River Cities Gazette

Donato concert at Curtiss Mansion draws a packed house

JAMMED TO JAM:  It was a full house at the Curtiss Mansion on Friday night, Nov. 15 as jazz lovers gathered to listen to Joe Donato at Moon over the Mansion.
JAMMED TO JAM: It was a full house at the Curtiss Mansion on Friday night, Nov. 15 as jazz lovers gathered to listen to Joe Donato at Moon over the Mansion.
Gazette Photo/WALLY CLARK

River Cities Gazette

The latest Moon Over the Mansion fundraising activity attracted a full house on Friday night, Nov. 15 as it featured universally popular Miami Springs resident Joe Donato and his accompanists, Brian Murphy on keyboards and percussionist Daniel McLeod.

Sax man Donato didn’t disappoint and, as usual, he often played two different saxophones at the same time. Also lending her classy and sultry voice was Joe’s wife, Kathleen Donato, and a number was sung by guest artist Kayla.

The event was sponsored by Curtiss Mansion Inc. (CMI) and held at the renovated home of Miami Springs founder Glenn Curtiss at 500 Deer Run. Tickets were sold at the door: $7 for one and $10 for two. Snacks were available along with Ya Ya wine and other beverages.

The mini-concert was initially planned to be held in the patio but an earlier sprinkling caused organizers to move the entertainment to the living room, which was soon filled while other attendees listened from hallways. Nevertheless, it turned out to be a smart move because it did rain.

“We like to celebrate the full moon every month with a program,” said former president and executive director of the Curtiss Mansion for 14 years, Jo Ellen Morgan Phillips. “Who better to have than our own impresario, Joe Donato?”

Donato said, “I’ve lived in Miami Springs all my life. What I meant by that is the life I’m living is really alive when I’m here. I actually moved here in 1992, after Hurricane Andrew.”

Donato came to Miami in 1970 for academic work at the University of Miami. He soon became a fixture in Coconut Grove at the Taurus Steak House and other venues. This year he’ll also be hosting and performing at a rap party for the King Mango Strut in the Grove, and also will perform a free concert at Hialeah Park Casino this Sunday at 5 p.m.

“It’s an honor to play at the Mansion,” said Donato. “The reverberation in the room is great.”

Morgan Phillips said, “This event is more of an awareness raiser. We want people to understand what we have here and we want people to see what we’ve done. Many people haven’t yet been inside and now they have a chance to see what it’s like in the evening.”

CMI Present Richard Wheeler said, “I’m overwhelmed by the number of people here tonight. I figure 150. It’s the best response we’ve had since the Mansion was reopened.”

CMI has made the Mansion available for events such as wedding and parties. Besides special occasions, CMI has presented a lecture series, including one on urban parrots which was presented by Paul Bithorn. Others featured the history of Miami and the guayabera and speakers from Zoo Miami.

The series will be held during the cooler months and next summer the Mansion will host “Camp Inventions,” a one-week event where kids can learn what to do about concepts they might have about inventions. A choral group from Florida Memorial University will also be returning to perform.

“The Mansion is the place to be,” said Morgan Phillips.

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Miami Herald

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