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The plush, blue, velvet seats of Cinema Paradiso will all be filled this weekend, because on Saturday, the church turned movie theater undergoes another transformation, this time into a music venue. The cozy building's stone walls, picket-fenced courtyard, and stained-glass windows will provide ambiance as a powerhouse, as local musicians dole out ten hours of rock 'n' roll in every flavor there is.
"This is a chance for local bands to play more of a concert setting than a nightclub," explains Dan Hosker, one of the show's architects. He and friend Amy Baxter felt compelled to raise funds for Libby Santos and the Michael and Dianne Bienes Comprehensive Cancer Center after the disease touched them personally. So they'll be up and doing it with this weekend's event, Beat for Life.
Baxter and Hosker are longtime Florida residents and musicians (Hosker is in the double-decade-spanning group the Holy Terrors, who are on the night's bill, and Baxter was formerly in the '90s goth-rock band Black Janet), so when they compiled a list of bands to play, the show turned into a dream team of Miami, Broward, and Palm Beach acts — all excited to pitch in and participate. "It's just great to play with people who are still eager," Hosker says, "guys like Humbert, who were just born to play music, and Zombies! Organize!! — that girl spits out more words in 20 minutes than I've probably said in my entire life."
The showcase is divided up based on tympanic membrane shakeability. Its first half goes down outside in Paradiso's breezy courtyard, where you can kick back and listen to a collaboration of indie takes on jazz, country, and classical. Handling the task of MC is none other than Hollywood's own Mr. Entertainment, so in between acts like Los Diablos, the Bikes, Consider the Violet, and Brian Franklin, you'll get a peppering of Pookie Smacking. While Mr. E is scheduled to host solo, he's been given carte blanche to bring up any musical cameos he likes to perform with him between sets.
By 6 o'clock, the tone will change to LOUD as the Holy Terrors, Humbert, Tongues of the Heartworm, Fantastic Amazing, Dooms de Pop, Zombies! Organize!!, and the Amazing Dik Shuttle take turns tackling the indoor sound system. And since Cinema Paradiso is primarily a single-screen movie house, "the bands are going to be able to use the screen for graphics and stuff, so hopefully it will turn into a multimedia event as well," Hosker says.
In addition to knocking back cocktails and mingling with other music lovers, all attendees can protectively guard their bids on silent and live auction items, like a trip to Key West and artwork by local heavy hitter Francesco LoCastro. It's a show for locals, by locals, all working together to invoke change. That's a difficult thing to execute in a town that's so notoriously audience-transient. But as Hosker points out, "The phenomenon of the last 15 years is that a lot of musicians have decided to stay. And we might as well do something while we're here."