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The Go Guide Places, people and life with Ben Crandell

Weekend preview: The artful harmony of the Mona Lisa Tribe

From the moment she was introduced to music at her church growing up in Deland, Tabitha Meeks knew she would be performing in front of different audiences. When not leading them in song for the congregation, her pastor’s wife would take Meeks and three other girls to area festivals to perform music from the bluegrass satire “O Brother, Where Art Thou.”

Classically trained as a pianist at Palm Beach Atlantic University, Meeks, 25, now leads the West Palm Beach-based Mona Lisa Tribe, a quartet of young women who for just over a year have been performing original folk-pop songs distinguished by remarkable harmonies.

This weekend, the group, which also includes Sarah Anne Elkins, Maryann Whims and cellist Erin Cascoli, will be performing shows in distinctly different environments: 10 p.m. Friday for the youthful downtown Delray Beach denizens at Subculture Coffee and 3-3:30 p.m. Saturday at the South Florida Folk Festival, celebrating its 25th anniversary.

“I’m surprised how quickly it’s taken off, but at the same time, everybody likes a girl band,” Meeks says, laughing. “We’ll see where it goes. I’m really excited. There’s a lot of good energy behind it.”

Buzz about the Mona Lisa Tribe warmed up last fall when they released a video, created by Dream Machine Recording Studios in West Palm Beach, for the song “People Like You,” filled with witty wordplay and those beguiling harmonies. The group was a trio then, with Meeks joined by Erin Thompson and Caroline Shrope, who have since gone off on travels to England and Hawaii.

The parting was amicable, Meeks says, and she was committed to keeping MLT going. She turned to the music program at Palm Beach Atlantic to find her new bandmates, and they haven’t missed a beat, she says.

MLT shows are usually a showcase of Meeks’ songwriting, which bears the simple chord structure and brokenhearted lyrics of folk music. She may pick out a few covers to do this weekend, in Delray Beach leaning on influences such as the Lumineers and female groups the Wailin’ Jennys, the English folk-rock trio the Staves, and Joseph, three sisters from the Pacific Northwest.

The band will be making their debut at the South Florida Folk Festival, and Meeks knows her audience.

“We’ll probably do ‘Everybody Wants To Go to Heaven,’ because that’s a classic folk song and we have our own arrangement of it, and we might do ‘Go To Sleep Little Baby,” she says. That song is, of course, from “O Brother, Where Art Thou.”

Sponsored by the Broward Folk Club, the 25th edition of the South Florida Folk Festival takes place Saturday-Sunday, Jan. 13-14, at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park in Fort Lauderdale. Headliners include the Currys of Port St. Joe; the Dave Nachmanoff Band of Davis, Calif.; and Jack Williams, pride of West Fork, Ark., aided by locals including Rod McDonald, Ally Smith, Darrell House, Vinnie Del Basso, Open Book, Robert Ross and Jason Colannino.

The daylong festivities, which include workshops, a fire circle and random jams, begin at 11:30 a.m. Saturday and noon Sunday. Tickets cost $35 per day, $60 for a weekend pass. For information, visit SouthFloridaFolkFest.net.

For more information about the Mona Lisa Tribe, visit Facebook.com/MonaLisaTribe.

MAPLE BACON COFFEE PALOOZA

The first festival devoted to the inaugural bottle release of the Funky Buddha Brewery’s Maple Bacon Coffee Porter had beer nerds lined up for wristbands at dawn. Now in its fifth year, the Maple Bacon Coffee Porter Festival returns to the Oakland Park brewery 1-5 p.m. Saturday as a better organized institution, though the enthusiasm for this idiosyncratic, culinary beer still achieves a kind of revery. Advance tickets start at $55 (plus fees) are highly recommended, and come with unlimited samples of more than 100 beers (not just the Funky Buddha’s). Then, there are the prized bottles of Maple Bacon Coffee Porter, which can be secured in advance with pre-purchase options of four or 12 beers. Visit FunkyBuddhaBrewery.com.

SCRATCH PLAY

Reggae and dub icon Lee “Scratch” Perry celebrates the 40th anniversary of his album “Super Ape” (and his 80th birthday) with a performance with Subatomic Sound System 8:30 p.m. Friday at Respectable Street in West Palm Beach. Perry will perform “Super Ape” along with new music created with SSS, including the single "Black Ark Vampires." Tickets cost $25-$30. Visit Facebook.com/RespectableStreet.

CAR TROUBLE

The Life in Color festival returns to Mana Wynwood in Miami on Sunday with its indiscriminate paint cannons (VIP tickets promise protection from paint) and a strong lineup of music. Performers include 21 Savage, who had my favorite lyric of 2017 in his feature on “Rockstar” by Post Malone: “Savage, why you got a 12-car garage / And you only got six cars?" Visit LICMiami.com.

WEEKEND LAUGHS

Los Angeles-based Carol City native Sean Grant, who won Jimmy Kimmel’s Funniest College Kid in America contest while at Florida State, will bring his comedy back to South Florida for a performance 8 p.m. Saturday at the Hyatt Place Delray Beach. Tickets cost $20 (with a two-item minimum). Visit Facebook.com/ComicCure.

NEW OLD HABITS

Lake Worth’s Old Habits, featuring South Florida hardcore icon John Wylie, will perform at a release party for their album “American as F--k” on Saturday at Respectable Street in West Palm Beach. The night will include 10 bands on two stages, among them Nemesis, Church Girls, Waste My Hate and the Muggles, beginning at 8:30 p.m. Admission is $10. Visit Facebook.com/OldHabitsHC, Facebook.com/RespectableStreet.

AFTER THE SUNSHINE

The Sunshine Music Festival begins noon Sunday at Mizner Park Amphitheater in Boca Raton, with performances by the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Mike Gordon of Phish, Medeski Martin & Wood and others (Visit SunshineMusicFestival.com). The afterparty will be nearby at the Funky Biscuit, featuring the Heavy Pets, DJ Logic, MonoNeon, Albert Castiglia and more. Tickets cost $25 in advance at FunkyBiscuit.com, $30 on Sunday.

WEEKEND BEERS

J. Wakefield Brewing in Miami will have its first can release of the year with Orange Dreamsicle Sour Ale and 24th Street Brown Ale available in four-packs beginning at noon Friday (Facebook.com/JWakefieldBeer) … The Anything Gose Sour Beer Festival, devoted to the salty-tart German wheat beer, begins 6 p.m. Friday at Bangin' Banjo Brewing Co. in Pompano Beach. Tickets cost $35 advance or $40 at the door, and come with a sampling glass to try more than 60 gose beers (Facebook.com/BanginBanjoBrewing) … Barrel of Monks Brewing in Boca Raton and Cheffrey Eats food truck will host Beer and Bacon 1-5 p.m. Jan. 21, with a flight of beers matched with a flight of bacon for $20 (Facebook.com/BarrelOfMonks).

TAKE THE KIDS

Downtown Fort Lauderdale will get new life and color 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday during the inaugural Chalk Lit chalk festival sponsored by the Broward Cultural Division and the Main Library. A free, interactive event on the library’s North Plaza, Chalk Lit will include live music, food trucks, vendors, face painting, 3D printing stations and, of course, the creation of chalk-art murals. Among the headlining artists will be Lighthouse Point-based artist Carrie Bennett and  Chicago-based street muralist Nate Baranowski. You’ll also find a kids-only chalk zone and a People's Choice Award presented by Jerry's Artarama. For a sneak peek, Baranowski will be doing live chalk art at the W Fort Lauderdale’s Living Room at 9 p.m. Friday. Visit Broward.org.

TAKE THE KIDS II

The South Florida Fair debuts on Friday at the fairgrounds west of West Palm Beach, so, yes, that is the smell of Porky’s doughnut burger. Tickets are $10, $5 for kids ages 6-11 and $7 for seniors in advance, $15/$8/$9 at the gate. The fair runs through Jan. 28, with musical headliners including Mark West (Sunday), the Atlanta Rhythm Section (Wednesday), Chris Lane (Thursday), Grand Funk Railroad (Jan. 24) and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (Jan. 25). Visit SouthFloridaFair.com.

OTHER VOICES, OTHER ROOMS

The “feel-good folk dub” of Oigo and and the blues rock of Brothers of Others make an interesting double bill at Wynwood Yard 8 p.m. Friday (Facebook.com/OigoMusic) … Big Chief plays Dada in Delray Beach 11 p.m. Friday (Facebook.com/BigChiefMusic) … Future Prezidents are at LauderAle 8:30 p.m. Saturday (Facebook.com/FuturePrezidents) … Bachaco adds good vibes to the beer at Lincoln's Beard Brewing in Miami 8 p.m. Saturday (Facebook.com/BachacoMusic) … Bushwood brings the funky reggae to Margaritaville Hollywood Beach 7-9 p.m. Saturday (Facebook.com/BushwoodBand) … Vocalists LeNard Rutledge and Lourdes Valentin lead the Miami Big Sound Orchestra at the Arts Garage in Delray Beach 8 p.m. Saturday (Facebook.com/Miami-Big-Sound-Orchestra) … TimbaLive heats up the La Pachanga! party at Ball & Chain in Miami 10 p.m. Saturday (Facebook.com/TimbaLiveBand) … Lane Braden delivers straight-up country rock at Double Dee’s Ranch in West Palm Beach 9 p.m. Saturday and at Two Georges at The Cove in Deerfield Beach 4 p.m. Sunday (Facebook.com/LaneBradenLive) … SOSOS adds a side of Americana to the Nacho Bizness dishes during brunch at LauderAle noon Sunday (Facebook.com/SososMusic) … Guitarist Mark Telesca plays Death or Glory in Delray Beach 7 p.m. Sunday (MarkTelesca.com) …

bcrandell@sun-sentinel.com

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