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Your weekend arts forecast: The saxophone wizard of Oz

Bill DeYoung



Adrian Cunningham, the "Down Under Sax Star." Photo provided.

Hugh Jackman’s probably got nothing to worry about, but the list of world-class musical entertainers from Australia got a bit longer when Adrian Cunningham arrived in the States a couple of years ago.

The Wall Street Journal refers to the Sydney-born Cunningham as “The Down Under Sax Star,” for his triple-threat musicianship on saxophone, flute and clarinet. Cunningham is a jazz musician who excels at spicy, high-energy swing music. Now based in New York, he is a globe-trotting member of the Wycliffe Gordon Quintet and the marquee star of the award-winning New Orleans-style band Professor Cunningham and His Old School.

His previous swing orchestra, the Grammy-winning Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, appeared on the soundtrack for the HBO series Boardwalk Empire.

Cunningham is also a longtime acquaintance of St. Petersburg jazz guitarist Nate Najar; together, they have a show at the Palladium Theater Friday (June 7) at 8 p.m. Called “Swing is the Thing,” the concert also features bassist Joe Porter and drummer Eddie Metz.

Tickets and info for the Side Door (downstairs) show are here.

Art openings

Creative Pinellas unveils Unbound, a pair of installations by artist Akiko Kotani, with a reception Thursday at the gallery, 12211 Walsingham Road in Largo. The reception for Creative Pinellas’ Artist Laureate begins at 6 p.m., and the artist will speak at 7. Soft Walls and Waterfalls of Millford Valley are enormous, flowing pieces created from crocheted white plastic strips.

Opening Friday at Florida CraftArt: Woof, Meow, Chirp and Slither: Artists Interpret the World of Pets, which is pretty much just what it sounds like: A collection of works, in various media, celebrating cats, dogs and the other animals with which we co-habitate.

By the numbers: 36 Floridian artists with more than 100 pieces. The opening reception is 5:30-7:30 p.m. (June 7), and the exhibition will remain in place through Aug. 10.

On June 13, St. Petersburg mayor Rick Kriseman will stop by at 5:30 p.m. to talk about the City’s new pet-friendly initiatives. Numerous pet discussions and roundtables are planned for the duration of the show; check the Florida CraftArt website for the full schedule.

Florida CraftArt is at 501 Central Ave.; hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 12-5 p.m. Sunday.

Saturday is Second Saturday ArtWalk day. Download the map of this month’s self-guided tour of 40 local studios and galleries from the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance here. Notable opening reception: Altered Reality: Redux – The Photography of Rob Fazio.

And now, this

Friday brings the City’s First Friday event, heat notwithstanding (it’s titled “Summer Jubilee”). From 5:30 until 10 p.m., Central Avenue between 2nd and 3rd Streets will be closed to traffic for the monthly block party, with live music, arts and crafts vendors, food and drink, et cetera.

Texas tornado Steve Earle is back in our midst Saturday, for a Capitol Theatre show with his band the Dukes. The bearded bard of the Lone Star State is touring behind Guy, his recorded tribute to the late and indisputably great songwriter Guy Clark, who was a mentor to young Earle when he first arrived in Nashville in the early 1970s. Tickets here.

The 2020 edition of the Skyway collaborative art show is on the way, and a call to artists has gone out for submissions. Co-sponsored by the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts, Sarasota’s John and Mable Ringling Museum, Tampa Museum of Art and the USF Contemporary Art Museum of Art, Skyway 2020. The call is for artists or art collectives residing in Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas and Sarasota counties, and the submission deadline is Sept. 3. All the details are here.

Our friend Roy Peter Clark reviewed the new Lori Roy novel, Gone Too Long, in these pages a few days ago. Here’s a heads-up that the author will be making a read-and-signed appearance Monday, July 1 (6-8 p.m.) at the St. Pete Beach Public Library, a pop-up event sponsored by Tombolo Books.

  • Are you a performing arts space, large, small or in-between, an art gallery, a bookshop or any place where public cultural events take place? Please put us on your email list – we can’t publicize you if we don’t know what (or who) you are! The address is Thanks.











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