Around Town: Forget the blues: Bamboo Room owners looking for buyers with green

The Bamboo Room, which has drawn nationally known acts, is decorated with music memorabilia. Photo provided

By Thom Smith

     Bamboo Room  … Always full of surprises. For example, on Songwriters Night, when the guy at the microphone starts wailing a bluesy version of The Wanderer, a woman at the bar blurts out, “It’s supposed to be original material.” After a brief pause, Dion leans into the mic. “Yeah, no kiddin’.”
    Lots of originals have played the Lake Worth landmark: John Sebastian, Bo Diddley, Edgar Winter, Jorma Kaukonen, Big Bill Morganfield, Al Kooper, Marcia Ball, Tracy Nelson, John Hammond, Bukka White, Levon Helm, Marty Balin.
    For nearly a decade and a half, the Bamboo Room has been Russ Hibbard’s musical sandbox. With the exception of  being shuttered during the economic blues from 2008 to 2011, the club, beautifully decorated and filled with musical memorabilia, has been a haven for lovers of live music since 1999. But times are changing. Hibbard and wife and co-owner Karen McKinley are preparing for retirement in a couple of years and want the freedom that goes with it. They want to make a clean break from the club. But rather than just drop it, they want to find a solid buyer before that transition begins.
    “Several people are interested; two of them are club operators,” Hibbard said, brimming with optimism.“We had four showings in one day.”
    But leaving won’t be easy. Every time he comes across an old clipping, he gets nostalgic about the entertainers he met and the customers he served.
“It had an amazing run,” he said. “I hope someone will buy it and keep it going. I would hate to have to auction all of this off.”
                                       Frank Klein and Maggie Stewart enjoy the Memorial Day concert May 26 at Mizner Park Amphitheater in Boca Raton. Stewart’s brother sang at the concert. Photo by Tim Stepien

    If your idea of a beer is Bud Light or a really cold Miller’s … well, any old bar or mini-mart will do.
But if you like adventure — a Nitro Milk Stout, for example, a not-so-chilly Puppy’s Breath Porter or any of nearly 400 heirloom and craft beers, many in big, big bottles — head to Beer Trade Co., a new Delray watering hole (interesting eats, too!). Gene Playter and Chris Sanchez have totally reworked the old Crepes by the Sea location on Second Avenue a block and a half north of Atlantic. They promise to keep you occupied, maybe even amazed. (808-7304).


Another SunFest is in the books. Attendance at 175,000 was up about 5,000 and nary a peep about unruly customers or unruly entertainment. Rain barely was a problem,
    “The key is customer service and giving the customers the best experience possible,” SunFest President Carrie Bradburn said. “Most people had a great time.”
    Bradburn is a second-generation SunFest president. Her father, the late Granville Webb, presided over the 1987 party that featured Wynton Marsalis and Lynyrd Skynyrd. This year’s acts included Robin Thicke and Kid Rock, and the return of an old crowd favorite.
    Blues Traveler first played SunFest in 1994. The music remains, but the band has a new look — new members and in the case of front man John Popper, a new face …  and new body. In 1999, already diagnosed as diabetic, Popper nearly died from a heart attack, and bass player Bobby Sheehan, 31, died of a drug overdose. Popper took it as a sign to clean up his act. He had gastric bypass surgery in 2000 and plastic surgery to remove the excess skin a year later. He lost 180 pounds.  
    Nevertheless, the band members were gracious when a representative from Shake Shack, a new SunFest vendor, arrived after the show with three bags of milk shakes.
                                       The People Upstairs will open for O.A.R. at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre then play a variety of South County venues in support of a new disc.  Photo provided

The People Upstairs are headed downtown. The Boynton Beach-based rock / funk / reggae stylists have a busy summer planned to push their new disc Take It How You Want, including a big June 7 gig teaming with O.A.R. at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre. They’ll also drop by familiar haunts in South County: Bull Bar (June 19 and July 17), Saltwater Brewery’s Surfrider Party (June 20), Hurricane Bar & Lounge (June 27 and July 25), Rhum Shak in Lake Worth (July 12) and Brogues in Lake Worth (Aug. 16).
    With Ain’t Misbehavin’ and its first season wrapped June 1, The Wick Theatre in Boca Raton will take a breather. Founder Marilynn Wick made the grand jeté from industry costumer to producer, taking over the former Caldwell Theatre Co. and, in the process, silencing a lot of skeptics.
    Next season, The Wick goes strictly musical, reopening Oct. 23 with Swing! and following with Mame, La Cage aux Folles, Man of La Mancha, Oklahoma! and Dames at Sea. Of course, The Wick’s costume museum, The Broadway Collection, featuring thousands of original costumes, remains available, with luncheons and / or high tea, if desired, by appointment. (995-2333)
    Not all theaters are dark this summer. At the Delray Beach Playhouse, Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning Doubt continues through June 8, and Randy DelLago hosts Make Someone Happy, a survey of the music of Adolph Green and Betty Comden, through June 11.
    No slowing down at Jazziz, which gets cool this summer with several top jazz, pop and rock acts, including Acoustic Alchemy June 9 and 10 and the exquisite Nicole Henry June 18. Saxophonist Jessy J performs July 15, Jefferson Starship, with originals Paul Kantner and David Freiberg, July 28 and 29, Sophie B. Hawkins Aug. 5 and 6 and a different kind of music with Sandra Bernhard Aug. 12 and 13. Average White Band will pick up the pieces of summer Sept. 16 and 17.
    Find more good music at Arts Garage in Delray. Blues singer Gina Sicilia performs June 7; The Jost Project featuring jazz harmonica player Paul Jost plays June 13. Moroccan guitarist Albert Dadon, better known as Albare, performs with his band and guest percussionist Sammy Figueroa June 14. Jazz / blues pianist Doug Carter plays Father’s Day, June 15, followed by saxman Turk Mauro June 28. July brings guitarist Nate Najar in trio July 5, Tito Puente Jr. July 18 and 19, fusion guitarists Aaron Lebos July 25 and Diego Figueiredo with Rose Max July 26.
And just to keep life on the verge of chaos, Arts Garage presents Ring of Fire, a musical version of the life of Johnny Cash. David Lutken, who designed and starred in the barnstorming Woody Sez, stars. A co-production with the Adirondack Theatre Festival, Ring of Fire plays 18 shows in Delray Beach from June 19 to July 13 before heading to the mountains.
    Half a century ago, Johnny Cash and wife June Carter sang about their romantic fever, “hotter than a pepper sprout.” Such topics haven’t lost their steam, as evidenced by Cougar the Musical playing at The Plaza Theatre in Manalapan through June 29. The show opens with a tone-setting On the Prowl and follows a trio of divorced women as they search for identity, self-esteem and love with hot, younger men. Through June 29. For tickets, go to or call 588-1820.
    It may not be listed in Guide Michelin, but for a good party, it’s hard to beat the Taste of Boynton. Hosted by the Boynton Chamber of Commerce, this year’s Taste is set for 6:30 p.m. June 12 at Benvenuto. Menu samplings for just about every palate will be offered by the likes of Benvenuto, The Backyard, Banana Boat, Bonefish Grill, Cake Garden & Tea Bakery, Carolina Ale House, Cathy’s Cakes, Culinary Solutions, Dean Anthony’s Pizzeria & Restaurant, East Ocean Cafe, GFS Marketplace, Hurricane Grill & Wings, Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches, Longhorn Steakhouse, Prime Catch, Secret Garden, TruShots Bar & Grille and Village Tavern. The Wine Cellar Boynton Beach will provide accompaniment. Tickets are $35 online and $50 at the door. Call 732-9501.  
    Caffé Luna Rosa has earned a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence.
    “Credit for this award goes to our hard-working staff in the kitchen, on the floor and behind the bar. It is their daily commitment to superior service and support that has earned this prestigious award for Caffé Luna Rosa,” said the restaurant’s founder / partner Fran Marincola.
And here’s another announcement just in time for summer, Caffé Luna Rosa now offers brunch every day from 7 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. “We wanted to give everyone the opportunity to enjoy a greater variety of breakfast items along with our delicious gourmet lunches and dinners,” said the restaurant’s executive chef Ernesto DeBlasi.

Local research guru and Palm Beach State College librarian Janet DeVries is due kudos for winning the 2014 Society of Florida Archivists Award of Excellence for research in Palm Beach County.
DeVries, who is working on her master’s degree in library science at Florida State University, was instrumental in founding the Schoolhouse Children’s Museum, the first history-based children’s museum in Florida. She also designed and installed exhibits to interpret Palm Beach County history.
Her fascination with mysteries and historic sleuthing were fueled by all the Nancy Drew books she read as a girl. She has used her talents as a researcher to promote local history, first as the archivist at the Boynton Beach City Library and currently as president of the Boynton Beach Historical Society.
She has written or co-authored five books and is working on another scheduled for release next year.
     Drivers heading south on Interstate 95 through Boca Raton can’t see it because of the high median wall, but just beyond the airport, northbound drivers are noticing a new construction project. Work has begun on the new interchange at Spanish River Boulevard. Old-timers who thought the Palmetto Pretzel (Palmetto Park Road at 12th Avenue) was complex will be dazzled.
    The Boca Raton City Council and representatives from the Florida Department of Transportation are so excited about the $67 million project that they even held a groundbreaking party. Designed to relieve traffic congestion at Florida Atlantic University, the project also will include modifications to the Yamato Road interchange, the construction of eight — that’s right, eight — new bridges and improvements to five existing bridges. Target completion date: late 2016.
    Meanwhile, lanes on I-95 will be closed intermittently, and traffic will continue to back up. But if traffic backs up after football games, FAU officials will be thrilled to have the crowds, especially for the first Boca Raton Bowl at FAU’s new stadium Dec. 23.  Featuring teams from the Mid-American Conference and Conference USA, of which FAU is a member, the game will be carried by ESPN. Needless to say, FAU’s new football coach Charlie Partridge, whose style resembles that of a tent revivalist, wants his team in the game.
    FAU’s football program was begun by Howard Schnellenberger, who’s still around as the school’s goodwill ambassador, but “only working 60 hours a week instead of 80.”
    Schnellenberger first came to South Florida as a Miami Dolphins assistant before leading the Miami Hurricanes to a national title and rejuvenating Louisville’s program. Now, the Owls can boast another link to the old Dolphins: The wide receivers coach is Dan Shula, grandson of legendary coach Don Shula.

Thom Smith is a freelance writer. Contact him at

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