Sunday, January 30, 2011

Damon Fowler's 'Sugar Shack Mondays' with Biscuit Miller at Ace's in Bradenton

Biscuit Miller (pictured) and the Mix to make for flavorful Sugar Shack Monday.

Damon Fowler, who appeared on the cover of the Herald's Weekend section Thursday, returns from the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise and his CD release party for "Devil Got His Way," Saturday at Skipper's Smokehouse in Tampa, for a superb edition of Sugar Shack Mondays.

Fowler at Skipper's by L. Campbell
The Damon Fowler Group will perform with Dave "Biscuit" Miller and the Mix 8 p.m. Mon., Jan. 31 at Ace's in Bradenton for a free show and webcast.

Miller grew up in Chicago and spent a decade in the great Lonnie Brooks' band performing magor gigs such as President Bill Clinton's inauguration. The Indianapolis, Ind.-based Miller also backed Anthony Gomes before fronting his own group Biscuit Miller and the Mix in 2000.
Biscuit's chop bag is bottomless, and contains everything from mathematically spaced eighth notes, endless permutations of blues walk-ups and downs, thumps, plucks, taps -- you name it, it's in there.
And Biscuit is just like sunshine, just being in his presence makes you feel good. Hearing him play makes you want to go home and practice.

- Lenablog, 11/05

The Jan. 31 edition of Damon Fowler's Sugar Shack Mondays will be the last to actually feature Fowler performing until he gets back from some East Coast dates for a Feb. 14 Ace's appearance, and then not until April 4, when he returns from an international tour taking him to Italy, Canada and across the U.S.

Click screen at 8 p.m. Jan. 31 to watch "Sugar Shack Mondays" 
featuring Fowler and Biscuit Miller.

Live Videos by Ustream

Charlie Louvin autobiography 'Satan Is Real: The Ballad of the Louvin Brothers' to be released this year

Charlie Louvin from

Interview I did with  Charlie Lovin's St. Petersburg-based manage Brett Steele about the country great's legacy and upcoming auobiography:
Country Music Hall of Famer Charlie Louvin, who died Wednesday at the age of 83, spent the last six months of his life working on an autobiography.
As the Louvin Brothers, older sibling Ira and he wrote and recorded close harmony, hit singles such as “When I Stop Dreaming,” “Cash on the Barrelhead,” “If I Could Only Win Your Love” and “The Great Atomic Power.” They also released the classic album “Satan Is Real.” The Louvin Brothers’ music proved highly influential with alt-country pioneer Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris and numerous others.
Continue reading. 

Bill Bailey's Winter Gospel Music Convention in Bradenton Jan. 31-Feb. 5

My interview with Bradenton-based pastor and nationally acclaimed gospel music promoter Bill Bailey:
A multitude of people will pour into Palmetto next week to celebrate Christian faith with song at the Winter Gospel Music Convention.
Organizers expect the convention to draw between 2,000 and 3,000 for each 7:30 p.m. performance Monday through Saturday at the Manatee Convention Center. And free 1:30 p.m. matinees, which run daily starting Tuesday, are an added bonus for the congregation of locals and out-of-towners.
Headliners include the Blackwood Brothers (Monday; pictured), Booth Brothers (Tuesday and Wednesday) and the Triumphant Quartet (Thursday).
Continue reading.

Ringling Museum opens 'Gardens in Perpetual Bloom'

Running in A&E section of today's Herald:
Home gardening has been around for about 10,000 years. The pastime of growing ornamental plants didn’t become popular, though, until the mid-19th century. Before then, professional horticulturists were hired by the rich and royal. Botanists studied flowers to determine scientific classifications. The average person mostly stuck to growing fruits and vegetables for the dinner table rather than decorative foliage.
Continue reading/view photo gallery.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bradenton Beach-resident Damon Fowler on national release 'Devil Got His Way'


Here's my interview with Bradenton Beach-resident Damon Fowler, who just released "Devil Got His Way" on Blind Pig Records.
Fowler returns from the Bahamas just in time for a WMNF (88.5)-sponsored CD release party Saturday at Skipper’s Smokehouse in Tampa. “Devil Got His Way,” his second album for the prestigious Blind Pig Records, came out Jan. 18. It has already received glowing reviews from top Americana publication No Depression and daily newspapers such as the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and Philadelphia Daily News. Many of the songs on “Devil Got His Way” were written in Bradenton Beach.
 Continue reading.

Damon Fowler Group with Mike Kach (keyboards) performing "Devil Got His Way" track 
"You Go Your Way" at Daytona Blues Festival Oct. 2010

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Charlie Louvin, Country Music Hall of Famer with local ties, dies at 83

Americana Music Festival September 10, 2010, in Nashville, TN.

Charlie Louvin, most famously associated with the country duo the Louvin Brothers, died early today. After a brave fight with pancreatic cancer he succumbed to illness at 83 years old, reads the statement by his Pinellas-based manager Brett Steele. In the early morning of Jan. 26, Louvin passed away at his home in Wartrace, Tenn., surrounded by family. Louvin is survived by his wife Betty, and three sons, Charlie Jr. (Sonny), Glenn and Kenneth. A private funeral for Louvin will be held in Nashville, on Sunday, Jan. 30.

"I love people, y'know?" Louvin said when I asked what keeps him touring for a St. Petersburg Times story that ran in 2009. "I know entertainers who do their show and go hide. I don't do that. So I'll keep working as long as the good Lord gives me breath. But if I get to where they have to use that Pro Tools (digital help) on me, I'll quit!"

Louvin had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the summer of 2010 and had subsequently undergone surgery to help combat the disease. The surgery was limited in its success, but Louvin’s health was stable enough that he was able to enjoy his love of performing live up until the end of his life, reads the statement.

Charlie Louvin (left), Elizabeth Tatangelo, Wade Tatangelo by Sonny Louvin.
My sister Elizabeth Tatangelo and I met Louvin about a year ago outside his home in Tennessee while driving from Florida to Colorado. He was a sweet, Southern gentleman who will be missed by many. Luckily, he left much great music behind, both as solo act and the immortal recordings he made with brother Ira Louvin. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

REVIEW: 'Twelve Angry Men' at Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota

Jud Williford, left, as Juror Eight in 'Twelve Angry Men." Photo by Frank Atura.

A poignant, deceptively simple gesture concludes the Asolo Repertory’s exhilarating production of “Twelve Angry Men,” playing at the Mertz Theatre in Sarasota through March 26.

A small act of kindness shared by two fellows. One helps another into his jacket. Nothing special.

Except that these two guys have just spent 90 minutes vehemently debating whether they will sentence a troubled teenager to death. The other 10 jurors joust as well, but not with the determination of this pair. At one point, the opponents appear ready to trade blows — or worse.

Antagonists driven by honest emotions and, in the case of the most excitable Juror Three (James Clarke), a past demon that hits close to the case, make peace without uttering a word. Tiny, terrific moments such as the moving final action pepper this superb staging of “Twelve Angry Men,” directed by Tony Award-winner Frank Galati.

Jud Williford (as Juror Eight) and Clarke, who have the richest roles, turn in tour de force performances — but singling them out almost seems like an injustice to the rest of this commendable cast. Every juror in the Asolo Rep's production of Reginald Rose's popular television (and film) drama from the 1950s, which finally debuted on Broadway in 2004, deserves the standing ovation they received during a recent staging.

Best known for the 1957 movie directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Henry Fonda as Juror Eight with Lee J. Cobb as Juror Three, “Twelve Angry Men” holds a special place in the pantheon of American dramas. No other film or play does such an excellent job of putting the audience in a sweltering jury room and allowing us to feel the tension that accompanies making a life or death decision. “Twelve Angry Men"'s ‘50s New York setting does little, if anything, to diminish its relevance.

At the Mertz Theatre, dozen white men of various ages, looking exactly as one would picture fellows of the era thanks to Mara Blumenfeld's costumes and Michelle Hart's wig/hair design, file onto a stage decorated as a wonderfully drab jury room by Russell Metheny. They must decide whether a 16-year-old black youth murdered his father. At the start, only Juror Eight has reasonable doubt.

The truth twists and reshapes like Silly Putty. Insults fly. By the end, though, something closer to concrete regarding the events in question emerges. Beliefs reluctantly change. The joy, though, comes more from watching the jurors personalities come to life than the meting out of justice, which, and this enhances rather than hinders the play, never manifests itself fully.   

It’s an edge-of-your-seat, one-room journey featuring fiery performances. Williford deftly plays the hero as an endearing everyman who, albeit being written as one-dimensional in its nobility, never allows his character to come across as cloyingly saintly. Clarke, meanwhile, crushes as the scoundrel with soul. He makes you long for the foreshadowed meltdown and then nails it. No easy task.

While Williford’s Juror Eight fights the good fight, Juror 10 qualifies as the play's lone villain. He owns garages, talks rough Brooklynese and wants a guilty verdict because he’s a bigot with kooky ideas about a minority takeover. Douglas Jones makes you loathe his character's words without creating a devilish cartoon. Instead, his convincing performance reminds the audience of not only the prejudice that pervaded the ’50s but the racism that, sadly, continues to taint courtroom decisions today.

Fresh face Dane Dandridge shines as Juror Six, whose character grows the most throughout the play. Elderly Juror Nine, played with virtuosity by Asolo Rep veteran David Howard, softly steals every scene in which he has more than a line. John Arnold excels as the immigrant Juror 11, who extols this country’s less-than-perfect legal system with laudable conviction — even if the more cynical members of the audience might wince at a mini monologue that smacks of quaint patriotism.

"Twelve Angry Men" offers a dozen outstanding, nuanced performances. The body language alone makes it worth seeing. The way the actors listen (lean forward, nod, shake their heads, etc.), chew a piece of gum, grab a cough drop, pace, or help another man put on his jacket says as much about where they're at mentally and emotionally as anything in the script. In doing so, Galati and cast greatly justify experiencing — or perhaps reexamining — an American classic.

Click for showtimes/tickets.

Frank Galati discusses "Twelve Angry Men"with clips from Asolo Rep production

WATCH: Shaun Rounds at Sugar Shack Mondays, Ace's in Bradenton

Shaun Rounds (center) at Ace's in Bradenton Jan. 24. Photo by Lacy Campbell
Here are the videos of from the Jan. 24 edition of Damon Fowler's Sugar Shack Mondays show/webcast with special guest Shaun Rounds.

Intro by Wade Tatangelo

Performance by Shaun Rounds Blues Band

Shaun Rounds interviewed by Wade Tatangelo

Monday, January 24, 2011

Damon Fowler's Sugar Shack Mondays: Shaun Rounds today at Ace's in Bradenton

Orlando-based blues/soul man Shaun Rounds (pictured) will be the special guest for this week's edition of Damon Fowler's Sugar Shack Mondays.

Rounds can be seen every Sunday at B.B. King's Resturant and Blues Club in Orlando.

Damon Fowler's "Sugar Shack Mondays"
Showcasing the best in touring talent
8 p.m. Mon., Jan. 24 with special guest:
Shaun Rounds
Ace's, 4343 Palma Sola Blvd., Bradenton
No cover

Click the link below at 8 p.m. to watch the webcast.

Watch last week's webcast featuring Damon Fowler with Sarasota Slim and Dave Friebolin.

Fowler will not be present this evening. He's somewhere in Caribbean with Taj Mahal, Joan Osborne & the Holmes Brothers, Kenny Wayne Sheperd and others on the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Top 10: Greatest western movies ever made

Watched the Coen brothers' "True Grit" recently and started thinking about my favorite westerns of all time.

"Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (pictured), "Wild Bunch," "The Searchers" and "Once Upon a Time in the West," featuring Ennio Morricone's haunting score all made the list.

INTERVIEW: Regis Philbin on fave TV moments

Interview I did with Regis Philbin few days before his big announcement:

Regis Philbin, who dropped a bombshell with the recent on-air announcement that he would leave “Live with Regis and Kelly” later this year, didn’t hesitate when asked about his favorite episode from the show he has hosted for more than a quarter century.

It involved the retirement of another television icon in 1992.

“The one that I did in Johnny Carson’s last few months on air,” Philbin said by phone from Palm Beach a few days before making his shocking statement. “I knew he wouldn’t sit still for an interview but I called his producer, a longtime friend, Peter Lassally, and told him I had an idea for one more shot at Johnny before the show ends."

Continue reading.

Regis Philbin and Joy Philbin at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota on Jan. 26.

Photo: Regis Philbin. Credit: Chris Pizzello / Associated Press

Sanborn Studios employs Paramount Pictures veteran executive

Here's my latest news story regarding Sanborn Studios:
Sanborn Studios, which officially launched its Lakewood Ranch facility in November, has added some veteran Hollywood film executives to its team.

Chief Financial Officer Alan Bailey (pictured) joins Founder/Chief Executive Ken Sanborn and President Karinne Behr at the top of the television and movie production company’s roster.

Bailey maximized state production incentives while working at Paramount Pictures for 35 years. Since retiring from one of the world’s oldest and most successful film studios as senior vice president and treasurer in 2009, he has headed Moving Star Media.

Continue reading for my interview with Bailey and announcement of another high-profile hire.

Here's my previous Sanbron Stduios story: "Sanborn Studios’ key players have rocky bios."

Saturday, January 22, 2011

REVIEW: 'Boeing Boeing' at Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota

It’s silly, dated but definitely satisfying.

Yes, the comeuppance of an English playboy living in Paris still makes for viable comedy in the Asolo Repertory’s laudable production of the half-century-old farce “Boeing Boeing,” which opened Friday at the Mertz Theatre in Sarasota.

By French playwright Marc Camoleti, “Boeing Boeing” premiered in Paris as a contemporary piece in 1960. Beverley Cross’ English language adaptation opened in London two years later and became a huge smash. The comedy bombed on Broadway in 1965 but did much better in 2008, when it won the Tony Award for Best Revival Play.

The Asolo Rep’s staging, set in the late '60s, takes place in an apartment on a single Saturday. Six characters walk in and out of about as many entrances. The play amounts to frivolous, but commendable, fun.

Credit director Greg Leaming’s expert execution of the swinging-door slapstick. Applaud a first-rate cast that cleverly maximizes their respective character’s absurdities. Embrace the ridiculous rapidity in which everything from flight schedules to supposedly deep feelings and personalities drastically change.

Bernard (Bryan Torfeh) has a fabulous flat, a successful architecture practice and a penchant for international air hostesses. His three flight attendant fiancées are the ravishing redhead American, Gloria (Kim Hausler); the adorable dark-haired Italian, Gabriella (Angela Sauer); and the beautiful, statuesque blonde German, Gretchen (Kate Hampton). Bernard juggles his international harem of hotties — all written as complete stereotypes — with a trusty airline timetable and much help from maid Bertha (Mercedes Herrero).

The play opens with Bernard so cocksure of his three-timing ways that after breakfast with Gloria he’s scheduled Gabriella for lunch and then Gretchen for dinner. He’s gleefully gambling on a trifecta of sorts. Old pal Robert (Jason Bradley), a rube from the English countryside, stops by. Bernard brags of his multi-country conquests. Insists that his guest stay and witness how smoothly the deceitful operation works.

When things go predictably wrong — voila — humor.

The hilarity heats up when Hampton’s superbly over-the-top Gretchen arrives early. An unforeseen romance unfolds between her and Bradley’s wonderfully goofy Robert, who quickly finds merit in the playboy lifestyle he originally criticized. Bradley excels at physical comedy and Hampton gooses him along with guffaw-inducing grace. Their scenes together are the highlights of the entire performance.

Hausler makes the most of the mischievous Gloria, who explains that in America women run the household. Her lines surely worked better when they were originally delivered during the sexual revolution. Same goes for Gloria’s other surprises, which lack much, if any, shock value in 2011. Despite the stale material, Hausler generate laughs based on her chops as an actress, which are considerable.

Sauer sizzles as the super sexy and fiery Gabriella. She’s the most sympathetic, albeit ignorant, character in the play. Beyond looking stunning, and, like the other two fiancées, she does, Sauer exudes star power by refusing to allow her relatively small role to get lost in the speedy shuffle. When Gabriella demands something, you take notice.

Torfeh has the tough task of making Bernard’s meltdown reasonably believable and, you know, funny. He pulls it off. Torfeh doesn’t have the opportunity to be as winningly playful as Bradley but deftly pounces on each piece of humor up for grabs.

Herrero’s drolly realized Bertha remains a reliable source of sly humor throughout the play. The constantly complaining maid functions of something akin to a snarky, one-woman chorus. Bertha’s the sole character with which the audience must identify and Herrero couldn’t have handled the role better.

“Boeing Boeing” should probably be permanently grounded in the near future. Its comic thrust loses power with each year that goes by. But the Asolo Rep manages to make the relic soar, especially during the second act, which takes the audience to laugh-out-loud heights.

Click for showtimes/tickets.

Photo (left to right) of Angela Sauer, Kate Hampton and Kim Housler by Frank Atura/Courtesy of Asolo Rep.

Friday, January 21, 2011

New 'Marvin Gaye' musical and more hit local stages

Here's my stage roundup that ran Thursday on cover of the Herald's Weekend section:
Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s “Marvin Gaye: The Man and His Music” aims to spotlight the artist’s life as well as his brilliant recordings. A musical written and directed by WBTT Artistic Director Nate Jacobs, the production stars Sheldon Roden (pictured) as the title character who overcomes substance addiction and depression to compose and perform some of the greatest recordings of all time. Roden’s stirring renditions of Gaye’s material during WBTT’s “Motown ’60s Revue” last summer prompted Jacobs to create the new show.

Continue reading roundup that also includes blurbs on David Mamet's "Race" at FST, "Boeing Boeing" at Asolo Rep, "Moonlight and Magnolias" at Anna Maria Island Players and "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" at American Stage.

Geri X headlines free show/blood drive at Jannus Live

Geri X/Photo Credit: Palmer Holmes

In honor of National Volunteer Blood Donor Month, Jannus Live in downtown St. Petersburg presents a free concert on Sat., Jan. 22.

Superb singer/songwriter Geri X and several other popular Tampa Bay area acts have volunteered their talents including nationally-recognized garage rockers Tres Bien, Mighty Mongo, Jeremy Thomas Band, Will Erickson and Paint the Town Red.

The Florida Blood Services Bloodmobile will be on site from 4-9 p.m. Music starts at 6 p.m. Donate blood and receive a free draft beer (after donating) and a free FBS T-shirt. For people too squeamish to give blood, cash donations will be accepted.

Kiss On Both Eyelids by Geri X from Suzie & Van on Vimeo.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

'Rocky Horror Picture Show' at Manatee Players Jan. 21 and 22

Bust out your costumes and singalong chops, "Rocky Horror Picture Show" returns to the Manatee Players' Riverfront Theatre in downtown Bradenton.

Participation-encouraged screenings are at 11 p.m. Jan. 21 and 22.

"Props" available for purchase at concession stand.

Admission: $8.

Purchase tickets at or  (941) 748-5875.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

UPDATED: Katy Perry's world tour headed to Tampa

UPDATED Jan. 21: Tickets are $45 and go on sale 10 a.m. Sat., Jan. 29 at the St. Pete Times Forum box office and all Ticketmaster outlets. To order tickets by phone, call Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000. For more information call (813) 301.2500 or visit

Katy Perry, pop's most consistently interesting star of the past couple years, will kick off the North American leg of her "California Dreams World Tour 2011" June 7 in Atlanta, according to e-mail issued today by her record company EMI music.

She plays the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa on June 10.

I had the privilege of seeing Perry the last time she played Tampa Bay in April of 2009.

Here's what I wrote:
Pop tease Katy Perry delighted a sold-out crowd Tuesday in St. Petersburg with her snarky lyrics, catchy melodies, and undeniable charisma. Alternating between naughty sexpot and cute nerd next-door, the singer/songwriter best known for the kinda-sorta controversial single "I Kissed a Girl" pleased about 1,000 concertgoers at Jannus Landing with a winning mix of well-executed songs and spot-on, funny stage banter that appealed to the highly eclectic, all-ages audience - even if some four-letter words probably upset the parents of tweens in attendance.
Continue reading my review

Photo: Katy Perry. Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez / LA Times.
Katy Perry performing "I Kissed a Girl" at Jannus Landing in St. Petersburg, April 28, 2009

REVIEW: Manatee Players hit big with 'Hairspray'

The Tony Award-winning song and dance version of John Waters’ 1988 cult film “Hairspray” ran on Broadway for the vast majority of the past decade. A big-budget movie version of the musical comedy played cinemas nationwide a few years ago. The Manatee Players’ production — running through Jan. 30 in the cozy confines of the Riverfront Theater in downtown Bradenton — should be a treat for local theater enthusiasts regardless if you’ve already seen it on the Great White Way or sat through the film starring John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer and Christopher Walken.

The Players’ version teems with cheer. The young, talented cast imbues the production with a freshness that proves smile (and laugh) inducing throughout. The musical also serves as a reminder of how society has changed for the better — and can continue to improve if we all embrace the winning spirit of fearless hero Tracy Turnblad.

Set in Baltimore, 1962, “Hairspray” adroitly tackles race relationships, body image issues and the generation gap of the era without ever feeling preachy. It’s a smart, delightful musical with a positive message about acceptance. The Players hit the right note on practically every jubilant number and busy but well-executed scene — especially nailing the overall brilliance of the deceptively simple tale of early ‘60s youth culture.

Kyle Ann Lacertosa BY PAUL VIDELA
Pleasantly plump teenager Tracy (Kyle Ann Lacertosa) wins a role on the TV dance program “The Corny Collins Show” and uses her celebrity to integrate the whites-only broadcast. She’s supported by her hilariously sweet, socially progressive mom Edna Turnblad (Michael Bajjaly in drag, just has the role has traditionally been performed) and endearingly goofball dad Wilbur Turnblad (Lee Schlesinger). Miss Teenage Hairspray front-runner Amber Von Tussle (Trina Rizzo) and her racist, showbiz mom Velma Von Tussle (Melanie Souza) play the villains.

Lacertosa exudes charming innocence and warmth as the lead. She’s the performing arts teacher at Cardinal Mooney High School and has directed numerous performances on the Mooney stage. The diminutive star has adorably young facial features and easily passes for a teenager all the while bringing the acting and vocal chops of a veteran/educator.

Rizzo, a junior at Manatee High, holds her own as the ultimate mean girl. She relishes her role as the bratty beauty, singing and delivering her lines with near pitch perfect cattiness. And by the end, Rizzo even makes us sympathize with her a bit, which is quite an accomplishment given her treatment of Tracy.

Bajjaly had no problem generating big guffaws as Edna while Phyliss Banks proved terrific as the rhyming Motormouth Maybelle. The ensemble, meanwhile, added significantly to the wonderfully orchestrated dance numbers that fill the room with intoxicating verve.

Credit director and choreographer Rick Kerby for a pretty much spot-on staging that sustains its gleeful momentum from start to finish. Implementing superbly minimal, funky scenery designed by Donna Buckalter, killer period costumes by Jared Walker and a first-rate community cast, the Manatee Players’ artistic director has created a highly recommended crowd-pleaser with wit and a heart as big as its hair.

Click for ticket info.

Bradenton rock band We the Kings studio update from New York

Bradenton pop-rock nobles We the Kings continue to work on their as-yet-untitled third album at a studio in New York. Singer/guitarist Travis Clark recently posted this picture on his popular blog WhoIsTravisClark:

"Started with drums today and finished ‘Kiss Me Last,’ ‘Rock Steady,’ ‘The Secret To New York,’ and ‘Over You,’" Clark wrote. "So far everything sounds amazing and with each and every piece of recorded music I get more and more excited to show you all."

Travis Clark interviewed for We the Kings DVD on top of Bradenton Financial Center Dec.22, 2010.

Clark discussed the song at the top of the chart, "Party, Fun, Love and Radio," with the Herald recently when the band came home to play the Hall in Palmetto and to shoot a live DVD there and around Bradenton leading up to the performance.

“I started writing ('Party, Fun, Love and Radio') and eventually it was so catchy instead of making it a typical song, I just put together all these musical hooks,” Clark said. “The whole thing is a lot like 'Check Yes Juliet.' It’s real radio friendly and a good way to kick things off.”

Official video for We the Kings' hit single "Check Yes Juliet"

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

WATCH: Damon Fowler discuss 'Devil Got His Way,' out today on Blind Pig Records

Before starting the latest edition of "Sugar Shack Mondays" from Ace's in Bradenton, Damon Fowler sat down with me to discuss his excellent new release "Devil Got His Way."

The album came out today on Blind Pig Records.

Monday, January 17, 2011

WATCH: Damon Fowler's 'Sugar Shack Mondays' webcast/show with Nitro Bozeman and Sarasota Slim at Ace's in Bradenton

UPDATED: Missed "Sugar Shack Mondays" live show/webcast? Scroll down to watch.

Nitro (left) and Sarasota Slim
The latest edition of Damon Fowler's "Sugar Shack Mondays" webcast/show takes place tonight at Ace's in Bradenton and features a pair of Florida favorites. 
Philip "Nitro" Bozeman has been lauded as a true, Chicago bluesman. He sings and plays harp in the old style — think Jimmy Reed or Junior Wells — delivering the kind of sizzling shuffles that prompt shaking all over the dance floor late into the night. Nitro has been a beloved Tampa Bay area blues fixture for more than two decades.

Gene "Sarasota Slim" Hardage plays a variety of roots-based music all with a blues emphasis. He started as a sideman for the late, great singer/blues harpist Rock Bottom in the 1980s before fronting his own act. Slim has also toured with acclaimed guitar slinger Lucky Peterson and plans to release new record in the near future. 

Sarasota Slim and Nitro performing at St. Petersburg Folk Fest 2009

Nitro and Slim met at a juke joint about 25 years ago and became blues friends on the spot. Each have their own bands and schedules but when the blue moon is right Nitro and Slim team up, as will be the case for tonight's "Sugar Shack Mondays" webcast, which streams live starting at 8 p.m. tonigth at Ace's in Bradenton.

Damon Fowler at "Sugar Shack Mondays" Jan. 10. Photo by Tracy May.

Incidentally, when midnight strikes, it will mark the release of Fowler's "Devil Got His Way" (click link for samples). It's the Bradenton Beach resident's highly anticipated second album for Blind Pig Records. Fowler's 2009 debut for the label, "Sugar Shack," reached No. 12 on  Billboard's Top Blues Album chart. "Devil Got His Way" is already reviewing glowing reviews such as this one by the nation's top Americana publication No Depression.

"Devil Got His Way" out Jan. 18. Click to order.

Here's how "Sugar Shack Mondays" operates:

Fowler and I introduce Nitro and Slim, who then play for about an hour. Following the performance, I interview Nitro and Slim plus throw a few questions at my friend Fowler, who I've known now for about a decade. That’s when the webcast ends. But not the event, which, is free. After the cameras are turned off, the Damon Fowler Group performs a few songs and then jams with Nitro and Slim and perhaps some other musicians who have been invited in advance.

Fowler (left) with Kach at "Sugar Shack Mondays." Photo by Tracy May.

Last week, our special guest was Mike Kach, keyboardist/singer with Dickey Betts & Great Southern.

Check out "Sugar Shack Mondays" on Facebook for more pictures and updates here, here and here.

"Sugar Shack Mondays" Jan. 3, 2011/Photo by Tracy May

Damon Fowler's "Sugar Shack Mondays"
Showcasing the best in touring talent
8 p.m. Mon., Jan. 17 with special guests:
Nitro Bozeman and Sarasota Slim
Ace's, 4343 Palma Sola Blvd., Bradenton
No cover


Intro by Damon Fowler and Wade Tatangelo

Sarasota Slim and Dave Friebolin (piano) with Damon Fowler Group

Interview with Sarasota Slim, Dave Friebolin and Damon Fowler by Wade Tatangelo

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bill Cosby interview: comic great discusses defining moment early in his career

Here's the Bill Cosby story I did to advance his two shows today at the Van Wezel in Sarasota. Due to the rather distinct nature of the interview, it's a bit longer and different — first person — than the stuff I usually do for the Herald, where the piece ran today on front of A&E/Accent.
Cosby’s spot-on comic timing has always reminded me of a jazz musician’s. Like Coltrane or Miles Davis, he understood early in his career that the pauses are just as important as what you actually say -- or in the case of a musician, play. I share this with Cosby and he runs with it.
“Listen to John Coltrane enough and after two bars, just two bars at any place, and you know that’s him,” Cosby says. “We all have signature things that happen to be similar that you can predict and you try to stay away from that except the rhythms: those pauses, they’re part of my signature, the part where I know when I say nothing, I already painted enough, led enough and I don’t even have to say anything.
“But those pauses don’t belong to me,” Cosby quickly adds as a matter of record. “Jack Benny was one of the first guys in comedy to make the anticipation so great that during the pause people start to laugh before the execution.”
Continue reading

Bill Cosby on why he though his name was Jesus Christ

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Manatee County Fair headliner The Band Perry talks about smash single 'If I Die Young,' Lady Gaga and upcoming Grammy Awards appearance

PUBLICITY PHOTO From left, Reid, Kimberly and Neil Perry

The Band Perry, which performs at the Manatee County Fair on Jan. 20, had one of the biggest country hits of last year with "If I Die Young." The sibling act's oldest member and lead singer Kimberly Perry, who performs with younger brothers Reid and Neil, wrote the song and it has landed the group an invitation to the Grammys on Feb. 13. I talked with all three Perrys during a recent phone interview for this story running in the Weekend section of today's Herald:

“If I Die Young” has been nominated for Best Country Song and the trophy goes to the writer. Competition includes songs written for George Strait, Miranda Lambert, Gretchen Wilson and Zac Brown’s self-penned “Free.” Win or lose, the Perrys are just excited about being invited to the music industry’s biggest night -- and maybe crossing paths with their favorite pop star.
“Neil is looking forward to meeting Lady Gaga,” 22-year-old Reid said of his younger brother, who’s 20.
Kimberly quickly added: “I love her. Especially when she strips down to just her and the piano. Everything about her. She’s just really interesting.”
Continue reading.

The Band Perry: 'If I Die Young"

Monday, January 10, 2011

'Gilligan's Island' cutie Dawn Wells joins 'Celebrity Autobiography' cast

Dawn Wells then and now

Men who prefer Mary Ann to Ginger  will be able to see “Gilligan’s Island” cutie Dawn Wells alongside tabloid talk show host  Jerry Springer and others in "Celebrity Autobiography" at the Van Wezel on Tuesday, January 11, at 7 and 9 p.m.

Here's my interview with Springer that ran in the Herald on Sunday.

Tribute to Dawn Wells (Mary Ann)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

WATCH: Damon Fowler's 'Sugar Shack Mondays' webcast with Mike Kach of Dickey Betts' band at Ace's in Bradenton

UPDATED: Missed "Sugar Shack Mondays" live show/webcast? Scroll down to watch.

After a highly successful debut last week, Damon Fowler's "Sugar Shack Mondays" show/webcast from Ace's in Bradenton continues today at 8 p.m. with special guest Mike Kach.

Kach plays Hammond B-3 organ and sings with Dickey Betts and Great Southern. He's also performed with Gregg Allman, Warren Haynes and toured nationally with Molly Hatchet. When not playing with a Southern rock hero, the Sarasota resident fronts his own act the Michael Kach Group

Mike Kach
I've witnessed Kach singing and playing organ — he excels at both — on the Allman Brother’s Band favorite “Statesboro Blues” while performing with Betts. 

Fowler used to wow crowds with a fiery rendition of the ABB epic classic “Whipping Post.” Could we hear some Allman Brothers songs Monday?

“That’s up to (Kach), but I’d be up for it, for sure,” Fowler said.

Incidentally, Fowler's album "Devil Got His Way," released by Blind Pig Records Jan. 18, recently received a glowing review in top Americana publication No Depression.

Expect to hear the Bradenton Beach resident perform songs off "Devil Got His Way" tonight.

"Sugar Shack Mondays" Jan. 3, 2011/Photo by Tracy May
Here's how "Sugar Shack Mondays" operates:

Fowler and I introduce Kach, who then plays with his band for about an hour.

Following the performance, I interview Kach and throw a few questions at my friend Fowler, who I've known now for about a decade.

That’s when the webcast ends.

But not the event, which, incidentally, is free.

After the cameras are turned off, the Damon Fowler Group performs a few songs and then jams with Kach and perhaps some other musicians who have been invited in advance. Last week, in addition to special guest JP Soars, longtime Fowler performing and songwriting collaborator Ed Wright joined the jam.

Damon Fowler's "Sugar Shack Mondays" Jan. 3 with special guest JP Soars
Check out "Sugar Shack Mondays" on Facebook for more pictures and updates here and here.

Damon Fowler's "Sugar Shack Mondays"
Showcasing the best in touring talent
 8 p.m. Mon., Jan. 10 with special guest Mike Kach
Ace's, 4343 Palma Sola Blvd., Bradenton
No cover

"Sugar Shack Mondays" webcast from  Mon., Jan. 10:
Intro by Damon Fowler and Wade Tatangelo

Mike Kach performing with Damon Fowler Group

Mike Kach and Damon Fowler interviewed by Wade Tatangelo

The Band Perry, Fred Eaglesmith make January big month for concerts in Manatee

Country hit-makers The Band Perry performs at the Manatee County Fair on Jan. 20.

Here's my column running on front of Accent/A&E in today's Herald.
Unless you’re Mannheim Steamroller, most bands would rather stay home during the holidays than tour. So every year from about mid-December to early January it’s typically slim pickings. But big acts are finally returning to the road and our region again. Here are my highly subjective selections for the remainder of the month.
Continue reading.

Jerry Springer outs Captain Hook and talks 'Celebrity Autobiography'

Here's my 12-question Q&A with Jerry Springer, running on front of Accent/A&E section of today's Herald. The tabloid talk show host star and Sarasota resident returns from the London stage, where he's playing Captain Book in "Peter Pan," to act in "Celebrity Autobiography" at the Van Wezel Jan. 11.
11. If Captain Hook wrote an autobiography, what would be the most fascinating part?
His confrontation with the crocodile and how he lost part of a limb. And who his fashion coordinator is. Whenever I put on this costume I say, “Good lord!”
Continue reading.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

REVIEW: 'Reasons to be Pretty' by Neil LaBute at Asolo Conservatory in Sarasota

My review of the Asolo Conservatory's staging of Neil LaBute's "Reasons to be Pretty," running in today's Herald.
Steph (Gretchen Porro) has been insulted by her boyfriend Greg (Tony Stopperan) and peppers him with enough profanities to fill a football locker room. She won’t let Greg leave their home, physically blocking him from exiting the door at one point, until he admits what she heard he said: That while a female coworker possesses a pretty face, hers is “regular.” The remark terminates the young couple’s four-year relationship.
Continue reading.

Click for interviews with Porro and director Barbara Redmond.

If you go info.

FRANK ATURA/PUBLICITY PHOTO Gretchen Porro and Tony Stopperan star in the FSU/Asolo Conservatory’s production of “Reasons to be Pretty.”

Friday, January 7, 2011

'La Bete' opens today at Asolo Rep in Sarasota

 Danny Scheie as Valere/Photo by Cliff Roles

David Hirston's witty, rhyming comedy "La Bete" — currently a hit on Broadway — opens tonight at the Asolo Rep in Sarasota. My interview with director Michael Edwards and leading man Danny Scheie ran Thursday on the cover of the Herald's Weekend section.
The beauty of David Hirson’s “La Bete,” besides its hilarious dialogue delivered entirely in rhyming couplets, is the dagger-sharp comedy’s refusal to identify the titular “beast.” At least theatergoers shouldn’t expect such an answer from the Asolo Repertory’s production opening Jan. 7 at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts’ Mertz Theatre in Sarasota. There will be ample evidence, though, supporting the “la bete” charge against several characters, which should lead to some exhilarating post-performance debates over drinks and such.
Continue reading.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Broadway-bound 'Wonderland' in Tampa today through Jan. 16

Famed composer Frank Wildhorn’s “Wonderland” musical—loosely based on the Lewis Carroll classics “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass”—premiered about a year ago at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, marking the first production in the center’s Broadway Genesis Project.

A revised and re-subtitled “Wonderland: A New Alice. A New Musical” returns to Tampa today boasting “four new songs, a vastly revised book (script), two new major cast members and a set on steroids,” reads the Straz Website.

Wildhorn recently spent time in Sarasota overseeing the highly successful run of his “Bonnie & Clyde” musical, which played at the Asolo Rep and is planned to open on Broadway in September.

"Wonderland" plays at the Straz through Jan. 16. The Tampa performances are previews of the Broadway production. Previews in New York begin March 21 and the show opens April 17 at the Marquis Theatre.

Frank Wildhorn talks "Wonderland"

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Broadway grossed $1 billion in 2010

Can "Spider-Man" soar over Broadway in 2011?
Credit: Jacob Cohl / AP Photo /The O and M Co.

Broadway had big year, up from last.

Broadway shows grossed approximately $1.037 billion during the 2010 calendar year, according to statistics released by The Broadway League Jan. 4. Grosses are up from 2009, which brought in $1.004 billion at the box office. Attendance was also up for the year that just ended: 12.11 million in attendance in 2010 versus 11.88 million in 2009.

Now, if only "Spider-Man" can get its super-priced, injury-prone act together.

Bill Cosby just played John Coltrane for me

Photo Credit:  Erinn Chalene Cosb
I've done some interesting interviews over the years.

But few, if any, beat the 90-minute one I did this morning with Bill Cosby, or, as I called him, "Mr. Cosby."

We talked about his days doing comedy in the Greenwich Village of the 1960s, "The Cosby Show" and the twisted mentality behind people who create celebrity death hoaxes such as the ones Mr. Cosby has endured.

Mr. Cosby asked my age, marital status and offered smart life lessons.

We agreed on the poignancy of a certain New Testament passage.

But what really got us going —especially Mr. Cosby — was jazz.

Turned out we're both enthusiasts of contemporary great Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews, St. Pete-based piano ace Kenny Drew Jr. and countless classic artists such as Miles Davis, Oscar Peterson and John Coltrane.

We talked a lot about Coltrane. At one point, Mr. Cosby and I grappled with an album title. He gave me ample clues but I couldn't nail it. Opportunity lost, I thought.

The interview ended without either of us being able to recall that certain Coltrane record.

About five minutes went by. I talked to a reporter seated near me about the interview. Prepared to work on another story.

Then our metro editor yelled from across the newsroom:

"Hey, Wade, Bill Cosby's on the phone, what's your extension?"

Mr. Cosby had remembered the Coltrane album title: "Ascension."

More Coltrane talk led to him mentioning Coltrane's "One Down One Up: Live at the Half Note," which I sheepishly admitted to not knowing.

"Mind holding on for a moment?" Mr. Cosby asked.

After several minutes of searching — "No you look there, I'm looking here" — Mr. Cosby played me a portion of the title track, which clocks in at 27:39, while expertly remarking on the musicianship.

We talked some more. I thanked him for his time — sounding perhaps a bit too grateful. Mr. Cosby made a kind joke and said goodbye.

Look for my feature story on Bill Cosby to run in the Herald prior to his two performances Jan. 16 at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota.

John Coltrane: "One Up One Down"

Manatee Players auditions: 'Shout' and 'Singin' in the Rain'

HERALD FILE PHOTO Steve Dawson as George and Dianne Dawson as Dot in the Players’ production of “Sunday in the Park with George.”

National award-winning community theatrical group the Manatee Players is holding auditions for the 1960s music revue "Shout!" (running March 24-April 10) and the musical "Singin' in the Rain" (May 5-22) based on the classic 1952 film of the same name.

Here's the info:
Auditions for the Manatee Players’ productions of SHOUT and SINGIN' IN THE RAIN are January 23 & 24 at 7p.m.  Sunday's auditions will be at Saint Stephens Episcopal School Theater Room.  Enter the parking lot at the intersection of 39th Street West and Manatee Avenue beside Mister Smoothie.

Monday's auditions will be at the Manatee Players, 102 Old Main Street in downtown Bradenton.  

SHOUT is being directed and choreographed by Guest Director Matt May.  It is a cast of five women and features songs of the 1960’s.

SINGIN' IN THE RAIN is being directed and choreographed by Rick Kerby and Dewayne Barrett

SHOUT Performance dates are March 24-April 10 and SINGIN' IN THE RAIN performance dates are May 5-22.

There are NO children roles in either of these shows. 

Those auditioning should prepare a song in their key and be ready for the movement portion of the audition that the director may require.  
Those interested in volunteering backstage on the tech crew should call Kristin Ribble at 941-748-0111 or to help build the set, call Bill Booth at 941-748-0111.
Questions about all auditions should be directed to Rick Kerby at 941-748-0111.
Please note that by auditioning, you are obligating yourself to a considerable rehearsal and performance process.  Please be certain that you are willing and able to make this commitment.
The Players' staging of "Hairspray" opens Jan. 13.

Read my review of the Players' December production of "Oliver!"