Wednesday, February 29, 2012

TONIGHT: Radiohead at Tampa Bay Times Forum

Art-rock heroes Radiohead return to Tampa in support of their acclaimed 2011 album “The King of Limbs.”

Of course, don’t expect the smash single “Creep” or even fan faves such as “Fake Plastic Trees,” “Karma Police” or “Everything in its Right Place.”

But if the performance is half as sonically and visually mind-blowing as the one I caught at the (then) Ford Amphitheatre in 2008 attendees should leave the Forum satisfied regardless if the setlist is bereft of  the band's classics.

Details: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 29, Tampa Bay Times Forum, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. Tickets: $42.25 $66.50 Information: 813-287-8844 or

—Publicity photo credit: Kevin Westenberg

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sarasota family wanted for reality show in Europe

Who wants to an European reality TV star?

British casting directors are searching for a Sarasota family to star in one episode of a new reality television show highlighting international sister cities.

“Twin Towns,” a 10-episode reality show, will feature families from the United States swapping lives with families in their sister cities or “twin towns” in the United Kingdom, the City of Sarasota announced today.

The selected family from Sarasota will win a week-long expense paid trip to Dunfermline, Scotland, Sarasota’s sister city. The program will be produced and aired in the United Kingdom on the Discovery Channel’s DMAX service and in central Europe via BSkyB satellite.

Casting directors with Knickerbockerglory are interested in a Sarasota family, with a high school or college student, which has never visited the United Kingdom. Filming will take place in both Sarasota and Dunfermline.

“We are looking for fun families from Sarasota to have an all-expenses paid trip to the U.K,” said Sarah Speirs, casting producer, in a statement. “Those families will get the chance to experience the life of a Dunfermline family and all that the city has to offer.”

The selected Sarasota family will swap homes with a family from Dunfermline for one week. Families will exchange jobs and homes, and the children will visit local schools or colleges. The exchanges are scheduled to take place between April 16 and June 30.

Families interested in being selected will need an existing valid U.S. passport. Casting call responses should be submitted via email to: In the reference line, add: "ATTN Sarah, Casting Producer."

—Photo courtesy City of Sarasota

Monday, February 27, 2012

'Voice' finalist Beverly McClellan to play Village of Arts in Bradenton

The Village of the Arts will host a major concert this Friday (March 2) when highly talented blues singer/songwriter/guitarist Beverly McClellan performs for free from  6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Blues Revue office.

McClellan appeared on season one of NBC's "The Voice," finishing in the top four as part of Christina Aguilera's team. Her latest CD, "Fear Nothing," will be available for sale at the Blues Revue office.

This appearance will coincide with the City of Bradenton and the Village of the Arts in celebrating the installation of the sculptural work by nationally known public artist Catherine Woods. The sculpture titled Chrysalis Launcher is one of the new prominent pieces in the City of Bradenton's public art program. The event will also be held on Friday (March 2), from 5:30 to 6 p.m. on the corner of 9th St. W. and 12th Ave. W. Music, food and beverages will follow the unveiling. This will take place at the corner of 12th Street West and 11th Ave.

McClellan will also be attending the dedication and has most recently appeared at The Clearwater Sea Blues Festival and 17th Annual Human Rights Campaign Gala at the Charlotte Convention Center. McClellan also performed for The Grammy Foundations "One Night Only: A Celebration of the Live Music Experience" along side performers including Grammy winners Robert Cray, Jonny Lang with whom McClellan performed a duet and also three solo songs.

McClellan will be starting a tour with B.B. King on March 20.

Details: 6:30 p.m. March 2, Blues Revue, 1001 11th Ave. W., Bradenton. Admission: Free. Information: 866-702-7778 or

Friday, February 24, 2012

REVIEW: 'Aida' at Manatee Players features star performance by lead

Candace Delancy makes a striking debut in the title role of the Manatee Players’ production of “Aida.”

The 24-year-old Miller Elementary school teacher originally from Titusville acts with aplomb and sings with more emotion than typically heard in a Broadway musical.

From start to finish, she exudes star power.

Similarly, director/choreographer Rick Kerby and crew do an outstanding job using smart lighting, projections and a revolving stage to offer a visually appealing presentation of the show dubbed “elaborate sets” when it premiered in 1998.

Alas, I didn’t leave the Riverfront Theatre in downtown Bradenton particularly entertained when “Aida” opened Thursday.

For starters, the story about a Nubian princess (Delancy) who is captured by an Egyptian military captain named Radames (William Masuck) and then falls in love with him hits levels of unintentional silliness and predictability that border on insulting — even by Disney standards. (The show was originally going to be a cartoon).

It took three people hired by the entertainment titan to write the book based on the Giuseppe Verdi opera and there’s not a single memorable line or clever plot twist.

The greatest offense, though, is how the would-be tragic ending is rendered ridiculous.

As for sonics, the six-piece band does its best to lift Elton John’s music but the Rocket Man’s melodies are much more akin to his banal 1980s ballads than the classics he composed during the previous decade.

Likewise, lyricist Tim Rice doesn’t come close to his “Jesus Christ Superstar”/“Evita”/“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” halcyon days.

The cast does its best to breathe life into the boring tale of forbidden love in ancient Egypt.

Trina Rizzo, a gifted actor and serviceable singer, generates the show’s only real laughs as Amneris, Radames’ fabulously fashionable fiancée who happens to be the daughter of the Pharaoh (Rodd Dyer) and the warrior’s key to the throne.

Masuck displays a decent singing voice but I never believed that his character would throw everything away for Aida. Then again, the story is such that perhaps no actor alive could pull off such a feat.

Delancy will grab your attention.

But I can’t say the same about the overall show.

Photo: Candace Delancy as Aida and William E. Masuck as Radames in "Aida." TIFFANY TOMPKINS-CONDIE —

Read more here:

If you go
What: “Aida”
When: Through March 11; 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays
Where: Manatee Players Riverfront Theatre, 102 Old Main St., Bradenton
Tickets: $25/$11 students
Information: 941-748-5875 or

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Singer Sara Bareilles to present Southeast High in Bradenton with $10,000

Star singer, songwriter and pianist Sara Bareilles will be at Southeast High in Bradenton at 1 p.m. Monday (Feb. 27) to present a check for $10,000 to support music programs at the school.

According to the announcement made today by the School Board of Manatee County, the donation is from the Stremicks Heritage Foods/8th Continent Soymilk contest “Nice Job, Mom: We Rock.” It invited mothers from across the U.S. to submit advice on promoting their families’ health and happiness. Winners were determined by company representatives and by the public, who voted for the entries online.

Jillian Cupps, an Orlando resident who graduated from Southeast High in 2000, won the contest.

She was awarded VIP treatment at a Bareilles’ concert and a $10,000 donation in her name to the music education program at a school of her choice. Cupps chose to reward the music programs at Southeast High School and she is expected to be at the check presentation on Monday.

Bareilles first gained national fame with her 2007 smash single "Love Song" and her latest album, 2010's "Kaleidoscope Heart," topped the Billboard 200 pop chart. She also serves as a celebrity judge on the NBC talent show “The Sing-Off.”

Diana Ross sells out Mahaffey in St. Petersburg

From her star role with the greatest of girl groups, The Supremes in the 1960s, to her numerous solo hits that spanned from the 1970s to late '90s, Ross established herself as the ultimate pop diva.

She also won a Golden Globe (and Oscar nomination) for her poignant portrayal of Billie Holiday in the '72 film "Lady Sings the Blues" plus a Tony Award later the same decade for her one-woman show, "An Evening with Diana Ross."

And at age 67, Ross, who was finally honored earlier this month at the Grammys, remains a top concert draw, selling out every seat of the 2,031 capacity Mahaffey in St. Pete at $65-$100 per.

—File photo of Ross (Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts) courtesy of Los Angeles Times

Details: 8 p.m. Feb. 24, The Mahaffey, 400 First St. S., St. Petersburg. Tickets: Sold out. Information 727-892-5798 or

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Is 'Disenchanted' Broadway bound? Catch this must-see musical at the Golden Apple before it goes to the Big Apple

When “Disenchanted” had its full-length, Florida premiere at the Golden Apple Dinner Theatre in October, I called the Disney-dissing musical “a laugh-out-loud joy ride of bouncy melodies goosed with plenty of snark, wit and a cleverly delivered message of female empowerment."

In case you missed it, the show returns to Sarasota for a month-long run on Tuesday (Feb. 28).

That same day, Town Square Productions is offering an invitation to the investment of the off-Broadway production of "Disenchanted."

An informational get-together for potential investors will be held in Orlando, where the musical originated

The event will feature appearances by Don Frantz (executive producer), Laurie Brown (associate producer), Dennis Giacino (author/composer), Fiely Matias (director) "and a few surprise guests."

“We’re so excited we can’t contain ourselves,” Giacino said when I reached him by phone this afternoon at the Town Square Productions office in New York City.

He added, “Golden Apple Dinner Theatre is the last company we will be licensing the show to until further notice as we seek out the off-Broadway production.”

Photo by PAUL VIDELA/ of Alex Torres, who plays Sleeping Beauty in the Golden Apple Dinner Theatre production of "Disenchanted."

For more info on attending the potential investors event in Orlando contact or visit the "Disenchanted" Facebook page.

Show details: Feb. 28-March 25, Golden Apple Dinner Theatre, 25 N. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota. Tickets: $40 for dinner and show. Information: 941-366-5454 or

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

UPDATED 2/22: Bradenton Blues Festival tickets go on sale in March

More details in my story running today on the Herald's new and improved website

The music acts for the Bradenton Blues Festival will be revealed and tickets will go on sale in mid-March when the festival website goes live, host Realize Bradenton announced today.

Like I reported back in November (see link below), the festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1 and will be a family-friendly day of blues music, food and art.

It will kick off downtown Bradenton's $6.2 million Riverwalk along the Manatee River.

Harry Potter book series illustrator Mary GrandPré will bring her iconic “soft geometry” style to the limited-edition festival poster.

"This is a great location for an outdoor festival," said Dave Gustafson, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority, in a statement explaining that the festival site, overlooking the Manatee River, can accommodate up to 2,500 people.

“It's also the perfect kick-off event to celebrate the completion of the Riverwalk redevelopment project," Gustafson continued. "The Bradenton Blues Festival will definitely attract people from outside the region to our area; this will really be something special."

The 2012 Bradenton Blues Festival is the result of many months of planning and "collaboration between a host of local organizations, businesses and community leaders," reads the emailed statement by Johnette Isham, executive director of Realize Bradenton.

She explained that the idea for the festival was born after several meetings with Jack Sullivan, operations officer of the internationally acclaimed Blues Revue magazine, headquartered in Bradenton's Village of the Arts. Blues Revue promotes festivals nationwide, including the annual Tampa Bay Blues Festival.

"After many conversations, Jack introduced me to Paul Benjamin, who founded and still produces the North Atlantic Blues Festival in Rockland, Maine," Isham said in a statement. "With their help and expertise, we’ve been able to pull in world-class artists for one heck of an inaugural festival."

The music will feature national acts with a mix of local flavor.

Food, art and educational initiatives will also be major components of the festival.

"We're partnering with Bradenton's cultural non-profits, and best restaurants and artisans to showcase the great culinary and artistic talent we have in Bradenton,"  Isham's statement reads.

On Friday, November 30, the festival will feature an outreach program to Manatee County high school students, entitled "Blues in the Schools," during which festival musicians will share their talents and professional advice with area students.

Funding for the festival will come from a number of sources, including commercial and individual patrons and sponsors, food and arts vendors, and T-shirt and poster sales.

Sponsors to date include the Bradenton Downtown Development Authority, Ad-VANCE Talent Solutions, Artefact Design, BGD Design, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, Blues Revue (the world’s Blues Magazine), Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Bradenton Herald, Bright House, Courtyard by Marriott, Fetch Pet Care, Iaboni Real Estate, Jacque and Al Vieira, Jeffcoat Blueprint, LA Events Inc., Manatee Apparel Graphics, Manatee Printers, Mary GrandPré, Richard and Christy Messer, Sarasota Guitar Company, Suncoast Gems, Turner Tree and Landscape, Tinsworth Orthodontist, and Zamikoff, Klement, Jungman & Varga.

Businesses interested in joining the growing list of supporters should contact Johnette Isham at

Graphic and web design have been donated by Realize Bradenton’s design group of Artefact Design and BGD Design, the team responsible for the Realize Bradenton communications. The 2012 Bradenton Blues Festival is organized by Realize Bradenton, a non-profit organization that builds community and promotes economic development through collaborative events, strategic partnerships, and interactive strategies. For more information about Realize Bradenton, visit

Monday, February 20, 2012

Lily Tomlin on '9 to 5' sequel

The charming, witty and adorably humble Lily Tomlin told me today that she still keeps in touch with her "9 to 5" co-stars Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton.

"We were just lucky to be in it," Tomlin said by phone from her home in Los Angeles. "Jane is like that. She just believes in serendipity. She came to see me (perform) live one night and that’s where she got the idea to cast me — and on the way home she heard Dolly on the radio and that was it (laugh)."

Tomlin, Fonda and Parton knew each other before filming began and became even better friends on set — and hoped for a dream re-teaming to follow the 1980 hit comedy.

"We tried for a long time for a sequel," Tomlin said. "There were two or three scripts but they weren't what we wanted."

She added, "I think Jada Pinkett Smith owns the rights now and wants to do African-American remake."

Would Tomlin be interested in making a cameo appearance in the new version?

"Oh, yeah," she said. "I would love to."

I spoke to Tomlin today for an upcoming story to advance her March 1 performance at the Van Wezel.

—Publicity photo of Lily Tomlin by Greg Gorman.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Name that Manatee! Sea cow adorns new logo for Sarasota Blues & Music Fest

The Sarasota Blues & Music Festival (formerly the Sarasota Blues Fest) just posted its new logo on Facebook:

"As we’ve been going down the path of pulling this year’s festival together, we realized we needed a logo and reached out to the artist of previous festival posters, Jeff Troldahl, to give us his take on what a logo should look like," spokesman Deven Nongbri wrote in an email to me. "He’s been doing the festival posters for the past thirteen years and has a great feel for the vibe of the festival.

"We’ll announce a contest later this spring to name the manatee, but this will be a logo we’ll see more of in the coming year."

How about Snooty?

Click for more info on the event that takes place Sept. 29.

Cortez Fish Fest, Beer Fest and Knight Parade with Jerry Springer (interview) in Ybor City make for wild weekend

Party people who attended last night's Get Down Downtown bash have a wonderfully long, wild weekend ahead of 'em.

HERALD FILE PHOTO Thousands of people fill the streets during last year’s Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival. The popular annual event, which features musical performances, arts and crafts and seafood, is Saturday and Sunday.

Read more here:

The 30th annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival is Saturday and Sunday in Manatee County's famed fishing village (read more).

The Fifth annual Beer & Food Truck Festival is also Saturday, on Old Main Street in downtown Bradenton (read more).

The Knight Parade is Saturday night in Ybor City with Jerry Springer serving as honorary grand marshal.
Expect thunderous “Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!” chants Saturday when the Knight Parade rolls through Ybor City.

Springer has been named honorary grand marshal of the annual event considered almost as wild as his famed tabloid talk show.

The Sarasota resident who titled his autobiography “The Ringmaster” (and basically played himself in the movie of the same name) will attempt to tame the rowdy crowd of 100,000-plus by tossing them T-shirts and “Jerry Beads.”

“Think about it,” Springer said. “It’s me. We’re going to have a great time.”
Read more of my interview with Springer.

And here's what's happening on local stages (and here) if street parties aren't your, ah, cup of tea.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

TONIGHT: Get Down Downtown in Bradenton with The Gumbo Boogie Band

The Gumbo Boogie Band headlines Get Down Downtown today on Old Main St. in downtown Bradenton.

The city's monthly street party is from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The talented local group, which features former Gregg Allman Band member Chaz Trippy on percussion, plays everything from ebullient classic rock to hot, Cajun-flavored funk.

Gumbo Boogie Band (pictured) hits the stage around 6 p.m.

Old Main Street (12th Street West) will close for the event today from Manatee Avenue West and Third Avenue around 2:30 p.m. and will remain closed until 11 p.m. City officials note: "Please move your vehicles off Old Main Street this afternoon!"

There will be dozens of vendors on both sides of Old Main Street selling food, arts and crafts and other goods. Get Down Downtown is free but you must be 21 years or older to drink and get inside the bars. Organizers ask attendees to not bring glass bottles outside; the bars will provide plastic cups if people want to mingle outside with beveragein hand.

The bars on Old Main Street usually stay open until about 2-2:30 a.m.

Parking is available in the downtown garage on 12th Street West across from the Bank of America building, the county garage located on 10th St. W. just off Manatee Avenue and in the City Hall parking lot at the corner of 12th Street West (Old Main Street) and Third Avenue.

Get Down Downtown occurs on the third Thursday of every month on Old Main Street except for July and August. It is organized by the Old Main Street Merchants Association. However, next month’s Get Down will occur on Saturday, March 17, to coincide with St. Patrick’s Day.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Beach Boys to play Tampa

Fresh off a winning performance Sunday at the Grammys (OK, they might've looked a bit goofy but sounded great), the reunited Beach Boys are gearing up for a global 50th anniversary tour that will bring them to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa on Saturday, May 5.

The previously feuding Brian Wilson and Mike Love, plus Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and David Marks will be touring together for the first time in more than two decades.

The 40-plus city tour, which begins in April, includes a co-headlining date at New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival on April 27 and a performance at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival on June 10.

The Beach Boys will also release a new, as-yet-untitled studio album and commemorative 50th anniversary catalog with Capitol/EMI this year.

Regularly priced tickets for the Tampa show start at $49.50. A limited number of exclusive VIP ticket packages – including premium seats, a meet and greet, sound check access, exclusive merchandise and more – are available for $295.50. Tickets, which go on sale noon, Friday, Feb. 24, may be purchased by calling 813-229-7827 or 800-955-1045 outside Tampa Bay, in person at the Straz Center ticket office or online at

More information can be found at

—Publicity photo of The Beach Boys 50th Anniversary Reunion at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Best Valentine's Day song?

Only a singer/songwriter as brilliant as Steve Earle could get away with forgetting Valentine's Day and replacing flowers, chocolate, dinner, jewelry, etc. with a beautiful new ballad.

Here's how he introduces the song "Valentine's Day" on the live version found on his highly recommended compilation "The Definitive Collection 1983-1997."

"This song was written on February 13th because, ah, it was, getting ready to be Valentine's Day and I can't get no kind of a license (laughs) ... I hadn't done enough planning in advance, which is the story of my life, so I wrote this."

Here's the studio version off his killer country-rock album "I Feel Alright," which came out in 1996.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Allman Brothers Band honored at Grammys; Dickey Betts a no-show

The Allman Brothers Band received their Lifetime Achievement Grammy on Sunday but CBS decided not to broadcast the acceptance speeches by former Manatee County resident Gregg Allman and the rest of the gang, which I would have much rather watched than, say, the performance by that girlfriend beater Chris Brown.

Sarasota County resident Dickey Betts, the man responsible for such ABB classics as "Ramblin' Man," "Blue Sky," "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" and "Jesssica" didn't show, which pretty much means the guitar great has no plans of ever sharing a stage again with his former band mates.

And that's a bummer.
The Allman Brothers Band received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Grammy at Los Angeles’ Staples Center last night. All seven members of the current band attended the ceremony, along with former keyboardist Chuck Leavell and the families of late band co-founders Duane Allman and Berry Oakley. Despite announcing that he would accept his Grammy alongside his former band, estranged founding guitarist Dickey Betts did not attend last night’s ceremony. Betts has not shared the stage with The Allman Brothers Band in almost 12 years, though many onlookers hoped last night’s award would be a step closer to a reunion.

Despite receiving a prestigious honor, The Allman Brothers Band’s acceptance speech was not broadcast on CBS. The award ceremony’s announcer briefly mentioned the group’s award and showed a 1980s press shot featuring a short-lived lineup which included oft-forgotten members like (Manatee resident) Dan Toler, Frankie Toler, David Goldflies and Mike Lawler.

—PHOTO: George Jones, Gregg Allman, Diana Ross, Glen Campbell. Grammy Lifetime Achievement Awards 2012. Courtesy of

Bring Sarasota Film Festival to Bradenton

The Sarasota Film Festival has always been sweet to Manatee County, but a real relationship has never blossomed. That could finally change this year.

At least that was how I left feeling after the festival held its first “town hall meeting” last week.

The magic moment came near the end, during the question-and-answer session. SFF Director Tom Hall was doing a great job of fielding silly questions about why tickets to the films couldn’t be free when a familiar voice came booming from the back of the packed room at Selby Library in Sarasota.

Mark Famiglio, president of SFF’s board of directors, spoke up about Bradenton.

Read more of my column that ran Sunday.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Banyan Theater Company announces 11th season

The Banyan Theater Company returns with its 11th season this summer, producing a trio of acclaimed, contemporary plays from June 28 to Aug. 26.

Here's the Sarasota troupe's schedule (with a description of each play provided by The Banyan):

“A Lesson from Aloes” by Athol Fugard, June 28 - July 15

This contemporary classic is set in 1963 in a white district of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. This important play gives a compelling portrait of a society caught in the grip of a police state and the effect it has on individuals. Fugard shows how a nation’s ideology creates either a nurturing or poisonous atmosphere. “A Lesson from Aloes” won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award in 1981 for Best Play.

8 p.m. June 28, 29, 30; July 4, 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, 14
2 p.m. June 30; July 1, 7, 8, 14, 15

“The Piano Teacher” by Julia Cho, July 19 - Aug. 5

Mrs. K is an elderly widow who lives by herself in a small suburban town. She whiles away her time reminiscing about her late husband and the children she taught long ago as a piano instructor. One day, she finds herself compelled to call her old students, but is it out of loneliness or some other, darker need? As Mrs. K discovers, it may not be what we cannot know that troubles us the most; it may be what we cannot bear to know.

8 p.m. July 19, 20, 21, 25, 26, 27, 28; August 1, 2, 3, 4
2 p.m. July 21, 22, 28, 29; August 4, 5

“Crimes of the Heart” by Beth Henley, Aug. 9 - 26

Warm-hearted, irreverent and brilliantly imaginative, this play teems with humanity and humor as it examines the plight of three young Mississippi sisters betrayed by their passions. Winner of the 1981
Pulitzer Prize and the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award.

8 p.m. Aug. 9, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, 18, 22, 23, 24, 25
2:00 p.m. Aug. 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26

Details: The Banyan Theater Company performs in the Jane B. Cook Theatre at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets: A three-show subscription costs $70, a two-show package is $52 and single tickets are $28.50. Information: 941-351-2808

Thursday, February 9, 2012

UPDATED 2/23: Cody Simpson dishes on Justin Bieber recording session and their Ping-Pong match

UPDATED 2/23: 'Cody Simpson says he's more than a teen idol'

For millions of teenage girls around the world, nothing would be better than hearing a duet by Cody Simpson and Justin Bieber.

And it will most likely happen.

As soon as the two pals stop playing table tennis.

"We haven’t finished the track, yet," Simpson said during a phone interview today. "Last time (in the recording studio) we got caught up on the Ping-Pong table."

The Australian with nearly two million Twitter followers laughed.

"We’re still teenagers like that," Simpson continued. "We’re very dedicated to our music but we’re also very dedicated to Ping-Pong."

He then admitted Bieber beat him, but said a rematch is in the works.

I interviewed Simpson by phone today for an upcoming story to advance his Feb. 24 show at The Ritz Ybor in Tampa.

—Publicity photo of Cody Simpson courtesy of Atlantic Records.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Gasparilla Music Festival lineup features Bradenton's Have Gun, Will Travel

Nationally-acclaimed Bradenton band Have Gun, Will Travel will play the new Gasparilla Music Festival scheduled to take place from 11 a.m.-11 p.m. on March 10 at Curtis Hixon Park in downtown Tampa.

The local folk-rock luminaries will be joined by John McCauley's alt-country, indie rock band Deer Tick, celebrated New Orleans party-starters The Rebirth Brass Band, blues man Alvin Youngblood Hart, Miami-based sacred steel standouts The Lee Boys and soul singer-songwriter Kaleigh Baker.

Tickets cost $15 in advance. Click here to purchase.

Statement from organizers:
The Gasparilla Music Festival will celebrate the best of Tampa Bay's diverse music scene, highlighting local emerging acts and nationally recognized headliners. Set on two stages among our new parks, museums and river walk, we're transforming our downtown into a unique concert venue to host the best music event in the region.

The festival is the vision of a group of Tampa residents passionate about continuing the cultural development of the bay area: This is the concert Tampa has been demanding and you can help us deliver it.
Click for more info

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

UPDATED 2/9: Sarasota Film Festival to hold 'town hall meeting'


What do you want from the Sarasota Film Festival?

Speak up at the "town hall meeting" taking place 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday (Feb. 8) at Selby Library, 1331 First St., Sarasota.

The event is free and open to the public.

The Sarasota Film Festival "encourages anyone with questions, ideas or thoughts about the upcoming festival to attend," reads the email. "The goal of this event is to establish a platform for members of the community to learn more about how The SFF operates as well as engage SFF staff and leadership in a direct dialogue about the upcoming Sarasota Film Festival."

The 2012 Sarasota Film Festival will be held April 13-22.

The festival’s full line-up will be announced on March 19  with tickets on sale to the general public beginning March 23.

Call 941-364-9514 or visit for more information.

Click for past SFF coverage by the Herald and here for my interview with Christopher Plummer, an Oscar nominee again for his role in "Beginners," which I saw last year at the festival.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Van Halen returning to Tampa; check out new single 'Tatoo'

The David Lee Roth version of Van Halen will return to the newly named Tampa Bay Times Forum on April 14.

Ticket prices are $46.75, $76.75 and $146.75 (not including facility fee or service charges). They go on sale 10 a.m. Sat., Feb. 11 at  at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, Ticketmaster outlets and via To order tickets by phone call 800-745-3000.

The band has confirmed a total of 48 shows kicking off Feb. 18 in Louisville, Ky. including their Tampa stop. Kool and the Gang will join open.

Van Halen releases “A Different Kind Of Truth” on Tuesday, Feb. 7.

It's the band's first original studio album with singer Roth since the mega-seller “1984” came out nearly three decades ago.

I reviewed the first Roth/Van Halen reunion tour when it came through the Forum in 2008 and wrote: "Reunited hard rock heroes play nice but predictability proves boring." 

—Publicity photo of Van Halen taken during Feb. 1 performance at Henson Studios in Hollywood, Calif.

Here's the official video for Van Halen’s new single, “Tattoo.”

Van Halen - Tattoo from Van Halen on Vimeo.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

REVIEW: Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe shines with 'A Raisin in the Sun’

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s production of “A Raisin in the Sun,” the first non-musical by the company in its cozy new venue, will reward longtime enthusiasts of the play and should be mandatory viewing for those unfamiliar with the classic by Lorraine Hansberry.

For starters, the ground-breaking drama by and about African-Americans has gathered minimal dust since opening on Broadway in 1959.

The dialogue crackles throughout as the play takes the audience through gripping arguments, scenes of soul-stirring tenderness and precious moments of laugh-out-loud levity.

And then there’s the end, which packs such a punch that it will floor all but the most heartless theatergoers.

Director Jim Weaver brings Hansberry’s masterpiece, set in 1950s Chicago, to life with a first-rate cast that interacts like a genuine family in a most believable crisis.

Will Little, who had his breakthrough performance last year at the Asolo Repertory Theatre as Nabo in “Las Meninas,” stars as Walter Lee Younger.

He plays a frustrated 34-year-old chauffeur who loves, but often mistreats his dutiful wife Ruth (Jasmine McAllister), while showing consistent affection for their 11-year-old son Travis (Bryson Gregory).

The three share a rundown apartment in a tenement building on the city’s South Side with Walter’s benevolent but at times overbearing mother Lena (Alice M. Gatling) and his younger sister Beneatha (Dhakeria Cunningham), a progressive-minded medical student.

The conflict revolves around how to spend a $10,000 insurance check from the deceased Walter Lee Younger, Sr.

Little’s character wants the family to finally escape poverty by investing in a liquor store.

Mama argues the virtues of buying a larger home in a better part of town.

The matriarch goes through with her decision and the tension escalates when it turns out the two-story house is in the entirely white neighborhood of Clybourne Park.

Although the play deftly deals with issues of class and race, at its core, “A Raisin in the Sun” is about the high cost of pursuing one’s dreams.

WBTT’s stage stands a few inches above the ground and the smart, simple set extends to within a few inches of the front row.

The entire play takes place in the same apartment and for the entire 140 minutes (not counting the 15-minute intermission) I found myself being pulled deeper and deeper into the lives of the Youngers.

Each cast member embody his or her character with striking ease and authority.

Gatling gives a tour-de-force performance as the unshakable mother, as does Little as her well-meaning albeit unreliable son.

Yes, it’s hard to imagine anyone not being moved by WBTT’s brilliant, emotive production of “A Raisin in the Sun.”

—Photo from left: Jaszy McAllister, Alice M. Gatling, Will Little and Dhakeria Cunningham. Courtesy of

Details: Playing through Feb. 19, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, 1646 10th Way, Sarasota. Tickets: $28. Information: 941-366-1505 or

'America's Got Talent' taping live at The Mahaffey in St. Petersburg

NBC’s "America’s Got Talent" is taping live at The Mahaffey.

The public is invited to join host Nick Cannon and celebrity judges Howard Stern, Howie Mandel and Sharon Osbourne in the live television audience.

Enthusiasts of the popular show can watch performers compete live April 3 and 4 at the venue in
downtown St. Petersburg.

All tickets are free.

The minimum age to attend is 14.

For more information and to print free tickets: