Bill Meredith

Pop season previews - Oct. issue of Palm Beach Arts Paper

There's much familiarity within the 2018-2019 South Florida pop concert season, with occasional reasonably fresh faces (Lauryn Hill, Maxwell, Dweezil Zappa, Black Violin) among the old.
Of those, Sir Elton John conducts his final "Farewell Yellow Brick Road" tour in rare, multiple area shows at multiple venues in multiple cities; Bob Dylan returns, and Fleetwood Mac debuts without departed singer/​guitarist Lindsey Buckingham (as does Buckingham without Fleetwood Mac).
Also, with the deaths in recent years of Aretha Franklin and David Bowie, Gladys Knight and Patti Labelle appear to make their pitch for the mantle of greatest living vocalist in pop music.

Most country music artists aren't born in Princeton, NJ; don't live in Japan during the formative years approaching their teens, and don't start a recording career while nearing age 30. But 60-year-old singer/​guitarist Mary Chapin Carpenter never started out focusing on being a country artist, even though she would earn five "Best Country Vocal Performance" and "Best Country Album" Grammy Awards between 1992 and 1995. A distant cousin of the late, famed folk/​pop singer/​songwriter Harry Chapin, Caprenter has peppered her otherwise country releases with Beatle-esque instrumentation and vocal harmonies up through her 2018 release, [i]Sometimes Just the Sky[i]. See Mary Chapin Carpenter at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 12 at the Amaturo Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 S.W. 5th Ave., Fort Lauderdale (954-462-0222, $49.50-$69.50).

The term "one-hit wonder" has been unfairly whispered about rapper and singer Lauryn Hill and her 1998 solo debut, [i]The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill[i]. The unfairness lies in the fact that, incredibly, the 20-year-old release remains the former Fugees member's only solo studio recording. And what a hit it was; a seminal hip-hop chart-topper that debuted as a [i]Billboard[i] No. 1 album, sold in excess of eight million copies, spawned three hit singles, and earned her "Album of the Year," "Best New Artist," and three other statuettes at the 41st Grammy Awards celebration. Now 43 years old, the enigmatic, theatrical New Jersey native is certain to focus on the album's material during this, "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill 20th Anniversary Tour." See Lauryn Hill at 6 p.m. on Oct. 15 at Bayfront Park Ampitheater, 301 N. Biscayne Blvd., Miami 866-820-4553, ($45-$1,855).

At age 45, Gerald Maxwell Rivera's current "50 Intimate Nights Live" tour is effectively putting him on a middle-name basis with America -- partially because Maxwell, the Brooklyn-born R&B vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and producer of Puerto Rican and Haitian ancestry, is evidence of the melting pot this country is becoming. Along with D'Angelo and Erykah Badu, Maxwell is credited for helping to implement the "neo soul" musical movement of the 1990s. His recording career started in 1996 with [i]Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite[i], creating an arc of Grammy Award nominations that led to wins in 2010 ("Best R&B Album" for [i]BLACKsummers'night[i], "Best Male R&B Vocal Performance" for "Pretty Wings") and 2017 ("Best R&B Song" for "Lake By the Ocean"). See Maxwell at 8 p.m. on Oct. 17 at Hard Rock Live, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood (866-502-7529, $51-$106).

The initial "Florida Jam" was scheduled for May 19, featuring former founding Allman Brothers Band guitarist/​vocalist Dickey Betts' band, plus singing guitarists Elvin Bishop, Devon Allman (the late Gregg Allman's son) and Duane Betts (Dickey's son). Pushed to its current October date because of inclement weather in May, the festival underwent another facelift over the summer when Betts bailed out. His replacement, Gov't Mule, includes powerhouse singer/​guitarist Warren Haynes, an Allman Brothers member from 1989 until the group disbanded in 2014. Drummer Matt Abts remains from the original mid-'90s Gov't Mule lineup, and the quartet is rounded out by keyboardist/​vocalist Danny Louis and bassist Jorgen Carlsson. See Gov't Mule, Elvin Bishop, and Eric Gales at 4 p.m. on Oct. 20 at Sunset Cove Ampitheater, 20405 Ampitheater Cir., Boca Raton (561-488-8069, $65-$80).

Having turned 77 years old in late May, the artist formerly known as Robert Zimmerman has become a popular music ambassador to the world as Bob Dylan. Born in Duluth, Minnesota and raised in nearby Hibbing, Dylan started his career as a singer/​songwriter in his home state before moving to New York City in the 1960s and transforming the folk genre from Greenwich Village. A guitarist, keyboardist and harmonica player as well as a singer, Dylan most transcended popular music with his introspective lyrics, which resulted in civil rights and anti-war anthems. At various points since, the unpredictable Dylan has only gone electric, converted from Judiasm to Christianity, recorded covers from the Great American Songbook, and earned a Nobel Prize for his lyrics. See Bob Dylan at 8 p.m. on Oct. 24 at the Au-Rene Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts ($63.75-$93.75).

Guitarist/​vocalist Dweezil Zappa had an outstanding tribute act between 2006 and 2016 to his late father, famed guitarist/​vocalist/​composer Frank Zappa (1940-1993), called Zappa Plays Zappa. Then family drama reared its ugly head. After his mother Gail Zappa died in 2015, control of the family trust was taken over by siblings Ahmet and Diva, who issued a cease-and-desist order. Hence the 49-year-old Zappa now appearing under his own name on the "Choice Cuts Tour" with personnel that includes ZPZ alumni: Adam Minkoff (vocals/​keyboards/​guitar/​keyboards), Cian Coey (vocals/​percussion), Scheila Gonzalez (saxophone/​keyboards/​vocals), Chris Norton (keyboards/​ vocals), Kurt Morgan (bass/​vocals) and Ryan Brown (drums/​vocals). See Dweezil Zappa at 7 p.m. on Oct. 24 at the Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale (954-564-1074, $30 + fees).

It seems impossible that vocalist/​guitarist Lindsey Buckingham could've been fired from Fleetwood Mac earlier this year, yet it's another cautionary tale that musical chemistry often carries even more weight within a band than talent. And talent is something that this 69-year-old artist and composer has in droves. Then-girlfriend Stevie Nicks became the new face of Fleetwood Mac when the singer and Buckingham joined the group in 1974, but it was his immaculate vocals, intricate, finger-picked guitar work and compositions that most carried the band to arena status. Ironically, he's likely to play material from his latest CD, [i]Lindsey Buckingham/​Christine McVie[i] (2017), a release that started out as Fleetwood Mac's 18th studio album. See Lindsey Buckingham at 8 p.m. on Oct. 27 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami (877-949-6722, $39-$300).

Like popular music did during the 1980s, country changed in the 1990s, primarily through the genre being influenced by music videos and outside songwriters. To his credit, 61-year-old Oklahoma native Vince Gill didn't take the bait. An open-minded singer and multi-instrumentalist, Gill started his career as a member of an acclaimed, rootsy pop band (Pure Prairie League), and bookended that with recent touring as part of the Eagles, taking the place of original member Glenn Frey, who died in 2016. Married to renowned gospel singer Amy Grant since 2000, Gill has also carved out quite a solo career over the past 40 years, becoming one of country music's most successful singer/​songwriters and breathing the rare air of an artist with more than 20 Grammy Awards. See Vince Gill at 8 p.m. on Nov. 9 at Pompano Beach Ampitheater, 1806 N.E. 6th St., Pompano Beach (561-223-7231, $39-$90).

Nostalgia may be the latest musical acid for the masses, and 71-year-old singer/​pianist Elton John is certainly no exception, but there are several reasons to spend exorbitant prices to see his "Farewell Yellow Brick Road" tour. After more than 50 years of touring, this run will be his last, and will feature some of his most enduring band mates like guitarist/​vocalist Davey Johnstone (since 1971) and drummer/​vocalist Nigel Olsson (1969). Keyboardist Kim Bullard, bassist/​vocalist Matt Bissonette, and percussionists Ray Cooper and John Mahon round out the gifted band leader's lineup, which is likely to focus on John's wealth of hits from the 1970s on albums like [i]Madman Across the Water[i] (1971), [i]Honky Chateau[i] (1972) and, of course, [i]Goodbye Yellow Brick Road[i] (1973). See Elton John at 8 p.m. on Nov. 23 and 8 p.m. on March 16 at the BB&T Center, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise (954-835-7000, $92-$9,295), and at 8 p.m. on Nov. 24 at American Airlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami (800-653-8000, $157-$1,428.75).

If anyone thinks the violin and viola are exclusively classical music instruments played by those of European ancestry within orchestras, then they haven't heard of international African-American icons like Stuff Smith (1909-1967) or Papa John Creach (1917-1994); South Florida residents Nicole Yarling and Phil McArthur, or the rising, Florida-spawned star duo of Black Violin. Violinist Kev Marcus and viola player Wil B. both attended Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, and since 2007 have blended their classical training with hip-hop rhythms to create a unique hybrid style. Along with DJ SPS and drummer Nat Stokes, they're likely to play material from their 2015 CD [i]Stereotypes[i], plus their new single, "Dreamer." See Black Violin at 8 p.m. on Nov. 26 in Dreyfoos Hall at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach (561-832-7469, $15 + up).

A common knock against the blues is that the genre is too methodical, predictable and depressing for some listeners. But those critics probably haven't listened to Marcia Ball. Born in Texas and raised in Louisiana, the 69-year-old singer and pianist is the real deal. Rather than offering standard, slow blues guitar fare, the keyboardist counters with an upbeat, rollicking take on the American musical art form evidenced by her 35-year solo recording career. Her latest release, [i]Shine Bright[i], is on one of the premier American blues recording labels, Alligator Records, and Ball -- who appeared at Austin City Limits during its inaugural year of 1976 -- will be inducted into the venue's Hall of Fame on Oct. 25. See Marcia Ball at 9 p.m. on Jan. 4 at the Funky Biscuit, 303 S.E. Mizner Blvd., Boca Raton ($30-$50).

Seventy-four-year-old vocalist Gladys Knight was a performer in the series of tribute concerts to the recently-deceased Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, which was entirely appropriate. The Atlanta native, herself nicknamed the "Empress of Soul" by the non-profit Society of Singers organization when it presented her with the ELLA Award in 2007, became a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member in 1996 when she was inducted along with her vocal group, Gladys Knight & the Pips. Also featuring her brother, Merald "Bubba" Knight, and cousins Edward Patten and William Guest, the quartet earned the soulful, impassioned singer the first two of her seven Grammy Awards for the hits "Midnight Train To Georgia" and "Neither One of Us (Wants To Be the First To Say Goodbye)." See Gladys Knight at 8 p.m. on Jan. 24 at the Au-Rene Theater ($34.50-$240.40).

Born in Louisiana in 1967, blues singer and guitarist Tab Benoit ventures even further south into swampy South Florida annually to make multi-night runs at the Funky Biscuit in Boca Raton. Benoit's 15-year recording career as a leader has earned him multiple Blues Music Awards for both his albums and individually (as the "B.B. King Entertainer of the Year"), and many of his releases remind listeners of his non-profit Voice of the Wetlands organization to promote awareness of Louisiana's receding coastal wetlands, including [i]Standing On the Bank[i] (1995), [i]Wetlands[i] (2002), [i]Voice of the Wetlands[i] (2005), and [i]Power of the Pontchartrain[i] (2007). His activism even earned Benoit the 2010 Governor's Award for "Conservationist of the Year" from the Louisiana Wildlife Federation. See Tab Benoit at 8 p.m. on Jan. 30 and 31 at the Funky Biscuit ($40-$60).

Seventy-four-year-old vocalist and Philadelphia native Patricia Louise Holt is better-known as Patti LaBelle, and best-known for her self-titled group Labelle's 1975 funk hit "Lady Marmalade" (with additional instrumentation by members of legendary New Orleans act The Meters). But she's also done plenty before and since. Roots in the church choir led to her first group, the Ordettes, in 1960. When members left to get married, the lineup was revamped with the additions of Cindy Birdsong, Sarah Dash and Nona Hendryx until Birdsong left in 1967 to join The Supremes. The remaining trio of singers formed the nucleus of Labelle, and its namesake vocalist embarked on a solo career in 1977 that led to R&B performance Grammy Award wins in 1992 (for her album [i]Burnin'[i]) and 1999 (for [i]Live! One Night Only[i]). See Patti LaBelle at 8 p.m. on Feb. 6 at Dreyfoos Hall ($35 + up).


Primarily through the influence of founding vocalist/​guitarist Peter Green, Fleetwood Mac started out as a blues band in 1967 before turning into one of the top pop acts of the 1970s. After vocalist/​guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and vocalist Stevie Nicks joined drummer Mick Fleetwood, bassist John McVie, and singer/​keyboardist Christine McVie in 1974, the quintet released chart-topping albums like its self-titled 1975 LP, [i]Rumors[i] (1977), and [i]Tusk[i] (1979). When the former Mrs. McVie (married to John from 1968-1976) departed the lineup in 1998, subsequent tours and CDs paled in comparison to their predecessors. But her return in 2014, plus the 2018 additions of vocalist/​guitarist Neil Finn (Crowded House, Split Enz) and guitarist Mike Campbell (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers) to replace the departed Buckingham, create new intrigue for a band that hasn't released a new CD since 2003 ([i]Say You Will[i]). See Fleetwood Mac at 8 p.m. on Feb. 20 at the BB&T Center ($87-$398).

Selected Works

Story
South Florida singer/songwriter Jerry Leeman's talented band, Big Medizen, specializes in tribute shows like Woodstock, The Band's [i]The Last Waltz[i], Pink Floyd's [i]Dark Side of the Moon[i], and The Beatles' [i]White Album[i].
From Elton John, Fleetwood Mac and Bob Dylan to Lauryn Hill, Black Violin and Maxwell, the 2018-2019 season in South Florida pop concerts offers contrasting nostalgia acts and those who primarily rose since the turn of the century.
The 2018-2019 season in South Florida jazz is a microcosm, and perhaps a signal that the genre is at least suffering a regional identity crisis. Veterans like pianist Chick Corea, banjoist Bela Fleck, guitarist John Scofield, vocalist Kurt Elling, and trumpeter Randy Brecker dot the late-season landscape.