Jim Abbott on Travel
Postcards from Florida
April 20, 2013
Anyone who has visited lovely Bok Tower Gardens, one of Florida's enduring, old-school tourist attractions in Lake Wales, is familiar with the soundtrack:
Bok Tower's famous carillon — a set of 60 bells operated by paddles played by a musician stationed high in the attraction's 205-foot landmark tower — is the perfect accompaniment for strolling in the peaceful gardens.
Sometimes the bells are augmented by musical guests such as the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, an ensemble equally capable of stately sounds that fit the surroundings.
A different instrument will be chiming, however, when banjo virtuoso Alison Brown and Canadian-based Americana band the Duhks perform at Bok Tower's annual Concert Under the Stars at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Pronounced "ducks," the band characterizes its sound as "a folk-rock, bluegrass fusion of Afro-Cuban soul and jazz." From my experiences watching the band at music festivals, I'd say this booking represents a pretty big step into the realm of jam bands for Bok Tower Gardens.
It's a long way from bells.
I'm more excited about the presence of a banjo, an instrument that has endured its share of teasing through the years. I know because I've been known to pluck on one occasionally, an exercise that often requires enduring a few jokes. Here's an example:
What's the difference between a banjo and a parrot? Answer: One is loud and obnoxious; the other is a bird.
So any sign of banjo respect is appreciated, whether it's the acclaimed picking of comedian Steve Martin at the Grand Ole Opry or the hybrid of jazz, classical, folk and Latin influences that Brown will present at Bok Tower Gardens.
Brown has received three Grammy nominations for her music, which Billboard has praised for its "inescapable beauty." She is a former member of Union Station, bluegrass star Alison Krauss' band.
Besides, in the right hands, a banjo can sound like ringing bells.
Tickets are $25 in advance ($22.50 for Bok Tower Gardens members), $10 for ages 5-12. At the gate, admission is $30 adult, $12 ages 5-12.
Visit boktowergardens.org for tickets or additional information.
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