Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Allman, Widespread Panic headline Wanee Music Festival

   It's still three and a half months away and a couple of hundred miles away, but the 2015 Wanee Music Festival is worth getting excited about.
   The 11th annual festival is set for April 16-18 in Live Oak. The lineup that's been announced so far includes three former members of the Allman Brothers Band, all playing separately with their own groups: Gregg Allman, Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band and Butch Trucks & Very Special Friends.
Gregg Allman
   Widespread Panic is the nominal headliner, but there are tons of great acts and big names, including Cheap Trick, Earth, Wind & Fire, Gov't Mule, JJ Grey & Mofro, Hot Tuna, Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk and supergroup the Word, which includes Robert Randolph, John Medseki and Luther DIckinson.
   Also slated to appear are Oteil & Friends, Galactic, Zappa Plays Zappa, Leftover Salmon featuring Bill Payne (of Little Feat), Yonder Mountain String Band, Rich Robinson of the Black Crowes, Raw Oyster Cult,  Dragon Smoke, the Revivalists, Home At Last, The Nth Power Performs Steely Dan, Tea Leaf Green, Bobby Lee Rogers Trio, Pink Talking Fish, Eric Lindell & Company, Royal Southern Brotherhood, Twiddle, Natural Child, Jacob Jeffries Band and Juke.
   The festival is in Suwannee Music Park, which is a gorgeous place for music festival.
   Advance tickets are on sale now, and if you're sure you want to go you might want to get tickets soon. Three-day tickets are $195 plus "applicable fees" but the price will go up later. Tickets include three nights of primitive camping and music from 12:30 p.m. on Thursday and full days of music on Friday and Saturday.
   VIP tickets are $499 (again plus applicable fees) and include a whole lot of extra stuff, including catered meals and  access to private restrooms.
   For tickets and more information, go to  

Friday, December 12, 2014

Bradenton's We the KIngs play in St. Petersburg

   We the Kings, one of Bradenton's best bands ever, is out on a tour of Florida, and they'll be in St. Peterburg this weekend.
   The band, who hit the big-time with their platinum single “Check Yes, Juliet,” was on the Vans Warped Tour this summer, but
Hunter Thomsen and Travis Clark of We the Kings
they’ll be sounding quite a bit different at this show. The tour’s called “Stripped” and all the shows are unplugged.
   On Saturday, They be at the Local 662, at 662 Central Ave. in downtown St. Petersburg. Doors open at 7 p.m. seventeen-year-old Ella Jet, who's been making music around town for six years, opens.
   Tickets are $23.75. Call 727-258-4829 or go to
   This is the closest We the Kings will be coming to Bradenton on the "Stripped' tour. But they'll be performing their eighth annual Hometown Christmas Show at the The Hall, 1330 US 301, Palmetto. at 6 p.m.  Dec. 27.  Tickets are $10 for general admission and $50 for early entry with a meet-and-greet. You can get tickets through at

Monday, December 1, 2014

Idina Menzel to perform near Bradenton next year

   She became a Broadway star when she appeared in "Rent.” She became a Broadway superstar when she won a Tony Award from originating the role of Elphaba in “Wicked." She became a movie star when she voiced the role of Elsa the Snow QIeen in "Frozen." She became a pop culture icon at this year's Oscars when John Travolta introduced her as "Adele Dazeem,”

Idina Menzel
  Idina Menzel is maybe the most famous performer in musical theater and film these days, and definitely one of the most acclaimed. Besides her Broadway credits, Menzel has a recurring role as  Shelby Corcoran on “Glee” and she starred as the Elsa the Snow Queen In “Frozen.” 
   She’s just announced a world tour that will being her within driving instance of Bradenton in 2015.

   She’ll be at Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall on July 28. That’s a long time from now, but tickets go one sale at noon Saturday (Dec. 6). It’s likely to sell very quickly, so if you want good seats it’d be good idea to get them soon.

   Tickets for the Clearwater show are $128.75, $103.25 and $83.25, $58.75. Call 727-791-7400 or go to

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Bradenton woman competes on GSN show Tuesday

Gleib, Mears and Miller
   Krista Miller of Bradenton will be among the contestants on the Game Show Network's "Idiotest."
   Miller and her sorority sister, Jen Mears of Jacksonville, will be on the show, which features to two teams of two people. In a series of rapid-fire rounds, the teams answer questions that test their observational skills.
The answers are often so obvious they're easy to overlook. (It may sound silly, but it's actually a lot more fun than the average game show.)
   The show airs at 9 p.m. The host is Ben Gleib, who's best known from appearances on "Chelsea Lately."

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Sarasota Opera offers a powerful "Pagliacci"

   “Pagliacci” has a reputation as a short opera. In fact,  it’s usually presented with another opera on the same program.
    The current Sarasota Opera production presents “Pagliacci” by itself. It’s a thoroughly satisfying experience; the addition of another piece wouldn’t make the evening any more worthwhile.
    “Pagliacci" itself is compact rather than short – its action and its moods move swiftly, and it ends at the moment of its dramatic climax. In terms of length, this production, including intermission, runs about the same as a typical movie or play.

   The Sarasota Opera production is gorgeously designed and movingly acted and sung.

  "Pagliacci" photo  by Rod Millington
   The program opens with two short pieces performed by the Sarasota Orchestra. It’s a perfect appetizer for the feast ahead. The orchestra performs two intermezzi by Pietro Mascagni. He’s the composer of “Cavallera Rusticana,” the short opera most often paired with “Pagliacci.”
    Both the pieces, which aren’t often played outside of the context of their own operas, are poignantly lovely, and the Sarasota Orchestra, conducted by the opera’s artistic director Victor DeRenzi, performs them impeccably.
    After a prologue, sung in front of the curtain, the audience gets it first look at David P. Gordon’s set. It’s very pretty, complex and functional -- a stage on which the play-within-the opera is performed, an open space where the play’s audience gathers, and landscape features where the story of romance and betrayal plays out, all in one set.
    There are no weak links in the large cast – which includes members of the Sarasota Youth Opera as part of the chorus – but standouts include MIchael Robert Hendrick as Canio (who becomes Pagliaccio in the play) and Marco Nistico as Tonio, the hunchback.

   That story has to do with a traveling theater troupe that arrives in an Italian village to perform a comedy about a clown (Pagliaccio). Just before the show, Tonio finds out that Canio’s wife Nedda is betraying him with a local man.
    The devastated Canio realizes he must go on stage and portray a clown. But during the play parallels Canio’s life, sending him into a murderous rage. The audience only gradually realizes that they are no longer watching a play. The anguished Canio sings the legendary closing line, “The comedy is finished” – as the curtain closes. Stephanie Sundine’s direction is remarkably fluid, especially given the size of the cast and he complexity of the single set. Howard Tsvi Kaplan’s costumes are beautifully colorful.

   The story is terse and powerful, the music is melodic and familiar (Canio’s at the end of act one is as famous as any piece of opera music ever written), and this production serves the music and the story in a wonderful way. It’s a great season-opened for the Sarasota Opera.
    It runs though Nov. 15 at the Sarasota Opera, 61 N. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota. Curtain is at  8 p.m. 11 and 13 and 1:30 p.m. Nov. 15. Tickets run $19-$125. Call 941-366-8450 or go to

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Nickelback sets date for Tampa concert

   Nickelback, the ultimate love-'em-or-hate-'em band, is coming to Tampa.
   The Canadian quartet is often maligned, but they've sold something like 50 million albums over the past couple of decades. They have a new album, "No Fixed Address," coming out on Nov. 17.
  On Valentine's Day, they're setting out on a 61-city US tour. It stops at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on March 27. There's no word on a local opening act; the Pretty Reckless is opening shows through March 15.
   Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 15. They'll set you back $32-$95.Call 813-740-2446 or go to

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Lewis Black performs in Tampa March 15

   Back in February,  comedian Lewis Black came to Sarasota with his popular stand-up show "The Rant Is Due."
   Now he's coming back to the area with a new show, titled "The Rant Is Due: Part Deux."
   It's not for a few months -- specifically, March 14 at  the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa -- but Black is a popular guy with Bradenton-area audiences
Lewis Black
so if you're a fan you'd be well advised not to wait too long to get tickets. His February show at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall sold out.
   Black is an author, a playwright, a movie actor and “Daily Show” commentator. But he sees himself himself primarily as a stand-up comedian. About 200 days a year he’s on a stage somewhere, grumbling hilariously about things that annoy him.
    Tickets are $25-$65 plus service charge and they'll go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday. Call 813-229-7827 or go to

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

New date for 'Piano Men' in Sarasota

   "The Piano Men" is coming to Sarasota sooner than we were expecting.
Jim Witter
   The show has been rescheduled for 8 p.m. Feb. 15. That's nine days before the original date. The only explanation is that it's "due to a change in scheduling," which doesn't really tell us much.
   If you have tickets for the original date, they'll still be good on Feb. 15. If you have tickets but can't make it to the rescheduled show, you should call the box office at 941-953-3368.
  The show stars pianist Jim Witter. He performs with a backing band and performs the '70s hits of BIlly Joel and Elton John.

   If you don't have tickets but you want to see it, tickets will run you between $15 and $50. Call 941-953-3368 or go to


Monday, October 27, 2014

Jeff Corwin cancels Saturday's show in Tampa

    If you had planned to see Animal Planet host Jeff Corwin at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts Saturday, you'll have to make some different plans. His show, "Tales from the Field," has been canceled without explanation.
   There's no announcement of a new date and no talk about rescheduling, so it's apparently been just plain canceled. 
   If you bought tickets with a credit card you'll get an automatic refund. If you paid by cash or check you should have your money back by check with a week or two.
   The box office number is 813-229-7827. The Straz website is

Friday, October 24, 2014

'West Side Story' opens at SCF in Bradenton

   People who know musical theater and who have seen rehearsals for the State College of Florida production of "West Side Story" say it could be something special.
   The musical itself is special, of course, with classic music by Leonard Bernstein and memorable lyrics by a young Stephen Sondheim, and an Arthur Laurents libretto about a Romeo-and-Juliet romance that crosses ethnic and gang lines. You probably know every single song in the show.

  The SCF production features a cast of 38, including some actors who will be familiar to local theater-goers. James Hyde (Tony) was Marius in the Manatee Players staging of "Les Miz," Chris McCoy (Riff) was Pinocchio in that same company's "Shrek," and Equity actor Preston Boyd is a local theater stalwart. Melodie Dickerson directs and there's a 15-piece orchestra conducted by Rex Willis.
   There are only three shows, starting Friday, Oct. 24. Curtain is at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. at the Neel Performing Arts Center at SCF, 5840 26th St, W. Bradenton. Tickets are $12 general admission; $6 students and SCF employees. Call 941-752-5252 or go to

Monday, October 20, 2014

2 Cellos add second concert in Tampa

   When 2 Cellos played a concert at Tampa's Straz Center for the Performing Arts a couple of years ago, there wasn't an empty seat in the house.
   The upcoming 2 Cellos shows at the Straz is apparently selling very well too. It's still seven months away, but already the Straz has added a second show.
   The added show is on the same date -- Saturday, May 9 -- but it's a 2:30 p.m. matinee.
2 Cellos
The original show (which is still on, of course) is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

   Croatian cellists Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser have have gained stardom by using the cello as a pop and rock instrument. They created a hugely popular version of Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal," they were the first instrumental act to appear on "Glee" and they've performed with the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
   Tickets for their Straz shows are $35-$45 plus service charge. Call 813-229-7827 or go to

Friday, October 17, 2014

'Dixie's Tupperware Party' in Tampa is a hoot

  If you haven't seen "Dixie's Tupperware Party" you're in for a most wondrous surprise.
  It sounds like one of the lamest shows ever. Kris Andersson, who's a man, plays Dixie, who's a woman, and the show is an actual Tupperware party. There are order forms on your table and Dixie tells you what numbers to circle if you want to buy the various containers she's touting.
   It's hard to describe the show, because Andersson relies largely on improv and audience interaction. Dixie's ad libs are so clever that it's usually impossible to tell which parts of the shows are scripted and which are off-the-cuff.  It's also hard to describe how funny the show is, partly because Dixie's so joyously foul-mouthed that it's inadvisable to repeat most of her jokes. Even the handful of audience members Dixie picked at random to make fun of through the whole evening seemed to feel privileged.
  But somehow, Dixie's irresistibly likeable.
Andersson as Dixie
  The show takes serious turn at the end, when the lights lower and Dixie breaks from the silliness to talk about the woman who invented the Tupperware party more than 60 years ago and ended up being the first woman who was ever on the cover of 'Business Week." It seems to be a heartfelt tribute. It really has no place in such a raucous and ribald show, but Andersson makes it effective, even inspirational and almost poignant.
   Even if nothing about the show sounds like it would be your spill-proof plastic cup of tea, it's worth checking out just for Andersson's astounding performance. It's as impressive, in its way, as almost any performance you'll see on any stage, in any show.
   It runs through Sunday at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N. MacInnes Place, Tampa. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $37.50 plus service charge. Call 813-229-7827 or go to


Krall reschedules Sarasota concert for April 16

   Diana Krall is coming to Sarasota after all.
Diana Krall
   The great jazz chanteuse had canceled her schedule Dec. 13 concert at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall (and in fact her entire national tour), citing severe pneumonia.
    She's apparently feeling better, because the tour's back on, and the Van Wezel date has been rescheduled. She'll be here April 16 and tickets are on sale now.
   If you bought tickets for the original show and you still have them, you can use them at the April 16 show. 
   Krall's touring behind her new album "Wallflower." The release date was pushed back when she canceled her tour. It's now set to come out Feb. 3

   Tickets are $35-$120. Call 941-953-3368 or go to.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

South Florida Museum hosts "Science on the BIg Screen"

   The South Florida Museum in Bradenton has a very cool Friday night film series going on through mid-December.
   "Science on the Big Screen" offers some great films with a science theme, ranging from sci-fi classics such as the 1960 version of "The Time Machine" to last year's excellent documentary "Particle Fever."
Rod Taylor in "The Time Machine"

   The films are screened in the Bishop Planetarium. The planetarium got a new, very high-tech projection system not long ago, and the quality is remarkable. It's a cool place to see a movie because it's inexpensive ($5, or $3 for museum members) and you can buy beer or wine in the lobby and bring it into the theater.
   The films start at 6 p.m. It's a good idea to make paid reservations in advance. Call 941-746-4131.
   The museum is at 201 10th St. W., Bradenton.

   Here's the schedule:
    Oct. 17: "The Time Machine" (1960) Rated PG, 103 mins.
    Oct. 24: "Jurassic Park" (1993) Rated PG-13, 127 minutes.
    Oct. 31: No film
    Nov. 7: "Robot and Frank" (2012) Rated PG-13, 89 mins.

    Nov. 14: "Particle Fever" (2013) Not Rated, 99 minutes.
    Nov. 21: No film.
    Nov. 28: No film.
    Dec. 5: Madame Curie (1943) Not Rated, 124 minutes.

    Dec. 12: Soylent Green (1973) Rated PG, 97 minutes.
    Dec. 19: Iron Man (2008) Rated PG-13, 126 minutes.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Who start 2015 tour in Tampa

   Get ready for a lot of dumb jokes about that "I hope I die before I get old" line from "My Generation."
   The Who, one of the biggest and best rock bands of all time, have just announced their 50th anniversary tour. And it's starting in Tampa.

   It's still six months away, though. The show at the Amalie Arena is set for April 15.
The Who at the 2010 Super Bowl
   The Who's website indicates that the tour -- called "The Who Hits 50!" -- will include lots of hits from their entire career, plus a lot of album cuts. So it's not going to be like the 'Quadrophenia' concerts the band did last year.
   Roger Daltrey has called the tour "The beginning of a long goodbye."
   Of course, both members of the Who's phenomenal rhythm section -- bassist John Entwistle and drummer Keith Moon -- are in rock 'n' roll heaven. So the Who is down to just singer Daltrey and guitarist/songwriter Pete Townshend. No word yet on who will join them onstage.
  Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 17. Prices range from $53.10 or $158.35. Call 
813-301-2500 or go to If you have a Citi card you can get tickets earlier, at 10 a.m. Monday, Oct. 13, through
   Here's the entire itinerary for the first leg of the tour. A second leg starts in September but doesn't come anywhere near here.
April 15: Tampa
April 17: Miami
April 19: Jacksonville
April 21: Raleigh, NC
April 23: Duluth, GA
April 27: Austin, TX
April 29: Houston, TX
May 2: Dallas, TX
May 5: Kansas City, MO
May 7: St. Louis, MO
May 9: Louisville, KY 
May 11: Nashville, TN
May 13: Chicago, IL 
May 15: Columbus, OH 
May 17: Philadelphia, PA 
May 20: Uniondale, NY 
May 22:Atlantic City, NJ
May 24: Uncasville, CT
May 26: Brooklyn, NY 
May 30: Forest Hills, NY 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bradenton's We the Kings set tour dates

   One of the biggest bands to ever come out of Bradenton is heading out on tour.
   We the Kings, the great local band that hit the big-time with their platinum single “Check Yes Juliet,” has announced a new tour Florida tour that kicks off in early December. They won’t be coming to Bradenton, but they’ll be in St. Petersburg on Dec. 13.
We the Kings
   We the Kings were in St. Petersburg  on the Vans Warped Tour this summer, but they’ll be sounding quite a bit different on this trip, The tour’s called “Stripped” and it features acoustic versions of the band's songs
   The unplugged tour has one non-Florida stop, in Missouri on Nov. 8. Then in December We the Kings play six Florida dates, in Tallahassee (Dec. 4), Jacksonville (Dec. 5), Gainesville (Dec. 7), Fort Lauderdale (Dec. 12), St. Petersburg (Dec. 13) and Orlando (Dec. 14).
   The St. Petersburg show is at Local 662, 662 Central Avenue. The band’s website ( says that “limited tickets” will be available Oct. 10, which is Friday. They’ll run you $20 plus service charge.
   For information, call 727-258-4829 or go to

Bradenton's Village of the Arts announces photo contest

   There's no shortage of photogenic spots in Bradenton's Village of the Arts. Take a photo of one of them and you could win some cool prizes.
   The Village of the Arts has just announced a new Instagram photo contest. The way it works is, you take pictures somewhere in the Village of the Arts and you post them to Instagram with the hashtag #VOTAPHOTO, along with information about exactly where you took the photo.
   The photos with the most "likes" win gift certificates from galleries and restaurants within the Village of the Arts.(More specifics about the prizes will be announced later.) 
   The only restrictions on the photos is that they have to be taken in the Village of the Arts during the contest dates, Oct. 31-Dec. 1. Once you post the photos, they'll become the property of the Village of the Arts and you'll get credit if your work is used in promotional material.
   The Village of the Arts is near downtown Bradenton, bordered by 14th Street West, Ninth Street West,  Ninth Avenue West and 17th Avenue West. For more information about the contest, contact Luke Sokolewicz at 727-688-4599 or


Friday, October 3, 2014

Asolo offers free 'Midsummer Night's Dream' in Sarasota

   Every year, Asolo Rep take a very abridged version of a Shakespeare play on the road, performing in high schools and middle schools all over Florida.
   This year, it's a fast-paced and bombastic 45-minute version of "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Local audiences will have a chance to see it Saturday, Oct. 11, in a free performance at the Out-of-Door Academy Lower School outdoor amphitheater.
   The show debuted Thursday to a capacity crowd in the Cook Theatre at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts.
   Director Jen Wineman has done an amazing job of paring the play down to to its bones, and still telling its three separate but connected stories coherently, and maintaining the flavor and -- most importantly -- the linguistic integrity.
   The actors, all third-year students from the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training, each taking multiple roles, are wondrous and energetic. Andrea Adnoff and Brian Owen are standouts, but the whole cast is magnetic.
   The grown-ups that made up almost all of the audience loved Wednesday's performance, but it's definitely aimed at youngsters. 
   The only liberties Wineman has taken with the script are to change the setting from Athens to a private school called Athens Academy, and to change some of the nobles into school officials. The
Some of the "Dream"  cast
changes aren't obtrusive (except for a repeated school cheer of "Go Minotaurs!" that's ill-fitting and a little bit annoying), but they're probably unnecessary. Wineman said she wanted to make the play as relevant to teenagers as she could, but the changes don't do much toward that end.
   Besides, "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is one of the most easily enjoyed of all of Shakespeare's plays, so there's no real need to turn it into a high school thing. The idea is try to get young people who have never seen a Shakespeare play -- and maybe never seen a play -- to try to catch the theater bug, and this one should do that, and would probably do it just as well without those small changes.
   There's no Shakeseareance necessary, but the audience at Asolo Thursday was full of people who had seen full-length performances of the play before (there was a show of hands during a talk-back) and they all loved it. So unless you're a curmudgeonly Shakespeare purist, this should be a really fun 45 minutes. (Count on an hour including the talk-back).

   Besides, it's free.
   Te performance starts at 2 p.m. Oct.11, at Out-of-Door Academy,
444 Reid St., Sarasota. There's an "introductory workshop" at 1:30 p.m.

   Seating is limited and reservations are required. Call 941-351-8000.