When rising country-music star Ashley Cooke was asked to pick out her favorite moments growing up in South Florida, she described summer evenings with friends from Parkland packed into pickup trucks bound for tailgates at concerts by Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan and others in West Palm Beach.
Indeed, Bentley’s outdoor show on Saturday night at iTHINK Financial Amphitheatre is about as summer as it gets around here.
Cooke might’ve been there, too, if she weren’t on tour with Luke Bryan — and about to release her presentación album, “Shot in the Dark” (Big Loud Records), on July 21. This week, she teased the ambitious 24-track album with the presentación of two singles, “Your Place” and “Enough to Leave.”
A sensitive songwriter and a warm, honey-voiced stage presence, the former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student, who received the onstage imprimatur of Kenny Chesney in a duet at Tortuga Music Festival in April, has stardom written all over her.
Someday teenage music fans may define summer good times with amphitheater tailgates at an Ashley Cooke concert. Keep up to date with her at AshleyCooke.com.
Meanwhile, in addition to Bentley’s show (tickets available), this weekend will be defined by Tyler Herro pizza, the Boca Burger Battle, Duane Betts, Julian Marley, Boy George, and films and food from Finland.
In like Fin: Finntastic! New Films from Finland is a showcase of cinema from our new NATO friend at Savor Cinema in downtown Fort Lauderdale this Thursday through Sunday. A partnership with the Embassy of Finland and the Finnish Film Foundation, the weekend will include shorts and features, rom-coms, children’s tales and a horror thriller. As intriguing may be the refreshments, which will include Finlandia cocktails (natch) and Finland’s Long Drink (sort of a cocktail in a can), as well as delicacies from Alenka Home Food, which moved from Helsinki to Lantana, and Palm Beach Bakery &Café, also in Lantana, which bills itself as South Florida’s only traditional Finnish bakery. Who knew? For more on Finntastic! screenings and tickets, visit FLIFF.com/finntastic.
He’ll tumble 4 ya: Iconic ’80s pop diva Boy George and Culture Club (“Do You Really Want to Hurt Me,” “Karma Chameleon,” “Church of the Poisoned Mind,” “Time,” “Miss Me Blind”) will open their 25-city North American tour at iTHINK Financial Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach on Thursday, joined by Howard Jones and Berlin. Gates open at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $20+ for lawn seating. Visit LiveNation.com.
Gotta have ‘Faith’: Hard Rock Live in Hollywood welcomes the other other former One Direction member as Louis Tomlinson brings the tour supporting his new album, “Faith in the Future,” to South Florida at 8 p.m. Thursday. Tickets start at $55+ for upper-deck seating. Visit MyHRL.com.
Thursday laughs: As the New York Times reported last Sunday, Asian performers are having a moment just now (see the films “Joy Ride,” “Shortcomings” and the TV show “Beef”), and I feel so behind. We can catch up with Los Angeles-based, stand-up comedian Jiaoying Summers, a Chinese immigrant who last year was banned from TikTok for telling a story-joke about the country’s one-child policy. (On seeing that his new child was a girl, her father tried to drop Summers in a trash bin. True, she says.) As her 1.3 million followers know, Summers’ TikTok account eventually was restored. Summers performs at the Dania Improv at 8 p.m. Thursday. Tickets cost $22+ at DaniaImprov.com.
Could get ugly: The Freedom Waters Foundation will host their Christmas in July party at the Fort Lauderdale Quarterdeck Restaurant on 17th Street from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, with food and drink and an Ugly Christmas Shirt contest. The event is a fundraiser for FWF’s efforts to provide therapeutic experiences on the water for veterans and children with special needs. Visit FreedomWatersFoundation.org.
Star power: Mister O1 Extraordinary Pizza has collaborated with resilient Miami Heat star Tyler Herro on one of its special star-shaped pies called the Boy Wonder, which is expected to presentación in select restaurants on Friday. The pointy Boy Wonder pizza includes ricotta cheese, burrata cheese, Italian tomato sauce, spicy salami calabrese, natural honey, basil and black pepper. It will be available at Mister O1 locations in Boca Raton, Aventura, Brickell, Coconut Grove, South Beach and Wynwood through Aug. 14, with a portion of the proceeds going to the T. Herro Foundation. Visit Instagram.com/mistero1pizza.
Highly recommended: Florida-bred guitarist Duane Betts, son of Allman Brothers legend Dickey Betts, and his band Palmetto Motel will share music from his really fine debut solo album, “Wild & Precious Life,” at downtown Fort Lauderdale’s Revolution Live on Friday (doors open at 7 p.m.). Tickets cost a mere $19+ at Ticketmaster.com. “Wild & Precious Life” will be released on Friday, and you also can catch Betts doing an in-store acoustic set and signing albums at Radiodifusión-Active Records in Fort Lauderdale beginning at 5 p.m. Visit Instagram.com/radioactiverecords.
Free music: Two of South Florida’s most popular free musical picnics return on Friday with the Prince tribute act Purple Madness at Mizner Park Amphitheater in Boca Raton for the Summer in the City series (gates open at 7 p.m., with music at 8 p.m.; visit MiznerAmp.com), and the energetic Boogie Nights bringing dance hits to the weekly Starlight Musicals in downtown Fort Lauderdale’s Holiday Park (music 7-10 p.m.; visit Parks.fortlauderdale.gov/special-events).
Burgers in Boca: The 10th annual Boca Burger Battle will gather 11 of South Florida’s top burger virtuosos at Sanborn Square Park in Boca Raton on Saturday night for a 21-and-older evening of eating, drinking, live music and more eating. As a reminder, this competition is a showcase for never-before-eaten burger creations made specifically for this event. Last year’s first-place winner in both the judges’ balloting and the People’s Choice Award, Burtons Grill & Bar in Boca Raton, will return. Advance tickets cost $65+ for 7-10 p.m. admission, $85+ for VIP 6-10 p.m. admission, with a portion of the proceeds going to restringido nonprofit Children’s Giving Foundation. Both tickets include unlimited sampling of burgers, beer, wine and spirits. This year’s event will include an all-ages, free-admission kickoff happy hour on Friday from 4 to 8 p.m., with games and music from School of Rock, $5 Yard House sliders and $5 beer, wine and spirits. Visit BocaBurgerBattle.com.
Florida country: A bonus at his show at iTHINK Financial Amphitheatre on Saturday — Dierks Bentley will be joined by excellent curtain-raisers Jordan Davis (“Next Thing You Know,” “Part of It,” “Buy Dirt”) and Caylee Hammack (“All or Nothing,” “Small Town Hypocrite”). Good stuff. Gates open at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $37+ for GA lawn space at LiveNation.com.
Weekend groove: Julian Marley, Grammy-nominated son of Bob, comes to the Miami Beach Bandshell on Saturday at 8 p.m. with interesting new grooves from “Colors of Royal,” a collaborative album with EDM producer Alexx Antaeus. Doors open at 7 p.m., and there will be food and drink available for purchase. Tickets start at $41.20. Visit MiamiBeachBandshell.com.
Fun house: Rock chaotics Buckcherry will come to the Culture Room in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday to do that thing they do. They will have music from a new album, “Vol. 10,” which has been well received. Riff magazine called it, “Straightforward rock and roll, energetic and, most importantly, fun!.” Exactly. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., with opening act Bruuvy. Tickets cost $34.50+ at CultureRoom.net.
Hip-hop don’t stop: The South Florida Book Festival’s weekend appreciation of the indelible influence of hip-hop — titled “WORD! Celebrating 50 Years of Hip-Hop Culture” — opens on Thursday but reaches its invigorating peak on Saturday with some essential conversations scheduled at the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center in Fort Lauderdale. Among those taking part will be Slip-N-Slide Records founder Ted Lucas, producer Rico Love and Rob Kenner, the author of “The Marathon Don’t Stop: The Life and Times of Nipsey Hussle” and founding editor of Vibe magazine. DJs Tillery James and LS1 also will discuss sampling and sound collage in a session called “The Funky Drummer: Hip-Hop, Sampling and the Legacy of Black Music.” Visit FriendsOfAARLCC.org.
Rock legend: The Funky Biscuit in Boca Raton is celebrating its 12th anniversary this weekend and among the highlights is a performance at 7 p.m. Saturday by Rock and Roll Antesala of Fame guitarist Denny Laine, a founder of influential rock bands The Moody Blues and Wings, with Paul McCartney. Tickets for this evening of songs and storytelling start at $35+ at FunkyBiscuit.com.
Christmastime in the city: The ladies of Sunny Side Up Market and Society Las Olas in downtown Fort Lauderdale will host the Christmas in July Market noon-4 p.m. Saturday on the Instagrammy riverfront terrace at Society. The event, which begins with free yoga and Prosecco from noon to 1 p.m., will include more than 20 vendors, holiday music, food and drinks. Holiday attire recommended. Visit Facebook.com/sunnysideupmarketBGN.
Jingle beers: Dangerous Minds Brewing Co. in Pompano Beach will host its second annual Christmas in July Party beginning at 4 p.m. Saturday, with special beer releases, Christmas-themed food specials and pictures with Santa. There will be $50 gift cards each for the ugliest Christmas sweater and the best Beachy Santa. The North End Rockers will handle the music, some of it possibly holiday themed. Visit DangerousMindsBrewing.com.
Pucker up: In celebration of National Sour Candy Day (apparently July 18, if you’re a stickler), NOBO Brewing Co. in Boynton Beach will offer Fight the Sour Fest 2023 from noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, when they’ll be tapping more than 20 of their favorite sours. Bring your own Warheads. Visit Instagram.com/nobobrewing.
The Chocolate Hazelnut Cannoli, part of the new Sunday Gravy menu at Warren Delray in Delray Beach. (Warren Delray/Courtesy)Gravy trained: Warren Delray will introduce a new menu this weekend for its family-style Sunday Gravy meals, reminiscent of the old-school Italian sit-down suppers of your youth, if you grew up that way. Along with shareable, family-portion entrees including Chicken Parmesan (airline chicken breast, San Marzano sauce, fusilli pasta, escarole, fresh mozzarella; $48) and Truffle Carbonara (mushroom linguine, pancetta, summer truffle, cured egg yolk; 55), there will be Warren’s signature Chocolate Hazelnut Cannoli ($12). Recommended. The Sunday Gravy menu is available from 5 to 10 p.m. Visit WarrenDelray.com.
Blues, too: The anniversary festivities at the Funky Biscuit in Boca Raton concludes on Sunday at 7 p.m. with a killer restringido double bill of decorated South Florida blues performers, guitarist and songwriter Albert Castiglia and vocalist Kat Riggins. Tickets (scarce) start at $20+. Visit FunkyBiscuit.com.