Jan 082013
 

Editors note: This was written in 2013.  Click HERE for 2015.

Do you love live music but hate going to a smoky bar and watching bands scream in your ears past the midnight hour only to head home half intoxicated?  Why not take advantage of the bigger budgets and larger stages provided by local municipalities?  Cities spend thousands of dollars entertaining their residents but rarely use social media such as Facebook to promote their events, so sometimes it pays to Google their website or pick up local free newspapers and look for festivals and concerts sponsored by the local parks & recreation departments.  Unlike local bars and restaurants, most municipalities don’t have the resources to pay or manage a schedule of great bands every weekend, however, if you know where to look, you can find some treasures, literally in your backyard.

Over the past few years, I have covered concerts at cities such as Delray Beach, Boca Raton, Parkland, Coconut Creek, Coral Springs, Margate, Pompano Beach, Sunrise and Hollywood to name just a few.  Each of these cities have either permanent or mobile stages at large outdoor parks that make them ideal for enjoying the great weather we get down here in South Florida and give local bands a chance to provide as close to a concert experience as you can get with the budgets they are given.

The key to enjoying these concerts is to be prepared by knowing what to expect.  For example, many of these concerts take place during the dinner hours.  That means knowing in advance if you can expect food vendors to be on-site or if you should pack a picnic.  You should also know whether or not you can bring fold-up tables, lawn chairs or large beach blankets.

What follows are some of the cities you might like to consider if you want to experience local bands on a bigger stage as the sun sets over the horizon and the temperatures drop to just the right comfort level.

Coconut Creekhttp://coconutcreek.net/

Orange Sunshine outdoor concert

Orange Sunshine

The City of Coconut Creek has a bandshell tucked away in a low profile but perfectly modern park behind their community center at the corner of Coconut Creek Parkway and Lyons Road.  The park has a playground and great walking paths too.  Bring your lawn chairs, blankets and coolers.  Food and beverages can be purchased on-site from Bobby G’s Drivin’ Diner Food Truck or you can bring your own.  Upcoming concerts include:

Sunday, January 13th 4pm-5:30pm – Orange Sunshine – “60’s flashback”

Sunday, February 10th 4pm-5:40pm – The Nucklebusters – “Chicago blues & rock”

 

Coral Springswww.coralsprings.org

The City of Coral Springs usually has free monthly concerts at Betty Stradling Park on the corner of Wiles Rd. and Coral Springs Drive, however, being that this year is the city’s 50th anniversary, they will be holding special events at other locations.  Here are a couple of upcoming special events to look for:

Saturday, January 12, 2013, from noon to 4 p.m., BizArt Festival takes place in the lot next to City Hall South at 9530 W. Sample Road, and will feature live bands, face painting, food trucks, local artists and much more. Visitors will have a chance to enjoy local up and coming artists, as well as taste delicious meals from food trucks.

On Wednesday, January 30 at 7 p.m. at the Coral Springs Center for the Arts, 2855 Coral Springs Drive, Good Vibrations will perform an ultimate tribute to The Beach Boys. This  event is free but you must get tickets in advance from the City Hall or City Hall in the Mall.  There is a limit of two tickets per household and you must present a photo ID when picking up tickets. The audience must be 15 years or older to attend this special anniversary event.

Parkland www.cityofparkland.org

Shadow Creek outdoor concert

Shadow Creek

The City of Parkland operates a beautiful, large amphitheatre at Pine Trails park, located at the North end of Coral Springs Drive, 10561 Trails End. Food vendors may be on site selling popcorn and hot dogs but you are encouraged to bring your own food, chairs, tables, blankets, etc.  Upcoming events include:

Saturday, January 19, 2013 – 7pm – 8:30pm Dueling Piano Show

Saturday, February 2, 2013 – 7pm – 8:30pm US Stones (Rolling Stones Tribute)

 

Margatewww.margatefl.com

The Goodnicks band

The Goodnicks

The  City of Margate has cleared out a piece of land on the corner of State Rd. 7 and Margate Blvd and holds regular events they call “Sounds at Sundown”.  Several Food trucks are usually on-site for a good variety of food, so come hungry.  Bring your own lawn chairs as seating is limited. Upcoming event dates include:

Saturday, January 12, 2013 6pm-8pm  The Goodnicks (Classic Rock & Roll)

Saturday, February 9th, 2013 6pm-8pm Orange Sunshine (60’s Tribute)

 

Delray Beach http://delraycenterforthearts.org/

Amber Leigh outdoor concert

Amber Leigh

The City of Delray Beach loves to promote Arts & Culture and has the perfect outdoor venue for doing so located at 51 North Swinton Avenue, just North of Atlantic Avenue aka “The Avenue”.  It used to be called The Old School Square but is now known as the Center for the Arts.   You can find great bands playing at “The Pavilion” stage every Friday night. Pets and outside food and beverages are discouraged in lieu of the many food trucks and cash bar which are on-site on concert nights.  You will find different styles of music each weekend.  When the music is over, you can enjoy a stroll down “The Avenue”.  Here are some examples:

Friday, January 117:30pm-9pm Plaid Blazer (old school hip-hop featuring Drew Tucker.)

Friday, January 18 7:30pm-9pm  Marlow Rosado y La Riqueña (salsa, rock,  meringue, hip-hop, bachata, reggaeton…)

Friday, January 25  7:30pm-9pm Amber Leigh (Country)

Sunrise http://sunrisefl.gov/

Roll the Stones tribute rolling stones

Roll the Stones

On the second Friday of each month from January through May, the City of Sunrise hosts Sunrise at Sunset.  The Civic Center Amphitheatre is located at 10610 West Oakland Park Boulevard, between Nob Hill and Hiatus Rd.  Bring a lawn chair or blanket and enjoy live music under the stars.

Here are a few of their upcoming events:

Friday, January 11 – 7pm-9pm: Marshall Brothers Band (Tribute to The Allman Brothers)

Friday, February 8 – 7pm-9pm: Roll the Stones (Tribute to the Rolling Stones)

Friday, March 8 – 7pm-9pm: Gaucho (a jazz/rock tribute to Steely Dan)

City of Hollywood www.hollywoodfl.org

Perhaps no city in South Florida supports more outdoor concerts than the City of Hollywood.  With one venue on the beach, another one just a few miles away in Downtown Hollywood, and yet another one in the Western section of the city, Hollywood brings live music to its many residents and tourists almost every day of the week!

Hollywood Beach Theatre

Electric Arrow classic rock band

Electric Arrow

Free concerts are presented at this outdoor theatre located at Johnson Street and the Broadwalk every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Seating on long metal benches are permanent fixtures so there is no need to bring your own lawn chairs.  Be sure to wear your flip flops so you can get sand between your toes!

Here are just a few samples of the many upcoming events at the Beach:

Friday, January 11 – 7:30pm-9pm One Flight Down (Dance Party Rock)

Saturday, January 12 – 7:30pm-9pm – Grant Piper (Blues Rock)

Wednesday, January 16 – 7:30pm-9pm – Robin Avery (Smooth Jazz)

Friday, January 18 – 7:30pm-9pm – Electric Arrow (Classic Rock)

Saturday, January 26 – 10am-9pm – Canada Fest (Many French Canadian Artists)

ArtsPark LIVE!

Artspark Hollywood outdoor concert

ArtsPark Live spectators

ArtsPark LIVE! concerts are usually scheduled every Friday and Saturday evening on the amphitheater stage located at One Young Circle (Hollywood Blvd & US-1).  Concerts feature a variety of musical genres from 8:00 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. unless otherwise listed.

ArtsPark has a permanent, full-size stage that can accommodate large bands and even orchestras.  With an amphitheatre setup, there is a good view from all angles.  It is recommended that you bring at least a blanket to lay out on the hill-top overlooking the stage.

Unfortunately, there were no scheduled concerts at the time of this blog.

Hollywood West Concerts

Rough Shot country rock band

Rough Shot

The Boulevard Heights Amphitheater, located at 6770 Garfield Street, is home to monthly concerts featuring a variety of musical genres. Concerts are scheduled the second Saturday evening of each month with the exception of December and July, from 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., weather permitting.

Blankets, lawn chairs and picnic baskets are welcome under the beautiful oak tree canopy.

Saturday, January 12th 7:30pm-9pm Rough Shot (Country, Southern Rock)

Saturday, February 9th 7:30pm-9pm King Muddfish (Blusey Swamp Rock)

As you can see, there is no lack of live music, even in the earlier hours for those of you who want to see some great bands without going too far or paying an arm and leg for tickets.  It may take a little planning, but with this guide, I hope that you will arrive prepared to enjoy your evening under the stars.  If you still feel lazy about doing all this research, don’t forget that there’s always a calendar at www.weekendbroward.com

Enjoy!

P.S. Here’s an updated list for Spring-Summer 2015http://weekendbroward.com/free-outdoor-concerts-around-fort-lauderdale-2015/

 January 8, 2013  Posted by  Weekend Blog No Responses »
Dec 192012
 

This month, I share with you the thoughts of several local musicians on the hot topic of  “the return date” – in other words, when will they be back at the same venue and how often.  Jimi Robinette of Riverdown recently brought up the subject on his Facebook page, sharing his years of experience as a member of Riverdown with others who may be struggling to learn the business of getting hired by local bars and restaurants.  Here is an excerpt of his message:

Jimi Robinette at BootleggersThe return date is the key to all cover bands’ success. Not the waitress, not the bartender, not the GM, not the owner, and not the drunken patrons. Believe it or not, sometimes not even the ring at the register. The “return date” is the sure sign that you have been selected as the few who have made it through the process. The Cover Band business is a multi-billion dollar business in this country, so don’t ever take it lightly. Doesn’t really matter how great you think your band is or how wonderful everyone thinks you may be –  it’s the return date. Not a bigger compliment in the business then the return date. Stop taking it so personally, It’s strictly business. No one cares how long you’ve been in the business or who you have shared the stage with – sometimes it just doesn’t matter.

George Malin of Bounce Rocks chimed in with his advice:

George Malin of Bounce RocksI personally think more bands would have a better relationship with clients if they treated it as if they were entering into a partnership as opposed to just getting paid for a gig. I treat every client/club/bar with an understanding that we are all here to make some money and do what we love, and that we should work together to reach both of our goals. On a private party level, I treat every client with that same attitude, but where the goal isn’t to make money but to create an amazing memory/experience. Hear me PLEASE: Playing live music for a client is about giving something, not taking.

Ken Hurley of Shovel-Head has also been in the “business” for many years and has his own philosophy which makes booking his band a win-win for everyone.

Ken Hurley of Shovel Head at Shenanigans in HollywoodIn our Band, we prefer to work on a Long term Schedule. That is why we do this in a quarterly schedule, when at all possible. Some Bars or clubs like to work short term. Those are more difficult to book when we work this way. The First initial benefit with long term booking is being able to work around others’ schedules. Like most others out there, we have day jobs and families, So, we are able to make allowances for important dates, ie: Birthdays, anniversaries, Uncle Louie’s release from the nut house… you know – important stuff. It also lets us plan special shows, Veteran’s Day, a fan’s birthday, a buddy’s divorce, eh, you get the picture. As Long as the Bar or Club is on the same page, you have more time to plan and HELP promote an event. I use the Words “HELP promote” because I am a Firm Believer that as a Performer it is Not my Job to Put all the Bodies in the seats… it’s my Job to keep them there… But that is a song for another Day.  When I book long term, I can plan ahead and make the most out of a crowd. If you know you can come see us tomorrow, what’s the hurry about seeing us today?  The down side is clubs that book short term – how do you make time? We try.  We usually have a few open dates and folks that like us enough will usually call and check with us to see if we “just so happen” to have a certain night open and sometimes we do!  And often times we take it, even though we may have planned for a night off. We really do love to play! To make any of this work, everyone has to be on the same page. They must be professional, dependable and organized enough to pull it off. It really is tough work, but with some forethought and planning, you can make the most of your gigs and make you and the Club you play happy campers. Again I am No expert.  I am just a humble singer. See you out there!!

Thank you Jimi, George and Ken for allowing me to publish your advice in the hopes that it will be used by both venues and bands to make every gig a more enjoyable experience for fans everywhere. ‘looking forward to seeing and hearing you out and about soon!

 

 December 19, 2012  Posted by  Weekend Blog Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Nov 052012
 

I want to send a message out to all the musicians and venues who host bands week after week. Clean up! I know that you are artists and sometimes care more about your music than how you look, but keeping a clean stage can make a big difference in how you are perceived. I know that not every venue even offers a stage – sometimes it’s more like an 8 x 8 piece of floor space and an outlet that is a mile away.

messy stageBands need to come prepared, not only with the right equipment for making a restaurant or bar sound like a jazz hall or concert venue, but also creating a stage setup that partially hides where they really are. I have seen all types of efforts, spanning from a simple banner covering a window to black curtains and LED stage lighting. Some of you do a better job than others so I commend you on your efforts.

messy stageIt may take an extra hour or two of setup time, and a little back-end investment, but the extra efforts should pay off if your band is any good to begin with. I remember that when I was a teenager playing records at weekend parties, my friend and I would invest a portion of our earnings back into our little business to ensure that we always had the most up to date music. As for hardware, there’s always a market for used audio and visual equipment because not everyone stays “in the biz” forever. There are also lots of places that will rent equipment so you can always offer “upgrade” options to your venues if they are willing to pay a little more. Wouldn’t a laser light-show add a new dimension to your stage presence? Does your band or venue set aside a percentage of earnings to re-invest? It might be a good idea!

messy stageYou don’t have to spend a lot of money to make a decent impression. Run wires so that people do not trip on them or distract viewers. Use DUCK tape to hold them down. Set lists should not be flying around either. A power strip holding six heavy duty cables should not be hanging in the air unless someone was in such a hurry to setup that they couldn’t tape it down or find a longer cord. I have seen boxes and carts piled up next to speakers instead of hidden in backrooms or, at least, somewhere other than the front area.

Rosco Martinez at The Funky BiscuitFind good examples of clean stages by visiting other bands and venues on nights that you are not working. Use the calendar at WeekendBroward.com to find out who is playing where. Look at some of the more experienced bands or the venues that have earned a reputation for hosting better known acts. There’s no reason you can’t steal some of their better ideas for a cleaner look and become an example for the next guy who comes along and uses you as his baseline! After all, what comes around goes around, right?

 November 5, 2012  Posted by  Weekend Blog No Responses »
Sep 272012
 

Hiring a band for your bar or restaurant can be compared with gambling at the casino – sometimes you win and often you lose! However, unlike the slot machines where you have little control over the results, a little skill can go a long way towards making sure you have the winning hand or should I say band?

There is no question whether or not hiring live entertainment can bring in extra customers. The  big question is how do you want to recoup the investment?  You pretty much have three choices: Food, Alcohol, or Cover Charges.  Combine all three or pick just one.  If you choose to make your money only on alcohol, you need to make sure you sell a LOT of it to cover the extra expense of a band.  If you have FOOD for sale in addition to the alcohol, and it’s reasonably priced, you are well on your way to making back the investment in a live band.  The third option, cover charges, can either attract a greater audience or be a deterrent.  In order to understand why some venues choose to implement the “pay at the door” fee,  I asked a few owners and managers what kind of thoughts went into their decision.

First, I asked Al Poliak,who has been quite successful in filling his club, The Funky Biscuit, even with cover charges ranging from $5 to $15 on Friday and Saturday Nights.  Here is his response:

Hmm, cover charge…always a tough topic of discussion. Here’s what it basically comes down to. If people are content with, and are satisfactorily entertained by your every day run of the mill garage band playing the same old worn out cover songs through a suspect sound system, then there are certainly plenty of venues that do not charge a cover and provide that type of entertainment. On the other hand, if music lovers want to enjoy quality musicians, performing quality music in an environment specifically created to enjoy music at its highest level, then folks have to be willing to pay a little extra…especially at a local / musician owned venue. Large corporate owned venues sometimes offer great entertainment, and they have the $$ to provide the entertainment often below what it may cost a small locally owned venue like ourselves. However, if you ask the musicians (both local & national acts) where they would rather perform, who treats them better, and what is a better overall musical experience for both them and their audience, I believe you will find the overwhelming response will be a place like ours. At the end of the day, we struggle financially here at The Biscuit to continue to provide the type of entertainment  we constantly have here and that people have come to expect. I can assure you, it’s more about our passion and far less about the $$. That being said, we cannot do it without the support of the local community. We seem to be getting that support, we are certainly grateful for it, and we will continue work hard to provide it!

Al is not alone in some of his views.  Here are a few thoughts Kilmo Doome, musician and owner of Native Florida Tap Room & Music Hall shared with me:

I feel a cover charge is essential to remain profitable if you want to maintain quality entertainment. For some reason, South Florida audiences seem to remain resistant to paying for a band. It defies logic. Why should you expect to pay a favorite artist at a concert venue but not a smaller charge at your neighborhood music spot. Don’t they think an artist deserves to get paid? In reality, a GOOD band that is creative and interesting as opposed to a mundane weekend warrior cover band will eat up the lion’s share of your cash register ring making it impossible to maintain high quality entertainment and production without a cover charge. Casinos are a big part of the problem. They can afford to pay local and national artists out of huge gambling proceeds making it impossible for independent local venues to compete. They are the Walmarts of entertainment and are literally responsible for the decline of overall quality and choice in local music venues, thus driving them out of business. Local artists would serve their best interest if they were to insist on venues charging a cover for their performance, maintaining the value of their performance in the market. I’ve frequently seen such venues give away performances for no cover for artists that once got one. When they either change their booking policy or close up after achieving their real financial goals they leave an artist no longer able to get the money they could once demand now that the public is used to seeing them for free and legitimate venues not being able to afford them without charging a cover – consequently, fewer gigs.

Did I mention the 4th source of revenue, gambling?  Unfortunately, not too many venues have that option!

Most venue’s that do charge a cover usually reserve that option for the weekends.  However, Boston’s on the Beach recently begun charging a cover on Tuesday nights, so I asked General Manager, Mark Deatley, to explain.  Here is what he said:

We added a  nominal cover charge on Tuesdays to help offset the increase in costs of producing the events. We have been bringing in higher profile national and regional touring acts, so the door charge goes to cover the additional expenses of those bands, as well as their  hotel rooms, since we no longer have our motel. The cover will normally be 5-8$,with a couple of exceptions, such as 2012 BMA Soul Entertainer of the Year BMA Curtis Salgado, and later in October, Trampled Under Foot, we will be charging $10.00. These acts normally command ticket prices of $25-$40 in other venue, so we still believe there is tremendous value, and a unique opportunity to see these acts in such an intimate setting.

Lastly, I wanted to give some balance to this blog, so I asked Don O’Hina, Entertainment Director at Venom Rock Bar why their most recent event poster says “Never a cover”.  I wanted to know if he had good or bad experiences in the past with cover charges.

I personally do not like charging a cover for Bands. There are so many choices when it comes to Live Music, I think it’s better to get people in the door so they can see what your Venue has to offer! I don’t ever like to turn anyone away over a Cover!

As someone who visits more than one venue a night, I have to agree with Don – why should I pay a cover to see a band I have never heard of before?  On the other hand, you can side with the track record of a venue – some are better than others at picking the kind of bands that suit your style, even if you have never heard of them before.  If they do their research right, managers should know which bands are worth the extra charge because if they get it wrong, the fans will not return and they lose their gamble.  As you can see, there are two sides to every story and I hope that by shedding some light on the question, everyone will win!

 September 27, 2012  Posted by  Weekend Blog 2 Responses »
Jul 152012
 

You might be interested to know that we live in a county that holds approximately 1.7 million people of which, according to our last census, 63% or approximately 1 million of us are between the ages of 18 and 64.  Starting with this number and trying to estimate how many people will go out to see local bands can be one “heck” of a challenge.  Judging from what I see, around 80% of the people who hang out in the venues with the mainly rock cover bands are Caucasian and 20% other races or ethnicities.  Knowing the makeup of Broward County, this immediately brings the total potential number of fans down to around 480,000.  I also know that the two biggest age segments for the types of music promoted by Weekend Broward are 35-44 and 45-54 according to some Facebook stats I pulled up.  Let’s estimate that these two segments make up around half the population between 18 and 64, which brings me now to a total potential market of 240,000 who might be interested in seeing a live local band.  Unfortunately, there are so many other factors to consider which are difficult to calculate.

 

I would guess that the number one most popular activity is……… staying home!   Let’s face it, television or reading a book in the privacy of your own home is probably the least expensive form of entertainment, and in this economy, that may win out in the hearts and minds of many.  Published statistics also show us that there are around 375,000 kids under the age of 18, which means that the adults watching the kids would have to either leave them home alone or hire a babysitter to have a night out on the town – another deterrent to getting some people out to see live bands, especially at late hours.

Other popular evening activities include going to one of the thousands of great restaurants in and around Fort Lauderdale, seeing a movie, browsing some great shops, or even going out dancing in one of the many clubs that feature heart thumping music thanks for our wonderful area Disc Jockeys.

So, how many people are left to visit the many great live, local bands which we have in our local bars and restaurants?  On any given Friday or Saturday night, I will see many bars half empty while a few lucky ones get overflowing crowds to see a popular band.  Knowing how many venues feature the bands promoted by Weekend Broward, we’re not talking more than a few thousand patrons spread out throughout the County, even if you consider that some of the population will venture North or South of the County lines.

My next question is, “Are you one of us?”  Are you part of crowd of less than 1% of our population who goes out and supports the local music scene?  As you can see, we are quite a select group of people – perhaps just lucky enough to have overcome all the deterring factors to be able to get out every Friday and/or Saturday night to experience the fun that comes with supporting local bands by our mere presence.  If you are one of us – thank you friend! If you are not one of us, we need you to consider joining our small group.  We need more members.  I promise you won’t be disappointed!

 July 15, 2012  Posted by  Weekend Blog 2 Responses »
May 312012
 

Amazing things happen when you have the right friends.  Not only can friends bring you up when you’re down but they can really motivate you to pursue your dreams and encourage you to go further than you ever thought possible.  I was thinking this week that bars and bands also benefit from having loyal friends and customers.  Facebook and other social media sites have proven that if you take a handful of people and entrust them with the power to easily spread good words to their friends, a simply seed can grow into a tree within days instead of years.

FriendsDo you have a business that needs help growing?  Have you built an infrastructure that supports a loyal fan base?  In other words… Are you making friends?  I’m not talking about sharing all your personal secrets with people you never met before.  I’m talking about finding out what people like to see and hear so that they will come back to see you over and over again.  If you don’t do anything that people really like, how are you going to build up a fan base that will make you successful?

 

Dancing FansIf you are in a band and you play songs that you like but nobody gets up to dance and all you get is polite applause, should you keep playing those songs?  I find that many businesses operate like a band that plays songs that they like even though nobody is getting off their butt and onto the dance floor.  You know those businesses that keep running but are usually half empty on a night when similar businesses are booming.  When you do things that make people want to put down their drink and cheer for you as loud as possible, you know you are doing something right.

 

Wozniak and JobsSome people are in a hurry to get as many fans (ie: customers) as quickly as possible.  They may print flyers, place ads, hand out the glossiest business cards, but did they take time to find out what people liked and disliked?  Steve Jobs felt that people didn’t know what they liked because they had never seen his products before he invented them. That’s not really true.  You see, people did like the original Apple computer that Jobs and his friend Steve Wozniak built in their garage.  He just kept building upon his successes to come up with the Apple Macintosh followed by the Ipods, Iphones and Ipads.  Are you building upon your successes?

Everyone says that you should do something you enjoy to be happy.  I say, make people happy and before you know it, you will enjoy!

Have a great weekend!

Rob aka The Weekend Concierge

 May 31, 2012  Posted by  Weekend Blog No Responses »