Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Big Top Tours in Sarasota debuts in December

PUBLICITY PHOTO/ Toby Ballantine with the "Circus Coach"

As a big fan of all things big top related, I'm pretty stoked about taking an official tour of America's Circus City. I've written several stories about Sarasota's rich history with the often death-defying form of entertainment over the years but next Wednesday will be the first time I've had a circus pro take me around town.

Starting Dec. 15, Big Top Tours will share the historic sights, hidden gems and legendary stories that date back to the 1920s when John Ringling moved “The Greatest Show on Earth” to Sarasota. Lifelong professional performer and local resident Toby Ballantine will host the sightseeing trips through America’s Circus City aboard the colorful Circus Coach.

“I refer to the concept as ‘entertainment tourism’,” explained Big Top Tours producer Bob Collins in a statement. “As an inveterate traveler, I always enjoy and remember those tours that are the most entertaining. Meanwhile, right here in Sarasota we are home to one of the most entertaining forms of popular culture in the world: the circus!”

Each two-hour tour will depart from the Ringling Museum parking lot at 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Price: $35/$25 (children age 12 and under). Click for more information

Monday, November 29, 2010

Iron Maiden to close world tour in Tampa

Bruce Dickinson 2008 from Wikipedia.
Heavy metal fans rejoice.

Iron Maiden has a date in Tampa Bay for the first time in two decades.

The band's 26-city "Final Frontier World Tour" starts in Moscow on Feb. 11 and closes in Tampa at the St. Pete Times Forum on April 17, 2011.

“Last year when we took the plane ‘round the planet, we decided to play a show in Fort Lauderdale, Florida at the end, coming out of Brazil and sort of on our way home," said Iron Maiden singer (and airplane pilot) Bruce Dickinson in a statement. "This had the dual purpose of dropping our Florida-based drummer, Nicko, off at home and also to see if anyone still wanted to see us in Florida, as it had been so many years since we had played a show there.

"When the show sold out in advance at the Bank Atlantic Centre, l guess we found we still had many fans down that way," Dickinson continued. "We decided this time around not only to visit Fort Lauderdale again, but also to play Tampa, where we last played in August 1991. The fans last year in Fort Lauderdale gave us a tremendous welcome and we hope it will be the same in Tampa, which will be the last stop on this leg of 'The Final Frontier Tour.'”

Tickets cost $32-$55 and go on sale Dec. 4. Click for more info.

Leslie Nielsen dead, shirley he'll be missed

AP Photo -  Leslie Nielsen in 1991.
Leslie Nielsen made numerous movies. Several were great. "Airplane!" ranks  as one of the best comedies ever thanks, in large part, to Nielsen's brilliant, deadpan performance as Dr. Rumack.

Dr. Rumack: Can you fly this plane, and land it?

Ted Striker: Surely, you can't be serious.

Dr. Rumack: I am serious... and don't call me Shirley.

Yes, Nielsen will shirley be missed.

Click to read obit from Bradenton.com.

"Airplane!" (1980) — "Don't call me Shirley."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Howard Stern's Baba Booey headed to St. Petersburg

"Howard Stern Show" executive producer Gary Dell'Abate will be at Scene Premium Nightclub in St. Petersburg on Dec. 2 to sign copies of his new book "They Call me Baba Booey."

I recently spoke to Dell'Ababte about the genesis of his famous sobriquet,  the challenges of working for Stern, his buddy Bubba the Love Sponge and The Pitch (see clip below).

Home for the holidays

© 1974 - Paramount. Still of Al Pacino and Diane Keaton in The Godfather: Part II

We bonded over watching “The Godfather: Part II.”

Perhaps not your first choice for holiday viewing, but what I can I say?

We’re Italian.

On Dec. 25 we will congregate for our annual viewing of "Christmas Vacation."

"Christmas Vacation" attic scene featuring Ray Charles performing "That Spirit of Christmas"

Friday, November 26, 2010

'Irving Berlin's White Christmas' in Tampa at Straz Nov.30-Dec. 5

PUBLICITY PHOTO “Iriving Berlin’s White Christmas” is based on the classic 1954 Bing Crosby/Danny Kaye film.

Devon Allman to play Tampa Bay Lightning post-game show Nov. 27

Devon Allman's Honeytribe, which just brought its winning brand of neoclassical rock to Ace's in Bradenton earlier this month, will perform Nov. 27 at the St. Pete Times Forum following the Florida Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning hockey game.

Click for information.

Click to read my interview with Devon Allman, published Nov. 13.

'Bonnie & Clyde' on Broadway in September

COURTESY OF ASOLO/FRANK ATURA Bonnie (Laura Osnes) and Clyde (Jeremy Jordan). 
What has long been speculated has finally become fact.

America's most famous criminal couple will continue their successful spree from Sarasota to the Big Apple.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Golden Apple Theatre shows love for Big Apple

Like its title suggests, the Golden Apple Dinner Theatre’s jukebox revue, “I Still Love New York,” is a loving homage to the Big Apple.

Classic songs — often in the form of snippets and medleys — about Gotham are loosely grouped together by theme.

There’s no plot and very little spoken dialogue.

But as a singing love letter to The City That Never Sleeps, “I Still Love New York” mostly succeeds.

Manatee Players announce 2011-12 season: 'Happy Days' premiere, 'Chicago' and six more

Richie, Potsie, Ralph Malph and everybody’s favorite finger-snapping cool guy The Fonz will be on stage in Bradenton for the Tampa Bay premiere of “Happy Days: A New Musical.”

The show based on the hit sitcom will be part of the Manatee Players 2011-12 season. The Players will also be performing seven other musicals, the most for any community theater in Florida.

 “Happy Days: A New Musical” trailer

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving songs: tunes about turkey, ham, gravy and more



Mashed potatoes.




Perhaps some beer and wine. Or something stronger.

There are many reason to love Thanksgiving. Here are some songs to help celebrate the holiday. Because, really, who wants to hear Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant" again?

Thanksgiving Day Songs

"Turkey Chase," Bob Dylan
"Dixie Chicken," Little Feat
"Big Fat Ham," Jelly Roll Morton
"Mashed Potato, USA," James Brown
"Gravy," Dee Dee Sharp
"Call Any Vegetable," Frank Zappa
"Peaches," R. L. Burnside
"Sugar and Spice," The Cryan Shames
"Sweet Potato Pie," James Taylor 
"Jack Daniels, If You Please," David Allan Coe
"Sangria Wine," Jerry Jeff Walker
"Beer Run," Garth Brooks and George Jones

"A  Charlie Brown Thanksgiving"

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Karinne Behr, Philippe Martinez and Sanborn Studios: Key players with rocky financial stories

Philippe Martinez (left) on set with Armand Assante in 2008.

Behind Sanborn Studios’ gala opening this month are three key players with various financial stories that read like scripts to a gripping suspense show.

Multiple bankruptcy filings.

Huge flops in Hollywood.

A string of high-profile lawsuits.

And one with a criminal fraud conviction.

But the studio’s lead players — Kenneth Sanborn, Karinne Behr and her brother, Philippe Martinez — are aiming for a comeback story with a happy ending: a successful Lakewood Ranch studio with a hit television show about competing news helicopters called “Miami 24/7.”

REVIEW: 'Bonnie & Clyde' at Asolo Rep in Sarasota

Bonnie (Laura Osnes) and Clyde (Jeremy Jordan)
 “Bonnie & Clyde” opened Friday at the Asolo Repertory Theatre with a bang — actually quite a few deadly bangs — and by night’s end proved worthy of all the buzz it has created.

Before rehearsals for the new musical began last month, the latest production by the famed Frank Wildhorn (music) and the legendary Don Black (lyrics) already ranked as the region’s must-see stage event of the season. After premiering at the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego in 2009, the Asolo announced “Bonnie & Clyde” would have a Sarasota run before a planned Broadway production in 2011. Numerous revisions took place and more than about a third of the songs made their world premieres Friday.

Nearly every scene and music number worked to paint a fresh, poignant portrait of the iconic outlaw sweethearts. 

Roger Waters show sparks memories

Roger Waters in Chicago in Sept. (Scott Strazzante/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

My expectations are at a near all-time high.

Perhaps too high.

Don’t set yourself up for disappointment.

Those were my thoughts as I joined about 15,000 other Pink Floyd fans at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa last week.

The band’s former leader Roger Waters had arrived to present his 1979 opus “The Wall.”

The landmark album seduced me -- like nothing I had heard before and rarely since -- nearly two decades ago.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Broadway stars at 'Bonnie & Clyde' opening in Sarasota

Bonnie (Laura Osnes, red dress) and Clyde (Jeremy Jordan, gray suit)
I just returned from the opening night after-party for the "Bonnie & Clyde" musical at the Asolo Repertory's Mertz Theatre in Sarasota. My glowing review of the play will run Sunday. Here are some pics I took at tonight's festivities.

The "Bonnie & Clyde " creatives left to right: famed composer Frank Wildhorn, legendary lyricist Don Black, Ivan Menchell (book) and Jeff Calhoun (director).

Asolo producing artistic director Michael Edwards on stage rigth before performace.
Frank Wildhorn moments after final scene of his "Bonnie & Clyde" opening.
Bird's eye view of after party.
Packard Super Eight outside the Mertz.

All photos by Wade Tatangelo.

Friday, November 19, 2010

WMNF show with Damon Fowler, Have Gun Will Travel

Tampa-based community radio station WMNF (88.5) makes a rare south of the Skyway appearance to spotlight Manatee County’s most celebrated acts of recent memory: 

Roots music multi-talent Damon Fowler (pictured) and alt-country luminaries Have Gun, Will Travel featuring singer/songwriter ace Matt Burke

The event, which benefits the Elmira Wildlife Sanctuary, takes place Saturday at the Canoe Outpost under a beautiful oak canopy on the banks of the Little Manatee River.

2:30-8:30 p.m. Nov. 20, Canoe Outpost, 18001 U.S. Highway S., Wimauma. Tickets: $15 (advance); $20 (day of show). Information: (813) 238-8001. For camping reservations: (813) 634-2228. 


Damon Fowler performing title track off his 2009 national label debut "Sugar Shack" at Skipper's Smokehouse in Tampa.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Gallagher on roller skating in Bradenton and Tampa

The goofy cap, long hair and mustache.

The giant mallet.

The wanton destruction of watermelons and countless other perfectly good items of food.

Most people are familiar with comic Gallagher.

Some might recall he graduated from Plant High School in Tampa and then earned a degree from the University of South Florida.

But did ya know Gallagher was a champion roller skater?

And that he used to skate here in Bradenton with local residents Ellen Meade (former Miss Florida, dance studio owner) and Bruce Meade (slow-pitch softball star and deputy sheriff)?


Gallagher has fun with the fickle English language  

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Roger Waters wows with 'The Wall' in Tampa

Waters performing "The Wall" in Chicago, Sept. 20
Every rock act that ever attempts an arena show in the foreseeable future could learn a thing or two from Roger Waters.

So could Broadway.

The Pink Floyd mastermind's mind-blowing staging of his classic double album (and movie) "The Wall" at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa tonight easily ranks as one of the most impressive stage spectacles ever produced.

Waters and his small army of ace musicians delivered an amazing  musical rendering of the iconic Pink Floyd 1979 album complemented with visuals and pyrotechnics on a grander —and more poignant— scale than anything previously attempted by a rock act.

In its current incarnation, "The Wall" has come to symbolize the buffer we all must build against the onslaught of unchecked capitalism, corrupt politicians and savage warmongering.

It's doubtful I will experience a concert of this magnitude anytime soon.

Roger Waters, Tampa, 'The Wall,' tonight! (Nov. 16)

Waters performs "The Wall" in Chicago on Sept. 20
The day has finally arrived.

In less than 12 hours I will be seated at a packed St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa watching Pink Floyd mastermind Roger Waters recreate his epic rock opera "The Wall."

I haven't been this excited about an arena concert in a long time. 

My history with "The Wall" dates back about 20 years. It was my first double-CD purchase and marked the most I had ever spent on an album. Nearly $30 if memory serves. That means I had to cut two lawns in the Florida heat for that listening privilege.

But it was well worth it.

From ages 13 to about 17, I probably played "The Wall" in it entirety at least once a week. I made a cassette version for my Walkman and it accompanied me, at full blast, as I mowed, edged and weed-whacked the lawns of my parents, uncle and neighbors.

As a child raised in a church with which I could not relate, "The Wall" and its tale of alienation hit home and provided some much needed sanctuary.

In adulthood, my love for Pink Floyd faded. I became enamored with hip-hop my junior year in high school and then classic roots, vintage R&B and alt-country in college. I spent the past decade as a professional music critic trying to listen to as much new music as possible — none of which came from the Pink Floyd camp.

In May of 2007, though, I saw Roger Waters present his Pink Floyd classic "The Dark Side of the Moon" in front of a sold-out crowd of 20,000 at the formerly named Ford Amphitheatrr in Tampa. Waters and his ace band delivered an amazing show complete with mind-blowing visual effects and a inflatable pig. Looking back at my review of the show, I now recall that other major highlights included selections from "The Wall."

Waters will perform the iconic 1979 album tonight in its entirety. Judging by this recent article that ran in the Herald, watching the spectacle of the actual wall's creation will be as thrilling as the music. Yes, I have high expectations for this evening. Truth be told, I'm practically giddy.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Hooray for 'Harry Potter,' I'm gonna miss him

Publicity still from "Deathly Hallows"
It's hard to believe that Harry Potter's amazing theatrical run will soon come to an end.

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows — Part 1" hits local screen Nov. 19. Its sequel, the franchise finale, opens next summer.

And then that's it.

Eight blockbusters over 10 years and then, nothing.

I plan to watch "Deathly Hollows" at a local theater. It will be my first experience with Potter on the big screen.

When the the first Potter opened I had recently turned 21 and was reluctantly vacationing with my family in Orlando. My mother and three younger siblings excitedly attended the movie. Pops and I went to a bar.

The "Lord of the Rings" books thrilled me as a child and I saw all three of those movies in the theater and countless times on DVD. But I dismissed Potter as kids' stuff.

Until my sister Allison, an avid fan who has read all the books and owns every Potter DVD, let me borrow the movies.

Not feeling well one weekend, I watched. And was hooked. Think I viewed four or five of them in a row. I had been transported into a glorious, magical fantasy world of good versus evil and didn't want to return.

Hooray for Harry Potter. I'm gonna miss him.

Official trailer for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows — Part 1"

Sunday, November 14, 2010

From 'Coal Miner's Daughter' to 'Country Strong:' a history of country music films

The country music film has been around since at least 1964.

Robert Altman's "Nashville" came out in 1975 but it took the 1980 picture "Coal Miner's Daughter" to attract a large, mainstream audience and create the model for the modern country music film.

Gwyneth Paltrow stars as a post-rehab Music City singer in "Country Strong," due out nationwide in early 2011.

It's similar to roles played by Clint Eastwood, Reese Witherspoon, Robert Duvall, Jeff Bridges and, well, Sylvester Stallone.

Star of 'Dreamgirls' Syesha Mercado on making her Tampa acting debut and an appearance in Bradenton

She grew up in Bradenton.

Graduated from Booker High School in Sarasota.

And shot to fame by finishing third on the seventh season of "American Idol."

This week, Syesha Mercado will make her homecoming acting debut as lead Deena Jones in "Dreamgirls," which begins a 6-day run Tuesday (Nov. 16) at the Straz Center for Performing Arts in Tampa.

She will also make an appearance at the Boys & Girls Club, 1415 Ninth St. W., Bradenton, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Monday.

Mercado recently talked to me about the show's highly successful run that started a year ago in New York, the thrill of performing in front of family and friends as well as her upcoming album and debut single "Hostage."

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Casper Van Dien, Congressman Vern Buchanan at Sanborn Studios opening in Lakewood Ranch

Sanborn Studios held its ceremonial ribbon cutting ceremony Friday.

Chief Executive Officer Ken Sanborn greeted the invitation-only crowd alongside Studio President Karinne Behr and Casper Van Dien (pictured).

Van Dien's the "Starship Trooper" starring in Sanborn's first production, the TV program "Miami 24/7," which I first wrote about here.

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, was also present on Friday.

Behr's brother, Philippe Martinez, executive producer of "Miami 24/7," did not appear.

Behr previously worked in Pinellas County with her brother at his Bauer Martinez Studios. After operating in Los Angeles and London, the studio relocated to Largo in 2005. It closed operations there in 2008. I spoke to Behr and Sanborn on Friday about how they expected to achieve different results in Manatee/Sarasota.

Devon Allman to play Ace's in Bradenton Sunday, Nov. 14

Perhaps you remember Devon Allman (pictured center) from when his Honeytribe band rocked the Sarasota Blues Festival in 2006.

Or maybe from that evening when he joined his dad, Gregg Allman, for a poignant rendition of "Midnght Rider."

On Sunday (Nov. 14), Devon will perform at Ace's in Bradenton. (Get your tickets now for just $7).

His latest release, the outstanding neoclassic rock record "Space Age Blues," which features a cameo by Huey Lewis, just debuted at No. 7 on Billboard's Blues Album chart.

Devon Allman's Honeytribe performing "Midnight Rider"

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cher on Letterman and the thong photo

Cher appeared on "Late Show with David Letterman" last night to promote her new film "Burlesque" and talk about her daughter Chastity becoming her son Chaz.

The veteran host took it easy on the veteran star whose face barely moved no matter how much she tried to smile or laugh, making for an awkward viewing experience.

The highlight of the evening —and it really wasn't much of one, reminding me why I no longer care for a show I once greatly enjoyed — was when Letterman showed a picture of him gawking at her thong, considered shocking at the time, during the famed Sonny Bono and Cher reunion episode that took place almost exactly 23 years ago.
Sonny and Cher reunion from 11/13/1987

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Multi-million dollar violin comes to Sarasota

Vadim Gluzman and his famous Strad
Rockers drool over vintage Fender Stratocasters and Gibson Les Pauls.

Those beautiful guitars built last century sell for as much as maybe $200,000.

But they don't quite compare with the history and monetary value of what world-class violinist Vadim Gluzman will play this weekend when he joins the Sarasota Orchestra for the organization's Masterworks: Virtuoso program.

Gluzman's Stradivarius was built in 1690.

It could be worth as much as $8 million.

For more information about the famous fiddle (and the man who plays it) read "Masterworks opens with world-class violinist." 

Vadim Gluzman performing Brahms' violin concerto

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Miranda Lambert leads 'revolution' at CMAs

Lambert pictured right.

She sings with ample attitude.

Writes her own sassy songs — or records ones by alt-country luminaries like Fred Eaglesmith or John Prine.

And is the best female artist to come out of Nashville in recent memory.

Props to the Country Music Association for making Miranda Lambert and her excellent album "Revolution" the big winner at tonight's awards show.

Read "Miranda Lambert's 'Revolution' just that at CMAs."

Miranda Lambert performing "White Liar," off her album "Revolution."

Taylor Swift becomes youngest BMI songwriter winner

Taylor Swift can do no wrong.

The 20-year-old writes and performs little ditties about puppy love and an army of teens — at least I'm assuming that's her fanbase — makes a purchase.

She's not much of a vocalist but that certainly hasn't hindered her amazing rise to superstardom.

Swift's massive record sales have saved not just Nashville but greatly helped the entire music industry. For this, the young woman has been given practically every major award the industry has to offer.

Swift became the youngest person to win Songwriter of the Year Tuesday night at the BMI Awards. Previously the youngest person was Bill Anderson (23) followed by Johnny Cash (24). Read "Taylor Swift named BMI songwriter of the year."

Taylor Swift at the 2010 Grammys struggling to sing with Stevie Nicks

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Gwyneth Paltrow as a country singer?

Gwyneth Paltrow
Some of my favorite films are about country singers.

Robert Altman wonderfully maligns Music City with his 1975 masterpiece "Nashville." The film includes numerous great performances including one by Keith Carradine. The actor won an Oscar for singing his original song "I'm Easy."

Robert Duvall set the bar with 1983's "Tender Mercies." He turned in a sublime performance, sang his own songs and won his lone Oscar.

Duvall plays a supporting part in 2009's "Crazy Heart." It features Jeff Bridges in a similar, singing, Oscar-winning role in a movie surely inspired by "Tender Mercies."

Before playing the world's most obnoxious rapper, Joaquin Phoenix depicted Johnny Cash opposite Oscar-winning Reese Witherspoon (as June Carter Cash) in 2005's "Walk the Line."

And then there's Sissy Spacek, who won a much-deserved Academy Award for playing Loretta Lynn in 1980's "Coal Miner's Daughter."

In the new flick "Country Strong," Gwyneth Paltrow plays a superstar Nashville singer who, like the protagonists of "Tender Mercies" and "Crazy Heart," battles drug and/or alcohol addiction. The cast also includes a bearded Tim McGraw. And judging by the trailer (see below) this film looks like a big, fat Thanksgiving turkey. Of course, I could be wrong. Read "Gwyneth Paltrow talks 'country strong' at premiere."

Official trailer for "Country Strong"

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ozzy Osbourne headed to Tampa with Slash

Heavy metal elder statesman Ozzy Osbourne will bring his impressive stash of Black Sabbath and solo classics to the St. Pete Times Forum on February 18.

The Prince of Darkness recently made headlines with a crowd-pleasing performance of "Crazy Train" at the highly attended and watched "Rally to Restore Sanity."

Former Guns N' Roses and Velvet Revolver guitar hero Slash and his new namesake band open.

Tickets went on sale Saturday. They range from $25-$45. Click to purchase.

Ozzy Osbourne performing "Crazy Train."

Top 10 Keith Richards songs

In honor of Keith Richards remaining the coolest rock star alive and his new autobiography "Life," which someone better buy me for Christmas, here's a list of his best recordings.

And by "his," I mean ones featuring rock's foremost libertine on lead vocals. All songs are from Rolling Stones records unless otherwise noted.
Top 10 Keith Richards songs

1. "Before They Make Me Run," off "Some Girls" (see clip below)
2. "Happy," off "Exile on Main Street"
3. "You Got the Silver," off "Let it Bleed"
4. "Little T&A," off "Tattoo You"
5. "Thru and Thru" (live),  off "Rarities 1971-2003"
6.  "Memory Motel," off "Black and Blue"
7. "Coming Down Again," off "Goats Head Soup"
8. "Connection" (live), off "Shine a Light"
9. "You Win Again," off the Hank Williams tribute album "Timeless"
10. "The Worst," off "Voodoo Lounge"

Click to read "Rolling with Richards," article about Richards' new book.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Trombone Shorty rocks Sarasota Blues Festival

Trombone Shorty at Sarasota Blues Festival on Nov. 6.
Multi-threat musician Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews had thousands on their feet, smiling and cheering Saturday at the Sarasota Blues Festival.

New Orleans' hottest export adroitly played trombone and trumpet while leading his ace, six-piece backing unit — lead guitar, bass guitar, percussion, drums, tenor sax, baritone sax — through a winningly eclectic set of funk, jazz, blues and rock.

Andrews has been a virtuoso horn player since his teens but as someone who has seen the 24-year-old perform numerous times in the past five years, it's worth noting his growth as a vocalist. His voice has become remarkably stronger and more flexible. He implemented scatting and more complicated, jazzing phrasing akin to his horn playing into his singing Saturday. Andrews has also developed an effective falsetto for the sexy time numbers and a show-stopping banshee yell borrowed from the James Brown playbook.

Trombone Shorty publicity photo.
And his charisma and confidence continue to rocket off the chart. Andrews simply exudes positive energy. Just watching him animatedly cajole extra notes from his band-mates during their solos proved wildly entertaining.

Whereas Andrews previously relied on classic rock and hip-hop covers to elate audiences, he now holds listeners attention with minimal gimmickry and a set list largely consisting of self-penned originals culled from his new Verve/Universal, major label debut "Backatown." The disc features the catchy single "Something Beautiful," which was a highlight Saturday, and easily ranks as one of the more interesting and satisfying releases of the year.

Andrews still pays homage to his hero Louis Armstong but no longer with the expected "When the Saints Go Marching In." Instead, the Crescent City's current star offered a truly life-affirming rendition of the popular Satchmo recording "On the Sunny Side of the Street." During that song and numerous others Andrews and a Sarasota Blues Festival crowd not exactly known known for embracing young, genre-defying artists, completely connected. Standing in the front row and feeling the love shared between the performer and audience proved to be one of my more moving concert experiences of recent memory.

Read my interview with Trombone Shorty.

Read my interview with Sarasota Blues Fest promoter Barbara Strauss.

Friday, November 5, 2010

George Strait headed to Tampa with Reba McEntire and Lee Ann Womack

Photo by Vanessa Gavalya
Country's classiest and most consistent hit-maker, George Strait (pictured), will return to the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa on Jan. 29, according to a publicity release issued late Friday.

Reba McEntire and Lee Ann Womack will be joining him.

At the 44th Annual CMA Awards, aired live Nov. 10 on ABC, Strait is up for Male Vocalist of the Year award for the 24th time.  

 He is also nominated for Album of the Year for "Twang," an award he won in 2008 for "Troubadour." 

Strait performing the "Twang" track "Living for the Night."

Trombone Shorty, Taste of Manatee and plenty of plays make for awesome, cool weekend

Trombone Shorty at Tropical Heatwave 2009/Wade Tatangelo
Sunny with a few clouds.


Highs in the upper 60s.

Time to grab that favorite light jacket or hoodie and embrace this first cool weekend of the year.

I highly recommend spending Saturday at the Sarasota Blues Festival where New Orleans native Trombone Shorty, who plays here before heading on tour with the Dave Matthews Band, should blow you away with his "supafunkrock." Click for my interview with Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews.

Before heading to the Blues Fest, and probably Sunday, too, I'll hit up Taste of Manatee and stuff my face with local cuisine.

And starting this week I'll be attending plays at Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota and American Stage in St. Pete — if only so I can wear my favorite sportcoat! 

Trombone Shorty at Tropical Heatwave 2009 in Ybor City.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

'Cortez Idol' karaoke winner gets $1,000

Get those pipes ready and make sure you pick a song that you can really belt.

Pelican Pete's will host its third annual karaoke contest starting Nov. 6.

“Cortez Idol:” will run through Dec. 11, date of finale.

Two contestants will be picked each week to go forward to the Finale. Autoway Ford and Pelican Pete’s are offering $1,000 for first prize.

Herald features editor Jana Morreale, who sings some mean karoake herself, will be one of the judges on Nov. 6. FYI: She's partial to hair metal and Madonna.

Pelican Pete’s, 12012 Cortez Road, Bradenton. (941) 792-4822.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Devon Allman calls dad Gregg Allman's upcoming solo album 'killer'

The highly anticipated Gregg Allman solo album, "Low Country Blues" (pictured), will be released Jan. 18 on Rounder Records.

Super producer T-Bone Burnett helmed the album that features Allman, a former resident of Manatee County, lending his rich, Southern drawl to classic blues songs by the likes of Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Skip James, Bobby Bland, Otis Rush and Sleepy John Estes.

"Low Country Blues" also features one new song, "Just Another Rider," written by Allman and his Allman Brothers Band colleague Warren Haynes.

"I've heard the whole thing," son Devon Allman (also an accomplished musician) told the Bradenton Herald during a recent interview to advance his Nov. 14 appearance at Ace's. "I love it. It's a killer record and something he's needed to make for awhile. It's very old school."

"Low Country Blues" finds Gregg Allman joined by an all-star cast of players including New Orleans icon Dr. John on piano, guitar great Doyle Bramhall II, bassist Dennis Crouch and drummer Jay Bellerose.

In addition to being available at the usual outlets, the album will also be sold at Starbucks shops nationwide.

The complete track list for "Low Country Blues" can be found on Gregg Allman's official website.

Gregg Allman Band performing at the 1994 Sarasota Blues Festival. 

Kiefer Sutherland, Chris Noth to star in Broadway revival of 'That Championship Season'

There have been countless movies inspired by sports.

But not so many plays.

"That Championship Season" focuses on four former hoops players who reunite with their high school coach 20 years after winning the state title. It easily ranks as one of the best productions about athletes —albeit former ones — to ever enjoy a run on Broadway.

Authored by Jason Miller, the critically acclaimed "That Championship Season" won the Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer for Best Drama in 1973.

According to a recent report, it will soon receive a big star revival — one I would love to see.

Read "Kiefer Sutherland (pictured), Chris Noth head to Broadway," published by The Herald Nov. 2.

Here's the official trailer from the 1982 movie of the same name. Directed and scripted by Miller, it features Robert Mitchum, Martin Sheen, Bruce Dern, Paul Sorvino and Stacey Keach

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Top 10 Election Day songs

You suffered through the terrible pummeling of ugly campaign advertisements.

Stood in line to choose the politician less likely to make our lives worst.

And you have the sticker to prove it.

Now, enjoy some tunes.

Top 10 Election Day songs

1. "Elected," Alice Cooper (watch clip below)
2. "Election Day," Arcadia 
3. "Political World," Bob Dylan
4. "Campaigner," Neil Young
5. "Electioneering," Radiohead
6. "Politician," Cream
7. "Mr. November," The National
8. "If I Ruled the World," Nas
9. "Money Changes Everything," The Brains/Cyndi Lauper
10. "White Liar," Miranda Lambert

Monday, November 1, 2010

Manatee Players' big win and the $250,000 Ringling Fest question

Due to my Friday deadline, when I researched and wrote my Sunday column, "Ringling Fest and the $250,000 question," I did not know that the Manatee Players took top honors at the state theater competition Saturday and will now be representing all of Florida at the Southeastern Theatre Conference, which will be held in Atlanta in March.

The Players' latest accomplishment, for their superb staging of Stephen Sondheim's "Sunday in the Park with George" (pictured performing at Ringling International Arts Festival fringe event at Museum of Art Courtyard) obviously strengthens the argument made by those who feel Manatee County would have been wiser to give the local community theater company the $250K rather than RIAF.

In case you missed Sunday's publication, here are links to my stories:

"Ringling Fest and the $250,000 question"

"Manatee Players takes top honors at state fest"

"Strauss celebrates 20 years of Sarasota Blues Fest"

"Cine-World brings Oscar buzz to Burns Court"