Our show is a tribute to Stevie Wonder, an American singer, composer, instrumentalist, performer and humanitarian. Stevie has had a unique career, spanning six decades, and has influenced musicians across a range of genres that include rhythm and blues, pop, soul, gospel, funk and jazz. Stevie, one of those rare musical geniuses of our time, has released a striking array of innovative music.
The lyrics to the song “Wonderful” by Indie Arie tell a story of his influence on all of us. “You are the sunshine of my life, another Shakespeare of your time. You’re like a ribbon in the sky, you are a poet’s endless rhyme. You take me to a higher ground and then you knock me off my feet. Lately I been thinking ’bout ya, ’cause you been creeping in my dreams. You inspire me, the way you make me feel inside is amazing.”
• STretch Bruyn on piano & keyboards: Richard “STretch” Bruyn has been active in the St Pete/Tampa Bay music scene since arriving from NY state in 2003. A native Floridian from Miami, STretch studied with Vince Maggio at the University of Miami and later with David Baker while attending Indiana University. He has shared the stage with many local jazz greats and national acts. STretch’s Rubberband started performing together in October 2019 for the St. Pete Jazz Walk and we continue to spread the “gospel according to Jazz!” His work with the Al Downing Tampa Bay Jazz Association and the regular Monday night jazz jam family allows him to play with and mentor up and coming musicians and singers. The first encounter of hearing Stevie Wonder was the song “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” on the radio. This tune was the first pop tune that he heard using jazz harmony and a whole-tone scale…He was hooked.
• Kirsten Joyer on vocals. “Kirstie” is a sultry singer with a wide vocal range and eclectic repertoire. Her musical diversity allows her to sing music from any genre from Billie Holiday to Journey. A Kansas native, Kirsten grew up in a musical family. It wasn’t unusual for her family to circle around the family piano while Dave Brubeck or Ramsey Lewis entertained them. A retired middle school principal and published author, Kirsten is now living her dream of singing professionally and has been the lead vocalist for a number of bands in the Tampa Bay area.
• Al Hurley on electric bass: Al Hurley played for 18 years in shows at Busch Gardens and taught at Players School for 5 years with Jeff Berlin. He is a New Jersey native who is heavily influenced by Stevie Wonder’s music after hearing “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” on a jukebox in Atlantic City NJ . That sent him on a lifelong musical journey recapturing that magic moment playing Stevie’s music with STretch’s Rubber Band.
• Joe Renda on drums: Joe has been playing drums for over 55 years and is the son of a professional jazz drummer. Through his dad’s influence, he was exposed to jazz at a very young age but was encouraged to listen and learn as many styles of music as possible. Joe learned the basic fundamentals and principles of the drums from his dad and from the great recordings that he listened to and learned from. In the early 90’s he studied with Joe Morello from the Dave Brubeck quartet. Joe has performed with Etta Jones, Manfredo Fest, Maria Muldaur, Gil Parris, Shawn Murphy, Dave Muse, Les Sabler, Bria Skonbe.
• Special Guest Artist – Patrick Bettison on harmonica and piano: Patrick Bettison can play any instrument he picks up, and his compositions are truly inspired. He started out as a bassist, but problems with his hands forced him to switch instruments. Now he’s touring the world, delighting audiences with his piano and harmonica skills. Patrick loves to make people happy through his music and finds great joy in sharing his love of music with others.
Presented by Al Downing Tampa Bay Jazz Association, Inc. and The Palladium.
General Admission: $25.
Students with valid ID: $10