La vida local

A rocker’s ode to ‘Memphis’


David Bryan can relate with the cast of Memphis, coming to the Ziff Ballet Opera House Tuesday night.

The keyboardist who wrote the songs and lyrics for the rousing Tony Award winner is in the middle of a world tour with his longtime band Bon Jovi.

“I understand the touring aspect,” says Bryan, who just wrapped the U.S. leg; the guys now have about roughly 90 shows to go in 30 countries. “This is 30 years’ of experience. It’s what I do. I love it.”

Another love is for the city where blues and rock and roll were born: Memphis, Tenn.

“One of the most amazing places on the planet,” Bryan says. “You go to Beale Street and pop in somewhere, and there are drinks up in the air and you’re on your feet. For a second you’re carefree. You just get the music, you know where to go.”

The play, which had a highly successful run on Broadway from 2009-12, centers around a white DJ in the 1950s embarking on a forbidden affair with a black woman. Bryan, 51, found the fact-based script — by playwright Joe Pietro, of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change — relatable.

“I experienced segregation first hand as a white Jewish kid growing up in New Jersey,” said the rocker, 51. “There weren’t a lot of Jewish kids, and I felt the hate, though I couldn’t understand it at the time.”

But Memphis (which runs through Sunday; see calendar for details) is optimistic, “not preachy,” says Bryan, a father of three. “It’s about celebrating what keeps us together and not what separates us. It’ll surprise you with a whole lot of emotion, and you end up joyous, thinking there’s still hope that the world is a better place.”

Just like the barhoppers on Beale Street, expect to jam: “This play is like a freight train,” he says. “It keeps moving fast.”

Madeleine Marr

Company man

Rapper Kendrick Lamar hosted the Prestige Sunday party at BAMBOO. Straight off his firing from Pepsi, Lil Wayne showed up and performed 10 songs for about 25 minutes. Says our spy, “The place was going crazy, everyone was so surprised!” Lil was a busy boy. On Friday night, the rapper celebrated the launch of his new footwear company, Spectre, at a private downtown Miami venue. The brand is a collab with skateboarder brand Supra and will be sold locally at Shoe Gallery.

Weezy is no longer repping Mountain Dew, because of the controversy surrounding his Emmett Till lyric on Karate Chop.

Lesley Abravanel

Happy foodie

Miami homegirl Maricel Presilla — Cuban immigrant, MDCC/FIU grad and medieval-scholar-turned-restaurateur — has scored a culinary trifecta.

Honored with a James Beard Foundation best-chef award last year for her New Jersey restaurant, Presilla has come home the big winner from both of this spring’s major cookbook competitions. Her Gran Cocina Latina, an epic survey of Hispanic cooking in the Americas that was named best general cookbook last month by the International Association of Culinary Professionals, won Cookbook of the Year honors at the James Beard media-awards ceremony Friday night.

“Happiness does not fully describe the joy I felt,” said Presilla, who walked to the stage at New York’s Gotham Hall to shouts of “Bravo!” and “Epa!”

“I was accepting the award on behalf of millions of Latin American cooks, and that is a huge responsibility and honor.”

In her speech, Presilla likened the 912-page book to the monarch butterfly, symbol of the immigration-reform movement: “Like the monarch, my book breaks borders and creates bridges between people, but through the universal pleasures of cooking.”

Kathy Martin

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Miami Herald

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