There’s a sway-day weekend coming: Florida indie music on Saturday, Nov. 6, and a gospel-led, eclectic concert on Sunday, Nov. 7.
Proceeds both days are going toward good causes as well as happy ears. Pack up your sunblock and an appetite for the Everglades City Music Festival on Saturday. Then get ready to sing along with the “Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs” Concert at Covenant Presbyterian Church on Sunday:
Everglades City Music Festival
Music of the hand-clapping, foot-tapping, sing-along variety will be sending vibes through the village to help restore its historic bank building.
The 1927 pilastered block building was the county bank when Everglades City served as county seat. But after Hurricane Donna in 1960, when the government moved to Naples, its business left. New lives as a spa and a boarding house didn’t take, and hurricane-propelled floodwaters left it in need of a major overhaul.
The Everglades Society for Historic Preservation took on the challenge when the building was donated to them. They’re determined to restore it to its former impressive state to house the historical society and boutique commerce.
Florida performers are pitching in to help with a concert and some jamming and area artists have donated works for an auction.
Favorite local and regional performers such as J Robert Houghtaling, Cottondale Swamp, Raiford Starke, Val Wisecracker & Zip Robertson, The Florida Boys and Marie Nofsinger will entertain for the afternoon, and occasional audience participation is a given. Songs that tell of Florida life, such as “Mangrove Music,” and ballads like “Eye to Eye” are in the mix.
Works from area artists will be auctioned off to help the fund.
Everglades City rallies to help its people and music is its best voice, said Marya Repko, one of its organizers and Historical Society representative: “We had a similar music fest on January 2015 to benefit the Smallwood Store when they were fighting to stop developers digging up their road.” The digging was stopped, and the group hopes this cause is just as successful.
Alas, there are no tours of the bank, because it has exploratory work going on now.
“We had some of the interior walls opened up to see what we have,” as Repko put it. “If you can see the original structure you can see where things like windows have been changed.”
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But the nearby Museum of the Everglades, with remnants of the area’s rugged life, is open. Those with admission armbands can wander in and out and sample the unique area. If the Rod & Gun Club’s hot dogs and full bar aren’t enough sustenance, you can take a lunch break at one of Everglades City’s three seafood restaurants. Or wander through the historic Smallwood Store.
If you’ve bought a reserved seat, you’ll have a chair waiting. If you’re coming general admission, bring your own seating, slather on some sunscreen and enjoy. (More information at the end of the story).
Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs
When William Barnett, who is behind both the Sunday, Nov. 7, “Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs” concert and the organization it supports, began rehearsing its gospel choir, he felt a homecoming.
The New York native once led a community youth choir that grew from 25 to nearly 300 children, so he’s more than happy that his adult choir for next Sunday is already at 90-plus.
“This is something that’s been on my heart for a long time,” he declared. The concert, at Covenant Church of Naples, takes in a broad sweep of music, and among it are such favorites as “Amazing Grace,” one of the choir’s selections.
There are some well-known classical favorites, such as the Meditation from “Thais,” with David Mastrangelo, principal second violinist for the Naples Philharmonic; more music from Kevin Mauldin, principal bassist for the Naples Philharmonic; and some bright tunes from a brass quartet of area professional musicians. Jazz singer Amy Bright, singing the soulful Gladys Knight arrangement of “Blessed Assurance.”
Jeffrey Faux, interim director of the Naples Philharmonic Chorus, is doing some guest conducting, and concert pianist Tamra Richardt is on the program. Some “stories behind the song” will be offered by Robert Petterson, retired senior pastor of Covenant Church and an author/motivational speaker who wrote “The One-Year Book of Amazing Stories: 365 Days of Seeing God’s Hand in Unlikely Places.”
There will be comments as well from some of the people helped by Storytellers Creative Arts, an organization that conducts therapeutic art. It serves diverse groups such as Crossroads Recovery Therapy at David Lawrence Center, a veterans art group, Youth Haven, Lighthouse for the Blind and more. That emphasis on visual arts will be reinforced by the sculpture of Ken Vitor, which will be in exhibition for the event.
So while admission to the concert is free (but registration is encouraged; see below), Barnett and the organization hope attendees will contribute to Storytellers Creative Arts for its artistic mission. Bennett said he is finding the concert has been working its own power, with singers happy for social contact and vocal expression for the first time in at least 1½ years after the pandemic.
“It’s been a healing thing in itself,” he said.
Harriet Howard Heithaus covers arts and entertainment for the Naples Daily News/naplesnews.com. Reach her at 239-213-6091.
What: Everglades Music Festival to help restore the village’s historic bank building
When: Noon-4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6
Where: Lawn of the Rod & Gun Club at 200 Broadway, Everglades City
Admission: $40 full car; $20 bike or pedestrian; $50 for reserved seat, available at saveBOE.com or call 239-695-2905; donations are accepted online as well
What: Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs concert to help support Storytellers Creative Arts organization
When: 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 7
Where: Covenant Church of Naples, 6926 Trail Blvd., Naples
Admission: Free; donations are accepted at the event or online