From the whispering surf and the song of a mockingbird to the murmurings of museum goers exploring the latest exhibition, Palm Beach County’s summer soundtrack is a masterpiece. Here, several prominent area musicians weigh in on their favorite tracks.
New Jersey-born trumpeter Jeffrey Kaye relocated to the warmer climes of South Florida in 1989. While others from the Garden State come to retire, Kaye came to work. A powerful player, the Boca Raton resident had earned his master’s from the Manhattan School of Music and became principal trumpeter for the Florida Philharmonic shortly after moving to Florida. In 2005, he became a founding board member of the Boca Symphonia; he has been the organization’s artistic director since 2011.
“My first summer after moving here, the Florida Philharmonic ended up playing regularly along the water with headliners like Ray Charles, Natalie Cole, Michael Feinstein and Dionne Warwick. It was so hot. I wasn’t used to that, so I learned to bring a jug of water and a towel as well as my horn. Now I’m playing the summer Sunset Music Series with the Boca Symphonia and people are listening from their lawn chairs and picnic blankets at Mizner Park Amphitheater. It’s still hot, but at the same time, just as cool.”
Inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, Bronx, New York, native Dion DiMucci wandered down to South Florida in 1968. The Boca Raton resident has lived here ever since. A singer, guitarist and songwriter, Dion was already on a first-name basis with much of the world after hit songs like “The Wanderer” and “Runaround Sue.” Sporting a more bluesy style than could be heard in his pop heyday, he still tours and records. His latest release is “Tank Full of Blues” from 2011.
“I like going to hear local blues artists in the summer. I love going to Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach or the Funky Biscuit in Boca Raton, whenever Rick Rossano or J.P. Soars are playing. They’re both great local guitarists. I love this area. I don’t golf, so if I’m not going out to hear music, I’m working with area ministries, going to dinner or hitting a cruise, a ballgame or a movie with my friends. Touring is still fun but I have a full and rich life here off the road.”
A native Floridian, the Lake Park-based vocalist has traversed jazz, blues and R&B during a career that spans several recordings and numerous stages across the United States. After trying out locales like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles as a singer, actress and director, she returned to the sweet sounds of home.
“I’m reminded of the summer by the sound of the birds tweeting and twittering outside my house’s picture window in the morning. They’re like a symphony-of-sounds alarm clock. And there’s the comforting sound of the summer rain, the rustling of the trees in my yard and the huge sounds the bullfrogs can make. Plus walking around my neighborhood, with the sound of the kids playing basketball at the park nearby and talking to my neighbors and playing with their dogs.”
Versatile pianist Copeland Davis was born in Orlando but moved to Palm Beach County to study music at Florida Atlantic University more than 40 years ago – and our area has been a better place musically ever since. A master of jazz and popular music as well as classical, Davis teaches music at the Oxbridge Academy in West Palm Beach. He’s performed frequently in Las Vegas, sharing stages with Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight and Sammy Davis Jr., and has also appeared on The Tonight Show and Good Morning America.
“I came down here to study classical music, so the soundtrack to my summers here would sound like that. I still also play jazz and pop music. Mostly pop gigs, because I can insert some classical and jazz elements into that genre. It’s all interconnected. I recently performed George Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue,’ which embodies those connections and sounds like summer to me, [at the Eissey Theater in Palm Beach Gardens]. Other than music, I’d have to mention the sound of the kids running around and playing while school’s out.”
Following a successful stint on the Greenwich Village folk scene through the 1980s, Connecticut native Rod MacDonald settled in Delray Beach 20 years ago. The singer/songwriter has since become a fixture, playing gigs as both a solo acoustic artist and with a full band. He’s also a Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Florida Atlantic University instructor and a first-time author whose new book is called The Open Mike. His latest of 11 CDs is the 2014 release “Later That Night.”
“Summer is partly about nostalgia, especially regarding music, since it was the time of year as a kid when we weren’t affected by the school year and actually had the time to listen. With my two young daughters home through the summer, I hear lots of Disney material! Most local gigs tend to be indoors to beat the heat, but either way, I find myself leaning more toward romantic songs in the summer.”