Country roads that disappear through Carolina tobacco fields, silos looming over a prairie, tractors kicking up dust on a hot summer day. This is the world evoked in the songs of folksinger Dana Robinson, the West Coast native who homesteaded in Vermont before settling down in the heart of Appalachia. The multi-instrumentalist (guitar, banjo, fiddle, and mandolin) is a writer in the Steve Goodman vein, with an extra helping of traditional Americana roots. But then anyone who's played Carnegie Hall in N.Y.C., the Kennedy Center in D.C., and, uh, Albert Hole in Bristol, U.K., has to know his way around a tonal scale. The show starts at 8:00 p.m. at the Main Street Cafe, 128 N. Krome Ave., Homestead. Admission is $10. Call 305-245-7575. -- By John Anderson
Banned opera gets new life
Vampires and paprika might be Hungary's most famous exports, but the country's music is perhaps her greatest gift to the world. Still politics can hush the sweetest sounds. In 1936, after a run that lasted more than 1000 performances, Jewish composer Ede Donáth's popular Szulamit closed because of anti-Semitic laws. The opera, written in 1899, wasn't performed again until recently and is only now enjoying its American premiere thanks to the Florida Grand Opera. Performances take place at 8:00 tonight plus January 17, 20, and 23, and at 2:00 p.m. January 25 at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium (2901 W. Flagler St.). The show then moves to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (201 SW 5th Ave., Fort Lauderdale) on January 29 and 31. Ticket prices range from $21 to $135. Call 305-547-5417. -- By Margaret Griffis
SAT 1/10 Before Gabriel Kaplan was running a high school class full of sweathogs in the popular 1970s TV sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter, he was a stand-up comedian. Since then he's worked in feature films, told jokes on the stages of Vegas, starred on Broadway, and spent the last 8 years making big bucks (or not!) in the financial markets. Kaplan returns to his comedic roots at 7:00 p.m., helping to raise funds for the Special Needs Program at the Dave and Mary Alper JCC, 11155 SW 112th Ave. Tickets cost $65 and include a dessert reception. Call 305-271-9000, ext. 271. -- By Nina KormanSoul Notes
Virtuoso breathes life into classics
Hearing the rapid arpeggios of a dramatic Rachmaninoff opus is always thrilling, provided the pianist knows what he's doing. Otherwise it can be rote at best, or at worst, boring. The experience is like sitting through a lousy production of a Shakespearean tragedy -- the language gets weighed down in false feeling and the rhythm is lost to a monotone reciting of lines. To experience the urgent pulse and emotion of classical piano, check out virtuoso Joseph Kalichstein, a much-lauded maestro who is renowned for infusing the great works of classical composers with his own heartfelt intensity while maintaining technical mastery of the music. His signature soulful style has been heard in all the best concert halls, from Helsinki to Cleveland. He's brought audiences intimate encounters with staid and complicated works in several "Keyboard Virtuosi Series" recitals in New York's Carnegie Hall.
Kalichstein will be performing "An Invitation to the Dance" with the works of Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann, Bach, Chopin, and Liszt as part of the 23rd season of Sunday Afternoons of Music.
Classical musicians get Grammys, too. Vesna Gruppman won one in 1993 for a double violin concerto she recorded with her husband, Igor. The Gruppman Duo, violin and viola masters, will lead a Moonlight Musicale at Fairchild Tropical Garden (10901 Old Cutler Rd., Coral Gables). After performing works composed by Paganini, Vivaldi, and others, the pair will turn to pieces penned by Gershwin. Special guests include the garden's sundry palms, cycads, flowering trees, and vines. Bring your own dinner, order in through the garden's selected caterer, or visit the house café. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.; the orchestra performs at 7:00 p.m. Tickets range from $35 to $50. Call 305-667-1651, ext. 3391 or 3377. -- By Victor Cruz