By Shelley Koppel
FORT PIERCE - Darryl Bey founded BlueBird Productions more than 10 years ago, but it lay dormant because of other responsibilities.
As a founding member and executive director of the Fort Pierce Jazz & Blues Society for 11 years, he helped bring artists such as Wynton Marsalis, David Sanborn and Ramsey Lewis to Treasure Coast audiences.
He left the society in 2007 but has brought back BlueBird Productions and its latest venture, Music on the Plaza at Marina Square in Fort Pierce.
The program will bring music to the marina on the second Sunday of the month from October to May. Mr. Bey spoke recently about how the new program came about and what he hopes to accomplish.
"Music on the Plaza is patterned after the Riverwalk Jazz series in Stuart," he said.
"I'm a jazz fan and I started going there. The weather is nice and the backdrop is the St. Lucie River. It's a great setting. I wondered if we could do it in Fort Pierce.
"I think we have a prettier setting, the Marina is bigger, and there's a better opportunity to present a variety of music and a really great experience," he said.
"I want to attempt to get out thousands of people, so I thought if I mixed it up and brought in a variety of musical genres, we could bring out 3,000-4,000 people. I approached the Fort Pierce Redevelopment Agency to get seed money and that got it started. Then we got other sponsorships."
BlueBird Productions initially presented jazz and blues artists. Its name, in fact, comes from the blues and from "Bird," the nickname for jazz great Charlie Parker.
Mr. Bey decided that just promoting jazz and blues was too narrow a scope, so he chose to provide a wide variety of entertainment, with something for everyone.
The first program, on Oct. 2, featured the swing and jazz band the Venturas, with Fort Pierce's own Eddie Tobin. The Lincoln Park Academy Jazz Band also performed.
This month, on Nov. 9, the focus is a Big Band sound with the Melton Mustafa Orchestra. Mr. Mustafa, a trumpeter who performed for seven years with the Count Basie Orchestra, put together his own group in 1992. It features swing and the blues, bebop, and Afro-Cuban sounds.
On Dec. 14, the Nouveaux Honkies, based in Port Salerno, bring their blues/swing style to Marina Square. The group has competed for two years in the International Blues Challenge and performs more than 200 shows a year. Opening for them will be the Pine School Jazz Ensemble.
Jan. 11 brings the Groove Division Band, a group founded by Ossie Wright Jr. Consisting of business people and musicians from Brevard to Palm Beach counties, the group plays R & B, smooth jazz, soft rock, reggae, Motown and popular music. Opening for them is Smooth Skin, which plays music across many genres.
Rick Hubbard comes to town on Feb. 8 in a show for the entire family. Audience involvement is important and every audience member gets a free kazoo to perform in the grand finale. Mr. Hubbard performs original songs and encourages kids to participate in each one.
On March 8, the Rodeo Rhythm Kings perform. The cowboy trio features standard cowboy material, comedy, audience participation and a mix of contemporary songs.
Local favorites Gregg Jackson & the Mojo Band are featured on April 12. The band performs oldies, R & B and original compositions.
The season concludes on May 10 with Robert Navarro and Latin Groove. Mr. Navarro, a native New Yorker, has performed with such artists as Johnny Pacheco, Celia Cruz and Eddie Santiago.
For more information about upcoming shows or sponsorship opportunities, call (772) 979-6176 or visit the Web site www.bluebirdshows.com.