two funny women create a dynamic stage comedy. Plus, Tig Notaro, Will to Power, a foodie documentary and more in your week ahead.


WEDNESDAY

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What: Opening night of “Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women”

Where: Broward Center, 201 S.W. Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale

When: 7:30 p.m.

Cost: $35-$45

Contact: 954/462-0222, browardcenter.org

As the story goes, friends and veteran stage actors Linda Klein and Barbara Gehring recently rediscovered their childhood diaries and decided to plumb them together. The similarities that connected these natives of Canada and Colorado, respectively, overrode their differences, convincing these naturally funny creatives that there might be a show to be found in the detritus of their youth. The estrogen-fueled “Girls Only” expanded from there, evolving into a multimedia touring production that includes sketch comedy, improvisation, audience participation, videos and songs. Gehring and Klein play all the characters in a tour de force by and for women. It runs through June 25.

THURSDAY

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What: Opening night of “The Goldberg Variations”

Where: Island City Stage, 2304 N. Dixie Highway, Fort Lauderdale

When: 8 p.m.

Cost: $35

Contact: 954/519-2533, islandcitystage.org

Inspired by the gorgeous and ubiquitous J.S. Bach aria of the same name, Stuart Meltzer’s play “The Goldberg Variations” imagines a different group of Goldbergs: an eccentric modern family that gathers for an annual birthday celebration of a beloved, long-deceased matriarch. This year’s party will be a momentous one, as secrets unfurl amid an evening itinerary curated by Goldberg scion Caleb, whose narrative “variations” alter the present while serving to extend a difficult emotional evening. Meltzer, the artistic director of Miami’s Zoetic Stage, based “The Goldberg Variations” partly on the relationship with his own father in the latter’s final months, tempering the drama with comedy that’s both relatable and absurdist. Catch this world premiere production through July 16.

FRIDAY

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What: Opening night of “Past Life”

Where: Regal Shadowood 16, 9889 W. Glades Road, Boca Raton

When: Show times pending

Cost: $10-$13

Contact: samuelgoldwynfilms.com/past-life

Deftly combining the personal, political and historical, this latest feature from veteran Israeli director Avi Nesher is a fact-based odyssey of truth and reconciliation that spans three countries. In 1977, Sephi (Joy Rieger), an aspiring classical composer and choir student, has just performed a concert in West Berlin when she is accosted by an older woman who accuses her father, a gynecologist in Israel, of being a murderer. This prompts Sephi and her more-rebellious sister Nana (Nelly Tagar) to investigate a traumatic past their father would prefer to consign to the history books. The first film in an intended trilogy, “Past Life” is superbly acted and finely crafted, if overly calculated: As history is rummaged and the chips fall, it can feel too much like a movie. But its powerful sweep bristles with ambition and curiosity for parts two and three. You can also see “Past Life” at Living Room Theaters at FAU. Ella Milch-Sheriff, the real-life inspiration for Sephi, will speak at a live Skype Q&A following the noon showtime on June 18 at Living Room.

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What: Opening night of “Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent”

Where: Living Room Theaters at FAU, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton

When: Show times pending

Cost: $6.50-$9.50

Contact: 561/549-2600, fau.livingroomtheaters.com

Though he never achieved the level of fame of some of his contemporaries, celebrity chef Jeremiah Tower has had a major role in defining, and refining, today’s foodie culture. At least that’s one of the takeaways of “Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent,” a documentary about the toque’s tumultuous culinary legacy. Capturing Tower’s brazenness, prickliness and perfectionism, the Anthony Bourdain-produced doc is filled with important talking heads waxing praise on Tower, whose history includes helping to create California cuisine with Alice Waters, opening the landmark San Francisco eatery Stars, and disappearing from kitchens for more than a decade before his short-lived return to Top Chef status at New York City’s Tavern on the Green. It’s a worthy introduction to a figure the New Yorker recently called “a forgotten father of the American food revolution.”

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What: Opening night of “Dear 33020”

Where: Art and Culture Center, 1650 Harrison St., Hollywood

When: 6 p.m.

Cost: $10

Contact: 954/921-3274, artandculturecenter.org

Call it a form a slow-motion protest. In the instantly gratified age of Tweets and blogs, South Florida artist Lisa Rockford and Connecticut artist Margaret Roleke have collaborated on a project addressing feminism in President Trump’s first 100 days through a most analog of mediums: postcards. From Jan. 20 through May 1, these relative strangers expressed their shared discontent in a series of witty, playful, socially conscious postcards exchanged through the U.S.P.S. Each time a postcard arrived, it was placed on a gallery wall here in Hollywood and in New Haven, connecting with the other postcards to form a comprehensive image encapsulating the artists’ views of the new president. Their co-inspired vision, “Dear 33020,” opens Friday, along with two other exhibitions, “Charley Friedman: Moist Things” and “David Rohn.” All run through Aug. 20.

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What: “I Want My ‘80s Back” with Will to Power

Where: Honey Delray, 16 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach

When: 10 p.m.

Cost: $10 presale

Contact: eventbrite.com

Surely the most prominent musical act named for a Friedrich Nietzsche text, Miami’s Will to Power crested the wave of ‘80s dance pop on the strength of its self-titled 1988 debut. The dance trio (now a duo) imagined fresh, synth-driven takes on Peter Frampton’s “Baby, I Love Your Way” and Skynyrd’s “Freebird,” while achieving Billboard chart success with its original dance singles “Fading Away” and “Say It’s Gonna Rain.” Having signed to Epic Records, Will to Power’s success was limited to two LPs, though the group returned in 2015, after a 15-year absence, with the album “Spirit Warrior.” See founding member Bob Rosenberg and vocalist Carmen Medina explore Will to Power’s nostalgic catalog at this throwback concert, which will be preceded by at least three hours of ‘80s and ‘90s tunes spun by DJ Johnny Quest.

SATURDAY

Style: "Standard Look"

What: Stonewall Festival

Where: 2345 N. Dixie Highway, Wilton Manors

When: 3 to 11 p.m.

Cost: Free

Contact: 954/621-1350, wiltonmanorsstonewall.com

Each June, Wilton Manors’ Stonewall Festival honors the original Stonewall riots of 1969, in which New York City’s gay community staged revolutionary protests against police oppression. These rallies honor that heritage while acknowledging how far the LGBTQ communities have come in nearly 50 years. There will be live entertainment, a vendor marketplace and a 4 p.m. parade down Wilton Drive, with 30,000 individuals and families expected to turn out. This year’s special guest and Stonewall Grand Marshal is Sharon Gless (pictured), the 10-time Emmy nominee for “Cagney & Lacey” and a longtime LGBTQ activist. Visitors can meet Gless for photo ops from 6 to 8 p.m. at the National Stonewall Museum, at 2157 Wilton Drive.

SUNDAY

In this Jan. 26, 2015 photo, Tig Notaro poses for a portrait to promote the film, "Tig", at the Eddie Bauer Adventure House during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Victoria Will/Invision/AP)

What: Tig Notaro 

Where: Broward Center, 201 S.W. Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale

When: 7:30 p.m.

Cost: $28.50-$34.50

Contact: 954/462-0222, browardcenter.org

In the early 2000s, Notaro toiled as a cult figure on the alternative comedy circuit, earning a dedicated niche of fans on the strength of her unconventional prop jokes and pithy quips. The Mississippi native never pulled much material from her life until life started pulling at her: In the span of a year, in 2012, her mother died in a freak accident, she broke up with her girlfriend, and she was diagnosed with two diseases, including breast cancer. She addressed these topics in a now-legendary standup appearance on August 2012 in Los Angeles; two years later, having undergone a double mastectomy with no reconstructive surgery, she performed a set topless in New York City. These days, she’s a mother of twin girls and an inspiration who continues to pull from her storied life, sprinkling anecdotes amid signature deadpan observations.

As the A&E editor of bocamag.com, I offer reviews, previews, interviews, news reports and musings on all things arty and entertainment-y in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
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Concert Review: U2 at Hard Rock Stadium

By MANDY WYNNE

Last year, while working on its upcoming album “Songs of Experience,” U2 had the notion to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of “The Joshua Tree” LP by bringing it on tour once more, this time in its glorious entirety, to more than 1.7 million fans in just 33 shows across North America and Europe. Noticing similarities between today’s unrest in geopolitics and the Reagan-Thatcher political era that spawned the original 1987 LP, the band thought it timely to revisit an album that seems to have acquired new resonance.

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U2 rarely does anything on a small scale, and Sunday’s sold–out performance at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens was certainly no different for the Irish rock band. The group utilized the largest high-res LED video screen ever used in a touring show, spanning 200 x 45 feet—almost the full width of the stadium.

Pushing boundaries in engineering and technology, stage designers Stufish Entertainment Architects worked in conjunction with Creative Director Willie Williams to create a set of epic proportions. The gigantic, custom-built screen consisting of more than 1,000 video panels was painted to resemble golden cardboard. It featured a silver Joshua tree, which extended well above the screen and provided a central visual display for the show. (Initially, not realizing this from my assigned viewing point, the B-stage was shaped to be an exact shadow of the tree.)

Performing on two stages throughout the evening, the influential Dubliners delivered a powerful 21-song set combining highlights of the band’s extensive collection. Starting strong with the definitive melody of “Sunday, Bloody Sunday,” followed by mega hits “New Year’s Day,” “Bad, and “Pride (in the Name of Love),” Bono and company proceeded to play “The Joshua Tree” in sequence. The band had performed many of the songs from the album countless times but never all on the same night. “One Tree Hill,” which opened with the sweet, subtle notes of The Edge’s guitar and the soft clickety-clack of Larry Mullen Jr.’s drums, was being played for the first time in any live concert prior to the start of the 2017 tour. “Bullet the Blue Sky,” an old favorite, was belted out with the passion and ferocity one would expect from a band with such activist leanings.

In fact, U2’s message was very clear. The musicians still hold several important issues close to heart, which were visualized on the brilliant cinematic display behind them and emphasized by brief notations from Bono. A short commissioned film by French artist J.R. portraying Syrian refugees in Jordan accompanied “Miss Syria (Sarejevo).” Also extremely noteworthy and empowering was the creative exhibition of pioneering women that continued as a backdrop throughout the performance of “Ultraviolet (Light My Way)” from the “Achtung Baby” album, affirming the ONE organization’s ongoing efforts in the “Poverty is Sexist” campaign.

After the somber, sobering messages of the aforementioned campaigns, the performance took on a more uplifting turn, with the heartwarming “One” and a triad of hits: “Beautiful Day,” “Elevation” and “Vertigo.”

On the whole, along with the visuals, the audio was impeccable. There was a brief moment when Bono seemed concerned about the humidity affecting the equipment, but it all came together, and the venue consistently pumped out clear, massive sound for the duration of the show. A day later, I am still partially deaf—but perhaps that’s just me getting old.

Setlist

  • Sunday Bloody Sunday
  • New Year’s Day
  • Bad
  • Pride (In the Name of Love)
  • Where the Streets Have No Name
  • I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
  • With or Without You
  • Bullet the Blue Sky
  • Running to Stand Still
  • Red Hill Mining Town
  • In God’s County
  • Trip Through Your Wires
  • One Tree Hill
  • Exit
  • Mothers of the Disappeared
  • Miss Sarajevo (Passengers cover)
  • Ultraviolet (Light My Way)
  • One
  • Beautiful Day
  • Elevation
  • Vertigo
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5 to See in Old School Square’s 2017/2018 Season

From primatologists to political humorists, folk rockers to glass artists, tribute acts to magic shows, Old School Square’s 2017-2018 season is arguably more eclectic than ever. Announced this week, the Delray arts campus’ schedule welcomes more than 60 entertainers from October to May.

The Crest Theatre’s bedrock cabaret, singer-songwriter and lecture series remain strong, while the addition of top-shelf tribute artists—“Billie Holiday” and “Neil Young” will take the stage—and a National Geographic Live series add new elements to the robust selection of talent.

We (quite subjectively) combed through the roster to find the five most exciting acts in next season’s lineup. Mark your calendars for these high-profile bookings, and visit Old School Square’s website under “All Events” for the complete breakdown.

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Jason Bishop (Jan. 6-7, 2018)

This grand illusionist is, among other things, a case study in overcoming hardship. Orphaned as a child, the Newark native spent his first 18 years shuffling between foster homes, escaping his transient childhood with the transformative power of magic. He’s since become one of the most eclectic and sought-after magicians on the circuit. As known for his comedic asides and rock-powered soundtrack as his spectacular illusionists and sleights of hand, Bishop’s tricks include double levitations and plasma illusions, aided by cutting-edge technical gadgetry.

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Annie Griffiths (Feb. 15, 2018)

This photographer helped shatter the glass ceiling at National Geographic by becoming one of the famed magazine’s first female photographers—a job that has allowed her to see, and document, nearly 150 countries. As comfortable capturing landscapes and fauna as she as is portraits and culture, Griffith’s best work explores the plight of young girls and women worldwide, particularly in such interrelated issues of climate change and food insecurity. She will share this mission, and stories from her exciting life, at afternoon and evening presentations on Feb. 15.

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Roger McGuinn (March 14, 2018)

Don’t “Turn! Turn! Turn” away (sorry for that groaner) from this founder of the Byrds, one of the most influential folk-rock bands of all-time. McGuinn has been active in the music business for 60 years, initially climbing the studio ladder as a sideman for Judy Collins and other folksingers. Later with the Byrds, he helped fuse folk, rock, jazz and country into a plangent stew we now call Americana. Songs like “Eight Miles High” and “Mr. Spaceman” have become the standards of their generation, and at 74, McGuinn still captures their harmonic, youthful spirit.

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“Million Dollar Quartet” (March 17-18, 2018)

As the story goes, for one fraught night in December of 1956, four musical titans descended on the Sun Records studio in Memphis: Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. Gathered at the behest of Sun impresario Sam Phillips, the members of this impromptu jam session were not known for playing nice together, and this jukebox musical dramatizes both the great music and the inflated egos, and the internecine squabbles and thrilling collaborations. Though the show isn’t new to South Florida—Actors’ Playhouse in Coral Gables produced a gangbusters version last year—it’s never played Delray before, and this touring version is a real treat for such an intimate theater.

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James Judd (June 2, 2018)

The world has enough comedians and actors. But humorists and monologists? Those personalities are a rarer breed: Think Spalding Gray, David Sedaris and this guy, NPR personality James Judd, who makes a living memorizing his misadventures as a banned journalist and turning them into hilarious spoken-word recollections performed at a whiplash pace. His stories include “accidentally” winding up in a Chinese brothel, and imagining a shark’s dive off the coast of New England. He records a podcast (who doesn’t?), but it’s way better to see this whirling dervish perform his monologues live.

As the A&E editor of bocamag.com, I offer reviews, previews, interviews, news reports and musings on all things arty and entertainment-y in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
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Movie Reviews: “Megan Leavey,” “My Cousin Rachel”

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A tender weepie, a nervy war film, a potent self-actualization story: “Megan Leavey” is all three of these genres, but it never buckles under such ambition. This fact-based crowd-pleaser hits familiar notes and certainly plays by all the rules, but it moves with a fluid confidence that belies its director’s lack of experience in feature filmmaking. And it certainly dispels the romantic fallacy that everyone who joins the military does so out of patriotic fervor: Soon-to-be Private First Class Megan Leavey just wanted to get the heck out of Dodge.

We meet Megan (Kate Mara) in 2001, at a crossroads. Perpetually mourning the sudden death of her best friend Jesse, she feels guilty over his passing—for reasons that only reveal themselves later in the picture. Antisocial and substance-inclined, she can’t hold down a job, and her homefront, as represented by her careless and insensitive mother and stepfather (Edie Falco and Will Patton, doing yeoman’s duties in unlikeable roles), is its own everyday battlefield.

So she joins the Marine Corps, and after she’s spotted a little drunk in the wrong place at the wrong time, her punishment yields salvation: She’s demoted to cleaning the waste of the Corps’ bomb-sniffing dogs, and the rest is well-publicized history, especially in Leavey’s native New York.

Initially, her interspecies skills are as weak as her interpersonal ones, but she forms an unlikely bond with the Marines’ most aggressive service dog, Rex. She tames him, and he saves her (in more ways than one), but surviving in combat zones is half the battle. “Megan Leavey” divides its narrative between her near-fatalistic tours in Iraq and Afghanistan with her subsequent efforts, as a civilian, to gain adoption rights for the beloved German shepherd.

Megan and Rex completed more than 100 missions together. The few that make it into the film are exciting and harrowing in equal measure, generating almost unbearable tension. This effect would likely have been achieved without Rex’s presence—agony and adrenaline are in the DNA of well-made war film. But the communion between man (loosely defined) and beast is the beating heart of the film.

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First-time narrative film director Gabriela Cowperthwaite, whose necessary documentary “Blackfish” helped change the captivity policies of SeaWorld, handles these interactions with comfort and compassion. With a quartet of perceptive screenwriters, she realizes insights just as applicable to nonmilitary animal care—“Everything you feel goes down-leash,” Megan is told, during her initial struggles to train, and listen to, Rex—while refusing to demonize Megan’s adoption-skeptic commanding officer (played by Common), who argues that Marine dogs are not pets but warriors, and that “they come back with all the same issues we do.”

Mara’s engagement with the canine actor(s?) playing Rex is both palpable and contagious. There’s no emotional response more authentic than her first breakthroughs with the untamed war dog, captured with a wide-eyed glimmer of hope that this difficult, four-legged Marine has just obeyed a command. It’s more than validation, finally, that she has value; it’s also the start of a beautiful friendship.

You don’t have to be dog owner to be moved by “Megan Leavey.” But it certainly doesn’t hurt.


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Directed by South African journeyman Roger Michell (“Persuasion,” “Notting Hill”), and adapted from a 1951 novel by Daphne du Maurier, “My Cousin Rachel” is awash in the same European gothic dread the writer popularized in her most famous work, “Rebecca.”

Set largely in a lavish Cornwall estate, it centers on Philip (Sam Claflin), an orphan adopted by an aristocratic cousin, Ambrose Ashley. By the age of 24, Philip and Ambrose have split up, the latter wintering in Florence, where he meets an enchanting cousin named Rachel (Rachel Weisz). They hit it off, with Ambrose detailing the affair to Philip in gushing letters—until Ambrose suddenly dies, of a purported brain tumor.

Soon enough, the widowed Rachel gallops into Cornwall to see her late partner’s estate for the first time—and to meet its impressionable young heir, Philip, who harbors suspicions about Rachel’s role in his cousin’s demise.

To reveal anything more would be deleterious to the viewing experience; “My Cousin Rachel” is nothing if not a minefield of spoilers. The film feels like the visual equivalent of fine calligraphy—handsome, sumptuous, varnished. We get views of the Cornish countryside that justify a big-screen experience, plus close-ups of Weisz’s distinctive visage that showcase the actress’ impeccable intelligence, a mix of charm, wiles and calculated brusqueness.

But as a mystery, it betrays a lack of confidence in its audience to follow the plot’s machinations on their own accord: Dollops of leading soundtrack cues and overly suggestive direction from Michell telegraph his every movement, undercutting any hint of surprise (the director also labors over some particularly heavy-handed symbolism in the form of a fallen pearl necklace). Observant audiences will always be one step ahead of the characters, which isn’t the place you want to be in an atmospheric suspenser.

“Megan Leavey” and “My Cousin Rachel” open Friday in most area theaters.

As the A&E editor of bocamag.com, I offer reviews, previews, interviews, news reports and musings on all things arty and entertainment-y in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
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The Week Ahead: June 6 to 12

Fort Lauderdale’s Hukilau sways to a Polynesian beat, the Morikami unveils a century-spanning blockbuster exhibit, and Julian Assange is ready for his complicated close-up. Plus, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Reel Big Fish, South Florida Cultural Consortium grant-winning artists, and more in your week ahead.


WEDNESDAY

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What: Opening night of The Hukilau

Where: The Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty Six, 2301 S.E. 17th St., Fort Lauderdale

When: 8 p.m.

Cost: $49-$129 for day passes; $159-$379 for festival passes

Contact: thehukilau.com

Celebrate the nostalgic history and culture of Polynesia with rum-imbibing, lei-wearing, hula-skirted enthusiasts the world over at this international tiki confab. Hardcore fans of the longstanding festival can begin celebrating at the “Pre-Party” Wednesday at the Mai-Kai’s Molokai Bar near the host hotel, but full-day activities kick off Thursday with a customarily diverse schedule of mixology events, surf-rock and lounge concerts, lectures, film screenings, workshops, pool parties, storytelling sessions, a daily “Tiki Treasures” shopping bazaar and more. Underwater performances by Fort Lauderdale’s favorite fire-breathing mermaid, MeduSirena, are an annual tradition. New inductees to the cult of Hukilau might want to start with the First Timers Welcome Reception at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

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What: Daryl Hall & John Oates and Tears for Fears

Where: AmericanAirlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami

When: 7 p.m.

Cost: $31-$125.50

Contact: 786/777-1000, aaarena.com

Daryl Hall and John Oates’ once-novel fusing of rock and R&B has endured better, and longer, than the music of many of their ‘70s peers, thanks to newfound appreciation in the Aughts: an award-winning Daryl Hall-hosted Web TV series launched in 2007, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2014, a Hollywood Walk of Fame induction in 2016, and numerous performances on “The Voice” that reassert the duo’s Platinum-selling timelessness. Expect an outpouring of love from longtime fans and new discoverers alike, as Hall and Oates perform “Maneater,” “Rich Girl,” “Out of Touch” and a smattering of deeper cuts. Co-headliners Tears for Fears have enjoyed a similar durability while operating on the softer side of the British New Wave movement, across anthems as varied as “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” “Shout” and “Pale Shelter.”

THURSDAY

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What: Eliot Lewis

Where: Boston’s on the Beach, 40 S. Ocean Blvd., Delray Beach

When: 8:30 p.m.

Cost: Free

Contact: 561/278-3364, bostonsonthebeach.com

Can’t afford Wednesday’s Hall & Oates show—or don’t want to schlep to Miami for it? There’s no excuse to miss the next best thing when the duo’s touring guitarist, Eliot Lewis, makes a one-night-only stop at Boston’s. Lewis, who has been performing with Hall & Oates since 2013, is just as proficient in keyboard, bass and drums. He’s earned an international reputation as an impeccable sideman, from his long tenure with Average White Band to stages shared with Rob Thomas, Jewel, Train, Darius Rucker and more. He’s also a largely autobiographical singer-songwriter with six albums to his credit, and it’s these songs, plus select covers, that Lewis will perform at this intimate Delray Beach show alongside eclectic rock-soul guitarist Billy Livesay. Show up early for the best views.

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What: Opening night of South Florida Cultural Consortium exhibition

Where: Museum of Contemporary Art, 770 N.E. 125th St., North Miami

When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Cost: $3-$5

Contact: 305/893-6211, mocanomi.org

As the largest government-sponsored grant program in the region, the South Florida Cultural Consortium is funded by organizations such as the National Endowment of the Arts and the Florida Department of State. Hundreds of local artists apply for SFCC grants, but only a few make the cut—and it’s those artists that will line the walls and floors of the newly renovated Museum of Contemporary Art. The 25 FFCC prizewinners from years 2014 and 2016 on display include such prominent and emerging South Florida artists as Edouard Duval-Carrie, Bhakti Baxter, Kevin Arrow, TD Gillispie, Vanessa Diaz and Jillian Mayer. The diverse media include drawing, painting and sculpture addressing such themes as migration, popular culture and our technology ubiquity. The exhibition runs through Aug. 6.

FRIDAY

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What: Opening day of “Building a Legacy”

Where: Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, 4000 Morikami Park Road, Delray Beach

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Cost: $9-$15 museum admission

Contact: 561/495-0233, morikami.org

The late Mary Griggs Burke spent more than half a century amassing what is considered the largest collection of Japanese art outside of Japan—works dating all the way back to the Jomon period of history (2500-1500 B.C.). When New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art showcased Burke’s collection, in 2000, then-director Philippe de Montebello commented that the works “span vividly the remarkable history of one of the world’s great cultures.” We now have the rare opportunity to feast on her expansive, centuries-spanning collection at this selection of works loaned to the Morikami, which became a chief outlet for Burke’s patronage: It was Burke’s contributions, after all, which filled the Morikami’s newly constructed galleries back in 1993. “Building a Legacy” will include more than 60 pieces in mediums ranging from paintings and prints to ceramics, lacquer and textiles. It runs through Sept. 17.

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What: Opening night of “Risk”

Where: Lake Worth Playhouse’s Stonzek Theater, 713 Lake Ave., Lake Worth

When: 2 and 6 p.m.

Cost: $6-$9

Contact: 561/296-9382, lakeworthplayhouse.org

Laura Poitras is attracted to controversial figures like moths are attracted to light. The American documentary filmmaker spent six years, on and off, shadowing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for the new film “Risk.” Her Oscar-winning exclusive with Edward Snowden, “Citizenfour,” grew out of this project. But unlike the Snowden film, “Risk” is less supportive of its subject. Initially a more glowing portrait when it premiered at Cannes last year, “Risk” has evolved since its prickly protagonist took an activist role in the 2016 presidential election. Poitras has come to view Assange differently than when she embarked on the film, going so far as to recut the movie. This new “Risk” is a fascinating case study in maintaining the journalistic long view in the midst of a surreally accelerating news cycle. See it this weekend, before it changes again for the home video release.

SUNDAY

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What: Reel Big Fish: “The Beer Run”

Where: Revolution Live, 100 S.W. Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale

When: 5 p.m.

Cost: $28-$30

Contact: 954/449-1025, jointherevolution.net

It’s been more than 20 years since ska-popsters Reel Big Fish released their iconic single “Beer,” a jaunty paean to the palliative effects of an empty bottle. The anthem remains a staple at the group’s concerts, but this tour takes an appreciation for hops ‘n’ suds one step further. “The Beer Run” includes a “Mini Beerfest” at America’s Backyard, the outdoor space attached to Revolution, which includes free tastings and specials from Cigar City, Sweetwater, Magic Hat, Lagunitas and more crafty purveyors, appropriately scheduled to begin at the happy hour of 5 p.m. The great lineup of opening acts kicks off in the early evening as well, including Tunnel Vision, the Expendables and one of my favorite retro punk acts of the ‘90s and beyond, The Queers.

As the A&E editor of bocamag.com, I offer reviews, previews, interviews, news reports and musings on all things arty and entertainment-y in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
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Beatles Tribute Rocks Norton Museum

John Thomason As the A&E editor of bocamag.com, I offer reviews, previews, interviews, news reports and musings on all things arty and entertainment-y in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. https://bocamag.com

As the A&E editor of bocamag.com, I offer reviews, previews, interviews, news reports and musings on all things arty and entertainment-y in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.