If you're in the mood for Broadway, soul or rap, you can find it all at Moonchine Asian Bistro when Grammy-nominated saxophonist Leo Casino holds court every Friday night.
Although Casino is an accomplished musician and composer, his main goal in life is to unite people through music. This is clearly in evidence at his weekly Moonchine gig, which takes place in the "Sweet Saloon" located in back of the popular bistro. "I love the vibe at Moonchine. I love bringing people of all ages, cultures and musical styles together," says Casino.
Casino is joined by a bevy of performers who drop by whenever their schedule allows. Most notable is Bill Campbell, the pianist who holds court every Wednesday night at Magnum, the New York-style piano bar just a few blocks north on Biscayne Boulevard and, like Casino, plays in clubs and other venues throughout South Florida. (Casino often returns the favor by dropping in at Magnum when Campbell is at the piano).
Others usually on hand include Streets Most Wanted, whose creative raps are enhanced by Casino's sax, and Charlotte Libov, who offers jazz and Broadway renditions and is a regular at Campbell's Wednesday night songfest. (Yes, sharp-eyed byline reader, that is moi). In addition, other singers who are regulars at Campbell's Magnum piano night also often drop by.
Adding the "soul" to the mix is Casino himself, offering his renditions of blues, soul and Motown favorites, which have won him legions of fans around the world, including former President Bill Clinton and the late Soprano's star James Gandolfini.
But it's not only the performers who are eclectic; the audience is as well. Usually on hand is Franklin Goldman, who creates his signature glow-in-the-dark paintings on the spot and auctions them off to benefit Casino's favorite local charity, the Miami City Youth Mission. Another regular is Effi, the designer whose Effi's Art Line includes striking clothing, jewelry, leather bags and furniture, who also sometimes steps up to the mic or dances.
Over his three-decades, Casino has played with some of the most famous performers in the world, including such legends as Roberta Flack, George Benson, Lionel Ritchie and Bob Marley, to name just a few. But his current Moonchine gig is among his favorites. As he puts it, "With peace and love, we can teach the world by example that we can sing in perfect harmony."
Fridays, 7-10 p.m., Moonchine, 7100 Biscayne Boulevard, Tel: 305-750-3999
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