The Prince of Swing
Clarinetist Dave Bennett captures the sound of Benny Goodman—with a little help from Alice Cooper.
The woods are thick with Elvis impersonators and Beatles tribute bands. But Benny Goodman acolytes, not so much.
Dave Bennett is one of the select few, and he’s bringing his act to Bob Carr this month. The clarinetist will be performing such Goodman standards as the dreamy “Moonglow” and the rousing “Sing Sing Sing” with his own combo and the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra.
“A lot of stuff that people, I think, will recognize, both young and old,” says Bennett, whose fascination with Goodman began in 1994 when he was 10 years old, growing up in Michigan.
“My grandfather bought me a clarinet to give me a hobby, and also bought me a tape of Benny Goodman around the same time,” he recalls. “I heard what Benny was doing and I…wanted to be able to play like that.”
So while his contemporaries were lapping up the deathless sounds of Boyz II Men and Mariah Carey, young Dave was finding his groove with the music of the King of Swing, whose heyday had been in the mid to late ’30s.
“There’s a lot of emotion, a lot of passion in it that really, really grabbed me,” says Bennett. “It kinda made me feel complete.”
Bennett, who began performing professionally at age 13, has been presenting Benny Goodman tributes since 2003. But he loves all kinds of music, from Jimi Hendrix to Stevie Ray Vaughn, and sometimes those eclectic influences show up subtly in his Goodman concerts.
“I’m a big Alice Cooper fan, too,” he says, recalling a recent performance in which he slipped a little Cooper into his improvisations. “Actually, one person picked up on it in the audience, which was very rare.
“I told him it made my day that he was listening that closely.”
A Tribute to Benny Goodman. Oct. 10, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. $13-$65. Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre, 401 W. Livingston St. 407-770-0071. orlandophil.org
Double Shot of Blues
October 15 Two blues-guitar legends from the ’60s and ’70s hit town just days apart. First up, at the Plaza Theatre, is blues rocker Johnny Winter, who continues to electrify audiences with his particular brand of country-mixed-with-electric blues. On October 17 English blues/rock guitarist Robin Trower, who played with Procol Harum in the ’60s, and who teamed up with Cream’s Jack Bruce earlier this year for a tour, brings his own power trio to the House of Blues. Winter: 8 p.m. $25. The Plaza Theatre, 425 N. Bumby Ave. 1-800-745-3000. ticketmaster.com; Trower: 8 p.m. $21-$58. House of Blues, 1490 E. Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista. 407-934-2583. houseofblues.com
October 16–November 7 A dingy apartment in an Irish town on Christmas Eve provides the setting for The Seafarer, a tale of redemption. It’s about a group of drunks who play poker with the devil; the soul of one of the players is the prize. Connor McPherson’s witty and literate play was inspired by an 8th century Anglo-Saxon poem of the same title. Thursday-Saturday 8 p.m., Sunday 2:30 p.m. $15-$18. Theatre Downtown, 2113 N. Orange Ave. 407-841-0083. theatredowntown.net
Fall of Art
October 10-11 Winter Park’s Central Park provides the backdrop for art lovers this month. The 36th Annual Winter Park Autumn Art Festival brings Florida artists, live entertainment food and refreshments to the park. Saturday-Sunday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Free admission. Central Park, Winter Park. 407-644-8281. winterpark.org
Cycles of Art
October 10-January 10 When motorcycle mania roars into Central Florida, even the highbrows pay attention. The chopper, a uniquely American icon, has been elevated in status at Ocala’s Appleton Museum. Thirty of the rolling sculptures make up Art of the Chopper, showing how design and engineering combine with personality to create art. If the museum doesn’t have enough roar for you, head east to join thousands of bike enthusiasts at Daytona’s Biketoberfest, October 15-18, where it’s all action, loud and fast. Or if you prefer the silent cycles, Mount Dora’s Bike Festival hits the road October 9-11. Appleton is open Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday noon-5 p.m. $5-$12. Appleton Museum, 4333 E. Silver Springs Blvd. (State Road 40), Ocala. 352-291-4455. appletonmuseum.org