Inside Stache, the sign-less speakeasy in downtown Fort Lauderdale, it's dimly lit and ornately decorated with parlor-style seating. In the main room, a wall is handily stacked to the ceiling with libations.
The classy venue hosted a special fundraising event for a homeless advocacy nonprofit that's been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons. Love Thy Neighbor is headed by nonagenarian, World War II veteran Arnold Abbott, a frail man whose looks bely his strength. He's got a golden ticker and a firm handshake. Abbott was recently cited several times by the police for feeding the homeless in Fort Lauderdale.
The combat-tested Abbott, who says he's been "fighting for the underdog all my life," spent 50 years fighting for civil rights. At Saturday's event, he reminisced about going to Mississippi in 1964 to help African Americans register to vote. He's not bothered by the recent police action and is determined to bring equality for and fairness to the homeless.
"That's what I'm fighting for, to have these people treated like everybody else," he said. Abbott also runs a culinary apprenticeship program with local activist Stanley Jackson, which helps to place the homeless in gainful employment.
Saturday night was all about raising money for his primary organization through classic tunes. Local Beatles tribute act the Beethose played the entirety of the Fab Four's double album known as the White Album. The supergroup took requests for pay during a third jukebox set.
To set the mood, the band had a slideshow of Beatles imagery projected on a screen over the stage throughout the evening, including shots of the band in-studio, with the Maharishi Mahesh, the requisite portrait of band interloper and vocal whiner Yoko Ono and the White Album cover.
The crowd was multi-generational, including people who would have been alive to experience the real thing and young hip music lovers too. People slowly filed in, as lead singer, bassist, and founding member Jim Camacho, playing the role of Paul McCartney, welcomed and thanked the crowd. From the first notes of "Back in the U.S.S.R.," the band took off on a nearly three hour flight of musical fancy.
Keyboardist and John Lennon stand-in Chris Price, he of the Jeff Healy-like lap-top, finger-picking guitar style, led a tender and emotive "Dear Prudence." "I'm a piano player used to looking down and playing a flat surface," he explained of his unconventional style. Price is the songwriting partner of Camacho and the other half of a production team with fellow Beethose Fernando Perdomo.
Perdomo dedicated "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" and the entire evening to the late local guitarist and part-time Beethose member Domingo "Mingui" Perez. Perdomo is another founding member of the band and played all of George Harrison's lead guitar parts. Another standout track followed soon after, "My Guitar Gently Weeps," sung by Chris Alvy that featured a blistering recreation of the original Eric Clapton solo by Perdomo.