Apr 212013
 
Tab Benoit

beer girlsThis year was not the first time I had attended the Blues, Brews and BBQ event at the Coconut Creek Casino but it really felt like the first because it was such a different experience for me. First off, the main event stage was moved inside to the Pavilion venue inside instead of being held under a tent outside of the casino.  I remember seeing lots of smaller bands in the middle of the casino floor last year with more popular bands on the outdoor stage.  Secondly, I was given a media pass so that I could sample all the beers and food that was available for sale by the various BBQ vendors.

beer samplesNormally, I don’t write post-event reviews but I had so many thoughts running through my mind that I wanted to share it with everyone who attended and those who missed this event. First off, I loved the thought of having unlimited beer samples included with the tickets to this day-long event. I loved the fact that the beer was NOT Bud, Miller, Coors or lite versions of all of the above. Instead, I got to sample beers I have never heard of from all over the world. The tiny little beer mugs given out by beautiful models at the door was a nice touch!

Dave MaloneSince I could not stay all day, I came during dinner time so I could catch two of the acts AND enjoy the barbecue samples at the same time. I am not an expert on the Blues scene but I enjoy the music without being really familiar with the artists. The first act I caught was Bonerama with special guest Dave Malone of The Radiators. Bonerama horn sectionThere’s something special about a horn section that adds flavor to music of any style. Unlike your standard 4-piece rock band, these guys made the most of the large stage and presented themselves in style with every musician profiling his talent gracefully.

Pavilion General and VIP seatingAlthough I loved the stage size, lighting and great sound, my greatest concern was over the standing room only space given to those who paid for general admission tickets. The VIP ticket-holders were given bleacher seats which took up about 50% of the hall. It must have been difficult to calculate in advance how many people would buy the $25 general admission versus the $50 ones but, in hindsight, they will either have to find more room next year, put more seats into the general admission side or people will have to fork over the extra bucks to get a seat, especially if they want to sit through 6 great bands from early afternoon and into the later hours of the evening.

BBQ Barbecue samplesIn between bands was the best time to make my way to the BBQ Alley and see what samples awaited me. Every vendor offered me pretty much whatever I wanted on their menu which usually included BBQ ribs, pulled pork or beef brisket. Since the sample sizes varied from a small cup sample to a full plate with sides, I was too stuffed to taste test every one of the 6 vendors selling sandwiches and platters in the “alley”. My first stop was Lucille’s which I had tried in the past thanks to Lucille’s on Wheels at various food truck events. Their shredded brisket was sweet, juicy and extremely tasty as usual. I would have forgone all other samples to just have a sandwich from their table. Dickey's Brisket PlatterIt was pretty much downhill from there as I sampled Dickey’s BBQ brisket platter. The coleslaw was delicious but unfortunately, the brisket had so many huge pieces of burned gristle that I could have broken my jaw had I really finished what they served me. Lastly, the brisket sandwich from the casino’s kitchen was so fatty that it was hard to believe that they were putting it onto a bun before cutting off the excess fat. I would have gladly cut it off myself rather than waste a good sandwich but without any tables, everyone had to eat standing up and made eating a rack of ribs or cutting through slices of beef brisket next to impossible.

Tab BenoitI was more than happy to wash this all down with more beer samples and the exhilarating, foot stomping sounds of Tab Benoit. Since this was the first year with the configuration of food and entertainment the way I described, I am sure that there will be some tweaks for next year and I just hope that with all my gripes about the food and crowds, they still invite me back!

 April 21, 2013  Posted by  Weekend Blog 1 Response »
Apr 172013
 

This blog was originally written on April 18th, 2011.

Do you remember where you were when you heard about the Space Shuttle blowing up? How about September 11th, 2001? April 17th will be one of those milestone days for me because I was sitting at Starbucks, uploading band photos from the previous night when I read about the demise of Jimmy Pagano. My first thoughts were – was it a car accident or a heart attack? I would never have imagined him getting involved with a bar fight (trying to help the bartender collect on a bar tab). He was definitely not a fighter. The most physical he would get would be to give you a hug!

Jimmy Pagano DrummerOn the other hand, Jimmy was a soldier. He was one of the few people I knew who fought for the right of local bands to have an audience. He was proud of his history of holding jam sessions at local bars so that musicians could network and get an extra day of playing in front of a live audience instead of their garages. If you were part of his Facebook friends network, you probably remember how frustrated he would get with people who promised to come out and see him or his bands play but didn’t show up. While he used Facebook extensively to keep in touch with his extensive network of friends, he really believed in the power of seeing people in person. I remember how happy he was to see me last time I saw him. It’s one thing to communicate online – it’s another to follow up with a personal visit.

flag at half-mast 2On April 17th, I changed my profile photo to show a flag at half mast because Jimmy is a fallen hero and it’s the only way I know to honor him for all the hard work he has done for our local music scene. I am not sure who is going to trace that bad wire next time I attend a local band’s gig and their sound doesn’t seem right. I am not sure who I will approach next time with my ideas for a local music festival.  All I know is that his hard work did not go un-noticed and he will be missed by everyone.

Jimmy Pagano DrummerThe newspaper and mass media called him a drummer. I am not sure how Jimmy would have felt about that description. Sure, he played the drums, but that is not how he wanted to be remembered. His Facebook page says exactly how he wanted to be known. Here’s what it says: “Promotions/ General Manager/ Event Producer/Coordinator at Self Employed who Studied at The School of Life. He Lived in Fort Lauderdale, Florida From Bedford, New York Born on January 4, (1957).” May he continue to live in the hearts of us all for ever and ever.

 April 17, 2013  Posted by  Weekend Blog No Responses »
Mar 182013
 

Kingdom and CrownsEvery Tuesday during the month of March, the Nectar Lounge at The Coconut Creek Casino will be abuzz with local rock bands and their fans cheering them on, hoping to gain the judges’ attention and sway them to vote them in as a contender for the final round to take place on Saturday, April 13th.

Who are these bands, what do they win and who will decide?  Over the past few months, bands submitted entries to the casino which included a sample of their music, a link to their website or Facebook page, and a photo.  The only rules were that they consisted of no more than 5 members, ages 21 and older, able to play both cover and original songs and could not be a tribute band.

Shootout JudgesEvery week, 6 bands will be invited to compete and a winner will be chosen by a panel of 4 judges.   Judges include legendary Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain, John Pastorius eldest son of the world’s greatest bass player Jako Pastorius,  Member of the Sunfest Board of Directors JJ Wolfe, and local broadcaster Andy Preston of 98.7 FM, The Gater who also serves as MC.  The judges’ jobs are to rate each band on skill, showmanship, originality of presentation and crowd enthusiasm.

While the weekly auditions are going on with the winner being chosen by a panel of judges, the Coconut Creek Casino’s Facebook page is also being used to give Facebook users an opportunity to sample each band’s music and vote for their favorites.  The band with the most votes will compete with the four weekly winners in the final competition to take place on Saturday, April 13th.

Urband RebelThe grand prize will be $2500 and a gig on Saturday, May 4, 2013 on the Tire Kingdom Stage at Sunfest performing prior to headliner Cheap Trick.  The second place winning band will get $1500, $1000 for third place and $750 for fourth place.  Judging by last year’s competition, the gigs earned by displaying their skills during this weekly battle can earn each band thousands more in  opportunities to play at the Casino’s three free live music venues which includes The Nectar Lounge, The Sunset Grill and NYY Legend’s Lounge.

Nectar Lounge CrowdThese weekly competitions give fans a live music to hear some bands that they might never have heard before, and see a good variety, spanning from Blues to Hard Rock.  Since they start at 8pm and end around 11, it’s not a late night for anyone. Besides, why would anyone want to sit at home and watch television on a Tuesday night when they can participate in making a local band famous?  Come see for yourself and one day, you too will be able to say “I knew them when….”

Best of luck to all the bands!

P.S. You’ll find details of who is playing each week in the notes section of the events calendar at weekendbroward.com.

 

 March 18, 2013  Posted by  Weekend Blog No Responses »
Mar 112013
 

Packys Pub St Pattys BounceEvery year, bars and taverns all over the world get into full-fledged party-mode to celebrate the life of Saint Patrick who passed away on March 17th of the year 461.  This day is a public holiday in Ireland, Newfoundland, and Montserrat, a British island located in the Lesser Antilles.  The holiday is also widely celebrated in Great Britain, United States, Canada, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.  To celebrate the patron saint of Ireland, followers have parades and festivals, play Gaelick folk music and dancing, wear lots of green and use the shamrock symbol in all decorations.

Soulicide St Patty Party Cagneys SaloonAs with other holidays that fall on different days of the week each year but are not national holidays in the United States, we are forced to make a decision whether or not to celebrate them on a different day of the week.  This discussion came about this past Halloween where October 31st was a school night instead of a weekend.  Should St Patrick’s Day be celebrated on March 17th or the nearest weekend day?  Judging from local happenings around town, everyone has made different decisions, which means that you can celebrate several times this year in just our local region.  For example, the City of Fort Lauderdale held festivities on Saturday, March 8th while the City of Hollywood had their parade and festival on Sunday March 9th, fully a week early!  One of the largest parades in our area is yet to come; Delray Beach is expecting over 150,000 attendees for it’s 45th annual parade on Saturday the 16th.

Leprechans at Premier BilliardsFor the purpose of this blog, I am going to concentrate on our local bars and restaurants which support our local bands.  Some have chosen to forgo the traditional Sunday for a bigger bang on Saturday night.  Others have decided to celebrate all weekend long.

You can surely expect every bar in town to have bands on Saturday night and there would be too many to list here. I will therefore highlight only times and locations for Sunday, March 17th since they are not at your usual late night hours.   In fact, some bars will be open as early as 8am!  A complete listing of live-music events and notes where warranted will be added to the calendar at www.weekendbroward.com/live-music as we approach that magical day.

LIVE BANDS AT LOCAL BARS ON ST. PATRICK’S DAY 2013

Calamity Jane at The Sunset Grill in Coconut Creek Casino 1pm

Furious George at Johnny O’Brian’s Irish Pub in Coconut Creek 3pm

Shakey-T band at Lefty’s Tavern in Coral Springs 3pm

Jeff Prine & Juanita Dixon at The Downtowner Saloon in Fort Lauderdale 3pm

bOunce at Packy’s Pub in Lighthouse Point 5pm

Stereotomy at JP Mulligans in Pembroke Pines 5pm

The Double Standard at Mugshots Bar & Grill in Margate 5pm

Classic Rock Therapy at The Sunset Grill in Coconut Creek Casino 6pm

SLEJJ at Chit Chats in Pompano Beach 7pm

Riverdown  at Johnny O’Brian’s Irish Pub in Coconut Creek 8pm

Stone Mojo at Whiskey Tango in Hollywood 8pm

The Shindigs at The Hurricane Lounge in Delray Beach 9:30pm

Furious George and Riverdown

 

 

As you can see, the partying will start early and end pretty late so you may want to get as much work out of the way before the weekend begins – you may be in full recovery mode come Monday.  By the way, in 2014, St. Patrick’s Day will fall on a Monday!

 

 March 11, 2013  Posted by  Weekend Blog No Responses »
Mar 032013
 

Hard Rock RisingThe month of March features not one but TWO entirely distinct battle of the bands contests at two casinos located on either end of Broward County.  First, there’s Hard Rock Rising which begins at the Hard Rock Cafe on March 8th and then there’s the Rock ‘n Roll Shootout starting March 12th at the Nectar Lounge inside the Coconut Creek casino.

In the first of two blogs on the subject, which I put together with my cohort in crime, Cindy Starr, we will give you all the details on the International battle of the bands about to begin this coming Friday at the Cafe in Hollywood.

Partnered with Reverbnation since 2011, Hard Rock Hotels and Hard Rock International is now conducting it’s fifth annual search for the best bands on a global scale.   Prior to that, Hard Rock Cafe’s held only local contests.

Hard Rock Rising Facebook There are 96 participating Hard Rock locations around the world this year. A full list can be found on the Hard Rock Rising Facebook page.   More than 12,000 bands signed up during this year’s registration phase, which began in January.  Using Facebook as a means of publicizing the event, nearly one million votes were cast by fans of the registered bands around the globe. Musical groups from all over the world, including China, India, Greece and Peru sent in their entries for a chance to win thousands in prizes.  Fifty-two bands from Florida alone were selected spanning from Key West to Tampa.

Almost any band was able to enter the Hard Rock Rising competition, whether they are just starting out or have years of experience.  After votes were received from fans,  an industry panel reviewed submissions and looked for qualities such as Musicianship, Marketability, Voice Talent and Originality.

Here’s the breakdown of what we can expect in the coming months.  Between February 18th and April 15th, the selection of Local Finalists begins at participating Hard Rock locations.  Then on April 22nd and lasting until May 1st, a second Fan Voting Period will be promoted via FaceBook and will reduce the finalists down to 25. These lucky 25 will be up for consideration between May 2nd and May 5th during the Judging Period #2 and by a panel of qualified judges that were pre-selected by the sponsor and may include celebrities and/or professionals in the music industry.  Then on May 6th the Grand Prize winner and two runner-ups will be announced.

Hard Rock Rising IndiaThe Grand Prize winner will play a World Tour in cities including Sydney, Tokyo, London, Chicago and Honolulu.  They will also record an album with Hard Rock Records, shoot a music video and receive new music equipment and gear valued at $10,000.  Two runner-up bands will each receive new music equipment and gear valued at $10,000.

Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?  I will be attending the qualifying battles at the Hard Rock Cafe in Hollywood on March 8, 15, 22, and 29th with the final battle on April 5th.  Please join me at this most exciting event!

Special thanks to Cindy Starr for interviewing Hard Rock International Music & Artist Relations John Kirkpatrick specifically for this blog.  Her complete interview can be found on Musician’s Mayhem Magazine, March Edition.

 

 March 3, 2013  Posted by  Weekend Blog No Responses »
Feb 252013
 

In my last blog, I reviewed some of the regularly scheduled concerts staged by local municipalities in and around Broward County, Boca Raton and Delray Beach.  This month appears to be one of the best months of the year for outdoor festivals, whether they be sponsored by cities, churches or private organizations.  The weather is just right for enjoying outdoor festivities and there’s lots to do around town.  Looking at the Weekend Broward calendar, I see several events of interest.

Delray Beach Garlic FestivalFirst, there’s the Garlic Fest in Delray Beach which kicks off at 6pm on Friday, February the 8th with The Fabulous Fleetwoods and ends on Sunday night at 6pm with a local band called The Long Run, a tribute to The Eagles.  While listening to the bands, you can sample culinary delights and watch a competition of top chefs vying for the price of Top Garlic Chef.  The Garlic Festival takes place around Old School Square, just North of Atlantic Avenue, East of Federal Highway.  More details are available on the WeekendBroward calendar and the event website, dbgarlicfest.com.

st colemans italian festThe following weekend, St. Coleman’s Catholic Church holds their 30th annual Italian Fest.  They have packed as many activities as possible into this 3 day event starting at 2pm with an Open Mic on Friday, February 15th and ending with The Bulldogs playing on Sunday evening at 6:30pm.  One of my favorite U2 Tribute bands, looking as authentic as they get, will play Friday night at 9pm.   The festival also features a fair with lots of rides for the kids, arts & crafts, some “church” gambling games, a silent auction and great Italian fast food!  The complete band schedule can be found on WeekendBroward and the event website, ItalianFest.org.

Margate Street FestivalThe same weekend, on the other side of town, the Margate Chamber of Commerce has organized a festival with an international theme.  Festivities kick-off Friday with a carnival from 6-11 pm. Gates open Saturday at noon with ethnic foods, a car show and performances by local school groups and athletic clubs. When the sun sets , the main stage lights up with headline acts such as Lazy Bonez, an 80’s Rock Tribute Act, until 11 pm. Sticking with the theme, the bands  are expected to play a wide genre of music, including Caribbean, Rock, Country, Latin, Haitian, R&B and Pop.  Musical acts will continue all day Sunday with amusements, eats, bounce houses and crafters until 7 pm.  More information is available on the event website at MargateStreetFestival.com.

Joel DaSilva Midnight HowlOn the other hand, if you are a fan of blues, don’t miss The Riverwalk Blues Festival which takes place all day long on the 16th right behind and inside The Downtowner Saloon and Maxwell Room, directly across the river from Downtown Fort Lauderdale.  Blues Blast Award winners for Best Band of the Year for 2012 Trampled Under Foot will headline the event, along with Blues Music Award Nominee Albert Castiglia, and Nikki Hill with Matt Hill (2011 BMA winner for Best New Artist). International Blues Challenge Winner Joey Gilmore is also performing and this Year’s Local IBC winner Joel DaSilva and Midnight Howl, as well.  This is a not to be missed event for the blues fans out there.  Sunday, February 17th will continue the theme as the festival becomes a Blues Film Fest.  A two day pass will set you back $25.  All the details can be found at RiverwalkBlues.com.

 

80s Festival Boca RatonDo you like to reminisce about the good ‘ole 80’s? On February 23rd, Karma Entertainment Group is holding the 1st annual 80’s Fest at Sunset Cove Amphitheater in South County Regional Park in Boca Raton. Performers expected for this event include Eddie Money, Debbie Gibson, Gioia Bruno, Stacey Q and many more that will bring back the memories.  Unlike the other festivals mentioned in this blog, this one will set you back a minimum of $32 for tickets.  More information can be found at the80sfest.com.

St Ambrose CarnivalFinally, the month of February ends on a Thursday, which happens to be the start of yet another Festival, courtesy of St. Ambrose Church in Deerfield Beach.  The St. Ambrose carnival, for it’s 19th year, like the Italian Fest earlier in the month, offers rides, food and other fundraising opportunities for the Church.  At the same time, it is also a music festival kicking off on Thursday, February 28th with local teen band South of Sheridan followed by Classic Rock Therapy at 7:30.  The next day, musical entertainment starts at 5:30pm and ends with a Tribute to Billy Joel scheduled for 8:45pm.  The music continues on Saturday and Sunday featuring many renowned local cover bands such as Rough Shot, and Riverdown.  Once again, the complete schedule can be found on WeekendBroward.com.

 February 25, 2013  Posted by  Weekend Blog No Responses »