NEW PORT RICHEY — The idea to promote local talent took root about eight months ago at Karl Reef, Bar and Grill on the corner of Grand Boulevard and Main Street in New Port Richey.
Joe Karl III, whose dad owns the downtown nightclub, had heard the complaints. Too many tribute bands. Not enough venues featuring local or regional talent.
His solution? To host a monthly locals night promoting musicians like his wife, Taylor Reed, at Karl Reef.
Tuesday nights are slow, so it was an easy pitch to his dad, said Karl, who serves as a worship pastor/music director at Journey Church in downtown New Port Richey.
They’ve been at it for nine months, and so far, Locals Night has been pretty well-received, he said. Since starting up, a few other venues have been booking acts he’s brought in.
"There’s so much cool stuff happening in the city of New Port Richey," he said. "We have all this talent right here and people that are really passionate about promoting that local talent."
Come Feb. 20, the monthly event gets a little broader as three local businesses open their doors for "Locals Night Goes Multi-site."
The event, which starts at 6 p.m., will feature acoustic artist Forrest Hoffar and jazz/blues singer and songwriter Julie Black as the headliner at the main stage at Karl Reef, 6307 Grand Boulevard.
Black and her band have performed at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday, Chasco Fiesta and many other festivals.
She also appears regularly at noted venues like the House of Blues in Orlando and Skippers Smokehouse and Blur Nightclub in Tampa, as well as on local radio and television.
Multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Taylor Reed will play at Sip wine bar at 6231 Grand Boulevard. Eric and Marina Mullins, who own Mullins Music store, will perform at Mountaineer Coffee, 5647 Main Street. A $5 cover charge/wristband gets you in all three venues and may be purchased at all three locations.
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About 50 local musicians from all walks of life make up the Richey Community Orchestra, which presents its February concert, "Mediterranean Romance," at 3 p.m. Sunday , at the Center for the Arts at River Ridge, 11646 Town Center Road, New Port Richey. Performers range in age from 18 to 83, said Denise Isaacson, who has been with the group for 45 years and serves as executive director and principal clarinet player. Some, like Isaacson, are professional musicians. Others have careers in medicine, education or own their own businesses. All volunteer their time.
The concert, featuring special guest soloist and Las Vegas trumpet virtuoso Charly Raymond, promises a romantic, musical tour of Mediterranean countries. Selections include The Toreadors from Carmen, Ravel’s Bolero, Italian Girl in Algiers, by Rossini, and In a Persian Market by Ketelbey. Raymond, who has been compared to greats such as Harry James, Al Hirt and Doc Severinsen, will be featured in Carnival of Venice, Il Trillo, La Virgin de la Macarena, Zorba the Greek and more. Tickets are $15 and may purchased at the door or on-line at richeycommunityorchestra.com
• Off the beaten path, a little way off State Road 54 in Lutz, the Dreamhouse Theatre offers a cozy venue featuring lots of local talent in productions that are suitable for young and old alike. Now playing is the romantic comedy, She Loves Me, with shows at 8 p.m. Feb. 14-17 and Feb. 23-24 and 3 p.m. Feb. 18 and 15 at the theatre, 1840 Oak Grove Boulevard, Lutz. Tickets are $23 each at dreamhousetheatre.com or call Bryan D’Onofrio at (813) 997-7146