Updated: Mar 28
Gammy nominated musician Victor Wainwright playing at the Funky Biscuit in Boca Raton.
Provided by the Funky Biscuit.
When the Funky Biscuit opened in Boca Raton in 2011, there was reason to wonder whether the club would last. Situated in a deep nook of the Royal Palm Place plaza, surrounded by restaurants and shops off Mizner Boulevard, it didn’t seem much of an attraction to walk-ins or drive-by traffic.
Yet other than a brief, COVID-19-induced hiatus in 2020, owner Al Poliak has kept the lights on ever since. As it nears its 12th anniversary in July, the Funky Biscuit celebrates with Biscuit Fest 10 from March 29 to April 2.
This year’s festival, as always, features a wide variety: Missouri-born country music singer/guitarist David Nail, roots music singer/keyboardist Victor Wainwright, Grateful Dead-influenced vocalist/keyboardist Waynard Scheller and Boca’s own blues star in singer/guitarist JP Soars.
“We missed 2020 and 2021 because of COVID-19,” Poliak says, “but it’s always been a really cool event. We try to bring a different genre of music every night. David Nail is a national country artist who usually plays much bigger venues, but he played here during the pandemic and fell in love with the place. And we have our blues blowout on our closing Sunday, with the JP Soars Gypsy Blue Revue, Anne Harris, Kat Riggins and the Funky Biscuit All Stars.”
Previous Biscuit Fests featured such artists as Damon Fowler, Southern Hospitality (a regional all-star act with Fowler, Soars and Wainwright), George Porter Jr., The Heavy Pets, David Shelly & Bluestone, Albert Castiglia, Matt Schofield, Jimmy Thackery, Roomful of Blues, the Lee Boys and the New Orleans Suspects.
“I feel lucky that I have this venue a mere 5 miles from my home,” Soars says. “This will be extra special because we’re also featuring Anne Harris on fiddle and Kat Riggins on vocals. I think it’ll be an amazing evening, and I’m super-excited to be asked to play Biscuit Fest again.”
The Funky Biscuit essentially started out as a blues venue, especially because the Bamboo Room, once a Lake Worth Beach roots music institution that has since turned into a dance club, was in an extended shutdown after a long run of featuring touring artists. Biscuit bookings have since extended to acoustic, bluegrass and tribute acts, with an ample amount of jazz/fusion, especially the past few years.
So in addition to banner roots music names like Leon Russell, Gregg Allman, Johnny Winter, Tab Benoit and David Bromberg over its history, the Funky Biscuit has recently booked jazz/fusion stalwarts such as Billy Cobham, Larry Carlton, Oz Noy, ProgJect, Greg Koch and Simon Phillips.
One of the best-known South Florida jam bands, the Grateful Dead tribute act Crazy Fingers, now holds court there for Jammin’ Taco Tuesdays. The group has existed since 1990 and still features original bassist Bubba Newton and drummer/vocalist Pete Lavezzoli, who recently got an additional high-profile gig with another Dead tribute, the international jazz/fusion quartet Jazz Is Dead (with bassist Alphonso Johnson and guitarists Bobby Lee Rodgers and Steve Kimock).
“I’m from the Washington, D.C./Maryland area,” Poliak says, “where the music scene is very robust. Many of the clubs there have live music every night, in all different genres. I’ve tried to copy that format down here, but South Florida wasn’t ready for having live music six or seven nights a week. So it was a major force-feeding job at first, but people have slowly become accustomed to it.”
Musicians who play at the club praise its PA system, stage monitors, house drum kit and backline amplifiers, and experienced sound engineers. For customers, quality appetizers, salads and sandwiches with the beers, wines and cocktails help keep them coming back.
See David Nail at 7 p.m. March 29 and 30; Victor Wainwright & the Train at 9 p.m. March 31; Waynard Scheller & Rainbow Full of Sound at 7 p.m. April 1; and the JP Soars Gypsy Blue Revue with Anne Harris, Kat Riggins and the Funky Biscuit All Stars at 5 p.m. April 2 at the Funky Biscuit, 303 S.E. Mizner Blvd., Boca Raton. Tickets: $20 to -$60. For further information, call 561-395-2929, or visit funkybiscuit.com.