A First “Biscuit Fest” at Funky Biscuit Boca Raton

By: Skip Sheffield

The blues blossom in downtown Boca this Thursday, April 12 through Saturday, April 14 at the first “Biscuit Fest,” to be held at the Funky Biscuit at Royal Palm Place.

Featured acts are Room Full of Blues with David Shelley & Bluestone Thursday; The Lee Boys with Michael Allman and the Funky Biscuit All-Stars Friday and Jimmy Thackery & the Drivers with Sistah Mary Beth Saturday.

“We’ve been doing well with jazz at the Funky Biscuit,” said manager-partner Al Poliak. “We want to be known as the source for all kinds of popular music in Boca: blues, funk, jazz and jam bands. This will be our biggest show with the biggest names yet. We hope to offer even more variety next year”

Room Full of Blues is one of the longest-running acts in blues music. The group was founded in Rhode Island in 1967 and has played continuously with a changing cast of characters (more than 50 musicians so far) playing driving, horn-based power blues.

Singer Phil Pemberton is one of the newest members of the club, having joined two and a half years ago.

“The band last visited South Florida in 2006, but I have never been there,” Pemberton reveals. “Those are my vocals on the latest album, ‘Hook, Line and Sinker.’ We wanted to get something out quickly, so we mostly did classic covers.”

Room Full of Blues are the very definition of road warriors. They are riding all the way from New England to Boca Raton on their tour bus.

“Our bus is not the newest or the nicest, but I can say I sleep in the same bunk Sugar Blue used to sleep,” jokes Pemberton. “Last year we played the King Biscuit blues festival. Now we are looking forward to the Funky Biscuit.”

The Lee Boys and Jimmy Thackery are personal favorites of Al Poliak.

“The Lee Boys are out of Florida- a really powerful gospel-funk group,” Poliak explains. “Jimmy Thackery is a good friend of mine. We come from the same Maryland-D.C. area. As a guitarist, he rules.”

Tickets are $35 for all three days or $15 advance, $18 at the door for Room Full of Blues and Jimmy Thackery or $12 advance, $15 at the door for the Lee Boys. Call 561-395-2929 or go to www.funkybiscuit.com.

A “Younger Than Springtime” South Pacific

“South Pacific” is one of those evergreen Rodgers and Hammerstein classics that will never go out of style.

The roadshow production at Broward Center through April 22  hits all the right notes, with a perfect balance of comedy, drama and social commentary, but there are a couple of casting quirks.

Uruguayan Marcelo Guzzo has the requisite operatic baritone and regal presence as French expatriate Emile de Becque, but he is considerably younger than some of his illustrious predecessors in the role. The actors I have seen playing the role have all appeared to be in their late 50s to early 60s. Guzzo’s de Becque states at one point he is an “old man” of 44.

That makes him much closer in age to Jennie Sophia’s Ensign Nellie Forbush, who is supposed to be younger by at least 20 years than the haunted French widower.

Sophia was having a little trouble with the consistency of her “hick from the sticks” Arkansas accent but her singing is wonderful.

The two children who play de Becque’s Polynesian children look more African than South Pacific native, which adds a sharper edge to Nellie’s inherent racism, which inspires the sarcastic “You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught.”

These are minor quibbles actually. Christopher Marriner leads a fine cast of comically lovesick Sea Bees. Shane Donovan has a lovely tenor that accents the yearning of his Lt. Cable for the exquisite Tonkanese girl Liat (Hsin-Yu Liao). Hannah Isabel Bautista really runs away with the comic role of Liat’s crazy mom, Bloody Mary. We really do believe this woman is chewing betel nuts and getting high all the time.

So laugh with “101 Pounds of Fun” and swoon with “Some Enchanted Evening’ and “This Nearly Was Mine.” It is perfectly all right.

Tickets start at $25.25. Call 954-462-0222 or go to www.browardcenter.org.

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About Pedro Heizer

I'm a person of simple taste, all I need is some country music, Batman, Star Wars, sports, coffee, and most importantly Jesus Christ, because what profits a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul? View all posts by Pedro Heizer

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