Friday, June 25, 2010

Roommate of the year? You decide.

Venice resident Suzanne Marshall is up for the chance to win $10,000. But only you can decide if she gets it.
Marshall has become a finalist in's Roommate of the Year contest. She made a video with her dog, Abby, titled "Mischief Maker." In it, her and her roommate, Abby, who was rescued as a pup, sing about why Marshall should be chosen as "Roommate of the Year."

Warning: it's a little corny.

View Marshall's video along with the other nine finalists here. I haven't watched them all, but the "Super Star Roommate!" was kind of interesting. Voting continues through July 30.

If Marshall wins, she not only gets $10,000 but free rent for a year. Makes me wish that I would have entered that contest.

- January Holmes

Thursday, June 24, 2010

'The Last Airbender' day at McKechnie

The Bradenton Marauders are thrilled about the upcoming release of "The Last Airbender" - so much so that during their 1 p.m. Sunday game against the Fort Myers Miracle, fans can receive free movie posters, t-shirts, cups and buttons based on the film throughout the game. Also, during pre-game time, a local hero from each of the elements represented in the film will be recognized.

The fun will be at McKechnie Field, 1611 Ninth St. W., Bradenton. Tickets are $6.

- January Holmes

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Westcoast Black Theatre gets a new home

What a way to end its 10th anniversary season - the Westcoast Black Theatre finally has a home of its own at 1012 N. Orange Ave. in Sarasota behind the BINZ building.

The new 6,500 square foot space is bigger than its former residence at Art Center Sarasota. It features dressing rooms, rehearsal space, rest rooms and a concession stand in the lobby.

To celebrate the home home WBTT will host its first summer season featuring the return of "The Motown 60s Revue," July 22-25 and "Sistas in the Name of Soul," Aug. 19-22.

“There is lots of work to be done before we open for the season,” remarked Nate Jacobs, founder and artistic director, “but I feel like we’re getting closer and closer to having the WBTT vision fulfilled."

- January Holmes

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Survey time! Riverwalk ideas needed

The Bradenton Downtown Development Authority and Realize Bradenton need your help in improving our Riverwalk with new events and programming. They are seeking ideas to make the Riverwalk THE place to be in downtown Bradenton. Share your ideas via a brief online survey here. Please fill out before July 1.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Wizarding World lives up to hype

This attraction was unbelievable! I waited six hours in line yesterday just to get into that part of the Island. Truthfully, though, it was worth the wait!

The Forbidden Journey in Hogwarts was amazing. I have never experienced anything like this attraction. Even the line was entertaining. Just after you get into the castle there is plenty to see. Universal has redone Dueling Dragons and The Flying Unicorn into different themes and there is something to see all the way to the ride itself.

Butterbeer is as good as they say. If you plan on going anytime soon expect a wait. The line to get into Olivander's was two hours long. I still haven’t seen the inside of the Three Broomsticks.

Prices were OK for a theme park: Butterbeer was $9.25 and you got to keep the mug, wands were $28.95, shirts ran $24. Even if you buy nothing, the experience and memories are worth it.

-- Kathy Shaulis

Floating candles inside Hogwart's Castle

Friday, June 18, 2010

Long lines at Wizarding World of Harry Potter

It will take patience and a little magic to get into the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Bradenton resident Kathy Shaulis reports from the Wizarding World at Universal Orlando: "I've been in line since 7:15 a.m. and I still have an hour to wait to get through the gates!" She's a little frustrated that she stayed at a Universal hotel specifically to get the early-park entrance deal. The problem, she says, is that they let the general public in early and it's filled to capacity. It's 93 degrees and she thinks Universal should've provided free water or some sort of shade for those standing in line for 6-8 hours. She sent her children back to the hotel to swim while she holds their place in line.

The good news is that the folks in line with her are really cool and they are managing to make the best of a frustrating situation. Let's hope she gets in soon. She promises to report back in a few hours, so stay tuned.
-- Jana Morreale, Features editor

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

McCurdy's Comedy Theatre filming for new DVD - needs crowd

Want to be in a new DVD? A comedy DVD? Your chance will come June 25-27 at McCurdy's Comedy Theatre and Humor Institute. Owner and comedian extraordinaire Les McCurdy is in the process of filming a special comedy DVD with the working title of "FORE! He's Shanked Another One Into The Crowd."

He's looking for lively crowds to capture plenty of audience shots. The show will feature McCurdy's Improvisation Comedy Troupe and, of course, McCurdy. Show times are 7:30 p.m. June 25-27 and 9:45 p.m. June 25-26. Tickets are $8 and $12. The best performances will be included in the DVD, which will be released later this year (hopefully in time for the comic's 55th birthday at the end of October).

The theater is at 3333 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. For more information, call 925-FUNY.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Rockfest to benefit Gulf oil crisis

Jannus Live is throwing a big music bash on June 25 to benefit the Gulf oil crisis. Read the release below for details:

Jannus Live presents the Monsters of Sludge Rockfest, a concert for the Gulf oil disaster — a rock show, charity benefit, consciousness-raiser and seriously fun time all oozing together.

The goal, according to event founder Tom Nestor, is to "raise as much money as possible to assist injured wildlife and cleanup efforts caused by the BP oil spill disaster." And, we might add, to raise a little hell and a whole lot of fun.

The Sludgefest lineup calls upon a variety of terrific homegrown rock talent, starting with the Greg Billings Band, whose party-friendly sound mixes classic and Southern rock with a big helping of R&B. Pitbull Toddler is a garage-style quartet that combines punk, pop and classic rock, and is headed by Cowhead, afternoon drive personality for 102.5 The Bone.

The lineup also includes: Sonic Erotica, No King, Orange Hour, and Victims of Circumstance. Collectively, the bands make up an eclectic and energetic bill.

Admission for Monsters of Sludge is a $10 minimum donation. Profits from admission donations go to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and will be split between wildlife rescue and beach cleanup operations.

Music starts at 7 p.m.; doors open at 6:30. Go to for more information.

Jannus Live is at First Ave. N. and Second St. N., St. Petersburg.

Friday, June 11, 2010

C.A.F.E. will benefit local arts

Check out my column Sunday, which will feature details on a neat little grassroots art grant program called C.A.F.E. - which stands for Community Arts Funding Event.

They'll be a homemade meal for $10, lively conversations about local art projects and, the best part, you get to decide where your contribution (proceeds from the meal) goes.

The event will take place from 6-8 p.m. June 27 at Bonni Bakes in the Village of the Arts, 930 12th St. W., Bradenton. Since seating is limited, RSVPs are required. Please called Bonni Brown at 746-6647 or email her at if you plan to attend.

Those seeking mirco-grants should also RSVP with Brown as spots are also limited for grant requests.

Futher details will be in Sunday's Bradenton Herald.

Local metal band to play at Marauders game

Local hard rock band, The Stand, invites you to McKechnie Field 5:30 p.m. June 18. The band will be the featured pre-game entertainment for the Bradenton Marauders. Tickets are $6 and includes the show and the ball game. Or you can win tickets via 105.9 The Buzz:

In the meantime, The Stand has been busy performing in the Tampa Bay area. Band members were finalists in the 97X's Backyard BBQ recently and are currently working with Rising Sun Music Recording Studios on an upcoming album. They have been also been working with the Teach the Dream Foundation to promote the arts for the next generation. Next month, they plan to perform for the USO at Eglin AFB to celebrate a new branch opening at the base. Band member Chaz McKell, Jr. said The Stand is competing in an online competition for a spot in the Vans Warped Tour in St. Pete. To support their efforts for that goal, visit

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ford Amp changes name to 1-800-ASK-GARY Amp.

Roz, spokesperson for 1-800-ASK-GARY David Harb, General Manager for the Amphitheatre and Marc Abend, Live Nation Sr. VP for Venue Sponsorships, unveil the new logo for the 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre

This just in: Ford Amphitheatre is changing its name to 1-800-ASK-GARY.

For real.

I have the press release to prove it. And I phoned the PR people involved, too, who confirmed that this, indeed, was not a joke. In fact, it's already on the venue's Web site:

According to the press release, the name change is the result of a multi-year deal between Live Nation, which owns Tampa's popular outdoor concert venue and 1-800-ASK-GARY. ASK-GARY is a Florida-based free medical and legal referral service that connects car accident victims with injury attorneys and doctors. I find their commercials . . . amusing. But can't really imagine seeing say - the Dave Matthews Band or Rihanna - at a place called 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre. Even if you shorten it to GARY Amp.

Accidental referral services and entertainment don't seem to mix well - at least on paper, much less a marquee. But the venue begs to differ. Here's what the press release said:

The sponsorship agreement between 1-800-ASK-GARY and Live Nation represents another solid example of 1-800-ASK-GARY’s commitment to Tampa Bay. “Around here, 1-800-ASK-GARY is synonymous with helping people in our community receive medical and legal services they may need after they’ve been injured in an accident. By lending the 1-800-ASK GARY brand to such a cultural and community asset, the naming rights deal ensures a steady flow of top notch entertainment for the community to enjoy,” says Paul Wilson, president and CEO of WILSONMedia & Advertising, the ad firm responsible for the campaign. “This brand integration opportunity extends the level of exposure of 1-800-ASK GARY to entertainment seeking audiences of all ages and ethnicities, something traditional advertising cannot offer,” added Wilson.

So this will keep the music alive in Tampa Bay. I just hope they don't play those commericals on the jumbotrons during a show, though. It would be a total mood killer.

- January Holmes

Will you be at Harry Potter theme park?

If you are planning to attend opening day of Universal Orlando's newest theme park - The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (June 18), let us know. The Herald is looking for local residents who are willing to blog about their experience. Please call sections editor Jana Morreale at 745-7059 if interested.

For more information about the park, visit

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ticket demand increasing for Ringling International Arts Festival

Ticket demand is sky-high for October's Ringling International Arts Festival. With several performances already sold out, organizers have announced another increase in ticket inventory to meet the need.

This time around, the hot ticket is the Forman Brothers Theater of the Czech Republic's "Opera Baroque" featuring marionettes with live actors. The opera, we're told, is adapted from the 18th-century "Czech opera about a comically small crooked-looking chimney built by masons, or the quarrel between the landlords and its mansons," according to the festival Website.

Seating capacity for this performance has been increased by 30 percent with a move to a new venue: the Ringling Circus Museum.

Overall, 50 percent of festival tickets have already sold, leading organizers to anticipate a 100 percent sell-out within the next four months leading up to the events. So if you're interested in attending one or several of the 11 stage productions featuring a mix of music, dance and theater, get your tickets soon. The festival is Oct. 13-17 at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art grounds in Sarasota. For more info, visit

Monday, June 7, 2010

Parrish woman wins "Menopause" contest

Congrats to Joanne Middleton of Parrish. She was chosen as the winner of the "Girls Night Out" contest. She and three friends spent Friday night on the town indulging in a prize package that included: a limo ride to the Asolo Repertory Theatre to attend the opening night of "Menopause The Musical,"a champagne after-party with the cast of the show, dinner at Treviso restaurant and accommodations at Sarasota's Hotel Indigo.

Middleton said: “I’m just so excited about this. Three girlfriends and I are having the time of our lives at the opening night of MENOPAUSE THE MUSICAL®. It’s going to be twice as nice, though. It’s also my 25th wedding anniversary this month and my husband Mike and I are coming back to enjoy the show together and dine at Treviso to celebrate. I can’t believe I won!”

The online contest was held by Asolo Rep and Clear Channels 107.9 WSRZ.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Up-and-coming retro artist

Find out about Brendan Coudal and his painting, dubbed "What a Predicament," in my column on Sunday.

The retro-styled painting will be used for the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce's 2010 Fourth of July Community Fireworks Celebration. But that's not all that Coudal is up to.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Former Bradenton resident judge on "Last Comic Standing"

Actress, comic and former Bradenton resident Natasha Leggero will be a judge on this season's "Last Comic Standing" on NBC. The new season kicks off June 7. According to her parents, who still live in the area, Leggero will also be appearing at the Hard Rock in Orlando June 26 with the comedians of E!'s "Chelsea Lately."

We've put a call into Leggero to find out how she landed a judge spot on the show. Watch this space for updates.

We just caught up with Natasha via email in Africa. Yes, Africa! She continues to take her comedy transcontinental. Here's what the stand up comic had to say about her latest whereabouts and forthcoming appearance on "Last Comic Standing":

"I am in Africa working for a non-for profit group called Malaria No More. I am traveling with 4 other comics (Ed Helms, Nick Kroll, Rikki Lindhome and Paul Scheer) and we are here to shoot some videos to help raise awareness of the (100% curable) disease.

The producers for 'Last Comic Standing' contacted me and we had a meeting and they explained the re-vamp of the show. It sounded super funny and I was huge fans of the other people attached (Greg Giraldo, Craig Robinson, Andy Kindler) so I said yes!"