Arts Garage hosts benefit for seriously injured PR icon Gary Schweikhart

Any South Florida scribe who has covered the area’s arts community has no doubt dealt with public relations guy Gary Schweikhart, and is well aware of his capacity for quick, accurate and complete event coverage that has earned him the nickname, “Godfather” of South Florida’s PR community.

After decades of helping others make their mark in the performance arena, Schweikhart himself is in dire need of assistance. On July 11, Gary was working at the desk of his home office in Boca Raton when a car traveling twice the speed limit slammed into his residence, badly hurting him and burying him under a pile of rubble as well as the car itself. A neighbor found him and called for help.

Gary suffered life-threatening injuries and was rushed to Delray Beach Medical Center for surgery after being extricated from underneath the vehicle, according to published reports. 

After spending several days in the intensive care unit and two weeks in Pinecrest Rehab Center, he is now slowly recovering.

The Arts Garage in Delray Beach is hosting “A Benefit Concert for Gary Schweikhart” on Sunday Aug. 28, headlined by Rich and Jill Switzer, Deborah Silver, Anthony Nunziata and Avery Sommers, with accompaniment from Phil Hinton and a special pre-recorded message from Rob Russell.

The Delray production center is partnering with The Buzz Agency and Pollack Communications for a special evening in Gary’s honor. Tickets are $50 each and all proceeds raised will go towards the injured PR man’s recovery. 

The tragic accident resulted in Gary needing tendon repair and a metal plate in his face because of a fractured mandible and fracture of his orbital floor. Gary is also without a home for at least the next eight months. 

Among those scheduled to perform Sunday are: 

Jill and Rich Switzer: Deemed “South Florida’s first couple of the Great American Songbook,” vocalist Jill and multi-instrumentalist/composer Rich have been entertaining audiences for almost 30 years. They have multiple jazz standard, original and commercial recordings and are dedicated to mentoring young artists.

Deborah Silver: #1 Billboard artist Deborah has had a string of hit duets with celebrated artists including Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers, Jack Jones, Freddy Cole, Steve Tyrell, Ann Hampton Callaway and Ray Benson of Asleep at The Wheel. Her upcoming releases include duets with superstars Tony Orlando, Ronnie Millsap, Pam Tillis and jazz icon Diane Schuur. On stage, Deborah has dazzled at countless clubs and performing arts centers around the country.

Jesse Jones Jr. is a respected saxophonist and Miami native. In addition to the alto sax, he plays flute, soprano sax and has dynamic vocal ability. He has toured throughout the U.S. and abroad in Italy, Israel, China, Austria, Greece and Russia where he has performed continually since 1999. 

Rob Russell co-founded and managed the renowned Royal Room Cabaret at The Colony Hotel in Palm Beach for nearly 20 years. Rob recently recorded an album and is presently authoring a book about his life in Palm Beach, collaborating closely with numerous celebrities. He now performs regularly at the Pelican Cafe in North Palm Beach and The Breakers Hotel and can be heard on Legends Radio.

Phil Hinton is a British born pianist, arranger, orchestrator and conductor who has also arranged and orchestrated the music, played piano and conducted on more than 200 major hit albums for artists such as Shirley Bassey, Anthony Newley, Howard Keel, Vince Hill, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Paul McCartney, among others.

Avery Sommers starred on Broadway in Ain’t Misbehavin’ and Showboat and did two national tours in Chicago and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Avery created the recurring role of Regina Dansby on the CBS soap, “As the World Turns,” as well as the role of Evelyn on the ABC Mystery Movie Series, “BL Stryker” starring Burt Reynolds and Ossie Davis. 

Frank Derrick has led a multifaceted national and international music career as a virtuoso performer, recording artist, author and educator. Frank has played drums with the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Woody Herman Orchestra, Marilyn Maye, Keely Smith, Eartha Kitt, Maureen McGovern, Dakota Staton, Ann Hampton Calloway, Della Reese, Melba Moore and Regis Philbin, to name a few, and was also the drummer for “The Late Show with David Letterman” on NBC. 

Anthony Nunziata, the Brooklyn-born tenor, co-founded and managed the renowned Royal Room Cabaret at The Colony Hotel in Palm Beach for nearly 20 years. He recently co-headlined Carnegie Hall for two sold-out concerts with the New York Pops Symphony Orchestra and appeared in the Netflix film “The Last Laugh” opposite Chevy Chase and Richard Dreyfuss.

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