Drew Tucker plays the vibraphone. He knows what you’re thinking when you read that sentence, and he’s not shy about his mission to change your mind.
There he is on the cover of his new album, lounging in a pool holding a vinyl copy of “Donuts,” the influential album by the late experimental hip-hop producer and performer J Dilla. Here he is in a publicity photo wearing a black T-shirt, with large white text, in all caps, boldly announcing: “IT’S NOT A XYLOPHONE.”
But the most persuasive argument the respected Delray Beach percussionist and educator makes is with the music on the album, named for his band, “Drew Tucker and the New Standard,” which will be celebrated at a release party Saturday night at Bowery Live in downtown West Palm Beach.
An eight-song collection of shimmering virtuosity, Tucker takes his instrument into an audacious new environment, pulsating with … Hey, wait, does that sound like the Police classic “Roxanne”? Could that be Britney Spears’ “Toxic”? Yes and yes. But also no.
Part of the beauty of the album is the way Tucker and his band — Doug Carter (keyboards), Bill Muter (bass), Claudens Louis (sax), Mike Piolet (drums), Murphy Aucamp (percussion), with help from Black Violin — play with familiar melodies in a way that allows a song like “Toxic” to become something utterly their own. You recognize the title only after it has snuck up on you.
J Dilla gets some of the credit, Tucker says.
“A lot of his grooves, and the way he’d make music on that little beat machine he always used, is really influential on what you hear in this album,” he says.
With its awkward size, and association with both high-minded jazz and images of Fred Flintstone playing dinosaur ribs, the vibraphone has a publicity problem, Tucker says. And that’s if it gets called by its proper name at all. Hence the T-shirt (which he’ll be selling at the show).
“I’m trying to make it more accessible,” says Tucker, an arts organizer who helped get Delray Beach’s Arts Garage up and running. “You come up with jazz training, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make music for people to move to. I want people to hear it and say, ‘Wow, this is a really good record with some good music,’ not ‘Oh, it’s a good vibraphone record.’ So while I’m present, I’m not overly present. I don’t solo on every song for three minutes.”
A multi-instrumentalist who also plays piano, drums, marimba and glockenspiel (“anything you can hit”), Tucker teaches percussion at several South Florida schools, including Boca Raton High School. He’s always had a special relationship with vibraphone, at once melodic and percussive. It’s a relationship he wants to pass on to his students.
“I want to make things a little easier for the kids. The more people that can know the name of it, the more it’s being used, the more someone hears it, the more accessible it becomes,” he says.
Tucker has been an accompanist on many other artists’ albums but never his own.
“Because of fear, or money, or a bit of both,” he says. “So this is kind of like my gradutation. I don’t know what I’m graduating to, but I am graduating from a lot of limiting beliefs that made me think I couldn’t do it.
Carter (who helped with arrengements) and Muter were early catalysts for Tucker’s decision to make the album, and he also credits Joseph Salamida at Vanquish Studios in Davie, where it was recorded. Many of the people who helped Tucker along the way will be at Bowery Live Saturday night to share in some way, onstage and off.
“I don’t plan on stopping until they kick me out,” he says.
Drew Tucker and the New Standard perform 8 p.m. Saturday at Bowery Live, at CityPlace, 550 S. Rosemary Ave., West Palm Beach. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets: $20 - $30. Information: BoweryPB.com, ItsNotAXylophone.com.
TAKE THE KIDS
This is the weekend to take in the newly restored wonder of the Great Gravity Clock, an iconic feature of Fort Lauderdale’s Museum of Discovery and Science for 24 years (ancient history around here). Time stood still for the clock, a mystifying clatter of rolling, colliding balls on the ceiling of the museum’s outdoor patio entrance, until a three-month restoration (thanks to JM Family Enterprises and the Jim Moran Foundation) ended this week with the removal of the scaffolding and an official reopening. No doubt your kids will ask you how the clock works. While there’s not enough space to share all of my many years of expertise on the subject of the clock and its restoration (suffice it to say, the main flapdoodle was repaired and many pantookas were replaced), telling the time on the clock is simple: If four balls are on the bottom “hour” rail, three balls are on the middle “ten-minute” rail, and five balls are on the top “minute” rail, the time is 4:35. Info: MODS.org.
Actor and comedian Adam Ferrara (“Rescue Me,” “Nurse Jackie” and the History Channel’s “Top Gear USA”) performs at the Palm Beach Improv at CityPlace through Sunday, but for Friday’s 7:30 p.m. show the comedy club will donate 100 percent of ticket proceeds to the Farmworker Coordinating Council of Palm Beach County, the nonprofit that provides social services to migrant and seasonal farm workers. Tickets: $20 (two-drink minimum). Info: PalmBeachImprov.com, FarmworkerCouncil.com.
While all the riff-raff is zigging at the beach for Tortuga (we joke), Rhythm & Vine Beer Garden in downtown Fort Lauderdale will zag with a Saturday performance by the one and only Jellybean Benitez, who put the sexier jelly in Madonna’s early jams. Part of the popular lounge’s We Stay Tropical Day Party, Benitez performs 4-8 p.m. Door opens at noon. Info: Facebook.com/RhythmAndVineFTL.
Those country-music fans for whom the party never ends, Revolution Live in downtown Fort Lauderdale will host official Tortuga Music Festival after-parties Friday and Saturday, with acoustic sets by some of the day’s performers (TBD). Tickets: $10 at the door, which opens at 10:30 p.m. Info: JoinTheRevolution.net.
WAVES OF PLEASURE
The second annual Kulcha Shok Surf & Muzik Fest is Saturday on the south side of the Pompano Beach pier, with vendors, DJs and live music by Jon Lee, Mike Maytin and Tasty Vibrations. Competitions begin at 7 a.m. in a variety of age groups and divisions, including stand-up paddle board and skim board. Info: KulchaShok.com.
For those who do not celebrate the enactment of the Cullen–Harrison Act year-round, Friday is National Beer Day, when your local brewery or tavern is likely to have special offers aplenty. It’s also a day to try a new spot with the satisfaction of knowing they’ll be putting extra effort into their beer selection. This includes Old Town Untapped, the block party in front of Bailey Contemporary Arts in Old Pompano Beach. Beginning at 6 p.m., you can taste free samples from 26 Degree Brewing Co., Bangin' Banjo Brewing Co., Holy Mackerel and Broski Ciderworks, and trade war stories with the Hopaholics Homebrew Club. There will be pounding from Dark Angel Armory and Forge and the band Classic Rock Therapy, and spinning from Bailey Contemporary Arts’ artist-in-residence Sandi Laazar on her potter’s wheel and DJ Mike Locke on the turntable. Admission is free. Info: Facebook.com/BaCAPompano.
HAPPY HOUR OF THE WEEK
The buzzy Beaker & Gray has a new promotion tailored to your needs after all that “looking at art” in Wynwood — a late-night happy-hour called A Refuge For Night-crawlers. Running 11 p.m.-2 a.m. Monday through Thursday, you’ll find $5 beers, $6 wine and a menu that includes a special grilled cheese sandwich with smoked ham, Swiss cheese and pickles. That’ll fix you up. Info: BeakerAndGray.com.
Montreal-based DJ and producer Kid Koala (Gorillaz) will present the multimedia adaptation of his graphic novel “Nufonia Must Fall” 8 p.m. Saturday in the Olympia Theater at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts in Miami. Koala and the Afiara Quartet will provide a live score to the tale of a robot on the verge of obsolescence and his romantic pursuit of a female roboticist, a story told in miniature with a cast of puppets that are filmed and projected in real time by Oscar-nominated director K.K. Barrett. In a review of a 2015 Brooklyn Academy of Music performance, the New York Times’ Jon Pareles observed: “Part of the enjoyment is glancing from the screen to the dimly lighted stage, seeing the puppeteers move from backdrop to backdrop and watching the ingenuity of the perspective and the minuscule gestures that translate into big-screen drama. … But even with the artifice in plain sight, ‘Nufonia Must Fall’ plays as genuine romance.” Tickets to the Olympia Theater performance cost $35, $50 VIP, which includes an after-party with Kid Koala. Info: OlympiaTheater.org.
The 19th annual Afro Roots World Music Festival returns to the North Beach Bandshell on Miami Beach 7 p.m. Friday with Mali’s revered vocalist Salif Keita, joined by local Cuban son masters Cortadito. Tickets: $20 at CommunityArtsAndCulture.org. Day 2 of the festival will happen April 22 and feature guitarist Vieux Farka Toure (the “Jimi Hendrix of the Sahara”), Sudanese funk-rock band Sinkane and the female Haitian rara band Symbi Roots, making their U.S. debut. The concert is a co-production with the Rhythm Foundation that coincides with the second day of the Transatlantic Festival. Day 1 of the Transatlantic Festival on April 21 will have performances by A.C.H.E. with Oscar G, Oba Frank Lords and Katiahshé, Los Herederos and DJ Lazaro Casanova. Info: Facebook.com/AfroRootsWorldMusicFestival, RhythmFoundation.com.
RAISING SOME L
The reprogrammed L Bar in the lobby of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood wants to be on your list of places to go for weekend music and drinks. They recently added a Latin Night (8-11 p.m. Thursdays) and an Emerging Artists Series (8-11 p.m. Friday), which focuses on local musicians playing original material. This Friday, Miami-based pop-R&B singer Liza Forero is in the Emerging Artists spotlight (LizaForeroMusic.com), and on Thursday (April 13), Latin Night hosts La Linea (LaLineaBand.com). Info: MyHRL.com.
OTHER VOICES, OTHER ROOMS
The Wendy Pedersen Ensemble plays a free show at the Normandy Fountain on Miami Beach 6-9 p.m. Friday (WendyP.com) … Ketchy Shuby does Wynwood Yard in Miami 7 p.m. Friday (Facebook.com/KetchyShuby) … Miami-based indie-rock duo Deaf Poets play the Funky Buddha Lounge in Boca Raton 9:30 p.m. Friday (with Derik Fein and the Citadel) and at Respectable Street in West Palm Beach (with Viniloversus and Peyote Coyote) 10 p.m. Saturday (Facebook.com/DeafPoets) … The Nicholas Payton Trio headlines the third annual Sankofa Jazz Fest with a free 2 p.m. outdoor peformance at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center in Miami (AHCACMiami.org) … Lake Worth trio the Water Colors rock Dada in Delray Beach 11 p.m. Saturday (Facebook.com/TheWaterColorsss) …