A very cool venue on a very cool street is hosting the Christian faithful Saturday night, when local young believers are coming to Coastars Coffee Bar to make music and social justice. We'd go just to see how husband-and-wife team the Vegas and their flock blend in with the hipsters of Propaganda next door and the blues fans from the Bamboo Room down the street.
The show is in support of END IT, a coalition of organizations that work to disrupt and eradicate slavery in all its contemporary forms -- human trafficking, child labor, the global sex trade. Step one, and the purpose of the Coastars show, is to raise awareness, let people know that slavery still exists, with an estimated 27 million men, women and children in its grip worldwide.
Melissa and Willy Vega (they're hot, right? check the pic) open the show. She's a Miami girl whose family fled Cuba when she was six, while he spent his childhood in Switzerland and Colombia, with a Peruvian father and Colombian mother. They're both recent graduates of the music program at Palm Beach Atlantic University, where he studied classical voice and she classical piano.
As a duo, they write music and lyrics that are more contemporary. Melissa says she's into "folk and indie." Willy's down with "R&B and soul." Get them together, Willy says, and "our sound has a little bit of everything." For Saturday's show they're sharing chores on guitar and piano, and performing a set of "soul folk" covers, with material from Bob Marley, Emeli Sandé, and others.
The night's featured guest is Shawn Allen, who's a bit of an itinerant preacher lately, new to South Florida with his wife Sara and three adopted kids. He's older than the Vegas, a keyboardist and multi-instumentalist whose blog he calls JazzySaint. He promises a set of "jazz/blues with spiritual lyrical content, syncopation and some Latin flavor."
All three performers' lives are immersed in religion. The Vegas are regulars at Grace Fellowship, a WPB Christian church with a strong youth and musical component. Shawn Allen is affiliated there, with a mission he calls Mosaix Church, which he brought here because, he says, "experts say 90% of the people in South Florida are spiritually lost." (We'd have guessed the number was higher.)
END IT also has Christian roots, the brain child of Atlanta area preacher Lou Giglio. He was invited to speak at this year's presidential inauguration in recognition of that work, until a mid-'90s sermon of his, denouncing the "gay agenda," went viral, and he was dropped from the program.
Giglio hasn't totally renounced those views, but his public statement on the issue has been enough to make him an outcast among the fire and brimstone crowd. Giglio and END IT are supposedly representative of the "new breed Jesus Generation." Saturday will show if they can rock.
The Vegas with Shawn Allen, 7 p.m., Saturday, May 11, at Coastars Coffee Bar, 12 S. J Street, Lake Worth. Visit coastarscoffee.com.
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