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Your weekend arts forecast: Acoustic guitar fans, rejoice

Bill DeYoung



Christie Lenne and Tomy Emmanuel perform together on a recent European tour. Screen grab.

Two phenomenal acoustic guitarists perform separate concerts in St. Pete this weekend. And these two, who actually hail from very, very different parts of the world, have toured together, and played more than a few dazzling duets.

Tommy Emmanuel starts a world tour at Jannus Live Friday. He is a renowned fingerstyle player, with the official designation CGP (“Certified Guitar Player”) behind his name, bestowed upon him by none other than Chet Atkins.

A native of New South Wales, Emmanuel was made a Member of the Order of Australia, and inducted into the Australian Roll of Renown. Readers of Guitar Player magazine named him Best Acoustic Guitarist in 2008 and 2010.

Tampa-born Christie Lenee, who was named voted Acoustic Guitarist of the Year for 2019 by Music Radar, uses a whole arsenal of tools, both musical and physical. This quote from Guitar Player never gets old: “Watching Christie Lenée perform her solo acoustic act is like seeing a firecracker execute a high-wire circus routine while doing flips and juggling flaming bowling pins.”

Lenee’s extensive use of fretboard tapping guitar-body percussion recall none other than Tommy Emmanuel, who has them in his own organic bag of tricks.

Will these guitarists drop in on each other’s gigs? If they do, or if they don’t, they’re going to be pretty special shows.

Tommy Emmanuel at Jannus Live: Tickets here.

Christie Lenee at The Hideaway: Tickets here.

At Ruth Eckerd Hall

Iliza Shlesinger

Comedian Iliza Shlesinger is back on the road and will play a socially distanced show Saturday at Ruth Eckerd Hall. Shlesinger, who currently has five specials streaming on Netflix, also hosts a podcast, Ask Iliza Anything, which features her “giving out her Dear Abby-esque advice from fan submitted questions.” Details and tickets here.

The Mike Love-led Beach Boys have two show Sunday (5 and 8 p.m.) at Ruth Eckerd. Love and Bruce Johnston remain from the good old days; Full House actor John Stamos is the drummer in this particular version of the group. Details and tickets here.

Welcome back

There are a couple of significant returns this weekend. American Stage is back – sort of – with a live, outdoor performance Friday through Sunday. Taking place at The Fairgrounds St. Pete, Uncaged is described by co-director Kristin Clippard in our story from earlier this week, as “a true variety show.”

And multi-talented Becca McCoy sets foot on a stage (the Mahaffey) for the first time in more than a year Sunday when she narrates Roald Dahl’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs for The Florida Orchestra. Read more about it here.

Singer/songwriter extraordinaire Mountain Holler (Mark Etherington) moved to the Pacific Northwest in December, is back this weekend to play a couple of shows, one of which is the Straz Center’s Friday Riverwalk and Chill. Details.

The other stuff

St. Petersburg Poet Laureate Helen Wallace hosts Poetry at the Dali today (Thursday, May 13) at 6 p.m. This episode of the online reading series features poets Peter Schmitt and Sandra Beasley. Catch it on the Dali Museum’s YouTube channel.

Helen Hansen French and Lauren Slone, the founders of Beacon Dance, are in virtual conversation Friday evening with Alex Jones (Project Alchemy), at thestudio@620 Facebook page. It’s session 10 of the DanceBreak series. It’s fascinating, and it’s free (although donations will be accepted with gratitude. 

Those who’ve seen Hector Melendez-Figueroa’s The Wendy House, at Lab Theater Project in Tampa, are raving. It’s onstage again this weekend, and available for streaming, too. Check it out here.


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