Friday, November 30, 2012

Bradenton Blues Festival weekend starts today with free concert at Riverwalk

Kettle of Fish performs today during "Blues Appetizer Concert" at Bradenton Riverwalk.

It all begins today. Bradenton Blues Festival weekend. That means lots of awesome live music, a dazzling art exhibit and at least one killer party.

Oh yeah, many of these events are free.

For starters, famed performance photographer Joseph A. Rosen will be hosting a showing of his portraiture work at the Blues Revue magazine headquarters in the Village of the Arts at 1001 11th Ave. W.

The exhibit is today from 1-5 p.m. There will be images of B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, Dr. John and many more greats. Information: 866-702-7778.

As for live music, festival producer Realize Bradenton, the nonprofit organization that played a key role in creating the renovated Riverwalk, kicks it off proper by offering the community a free preview to the festival this evening.

The "Blues Appetizer Concert" is 6-9 p.m. with performances by Tampa blues man Selwyn Birchwood Band and Sarasota blues-rockers Kettle of Fish, which features singer/songwriter Dana Lawrence, backed by a cast of equally impressive players including guitarist Berry Duane Oakley.

The group, one of the most popular in the Bradenton area, has opened for acts such as the Marshall Tucker Band, Eddie Money and Molly Hatchet.

Kettle of Fish will be performing originals this evening as well as deep tracks by Jimi Hendrix, Little Feat and some of those Allman Brothers Band songs originally featuring the brilliant bass guitar work of the senior Berry Oakley.

"We thrive on the big stage," Lawrence said. "Looking at the wide variety of the people out there is a thrill and you just thrive off it."

Read more.

—Publicity photo by Chris Hicklin of Kettle of Fish (from left): Todd Cook, Thorson Moore, Garrett Dawson, Berry Oakley, Dana Lawrence. Photo provided.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Kenny Chesney on playing Tampa's Raymond James Stadium again

For the third year in a row, Kenny Chesney has chosen Tampa's Raymond James Stadium to launch a national tour with his latest, “No Shoes Nation,” playing the home of the Bucs on March 16.

Here's the coastal-living country king talking about his upcoming show at Ray Jay, his past gigs in Tampa and his favorite memories playing the venue, courtesy of his publicity peeps:

Tickets are $40.95-$279.25 and go on sale 10 a.m. Dec. 7 via Ticketmaster.

The "No Shoes Nation' tour also features Eric Church, Eli Young Band and Kacey Musgraves. It marks 20 years of touring for Chesney.

—Photo Credit: Jill Trunnell/Shore Fire Media

Bradenton Blues Festival headliner Ruthie Foster on Adele, Snooki and 'gospel-infused soul'

Singer-songwriter Ruthie Foster has drawn comparisons to soul queen Aretha Franklin and jazz great Ella Fitzgerald.

She has recorded alongside gospel legends Blind Boys of Alabama and recently toured with folk-punk icon Ani DiFranco.

So what kind of music does Foster, who headlines the Bradenton Blues Festival on Saturday, play?

"Blues with gospel-infused soul," she says by phone from her home studio in Austin, Texas. "And gospel-infused folk."

Read more. 

Bradenton Blues Festival: Everything you need to know, including about free after-party

—Ruthie Foster publicity photo.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bradenton Blues Festival: Everything you need to know, including about free after-party

After more than a year of anticipation, the inaugural Bradenton Blues Festival takes over Riverwalk and pretty much the rest of downtown this weekend.

And we have all the info, including details on some cool, free events.

For starters, famed performance photographer Joseph A. Rosen will be hosting a showing of his portraiture work at the Blues Revue headquarters in the Village of the Arts at 1001 11th Ave. W., Bradenton. The exhibit will be at the Blues Revue’s gallery Friday from 1 p.m. until 5 pm. Featured Musicians in the Friday exhibit will include B.B King, Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, Dr. John and many more. Information: 866-702-7778.

Festival producer Realize Bradenton, the non-profit organization that played a key role in creating the renovated Riverwalk, is starting things off right by offering the community a free preview to the festival at the Riverwalk pavilion on Friday. The Blues Appetizer Concert is 6-9 p.m. Friday with performances by Tampa blues man Selwyn Birchwood Band and Sarasota roots rockers Kettle of Fish, which features singer/songwriter Dana Lawrence backed by a rotating cast of equally impressive players. Food and beverage available for purchase at this highly recommended event.

The Women’s Resource Center of Manatee’s annual fundraiser, “Bringing on the Blues,” will be held Friday as well starting at 7 p.m. in the historic “Brickyard” area behind O’Bricks on Old Main Street in downtown Bradenton. The cost is $125 per person and includes live entertainment, food and premium open bar. For more information call 941-747-6797 or go to

And then there's the biggie, the inaugural Bradenton Blues Festival on Saturday.

Grammy Award nominee Ruthie Foster headlines a first-rate lineup that includes Louisiana Music Hall of Fame inductee Kenny Neal and super group Southern Hospitality, which is led by Bradenton Beach resident Damon Fowler.

Dave “Biscuit” Miller, Johnny Sansone, Homemade Jamz, the Steve Arvey Horn Band with Henry Lawrence also a pair of local favorites and Ben Prestage round out the lineup.

In addition to the live music along the Manatee River, there will be an array of food, drink and art vendors.

Tickets are $25 until noon Friday and can be purchased at Tickets at the gate are $30 cash only and ATMs will be available. Attendees are being told to please leave coolers and dogs at home. Call 941-681-0708 for more information.

Attendees are asked to bring a non-perishable food item or canned good to the Blues Appetizer and Bradenton Blues Festival to help donate food items to Meals on Wheels of Manatee County.

After the Bradenton Blues Festival ends at 8 p.m. Saturday there's the official after party featuring acclaimed Tampa blues man Sean Chambers at Tarpon Pointe Grille & Tiki Bar, the popular eastern anchor of Riverwalk that celebrated its first anniversary in July.

"Sean Chambers has invited all the festival performers to sit in with him," said Jack Sullivan, operations officer of Blues Revue magazine and the co-founder of the Bradenton Blues Festival. "I'm sure there's going to be a great jam."

Also,  Old Main Street will be closed Saturday between Manatee and Third Avenues for the Farmers Market (8 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and then from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. to accommodate the crowd from the Bradenton Blues Festival.
Bradenton Blues Festival schedule

Steve Arvey Horn Band featuring Henry Lawrence: 11-11:40 a.m.
Bradenton area blues man Steve Arvey has teamed up with local hero Henry Lawrence, the superb soul singer who earned three Super Bowl rings and made two Pro Bowl appearances while playing with the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders.

Homemade Jamz: 11:55 a.m.-12:55 p.m.
Ryan, Kyle and Taya Perry are siblings in their teens who play rocking blues.

Southern Hospitality: 1:10-2:10 p.m.
Bradenton Beach resident and Blind Pig Records artist Damon Fowler recently joined forces with fellow Florida guitarist/vocalist JP Soars and Memphis-based keyboardist/singer Victor Wainwright to form one of the most in-demand groups on the blues festival circuit. See accompanying interview with Fowler. 

Johnny Sansone: 2:25-3:25 p.m.
The New Orleans-based harmonica player and vocalist offers plenty of emotional punch as a performer while also excelling as a songwriter.

Dave “Biscuit” Miller: 3:40-4:40 p.m.
A superbly funky bassist and outstanding showman , Miller has become a favorite at Aces Live in Bradenton with songs ranging from the funky double entendre “Butter My Biscuits” to the somber, soulful “Never Seen it Coming.”

Kenny Neal: 4:55-6:05
Baton Rouge swamp blues master has been elating audiences since the 1970s with his explosive guitar licks, hot harp and potent vocals.

Ruthie Foster: 6:20-7:35
Grammy Award nominate singer’s latest album “Let it Burn” finds Foster putting her own glorious vocal stamp on songs ranging from the Johnny Cash classic “Ring of Fire” to Adele’s recent smash “Set Fire to the Rain.” Read my interview with Foster.

Ben Prestage: performs between acts
One-man-band who grew up near the Everglades sings, plays finger-style guitar, harmonica, banjo, lap-steel, fiddle, resonator guitar and foot-drums.

Details: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 1, Bradenton Riverwalk, 425 Third Ave. W., Bradenton. Tickets: $25 (until noon Friday); $30 (gate). Information: 941-681-0708 or

Read more here:
—Bradenton Blues Festival logo (above) and poster by 'Harry Potter' illustrator Mary GrandPré provided by Realize Bradenton.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

UPDATED 12/7: Rolling Stones, Dave Grohl, Eddie Vedder added to Sandy benefit concert 12-12-12

UPDATED 12/7: The Rolling Stones will join the artists already booked for next week's televised Superstorm Sandy benefit show in New York City, which producers said Friday would be the most widely available live concert ever. Read more.

Foo Fighter Dave Grohl and Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder have signed up for next month's Superstorm Sandy benefit concert at Madison Square Garden, which could be one of the great televised live music events of recent memory.

Read more here:

A news release says the rock stars will join Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band and Kanye West.

Billy Joel, The Who, Alicia Keys, Jon Bon Jovi and Roger Waters are also confirmed to perform at the New York City show dubbed "12-12-12."

The Rolling Stones, who just stormed London, might even make an appearance, according to a report last week from the magazine of the same name. WILL MAKE AN APPEARANCE

As a huge Stones fan, I'd really like to see this happen.

Proceeds from 12-12-12 will go to the Robin Hood Relief Fund to benefit those affected by Sandy in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Information regarding the telecast of the concert will be posted at

On Nov. 2, Springsteen, Jovi and Joel played NBC's live one-hour benefit telethon, "Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together."

Christina Aguilera, Sting and Jimmy Fallon also performed.

NBC reported the event raised nearly $23 million for the American Red Cross relief efforts for Hurricane Sandy.

—In this handout photo issued by LD Communications on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012, the Rolling Stones in their promotional video for their new Rolling Stones single "Doom and Gloom," filmed in Paris, France. — AP Photo.

Read more here:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Bon Jovi announces Tampa show; film screening in Sarasota

Good news for Bon Jovi enthusiasts.

The hair metal band that survived the 1980s to fill arenas in the 2000s has another area concert coming up and special film screening at a local theater confirmed for Tuesday.

“Bon Jovi Because We Can – The Tour” has a March 1 date at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, the venue announced late today.

Tickets, which start at $19.50, go on sale 10 a.m. Dec. 3.

Bon Jovi will debut new songs from the band's upcoming album "What About Now," due out in the spring of 2013.

I'm sure 1980s smashes like “Livin’ on a Prayer," “Wanted Dead or Alive” and “You Give Love a Bad Name” will make the setlist, too.

In related news,  "Bon Jovi: Inside Out" will be screened 8 p.m. Tuesday at Regal Cinemas Hollywood 20, Sarasota.

In a first-ever interactive theater event for the band, Bon Jovi fans will have the opportunity to submit their questions for a Q&A with Bon Jovi, hosted by Allison Hagendorf of The CW's "The Next: Fame Is At Your Door Step." The Q&A will be broadcast live from Times Square and fans can submit questions now via Twitter using the hashtag #AskBonJovi or text in questions during the event. Featuring a hand-selected set list from their catalog of hits, "Bon Jovi: Inside Out" includes performances from recent shows in London, New Jersey and New York.

Sarasota movie details. 

Read more here:

—Photo of Jon Bon Jovi by David Bergman//

Sunday, November 25, 2012

TODAY: Bradenton musicians at Aces' Hurricane Sandy Relief Benefit concert

As Thanksgiving weekend comes to a close, local musicians are giving back.

And we all stand to benefit as they donate their time to help those affected by Superstorm Sandy.

Many of the Bradenton area's top purveyors of rock, soul and blues will be performing at Aces Live, 4343 Palma Sola Blvd., from noon until midnight today.

Attendees are asked to donate $5 at the door.

The benefit is the result of Bradenton resident and Aces regular Joy Fitzpatrick wanting to help people living in demolished areas like her hometown of East Rockaway on Long Island.

A few words with Aces owner Renee Bennett was all it took to make today's event happen.

"I'm really good friends with Renee and she told me right away we could use Aces," Fitzpatrick said.

"There are so many little towns that have been forgotten and we'd just appreciate any help to raise money to be distributed through the relief funds."

RJ Howson, a singer/guitarist from Chicago who hosts the Wednesday blues jams at Aces, assembled the impressive entertainment roster.

"The musicians are lining up for this one," he noted last week. "So far (we have) Kettle of Fish, RJ Howson Band, Justin Layman Band, Lauren Mitchell, Kara Nally, Betty Fox, and more."

Former Oakland Raider, NFL Pro Bowler and soul singer Henry Lawrence, who is part of the Dec. 1 Bradenton Blues Festival lineup, has also been confirmed to perform.

Read more.

—Henry Lawrence sings May 18, 2011, for a lunchtime crowd gathered on the square outside the Historic Manatee County Courthouse. He was performing as part of a Realize Bradenton concert series. HERALD FILE PHOTO

Read more here:

Friday, November 23, 2012

INTERVIEW: Easton Corbin, DeSoto Music Fest headliner, 'honored' by George Strait comparisons

Gilchrist County native Easton Corbin has shunned the contemporary country trend toward pop and arena rock, winning fans over with neo-traditionalist tunes like his current smash "Lovin' You is Fun."

It's a wonderfully basic celebration of romance. A peppy melody kissed with steel guitar and honky tonk piano. The kind of song that will surely elicit a big, smiley sing along when Corbin performs the ditty Saturday during the debut of the DeSoto Music Fest at the Manatee County Fairgrounds.

"I love when the crowd gets in and starts singing," Corbin said during a recent phone interview. "It's very flattering."

The great Nashville songwriter Bob DiPiero, whose credits include the George Strait hits "Clear Blue Sky" and "Cowboys Like Us," co-wrote "Lovin' You Is Fun."

Listening, it's easy to imagine the song being sung by King George.

Since he broke on the scene in 2009, Corbin has been regularly compared to the traditionalist titan.

"I'm honored to be mentioned with him," Corbin said. "But nobody will ever replace George Strait."

Read more.

—Publicity photo of Easton Corbin.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Day playlist: Songs for cooking, eating, drinking and dealing with weird relatives

Here are 20 songs to help you with the cooking, coping and all the other fun that goes with the fourth Thursday of November.

It's a time to give thanks, stuff your face and make sure there's enough wine around to deal with hearing your aunt complain about her ailments.

And block out the cacophony being created by your brother's bratty kids.

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Thanksgiving Theme," Vince Guaraldi Trio 
"Turkey In The Straw," The Skillet-Lickers 
"Home Cookin," The Band
"Mashed Potatoe Time," James Brown 
"Nicotine & Gravy," Beck
"Cornbread and Butter Beans," Carolina Chocolate Drops
"Beans And Cornbread," Louis Jordan & His Tympani Five
"Country Pie," Bob Dylan
"Apple Pie À La Mode," Destiny's Child – A
"Pudding Time," Primus 
"Sangria Wine," Jerry Jeff Walker
"The Thanksgiving Filter," Drive-By Truckers
"Leftovers," No Doubt 
"The Kids Are Alright," The Who
"My Cousin in Milwaukee," Ella Fitzgerald
"Uncle Salty," Aerosmith
"Aunt Hagar's Blues," Louis Armstrong
"When I Was Young and Grandma Wasn't Old," Willie Nelson
"Twistin' In The Kitchen With Dinah," Sam Cooke 
"Alice's Restaurant Massacre," Arlo Guthrie  

Top 25 reasons to watch 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles' on its 25th anniversary
John Hughes comedy starring Steve Martin and John Candy is greatest Thanksgiving Day movie of all time.

—Photo: This open-face sandwich is comprised of turkey leftovers, mashed potatoes and gravy. McCLATCHY TRIBUNE

Read more here:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gasparilla Music Festival returns to Tampa

The second annual Gasparilla Music Festival returns to downtown Tampa on March 9 with Grammy Award-winning band Ozomatli. The genre-hopping, Latin-funk-hip hop outfit is the first of several acts to be announced in the coming weeks.

The L.A.-based band will headline GMF's Kiley Gardens Stage, playing an evening set along with a special family-friendly set earlier in the day.

Advance general admission tickets can be purchased at $20 for a limited time beginning today. Prices will increase as more bands are announced. Tickets are available through the GMF website ( and at select local ticket outlets. Admission is free for children ages 12 and under.

Along with cutting edge bands on four stages throughout downtown Tampa, this year's GMF expands upon its children's festival-within-the-festival from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. in Kiley Gardens, located between Curtis Hixon Park and Rivergate Tower. In addition to family-friendly entertainment on the Kiley Gardens Stage there will be arts and crafts, games and other activities for children.

"We're thrilled to enhance GMF's family-friendly component with Ozomatli's 'Ozokidz' show, and we wanted to get the tickets out early at a reduced price so that parents could take advantage," said GMF president David Cox in a statement.

Bradenton's Have Gun, Will Travel played the inaugural Gasparilla Music Festival.

—Ozomatli publicity photo by Christian L.

UPDATED 11/21: Thanksgiving Eve bash in Bradenton will feature Beatles cover band on Old Main St.

UPDATED 11/21: Beatles cover band to headline Bradenton Thanksgiving Eve bash on Old Main Street

It's party time again on Old Main Street.

The downtown Bradenton road is closing down to vehicular traffic Wednesday to allow for a Thanksgiving Eve celebration with live music as well as food, drink, arts and crafts vendors.

Sarasota-based Beatles cover band Glass Onion will be performing.

Old Main Street between Manatee Ave. and 3rd Ave. W. closes to ve­hicles around 2 p.m. If your vehicle is parked on Old Main when the traffic barricades go up or your car could get towed.

Bar hopping is permitted while the street barricades are in place. Just remember to keep your drink in a plastic cup.

There is no charge or age limit to attend the event but you must be at least 21 years old to get into the bars on Old Main Street.

The Christmas tree and the other lighted holiday decorations surrounding Bradenton City Centre along 12th Street West and Barcarrota Boulevard will come to life when the sun sets on Thanksgiving Day.

Details: 5-10 p.m. Nov. 21, Old Main St., Bradenton. Admission: Free. Information: 941-896-8860 or

Read more here:

—Music fills the air as the Michael Mac Band plays during sunset on Old Main Street in Bradenton. HERALD FILE PHOTO

Read more here:

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sarasota's Brian Johnson and his AC/DC band finally on iTunes; new live album streaming free

AC/DC, which features Sarasota resident Brian Johnson on lead vocals, has finally teamed with iTunes.

Columbia Records and Apple announced today that 16 studio albums will be released digitally at the iTunes Store worldwide. These include the classic rock masterworks "High Voltage" and "Back in Black," which is already in the Top 30 on iTunes' top albums chart.

AC/DC was one of the few acts left that would not release music through iTunes.

The group's first live album in 20 years, "Live at River Plate," is out Tuesday and streaming free today over at

Read more.

— In this Nov. 12, 2008 file photo, AC/DC lead singer Brian Johnson, left, and Angus Young perform at Madison Square Garden in New York. Jeff Zelevansky, file — AP Photo.

Read more here:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

REVIEW: Asolo Rep’s ‘1776’ musical in Sarasota is a patriotic powerhouse

Thomas Jefferson (left), Benjamin Franklin and John Adams in "1776" at Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota.

Despite what the show might suggest, Asolo Rep’s season opener about getting all those famous signatures on the Declaration of Independence amounts to more than a history lesson peppered with songs.

It’s a patriotic powerhouse.

Entertaining and enlightening, “1776" celebrates all that's right about our country's core values without ever smacking of jingoism or mushy nationalism. 

Of course, those familiar with Frank Galati should expect no less.

Most famous for his Tony Award-winning adaptation of "The Grapes of Wrath,” he directed last season's splendid Asolo Rep opener "My Fair Lady," and the season before helmed the outstanding "Twelve Angry Men."

With “1776,” Galati has chosen the Sherman Edwards (music, lyrics) and Peter Stone (book) show that opened on Broadway in 1969 and won several Tonys including Best Musical but rarely gets performed — probably due to a cast of 26 and all those expensive costumes.

Galati’s Founding Fathers, looking fabulous in frock-coats and lace, are a superb bunch of actors.

Bernie Yvon, who appeared on Broadway in "Ragtime" as Harry Houdini, makes John Adams as endearing as he is annoying. He's the ultimate agitator with a heart of gold, and the star of the show.

But Adams would've never succeeded in leading the Second Continental Congress without the sage advice of Benjamin Franklin (played by Andrew Boyer, another Broadway veteran who was Doolittle in last season's "My Fair Lady").

The potent prose of Thomas Jefferson (Brandon Dahlquist, a rising Chicago star making his Asolo debut), is another key ingredient.

The most stirring song of the show goes to Jarrod Zimmerman who, as Edward Rutledge from South Carolina, sings the stinging “Molasses to Rum.” It shames all members of Congress with its zingers about the triangular trading system.

“Shall we dance to the sound of the profitable pound?” Rutledge snarls. “In molasses and rum and slaves?”

Abigail Adams (Abby Mueller) and Martha Jefferson (Andrea Prestinario) make welcome appearances but this show boils down to our Founding Fathers.

More specifically, their verbal sparring and ability to compromise.

And then there's the suspense, especially during the end of the second and final act, which is not easily accomplished with shows like this or, say, "Titanic."

It was a thrilling and emotive experience that made me forget all the partisan ugliness of the recent election season and take pride in being an American.

Granted, “1776” is basically a bunch of white dudes in wigs bickering, singing and sitting around an assembly hall.

But it’s brilliant all the same and altogether amusing.

Details: Nov. 16-Dec. 22, Mertz Theatre in the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets: $26-$75. Information: 941-351-8000 or

Asolo Repertory Theater opens season with patriotic musical '1776' in Sarasota

—Photos courtesy of Asolo Rep by Jaun Davila

Top 25 reasons to love 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles'

Thanksgiving has been officially rocking the fourth Thursday of November since the Lincoln administration.

But the holiday didn't achieve its current level of awesomeness until 1987.

That's the year John Hughes' "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" opened the day before Thanksgiving.

A quarter century later, the brilliant bromance ranks as a Turkey Day viewing tradition rivaled only by parades (not really) and football (depending on who's playing).

To celebrate the comedy classic's silver anniversary, here are the Top 25 reasons to watch "Planes, Trains & Automobiles."

Read more.

Donald Trump tops turkey list of 2012

It's turkey time.

Time to honor the entertainment world's biggest losers of the year.

From Hollywood to Broadway to people to things, here's my highly subjective list of the top flops and foremost fools of 2012.

Number one ninny?

Donald Trump.

Rather than limiting his obnoxiousness to that silly reality show "The Apprentice," The Donald brought his special brand of celebrity bile to presidential politics, where he led the laughable "birther" (and college records) movement prior to a post-election Twitter meltdown that included a call for "revolution." Yeah, Trump, you're such a rebel.

Read more.

Read more here:

—Donald Trump file photo/David J. Phillip — AP Photo

Friday, November 16, 2012

Bradenton's Damon Fowler and his Southern Hospitality group signs with Blind Pig: interview

Bradenton Beach resident Damon Fowler (guitar, vocals), JP Soars (guitar, vocals) and Victor Wainwright (keyboards, vocals) shook up the blues world last year when they formed the super group Southern Hospitality, which performs at the debut Bradenton Blues Festival Dec. 1 on Riverwalk.

Blues label Blind Pig Records, which has issued albums by everyone from Muddy Waters and Buddy Guy to Fowler's recent solo releases, announced today the signing of Southern Hospitality.

"I really like playing with JP and Victor and am very excited about the project," Fowler said by phone from his home in Bradenton Beach. "It's come together for a really nice blend. The last tour in August was very musically satisfying."

The trio is rounded out by Fowler’s forever bassist Chuck Riley and Soars’s drummer Chris Peet. Southern Hospitality recorded a demo together in August at Tony's Treasures in Cadiz, Ohio. They jammed on originals and the Jerry Lee Lewis classic "Don't Boogie Woogie (When You Say Your Prayers)," Fowler said.

Tab Benoit, winner of three Blues Music Awards this year including the prestigious "B.B. King Entertainer of the Year," will produce Southern Hospitality's debut album, which is expected to include originals by all three chief members. Recording is set to begin during Thanksgiving week at the Whiskey Bayou Studio in Houma, La.

"Tab is at the top of his game," Fowler said. "He's an awesome singer with great taste in music who I feel we can connect with and all speak the same (musical) language and come out with a great record."

—Publicity photo of of Southern Hospitality (from left): Damon Fowler, JP Soars, Victor Wainwright.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

WEEKEND: Grand opening for Arts & Eats in Village of the Arts, Joe Nichols and more in Bradenton and beyond

There's a new player in the Village of the Arts.

And he wants to meet you.

Attendees are invited to join chef Jim Copening and Donna Slawsky for the grand opening of Arts & Eats Restaurant and Gallery in the heart of the Village of the Arts this Friday and Saturday.

Read more.

Country star Joe Nichols at Joyland and more in Weekend.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Digital subscription playlist for our readers at

The time has come.

Today we introduced "Bradenton Herald Plus," which basically means to be a regular at you will need a digital subscription.

Yep, even to read all my silly stuff.

Websites around the country have begun asking readers to pay for access to their online content. That needs to happen here, too, so we will be able to continue providing quality journalism.

Print subscribers will have free digital access until their current subscription renews. Regular digital readers who do not already subscribe will be asked to do so. Introductory pricing starts as low as 99 cents per month.

Read more here:
For information on subscription packages and pricing, go to and you’ll find everything, including a Q&A about the changes.

For now, let's enjoy some songs.

"Changes," David Bowie
"Digital Love," Daft Punk
"Even Better Than The Real Thing," U2
"Computer World," Kraftwerk 
"Livin' In The Future," Bruce Springsteen
"Internet Connection," M.I.A. 
"Online," Brad Paisley
"Good News," Muddy Waters   
"You Think I Ain't Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire," Queens Of The Stone Age
"Every Single Dollar," We The Kings
"I'm Bringin' Home Good News," Merle Haggard
"Together in Electric Dreams," Phil Oakey
"Nothing in This World Is Free," U.S. Army Green Berets
"Help!" The Beatles  

Monday, November 12, 2012

Bradenton area will be better when political signs are replaced by holiday decorations

Christmas stuff starts too early.

That's how I felt.

Hearing holiday songs in the first week of November?


Not this year.

I'm already rocking Christmas on 92.1 FM.

And not just when the fiancée controls the radio.

Last week, I bought a fresh DVD of "A Christmas Story" and cooked us a ham dinner with mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce.

Yep, the holiday season has begun in our happy home.

After a terribly long and turbulent political season I want Christmas cheer for the rest of the year.

The sights, sounds, smells:


Especially the sights.

Give me light displays that qualify as Griswoldian.

Read more of my Sunday column.

—Jay Sweeney's decorative holiday masterpiece on Bradenton's "Christmas Street." HERALD FILE PHOTO

Read more here:

Asolo Rep's '1776' in Sarasota directed by Tony winner Frank Galati: interview

From left, Bernie Yvon as John Adams, Andrew Boyer as Ben Franklin, Brandon Dalhquist as Thomas Jefferson and Andrea Prestinario as Martha Jefferson in the Asolo Repertory Theatre's production of "1776." Photos by SCOTT BRAUN/PUBLICITY PHOTO

Read more here:

Had the candidates been singing and dancing, election season would've been so much more entertaining.

Fortunately, our founding fathers can all carry a tune.

At least the ones who will be on stage in the Asolo Repertory Theatre's season opener "1776."

In light of all the partisan madness leading up to Election Day, there probably couldn't be a better time than now for a witty, patriotic comedy.

Aiming to please attendees of all political persuasions, the Sarasota company considered one of the best in the South presents a musical inspired by the events surrounding the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

While the founding fathers are often depicted as a unified group, at least beginning with our earliest elementary school lessons, "1776" shows the behind-the-scenes machinations were wrought with conflict and peril.

'1776' choreographer Peter Amster (left) and his partner Frank Galati at Asolo Rep media event. PHOTO BY WADE TATANGELO

Read more here:

Frank Galati, most famous for his Tony Award-winning adaptation of "The Grapes of Wrath (Best Play, Best Direction of a Play), directed last season's Asolo Rep opener "My Fair lady" and the season before helmed "Twelve

Angry Men" in Sarasota. Both productions were critically-acclaimed audience favorites.

He returns to Asolo Rep to direct "1776," which opens Friday and runs through Dec. 22.

"I think the musical presents a very vivid account of how dangerous the situation was in Philadelphia in 1776 and how the future of the nation and its birth was hanging by a thread," Galati said. "It's so fascinating how close they came to not doing it. If not for Abigail Adams, her husband might have lost heart."

Read more.

WATCH: Asolo Rep previews '1776' with performance in Sarasota 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

UPDATED 11/9: Taste of Manatee announces award winners for Bradenton area restaurants

UPDATED 11/9: Taste of Manatee announces awards for Bradenton area restaurants 

Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston, left, with YachtSea Grille owner and appetizer award-winner Kurt Petty during Taste of Manatee at Bradenton Riverwalk.

Ocean Harvest, Blue Marlin and Yachtsea Grille were among the Bradenton area eateries that most impressed judges Saturday and Sunday.

Patrons, many first timers, were wowed by the delectable dishes, too.  

Taste of Manatee organizers The Rotary Club of West Bradenton announced their restaurant award winners Thursday for the 26th annual cuisine contest that took place this past weekend at Riverwalk.

The festival featured food from 28 local restaurants being enjoyed by some 20,000 attendees, the service club estimated.

Ocean Harvest Grill's fabulous fish tacos played a key role in the Bradenton restaurant winning Best Of The Best while Bradenton Beach's Blue Marlin won Best Booth with its stone crab macaroni and cheese quickly selling out both days

YachtSea Grille, which opened earlier this year on Riverfront Boulevard as a direct result of the newly renovated Riverwalk, won in the appetizer category. It served Polynesian pork shank, clam chowder and roasted red pepper hummus with pretzel rolls.

Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston presented the awards, along with Miss Manatee Jennie Ozark, Junior Miss Manatee Caroline Howard, Little Miss Manatee Hannah Brady and Mini Miss Manatee Savannah Cannon.

"We had the finest restaurants we've ever had," said Mark Sticht, a chairman for Taste of Manatee. "Most importantly, all the restaurants are from right here in the community." 

Each restaurant contributes a significant portion of their sales from the Taste of Manatee to the supported charities.

Complete list of winners:

1st Place - YachtSea Grill
2nd Place - Lobstahs
3rd Place - Riverhouse Reef & Grill

1st Place - Mexicali
2nd Place - J&J Barbecue
3rd Place - Edelweiss German Cuisine

1st Place - Fia's Cafe
2nd Place - Ocean Harvest Grill
3rd Place - Meaney's Mini Donuts

Specialty Foods:
1st Place - Ferraro's Pizza
2nd Place - Mr. Cheesecake
3rd Place - Taste of Hawaii

Best Booth: Blue Marlin

Best Of The Best: Ocean Harvest Grill

Taste of Manatee's move to Bradenton Riverwalk results in best year ever
Taste of Manatee moves food, fun and music to Bradenton Riverwalk

—Photo provided by The Rotary Club of West Bradenton.

WEEKEND: ArtSlam on Bradenton Riverwalk, Gloriana at Joyland, Ribfest in St. Pete

Bradenton Riverwalk continues to be the area's top destination spot.

After relocating to the newly renovated park from downtown, the long-running Taste of Manatee reported its best year ever last weekend.

The third annual ArtSlam, formerly held on Old Main Street, is ready for similar success Saturday.

The Realize Bradenton event will again bring together professional artists, students, faculty and the public for a celebration of collaborative creativity.

Read more.

  • Popular country act Gloriana to play Joyland in Bradenton following postponement in July

  • Buddy Guy, Heart, Montgomery Gentry bring the noise to Ribfest in St. Petersburg

  • 'Little Nemo in Wonderland' to have world premiere at Sarasota Opera 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Bradenton's Damon Fowler, Have Gun Will Travel to headline WMNF's Little Manatee River Jam

Damon Fowler at Blues Revue open house in Bradenton's Village of the Arts. Photo by Wade Tatangelo.

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The Bradenton area's two greatest live music exports are joining forces to headline WMNF's 3rd annual Little Manatee River Jam.

The Tampa-based community radio station fund-raising concert is Nov. 17 at the Canoe Outpost in southern Hillsborough County features Bradenton Beach resident and international blues star Damon Fowler as well as the Bradenton natives of Have Gun Will Travel performing their equally acclaimed Americana originals. 

From WMNF:
The festival’s beginnings go back to early 2010, when the owners of the Canoe Outpost attended a friend’s wedding reception where Talk To Mark were providing the entertainment. A brief discussion with the band during a set break led to the subject of WMNF and the idea of a live music event on the Outpost’s beautiful 5-acre property. With a little coordination between the band, the station and the site owners, the concept quickly began to take shape. Brandon native Damon Fowler — whose roots in the area made him the natural choice — was tapped to headline the show, and a festival was born.

Complete schedule:

Christy Massey: 1-1:30

Ed Carter 1:40-2:20

Sarah Mac Band 2:30-3:30

Rebekah Pulley and the Reluctant Prophets 3:50-4:50

Talk To Mark 5:10-6:10

Have Gun Will Travel 6:30-7:30

Damon Fowler 8- 10 p.m.

Tickets are $20 in advance, or $25 the day of the event.

To order tickets online visit or call the station at 813-238-8001.

For camping reservations, call the Canoe Outpost at 813-634-2228 or visit

Monday, November 5, 2012

Top 10 Election Day songs 2012

People wait in line for more than an hour and a half to cast their ballots on the last day of early voting Saturday at the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Office.  GRANT JEFFERIES/Bradenton Herald

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It's Election Eve, time to concentrate on what really matters:


There have been countless songs written with Election Day in mind.

Here are the greatest.

Top 10 Election Days songs

1. "Elected," Alice Cooper

2. "Funky President," James Brown

3. "A Apolitical Blues," Little Feat 

4. "Mr. President (Have Pity on the Working Man)," Randy Newman

5. "Campaigner," Neil Young

6. "Political World," Bob Dylan

7. "John Lee Hooker for President," Ry Cooder

8. "Election Day," Blaze Foley

9. "Election Year Rag," Steve Goodman

10. "When I'm President," Ian Hunter And The Rant Band

Top 10 Election Day songs 2010

Glen Campbell says 'goodbye' in Sarasota: review, setlist

Glen Campbell taking a bow with his band at theVan Wezel Performing Arts Hall on Nov. 4, 2012

Glen Campbell brought his nearly completed "Goodbye Tour" to Sarasota on Sunday and said farewell with a moving performance in front of a packed house of adoring fans. The country great, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's last year, strolled across the Van Wezel stage in a rhinestone-encrusted shirt; smiling, thanking the audience and singing his best known songs.  

He also elated the crowd with a couple more obscure numbers written by his friend and most successful collaborator. Jimmy Webb's "Galveston," "By the Times I Get to Phoenix," "Where's the Playground, Susie?" "Didn't We," "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress" and Wichita Lineman" were all included with Campbell singing the bitter ballad "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress" while only joined on stage by his keyboardist. It was perhaps the most impressive performance during an evening that elicited about six standing ovations.

On the rest of the songs, Campbell was backed by a commendable sextet featuring three of his children. Ashley Campbell, an exceptional banjoist, "dueled" with Dad. Still a superb guitarist at age 76, Father and Daughter engaged in some fierce, crowd-pleasing picking during a couple instrumental favorites about halfway through the evening.

Ashley, age 25,  was also the one who could be seen lovingly giving her dad a thumbs-up after a performance or helping him remember what key the next song would be in, or just grinning at him when he needed support. Campbell dropped a few lines and seemed a tad confused at times but overall he appeared happy and grateful to be on stage with his family, having a good time with a crowd that appeared equally delighted and appreciative.

I found it to be a special, emotional evening filled with joy and, yes, pathos. But Campbell, with help from his family, left the stage with dignity, having turned in what could only be called a triumph performance. Having covered countless concerts during the past decade-plus, it's the rare a show I feel truly thankful to have witnessed. 


1. Gentle on My Mind
2. Galveston
3. By the Times I Get to Phoenix
4. Try a Little Kindness
5. Where's the Playground, Susie?
6. Didn't We
7. I Can't Stop Loving You
8. True Grit
9. Lovesick Blues
10. Dueling Banjos (w/Ashley Campbell)
11. Foggy Mountain Breakdown (w/Ashley Campbell)
12. Any Trouble
13. It's Your Amazing Grace
14. The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
15. I Will Never Pass This Way Again
16. Wichita Lineman
17. Rhinestone Cowboy
18. Southern Nights
19. A Better Place

—Photo by Wade Tatangelo

To the next Bradenton mayor: Five ways to improve the city's entertainment scene

As Election Day nears, I'm asking the fundamental questions.

What will make Bradenton a better place to live, work and play?

For me, "play" is particularly important.

And I'm not talking about video games or Words with Friends.

Regardless if Bradenton's next mayor is incumbent Mayor Wayne Poston, Councilwoman Marianne Barnebey or challenger Richard O'Brien, I want to see the win

Read more of my column that originally ran Sunday.

 —Bradenton mayoral candidates Marianne Barnebey and Richard O'Brien shake hands as incumbent Wayne Poston smiles after a candidate forum hosted by the Bradenton Herald at Manatee Educational Television. TIFFANY TOMPKINS-CONDIE/Bradenton TTOMPKINS@BRADENTON.COM

Cine-World brings Oscar buzz to Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch

Bill Murray as President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 'Hyde park on Hudson.' Daybreak Pictures.

The Sarasota Film Society's annual Cine-World Film Festival, which starts Friday, again features a fine mix of pictures generating Oscar buzz as well as surprises from around the globe.

The 50 selections are being primarily shown at Burns Court Cinemas but there are also festival screenings at Sarasota Film Society's Lakewood Ranch Cinemas.

SFS Artistic Director Michael Kayatta deems this year's Cine-World as strong as any in the festival's 23-year history.

"We have a lot of weird and interesting films this year," he said.

"One of the interesting things about this festival is people can get a pass or tickets and just go and pick 10 movies and there's a really good chance they'll enjoy what they find."

Read more.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Top 10: Glen Campbell songs

In case you missed my Glen Campbell piece that ran Thursday, or, like me, just can't get enough of the country-pop icon, here's a list of the singer's greatest songs. 

Campbell's "Goodbye Tour," which ends this month, comes to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota on Sunday.

1. "Galveston"
Although written (by Jimmy Webb) about a soldier serving in the Spanish-American War, the song struck a nerve when it was released during the conflict in Vietnam. In 2005, Campbell agreed with me that it could also be sung from the perspective of a soldier in Iraq. I'm partial to the slower version Campbell has favored in recent years. 

2. "Rhinestone Cowboy"

His signature song, it contains poignant lines about life in the spotlight and soaring, sing along chorus.

3. "Gentle On My Mind"

Written by John Hartford the song has become one of the most recorded titles in popular music, thanks, in large part, to Campbell's definitive version.

4. "Wichita Lineman" 

5. "By The Time I Get To Phoenix"
These gems written by Webb feature mature lyrics brought to life by Campbell's sonorous voice and carried by gorgeous melodies and arrangements owing equal parts to pop and country.

6. "A Better Place"

An autobiographical beauty, which Campbell co-wrote with producer Julian Raymond for last year's "Ghost on the Canvas" album, the song acknowledges the singer's current battle with memory loss as well as his past struggles with alcohol and drug abuse. But its an overriding sentiment of hope, and gratitude, is what carries the song, making it a pop masterwork as touching as anything the legend has ever recorded.

7. "Country Boy (You Got Your Feet In L.A.)"

The first track from the 1975 "The Rhinestone Cowboy" album is also about life in the limelight, with a homesick Campbell, an Arkansas native, trying to make sense of stardom in the big city.

8. "These Days"

A Jackson Browne song about regret, perhaps the greatest song ever about regret, had been famously covered by Nico (1967) and Gregg Allman (1973) before Campbell's sensitive reading came out in 2008. While owing to the arrangement by Allman, Campbell's version still sounds very much like his own personal meditation on regret.

9. "Southern Nights" 

Master New Orleans singer/songwriter Allen Toussaint's homage to backwoods Louisiana partying gets a winning country/pop makeover. 

10. "Guess I'm Dumb"

Campbell's stint with the Beach Boys started when he was hired by band leader Brian Wilson to play on five tracks that formed the nucleus of "Pet Sounds." Campbell also toured with the band.  The story goes that Wilson gave this gorgeous song to Campbell as a present for filling in for him. Campbell performs it brilliantly, showing a star in the making. 

—Publicity photo of Glen Campbell courtesy of the Van Wezel Perfroming Arts Hall.

Read more here:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

WEEKEND: Taste of Manatee at Bradenton Riverwalk and so much more

Blue Marlin, a foodie favorite specializing in local seafood that operates out of a 1920s cottage on Bridge St. in Bradenton Beach, will be making its first appearance at Taste of Manatee.

Owner Adam Ellis hopes that the rough weather won't keep him from serving his delicious stone crab macaroni and cheese dish, which will go for $5 a serving at the event.

If the local crabbers can't get to their catch, the Blue Marlin booth will serve fish rolls for $4. They are made with daily cuts of fresh fish lightly held together in a classic crab cake preparation and finished with garlic aioli.

 "We just want to show people we serve the freshest fish on the island," Ellis said.

 Read entire story. 

Many more events, shows, etc. featured in today's Weekend.

—PHOTO: People stop by the Thai Lotus tent for a taste of Thai cooking at a Taste of Manatee in downtown Bradenton. PAUL VIDELA — Bradenton Herald