+ Switzer blows his horn for banjo groupies
Cynthia Sayer rocked the house last week with her ragtime-y, jazz-happy, four-string-plucking banjo concert at the Players Theatre.
The musician’s diverse set list included sing-along songs (Benny Goodman’s “Goody Goody”), old country tunes (Hank Williams’ “Half As Much”), unapologetic pro-marijuana anthems (Sidney Bechet’s “Viper Mad”) and classical orchestral compositions (Franz Liszt’s “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2”).
Ever the crowd-pleaser, the banjoist, accompanied by Sarasota musicians Bob Switzer (on trumpet) and Mark Neuenschwander (on string bass), devoted most of her show’s second set to audience requests, ending on an encore performance of “Oh! Susanna.”
However, the stamina award of the night goes to out to Switzer, who despite being decades older than Sayer wailed on his horn like a young Miles Davis.
+ Puppet show has strings attached
Not since the Muppets have puppets been so engaging. How else do we explain the Hermitage Artist Retreat’s latest fellow, North Carolina puppeteer Hobey Ford.
Ford, a Kennedy Center teaching artist and toy inventor, is not your average street performer. The recipient of three Jim Henson Foundation grants, Ford is the two-time winner of puppetry’s highest honor — the Union Internationale de la Marionnette Citation of Excellence.
With credentials like that it’s no wonder he was the first puppeteer invited to stay at the Manasota Key retreat.
For just $5, Sarasota residents can catch Ford’s puppet presentation at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 31, at the Historic Asolo Theater. To make a reservation, call 360-7399.
+ Dance magazine editor to visit Sarasota
Dance fanatics will get a chance to rub elbows next week with Wendy Perron, editor in chief of Dance magazine.
Perron, a former dancer, chorographer and teacher, was invited to speak Tuesday, March 29, at a Carreño Dance Festival luncheon in the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall's Grand Foyer.
The editor will discuss the popularity of “Black Swan” as well as address the notion that ballet is dying, as suggested by Jennifer Homans’ recently published book, “Apollo’s Angels.”
The visit marks Perron’s first appearance in Sarasota.
“I’m looking forward to it,” she says. “I think it’s great that Robert de Warren has been able to get a dancer like José Manuel Carreño to come down and do this festival. Sarasota should definitely cherish it.”
Perron, who works out of New York City, says she’d love to get a chance to check out the Sarasota Ballet while she’s in town. She says she’s familiar with the company’s work, especially its latest reputation for dancing revered works by British choreographers.
Hey, Wendy, if you’re still in town, the company will perform its tribute to George Balanchine Friday, April 1 and Saturday, April 2.
For tickets to the Perron luncheon, call 776-0676.
+ Greenfield Prize awarded to NYC scribe
It’s always exciting when famous playwrights take a break from Broadway rehearsals to swing by Sarasota to pick up some cash.
John Guare, who’s currently enjoying the Broadway revival of his “The House of Blue Leaves” starring Jennifer Jason Leigh, Edie Falco and Ben Stiller, is the recipient of this year’s $30,000 Greenfield Prize.
Established in 2009 by longtime Sarasota residents Bob and Louise Greenfield, the prize enables an artist to create a work of art during a six-week residency at the Hermitage Artists Retreat.
Since its inception, the prize has been awarded to playwright Craig Lucas, composer Eve Beglarian and visual artist Sanford Biggers.
Guare will receive his bounty at a weekend-long celebration. For a full schedule of events, visit www.greenfieldprize.org.
Rubin Peacock at Allyn Gallup: More than 20 years have passed since Sarasota bronze artist Rubin Peacock exhibited his work at a hometown gallery. The sculptor, who’s been busy with out-of-town exhibitions and commissions, finally gives locals a taste of what he’s been up to with his latest exhibition, “Spirit Catchers: Forty Years of Bronze,” on display through April 2 at Allyn Gallup Contemporary Art. For more information, call 366-2454 or visit www.miramarart.com.
Susan Swartz at the SeaFair Mega Yacht: Think dolphins are the only sights to see via boat in Sarasota? Think again. Abstract expressionist painter Susan Swartz’s one-woman show arrives this week in Sarasota aboard the SeaFair Mega Yacht, the world’s first mobile yacht art venue. The luxury line will be docked from March 24 to March 28, at Marina Jack, where it will showcase 25 of Swartz’s paintings. For more information, visit www.expoships.com.
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Bob Havel recently celebrated his 90th birthday on Longboat Key with 24 members of his family.