Tag Archives: Entertainment

Starship to rock community center in kickoff to concert series

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Starship featuring Mickey Thomas will perform Thursday, Jan. 23, at the Center of Anna Maria Island, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria. Islander Photo: Courtesy Starship

The Center of Anna Maria Island is offering an eclectic music mix in its second annual Bradenton Gulf Islands Concert Series.

On Thursday, Jan. 23, the center will welcome to its stage Starship featuring Mickey Thomas in the first concert of the 2020 season.

In the late 1970s, Thomas was living and gigging in the San Francisco Bay area when he began getting some notoriety for his vocal performance on Elvin Bishop’s hit, “Fooled Around and Fell in Love.”

Jefferson Airplane, which later became Jefferson Starship, had formed in the Bay area a decade earlier. Word spread they were looking for a new vocalist as founding members Marty Balin and Grace Slick were departing the group.

Thomas was preparing to journey to Florida to record a solo album when he got the call that Jefferson Starship was interested in him. Apparently, a roadie had forwarded the band Thomas’ demo tape.

Thomas joined Jefferson Starship in 1979.

“I thought I’d give it a couple years. And that was 40 years ago,” he told The Islander Jan. 8 via phone from his Palm Desert home near Palm Springs, California.

Slick rejoined the band in 1982 and would share vocal duties with Thomas over the next seven years.

“Sharing the stage with Grace was great,” Thomas said. “She was very interesting, opinionated, an intellectual with a sardonic wit. With Grace, you never had small talk, always interesting conversations.”

In 1985, Starship released the album “Knee Deep in the Hoopla,” which featured two hits, “We Built this City” and “Sara.” The album went platinum.

Starship followed this up with another hit single, “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” which became the band’s best-selling tune.

During the heyday of MTV in the 1980s, Starship’s music videos were everywhere, infiltrating pop culture with hits still popular today.

But as the ’80s turned into the ’90s, Starship’s brand of rock began to fall out of favor and the group disbanded in 1991.

By the mid-’90s, though, Thomas began to think Starship wasn’t done and started reaching out. None of the original members were interested, so he brought in new musicians. And that was 25 years ago.

“The longevity of this band is the greatest, all the way back to Jefferson Airplane,” Thomas said.

Nowadays, Starship performs 60-65 shows a year. Thomas also does solo projects, including corporate events and charity functions.

Thomas recently paired with Corey Feldman for what he described as a punk/pop version of “Dream a Little Dream of Me.”

“I really enjoy it now. There’s less pressure than there was in the ’80s,” he said. “I’m thankful I still have my voice. I still do all the songs in their original keys.”

However, even after all these years, performing remains challenging. “There’s an element of fear,” Thomas said. “What if tonight’s the night the notes don’t show up? It’s a lot of work to get to these notes!”

Thomas’ performance in Anna Maria will be the second date of his current tour, which was to kick off on the east coast Jan. 22 in West Palm Beach.

“We love playing Florida,” he said. “It’s a great way for us to start off the year … and the decade.”

An opening act will begin at 7 p.m. Starship will take the stage at 8 p.m. at the center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria.

The Bradenton Gulf Islands Concert Series is sponsored by the Sandbar Restaurant, 100 Spring Ave., Anna Maria.

At press time, the center had sold about 250 of 500 tickets.

Center executive director Christopher Culhane said he expected the concert to be near sell out by Jan. 23. Prices range from $40-$75.

For ticket information, call the Manatee County Performing Arts Center at 941-748-5875 or go online to manateeperformingartscenter.com.

FIRE! FIRE! WMFR open house

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WMFR Chief Ben Rigney smiles before his next dunk in the dunk tank at the district’s Nov. 2 open house.
Open house attendees listen to Clayton Lease, a firefighter/paramedic, Nov. 2 at West Manatee Fire Rescue Station 1, 407 67th St. W., Bradenton. Lease described the firefighter/paramedic’s role in providing advance life support. Islander Photos: Courtesy Rodney Kwiatkowski
Alana Lauricella, 3, of St. Petersburg, sparkles at the Nov. 2 WMFR open house.
Anthony Williams enjoys a custom fire truck ride, courtesy of WMFR, during its Nov. 2 festivities at Station 1 in Bradenton.
Volunteers from Winn-Dixie grill burgers Nov. 2 at the WMFR open house.

Pirates ticket sales begin Nov. 11

The Pittsburgh Pirates will begin selling season tickets Monday, Nov. 11, for the team’s 2020 Grapefruit League games.

Past season ticketholders began reserve their seats Oct. 28.

Season tickets will cost $437-$245 and six-game weekend packages will sell for $174-$108.

Single-game tickets will go on sale in January, with early-bird pricing at $34-$23 and game day pricing at $29-$18.

The Pirates will play 33 games, including 16 at home at LECOM Park, the homefield for the Pirates at 1611 Ninth St. W., Bradenton.

Opening day will be Saturday, Feb. 22, when the team will host the Minnesota Twins at LECOM Park.

The Pirates will follow that up with a pair of games Feb. 23 — a home game against the Detroit Tigers and a road game against the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater.

Additional highlights of the schedule at LECOM Park include:
• Feb. 25-26: The Pirates will host the Phillies and Boston Red Sox on consecutive days, which will be the only time the Pirates will host the Red Sox in Bradenton in 2020.
• March 7: The Pirates will take on the New York Yankees, in the Yankees’ only visit to Bradenton in 2020.
• March 9-12: The Toronto Blue Jays will travel to Bradenton to play the Pirates twice in four days.
• March 13: A night game against the Minnesota Twins.
• March 17: In a St. Patrick’s Day matchup, the Pirates will take on the Phillies.
• March 23: The Pirates will close out the home portion of the Grapefruit League season against the Tigers.

The final game of the Pirates’ Grapefruit League season will come against the Tigers in Lakeland March 24.

For more information, call the box office at 941-747-3031.

Concert revenue equals spending, costs remain up in air

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Janene Amick, CEO of the Manatee Performing Arts Center, presents her report April 15 to the TDC on the BACVB-sponsored concerts held at MPAC in Bradenton and at the Center of Anna Maria Island in Anna Maria. Islander Photo: Ryan Paice

A final report on the concert series at the Center of Anna Maria Island is out.

The costs, however, remain secret.

The series, which ran from February to the start of April, featured The Outlaws, Phil Vassar, Judy Collins, BJ Thomas and The Marshall Tucker Band. The Manatee County Tourist Development Council approved spending for the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau of $100,000 in tourist tax revenue to sponsor the concerts, but no expenses were detailed in a final report presented to TDC members.

Janene Amick, chief executive officer of the Manatee Performing Arts Center, presented the report to the TDC and said the concerts had raised almost $100,000 in ticket sales.

She said the money would be split between MPAC, which hosted the Judy Collins concert and managed the series and box office sales, and the island center, which hosted four concerts.

Center board chair David Zaccagnino and executive director Chris Culhane told The Islander that expense details for the series would be disclosed during Amick’s presentation, but Amick made no mention of expenses in her presentation to the TDC.

Apparently, her omission of expenses was by design.

She said in an April 16 interview with The Islander that MPAC’s contracts with the concert performers, as well as the promoter, Rich Engler, would not be disclosed to the public because of the competitive nature of the entertainment industry.

Amick said disclosing the contracts would allow competitors to undermine MPAC’s future negotiations with performers and promoters, but added that the BACVB’s $100,000 went entirely to Engler and the performers.

Amick said in an interview April 10 that MPAC incurred other expenses to stage concerts at the island center, including valet services and sound and lighting system rentals. She added the center also incurred expenditures, including the cost of security, chair rentals and food and beverages.

No such expenses were disclosed to the TDC or to The Islander, despite requests for records under Florida’s Sunshine Laws.

Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, who chairs the TDC, was absent April 15 due to illness, but later agreed in a phone call with the reasoning for omitting expenses in the report.

“It wasn’t paid for with tax money, it was paid for with tourist tax, not Manatee County residents, unless they stayed in a hotel in Manatee County or a short-term rental,” she said. “I don’t know who was paid what, what costs what. It really isn’t my business.”

The county tourist tax is a 5% tax on rentals of six months or less.

Whitmore said the TDC funded the series to bring people to the area to help counter the negative effects of red tide in 2018 on local businesses. She said that was accomplished.

“I was at The Outlaws concert and I met some guys from England that were in Orlando that saw on the internet that The Outlaws were going to be here, and they downloaded all their songs and listened on the way here and told me about a bunch of songs I didn’t even know,” Whitmore said. “So yeah, there was people from all over, it wasn’t a local thing.”

“This ended up being surprisingly successful,” she added.

When asked if there was data backing up the claim that the series brought tourists to the area and nearby businesses, Whitmore responded, “I have no clue.”

The Islander submitted a records request March 15 to BACVB executive director Elliott Falcione and Whitmore, but the request remained largely unfulfilled as of April 22.

Some purchase orders and invoices were provided, as well as a spreadsheet related to Jane Seymour’s visit. Other documents await processing.

Whitmore said all Sunshine-liable information already had been disclosed.

At the meeting, Falcione announced the BACVB would ask the county commission to approve the concert sponsorship expense for the next two years.

Concert producer arrested for DUI

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An erratic driver in Anna Maria April 1 told a Manatee County sheriff’s deputy he was the producer for the concert that night at the community center.

And he was.

Richard A. Engler, 72, of Sewickley, Pennsylvania, known in the entertainment business in Pittsburgh, was arrested for driving impaired by Manatee County Sheriff’s Deputy Matthew Kenyan, who was monitoring traffic at Palm and Gulf drives in Anna Maria after a concert attended by some 800 people at the Center of Anna Maria Island.

The Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau-sponsored concert at the Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., brought Engler to the stage, where he introduced the headliner for the event, The Marshall Tucker Band.

Elliott Falcione, executive director of the BACVB, touted Engler as a Pittsburgh music hall-of-fame inductee, announcing Engler was contracted to produce entertainment for the BACVB concert series. According to a Manatee County purchase order, $100,000 was allocated for the concert series by the Tourist Development Council from the county’s resort tax collections.

Shortly after the concert wrapped up at the center, Kenyan observed Engler, driving a black SUV, make a wide turn south onto Gulf Drive from Magnolia Avenue, according to the probable cause report.

The report also states the deputy saw the vehicle swerve across the center line and also the fog line — the solid white line that defines the right side of the road — twice, once within a few feet of the sidewalk where pedestrians were present.

According to the report, Engler told the deputy several times he was the producer of the concert. He also told Kenyan he had “one drink a short while ago with the band,” the report states.

Engler also told the deputy he had medical issues, including migraine, heart and prostrate concerns for which he took medications, but he agreed to perform Kenyan’s roadside tests.

Engler also agreed to provide breath samples after Kenyan read him the implied consent warning.

Under Florida law, consent to take the tests is implied if an officer has probable cause to believe a person is driving under the influence. The penalty for a first offense is a one-year license suspension.

Engler was transported to the Holmes Beach Police Department for the tests, where he provided two breath samples, both measuring 0.014 blood-alcohol content, below the legal limit of 0.08.

A urine sample was requested but, according to Kenyan’s report, Engler was unable to provide the sample.

Engler was transported and booked at the Manatee County jail.

He posted a $120 bond and was released.

Engler’s arraignment is set for 8:30 a.m. Monday, May 6, at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

Finders keepers: Islander offers gold egg for treasure hunt

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Anna Maria resident Flor Winebrenner’s golden egg. Islander Courtesy Photo

By Joe Konyou

Islander Reporter

Flor Winebrenner is going to lay a golden egg.

Then she’ll wait and watch for someone with a keen eye to find the prize.

“The egg is worth about $12,000,” said Winebrenner, who moved to Anna Maria in September 2018 from her farm outside Carbondale, Illinois. “Whoever finds the egg gets to keep the egg.”

In Illinois, Winebrenner managed her family’s farm. After selling the 6,000-acre property to the state to expand Southern Illinois University’s agricultural education program, the retiree had quite the nest egg.

“I’m fortunate and I want to share the wealth,” she told The Islander in an exclusive interview March 21. “The property was in my family for so many years — more than a hundred years. And we did well.”

Winebrenner decided to put some money into a farm assistance program back in Illinois, invest in a cottage near Anna Maria’s Bayfront Park and share some of her hard-earned fortune.

Early April 1, she plans to hide the golden egg in Bayfront Park while she’s taking her regular morning walk.

“I had the egg made years ago,” she said. “I know, it was an eccentric thing to do but my husband and I always loved the message of the Aesop fable.”

Winebrenner’s favorite tale was “The Goose and the Golden Egg,” not “Jack and the Beanstalk,” which also features a goose that lays golden eggs.

In the Aesop fable, a countryman possesses a goose that daily laid a glittering golden egg that he sold on trips to the market. But the man grew greedy and impatient and decided he wanted more than a golden egg each day.

“You know what happened,” Winebrenner said. “He got the idea to kill the goose, cut it open and collect a bunch of golden eggs at once. Instead, he had a dead goose and no more eggs.”

She commissioned a Carbondale blacksmith to create the golden egg to remind her to appreciate her wealth and feel compassion for the animals kept on her farm.

“I’ve lived the message,” Winebrenner said. “Now it is time to pass on the golden egg, with a caution not to be the kind to kill the goose that lays them.

“And also time to say, ‘Happy April Fool’s Day.’”

Editor’s note: Joe Konyou is a pseudonym for Islander editor Lisa Neff. She and the rest of the staff at the newspaper wish you a foolish April 1.

St Patricks Parade 2019

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Sean Murphy, Beach Bistro restaurant owner and parade organizer, surveys the lineup March 17 for the 20th annual Beach Bistro St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Islander Photos: ChrisAnn Silver Esformes
A green-haired leprechaun shares a gift with a wee girl March 20 during the 20th annual Beach Bistro St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Members of the Rowlett Middle Academy marching band of Bradenton perform March 20 in the annual Beach Bistro St. Patrick’s Day parade in Holmes Beach.
Lion and Rampant Pipe and Drum of Sarasota brought members of all ages, including a wee small drummer, to perform in the March 20 Beach Bistro St. Patrick’s Day.
The Anna Maria Island Privateers scurry and throw beads to the crowd from the Skullywag boat/float as they pass along Marina Drive in Holmes Beach March 20 in the 20th annual Beach Bistro St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Members of the Crewe of De Soto of Bradenton hand out beads and high-five attendees at the 20th annual Beach Bistro St. Patrick’s Day parade in Holmes Beach.
A pair of llamas — labeled baby camels for fun — are led March 20 along Marina Drive in Holmes Beach in the annual processional for St. Patrick’s Day.
Riders on the Anna Maria Island Privateers float, the Skullywag, soak up the shenanigans March 20 during the annual Beach Bistro St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Bagpipers play and march in the annual Beach Bistro St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Photographer, Karen-Riley Love
Photographer, Karen-Riley Love
Photographer, Karen-Riley Love
Photographer, Karen-Riley Love
Photographer, Karen-Riley Love
Photographer, Karen-Riley Love
Photographer, Karen-Riley Love
Photographer, Karen-Riley Love

FISH fest fun fills 119th Street in Cortez

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A near record-breaking crowd packs the food court-picnic tables-music stage area Feb. 16 at the 37th Annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival. Islander Photos: Kathy Prucnell
Jacob Reeder, a Cortez commercial fisher, educates young and old about blue crabs, seahorses, shrimp and other marine life Feb. 16 at the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival “Touch Tank” exhibit.
The Eric von Band, with Tim Chandler, left, Eric von Hahmann, Randy Neubert and Rudy Ramos, strikes a chord with the audience Feb. 16 at the fishing festival. Not pictured on drums: Tim Gross.
Angela Collins, a University of Florida Sea Grant extension marine biologist, talks Feb. 16 about the types of fish in Sarasota Bay as part of “Dock Talks” at the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival.
Terry McKiernan and Dave Bartnowski of Warwick, New York, pause for a photo before a seafood feast Feb. 16 at the Cortez Commercial Fishing Fest. Mike and Nancy Howell of St. Charles, Illinois, hang out behind the New Yorkers after their taste of the fest.
Capt. Bobby Greene of No Excuses Charters of Sarasota serves shrimp to an anxious festivalgoer Feb. 16. Greene said he’s been a Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival vendor for at least 20 years.
Donna Pugh of Bradenton smiles ear-to-ear Feb. 16 as she carries Casper, a plush toy, and enjoys the music surrounding the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival. Pugh is a longtime employee at Old Hamburg Schnitzel House in Holmes Beach — and an avid fishing festival fan.

Three concerts remain for music lovers

When the Manatee County Tourist Development Council voted Dec. 19, 2018, to make a $100,000 budget recommendation to the county to help fund a concert series in conjunction with two nonprofit venues, the lineup was just coming together.

The first two shows at the Center of Anna Maria Island sold out, and people are buzzing about the remaining concerts.

Rounding out the first Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau concerts are:

  • March 8, Judy Collins at the Manatee Performing Arts Center, 502 Third Ave. W., Bradenton. Doors open 7 p.m. Tickets are $80-$125.
  • March 21, BJ Thomas at the Center of Anna Maria Island, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria. Doors open 6 p.m. Tickets are $35-$100.
  • April 1, The Marshall-Tucker Band at the Center of Anna Maria Island, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria. Doors open 6 p.m. Presale tickets are $50-$65.

Tickets are available at the Manatee Performing Arts Center box office 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, or by calling 941-748-5875.

For more information or to purchase tickets online, visit manateeperformingartscenter.com.

Actress enchants islanders with ‘open heart’

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Sandbar executive chef Richard Demarse, left, and restaurant-studio owner Ed Chiles, right, look on as celebrity Jane Seymour demonstrates her heart-healthy coleslaw recipe Jan. 18 at a reception at the Studio at Gulf and Pine, 10101 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria. Islander Photos: Sandy Ambrogi
Jane Seymour gets emotional Jan. 18 during her talk to gallery guests at the Studio at Gulf and Pine. Seymour’s display of watercolors, oils, sculptures and other artwork are for sale at the studio. Her visit to Manatee County for two days is sponsored by the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
An array of Jane Seymour’s “Open Hearts” sculptures are for sale at the Studio at Gulf and Pine through Feb. 9. Seymour also dedicated a large Open Hearts sculpture and another presentation Jan. 19 as part of a two-day series of events hosted by the BACVB to promote tourism.
Elliott Falcione, left, executive director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, arrives at the Studio at Gulf and Pine Jan. 18 with celebrity Jane Seymour, center. Seymour visited with members of the crowd, discussed her art and did a cooking demonstration.
Eric Cairns, left, shares a laugh with Jane Seymour as she visits with guests at a Jan. 18 reception held in her honor at the Studio at Gulf and Pine. Seymour talked briefly about her life, her love of cooking, her art and the things in life she is most passionate about during reception.

Jane Seymour paid a visit to Anna Maria Island Jan. 18 to show off her talents.

A collection of sculptures and paintings by the actress, artist, author and designer is on display through Feb. 9 at the Studio at Gulf and Pine, 10101 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria, where Seymour attended a reception in her honor.

Seymour’s trip to Manatee County was part of a tourism promotion to benefit area nonprofits and businesses, including local workers, by the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. The Studio and the Sandbar Restaurant hosted the art reception.

Her work also is offered for sale at the studio.

Seymour is just one highlight of a series of BACVB concerts and events designed to boost the economy on the heels of the hardships suffered during a red tide outbreak that started in August.

Seymour mingled with the crowd, posed for snapshots, discussed her art and demonstrated how to make her heart-healthy coleslaw recipe.

In a brief speech, Seymour outlined how, in her late 20s, she went through a “terrible divorce.”

She said her mother’s words always resounded, to open her heart and help someone else when life gets challenging. It would become the inspiration for Seymour’s popular Open Hearts collection of sculpture, jewelry, art and a foundation.

She said a friend led her to art as a way through her pain. “It became my healing,” Seymour told the crowd.

Seymour founded the Open Hearts Foundation 10 years ago and her signature swirling, connecting hearts became a symbol for people to turn adversity into opportunity. The foundation is committed to growing nonprofits with the philosophy of love finding its way into an open heart.

Seymour dedicated an Open Hearts sculpture, a collaboration of the BACVB and Realize Bradenton at Riverwalk in Bradenton earlier in the day.

“I want people to find joy in their lives,” Seymour told the island crowd. “In the end, only two things really matter: The love you have shared and the difference you have made.”