For Nicole Noël and Chance Meyer, whose days play out under an unyielding specter of death, music has been a constant presence, life itself.
An actress and singer, Noël grew up listening to her father, vocalist Bobby Travis, perform around their home in Cape Cod, as well as in Florida gigs with a band led by the late Delray Beach resident Lou Colombo. Guitarist and songwriter Meyer grew up in the acoustic-music hotbed of Hot Springs, Ark., before attending school at Tulane University in New Orleans, where he also performed.
Years later, now attorneys, the two were working together at a downtown Fort Lauderdale law office specializing in death-penalty cases, and at lunch one day, the chatter turned to their musical backgrounds. The conversation has continued ever since, most eloquently on the duo’s new debut album, a raw and timeless slice of Americana titled “A Thousand Ways Down.”
The album, recorded in January and February by Marc Loren at Fort Lauderdale’s intimate 42nd Street Studios, will be celebrated with a release party at 8 p.m. Friday at Your Big Picture Café (4900 S. University Drive, Davie; 954-252-5644, YourBigPictureCafe.com).
Meyer, who places their songs into a revivalist acoustic movement he calls “new-time” music, credits Loren for achieving the “righteous” sound the duo wants as a trademark, particularly for their live shows.
“What we were going for was a front-porch, minimal, simple approach to music,” Meyer says. “We just want it to be about two voices and a guitar.”
Songs such as the lonely “Countyline,” the beautiful, gospel-tinged “If I Should Fall” and the surprisingly tender “Drunk and Disorderly” deliver Meyer’s lyrics in voices that seem made to intertwine. (For the record, each is married to someone else.)
While there is catharsis in musicmaking when your days are spent hunting for constitutional errors in death-penalty cases, Meyer says they actively avoid making their art about their work.
“On the other hand, we couldn’t deny that the emotional experience of our music is to some extent in response to our work,” he says. “It’s a way of processing those things on a personal level.”
As a guide, Noël cites the black-humor ballad “Dark Turn of Mind,” by one of their favorite artists, Gillian Welch.
“I’m not sure about whether we do this work because we have that ‘dark turn of mind’ or the other way around,” she says. “But I think a lot of people who do it also have kind of a strange sense of humor and a sense of irony and a way of looking at things. I’m sure that comes out in our music, too.”
For more, go to Nicole-Chance.com.
LOCAL BEER HERE
Patience and GPS may be key when you drop by South Florida’s newest place to throw back a craft beer, LauderAle, which this weekend will continue a deliberately paced soft opening that got going even more quietly last weekend and continues with another test drive this weekend (beginning with a party of sorts on Thursday, July 31). Co-owner Kyle Jones says they are still gauging their audience and how much beer they need to have on hand in the 3,200-square-foot brewery. “We packed the house last weekend, to the point that we got low on beer,” says Jones, mentioning that this week he and partner Joey Farrell ordered four more fermenters, which will increase capacity by 75 percent. Befitting the name, this is a place serves local-local beer, with names like Lake Silvia Saison, Port Everglades Porter and George English IPA (they’ll also pour beers from Funky Buddha, Due South and other local breweries). The only negative Jones has heard so far, that LauderAle is hard to find, is actually a positive, he says. “We’re industrial, off the beaten path, but that’s what we like about it,” Jones says. “You have to do a little work to get here, but that’s part of the excitement.” LauderAle is at 3305 SE 14th Ave., Bldg 4 (Fort Lauderdale, of course), back among the warehouses east of the US 1-595 interchange near the port. Info: 954-214-5334, Facebook.com/LauderAle.
You may not have a more rewarding time in a movie theater this year than the one offered by Richard Linklater’s extraordinary film “Boyhood,” which opens in 10 more South Florida theaters on Friday. Unfolding at an unhurried pace (it’s a quarter-hour shy of three hours), the film traces an everyboy’s journey from age 6 to 18, a story made all the more honest by being filmed over the course of a dozen years with the same cast (led by Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke and newcomer Ellar Coltrane) aging quite naturally before our eyes. The film includes no sex, nudity or blood, but plenty of F-bombs, likely the cause for its R rating. But if you want to start a conversation with that young boy in your house who seems allergic to conversation, ignore the R rating and go. “Boyhood” opened last Friday at AMC Aventura; Cinemark Palace 20 in Boca Raton; Regal South Beach 18; and Coral Gables Art Cinema. Screens added this weekend are the Carmike Parisian 20 in West Palm Beach; Regal Royal Palm in Royal Palm Beach; Living Room Cinemas and Shadowood 16 in Boca Raton; Classic Gateway Theatre in Fort Lauderdale; Regal Oakwood in Hollywood; Regal Cypress Creek and Carmike Broward 18 in Pompano Beach; Regal Sawgrass in Sunrise; and AMC Sunset Place 24 in Miami. Info: Facebook.com/BoyhoodMovie.
On Saturday the NSU Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale will host a curator talk and opening reception for “When the Stars Begin to Fall: Imagination and the American South,” a wildly diverse exhibition of work devoted to 35 black artists linked by their geographic or spiritual connection to the South, including Theaster Gates, Henry Ray Clark, David Hammons, Carrie Mae Weems, Kara Walker and Kerry James Marshall. In a review of the show’s debut at the Studio Museum in Harlem, the New York Observer said the show “provides viewers with precisely what the recently closed Whitney Biennial failed to deliver: a strong sense that something of interest is going on in American art.” Curator Thomas J. Lax, recently appointed by the Museum of Modern Art as a curator in its department of media and performance art, will discuss the exhibition at 6 p.m. Saturday. The talk is free with museum admission ($10, $7 seniors, military and $ ages 12-17) and includes entry to the exhibition’s opening reception from 7 to 9 p.m. The show is up through October 12, before moving to the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. Info: 954-525-5500, MOAFL.org.
JUST SHOOTER ME
If you haven’t been to the new, poshified Shooters or the sports-TV tsunami known as Bokamper’s on the Intracoastal, Saturday’s Fort Lauderdale Bus Loop is just the ticket. As you may know, from 6 to 11 p.m. this trolley-tour fundraiser (for six local charities) gets you a free drink at every stop, which also include Blue Martini, S3, Bamboo Beach, Tokyo Blue, Tropic Cay, Sandbar and the Parrot. Get your ticket before noon Saturday, and it’s $30, vs. the $35 you’ll pay at check-in at the Galleria Mall (2414 E. Sunrise Blvd.) or Bokamper’s (3115 NE 32nd Ave.). Trolleys run until midnight. Info: BusLoop.org.
As she’s shown everywhere from her “I Seem Fun” podcast to her episodes of Funny or Die’s “Drunk History,” Jen Kirkman is a versatile comedian: She’ll do red or white, Oscar Wilde or Johnny Depp. If you have read her book, “I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales From a Happy Life Without Kids,” you also know she can be pretty persuasive. Blurbed best-selling author Greg Behrendt (“He’s Just Not That Into You”): “Jen Kirkman’s wickedly original yet totally universal debut about the expectations of others kicks so much ass you'll agree with her even when you don’t. Not for the stupidly over-sensitive. For lovers of great!” Kirkman performs at 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday at the Palm Beach Improv (550 S. Rosemary Ave., West Palm Beach). Tickets: $20. Info: 561-833-1812, PalmBeach.Improv.com.
BE KIND, SWEDE
The Swede Fest Palm Beach film festival returns on Saturday for a third year of “crazy and clean, and quirky and creative” fun for the whole family, as founder Belle Forino puts it. The evening is the culmination of months of creativity as filmmakers from across South Florida worked on their entries, each a three-minute (or shorter), no-budget send-up of a favorite movie or a scene (an homage to the Jack Black movie “Be Kind, Rewind”). The winners of the first festival were two Palm Beach County tweens who used toys to make a stop-motion version of “The Hulk.” The festival, complete with red carpet, takes place 7 p.m. Saturday at the Borland Center for Performing Arts (4801 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens), and will include food, drink, music and big-screen showings of the best swedes, humorously hosted by members of the Palm Beach Shakespeare Festival. Tickets: $8, $11 for VIP (for reserved seating in the first three rows). Admission is free for entered filmmakers. Info: SwedeFestPalmBeach.com.
RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!
The Saturday 5K in Davie’s Vista View Park urges you to “Feel the fear,” but it has nothing to do with concerns about when your balky hammy will finally give out. The Zombie Rush 5K, which sends runners through multiple zombie-infested chase zones (this one's not a mud/obstacle event) beginning at 8:30 a.m., includes food, drink, music and raffles, plus discounts for runners dressed as zombies. It benefits Kendra’s Kisses, which raises money for families battling childhood cancer. The next Zombie Rush 5K, “Night Rush,” is Oct. 18 at Pompano Community Park in Pompano Beach. Info: ZombieRush5K.com, Facebook.com/UltimateCombatant. Here's a sense of it, but again, the Davie event is not a mud/obstacle course:
BLINDED BY SCIENCE
We look forward to the day when the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium (4801 Dreher Trail N., West Palm Beach) boxes up all that science-y stuff and reopens as a swinging young nightspot. They will take one step closer when the museum’s young professionals group hosts the inaugural MolecuBar, in which terms such as “viscosity, emulsion and dispersion” and the “science of molecular mixology” are examined through the sloshy lens of specialty cocktails. Guests also will be treated to tasty experiments with merlot liquid-nitrogen ice cream, vodka caviar, craft beers and hors d'oeuvres. Tickets for the Sept. 18 event went on sale this week for $50 ($40 for members). Info: 561-832-1988, SFScienceCenter.org.
The six-week Summer Movie Drinking Game series will come to a close 8 p.m. Sunday at the Riverside Market (608 SW 12th Ave., Fort Lauderdale) with 1986’s unintended comedy classic “Top Gun,” starring Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, Tim Robbins and Kelly McGillis. Here are the rules, such as they are: You must take a swig (there are specially priced $2 beers) every time a homoerotic look is shared between characters; characters high-five; Maverick goes against the rules; and “Danger Zone” plays. Info: Facebook.com/RiversideMarket.
Veteran TV-film actor and standup L.A. Hardy, now working from South Florida, on Friday will perform in a new space for comedy: the Arts Garage (180 NE First Street, Delray Beach). Tickets for the 8 p.m. show cost $15, $20 reserved. Info: 561-450-6357, ArtsGarage.org.
The popular Starlight Musicals free concert series on the football field in downtown Fort Lauderdale’s Holiday Park ends its season with the classic rock of Brass Evolution. Music is from 7 to 10 p.m. Best innovation seen this year was from the guy with the helium-filled balloon attached to fishing line draped with neon lights that he reeled out over the crowd like some kind of Jimmy Buffett disco ball. Info: 954-828-5363, FortLauderdale.gov.
The monthly blanket-and-mimosa throwdown known as the SunTrust Jazz Brunch will return to the shady banks of Fort Lauderdale’s New River from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. Performers include Tribecca, Melissa “MoonChild” Stokes and the Fred Allen Trio. If you have been using these gatherings to eyeball the New River Bistro on the ground floor of the Broward Center’s new Huizenga Pavilion, we have it on good authority that it will debut Oct. 7, coinciding with the opening of “Annie.” Tickets: BrowardCenter.org.
Lauderdale-by-the-Sea’s annual BugFest Beachfront Lobster Cookout offers music and a spiny-lobster dinner hosted by popular caterer Lenore Nolan-Ryan under a tent at El Prado Park, on Ocean Drive just north of Anglin’s Square. Bring your own lobster, and get $5 off the $25 cost for the dinner. RSVP: 954-491-2340 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.