Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Five Finger Death Punch heads 98Rockfest lineup

   Five Finger Death Punch heads the recently announced lineup for this year's 98Rockfest.
Taylor Momsen of the Pretty Reckless
   The hard-rock concert is set for April 24 in the Amalie Arena in Tampa. The other bands on the program are Rise Against, Breaking Benjamin, the Pretty Reckless -- who sure seem to be performing in the Tampa area a lot lately -- and Nothing More.
   There's a free pre-show on the west plaza of the arena that starts at
2 p.m. and features
 performances by 98ROCK’s Skratch n Sniff, Sleepwave, Beartooth and Young Guns.
   Tickets go on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. Friday, Jan. 30. They'll run you $25, $39 and $59. VIP packages start at $169. There's a service charge on top of all those prices.
   Call 800-745-3000 or go to


Friday, January 16, 2015

Pixies, Strokes headline Tampa's Big Guava festival

   The lineup for this year's Big Guava Music Festival was announced Friday, and it's a great one.
   The Strokes are the nominal headliners. They're great live, but the lineup also includes the Pixies, one of the most important bands of the past 30 years, and TV on the Radio, the phenomenal  avant garde rock band.
   Other big names include the electronic indie band Passion Pit, indie darling Jenny Lewis, alt-county icon Ryan Adams, Irish singer-songwriter Hozier and British electronica artist James Blake.
The Pixies
   Other acts are likely to be announced later.
   The Big Guava Music Festival is slated for May 8 and 9 at the Florida State Fairgrounds and the MidFlorida Creidt Union Amphitheatre. Besides the music, there's going to be craft beer and food trucks, and the fairgrounds' midway will be open.
   You can get two-day "early bird" passes for $89 right now, but there's a limited number available. At 10 a.m. Jan. 23 the price will go up to $115. You get access to all the stages and unlimited midway rides for that price. 
   You can also get premium tickets with a bunch of perks and extras for $325 today, and $350 starting Jan. 23.
    Go to for tickets and information.

'Book of Mormon' lottery returns to Tampa

   If you want to see "The Book of Mormon" but you don't want to shell out $66 for the cheapest tickets, here's some good news for you.
  The producers of the show are again offering a lottery that will let you purchase tickets for $31. And they're not all cheap seats. You could end up getting a $178.50 tickets for $31.
   Here's how it works: Between two and two and a half hours before any performance, you go to the box office at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa and fill out a form. You specify whether you want one ticket or two for that performance. You can't enter any drawing more than once.
A scene from "the Book of Mormon"
 Then, two hours before curtain, someone draws names and an unknown number of people will get the discounted tickets. It's cash only. You have to be there to win. 
   These lotteries have drawn as many as 800 entrants. You might have a better shot earlier in the run, before word of mouth about the show and about the lottery has peaked. You might also have a better shot on weekdays, because the drawing will at 5:30 p.m and a lot of people won't be able to get to the Straz Center after work by then.
  The Straz Center is at 1010 N. MacInnes Place in downtown  Tampa. "The Book of Mormon" opens Jan. 20 and runs through Feb. 1. Curtain is at  7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Call 813-229-7827 or go to

Thursday, January 15, 2015

One Oscar nomination thrills Sarasota Film Festival organizers

   The opening film for the 2014 Sarasota Film Festival was an obscure documentary called "Last Days in Vietnam."
   It's not likely to be obscure much longer.
  This morning, when the Academy Award nominations were announced. "Last Days in Vietnam" was among the contenders for Best Documentary Feature.
   Festival president Mark Famiglio said he has been in touch with director, Rory Kennedy, and that she was thrilled with the nomination.
  "She's been texting me all morning," he said. "We've been back and forth. She's through the roof, as she should be. It's very exciting news."
   Kennedy, the daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, attended the festival this past spring with her mother Ethel. Ethel Kennedy had been the subject of one of Rory Kennedy's earlier documentaries, "Ethel," which was part of the 2012 Sarasota Film Festival.
Rory Kennedy, dfirector of "Last Days in Vietnam"
 "I think it's a great festival," she said in a phone interview last year. "It's a nice, small, intimate festival. They treat filmmakers very well, and they do get a lot of great films."            
   Kennedy, who was born six months after her father was assassinated, said she was initially reluctant to do a documentary about Vietnam.
   "As I was growing up, Vietnam was such a part of the ether of our lives," she said. "When I was approached by 'American Experience' to do this film, I thought there was nothing new to say. But I discovered that there was a lot I didn't know."
   Her film focuses on the American evacuation of South Vietnam 1975 as the North Vietnamese military was about to take over. It's packed with little-known stories of American heroism, and with dramatic footage that almost no one had seen before.
   As powerful as the film is, Famiglio said festival officials didn't expect the Oscar nomination.
   "This was unexpected," he said. "It made the short list some time back, but we thought that was just a nod, you know, a nod to a great film. But now she has a chance to win. She's very excited and so are we. She's a rock star."
   Incidentally, the Sarasota Film Festival announced some new staff appointments this week.
   Michael Dunaway is the new director of programming. He's currently the editor of the film section of Paste magazine, and the founding partner of Gasoline Films and of Poitier & Dunaway Motion Pictures. Other programmers are Maggie MacKay, Derek Horne and Caley Fagerstrom; Nadine Zylberberg is the new social media manager.
   The 17th Annual Sarasota Film Festival is scheduled for April 10-19.



Friday, January 9, 2015

Doors guitarist added to St. Petersburg Festival lineup

   One classic rock guitarist is out, but another is in.
   Dickey Betts has canceled his scheduled appearance at the third annual Sunshine Music and Blues Festival in St. Petersburg, citing a family emergency.
   Taking his place is R
obby Krieger, the guitarist for the Doors.
   The rest of the festival lineup remains intact: The Tedeschi Trucks Band, Los Lobos, the Both (Aimee Mann and Ted Leo), Grace Potter, the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, the Rebrth Brass Band, Matt Schofield and  Sean Chambers.
   The festival is set for noon Saturday, Jan. 17 at VInoy Park in St. Petersburg. Tickets are on sale now. They'll set you back  $63.50 for general seating and $117.65 for reserved seats. Call 800-745-3000 or go to

Friday, January 2, 2015

'Hairspray' extended through Jan. 24 in Sarasota

"Hairspray" Photo by Maria Lyle.
  Florida Studio Theatre's production of "Hairspray" was supposed to end this weekend. It was so popular that FST extended the run for a week.
 Even that apparently wasn't enough to satisfy the demand. FST has announced that it's holding over "Hairspray" for two more weeks, until Jan. 24. But it's absolutely, positively going to close then.
   "Hairspray"  is the musical version of a classic John Waters film about an indomitable teen girl in 1950s Baltimore who tries to integrate her favorite TV dance show. It's full of catchy song (including the show-stopper “Can’t Stop the Beat”).
   Show times are 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $18-$49. Call 941-366-9000 or go to

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Allman, Widespread Panic headline Wanee Music Festival

   It's still three and a half months away and a couple of hundred miles away, but the 2015 Wanee Music Festival is worth getting excited about.
   The 11th annual festival is set for April 16-18 in Live Oak. The lineup that's been announced so far includes three former members of the Allman Brothers Band, all playing separately with their own groups: Gregg Allman, Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band and Butch Trucks & Very Special Friends.
Gregg Allman
   Widespread Panic is the nominal headliner, but there are tons of great acts and big names, including Cheap Trick, Earth, Wind & Fire, Gov't Mule, JJ Grey & Mofro, Hot Tuna, Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk and supergroup the Word, which includes Robert Randolph, John Medseki and Luther DIckinson.
   Also slated to appear are Oteil & Friends, Galactic, Zappa Plays Zappa, Leftover Salmon featuring Bill Payne (of Little Feat), Yonder Mountain String Band, Rich Robinson of the Black Crowes, Raw Oyster Cult,  Dragon Smoke, the Revivalists, Home At Last, The Nth Power Performs Steely Dan, Tea Leaf Green, Bobby Lee Rogers Trio, Pink Talking Fish, Eric Lindell & Company, Royal Southern Brotherhood, Twiddle, Natural Child, Jacob Jeffries Band and Juke.
   The festival is in Suwannee Music Park, which is a gorgeous place for music festival.
   Advance tickets are on sale now, and if you're sure you want to go you might want to get tickets soon. Three-day tickets are $195 plus "applicable fees" but the price will go up later. Tickets include three nights of primitive camping and music from 12:30 p.m. on Thursday and full days of music on Friday and Saturday.
   VIP tickets are $499 (again plus applicable fees) and include a whole lot of extra stuff, including catered meals and  access to private restrooms.
   For tickets and more information, go to