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Weekend preview: Good friends, music and laughs

20+ things to do in South Florida this weekend and beyond.

On his retirement in June after 33 years of teaching AP history, most recently at Cypress Bay High School in Weston, Jim Wurster found himself at a surprise gathering of friends and colleagues, who had tricked him into visiting Luna Star Café to hear the debut of a young musician. They were there to celebrate the end of his teaching career, but that wasn’t the big surprise.

The true purpose of the evening came when guitarist and fellow Cypress Bay teacher Eric Adzima, who had organized the party, took the stage and launched into a throbbing, punk version of “Big Surprise,” from Wurster’s gracefully gritty 2014 album, “Raw.” This was just the beginning for Wurster, onetime leader of influential rockers Black Janet and a revered éminence grise of the South Florida singer-songwriter scene.

One after one, some of the area’s most respected musicians and songwriters stood up to offer a personal take on music crafted by Wurster over nearly three decades. Charlie Pickett did a rollicking “Goodbye Paradise,” the title track from Wurster’s 1994 solo debut album. Shark Valley Sisters’ Rob Elba was backed by Wurster’s band, the Atomic Cowboys, to give the folky ballad “Party Girl” (off 2016’s excellent “No Joke”) a raving swagger. Blue Sky Drive reimagined Black Janet’s “Love Thirsty” with a spare, acoustic yearning.

Among other performers that night were Matt Sabatella, Diane Ward, Jack Shawde, Karen Feldner, Daphna Rose, Omine, Matt Calderin, Amy Baxter, Brian Franklin, George Zhen, Chris DeAngelis, Bob and Jill Wlos, John Wiliamson and Ellen Patterson, and the Fortune Tellers.

So energized was Wurster by hearing these versions of his songs that he decided they should be saved for posterity and shared, a project that has yielded a new double album, “3 Chords & a Chorus of Lust: Songs of Jim Wurster.”

“To say I am deeply humbled and honored to have collaborated with several of South Florida’s best on this opus is beyond an understatement,” Wurster says.   

The album is one of several projects Wurster has brewing with friend Rich Ulloa’s Y&T Records, which Wurster says is committed to supporting “endeavors that educate and inform lives.”

That effort begins with a “3 Chords” release party and benefit beginning 8 p.m. Friday at Luna Star Café, which will feature performances by Wurster and many of the musicians heard on the album. Admission is a suggested contribution of $10, with all proceeds from the event and the CD sales that night going to a charity dear to Wurster’s heart, 100+ Abandoned Dogs of Everglades Florida Rescue (100PlusAbandonedDogsOfEvergladesFlorida.org). Luna Star is at 775 NE 125 St., in North Miami. Call 305-799-7123 or visit LunaStarCafe.com. For more information about the album, visit JimWurster.com.

WEEKEND MOVIE

When author James Baldwin died in 1987, he left behind 30 pages of a manuscript for a book titled “Remember This House,” a personal account of the lives and successive assassinations of his close friends Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Using the words on those pages (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson) and a trove of archival material, some provided by Baldwin’s estate, filmmaker Raoul Peck created the documentary “I Am Not Your Negro,”  a remarkable look at the decades-long national conversation about race in America, a reminder of vital questions unanswered and unasked. “I Am Not Your Negro” is nominated for a best-documentary Oscar and opens in South Florida on Friday at O Cinema Wynwood (O-Cinema.org) and Regal South Beach 18 (RegMovies.com). For more information, visit IAmNotYourNegroFilm.com.

COREY JONES' MUSIC

The music and memory of Corey Jones will be honored 9 p.m. Friday at the Arts Garage in Delray Beach with a release party for an album created from home recordings made by the late Future Prezidents drummer. The Boynton Beach resident was shot and killed by a Palm Beach Gardens police officer in 2015 after Jones’ car was disabled on Interstate 95. Jones made the drum tracks performing with the Delray Beach-based band Michaux, formed in 2013 by Chris Michaud, Eric Perna, Robert Humphreys and Jones. Along with Michaux, Friday night’s performers include Hello Elevator and Hillside Spirit Revival, with all proceeds from the $10 cover going to the Corey Jones Scholarship Fund. Word is that the event is nearly sold out. A good thing. Info: Facebook.com/MichauxBand.

VILE CROWD

There are tickets ($30) available for guitar hero Kurt Vile’s show on Thursday (Feb. 2) at the North Beach Bandshell, a Poplife-sponsored concert that is part of the extended tour backing his 2015 album “B'lieve I’m Goin’ Down.” While Vile is leaning on songs from that fine release, it’s good to see that he’s also been doing older cuts, including “Puppet to the Man” from 2011’s “Smoke Ring for My Halo.” Get tickets at PopLifePresents.com. Also be aware there’s an after party beginning at 10 p.m. at the Anderson (709 NE 79th St., Miami) that will include DJ sets from Danny Kokomo of the Jacuzzi Boys, Tony Laurencio of Afrobeta and Lauren Palma of Bleeth. Admission free with an RSVP.

RUM AND SMOKE

The fifth annual Tropical Rum Festival returns to the Meyer Amphitheater in downtown West Palm Beach 3-10 p.m. Saturday, with food and drink, plus music from Future Prezidents, Rootz Underground, Jah Steve, Artikal Sound System, Jove Rockwell and others, all presided over by Kulcha Shok MC Lance-O. Tickets: $50. Info: TropicalRumFest.com.

WEEKEND BEER

Beer community organizers SFLHops will throw their second-anniversary festival 2-6 p.m. Saturday at Fort Lauderdale's Craft Beer Cartel (Facebook.com/CraftBeerCartel), where some of South Florida’s favorite breweries will gather for good times and a good cause, the local nonprofit, no-kill animal rescue Animal Aid Inc. The afternoon will have food trucks, live music (Spitfire Dave) and plenty of refreshments from the usual unusual suspects, including Funky Buddha, Lincoln's Beard, Descarga, FIU Brewing, Devour, Holy Mackerel, Concrete Beach, the Tank and many more. Tickets are $35-$40, which includes unlimited samples. For a limited time, the group is offering $10 off with a code: sflhops. There’s also a VIP bottle-share component. More info: Meetup.com/SFLHops.

WEEKEND MOVIE II

With 14 Oscar nominations, “La La Land” is a cultural thing of some kind, a conversation starter at the very least, and in danger of becoming an enduring punchline (starting with the hilarious “Law & Order”-style interrogation of “La La Land” detractor Aziz Ansari on  “Saturday Night Live”). But who can quarrel with an earnest attempt to modernize the big-screen musical for today’s audience? Surely it’s a victim of its own success: Would it feel better if the film had only garnered two or three Oscar nominations? Maybe its song-and-dance charms just need to be bigger, as in IMAX big. Beginning Friday, “La La Land” can be seen on the new 4K IMAX laser projection system at the Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale, a one-week-only run with multiple daily screenings. Info: MODS.org.

WEEKEND LAUGHS

No subject is off limits for Lisa Lampanelli, performing at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood 8 p.m. Saturday, when she’ll let the audience drive during a 45-minute Q&A segment. As she told the Orlando Sentinel’s Hal Boedeker, she’ll answer questions about everything from her 100-pound weight loss to her experiences with the new president (Lampanelli was among the final four contestants on “Celebrity Apprentice” in 2012, raising more than $100,000 for Gay Men’s Health Crisis). “I just tell the truth. Trump never did anything bad to me. He’s about to, I’m sure,” Lampanelli says in the interview. “He respected me, he treated me great on the show, but I’ve got funny stories, so I’ve got to talk about it.” Tickets are $40-$60. Info: MyHRL.com.

GLASS PIECES

The cultural zeitgeist this week buzzed with laudatory words for Philip Glass, who turned 80 with the performance of a new symphony, his 11th, Tuesday night at Carnegie Hall.  This weekend at Fort Lauderdale’s Broward Center, Miami City Ballet offers its own appreciation in “Glass Pieces,” matching the composer’s music to Jerome Robbins’ choreography. The performance is part of MCB’s Program 2, which includes George Balanchine’s “Serenade,” Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s “Carousel Pas De Deux” and Peter Martins’ “Calcium Night Light,” 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $20-$189. Info: BrowardCenter.org, MiamiCityBallet.org.

WEEKEND LAUGHS II

The toast of Europe and, recently, Stephen Colbert’s talk show, Casablanca-born comedian Gad Elmaleh is making his way around America to see what there is to see. We could use a different perspective. Catch him 8 p.m. Saturday at the Olympia Theater in Miami. Tickets: $35-$55. Info: OlympiaTheater.org.

SUPER SIZE YOU

As you may have heard, there’s a big football game at 6:30 p.m. Sunday. For the first time in what seems like forever, the host of Big 105.9’s “Paul Castronovo Show” will be hosting the sofas-in-the-street Super Bowl Party on Himmarshee’s main drag in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Tarpon Bend Food and Tackle and Himmarshee Public House will be vying for your affections with food and drink, and they’ll be showing the game on a 16-foot screen. Admission is free, but there’s a VIP ($100 advance) if you roll like that. Info: DowntownSuperBlockParty.Eventbrite.com.

WANT TO RACE?

The drag-racing event called Fast Lane Friday returns to Homestead-Miami Speedway 6 p.m.-midnight Friday, when you can race your street-legal car against other drivers on the Speedway’s 1/8-mile drag strip. The event, presented by the Ticket Clinic, is open anyone 18 and older with a valid driver’s license and proof of registration and insurance. The cost is $20 for participants (unlimited races), $10 for spectators, 12 and younger free. Info: HomesteadMiamiSpeedway.com.

BOOTY CALL

Consider yourself warned. Now in its 25th year, the Florida Renaissance Festival returns Feb. 11-March 26 at Quiet Waters Park in Deerfield Beach, opening with the swashbuckling Pirates Weekend. Tickets are on sale now: $21 per day (plus tax; $9 ages 6-11), or $75 for a season pass (plus tax; $35 ages 6-11). Info: Ren-Fest.com.

GOTTA HAVE THAT FUNK

The word “funk” gets tossed around so much it’s hard to have a feel for its true definition. Fred Wesley can show you. The trombonist and bandleader was a musical director for James Brown and blew on some of the funk genre’s definitive songs, including “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud,” “Hot Pants” and “Good Foot.” Beginning at 6 p.m. Saturday at the North Beach Bandshell on Miami Beach, the A Day at the Beach series, sponsored by Community Arts & Culture, will throw an event called A Mid-Winter's Funk Fantasy, featuring Wesley and his band, joined by Roosevelt Collier’s Phunk Phactory, DJ Le Spam and students from Guitars Over Guns. Tickets: $30. Info: CommunityArtsAndCulture.org.

WEEKEND COCKTAIL

Saturday is National Pisco Sour Day in Peru, and both the Wynwood and downtown Fort Lauderdale locations of Suviche will celebrate noon-7 p.m. with bottomless Pisco Sour cocktails for $18. You can go traditional (fresh squeezed lime juice, simple syrup and a dash of egg whites) or adding a signature macerado, an infusion made with anything from fresh berries and herbs to lychees and, of course, gummy bears. Info: Facebook.com/Suviche.

BASEMENT PARTY

Tickets ($25) are now on sale to catch the Roots’ Questlove at the weekly Boombox party 11 p.m. Feb. 11 at Basement Miami, located in Ian Schrager’s swank Miami Beach Edition hotel. DJ-producer Spinser Tracy will be among others joining in. Info: Facebook.com/BasementMiami.

OTHER VOICES, OTHER ROOMS

Boca Raton singer Chloe Dolandis does the Normandy Fountain music series 6-9 p.m. Friday on Miami Beach (Facebook.com/ChloeDolandisMusic) … Miami rumba punks Askultura celebrates the release of “The Marinara Mixtapes, Vol. 1” Friday night at Churchill’s in Miami, joined by the Goddamn Hustle, the Gazms, No Name Ska Band and others (Facebook.com/ASKUaskultura) … The Diane Ward Band plays Woody’s West End Tavern in Miami Springs 7 p.m. Saturday (Facebook.com/DianeWardMusic) … The Zoo Peculiar plays music from the new CD “Lo & Behold!” 9 p.m. Saturday at Propaganda in Lake Worth, a show that also includes Peyote Coyote, Bleubird, the Grumps and the Side Cirque Sideshow (Facebook.com/ZooPeculiar) … The Allmans-inspired Whipping Post plays the Downtowner in Fort Lauderdale 8 p.m. Saturday (TheHistoricDowntowner.com) … The Margate Sounds at Sundown series has food trucks, vendors and country-rock from Rough Shot 5-10 p.m. Saturday (Facebook.com/RoughShotBand) … The acclaimed DCA Jazz Ensemble plays the Essentially Ellington Regional Jazz Festival 8 p.m. Saturday at Dillard Center for the Arts in Fort Lauderdale (Facebook.com/DillardCenterForTheArts).

bcrandell@sun-sentinel.com

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