Something About the Blues…..

Despite not being quite myself with battling a cold last night, we’d had tickets for weeks to see Muddy on the Waters, A Blue’s Tribute at the Seminole Theatre. I grabbed a nap and we had dinner at home instead of out as we usually do as part of a theater evening. It was the Nighthawks performing with Muddy Waters’ son, “Muds” Morganfield joining them in the second part. I had debated about going, but I had also booked us a seat on the aisle so that meant I could be on the side and not breathe on anyone other than Hubby and it was his cold that was passed to me anyway. What a fun performance it was and a really talented group. In looking around, there was definitely a preponderance of Baby Boomers. There were some younger people too, but it got us to wondering if the Blues as a music genre is fading. I certainly hope not.

In fact, we sat next to a couple visiting from Iowa.The gentleman is a big National Parks fan and they’d been to the Everglades earlier and will be headed down to Dry Tortugas. They are major Blues enthusiasts and assured us the Davenport, Iowa Blues Festival is well attended every year. It’s actually the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival put on by the Mississippi Valley Blues Society and this past July was their 31st. Having been to the area multiple times during my Army days, summertime is when you want to have an outdoor festival. On the other hand, that’s also peak dive season here, so I doubt we’ll be headed up there. Then again, we haven’t tried the Blues, Beer, and BBQ Festival at Fruit and Spice Park since that first year. I’ll have to see if it’s still an annual event.

The Performing Arts You’ve Been Waiting For…..

You don’t always get an immediate full package when it comes to downtown revitalization. It’s nice when the resources are available for that, but more likely, there will be incremental steps. Like a garden though if you can’t bring in a landscape designer and move forward with every flower, shrub, tree, etc., you might have the design and a few “anchor” pieces, then add to it. What’s important though is to carefully tend to the initial steps and not lose the early plantings as you wait for the rest.

The Seminole Theater in downtown Homestead has kicked off their second season and for every person who has said, “I wish we had performing arts here”, the answer is, “We do.” While the first season was heavily weighted to concerts, that was primarily because it was the easiest approach to get started. This year, however, a variety of programming is available and there really is something for just about everyone. There is the Showcase Series – major events booked by the Seminole – then there will be different events continually added. These are often local organizations that book the Seminole as a venue for music, dance, theater, etc.

I’ve previously posted about the delightful WLRN Radio Theater plays we’ve attended and there are three more performances this season – Miracle on 34th Street, Casablanca, and Treasure of the Sierra Madres. Yesterday, we had a bit of a “Ladies Afternoon” as five of us attended the one-man play, Vincent. The essence of the play was mixed media with the role of Theo Van Gogh, Vincent’s brother, in a script written by Leonard Nimoy (Yes, “Mr. Spock”). The production, from Starry Nights Theater Company, has played around the country. As the character of Theo spoke of the larger truth of the brother whose paintings were not appreciated in his lifetime, he also read excerpts of letters and images of famous and less-well recognized pieces were projected behind him. It was a moving script, wonderfully produced, and superbly acted. It’s the quality of performance we no longer have to fight traffic for or search out parking.

Dining options are close by as well with restaurants such as the Capri (M-Sat), on Krome only a few miles away; Chefs on the Run on adjacent Mowry Dr (Tue-Sat). along with Hotel Redland (M-Sat & Sun brunch). Or you can drive a few streets north on Krome, turn on 7th St and find The White Lion Café (Tue-Sat). El Toro Taco is across from the theater (Tue-Sat) as is Casita Tejas, and Lucky’s Saloon is two buildings away. (Tejas and Lucky’s are open seven days a week). Mamma Mia’s, a short drive to Washington Ave, is open seven days a week, too (until 11:00 p.m. Fri & Sat).

You can keep up with what will be playing at http://seminoletheatre.org or for the wider arts and culture scene, check Homestead Center for the Arts, http://homesteadcenterforthearts.com

 

 

Even More Fun Than I Expected…..

In promoting the Seminole Theater (http://seminoletheatre.org), we have mostly attended concerts, although I would have liked to have been in town when the What If Works one-act plays were performed. (Check out WIW as an affiliate member of http://homesteadcenterforthearts.com)

Anyway, the terrific Seminole Director was contacted by a member of the WLRN Radio Theater organization a few months ago about having a SciFi Summer after the regular season ended. Like many people, I wasn’t aware the Public Broadcasting WLRN had a Radio Theater component and I’ll get to that part later in the post. Although I never heard the radio drama, War of the Worlds, I had heard my grandparents and parents talk about it. The way the presentation at the Seminole was described was intriguing in that the “broadcast booth” would be on-stage and as the audience, we would be seeing inside as the historic broadcast took place. In reality, it was a bit different, and indeed even more fun than I expected.

The director came on stage to explain the concept and urged everyone to stay for a bit after the performance when they would elaborate about the production and take questions. The script they were using was the original with the customization of changing the location to Florida instead of NJ as written by Orson Wells. The marvelous sounds effects expert, absolutely vital to radio theater, not only had his array of equipment, he had cue cards for the audience. We were to be prompted with “Applause, Crowd Noise, and Scream.” The lights dimmed and we were all set for a thoroughly entertaining evening. Another slight variation was the actors did have some movements and costume additions to allow for visuals for the audience which of course wasn’t necessary back in the day of radio theater when no audience was present.

During the post-performance session, we learned the company has revived many radio dramas and adapted numerous movie/play scripts to the format. I knew the second part of SciFi Summer was to be Plan Nine From Outer Space (called the worst movie ever made). I had told Hubby I wasn’t going even though he said he wanted to. I will now be buying tickets for us both because I am a total convert and look forward to any future events with WLRN Radio Theater at the Seminole.

 

Painting Parties…

I don’t know who came up with the idea of “Painting Parties” or even where it really got started, but it does appear to be a trend. It’s especially nice to see that the two great ladies of Art for Good seem to be doing well with them. Let me explain a bit if you’re not familiar with either. I’ve posted about Art for Good (https://www.artforgoodusa.org) previously and yes, they are an Affiliate Member of Homestead Center for the Arts. Suzanne Moe and Marcela Noriega are truly awesome women and to quote from their website, “Here at Art For Good we believe art can help integrate community, build self-esteem and promote mutual respect. We recognize art and creative thinking as valuable tools to find solutions to social problems in our community and to benefit society.

We invite and inspire people to be agents of positive change by staging fun art events and activities which bring community together for the common good. These events help raise awareness and funds for Art For Good projects and programs.”

Of course they accept straight out donations, but their Paint Parties are growing in popularity and they fall into the category of being what I call a, “Fundraiser with the emphasis on Fun“. The concept is remarkably simple and the party is usually held in a place where wine (or your preferred beverage) can flow along with the paint and laughter. You start with a blank canvas and an image to work toward. You don’t need to have ever held a paintbrush to be part of the fun and you might surprise yourself as Suzanne and Marcela give you pointers. They hold private and public events and three public ones are scheduled for 6, 19, and 21 July. The price is around $30 per person, but that varies depending on what food and drink are included. Pop onto their website for details.

If you’re looking for something interesting for the summer, I highly recommend checking  this option out.

Don’t Lose the Old Stories…..

I’ve posted about subject this before, but I noticed a headline that said the last survivor of the USS Arizona passed away a couple of days ago. I’ve forgotten the rate, but just as with my father who was 91 in October, the WW II and Korea veterans are advancing in age and we are losing them. It’s not only veterans, of course, but all of that generation have seen some remarkable changes during their lives. Some have of course written their memoirs and/or been interviewed, but for many, the experiences they lived and things they saw get “pushed aside” for another time. We think there is always time to do this and the next thing we know, it’s too late. A friend of ours is involved in a project where he specifically seeks out veterans and talks to them, although not in a manner to record the stories – more as a way to interact with them.

If you have relatives and friends who fall into this category, try to make the opportunity to find out if there are old letters, scrapbooks, journals/diaries – not to intrude upon their privacy, but to know where the information is. And yes, if you can, find a way to capture the stories if it hasn’t been done already. Not every story, but enough to understand how very much our world has changed in their life span. Those who grew up in rural areas will have had far different experiences than someone in a city. While they may not have walked uphill to school both ways, there is a distinct possibility there were some one-room schoolhouses involved. If there is an attic or basement filled with “stuff”, maybe you can help with a multi-step plan to sort through and organize it. You can only do so much at a time productively, but it can be enjoyable as an “exploration”, too.

Lots of Quilts….

There are times when the phrase, “Great minds think alike”, seems to apply and in this case it may be that or it may be I don’t know what actually occurred. At any rate, if you love quilts, you’re going to get a double dose in February. According to a couple of people, there was a tradition of an annual quilt show at the United Methodist Church in Homestead for many years. Apparently, the woman who was usually in charge reached the stage where she was ready to back away (as we all do in these sorts of things) and for whatever reason, no one else stepped forward. (Please understand, I have no idea if this is what happened, but it was the version I was given). I am not certain of how many years lapsed, but the same cannot be said for 2016. There will not only be a quilt show, Fri & Sat, 12-13 February at the United Methodist Church on Krome Avenue, the following week, Sat & Sun, 20-21 February, there will be a quilt show at the Pioneer Museum on Krome Avenue.

I believe the charge for each show is only $5. The show at the Church will have classes for an additional cost as well as demonstrations, lectures, displays, and vendors, and the show at the Museum will have lectures, displays, vendors, and I’m not sure about classes. In either case, there will be fun for quilters and quilt lovers. I will be at the Museum show with my line of quilting cozies, Small Town Lies, Small Town Haven, and Small Town Quilting Blues. I think everyone is hoping for a good turnout to gauge if this can be an annual event again in bringing the tradition back to Homestead & Florida City.

Opening Night at the Seminole……

The crowd coming in for opening night of the Seminole Theater Dec 12, 2015

The crowd coming in for opening night of the Seminole Theater Dec 12, 2015

In 2013 voters in Homestead sent the message that they were willing to share in bringing the Seminole Theater out of the state of unfinished renovation. Efforts to restore the theater had been an on-and-off undertaking for more than twenty years or longer depending on whom you talk to. These situations are never easy and the cost in money, time, and resources is usually greater than anticipated. Despite all that, Saturday night, December 12, 2015 was the date when work and hope came together for a packed house to see the curtain rise for the first time in almost forty years.

The City of Homestead and the new theater management company can be proud of the event. The City held a festival in adjoining Losner Park with a wonderful array of activities such as an interactive art project for children and they brought in the outdoor screen so individuals who did not have tickets could watch a broadcast of the musical performance. Mother Nature got in on the act and provided a perfect night with no threat of the rain we’ve been having. Broadway tunes were the bill with a company of talented vocalists and a terrific trio of pianist, bass player, and drummer. The songs ranged from classics like, “The Impossible Dream” to the comical, “I Want to Be a Producer”. In keeping with the understanding that it will take some time for the theater to be in full operation, the twelve other performances scheduled between Jan 15th and June 4th are a diverse mix. Rather than a movie theater, the Seminole is now for the performing arts and at the moment, the focus is primarily music. Ticket prices are also mixed and some are as low as $15 for certain performances. You can see the line-up and order tickets from http://seminoletheater.org or call (786) 650-2073.

It will be important for those of us who have pushed for this to be supportive and I foresee a number of “girls night out” events as well as a few performances that hubby wants to go to.

 

Best Orchid Year To Date….

A happy orchid, I think.

A happy orchid, I think.

One of the advantages to South Florida are the beautiful orchids you can find all around. If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know our success rate with them has been mixed. Two (or it might have been three) years ago, we decided to try the tie an orchid to the palm tree, leave it alone and see what happens. It’s the beautiful thriving lavender/purple one I’ve posted on several occasions. Encouraged by that, I went when the East Everglades Orchids Society was having one of their shows/sale (member of HCA http://www.homesteadcenterforthearts.com)  and spent some time with a gentleman who was quite patient with me. He recommended two small varieties in wooden baskets that I hung on the fence. This area gets direct sunlight part of the day and that was one of the issues. The first blooming gave me hope and when those faded, I was a little nervous. The leaves looked like they were okay though and we had other blooming periods after that. Nothing spectacular, but definite signs they were surviving.

Last week, hubby told me to go look – both orchids were in full bloom. They were indeed and with more blossoms than either plant has had in the past. I’m not intending to get over-eager here, although I think we’re ready to take on another couple and try tying them to the traveler palms we have in back. Now, if I could only remember what kind we have. Ah well, one step at a time.

Another successful blooming.

Another successful blooming.

 

Supporting Art……

One of the Paintings on Display at Phicol Williams Community Center.

One of the Paintings on Display at Phicol Williams Community Center.

Well, the week obviously got away from me and yesterday was a day of literally all meetings. I started at 8:30 headed out to the first one, got home around 2:45 and worked a series of emails until I left for the 5:00 event that was purely social in nature. That schedule, however, combined with a night where I really didn’t sleep well kept me from posting (yeah, I know, how wimpy of me).

Anyway, one of the meetings was at a neighborhood community center and Homestead has a policy of featuring local artists’ work in sections of our community centers. I know only a few of the artists, but I am always intrigued with the talent that we have in our area. Part of the vision of historic downtown is to have the arts and entertainment district as a future goal. The renovation of the Seminole Theater is on track and of course the intent is for it to be a performing arts center with broad-based programming rather than a movie theater. A new restaurant is set to take the place of the closed Lucky’s Pub and that’s another step in the right direction. Most of these things take time and as the revitalization continues, many of us hope that art galleries will once again also return to downtown.

A Day of Racing…..

Hubby is relaxing in his recliner with the Indianapolis 500 race on TV and then he will switch to the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 race and yes, this is all scheduled to be exactly the way it sounds. The Indy race is in it’s 99th year and not being a total NASCAR history buff, I don’t know when they got the idea to have a 600 mile race immediately following the Indy one. That could well have been one of those things that started out as a “Hey, what if?”, or it could have been something entirely different. At any rate, if you enjoy racing, it’s hard to beat the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend.

I had hoped that I would be able to do one of the Chris Green (she’s the underwater investigator) novels in a NASCAR setting, but so far, I haven’t been able to get the behind-the-scenes access that would give me the kind of details that I like to have when I craft a book. That doesn’t mean I’ve given up on the idea, just that it will have to be postponed for a while. Actually, we haven’t visited Bev Henderson in Verde Key for quite some time and we’ll be headed down there for the next novel – Shades of Deception. I was looking at a November release, however, a major project looks like it’s about to finally come into play for me and if so, that will seriously impact my calendar. I can’t give any details just yet, but if all goes well, I can make the announcement late next week.

So Happy Memorial Day to all and don’t forget to tell a veteran “thank you” if you get a chance to.