What: Jay Carney
Where: Society of the Four Arts, 2 Four Arts Plaza, Palm Beach
When: 3 p.m.
Cost: Free for members, $35 nonmembers
Contact: 561/655-7226, fourarts.org
It seems like White House press secretaries have a shorter shelf life than cottage cheese these days, but who can blame them for bailing out? You try standing in front of reporters every day—their gotcha questions in hand, just waiting to rake you over the coals for a policy stance your boss does or doesn’t have. Meanwhile, your only recourse is to spin like a washing machine, even if it means re-interpreting inconvenient facts to fit said boss’s agenda. Being first responder to the White House press corps is not easy regardless of political party, and Jay Carney should be applauded for manning the lectern for longer than any of his recent predecessors. The former Obama Administration spokesman, who fielded questions from 2011 to 2014, has enjoyed a newsworthy life, spending 20 years climbing the ranks at Time, where he covered the military overthrow of Mikhail Gorbachev and accompanied President Bush on Air Force One on Sept. 11, 2001. His Four Arts lecture is titled “Today at the White House and Around the Globe.”
What: Vocal Trash
Where: Delray Center for the Arts, 51 N. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach
When: 8 p.m.
Contact: 561/243-7922, delraycenterforthearts.org
The Texas quintet Vocal Trash has been Dumpster-diving for more than a dozen years—not for sustenance but for musical instruments. These masters of percussion established their brand by performing on discarded materials—aluminum trash cans (with the lids for cymbals), water jugs, broom handles—in a variety act that has been affectionately described as “Glee” meets “Stomp.” They’ve since incorporated more traditional rock instruments, but even these have been recycled from unorthodox materials, like the guitars crafted from refurbished toolboxes and gas cans. Triple-threat entertainers, the members of Vocal Trash croon and breakdance their way through original renditions of familiar favorites from “Fever” and “Car Wash” to “Rolling in the Deep” and “I Gotta Feeling,” bringing to their shows an explicit message about the importance of recycling. Because in their case, it’s clear that one person’s trash is another’s music.
What: Opening night of Palm Beach Jewish Film Festival
Where: Kravis Center, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach (festival continues at other South Florida theaters)
When: 7 p.m.
Contact: 561/736-7527, palmbeachjewishfilmfestival.org
Like the Jewish diaspora that continues to survive against often insurmountable odds, so too has this stalwart festival weathered economic downturns and its seemingly limited theme to become one of the most respected festivals in the region, and the longest-running film festival in Palm Beach County. The Donald M. Ephraim Palm Beach Jewish Film Festival will honor its landmark 25th year with another remarkable lineup of titles spanning countless aspects of the Jewish and Israeli life, history and culture, including award-winning and Oscar-considered films. The festival opens Thursday with the South Florida premiere of “Above and Beyond” (pictured), an inspirational and suspenseful historical documentary about Jewish-American pilots who assisted Israel in its 1948 War of Independence. Nearly 30 other titles from around the world will screen through Feb. 8 at Cobb Theatres in Palm Beach Gardens, Frank Theatres at Delray Marketplace and Cinemark Palace 20 in Boca Raton. For the full schedule, visit the festival’s website.
What: John Prine
Where: Parker Playhouse, 707 N.E. Eighth St., Fort Lauderdale
When: 8 p.m.
Contact: 954/462-0222, parkerplayhouse.com
John Prine, now 68, is one of the most consistently rewarding singer-songwriters of the past 40 years. A cancer survivor with a lyrical style as antiwar as it is agrestic, Prine was discovered by Kris Kristofferson, who famously said Prine’s songs were so good that “we’ll have to break his thumbs.” Bob Dylan, who has performed live with Prine, went on to dub his work “Proustian existentialism.” The garrulous and boundlessly clever musician hasn’t released an album of new material since 2005’s “Fair & Square,” but it remains one of the most enduring albums of the Aughts, selling more copies than anything he released in his ‘70s prime. His signature classics include “Illegal Smile,” “Sam Stone,” “Christmas in Prison,” “Common Sense” and “Spanish Pipedream,” and I expect he’ll play most of them at this appearance.
What: Opening night of “I and You”
Where: Arts Garage, 180 N.E. First St., Delray Beach
When: 7:30 p.m.
Contact: 561/450-6357, artsgarage.org
Lauren Gunderson, the playwright behind the two-character drama “I and You,” describes her work as “a play about teens, for everyone.” It’s about two high schoolers—one boy and one girl, one white and one African-American, one healthy and the other chronically ill—who gather to complete a research project on Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Gunderson has been praised for her naturalistic ear for teenage dialogue as well as this play’s mystical third-act twist. “Lauren is very prolific and extraordinarily inventive,” says Lou Tyrrell, artistic director at the theater. “She deals with important issues and can bring unexpected humor to very serious issues. In this case, part of what all of us are trying to do is engage a younger audience, and this play happens to be about two high school seniors who connect through a school project. By the end of the play, we realize their connection is much greater than we initially thought. It ultimately makes this play and this journey an exceptional theatrical experience.” It runs through Feb. 8.
What: Opening day of South Florida Fair
Where: South Florida Fairgrounds, 9067 Southern Blvd., West Palm Beach
When: Begins at 11:30 a.m.
Contact: 561/793-0333, southfloridafair.com
This longstanding January tradition, which began as a cattle exposition, has evolved into an annual celebration of family-friendly fun whose 2015 offerings find the fair embracing new technologies while harkening to its origins. Running through Feb. 1, the fair will feature an eclectic smorgasbord of entertainment not limited to horse demonstrations, a Las Vegas-themed ice show, a Bengal Tiger Encounter, a stage hypnotist, an LED Robots Laser Show, racing pigs (don’t ask), historical re-enactments, the Miss South Florida Fair Scholarship Pageant, a variety of dance performances and tribute artists, a dog show and much more. Live performances, which run an additional $10 after fair admission, include country star Josh Thompson (Jan. 20), classic rockers Foghat (Jan. 22) and modern rockers Puddle of Mudd (pictured, Jan. 27).
What: Opening day of Fabulous Fashion Week
Where: Downtown Delray Beach
When: Begins at 11 a.m.
Cost: Varies by event, usually free
Contact: 561/243-1077, downtowndelraybeach.com
Delray’s Fabulous Fashion Week has continued to grow in size and stature since its inaugural, one-day event in 2013. For its second-annual week of festivities, Laura Simon of the city’s Downtown Development Authority has partnered with local designer Jule Guaglardi, proprietor of Roxylulu, to offer runway events, designer trunk shows and hair and beauty workshops at 50 different cultural and retail locations throughout downtown. Variety is the spice of Delray, a city whose lack of a single signature style will result in an eclectic fashion showcase spanning retro, bohemian chic, ethnic-inspired, and edgy, Manhattan-style designs, all of it culminating in a show-stopping finale at the Colony Hotel. Between 80 and 100 models will grace the catwalks and streets of Delray Beach during the week (through Jan. 24), which will involve more than 100 businesses and a handful of worthy charities. “Delray is a diverse and talented town with such great energy,” Guaglardi says. “We wanted to showcase the fact that we have a lot of hidden treasures and skills and talents, and hopefully this is one of the ways people will be drawn to Delray.”
What: Sunshine Blues & Music Festival
Where: Mizner Park Amphitheater, 590 Plaza Real, Boca Raton
This festival has become arguably Boca Raton’s most anticipated annual music festival, but previous lineups pale compared to the star-studded luster of this year’s fest, whose organizers have genuinely outdone themselves. If the weather holds, it promises to be one of the year’s most memorable and talked-about music fests, headlined as usual by the stalwart Jacksonville blues-rockers Tedeschi Trucks Band, but featuring a full slate of acts that could have easily headlined themselves: The Doors’ legendary guitarist Robby Krieger, who still plays the songs of his old band; eclectic, folksy singer-songwriter Grace Potter (pictured); Chris Robinson Brotherhood, featuring the distinctive vocals of the Black Crowes frontman; Los Lobos, the Grammy-winning Chicago rockers; and my personal favorites, The Both: a fascinating collaboration between two singular singer-songwriters, Aimee Mann and Ted Leo. The Rebirth Brass Band, Matt Schofield and Sean Chambers complete the lineup, and the event also features craft beer and wine offerings, along with six food vendors.