At last year’s New River Raft Race, the entry from students at the AIAS FAU School of Architecture won the fastest-raft category in a romp. But the one guy hoping for a closer race this weekend is their own admiral, Anthony Abbate, associate provost for Florida Atlantic University’s Broward campuses.
It’s not that he’s not proud of what his students accomplished — “they beat the pants off everybody,” Abbate says, cheerfully — but he believes some pressure from fertile young minds at rival downtown campuses for Broward College and Nova Southeastern University would ratchet up the excitement for future races. It’s part of the influence the presence of young students should have on a city, says Abbate, a Fort Lauderdale architect.
“We’re out there, we’re part of the culture, and we continue to look for ways to do that,” he says.
As in years past, the New River Raft Race, which will take place 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday at downtown’s Esplanade Park, is presented by the Rotary Club of Fort Lauderdale, where Abbate is incoming president. The event includes food, drink, entertainment and children’s activities, with proceeds from sponsorships and entry fees benefiting the Rotary Club’s 1090 Foundation, which provides local students with college scholarships.
Prizes will be awarded for speed, creative design and best pirate spirit, all in the face of nonstop water-gun barrages from landlubber spectators.
There are nine students on FAU’s 8-by-16-foot, human-powered, pirate-themed vessel: John Williams, Christian Steixner, Stephanie Dunn, Armando Luna, Maryla Michel, John Cobo, Chance Stillman, Marco Mandra and Arthur Molinari. Abbate says it’s a crack crew and, no, don’t expect the architecture school faculty to try to take them down.
“Oh, it would be fun! There’s still time!” Abbate says with a laugh. “But, no, they bring a lot of spirit and energy. And they are pretty strategic about it, with the guys and girls with biceps out on the edges. It’ll just be fun to watch.”
The irreverent annual gathering of tricked-out marshmallow farm animals returns to Clay Glass Metal Stone Cooperative Gallery (15 S. J St., Lake Worth) with Friday night’s opening reception for the “Peeps Show.” The delightful, hilarious and downright weird assemblages by local artists using the perennial Easter treats (pictured above: "Sgt. Peepers") will be on display through April 20. Friday’s reception, from 6 to 9 p.m., will include entertainment from FlowSource and munchies from Mulligan’s restaurant. Info: 561-588-8344, ClayGlassMetalStone.com.
The Heineken TransAtlantic Festival returns this weekend to the North Beach Bandshell on Miami Beach with a particularly adventurous mix of international acts making their Florida debuts and locals worth your ear. On Friday it’s the experimental electronica of Astro, from Chile, along with young Colombian pop singer Esteman and Miami’s thumpy and excellent Afrobeta. On Saturday, the headliner is Bombino, the North African-born guitarist who gathers influences from all over the globe, including not-subtle nods to Jimi Hendrix. Bombino shares a bill with the EDM-infused reggae of Courtney John Project and Miami's Tremends, who have left me embarrassed for not being more up to speed with their frisky bilingual rock. The music begins at 6 p.m. each day. The bandshell is at 7275 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets are $23 advance at Radio-Active Records in Fort Lauderdale and Sweat Records in Miami, or $28 day of show. More info: TransAtlanticFestival.com.
The Riverside Market and Café (608 SW 12th Ave., Fort Lauderdale) is hosting a home-brew beer competition with a Spring Break-inspired vintage beach theme beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday. Local homies will compete for prizes in a wide variety of categories, including People’s Choice, where you can help judge. Costumes and props will add to the hoppy fun. Info: 954-358-8333, TheRiversideMarket.com.
NEW BREWERY TOUR
Wynwood Brewing Company will begin offering tours of its brew house and tap room (565 NW 24th St., Miami) on Saturday. The $10 ticket gets you a pint of one of the brewery’s core beers, a glass to take home and an interactive tour with tastings. Even better, the proceeds will go to fund the brewery’s youth baseball team at Roberto Clemente Park in Wynwood. Tours are at 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with tickets sold on a first-come, first-served basis. Maximum attendance is 10 people. Info: 305-982-8732, WynwoodBrewing.com.
ARE YOU A WING MAN?
Always up for a good time, the Palm Beach International Film Festival will follow its 8 p.m. Friday screening of the saucy travelogue “The Great Chicken Wing Hunt” at the Cobb Downtown @ the Gardens (11701 Lake Victoria Gardens Ave., Palm Beach Gardens) with an afterparty at Cabo Flats hosted by Tito’s Vodka. There, you’ll be able to taste chicken wings prepared according to the recipe deemed by the documentary as the world’s best. Info: PBIFilmFest.org.
DITA’S PERFECT DAY
Burlesque icon Dita Von Teese will give two South Florida performances next week (Thursday-Friday at Revolution Live in Fort Lauderdale), and contrary to what you might assume her idea of fun is decidedly ladiback: “I love to stay at the Raleigh Hotel. My favorite thing to do is stay at the Raleigh and take a bicycle and ride down the boardwalk. That’s my perfect day in Miami.” Tickets to her shows at Revolution Live start at $35. Call the box office at 954-449-1025, or go to JoinTheRevolution.net.
The nationally renowned Dillard Center for the Arts Jazz Ensemble, again a finalist for the prestigious Essentially Ellington competition at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York next month, will give a free concert 7:30-9 p.m. Friday at the Hollywood Beach Bandshell on the Broadwalk at Johnson Street. Info: DCAJazz.com.
For about a year, we harbored a secret wish that the luminous and literate music of Amos Lee, especially a song such as “Windows Are Rolled Down,” would end up onstage at the Tortuga Music Festival, which returns to Fort Lauderdale beach next weekend. It seemed like a given when we learned that his most recent release, the excellent “Mountains of Sorrow, Rivers of Song,” was recorded in Nashville with Jay Joyce, the producer who injected Eric Church’s “Chief” with such unbridled, rock ‘n’ roll energy. And even though he is not on the bill with Church next weekend, we like to think that Lee’s Friday night concert at Fort Lauderdale’s Parker Playhouse is a sign. See you at Tortuga 2015, Amos! Tickets for Friday’s show cost $37-$59.55. Info: 954-462-0222, ParkerPlayhouse.com.
A BIG READ
O, Miami believes that helping you interact with poetry is a civic duty, and certainly the largest example of this comes with “the biggest poetry reading in the history of Miami” on Saturday at Soundscape Park at the New World Center on Miami Beach. Former U.S. poet laureate Robert Hass will join National Book Award winner Nikky Finney for readings to be projected on a 7,000-square-foot space on the side of the New World Center. The free 8 p.m. event will include food, drink and live music beginning at 5 p.m. Info: OMiami.org.
YOU GO, GRILLE
The first time we noticed the new patio deck at Grille 401 on Las Olas in downtown Fort Lauderdale it was packed with an afternoon happy-hour crowd being serenaded by the eclectic acoustics of popular troubadour Peter White. On Friday, the 1,200-square-foot space will introduce a new sex-segregated late-night happy hour, called “Girls Night at the Grille,” offering women BOGO deals on select cocktails and wine, plus half-off sushi for everyone, from 11 p.m. to closing Friday and Saturday. The patio will feature live music 6-10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 4-8p.m. Friday. Info: 954-767-0222, Grille401.com.
Reminder, tickets go on sale 10 a.m. Friday for Brad Paisley’s Beat This Summer tour stop on Aug. 16 at the Cruzan Amphitheatre, a show that will include openers Randy Houser, Leah Turner and Charlie Worsham. Tickets cost $25-$60.50, at LiveNation.com, all Ticketmaster outlets and at 800-745-3000.