SunFest 2023 story - April issue of Palms West Journal
Before it became "Florida's largest waterfront music and art festival," SunFest had to learn to crawl. Its first installation in 1983 was a 10-day grassroots series that featured mostly community orchestras and area jazz performers.
From May 5-7, SunFest officially turns 40 years old -- and while its hundreds of visual artisans remains a constant along the Intracoastal Waterway in downtown West Palm Beach, the event looks very different musically in its middle age.
SunFest accelerated through the 1980s by booking international artists from the realms of pop/R&B (Blood, Sweat & Tears), blues (John Lee Hooker) and jazz/fusion (Steps Ahead). Much of the growth since has occurred under the guidance of Paul Jamieson, who joined the organization in 1990 and has been its executive director since 1996.
"Even by 1996," Jamieson says, "I think SunFest was still mostly a community-based event that primarily drew people from this area. We've certainly grown since then."
Some of the biggest names from across all musical genres have appeared over the past 30 years, including Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, James Brown, Bonnie Raitt, James Taylor, Jeff Beck, Ice Cube, Herbie Hancock, Carrie Underwood, Buddy Guy, Snoop Dogg, Sheryl Crow, Jackson Browne, Jimmy Cliff, Gregg Allman, Hall & Oates, and Crosby, Stills & Nash.
A four-day festival for most of its first decade, SunFest experienced its biggest growth spurt over the next 25 years by going to a five-day format. In 2018, it cut its calendar back to four days. This year's SunFest is cut to three days, with its usual three stages reduced to two.
"SunFest has always evolved over its 40-year history," says Jamieson. "The decision to change the festival by reducing a day and stage is simply another example of that ongoing evolution. Doing so while increasing the talent budget allowed us to book high-caliber artists such as The Chainsmokers, Jack Johnson and The Killers. Any one of those acts would have been the biggest name in almost any year of the festival's history, and they're all here in 2023."
The headliners on the main Ford Stage (located on Flagler Drive between North and South Clematis Streets) are those rock and pop acts The Chainsmokers, Jack Johnson, and The Killers. On the Ideal Nutrition Stage (on Flagler Drive at the Meyer Ampitheater), it's the hip-hop and funk of closers Flo Rida, A Boogie with da Hoodie, and 311.
Many of the bands and artists preceding those headliners are Florida-based acts -- who get a rare chance to experience such spacious stages, massive sound and lighting systems, and oversized crowds. Some of those include Miami R&B duo Soulpax, Cape Coral reggae band NostalJah, and Boynton Beach variety act Vibes Farm.
"We've always been committed to keeping local performers at SunFest," Jamieson says. "There is a very vibrant local music scene."
On May 5, see East Harbor (6:30-7 p.m.), PLS&TY (7:30-8 p.m.), Anabel Englund (8:30-9:15 p.m.) and The Chainsmokers (9:45-11 p.m.) on the Ford Stage, and Soulpax (5:45-6:15 p.m.), The Nameless (6:45-7:15 p.m.), LAYA (7:45-8:15 p.m.) and Flo Rida (8:45-10 p.m.) on the Ideal Nutrition Stage.
On May 6, see NostalJah (1:45-2:15 p.m.), ALO (2:45-3:45 p.m.), Ziggy Marley (4:15-5:45 p.m.), Allegra Miles (6:45-7:15 p.m.), The Hip Abduction (7:45-8:45 p.m.), and Jack Johnson (9:30-11 p.m.) on the Ford Stage, and PRATO (1:15-1:45 p.m.), ARDN (2:15-2:45 p.m.), Surfaces (3:15-4:15 p.m.), GVIN (5-5:30 p.m.), RazzaMoore (6-6:30 p.m.), Fedd the God (7-7:45 p.m.) and A Boogie wit da Hoodie (8:15-9:30 p.m.) on the Ideal Nutrition Stage.
On May 7, see Gatlin (2:15-3:15 p.m.), Dropkick Murphys (3:45-5 p.m.), and The Killers (8:30-10 p.m.) on the Ford Stage (6-6:30 p.m. and 7-8 p.m. slots remain to be determined), and Leave It To Us (12:30-1 p.m.), Charlotte Sands (1:30-2:15 p.m.), All Time Low (2:45-4 p.m.), Vibes Farm (5-5:30 p.m.), Surfer Girl (6-6:45 p.m.), and 311 (7:15-8:30 p.m.) on the Ideal Nutrition Stage.
SunFest runs from 5-11 p.m. May 5, noon-11 p.m. May 6 and noon-10 p.m. May 7 along the Intracoastal Waterway on Flagler Drive between Banyan Boulevard and Lakeview Avenue in downtown West Palm Beach. Tickets: $80 for one-day passes; $150 for three-day passes, with VIP, group and other add-on packages available.
For further information, call 800-SUNFEST (786-3378) or visit www.sunfest.com.
Brian Crowley story - April issue of Palm Beach Arts Paper
For everyone who's attained any level of celebrity, there's almost always an Achilles' heel -- and it usually involves, overtly or covertly, that person taking themselves too seriously.
Brian Crowley, author of his online [i]Crowley Political Report[i] (crowleypoliticalreport.com) and political analyst on the weekly Sunday morning [i]To the Point[i] program on WPTV, certainly doesn't appear to be one of them.
"What interest would you possibly have in interviewing someone like me?" he asks.
Sitting at the Starbucks at Belvedere Road and U.S. Hwy. 1 in West Palm Beach, the veteran political commentator blends in as a former political editor, metro editor, editorial writer and Tallahassee bureau chief for the [i]Palm Beach Post[i] (headquartered directly next-door to the coffee shop). His work has also appeared in publications like the [i]Washington Post[i], [i]Wall Street Journal[i], and [i]Politico[i].
Born in New Jersey, Crowley moved to the Sunshine State in his youth, and practically hit the ground running as one of the state's future political experts.
"I worked for the [i]Palm Beach Post[i] from 1980 to 2008," Crowley says. "I was metro editor for a couple years, and spent a couple years on the opinion side. But politics was always what I wanted to do. I was a product of the times, having graduated from what was then Riviera Beach High School in 1968, a year when there was a lot of national turmoil going on. Then I attended Palm Beach Junior [now State] College and the University of South Florida, and was in the U.S. Marine Corps for four years."
Casually dressed, with his recognizable glasses, professorial gray hair and beard, Crowley looks every bit the semi-retired, 70-something journalist who's been married for decades, complete with kids and grandkids. Some passers-by recognize him and say hello.
His archives on the [i]Crowley Political Report[i] go back to April of 2010 and include illustrations by his brother Pat Crowley, whose own credits range from [i]Time[i], [i]Newsweek[i] and the [i]New York Times[i] to the [i]Palm Beach Post[i] and [i]Palm Beach Arts Paper[i]. Those archives run up to March of 2022, the point at which Crowley decided to downshift, other than recording the [i]To The Point[i] episodes with WPTV nightly news co-anchor Michael Williams, plus one more endeavor.
"I'm working on a book about a family mystery in 1950s-1960s Florida," he says.
Frequent [i]Crowley Political Report[i] topics have included commentary on the work of Florida governors Charlie Crist, Jeb Bush, Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis; senators Scott and Marco Rubio, congressman Brian Mast, presidents Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden, and the two major American political parties.
"I've watched the changes in Florida since [former Republican governor] Jeb Bush took office," Crowley says, "and the Democratic party here has been getting weaker ever since [former Democratic governor] Lawton Chiles died in 1998. The state has 400,000 more registered Republicans now."
Other recurring online themes include campaign advertising and financing, and the value of political polls.
"I don't predict elections, and never have," Crowley says. "I think there's a lot of sloppiness and silliness in polling. With some of them, the margin of error is six percent, and that could be in either direction. In that case, you might as well just call your mother and ask."
Crowley isn't a registered voter within either major political party, and always attempts a down-the-middle, compromise-nuanced approach to critiquing both Republicans and Democrats.
"I've had the head of the Florida Democratic party introduce me by saying, 'He's one of us.' And I'd just smile and say nothing, because the same thing would happen with Republicans. And I get comments and emails from people in both parties telling me that they appreciate that I try to be more analytical and less judgmental. And if I can get that far, then I know they're listening."
Williams, who's also the WPTV NewsChannel 5 nightly news co-anchor, has the look and delivery of most national news anchors. His rapport with Crowley takes [i]To The Point[i] to a higher level, and he allows his colleague the last word through his "Crowley Closer." Williams also seems to be another Florida celebrity who appears not to take themselves too seriously, and perhaps made the purposeful choice not to pursue a wider audience through advancement.
"I think that's partially by choice," Crowley says. "There are probably family reasons. He lives in north Miami and has three adult daughters. He's a great guy. We record those programs at the WPTV studio in West Palm Beach on Fridays."
"To the Point" airs at 10 a.m. Sundays on WPTV.