When I tell folks in other parts of the country that I enjoy the quality of life in South Florida, it goes without question. Which is good, because I’m not precisely sure how I would answer the question.
Many of its balmy attributes are obvious, but there is also a restorative Zen that sneaks up on me from time to time, perhaps when I allow myself to be open to it, a balm that I appreciate even more these days.
The feeling often sweeps over me in certain public settings, like the series of community picnics beginning this weekend in Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale, where stranger meets stranger, face to face, blanket to blanket, instead of finger to keyboard. If you allow yourself to be open to it.
On Friday, the weekly Summer in the City music series kicks off in downtown Boca Raton’s Mizner Park Amphitheater with a free 8 p.m. concert from popular Eagles cover band the Long Run.
These shows are decidedly laid-back, with chairs and blankets welcome (they’ll rent you a chair for $5), and food and beverages available to purchase inside the venue (no outside food or beverages allowed). They’d like attendees to walk, bike or ride-share, but there is free parking at City Hall and the Boca Raton Library. Doors open at 7 p.m. Visit MiznerAmp.com.
Also on Friday is the season-opening concert in the Starlight Musicals series, which sprawls over a couple of grassy fields in downtown Fort Lauderdale’s Holiday Park every week through Aug. 10.
The series, sponsored by Bank of America and now in its 40th year, may be a revelation to the swarm of millennials who have recently moved into the many new residences sprouting across downtown Fort Lauderdale. Sure, there will be kids roaming around chasing balls, but for the majority of attendees, unaccompanied by minors, this is simply a chill spot to start the weekend with a bottle of wine (it’s BYOB and food), toes in the grass.
The opening-night 7-10 p.m. concert will come from South Florida soul-pop favorites the Valerie Tyson Band, who can channel everyone from the Staple Singers and Kool & the Gang to Beyonce and Rihanna.
This show may serve as a reminder that the audiences for these concerts are not as diverse as they should be, a lost opportunity for the shared experience that binds communities. The bulldozing of entire city blocks in the area doesn’t help. Something to talk about over that wine. Visit fortlauderdale.gov/starlight.
My other favorite place to be this weekend is in front of Monsieur Periné, the enchanting ensemble from Colombia that will find no better place to introduce music from their just-released album, “Encanto Tropical,” than the palm-lined North Beach Bandshell on North Miami Beach on Sunday. A band that made its reputation on swinging, ’20s jazz rhythms (winning a Best New Artist Latin Grammy in 2015), Monsieur Periné laces its vintage sound with modern influences on the new release (produced by Eduardo Cabra from Calle 13). Says captivating Cali-born vocalist Catalina Garcia: “This is a record that’s very immersed in the tropics and its contrasts. It’s a record that has a strong presence of those cultures that have been the roots for us: Africa, indigenous America and, of course, Europe. It’s our way of looking inward and discovering our tropics.” Opening with a set by Miami’s pioneering Latin electronica artist Mr. Pauer (Toto González), the concert runs from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Sunday. Tickets cost $30 advance, $40 at the door. Visit RhythmFoundation.com.
ART, MUSIC, DRINKS
In West Palm Beach, the Norton Museum of Art’s free, weekly Art After Dark series should be on your radar. This Thursday (June 7) it includes a gallery tour led by Edouard Duval-Carrié (6 p.m.); a screening of “Bold Voices, New Inroads: Short Films by Women Directors” (6:30 p.m.), with post-film discussion moderated by University of Miami professor Christina Lane; and original music from Lindsey Mills and Ella Herrera (8 p.m.). On Thursday, June 14, Art After Dark will include two sets of jazzy funk from Public Sounds Collective and a stop- motion animation workshop led by Fort Lauderdale-based artist Jen Clay. As always, Art After Dark admission is free and there is a cash bar. Visit Norton.org.
WAR OF THE ROSAS
This is not as complicated as it sounds. On Friday at 5 p.m. the punky-chic Miami rock club Las Rosas celebrates its first anniversary with a 12-hour, no-cover blowout featuring performances by Plastic Pinks, Mo'Booty, Antifaces, Talking Dogs, Jaialai, Bulletproof Tiger and others, along with vendors, food trucks and other enticements. The fun continues on Saturday, when Las Rosas will host Stiff Records icon Wreckless Eric, playing music from “Construction Time & Demolition,” released 40 years after his new-wave hits “Semaphore Signals” and “Whole Wide World.” Also on the bill for this no-cover show are Mr. Entertainment & MLE, Rob Elba, Karōshi and DJ Skidmark. Of course, Las Rosas is also the name of a revered psych-garage rock band from Brooklyn, and on Tuesday the trio will bring their tour to Voltaire in West Palm Beach (with Tingy Thick, Ben Katzman’s Degreaser and Milk Spot). Visit Facebook.com/VoltaireWPB. But how could Las Rosas not play Las Rosas? They will, Wednesday night on a bill with Grey & Orange and Jaialai. Visit LasRosasBar.com.
WORDS AND COFFEE
Fans of the elegant prose of longtime Sun Sentinel travel writer Thomas Swick can get an earful when Swick celebrates the paperback edition of his splendid collection of essays titled “The Joys of Travel” with a reading 7 p.m. Friday at Grind Coffee Project (great coffee) in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Visit ThomasSwick.com or GrindCoffeeProject.com.
It’s grand-opening weekend at Proper Ice Cream in Delray Beach (1445 N. Congress Ave., No. 4), where you can take out the artisanal dessert found in some top Palm Beach County restaurants, with inventive flavors including pistachio with caramelized fig, banana cream pound cake, olive oil and rosemary, and dark chocolate and honey (go crazy and top it with honeycomb). On Friday from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., you’ll find buy-one-get-one deals, music and more. Visit ProperIceCream.com.
Any happy-hour invitation that references Peggy Olson gets extra points in our book. Downtown Fort Lauderdale’s classy Good Spirits Fifth & Fed, located at Northeast Fifth Street and (almost) Federal Highway, this week unveiled a weekly 7-10 p.m. Wednesday ladies-night gathering with free drinks for women, including premium well cocktails, house wines by the glass, champagne by the glass and all draft and bottled beer. Visit Facebook.com/GS5AndFed.
SHHH, I’M DANCING!
Dance like no one is listening as silent disco takes over Wynwood Yard in Miami Friday night beginning at 11 p.m. The headphone-enabled party is 21-and-older, with advance-discount tickets $15 now, $20 later. No tickets will be sold at the door. Visit TheWynwoodYard.com.
THAT INDIE VIBE
The Indie Craft Bazaar crew, the people who gives us the Friday night arty-drinky Food in Motion block parties at Peter Feldman Park in downtown Fort Lauderdale (there’s one 5-11 p.m. this Friday), have an even fuller weekend planned. On Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. they will launch a second-Saturday series next to Dania Beach City Hall (Southwest First Avenue between First Street and Dania Beach Boulevard), called Dania After Dark, with music (Jah Steve and the Counteract Crew), local artists, pop-up shops and 15 food trucks (Red Zeppelin, BC Tacos, Cosmos Ice Cream and Reggae Beats among them). On Sunday they will return to the northwest corner of Margate Boulevard and Highway 441 in Margate from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for Groove & Green, which includes a farmer’s market, food trucks, tented brunching, mimosas and live music. Groove & Green will occur on the second and fourth Sundays of the month. Visit Facebook.com/IndieCraftBazaar.
The Miami board-game café known as Mac and Chess celebrates its first anniversary on Saturday from noon to 2 a.m., with game tournaments, food and drink specials, a DJ (at 7 p.m.) and a tap takeover by J. Wakefield Brewing (MacAndChessMiami.com) … The every-other Sunday Board Game Society Meetup returns to the Brewhouse Gallery in Lake Park 2 p.m. Sunday, followed at 6 p.m. by a Cards Against Humanity team competition, hosted by comedian Wayne Felber (Facebook.com/TheBrewhouseGallery) … The Funky Buddha Lounge and Brewery in Boca Raton presents Dungeons and Drafts, just as you feared, an evening devoted to Dungeons and Dragons (and beer drinking) beginning at 5 p.m. Sunday (Facebook.com/FunkyBuddhaBoca).
Coral Gables Art Cinema continues its two-week retrospective of films by Hayao Miyazaki’s influential Studio Ghibli, with his critically acclaimed “Spirited Away” screening Friday-Sunday. Tickets cost $11.75, $10 for students, seniors and military, $7 for 12 and younger. Visit GablesCinema.com.
DRINK WITH THE ANIMALS
Saltwater Brewery will be running the taps as the Palm Beach Zoo parties during Food Truck Safari 4:30-9 p.m. Saturday, with live music by the Shin Dig Duo and Andre Michaud, and a cash bar (PalmBeachZoo.org) … 26 Degree Brewing Co. in Pompano Beach on Sunday will host Gentle Giants Great Dane Rescue, with a donation of $5 to the rescue getting you $1 off all beer on tap from noon to 4 p.m. (Facebook.com/26brewing) … Broken Shaker at Freehand Miami and swimwear shop IShine365 will show off bikinis and future pets from Miami-Dade Animal Services during the Sip, Shop, Adopt barbecue 1 p.m. Sunday (Facebook.com/BrokenShakerMiami).
This is your last weekend to catch the touring production of the irreverent Broadway musical “Avenue Q” at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach. Final performances of cheeky puppet show are 7:30 p.m. Friday, 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $55. Visit Kravis.org.
HOGAN AND FLAIR
Two of the biggest pop-culture stars pro wrestling ever produced — Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair — bring their two-man memory tour to the Hard Rock Event Center in Hollywood at 9 p.m. Saturday, joined by emcee Jimmy Hart and Eric Bischoff. Sharing stories of brawls, bars, pranks and trashed hotel rooms, the two engaging stars seem happy to be there, according to reviewers. Anyone who saw ESPN’s hit 2017 30 For 30 documentary “Nature Boy,” in which Flair said he drank at least 10 beers and five mixed drinks a day for decades, knows he’s happy to be anywhere. Tickets start at $75. Visit MyHRL.com.
School of Rock performers from Coral Springs, Pompano Beach and West Broward schools will perform 6-9 p.m. Friday at the Hub on Fort Lauderdale beach during the free Friday Night Soundwaves Series (FridayNightSoundwaves.com) … Blues belter and guitarist Rachelle Coba is at Luna Star Café in North Miami 8 p.m. Friday (RachelleCoba.com) … Blues-roots guitarist Joel DaSilva brings the fire to Kelly Brothers Irish Pub in Fort Lauderdale 8 p.m. Friday (Facebook.com/JoelDaSilvaMusic) … Hollywood-based rock mystics Bodhisattva share music from the recent album “Butterfly Hurricane” to Two& in Fort Lauderdale 9 p.m. Friday, joined by Yardij (Facebook.com/TwoAndWhatever) … Tingy Thick (brothers Andrew and Dion Kerr) brings the pulsating psych-out of the album “Not Cool, Cold” to Subculture Coffee in Delray Beach 10 p.m. Friday (Facebook.com/SubcultureCoffeeDelray) … Crazy Fingers raise the Deadheads 8 p.m. Saturday in a new spot, Mathews Brewing Co. in Lake Worth (Facebook.com/MathewsBrewing) … The Samantha Russell Band brings country authenticity to the Silverball Museum in Delray Beach 10 p.m. Saturday (SamanthaRussell.com) … The Joey Tenuto Band rocks World of Beer in Plantation 7 p.m. Saturday and brings it again for Ray’s Downtown night at Voltaire in West Palm Beach 8 p.m. Sunday (Facebook.com/JoeyTenutoJrBand) … The June weekend music series continues at CityPlace in West Palm Beach with funk-soul brother Mr. Trombone at 7:30 p.m. Friday and feel-good reggae from Sweet Justice 7:30 p.m. Saturday (CityPlace.com) …