Thursday, April 26, 2012

UPDATED 4/29: Top 10 Songs playing when driver smashed car into sailor kissing nurse statue in Sarasota

UPDATED 4/29: Will Sarasota's 'Unconditional Surrender' kissing statue be missed?

We'll probably never know what song, if any, played today around noon as a woman crashed her white sedan into Sarasota's Unconditional Surrender statue — the one of a giant sailor planting a big  kiss on an equally enormous nurse. 

The busted up hood of the car that had been traveling north on U.S. 41 barely made it over the seaman's right ankle so he is probably going to survive.

The nurse appears unscathed.

Read more here:
The driver was taken to Sarasota Memorial Hospital "with minor injuries," according to our partners at Bay News 9.

She'll probably be fine, too.

So let's have a little fun with what might have been playing on her stereo when she hopped the center median "and slammed into the 26-foot tall statue."

Read more here:

1. "He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss)," The Crystals
2. "Airbag," Radiohead
3. "Sailor's Lament," Creedence Clearwater Revival
4. "Wreck on the Highway," Bruce Springsteen
5. "The Nurse," The White Stripes
6. "O' Sailor," Fiona Apple
7. "Kiss Me Deadly," Lita Ford
8. "Dead Man's Curve," Jan and Dean
9. "Surrender," Cheap Trick
10. "Accidents Will Happen," Elvis Costello & the Attractions

—Photo courtesy of Bay News 9

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bradenton's Rick Derringer on playing with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr (with video)

Manatee County resident Rick Derringer, the guitar hero most famous for the self-penned hit "Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo" and "Hang on Sloopy," will be performing with Jeff Cook (Alabama) and Marty Balin (Jefferson Airplane) on May 4 at the Bradenton Municipal Auditorium to raise funds for the Palmetto-based Del Couch Music Education Foundation.

Derringer told me today, for an upcoming feature story to advance the local show, that in addition to jamming with the other musicians he plans to perform a solo set and tell some stories.

Perhaps one of those tales will include the one about touring with Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band in 2010 and performing the Beatles' "White Album" cut "Birthday" with Paul McCartney, who made a surprise appearance at Radio City Music Hall.

The show in New York City took place on Starr's 70th birthday.

Yoko Ono, Joe Walsh, Steve Van Zandt, Sarasota resident Brian Johnson, Jeff Lynne, Nils Lofgren, Max Weinberg and Foreigner's Mick Jones had just left the stage following a massive singalong rendition of "With a Little Help From My Friends," according to Then McCartney came out to play "Birthday" with Starr on drums and Derringer nailing those signature lead guitar licks.

"Joe Walsh arranged for the surprise appearance," Derringer said. "It was just a cool, cool experience. Paul McCartney jumped on stage to do 'Birthday' and Yoko Ono came up on stage and there was Ringo and his son Zak (Starkey). It was just fabulous."

—Photo of Rick Derringer with Brian Johnson and Paul McCartney from Derringer's Facebook page.

Jeff Cook (Alabama), Rick Derringer and Marty Balin (Jefferson Airplane) will join forces in Bradenton for Del Couch Music Education Foundation fundraiser

Derringer: Our Beatles connection

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

WATCH: 'The Beatles: The Lost Concert' trailer

Fresh concert footage of The Beatles has been found.

Recorded at Washington Coliseum in February of 1964, the Fab Four's first full-length concert in the United States is the subject of the new documentary "The Beatles: The Lost Concert."

The film covers the band's historic arrival in America and includes new interviews with Steven Tyler, Chuck Berry, Mark Ronson, The Strokes and Duffy.

The documentary's world premiere is in New York's Ziegfield Theatre on May 6, and will be in 450 theaters nationwide on May 17 and 22.

Stay tuned for information on local screenings.

Read more.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sarasota Film Festival award winners: 'Elena' wins narrative feature jury prize

Director Andrei Zvyagintsev's "Elena" won this year’s narrative feature jury prize at the 14th annual Sarasota Film Festival, which ended Sunday.

Director Fredrik Gertten's "Big Boys Gone Bananas!* was the documentary jury prize winner.

Two special jury prizes were awarded. In the narrative category, "Alps," directed by Giorgos Lanthimos," took home a special jury prize. "Radio Unnameable," directed by Paul Lovelace, won the documentary feature competition special jury prize.
Complete list of winners. 

Complete Bradenton Herald coverage of SFF.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

UPDATED 3:30 p.m.: The Band's Levon Helm has died (my interview with him from 2005 included)

UPDATED 3:30 p.m.: Levon Helm has died.

It doesn't look good for Levon Helm, the singer and drummer most famous for his work with The Band.

The Associated Press is reporting that he's "in 'final stages' of cancer battle."

After being diagnosed with throat cancer in 1998, Helm's voice was reduced to a whisper but he made a stunning recovery, singing on the Grammy Award-winning albums "Dirt Farmer" (2007) and "Electric Dirt" (2009) as well as performing acclaimed, all-star concerts at his Woodstock home.

I interviewed Helm in January of 2005 (see slightly edited version of story below) to advance his appearance as part of that year's Sarasota Film Festival, where I met the man responsible for making some of my favorite records.

Here's to hoping for a miracle.

—Photo credit: Richard Drew, AP file photo


Original run date: January 28, 2005

This Wheel's Still on Fire: The Band's Levon Helm talks about 'living in an age of miracles' 

"We're living in an age of miracles," Levon Helm, 64, declared jubilantly. "A couple years ago I couldn't even talk."

Helm is one of the more original and soulful vocalist in rock 'n' roll history. The Band's most famous anthems — "The Weight," "Up on Cripple Creek," and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" — are all buoyed by his husky pipes. In a cruel twist of fate, though, the singer was silenced by cancer of the vocal chords about five years ago.

"But now I'm coming back more and more and better and better," Helm affirmed. "I even sing some harmonies with my daughter Amy."

Any chance he'll sing lead again?

"I hope so," Helm said. "I got my fingers crossed."

So do we.

"Put in a good word," he joked. Then Helm unleashed his trademark chuckle.

Helm laughed throughout the interview. It was a beautiful thing. The Arkansas native starts with a subtle wheeze and then it swells into a rather high-pitched guffaw. It's the kind of laugh that, like his music, can warm a room.

"We're trying to be what you might call invigorating," Helm said from his home/studio in snow covered Woodstock, N.Y. "We got the fireplace stoked up good and lil' Sammy Davis is coming over and this place will really heat up."

Davis is the lead vocalist in The Levon Helm Band. Helm has remained active in the music by utilizing his talents as an impeccable drummer, bassist, guitarist and mandolin player.

"When I lost my voice the best thing I could do for a band was play the drums and be a spark plug," Helm said. "Music is still my main attention, it's still the most fun.

"Lil' Sammy, he is where my heart is. Playing the blues, he's damn good at it. We do some rock things and some love songs but when it comes to the Delta blues, oh boy, he's fantastic."

In addition to performing with his own band, he produces records for others at his Levon Helm Studios ( Helm described the building as "three barns — the big one in the middle is the main studio." Helm lives next to the studio so he can "be right next to the action and jump right in when someone starts to play."

The Levon Helm Band performs originals and classic blues covers. No Band songs. Helm is proud of his past accomplishments but his rift with Robbie Robertson and the loss of two fellow band members puts a damper on past glories.

Legacy of The Band

The Band landed on the cover of Time magazine in 1970. The caption read: "The New Sound of Country Rock." From 1968-74 it was one of the most influential groups in popular music.

But back in 1965, Helm's group was called Levon and the Hawks. That summer they were the house band at a club called Tony Mart's in Somers Point, N.J., when Bob Dylan "discovered" them.

The Band eventually toured with Dylan in 1965-66 and then holed up in Woodstock with him and recorded "The Basement Tapes" and their debut album "Big Pink."

The Band's earthy stew of blues, country, R&B, folk, rock and old-time storytelling separated them from their peers. To this day, albums such as "Music from Big Pink," "The Band" and their live document "Rock of Ages" are among the finest releases of the era.

"There's nothing so powerful as the truth," Helm said. "Those songs are still as powerful because they're still true (pause). Maybe one of these days the credit will reflect how they were made."

Bad blood 

Helm has been publicly blasting Robertson for decades over songwriting royalties, the bread and butter of the music industry. Robertson is solely credited for most of The Band's songs. Helm (and other band members in the past) argue the creative process was a group effort.

In his 1993 autobiography, "This Wheel's on Fire," Helm writes: "It's important to recognize Robertson's role as a catalyst and writer, but I blame (manager) Albert Grossman for letting him or giving him or making him take too much credit for the Band's work."

The Band reunited sans Robertson in 1983. They were enjoying mild success when vocalist/ pianist Richard Manuel killed himself in Winter Haven following a 1986 concert. Original members Helm, Rick Danko and Garth Hudson toured and recorded periodically as The Band until Danko died of heart failure in1999.

"I'm just lucky to be around," Helm said.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Armand Assante returning to Lakewood Ranch for Phil Galvano Golf Classic

Armand Assante is returning to Lakewood Ranch to hit the links for charity.

The Emmy Award-winning actor will bring star power to the 16th annual Phil Galvano Golf Classic that raises funds for Manatee County’s Public Schools through the Manatee Education Foundation.

This year’s tournament will be held May 18 at the Legacy Golf Club at Lakewood Ranch.

Sponsorships are available at $15,000, $10,000 and $2,500.

The $15,000 "Eagle sponsors" will be able to enjoy an exclusive lunch with Assante and a private round of golf with Bill Galvano, a former member of the Florida House of Representatives, on May 17 at the Longboat Key Club and Resort.

Assante won an Emmy Award for playing the titular mafia kingpin in the HBO movie “Gotti.”

He shared the screen with Demi Moore in “Striptease,” battled Sylvester Stallone in “Judge Dredd” and more recently appeared in the acclaimed Denzel Washington/Russell Crowe drama “American Gangster.”

Assante sat down with the me for an interview in December while in Lakewood Ranch to film "Blind Pass," the second independent, feature-length film by Sarasota-based Midnight Pass Productions and writer/producer/director Steve Tatone.

Photo — ROD MILLINGTON/Special to the Herald courtesy of Midnight Pass Productions Armand Assante with actress Danielle White on set in Manatee County of the movie "Blind Pass."

Read more here:

Information: 941-708-8770 x2149

Monday, April 16, 2012

Working the red carpet at Sarasota Film Festival

Interviewing Frank Langella on the red carpet outside the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. Photo provided by Caroline Sansone.

It's always strange working the red carpet.

You and a bunch of other media types get to ask a few questions about a film you've never seen to a star who has plastered the same smile on his or her face for the past 10-15 minutes.

Yeah, it looks like I'm having a good time in that picture but it's brutal.

Anyway, here's what I came up with while on the red carpet outside the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall for the opening night film — "Robot & Frank" starring Frank Langella — of the Sarasota Film Festival on Friday.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Heatstroke Hot Rod Hoedown back in Bradenton; music and mayhem returns May 19

A year ago I complained about one of my favorite annual Bradenton events, Heatstroke Hot Rod Hoedown, relocating to Sarasota after a killer seven-year run in the same awesomely laid-back location.

Props to Paxton 'P-Man' Richards for bringing the event back to his P-Man's Classic Cycle Paint shop in the warehouse district of west downtown Bradenton.

He just told me the street will be blocked off — yes, he finally received permission from the city, more on that later — and that the event is ready to go with a little help from WSLR 96.5.

All the other info available so far is on the poster.

See ya there May 19!

Check out P-Man's rock band The Downshifters

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

REVIEW: Asolo Rep's 'Hamlet, Prince of Cuba' is highly entertaining but could've accomplished even more

It has all the hallmarks of a classic.

Sex, violence, a complicated hero, a multi-faceted villain, a bit of humor and a tragic ending.

At its core, though, “Hamlet” is about that timeless theme of vengeance.

On this level the Asolo Repertory Theatre’s production, adapted and directed by the company’s producing artistic director Michael Edwards, works extremely well.

William Shakespeare’s masterpiece has been judiciously cut to two hours — about half the length of the original — giving it a greater sense of urgency without trading much in terms of character development.

The disappointment, though, is that not more is made of the late 19th-century Havana setting of this new but familiar work titled “Hamlet, Prince of Cuba.”

On a positive note, Frankie Alvarez delivers a fresh take on the character who must ask “to be or not to be,” playing him by turns mad and melancholy, funny and fierce as he attempts to avenge the death of his father.

Emilio Delgado, who has played Luis the Fix-It Shop owner on “Sesame Street” since 1971, is equally brilliant as King Claudius.

He’s the bad guy who killed his brother — Hamlet’s dad — to seize the throne and then married Hamlet’s mom Gertrude.

She’s played by the always impressive Mercedes Herrero, seen in last year’s Asolo Rep productions of “Boeing Boeing, “Deathtrap” and “La Bête”.

Gisela Chípe is wonderfully unhinged as the theater world’s most famous erotomaniac, Ophelia.

Meanwhile, first-time Asolo Rep guest artist Andhy Mendez does a winning job of selling the climatic sword fight and more as Laertes, the brother of Ophelia and son of Claudius’ chief counselor Polonius (Douglas Jones).

It’s a talented cast working under Edwards’ assured direction with his smartly trimmed script to create a truly must-see presentation of “Hamlet.”

But the play could’ve accomplished more, and really made a statement, by further exploring the Cuba connection.

For starters, Dane Laffrey’s set, a dilapidated wall with three industrial fans that appear broken, doesn’t give the audience much direction as to where the action takes place.

And Clint Ramos’ costumes, while uniformly handsome, could largely pass for attire worn by 19th century aristocrats from Cuba, Spain, England, the U.S. etc.

Most importantly, though, is that while Edwards notes in the program that “vengeance has also played a particularly destructive role in Cuba and in Cuban-American relations” we never see this manifest on stage.

In fact, the only reference to the Spanish-American War of 1898 is a rather jarring surprise appearance at the end of the play.

—Publicity photo by Scott Braun: Frankie J. Alvarez stars as Hamlet and Gisela Chípe.

Asolo Repertory Theatre produces world premiere of 'Hamlet, Prince of Cuba'

Details: Through May 6, Asolo Repertory’s Mertz Theatre, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets: $27-$71. Information: 941-351-8000 or

Asolo Rep presents events leading up the Spanish performances of ‘Hamlet, Prince of Cuba’:

While the show is currently enjoying a run in English at Asolo Rep, it will have two performances in Spanish with English supertitles 8 p.m. May 3 at 8 p.m. and 2 p.m. May 5. The Spanish translation is by Pulitzer Prize-winner Nilo Cruz (“Anna in the Tropics”).

After concluding its run in Sarasota, the show will move to the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center in Miami where there will be both English and supertitled Spanish performances May 11-13.
Events ranging from pre-show reception to panel discussions, all leading up to the Spanish performances, will be held April 15, 20, 28 and May 1-5 from Sarasota to Tampa.

For more information on the events above please contact the Asolo Rep’s education and outreach director, Brian Hersh, at or by calling 941-351-9010 x3320.

Jeff Cook (Alabama), Rick Derringer and Marty Balin (Jefferson Airplane) will join forces in Bradenton for Del Couch Music Education Foundation fundraiser

Rick Derringer
Jeff Cook
Jeff Cook, Rick Derringer and Marty Balin will be forming an exciting, unlikely supergroup on May 4 at the Bradenton Municipal Auditorium to raise funds for the Palmetto-based Del Couch Music Education Foundation.

Cook — co-founder, vocalist, guitarist and fiddler for Country Music Hall of Fame act Alabama played a benefit for Music Education last June. He's currently taking part in Alabama's highly anticipated reunion tour.

Derringer, who has a home in Manatee County, is a Grammy Award-winning producer, singer, songwriter and guitar hero best known for hits such as "Hang on Sloopy" and "Rock & Roll Hoochie Koo." Derringer recently returned from world tour with Ringo Starr and the All Starr Band .

Marty Balin
Marty Balin is best known as the founder and one of the lead singers of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame act Jefferson Airplane.

Cook and Derringer with be sitting in with Balin's band, Couch said during a recent visit to Herald headquarters.

The Billy Rice Band will also perform plus Music Education student standouts such as 10-tear-old Jack Castro.

Kojak's Palmetto Ribhouse is catering the event.

Details: 6-11 p.m. May 4, Bradenton Municipal Auditorium, 1005 Barcarrota Blvd.
Bradenton. Tickets: $50.00 at the door includes buffet dinner. Information: 941-545-4379 or

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Outlaws to perform in Sarasota at Robarts Arena with Michael Kach Group, Tony Tyler Band and more

The Outlaws will  headline the "No Worries" Benefit May 4 at Robarts Arena in Sarasota along with fellow Southern rock standouts the Michael Kach Group with special guest Chris Anderson and Tony Tyler Band plus Cowboy Keith Rich as well as "special guests."

The concert, with a 50/50 raffle and silent auction, is a benefit for Cody Long, a local  26-year-old recently diagnosed with testicular cancer.

One of the original Southern rock outfits, the Outlaws current lineup continues to delight fans with such 1970s favorites as "There Goes Another Love Song" the epic "Green Grass & High Tides,"  "Breaker Breaker," "Hurry Sundown" and the band's 1981 hit version of "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky."

Details: 5-11 p.m. May 4, Robarts Arena, 3000 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota. Tickets: $25 (advance), $30 (door), $5 (children under the age of 12), $85 (VIP; advance ), $100 (VIP; at the door). For information contact Michael Murphy at 941-809-5247.

—Publicity photo

Damon Fowler's Sugar Shack Mondays with special guest Mike Kach

“I’m a mere student of the great ones, and to play with one of the legends and call him a bandmate and brother, it’s so surreal,” Tyler said from his new home in Sarasota.

Monday, April 9, 2012

A new Rolling Stones album?

Sure, the Rolling Stones haven't made a really good album since 1981's "Tattoo You" — and that was made up of mostly leftovers.

But 2005's "Bigger Bang" wasn't bad.

In fact, tracks like the Keith Richards-sung "This Place is Empty" and the Mick Jagger kiss-off "Oh No Not You Again" are at least fun, if not essential, listening for serious Stones enthusiasts.

And yes, I'm one.

Which why I'm excited about Ronnie Wood saying the Rolling Stones will meet in a recording studio later this month "to just throw some ideas around."

Top 10 Keith Richards songs

Friday, April 6, 2012

Flying Wallenda family attending Sarasota Film Festival for world premiere of 'The Show Must Go on': watch trailer

The Sarasota Film Festival confirmed today that Tino Wallenda and the Flying Wallenda family will attend the world premiere of "The Show Must Go On" April 20 at the Sarasota Opera House.

The documentary explores the special family bond that exists within Sarasota's own high-flying Wallenda clan, one of the most famous, long-running circus acts in the world.

Check out the trailer, this doc definitely should be worth checking out — especially if you're a circus geek like me.

Pro wrestlers at the festival?

Not sure why but, yep, that's right.

WWE stars Kelly Kelly and Rey Mysterio will be attending the April 21 screening of horror-thriller "The Day" alongside cast members Dominic Monaghan, Ashely Bell and director Douglas Aarniokoski.

I talked to "Lord of the  Rings" trilogy and "Lost" star Monaghan on Thursday for a story that will run here on Sunday.

SFF also announced today that New York Giants Hall Of Fame linebacker Harry Carson will attend the screening of "American Man" April 19 at the Sarasota Opera House. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

TODAY: Pink Martini at Straz in Tampa

Pink Martini, playing today at the Straz Center in Tampa, takes audiences back in time and around the globe with a fresh, fun, one-world spirit.

The group's 12 musicians sing in about twice as many languages; mixing originals by leaders Thomas Lauderdale (piano) and China Forbes (lead vocals) — pictured — with obscure covers such as "Amado Mio" from the classic 1946 film noir "Gilda" starring Rita Hayworth.

Read more. 

Forbes wrote and sings the great ditty "Hey, Eugene!"

It's about a boy who didn't call.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

UPDATED 4/9: Top 10 summer concerts for Tampa Bay


Spring is barely a couple weeks old but it's already time to start making plans for the top concerts of the summer.

I know this because my girlfriend has planned everything from transportation to room and meals for us to see Sugarland at the 1-800-ASK-Gary Amphitheatre — in July! 

Yeah, Bruce Springsteen, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jimmy Buffett played here in March but there are plenty more biggies coming through Tampa Bay between now and Labor Day.

Here are the hottest tickets of the summer (by date):

1. Van Halen: April 14, Tampa Bay Times Forum
Van Halen returning to Tampa; check out new single 'Tatoo'

2. Beach Boys: May 5, Straz center
Beach Boys to play Tampa

3. Lady Antebellum: May 11, Gary Amphitheatre
Interview: Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott

4. Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw: June 2, Raymond James Stadium  
Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw tour headed to Tampa

5. Neil Diamond: June 3, Tampa Bay Times Forum
Neil Diamond has Tampa date at St. Pete Times Forum

6. Coldplay with Robyn and Wolf Gang: June 28, Tampa Bay Times Forum 
Madonna 'loves' Robyn and you should, too!

7. Def Leppard with Poison: June 30, Tampa Bay Times Forum
Rock of Ages: Let’s talk Def Leppard’s greatest hits

8. Sugarland: July 28,  Gary Amphitheatre
Sugarland revels in role of Nashville rebels

9. Kiss with Motley Crue: July 28, Gary Amphitheatre
Crue singer on three decades of decadence

10. Jason Aldean: Aug. 10,  Gary Amphitheatre
Country star Jason Aldean in Tampa

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tyrese 'would love' role in 'Avatar 2'

Tyrese Gibson wants to put on the "blue suit."

"Respectfully Sir Mr Cameron I want in on #Avatar2," reads a recent Tweet by the "Transformers" actor/R&B crooner. "Yup... This is Tyrese Gibson let me know when the 'Blue Suit' fitting is!"

According to, James Cameron's "Avatar 2" won't hit theater until 2016.

"I don't even know if there's going to be an 'Avatar 2' but I'm a huge fan of that (first) movie and huge fan of this very brilliant amazing man (Cameron)," Gibson said by phone from his Los Angeles home. "I would love an opportunity to add working with him to my story."

Speaking of stories, the former fashion model and published author also said he has written six screenplays and has another book in the works.

I interviewed Gibson today for an upcoming feature to advance his April 15 appearance at Gulf Coast Rhythm & Ribfest taking place at the Manatee County Fairgrounds in Palmetto.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Bon Iver to play Tampa

Indie folk act Bon Iver (that's “bon ee-VAIR”) will be perform at the Straz Center in Tampa on June 7.

Tickets go on sale noon, April 7.

Fronted by singer-songwriter Justin Vernon, the band also consists of Mike Noyce, Sean Carey and Matt MacCaughan.

The group’s second album "Bon Iver, Bon Iver" was released last June and named best album of the year by the music snobs over at Pitchfork Media. At the Grammy Awards this year the album won Best Alternative Album and the group was named Best New Artist, despite having released its debut disc in 2007.

Regularly priced tickets start at $39.50 and may be purchased by calling 813-229-7827, 800.955.1045 outside Tampa Bay or at

—Publicity photo of Justin Vernon