An abbreviated yet guardedly optimistic 2020-2021 South Florida pop concert season surges forward starting in November, featuring mostly veteran performers among folk, blues and other roots music styles.
Star blues guitarists Tab Benoit, Buddy Guy and Kenny Wayne Shepherd are featured this month, in hopes that COVID-19 complications don’t give ticket-buying patrons a bluesy hangover via further postponements or cancellations.
And the season culminates in a performance by the Martin Barre Band, led by the transformative former guitarist for iconic progressive rock act Jethro Tull, at the reopened Funky Biscuit in Boca Raton.
Following a slew of postponed shows between March and October of 2020, the Culture Room in Fort Lauderdale kicks off the season with a rescheduled date by Louisiana-born singing guitarist Tab Benoit, whose Whiskey Bayou Revue includes special guests in singing guitarists Alastair Greene and Josh Garrett. A genuine article, the Houma, La.-born Benoit cut his teeth at the Blues Box, a popular nightclub in Baton Rouge, before embarking on a recording and touring career. His CD releases since 1993 hint at his Delta blues authenticity both in sound and title: Standing on the Bank (1995), Wetlands (2002), Fever for the Bayou (2005), and Power of the Ponchartrain (2007). Another 2005 release, Voice of the Wetlands, was named for Benoit’s conservational organization to raise awareness about Louisiana’s receding coastal wetlands. See Tab Benoit at 8 p.m. Nov. 7 at the Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale (800-745-3000, $34.50).
Eighty-four-year-old, Louisiana-born singer/guitarist Buddy Guy has influenced a legion of British and American blues and rock artists — from Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck to Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan and John Mayer. After moving to Chicago in the late 1950s, Guy helped to define the Windy City’s muscular blues sound along with Muddy Waters, and even opened a still-active blues nightclub there, Buddy Guy’s Legends, in 1989. With several notable releases among his 50-plus-year recording career, Guy’s best live performances involve sticking to his original material rather than the overtures to those popular guitarists that he sometimes leans on. At 43 years old, fellow guitarist, singer and Louisianan Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s influences include Guy and Vaughan, whose footsteps he tried to follow in after that incendiary guitarist’s tragic death in a 1990 helicopter crash. With five Grammy nominations, Shepherd is likely to play material from his latest release, last year’s The Traveler, as well as jam with Guy. See Buddy Guy and the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band at 8 p.m. Nov. 13 at the Broward Center’s Au-Rene Theater, 201 SW 5th Ave., Fort Lauderdale (954-462-0222, $39.50-$125.50).
The Kravis Center’s largest room, Dreyfoos Hall, will ease back into operation in January with a new air filtration system, temperature checks at the door, hand sanitization stations, and additional regular cleaning. One of the early showcases will feature two folk and pop veteran singer/songwriters with marquee names in 81-year-old Judy Collins and 73-year-old Arlo Guthrie. The Seattle-born Collins’ best-known performances are interpretations of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” (a Grammy winner for Best Folk Performance) and Stephen Sondheim’s “Send In the Clowns” from the 1960s and 1970s, and she was influenced by late activist and folk singer Woody Guthrie nearly as much as her co-star, his New York City-born son. The younger Guthrie is a part-time Sebastian resident who’s best-known for his iconic 1967 protest composition, “Alice’s Restaurant.” See Judy Collins and Arlo Guthrie at 8 p.m. Jan. 18 at the Kravis Center’s Dreyfoos Hall, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach (561-832-7469, $29 + up).
Seventy-four-year-old, Oklahoma-born Jimmy Webb’s name doesn’t resonate with listeners as much as the titles of hit songs he’s written for other artists: like “Up, Up and Away” by the Fifth Dimension, “MacArthur Park” by Richard Harris, and “By the Tims I Get To Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman” and “Galveston” by Glen Campbell. A singer and pianist, Webb’s songwriting versatility transcends pop and country; rock and roots music, and has earned him multiple Grammy Awards and induction into both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. His gospel-infused, storytelling singing and playing styles have also been featured in a lengthy career of solo releases, from his 1968 debut Jim Webb Sings Jim Webb through last year’s SlipCover, an intriguing instrumental piano collection of material from the Great American Songbook, British Invasion, and beyond. See Jimmy Webb at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 21 at the Kravis Center’s Rinker Playhouse ($220 for four-top).
It’ll be an evening of dissimilar yet occasionally-intertwining styles when singer/songwriters Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin take the stage at the newly-renovated Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale. The 62-year-old Carpenter is an anomaly as a country music star, hailing from Princeton, N.J., but she won four consecutive Grammy Awards for Best Female Country Vocal Performance from 1992-1995. She’s likely to perform material from her 1987 debut Hometown Girl through her new 2020 release, The Dirt and the Stars. The 64-year-old Colvin emerged as a contemporary folk and Americana star from Vermillion, S.D., with her 1989 debut, Steady On (a Grammy winner for Best Contemporary Folk Album). She’s earned multiple additional Grammys since, and is likely to perform Steady On material because of last year’s 30th anniversary acoustic edition follow-up. See Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin at 8 p.m. Feb. 27 at Parker Playhouse, 707 NE 8th St., Fort Lauderdale (954-462-0222, $37.50-$87.50).
Too jazzy to become a pop star, and vice versa, 68-year-old Canadian singer, composer and keyboardist Gino Vannelli has had one of the all-time star-crossed musical careers. Born in Montreal, he attended the prestigious McGill University there before relocating to New York City as a teenager, then to Los Angeles while in his early 20s. It was there that he waited all day outside the A&M Records office for co-owner and star trumpeter Herb Alpert to appear, and afterward have the recording executive listen to his demo tape. It proved fortuitous, since Vannelli’s early recording catalog was released by A&M, culminating in his 1978 release Brother To Brother and his subsequent biggest hit single, the ballad “I Just Wanna Stop.” The versatile Vannelli has since ventured into realms including classical and soul music, and authored a 2009 book titled Stardust in the Sand. See Gino Vannelli at 7:30 p.m. March 7 at Parker Playhouse ($37.50-$87.50).
The COVID-19 pandemic caused not only a slew of postponed shows at the Funky Biscuit in Boca Raton, like guitarist Martin Barre’s scheduled dates there last April, but it also necessitated the venue’s closure last September. Thankfully, that time frame proved brief before one of South Florida’s best live music spots reopened only weeks later. Barre, who’ll turn 73 on November 17, teamed with Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson to catapult that group onto the Mount Rushmore of progressive rock after he replaced original guitarist Mick Abrahams in 1968. The change from Abrahams’ bluesy style on the band’s 1968 debut This Was to Barre’s stinging chords and solos on the 1969 sophomore album Stand Up also changed the course of music history. Barre will play tracks from his latest release, 2018’s Roads Less Travelled, with singing guitarist Dan Crisp, bassist Alan Thomson and drummer Darby Todd. See the Martin Barre Band at 9 p.m. March 26 and 8 p.m. March 27 at the Funky Biscuit, 303 SE Mizner Blvd., Boca Raton (561-395-2929, $55-$75).