After a decade performing for a rabid, nationwide jam-band fan base, particularly enthusiastic in South Florida, Perpetual Groove is down to its final six concerts, and Matt McDonald is feeling a familiar sense of excitement.
“It’s hard to put into words,” the keyboardist and guitarist says of the emotions surrounding the band’s imminent end. “The best way to describe it is, you’re reading a book series, and you’re right at the end of Book 1, and you get to the last chapter, then you’re seeing the last half page, where there’s just a couple of paragraphs on it. And you’re sad that it’s ending, but excited because you’ll get to start the next book. … It’s been a weird transition.”
McDonald is a “big Robert Ludlum nut,” but says you won’t need Jason Bourne to crack a secret code to decipher the reason PG announced an “indefinite hiatus” in January. It boils down to the rock ’n’ roll cliche: creative differences between frontman Brock Butler and the rest of the band.
Speaking from his home in Athens, Ga., McDonald says Butler has been working on a solo singer-songwriter sound for years, and Perpetual Groove found ways to incorporate those quieter impulses into its performances, always a mixed bag of jazzy, synthed-up funk and Southern-rock jams. But the four finally decided it was time to let Butler go solo and to find out if a new project by the remaining three members (McDonald, Adam Perry and Albert Suttle) could fly on its own.
“People love to make mountains out of molehills,” McDonald says. “Brock and I are fine.… Same for Adam and Albert, as well. … There is definitely no sorrow going on. We had a good run, had a lot of fun. We are going out on a high note, keeping it classy.”
Perpetual Groove will play its final South Florida shows at Fort Lauderdale’s Culture Room, which the band calls its “home away from home,” at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday (tickets: $16; info: 954-564-1074, CultureRoom.net), joined by local brothers-in-jam the Heavy Pets (Friday) and Zoogma (Saturday).
PG’s final performance ever is a sold-out show on April 5 in Athens. The opener at that concert will be the debut performance of Ghost Owl, the new band consisting of Suttle, McDonald and Perry (pictured above, from right, with Butler).
McDonald, a Naples native who studied jazz guitar at the University of Florida, describes Ghost Owl as a sharp departure from Perpetual Groove, with more electronics and technology for lights and layers of art projections at their live shows. He says the projections will be even more innovative than PG fans are used to.
“Ghost Owl is definitely not a jam band,” says McDonald, predicting a more-structured sound than PG was known for. He’ll pick up more guitar, while Perry will handle more keyboards. “It’s still a rock ‘n’ roll thing. It definitely has more electronic influences, but we’re not an EDM band,” he says with a laugh.
McDonald says the response to Ghost Owl on Facebook and at PerpetualGroove.com has been supportive. A Kickstarter campaign this month to fund the equipment needed for the new live show eclipsed Ghost Owl’s $5,000 goal in less than a week.
“That was incredibly humbling,” he says.
The vintage flea known as the City-Wide Market at Fort Lauderdale’s War Memorial Auditorium has developed a reputation for quality goods and large, fun crowds, so it is not surprising to see that it is only getting bigger. CWM organizers Chris Gaidry and Amanda Weiner (of Indie Craft Bazaar fame) have added a Friday-night sneak-peek event called Food in Motion, which offers gourmet food trucks, beer (some of it free) and the chance to look over some of the items up for sale during City-Wide Market on Saturday and Sunday. Food in Motion runs from 8 to midnight. Info: CityWideMarket.com, Facebook.com/CityWideMarket or call 954-785-7475.
Miami City Ballet returns to the Broward Center this weekend with Program III: The Masters, which includes a world premiere of the Alexei Ratmansky ballet “Symphonic Dances,” along with George Balanchine’s “La Valse,” “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” and “Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux.” Performances are 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets begin at $25. Info: BrowardCenter.org, MiamiCityBallet.org.
FOLLOW THE BOUNCING BALL
As the name suggests, Drag Bingo Cabaret combines almost all the elements you need for true entertainment, and they would have done it on skates if the ice would stay frozen. Voices of Pride, the nonprofit gay chorus based in West Palm Beach, will perform during this wiggy evening of bingo, raffles, laughs and suggestive song beginning at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Arts Garage in Delray Beach. Tickets are $30-$45. Info: VoicesofPride.org.
Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters and Nirvana makes his directorial debut with “Sound City,” a paean to the analog warmth of the music produced by the titular recording studio that opened in 1969 in California’s San Fernando Valley. Among the artists joining Grohl’s jam-filled love-in are Neil Young, Tom Petty, Paul McCartney, Trent Reznor, Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Rick Springfield, Barry Manilow, Rick Rubin, Lars Ulrich and others. “Sound City” screens 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, at Cinema Paradiso (503 SE Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale). $10, $8 seniors/students, $6 members. 954-525-3456 or FLIFF.com.
Tickets go on sale Friday for the inaugural Block x Blog Music Festival, which will reign over a chunk of the Himmarshee District in downtown Fort Lauderdale on April 20, with performances, vendors and food trucks in and around Revolution Live, America’s Backyard and the Green Room. Things to like about Block x Blog, brought to you by Consequence of Sound and Subculture, include Holy Ghost!, the Brooklyn “yacht house” outfit named for a Bar-Kays lyric; performances by some of the bands that define the evolving South Florida rock sound, including Jacuzzi Boys, Ex Norwegian, Lil Daggers, Suede Dudes and Sound Sleeper (Alex Martinez of Sunday Driver), among others; and the free section with bands and vendors (Radio-Active Records, Black Locust Society, Iron Forge Press and Jerry’s Artarama) set up outside at America’s Backyard. Tickets to performances in Revolution Live and the Green Room cost $25 and go on sale 10 a.m. Friday at the Revolution Live box office (100 SW Third Ave.) and Ticketmaster.com. More info: Facebook.com/subcultureus, JointheRevolution.net, 954-449-1025.
The inaugural Burgers & Beer Festival at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood begins at 5 p.m. Friday, with Candlebox the headlinng entertainment (joined by popular locals The Republik). Admission $35 advance, $45 at the door and gets you three beer tickets (you can also buy beer and liquor tickets) and burger samples from more than a dozen local restaurants. We have our eye on two Kona beers (Pipeline Porter and the Big Wave Golden Ale) and something from Latin Burger or the Tipsy Boar to start. Other restauranrs include: Hard Rock Cafe, Liguori's Fired Up! Wood Oven Pizzeria, Randazzo's Little Italy, 100 Montaditos, Big Mouth Tacos & Burgers, Dania Beach Bar & Grill, Knucklehead Burgers, Renegade BBQ Company, The Pincho Factory, Whiskey Tango and others. A portion of ticket sales will go to the Southeast Florida Chapter of the Scleroderma Foundation. Info: BurgerandBeerFest.com.
Tickets for the eighth annual South Beach Comedy Festival at the Fillmore Miami Beach go on sale 10 a.m. Friday, with a lineup that includes Seth Meyers, Tracy Morgan, Amy Schumer, Sarah Silverman, Bill Burr, Pete Holmes, Jim Jefferies and Jamel Debouzze. The festival is April 17-21. Tickets are available at the Fillmore box office, SouthBeachComedyFestival.com, LiveNation.com, TicketMaster outlets and at 800-745-3000.
WHEN CASSADEE WAS YOUNG(ER)
As you know, Cassadee Pope is returning to her hometown as an opening act on Rascal Flatts' Changed Tour 2013, which stops at the Cruzan Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach on June 8. The matter-of-factness of the announcement and the way it was received -- just the natural progression for someone who wins NBC's "The Voice" -- almost made us forget the old days when Pope, now 23 and based in Los Angeles, was running around South Florida as a much less polished version of her current self. Below is a reminder, an early video with her band Hey Monday. If you want to see the grown-up Cassadee, tickets to the Cruzan show are $29.75-$65.25 (four-pack lawn tickets for $99) and go on sale 10 a.m. Friday at LiveNation.com, all Ticketmaster locations and at 800-745-3000.
HEY, HEY, HEY
At 75, Bill Cosby is still sharing life lessons disguised as laughs, or the other way around. He’ll bring his stand-up act to Hard Rock Live in Hollywood on May 12, with tickets ($50-$80) on sale Friday at Ticketmaster outlets. Info: HardRockLiveHollywoodFL.com
NEXT STOP, NEW YORK
Reminder: Once again, the jazz band at Dillard Center for the Arts in Fort Lauderdale has been tapped to perform at the prestigious Essentially Ellington competition at Lincoln Center in New York. The DCA band is looking for its third straight championship in the so-called “Super Bowl of high school jazz competitions.” As the students and their parents scramble to cover the $25,000 in travel expenses, a fundraising campaign is in place and includes the Denim and Diamonds Gala, 7-11:30 p.m. March 8 at the Westin Hotel Cypress Creek (400 Corporate Drive, Fort Lauderdale). Tickets to the evening of dinner and dancing to the DCA band cost $65, $120 per couple. Event hosts are hoping to have all RSVPs in by Friday. To buy tickets or get more information on donating to the cause, email info@DCAJazz.com, call 954-214-0320 or go to DCAJazz.com.
DO NOT PASS
Speaking of good causes, Miami Heat star Mario Chalmers will host the Think Pink Basketball fundraiser to benefit the Dorothy Mangurian Comprehensive Women’s Center (at Holy Cross Hospital) and his own Mario Chalmers Foundation from 7 to 9 p.m. March 9 at Specialty Automotive Treatment (700 W. Sunrise Blvd, Fort Lauderdale). The evening includes music, drinks and hors d’oeuvres (courtesy of Grille 401) and a live auction of items including a Hublot watch, a New York Yankees Opening Day travel package and a VIP experience at a Heat game hosted by Chalmers. Tickets: $100. Info: Patricia Kneski at 954-765-1329 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
OTHER VOICES, OTHER ROOMS
Here are a bunch of names that are fun to see in the same paragraph: Singer-rapper Travie McCoy is at Liv in the Fontainebleau Hotel on Friday (LivNightclub.com) … Iron Maiden’s Nicko McBrain is joined by the Sugar Hill Gang and Brett Loewenstern of “American Idol” for the Classic Rock and Roll Party fundraiser at the Hard Rock Saturday (SeminoleHardRockHollywood.com) … The effervescent indie septet Paper Bird plays the Vagabond in Miami Saturday (thevagabondmiami.com) … Smash Mouth is at Isle of Capri Casino in Pompano Beach Friday (Pompano-Park.IsleofCapriCasinos.com) … The legend Tony Bennett croons at the Kravis Center Saturday (Kravis.org) … Bon Jovi comes to the BB&T Center in Sunrise Saturday (Ticketmaster.com) … Bronze Radio does Bardot Saturday (BardotMiami.com) … Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk is at the Funky Biscuit in Boca Saturday, followed by the Lee Boys on Sunday (FunkyBiscuit.com) … Kenny G. blows at Hard Rock Live Sunday (HardRockLiveHollywoodFL.com) … Rap trio Naughty by Nature does Liv Wednesday with DJ Jessica Who (LivNightclub.com) … The Preservation Hall Jazz Band is at Mizner Park Amphitheater in Boca Raton Thursday (866-571-2787) … Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes keep on keepin’ on at the Hard Rock on Thursday (SeminoleHardRockHollywood.com).
Get daily updates on South Florida entertainment and things to do at SouthFlorida.com and on Twitter at @BenCrandell.