Soul Survivors

Those sweet '70s sounds return

SUN 3/21 The long stretch of musical mishmash known as the 1970s began with the demise of the Beatles and ended with disco. But somewhere amid the 11-minute prog-rock songs and pre-drug-addicted teen idols were a number of soul bands emerging from the '60s with a fresh, new sound. Unlike funkier, bluesy Stax Records artists like Otis Redding, this new type of soul -- dubbed "Philly soul" for its main city of origin -- put forth a sweeter, smoother pop sound, using complex hooks and a heavy dose of stringed instruments. At the forefront of the genre were the Delfonics, the Chi-lites, the Stylistics, and Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. Though it's three decades later, these groups still deliver their soul-stirring hits as part of the "'70s Soul Jam" tour. The Delfonics, under the wing of producer Thom Bell, helped establish the Philly sound. The group scored its first big hit with 1968's "La-La (Means I Love You)" before starting off the '70s with "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)." While not from Philadelphia, Chicago's Chi-Lites imported sounds from the City of Brotherly Love, with ballads such as "Have You Seen Her" and political songs like "(For God's Sake) Give More Power to the People." Also employing Bell as a producer, the Stylistics conquered the charts with 12 top ten hits, including "You Are Everything," "You Make Me Feel Brand New," and "I'm Stone in Love with You." The richly textured songs, mostly ballads, carry the falsetto lead of vocalist Russell Thompkins Jr. Despite the death of band founder Harold Melvin in 1997, the Blue Notes still carry on in Melvin's name. Led by vocalist Sharon Paige, who joined the group in the mid-'70s, the Blue Notes continue to deliver emotionally charged, Billboard-topping classics such as "If You Don't Know Me by Now," "The Love I Lost," and "Hope That We Can Be Together Soon." Hosted by none other than Kid Dy-no-mite, Jimmy "JJ" Walker of Good Timesfame, the '70s Soul Jam breezes into Mizner Park Amphitheater (433 Plaza Real, Boca Raton). Call 561-962-4109. -- Jason BudjinskiBowing Out

The last dance

FRI 3/19 As the Miami City Ballet closes out its Program IV with the premiere of Twyla Tharp's Nine Sinatra Songs and George Balanchine's Symphony in C and Diamonds, two of its famed dancers will take their last curtain call. The partnership that began in a Venezuelan ballet school for Iliana Lopez and husband Franklin Gamero has lasted 17 years with the Miami City Ballet. The intertwined lives and careers have served the two, Lopez notes. "It is wonderful because we share a profession that not everybody understands," she says. "And we have a lot of chemistry together on-stage that comes from love and the special things we have in common." As Gamero and Lopez head off into retirement, don't expect the arthritis to set in right away; the two are only in their early 40s and will continue to teach. Lopez has mixed emotions for their final performance. "It is a lot of happiness and sadness all together," she says, "but what we are going to miss most is the stage." The dancers take their final bow Friday, March 19, through Sunday, March 21, at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale). -- Terra SullivanClass Reunion

Shooting for the stars

WED 3/24 Quick! The stars of Saturday Night Live are coming! Who, you ask? No, not Mike Myers; sorry. No, not Adam Sandler, nor David Spade. Who, then? Why, Joe Piscopo, Victoria Jackson, and Kevin Nealon, the trio coming March 24 to the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts (701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach). They may not be on the A-list of SNL stars, but they kept us suitably entertained with characters like Nealon's Subliminal Man or Piscopo's Frank Sinatra impersonation -- the latter being the focus of Piscopo's recent (gasp!) tribute band (though to be fair, Dan Aykroyd's latest musical endeavors are a far cry from The Blues Brothers). Like all good celebrities, these are three comedians with a cause... or at least, their own individual causes to champion, from animals (Nealon) to kids (Piscopo) to Jesus (Jackson). OK, so their careers didn't take off like those of their more successful alumni, but they were a good hoot nonetheless. Show starts at 8 p.m. Call 561-832-7469. -- Jason BudjinskiMozart Cubed

FRI 3/19 Although the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra went silent last year when its bank account ran dry, that didn't stop its singers -- formerly the Florida Philharmonic Chorus, now the Master Chorale of South Florida -- from picking themselves up and dusting off their black frocks to continue making great music. Accompanied by former Philharmonic Orchestra instrumentalists, the chorus performs three Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart selections at three locations this weekend. These include Te Deum, which "Wolfie" composed at the age of 13, and Requiem, or Mass for the Dead, which came at the end of Mozart's life. Performances take place at 8 p.m. Friday, March 19, at St. Jude's Catholic Church in Boca Raton (21689 Toledo Rd.); at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 20, at the Second Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale (1400 N. Federal Hwy.); and at 4 p.m. Sunday, March 21, at the First United Methodist Church in Coral Gables (536 Coral Way). Tickets cost $20 in advance, $25 at the door. Call 954-418-6232, or visit www.masterchoraleofsouthflorida.org. -- Michele D. Omenson

 
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