Friday, March 31: Mystery theater at Mangoes Restaurant.
Saturday, April 1: Multimedia jazz noir concert at The Studios of Key West.
Sunday, April 2: Swing dance lessons at Bottle Cap’s Blue Room
Rock Solomon brings vintage era to life
It’s an era that isn’t easily forgotten, filled with jazz music, women puffing on skinny cigarettes, parties that lasted into the night with flappers, speakeasies, cronies, and Satchmo. Musician Rock Solomon is bringing that vintage style and sound to Key West again.
“Instead of just a concert, I am trying to involve the community in the history and culture of jazz through an experience,” said Solomon. So, he’s planned three weekends — one each month during March, April and May. The first is Friday, March 31 through Sunday, April 2 and includes interactive experiences ranging from murder mystery theater, to narrative concert, to swing dance lessons.
“It’s proven to be a really cool experience,” he said. “Everyone so far has gotten really into the vintage attire, the hair, the makeup, the raiding of grandma’s closet for Gatsby-like outfits.”
Solomon grew up around music — his dad a big-band leader, and mom a jazz vocalist. He “rebelled” by joining the corporate world until one day he woke up and accepted his musical destiny. He’s gigged around Key West for some time but, “I was having trouble finding gigs, so I decided to make my own path and create more,” he said.
The TDC agreed with his jazz festival pitch, and funded the events. “I think they really liked the interactive part of it,” he said.
On Friday, March 31, the weekend kicks off with an interactive mystery theater experience at Mangoes Restaurant on Duval Street. “You walk in, get a great meal, and are handed a card explaining your character for the night,” he said. As the night goes on, more cards are handed out explaining twists in the plot for the whodunit. Doors open at 6 p.m. for cocktails and murders start happening at 7 p.m. Bar bystander tickets start at $45 and includes a glass of champagne for guests who are in attire, witnesses are $115 and includes the five course meal including gratuity and tax, and VIP suspects are $165 which includes the dinner, VIP booth seating and open well bar.
Saturday night at 8 p.m., the multimedia concert series brings Jazz Noir to The Studios of Key West. “It’s a story about a Key West singer in the 1930s experiencing the ups and downs of the great depression, hurricanes, and rum running through songs, narrative, and video,” he said. Each month brings a different layout and guest talent. General admission is $38 and VIP preferred seating with champagne is $55.
On Sunday, the swing dance lessons have proven to be a favorite. Lucy Carleton brings her 20 years of experience as a social dance instructor to a ’40s style dance night at Bottle Cap’s Blue Room. “It’s for everybody. If you haven’t done it before, we’ll get you started, and if you have, we will get you doing new things,” she said. The best part she says is it’s a great icebreaker. “You don’t have to bring a partner, we are constantly rotating during the lessons so everyone meets and dances with everyone.” (And, Solomon’s live swing band brings the tunes from 7 to 10 p.m.) Tickets start at $15 pre-purchased online, or $20 at the door. “Bring the glamour and gangster,” Solomon said.
Inspired by Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra, Solomon said, “It’s a love of vintage culture and vintage music.”
Other weekend Jazz Retrospectaular events also take place May 5-7 and June 2-4. For more information and to buy tickets to the events (there are single event passes, and full weekend passes available), visit mixdeity.com.
The Jazz-Age Retrospectacular is an interactive look at the music, style, and culture of America’s most iconic music era, the Jazz-age.” –Rock Solomon