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The month of March in the arts

Bill DeYoung



Jen Silverman’s "The Roommate" opens March 13 at American Stage. Joey Clay Photography.

Bearing in mind that the Dali Museum and the Mahaffey Theater will be open but extremely difficult to reach next week (March 4-10) because of the St. Petersburg Grand Prix, March (at least in downtown St. Pete) will come in like a loud, gassy, revved-up lion (on four wheels). The rest of the month should be appropriately lamb-like.

The 3rd annual St. Petersburg Seafood & Music Festival takes place tonight (Friday, March 1) through Sunday in Vinoy Park. As you might expect, the emphasis here is on seafood, caught and/or prepared by local restaurateurs. A joint presentation by the City of St. Petersburg and the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance, it’s open 4-10 p.m. today, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Bring the family – maybe try a round-trip on the Cross-Bay Ferry while you’re by the waterfront? Admission is $5 (age 12 and under free).

Continuous live music will be provided by the always-excellent Black Honkeys, Rev. Barry & the Funk, Kettle of Fish, Mike Tozier, a couple of others and a handful of tribute bands.

Knoxville Americana band the Black Lillies – think Wilco meets the Eagles meets Neil Young & Crazy Horse – are onstage at the Hideaway Café tonight. The harmony-resplendent band’s latest, Stranger To Me, debuted at No. 22 on the Americana Album Charts. Doors at 6, show at 8.

Although tonight’s performance by flautist Nestor Torres (part of the ongoing St. Petersburg Jazz Festival) is sold out, the Palladium has other shows one might be drawn to. There’s Tamburitzans of Pittsburgh (March 5), international music, song and folk dance from Armenia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Ireland, the Caribbean, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Ukraine; Gulf Coast Dance Theatre with Alice in Wonderland (March 9); country music legend Mickey Gilley (March 24); our area’s fabulous Florida Bjorkestra (March 31) playing the music of Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel. Click here for the Palladium’s full schedule.

It’s been argued (by me, among others) that there are way too many tribute bands in our midst. If you want to see singers dressed up and pretending to be Billy Joel, Van Halen, the Eagles, the Beatles, Elton John, Frank Sinatra, et al, you’ve got plenty of opportunities in Pinellas County, and across the bay. More power to them. Meh.

Joe Satriani

The glut of tribute acts can sometimes obfuscate really interesting shows on the calendar – particularly where rock ‘n’ roll is concerned. Consider Experience Hendrix, at Ruth Eckerd Hall this Monday, March 4. This isn’t a costume parade – it’s a half dozen incredible guitarists playing tribute to one of the greatest rock guitarists in history. The lineup: Dave Mustaine, Joe Satriani, Zakk Wylde, Dweezil Zappa, Jonny Lang, Ana Popovic, Eric Johnson … all on one stage (well, most of them – the website says “artists subject to change without notice”) with Hendrix sideman Billy Cox on bass, drummers Kenny Aronoff and Chris Leyton and others. Even if only three-quarters of them turn up, this will be the show to beat this month.

To REH March 27 returns A Bowie Celebration, with a band consisting of former David Bowie studio and road players (including guitar legend Earl Slick and pianist extraordinaire Mike Aladdin Sane Garson). Charlie Sexton and Mark Plati are in the band, too, and the vocalists include Bernard Fowler (of the Rolling Stones’ touring unit) and … wait for it … Living Colour’s lead singer and frontman Corey Glover. “It’s not a cover band,” said actress Evan Rachel Wood, who performed onstage with the alumni not long ago. “It’s the actual band. It’s as close as you’re going to get to Bowie.”

Other notable March shows at Ruth Eckerd Hall and its sister act, the Capitol Theatre in downtown Clearwater: Bluegrass mandolin savant Sierra Hull (tonight at the Cap); Buddy Guy with Little Feat (March 19, REH); genius songwriter Jimmy Webb (March 28, Cap) paying tribute to his late collaborator, Glen Campbell); the amazing Chris Thile and the Punch Brothers (March 29, Cap) and two days with John Mellencamp (March 29 and 30 at Ruth Eckerd Hall).

Speaking, as we were, of incredible guitar players, the great Luther Dickinson and his North Mississippi Allstars return to Jannus Live March 21, on a bill with the Marcus King Band.

Fresh off the sold-out success of Kiss Me, Kate, the St. Petersburg Opera Company goes in a bold and entirely different direction March 9 with Creative Collaborations, at its Opera Central headquarters. Along with a brass quintet performance, and a set by four bassoon players (including SPO’s own Maestro Mark Sforzini), there’ll be a unique collaboration between classical bassist Lloyd Goldstein and banjo player Joshua Paul. The show’s centerpiece is a presentation of Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale, with Sforzini conducting a 20-piece orchestra, actors, a dancer and a narrator. Tickets are here.

Jen Silverman’s The Roommate opens March 13 at American Stage. Born out of the prestigious Humana Festival of new American plays, the two-woman comedy is described by American Stage, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, as “Breaking Bad meets Grace and Frankie.” They also call it “The Odd Couple meets Thelma and Louise.” So take your pick. It’s about Sharon, an Iowan divorcee, and the unusual relationship she develops with her new roomie, a mysterious New Yorker named Robyn. Kristin Clippard directs.

The Florida Orchestra calendar for March is, as usual, fairly spectacular – most impressive is the collaboration, March 29-31, with pianist Benjamin Grosvenor on Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1. Here’s the calendar.

Tickets are already flying out the (tiny) door for the 2019 St. Pete Tiny Homes Festival, March 23 and 24 at St. Pete College Allstate Center. Here’s your handy link.

Floris Claesz. van Dyck (Dutch, 1575-1651), Still Life with Fruit and Olives (detail), c. 1600, oil on panel, Grasset Collection

Making its debut March 23 at the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts, A Feast for the Eyes: European Masterpieces from the Grasset Collection features 40 superb Old Master paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries by major Italian, Spanish, German, and Netherlands artists. More on this soon.

On March 23, freefall Theatre opens Crumbs From the Table of Joy, a drama from Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage.  It’s the story of a recently widowed African American man who relocates, with his two teen daughters, from Florida to Brooklyn, N.Y. after discovering a new religion. It’s a memory play – the events are seen through the eyes of 17-year-old Ernestine, coming into adulthood, and still reeling from the death of her mother. Enter progressive Aunt Lily, and Dad’s impulsively-taken new (white) wife, and the tension builds and boils.

Over Tampa way, Gasparilla Music Festival weekend (March 9 and 10) includes performances by the Avett Brothers, Gary Clark. Jr., Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Pharcyde and plenty of others. It takes place at Curtis Hixon Park; info here.

Willie Nelson (Lukas’ dad), Brothers Osbourne, Styx, Martina McBride and Keith Sweat are among the headliners at the 2019 Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City, today through March 10; info here.

Are you a Pinellas County art organization? Do you put on events? Shows? Openings? Please add me to your emailing list. The address is Thanks!







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