If you’re a fan of unlimited wine, jazz music and supporting the arts, there’s good news: The town of Oakland’s Wine & Dine for the Arts event is this Saturday.
The event, held at the Oakland Town Center, will have Caribbean-inspired meals, unlimited wine tastings and live music from a jazz quartet. The Wine & Dine also will help Oakland raise money for HapCO Music Foundation — which provides donated instruments, music programs, summer camps and live shows for young musicians looking to further their careers — and its programs.
HapCO doesn’t stop with music, either. The foundation has professionals from all across Florida who provide classes for visual arts, theater and the culinary arts, as well.
“Our main goal is keeping kids connected to the arts through programs, classes, clinics and symposiums,” said Joseph McMullen, director of HapCO and an Oakland town commissioner. “We want to give them a greater access to the arts compared to what’s going on in the school system right now. We want to be that gap.”
McMullen, 50, credits music and his school band as a way of staying grounded while growing up and becoming successful in life. He wants to provide that same avenue of success to others.
“We just want to continue to give these kids an outlet to express themselves through the arts; we take arts to where the need is,” McMullen said. “We don’t have any kind of brick and mortar (location). … We try to bring out classes and programs to those different areas that have a need and can’t meet it on their own.”
Paying It Forward
The foundation helps musically inclined children as well as senior citizens, though McMullen said its main age group is grade school through college. HapCO also has an initiative helping older students play live shows in the community. Thomas Milovac was one such musician.
“Just giving me the opportunity to play out … that was a learning experience you can’t really learn in school,” Milovac said. “I’ve learned so much from the opportunities they’ve given me and even learned a lot about myself.”
Milovac, 20, is now a student at the University of North Florida studying jazz bass. He comes from a family of musicians — his father was a Croatian folk musician, and his mother’s side has a number of talented performers. Although Milovac can play with a number of instruments, his true love is the upright bass.
“It’s such an important instrument in these ensembles,” he said. “The bass contributes to the rhythm and playing with the drums but also communicating harmony to voices in the band. You can have so much influence on a musical situation with the bass, and I think that’s so beautiful.”
Milovac became involved with McMullen and HapCO four years ago when his jazz band performed at a live show and started getting other gigs from the foundation soon after. Through HapCO, he has played solo, in quartets and miniature big bands at Disney Springs, downtown Oakland and other venues.
He’s grateful to McMullen and HapCO for the platform they have given him, so he’s paying it forward. When he’s not studying or performing across the country, Milovac comes back to HapCO to teach new musicians about bass techniques. He will be playing side man to the Jazz at the Lincoln Center Orchestra lead trombonist Vincent Gardner at the Oakland Wine & Dine.
“This guy’s traveling around the country performing at different places,” McMullen said. “It answers our ‘Why.’ That’s a future we’re helping to build. … We played a part in that and know we’re watching him grow.
“He’s been performing at HapCO, and other people ask him if he can play at their event,” he said. “Seeing that happen, that we’re a part of who he is, it tells us we’re doing something right. Even if we just touch one life, it’s an example of how we’re making a difference.”
Oakland Wine & Dine
WHEN: 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, April 21
WHERE: Oakland Town Center, 221 N. Arrington St., Oakland
TICKETS: General admission tickets are $75.
DETAILS: Unlimited wine and meals from Chef Anthony Fothergill. Music by a Vince Gardner quartet with local Thomas Milovac
Chef-attended jerk chicken Caesar salad station
Chef-attended carving station
Vegetable skewers with curry coconut cream sauce
Mini Jamaican beef patties
Jerk wild mushroom quesadilla
Salted cod fish quesadilla served with spicy sour cream
Chocolate lovers lava cake
Assorted island-style mini desserts