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The Sh-Booms Bring New Life to '60s Soul

[Update: Tonight's show has been cancelled but the Bamboo Room event is still on.]

Raising the roof in Orlando with music born out of Memphis and Detroit, the Sh-Booms revive the sound and showmanship (the look, the steps) of classic '60s soul -- boisterous, tight, and buttery smooth all at once. Two gigs coming up this week and next will mark the band's debut in Palm Beach County.

See also:

- New Beat Soul Club Brings Northern Soul Revival to Respectable Street

Sh-Booms mainspring Al "The Thump" Ruiz, the group's bassist and songwriter/arranger, told New Times his inspiration in starting the band almost three years ago was a hand-me-down.

"My parents were into the soul scene in New Haven and Chicago," he said, "record hops and that kind of thing. My mother appeared on Connecticut Bandstand, and her sister was on American Bandstand. So I've been drawn to it for a long time, that '60s thing, man, soul, garage rock..."

Built around a core group of six -- Ruiz, vocalist Emily "The Chirp" Patterson, percussionist Kevin "The Skin Blaster" Connolly, alto saxophonist Samson Derrer, pianist Earl "The Spark Jiver" Hoback, and guitarist Davis "Twinkle Toes" Schleicher -- the Sh-Booms lineup varies with venue, incorporating enough additional musicians at times to appear as a 12-piece. They've become a mainstay of Orlando-area nightlife, playing all the chief local clubs and garnering awards.

Patterson is the band's not-so-secret weapon, both glamourous and earthy, with a voice that can rattle the rafters and shiver the spine. "I was looking for a vocalist so I could concentrate on songwriting," Ruiz said. "We'd been looking for a while, but when we met Emily, we knew right away. It was Samson who introduced us, and I told him 'What took you so long?'

"It's not a full-time gig yet," Ruiz said. "But things are going really well, and the business side of things is coming together. There's not a lot of bands going this route."

The Sh-Booms, from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 6 (show cancelled due to inclement weather), at Mainstreet at Midtown, Palm Beach Gardens. Saturday, March 15, from 9 p.m. to midnight at Bamboo Room, 25 S. "J" St., Lake Worth.

Fire Ant -- an invasive species, tinged bright red, with an annoying, sometimes-fatal sting -- covers politics, activism, the environment and culture in Palm Beach County and elsewhere. Got feedback or a tip? Contact

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