The Go Guide Places, people and life with Ben Crandell

Weekend preview: Spring has officially sprung

This is the weekend when we’ll find the sidewalks in downtown Fort Lauderdale packed with distracted fun seekers, drinks in hand and a little attitude on their tongues. Let’s hope they’re gone before the spring breakers show up.

A rite of spring, the annual confluence of the Las Olas Art Fair at the eastern edge of downtown and the monthly Sunday Jazz Brunch along the New River on the west side, will again lead to a merry collision of fans of music, art and fresh air on Sunday, stretching from the Broward Center to pedestrians-only Las Olas as far as the hot block of restaurants that is home to Louis Bossi and B Square Burger and Booze.

This year, however, the crowds also will include the throng attending the inaugural Fort Lauderdale Taste of Little Italy festival Friday-Sunday on Las Olas at Huizenga Park. Along with the food and drink you might expect, the music will be a draw, with performances by Frank Stallone (8 p.m. Friday) and “America’s Got Talent” crooner Sal Valentinetti (8 p.m. Saturday).

A  21-year-old Long Island resident, Valentinetti was a favorite of “AGT” judge Heidi Klum for his big-voiced versions of Sinatra staples “My Way” and “That’s Life,” along with Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife.” But Valentinetti also showed  he has more up his sleeve with a swinging interpretation of One Direction’s “Story of My Life.”

The Taste of Little Italy festival is 3-10 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday in Huizenga Park, at the corner of Las Olas Bolulevard and Andrews Avenue. Admission: $10, 12 and younger free. Info: FTLauderdaleItalianFestival.com.

While all of this is going on, the guys at the bustling American Social on Las Olas, always willing to stir the pot, will shrewdly take advantage of the pedestrian theme by taking over their block of Eighth Avenue at Las Olas (already closed to cars for the art fair) to throw a party called Drink Around America. Why? Do you need a reason? From 7 p.m. to midnight Saturday, they’ll divide the street into distinct zones, including Texas (where they’ll serve $9 Tito's cocktails), California ($7 red wine), Hawaii ($8 Malibu cocktails), Colorado ($4 Coors Light, $5 Blue Moon), Kentucky ($10 Maker’s Mark cocktails) and Louisiana ($8 Bacardi Hurricanes, $5 Abita Purple Haze). DJ Remy may not be the only one spinning. Info: Facebook.com/AmericanSocial.

The 29th annual Las Olas Art Fair turns the city’s tourist thoroughfare into a pedestrian-only mall 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, showing works by more than 200 artists. Admission is free. Info: ArtFestival.com.

The JM Lexus Sunday Jazz Brunch is 11 a.m.-2 p.m., with picnickers, food and drink vendors spread out under the trees between three stages along the Riverwalk. Performing this time are the Mike Norris Big Band (Esplanade Park Pavilion),  the Randy Corinthian Jazz Quintet (Connie Hoffmann Gazebo) and Meryl Tanenger Trio (Peck Courtyard). Admission is free. Info: GoRiverwalk.com.

SPAM MASH

The New World Symphony and conductor Dean Whiteside let their hair down 9 p.m.-midnight Friday for Pulse, a party that turns the New World Center into a sexy lounge with club-style lighting and videos, mash-ups of classical and turntable music featuring DJ Le Spam and the Spam Allstars (including two collaborations with Sam Hyken) and the modern moves of the Rosie Herrera Dance Theatre. Tickets: $45. Info: NWS.edu/Pulse.

GET DOWN TO BIDDINES

At some point, maybe soon, soulful, reflective West Palm Beach rapper Eric Biddines is going to get too big to play local club concerts. But we’re not there yet. On Saturday at 9 p.m. Biddines will play a free show at Propaganda in Lake Worth to introduce his excellent new album, “The Local Café.”  Info: Facebook.com/EricBiddines, PropagandaLW.com. Hit the link for an Eric Biddines interview.

WEEKEND MOVIE

If you are interested in hearing what it felt like to witness the strange denouement at the Academy Awards last Sunday night, Oscar winner Tarell Alvin McCraney will introduce his film, the Miami-set Best Picture winner “Moonlight,”  9 p.m. Friday at O Cinema Wynwood. Tickets: $11, students and seniors $9.50. Info: O-Cinema.org.

WEEKEND SOUNDTRACK

So, yeah, it’s Okeechobee Music Festival weekend. Which is cool and not, since I can’t make these shows: Gold Dust Lounge at Luna Star Café 8 p.m. Friday with Buffalo Brown, Barry Stock, Matthew Sabatella, Henk Milne and Cog Nomen opening. Hurts to miss that. (Facebook.com/TheGoldDustLounge) … Suenalo 9 p.m. Friday at the three-day Yardfest at Wynwood Yard (TheWynwoodYard.com) …  Denudes and Milkspot doing an in-store at Radio-Active Records in Fort Lauderdale 7 p.m. Saturday  (Facebook.com/RadioActiveRecords ) … Bloodshot Bill with the Wildtones at Gramps 8 p.m. Saturday (Facebook.com/GrampsMiami) …  Willie Nelson and Dwight Yoakam at Pompano Beach Amphitheater  7:30 p.m. Saturday (TheAmpPompano.org) … Okeechobee Music Festival performers George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic at the Fillmore Miami Beach 8 p.m. Sunday (FillmoreMB.com) …

XTREME GRRLS

The Gold Coast Derby Grrls roller-derby squad will open their 10th anniversary season Saturday in special digs, moving from Fort Lauderdale’s War Memorial Auditorum to the new 16,000-square-foot Arena Roller Skating Rink & Performance Venue at  Xtreme Action Park. Kayla Rae, GCDG director of finance and Anakin Skyblocker in your program, calls the venue “the perfect high-energy backdrop” for the squad. Expect a halftime show, fan-participation events and skater meet and greets. As part of the partnership, the Junior Roller Derby Association will host an Xtreme Action Park chapter that will focus on recruitment and training, providing skating lessons for girls interested in the sport. The Gold Coast Derby Grrls’ Cat 5's will take on the Orlando Psycho City Straight Jackettes beginning at 5:30 p.m. Tickets cost $10, $5 ages 5-12 (4 and younger free), with balcony seats for $15. Info: GoldCoastDerbyGrrls.com or XtremeActionPark.com.

WEEKEND DRINK

Council Oak Steaks & Seafood in the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, where “classic sophistication meets innovative cuisine,” has introduced new brunch and dinner options in that way that maybe only a restaurant in a casino can. Yes, I do need a 48-ounce porterhouse, thank you very much.  But also exciting is the One Ounce Club, which serves high-end liquors in wee increments, including Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve (20 year old), Johnnie Walker Blue Label limited-edition Year of the Monkey, Remy Martin Louis XIII cognac and Macallan 30 Year Old Fine Oak single-malt whisky. Prices range from $23 to $720 per ounce. I feel more sophisticated already. Info: MyHRL.com.

A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC

Jazz luminary Branford Marsalis will help open the 11th annual Festival of the Arts Boca 7 p.m. Friday in one of South Florida’s best outdoor music venues at Mizner Park Amphitheater. The Grammy winner will join the Symphonia Boca Raton and conductor Constantine Kitsopoulos in a program of movie music, including selections from “The Magnificent Seven,” “Catch Me if You Can,” “Star Wars” and the “Harry Potter” series. Tickets: $15-$125. Festival of the Arts Boca continues through a March 12 closing concert by Sergio Mendes & Brasil 2017. Info: FestivalBoca.org.

WEEKEND CHAMPAGNE

Veuve Clicquot is the host of Carnaval festivities beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday at Museum Park at Pérez Art Museum Miami, and amid the samba dancers, drummers and food trucks, you’ll also find the company’s newest champagne,  Veuve Clicquot Rich. Info: ClicquotCarnaval.com.

WEEKEND LAUGHS

Remember when politics was funny, as in funny funny? A reminder comes from the Capitol Steps and the troupe’s latest show (from the album of the same name), “What to Expect When You’re Electing,” featuring such ditties as “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Crimea?” and “Ain’t No Pipeline,” and Chris Christie en pointe. Because politics in South Florida has always been a rich source of humor, the Steps will set up at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach for a run of performances from Friday through March 19. Tickets: $40. Info: Kravis.org.

WEEKEND BEER

Sometimes a beer has a name that just demands to be drunk. Drank. Drinked. Whatever. Bangin' Banjo Brewing Co. in Pompano Beach will have a release event 2 p.m.-midnight Friday for its potent 10.5 ABV ale called Invincibility Potion. Info: Facebook.com/BanginBanjoBrewing.

PAWS FOR THE CAUSE

Dogfest Fort Lauderdale, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday at Markham Park in Sunrise, is a fundraiser and community dog walk that supports Canine Companions for Independence, which provides highly trained assistance dogs to people with disabilities. The day will include food trucks, live music, vendors, games for kids and canines and a demonstration by Sunrise Canine Unit and South Florida Urban Search and Rescue FLTF2. Participation is free, though you can register and create a fundraising page to walk solo or with a team at Facebook.com/CanineCompanions.

SHADES OF GREYNOLDS

Fans of historic Greynolds Park in North Miami Beach, still under the specter of a developer’s plan to build a 10-story on adjacent property, will gather Sunday at Luna Star Café for a fundraising day of music. The fifth annual Save Greynolds Park Fundraiser will begin at 3:30 p.m. and include continuous music from a long list of talented locals, among them the Sarah Jacob Trio (4 p.m.), Alan Aunapu (6:20 p.m.), Grant Livingston (7:45 p.m.), Daphna Rose (9:30 p.m.), Jim Wurster (10 p.m.) and the Fortune Tellers (10:30 p.m.). Cover is $10 cash. Info:  Facebook.com/SaveGreynoldsPark.

bcrandell@sun-sentinel.com

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