Talls & Smallz Talent Smash shines brightly

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Zac Bohannon
Visual artists of different genres are set up throughout the venue, each in his own private space, making it feel as if you are visiting the artist's private work area. A spoken word artist is on his "soapbox" pleading his case while several ladies with exotically painted faces pose with patrons. In the main hallway, the "Doors of Change" are painted with the faces of famous people who reshaped the world for the better during their lifetimes. The door painter and ring leader of all the live artists, Efren Rebugio Jr. of Seren Clothing, paces the halls like an expectant father.

The music for the night begins in one of the front rooms with "Cover Stars," a round robin of talented karaoke singers who climb the stage and belt out their selected tune. The show stopper was "F**k You" by Cee Lo Green as performed by Zac Bohannon.

Next up is the band Tahoe Fox fronted by lead singer and rhythm guitar player Kim Stein. They identify themselves as an acoustic trio but that sells them short 'cause they can rock with the best 'em. Kim has a raspy rock and roll voice that was a pleasure to listen to.

Kim Stein of Tahoe Fox
After Tahoe Fox's set was over I wandered down to the main hall where I found Josh Lamkin of The Automatic Heat laying down a scorching guitar solo. Josh's guitar playing and singing was electrifying. He reminded me of one my guitar heroes, Stevie Ray Vaughn.

At this point I was truly impressed with the level of talent bLuE and Jen had put together. And since there were acts playing simultaneously I only got to experience about half the performers, much to my disappointment.

After Automatic Heat wrapped up I made my way back to the front room. There was an anticipation in the crowd. Something cool was about to happen. The next thing I knew I was watching a jaw dropping lip synch rendition of The Rocky Horror Show's classic "Time Warp" performed by the Cheap Little Punks.

It was then just a jump to the left before bLuE was belting out three original songs to a cheering crowd, accompanied by her talented guitar player, Alex Catalano, of Tribeca Blue.

The Automatic Heats Josh Lamkin
Midnight came and my batteries were running low but they were quickly recharged with the amazing work of word smith and slam poet, Nic Rodriquez, who acted as the evening's Master of Ceremonies. I was quite taken with his mastery of language and the powerful message he delivered about race relations.

The last band of the night that I saw was Curious Mornings. Fronted by Alex Bowers on keys and singing, they pleased the crowd with their high energy, kick ass indie rock.

It was now past my bed time so I ducked out past a ten foot tall stilt walker and his four foot side kick. As I left, the event was still going strong, bLuE and Jen were smiling and the lights were still burning brightly.

Cheap Little Punks do the Rocky Horror Show
  • Kevin Tighe
  • Cheap Little Punks do the Rocky Horror Show

Alex Bowers of Curious Mornings

Official Talls and Smallz Greeters

It's 4:30 p.m. Do you know where your electricity is?

Your inaugural talent event, the one you've been working on for six months, is due to start at 6 p.m. In other words in less than an hour and a half. Right about then, if you had Googled "freaking out", images of Talls and Smallz producers Jen Bruckman and Jaime Laukhuf (Jaime Z aka bLuE) would surely have come up No. 1. That's what happens when lighting strikes and blows out the power grid that supplies your theater with electricity just hours before the doors open. Welcome to show business.

Fast forward to 8 p.m. and the numerous curses hurled by bLuE and Jen at any a number of deities have been recanted. The power is back on (just barely), the sounds checks have somehow gotten done and the event is rolling forward as the halls and rooms of The Ritz Ybor fill up with assorted partygoers, artists and vendors.

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