Weekend Concierge

Nov 132013
 
Joe Dog Starr

Down Durty BoyzThe competition among local bars and restaurants for cover bands in and around the Fort Lauderdale area is heating up and so are the field of candidate musicians to perform at the many venues offering live music two, three or more days a week.  Local fans will surely win out as bands go all out to impress them and insure that they get a call back for repeat performances.  It’s no longer good enough to just sound good.  Bands are finding out that a little extra investment in equipment can really pay off.  In the past, that would mean getting better PA’s and speakers or wireless mic’s for the lead singer and guitars to get out in the audience.  Rarely do I even hear feedback coming from the speakers and sound quality has now improved overall, no matter how large or small a room they play.  However, as I stated, just investing in better sound is yesterday’s investment.

Dog Starr RiderI’m not sure if it has anything to do with my complaints about taking pictures in the dark or the increase in the number of fans using cellphone cameras but bands with stage lights look a LOT better when their photo’s are being posted on Facebook, Instagram and other social networks in real time or the day after an event.  That’s one investment I really appreciate because camera flashes can wipe out the beautiful colors but the right amount of stage lighting can turn any local bar into a concert hall.   Even better, that sound guy that made the band sound better can now play with the lights too and make the stage look brighter at the same time! Some questions to consider regarding lighting:  If a bar gets too used to bands bringing their own equipment, will they start expecting it from everyone?  If lighting takes an extra hour of setup or hiring an outside company, should these bands charge more for the same amount of hours played or only bring lights when they are payed extra to cover costs? I think that if venues feel that lighting adds to the concert experience and makes their stage more entertaining, they really should look into a permanent installation and not rely solely on the bands to bring their own.

Down Durty Boyz FansSpeaking of making stages look better, I have noticed more bands getting bigger banners to cover up the existing decor and promote the band’s name is a nice touch.  Of course, the banner should also have the band’s website and Facebook page promoted so fans can LIKE the band before they leave for the night.

Joe Dog StarrWith the added quality sound and lighting, the line between bar and concert venue can start to blur! Same goes for the lines between cover bands and original bands when it comes to self promotion.  It used to be that only original bands would sell branded merchandise hoping to make it big some day.  However, some local bands have decided to brand themselves too,  creating a loyal following by investing in branded merchandise, even if they will never sell a million CD’s.  The branded merchandise creates a better sense of loyalty and makes seeing the band with other fans wearing their merchandise more like a concert-going experience.

O'Meara's Irish PubOne recent example of a band going the extra mile is Down Durty Boyz.  This 80’s rock cover band tries to put twists on the classics and sells $5 souvenir shot glasses in between songs and t-shirts in different styles and colors in between sets!  Not to be outdone by their brethren, another new band on the scene, Dog Starr Rider, gives out dog paw stickers and dog tag necklaces to their fans.   The bands are finding out that their fans have a better time, stay longer and make the bars more money as a consequence.  Some other musicians are probably balking at the thought of having to give up time usually spent putting together set-lists to brainstorming over the latest gadget to brand with their band’s name.  Whichever side you are on, it seems to be a win-win for everyone.  My feeling is that as long as the band keeps sounding and looking good, they have my blessing to do whatever it takes to keep me from leaving my seat to see the next band!

See you somewhere real soon!

The Weekend Concierge

Nov 012013
 
harvest_drive logo

Since 1992, The Harvest Drive has been providing families with a week’s worth of grocery staples, all the fixings for Thanksgiving dinner and much more. Many of the volunteers are school social workers who know first hand how children are affected by tough times.  This year, Weekend Broward will be asking local bands and local venues to support this worthy cause by allowing fans and customers to bring donations to their events.  Local fans of live music can help by dropping off non-perishable food items, toiletries, new or gently used books and toys as well as housewares at designated drop-off points.  Donation boxes will be set up during designated live music events around Broward County and will be announced via The Weekend Concierge on Facebook.  Donations will be picked up by The Weekend Concierge and delivered to collection centers situated throughout Broward County where they will be distributed prior to Thanksgiving to designated families.

By coming together to support the annual Harvest Drive, we can bring smiles to the faces of children and families who may not have been as fortunate as others during these rough economic times.  This is an easy way for people to help out and enjoy a night out at the same time.

Non-perishable food items requested include: Peanut Butter & Jelly, Pasta or rice, Spaghetti Sauce, Cereal/Oatmeal,  Pancake syrup, Pancake mix, Juice, Stuffing, Canned or boxed potatoes, Canned Gravy, Canned Cranberry, Canned Meats, Cannned Fruits and Veggies, Canned or Packaged soups, Healthy Packaged Snack foods, Toothpaste, toothbrushes, soaps, shampoo/conditioner, deodorant,  toys, new or gently used books, and small housewares.  Please check expiration dates before making your donations.

More information about The Harvest Drive is available at www.harvestdriveflorida.com

 

 

Oct 292013
 

RIR-all-star bandSay goodbye to Halloween and hello to Thankgiving and Fall Festivals starting off this weekend in South Florida.  The clocks will be turned back and the air slightly cooler so hopefully we can get out a little early and enjoy free concerts without getting sunburned too quickly!  While Facebook has been abuzz with word of a certain outdoor food & rock festival in Miami, I have some suggestions for staying inside Broward County.

First, I am quite interested in The Rockers In Recovery Music and Art Festival  taking place this Saturday at CB Smith Park in Pembroke Pines.  The festival will feature musicians from many famous bands playing together and having a good ‘ole time sans alcohol, if you know what I mean?  As an example, the RIR All-Star band includes RIR Musical Director Ricky Byrd (Joan Jett and the Blackhearts), RIR Unplugged Director Richie Supa (Aerosmith), Kasim Sulton(Todd Rundgren and Utopia), Mark Stein(Vanilla Fudge), Liberty Devitto(Billy Joel) , and Christine Ohlman(SNL Band).  Where else can you expect to see such a blend of talent on one stage?  Check out their WeekendBroward event page for more details including admission prices.

back2back tributeAnother outdoor event that might be of interest to music fans, especially those that grew up listening to Elton John and Billy Joel.  This tribute act takes place at Park Trails Park in Parkland.  This free monthly concert series features quality entertainment on a big stage with a dance area, a huge park to relax in your folding chairs, kids can run around, and don’t worry about bringing food because a large selection of Food Trucks will be on-hand to cater to every appetite.  More information can be found on my new website, www.foodtrucksfortlauderdale.com.   Several meetup groups will also be there so don’t feel obliged to bring your family if you just want to mix and mingle.

Of special interest to Coral Springs residents is a Bruce Springsteen tribute concert taking place at the Sportsplex Athletic Complex.  There will also be an opening band by one of our local blues superstars – Albert Castiglia.  Tickets are free to residents but they are limited and must be picked up in advance at City Hall, City Hall in the Mall or The Coral Springs Gymnasium.  This event is one of several taking place this year to celebrate Coral Springs’s 50th anniversary.  Food will be available for purchase on-site and the only admission fee will be $3 for parking.

bruce springsteen tributeAll of the above will be taking place early enough in the day this Saturday so that you can still see some of our great local bands in and around Fort Lauderdale afterwards.  Check the live music events calendar at WeekendBroward for a complete list of who will be where this Saturday night.

See you somewhere soon!

Rob aka The Weekend Concierge

 

Oct 222013
 
halloween weekend premier billiards

chit chats dogs halloweenKids will be celebrating Halloween on October 31st, but us adults have TWO other nights to dress up and party without worrying about having to wake up early and go to work the next day (sorry, if I offended any weekend workers).  You know that every bar in town will be celebrating so I picked out just a few interesting events to highlight and encourage you to keep checking the Weekend Broward calendar to decide for yourself where you want to head out this coming Friday and Saturday.

First and foremost, the “Cutist Halloween Party in Town” belongs to Chit Chats Bar in Pompano Beach, where judging will take place between 7pm an 9:30pm to see who can dress their dog up in the best costume.  Prizes will be awarded for best female dog costume, best male dog costume, most original and other categories as well.  $10 registration will be donated to charity.   Head back to Chit Chats on Saturday night for the adult costume contest with over $1000 worth of prizes and entertainment provided by SLEJJ starting at 9pm.

FRIDAY

halloween weekend premier billiardsThe Black Rose Irish Pub in Boca Raton – This little pub situated at Royal Palm Plaza is celebrating all week long with some unique events including a giant electric chair photobooth, Body painters, Fortune Tellers, and $3000 in cash prizes this Friday night for the sexiest, scariest and funniest costumes.  Combine that with a reggae band and DJ with Bacardi girl giving out free samples and giveaways all night – now that’s my kind of party!

Cheers Sunrise presents Riverdown and their first annual Halloween Bash.  There is probably no better band in town to headline a party than Riverdown.  I have seen them host Thankgiving, St. Patty’s Day and Cinco de Mayo and they are pro’s so if they’re at Cheers’ newest location this Friday, you can bet there’s going to be one heck of a party to go along with it.  Cheers will be giving away $500 in cash and prized in their costume contest.

If you prefer seeing bands that best fit the occasion, don’t miss Godsend and Cadillac Creeps at Premier Billiards in Coral Springs.  They are so hyped about this one, they made a YouTube video for the event that can be found on the Weekend Broward calendar page!

SATURDAY

Soulicide at JDs HalloweenWant to see what is, without question, the most authentic 80’s Rock Tribute band in all of South Florida?  Check out Lazy Bonez at Whiskey Tango in Hollywood this Saturday night.  And don’t forget your costume because they are giving out thousands of dollars in cash and prizes!

If you are looking for something closer to North Broward, stop by JD’s Lounge in Coral Springs where you can catch a brand new formation of Soulicide which promises to rock the house with classic hits at a local bar that knows how to throw a party on any occasion.  Bring your costume AND your dancing shoes for this one!

One more local rock party band I can always recommend is Stone Mojo.  They will be playing at Packy’s Sports Pub in Lighthouse Point.  They will also be holding a costume contest with cash prizes.

Packys Halloween Stone MojoWell, there you go! Seven places to visit this weekend to celebrate Halloween.  Of course, there are MANY more places I did not list, but if you like live music and want to get all costumed up or people watch, these are definitely some good choices.  If you are just looking for a DJ spinning house music, you found the wrong blog! On the other hand, if you are looking for the best selection of live bands from Delray Beach down to Hollywood, check out the events calendar at www.weekendbroward.com!

 

P.S. If you are reading this on the actual date of Halloween, you are a little LATE.  However, anticipating that not everyone reads my blogs on the date that I write them, here are two major Live Music events taking place on October 31st:

6th Annual Rock-n-Roll Halloween Block Party at Tijuana Taxi in Coral Springs

Hoodoo Voodoo Halloween Blues Ball in Fort Lauderdale

I have linked both of the above events direct to their events pages so I don’t have to rewrite the book.

Have a safe but scary Halloween folks!

The Weekend Concierge

  • Pure Heart tribute Friday night in Pompano Beach
  • Smokin Aces Friday night in Lighthouse Point
  • November Events at Fishtales on 33rd in Fort Lauderdale
  • Live Music every Thursday Friday and Saturday  at Cheers Sunrise
  • Live Music and Late Nite Happy Hours every Friday & Saturday
  • Crush brings Rock, Pop and Rush to Fishtales Friday night in Fort Lauderdale
  • Soulicide rawks the pool hall this Saturday night in Coral Springs
  • Saturday night dance party with Bounce at Fishtales in Fort Lauderdale
  • Live Music every weekend at Marina-84 Sports Bar & Grill in Fort Lauderdale
  • Tailgate Shakedown Saturday night in Pompano Beach
  • Tributes to your favorite bands of the 70s and 80s every weekend in Pompano Beach
  • Live Music on the Intracoastal at Shooters Waterfront
  • Spektora rocks Packy's Saturday night in Lighthouse Point
Oct 032013
 
Cagneys Saloon

Local bar owners and managers are always on the lookout for something new and different to offer patrons and over the past few months, a new trend has been taking seed and now starting to grow.  The biggest problem that bars complain about is how to fill the seats in the middle of the week.  That is why they offer everything from pool and dart tournaments to karaoke and free buffets.  During the month of October, a record number of venues will either continue or begin to offer Country Music nights.  Here’s a rundown of what you can expect to see and hear this month alone, according to the WeekendBroward calendar.

Mardi-Gras Casino in Hallandale – Every Sunday night at 7pm-11pm.  Bands this month include Shadow Creek and The Rodeo Clowns.

FishtalesFishtales on 33rd – Every Thursday night at 9pm-Midnight.  It’s also ladies night with 2 for 1 drinks! The month of October will get started with Pete Lundblad on October 3rd followed by the Nash Carey band on October 10th.   Come hungry because they have great dinner specials – especially seafood.

Also on Thursday nights, Lulu’s Bait Shack, located on Fort Lauderdale beach, features their Country & Western night starting with Rough Shot on October 3rd, Ciara Rae on October 10th, Shane Duncan on the 17th and Andrew Morris on the 24th and Blue Audio on the 31st.

Noticeably missing from the weekly list of places to see live Country bands are two venues in Davie that tout themselves as Country Music clubs – The Roundup and  Cowboy’s Saloon.  A quick search revealed that The Roundup will have Brett Eldridge on October 10th but it is sold out.  Cowboy’s Saloon is advertising $15 tickets to see Craig Campbell on October 3rd. Other than that, both venues consider themselves as nightclubs rather than live music venues and rarely have a free live band.

Cagneys SaloonBrand new to the Country Music Night weekly listings is Cagney’s Saloon in Davie.  Beginning Sunday, October 6th, they will be testing the waters with Sucker Punch followed by Shadow Creek on October 13th.  If all goes according to plan, you can expect to see free country music bands from 8pm-Midnight every Sunday night in Davie.

Chit Chats BarAnother local “biker bar” Chit Chats is also testing the waters this coming Saturday night (October 5th at 9:30pm) with local favorite, Shadow Creek – offering a blend of both Rock AND Country.  Another band that plays both sides is Rough Shot and they will be at Gamaroff’s Bar & Grill in Cooper City this Friday night from 8pm-Midnight.

A quick survey of local country music fans also turned up the following shows:

Maggie Baugh will be playing at the grand opening of Indian Motorcyle of Pompano Beach on October 26th at 11am.

Tom Jackson will be at Maguire’s Hill 16 (Irish Pub in Fort Lauderdale) on October 19th, starting at 9pm.

It’s amazing how many country bands there are out there, especially when you ask! I have noticed that many are based in Palm Beach County and I’ll try to cover some of those in a future blog.  In the meantime, if you are a fan of country music, make sure you support your favorite bands by showing up for their shows and letting the venues know that you appreciate their taking the time to find great local country bands – we know they’re out there!

 

Sep 172013
 

Stephen Kamin Feedback Sound CompanyFor this week’s blog, I asked Stephen Kamin, my friend and owner of Feedback Sound Company to help me write about the importance of stage lighting for local bands and local venues that feature live music.  Trying to take band pics using flash photography has always washed out the colors of the stage and not using a flash in the dark pushes my camera’s ISO to the limit which results in dark grainy shots.  Ironically, it’s the number of dark pictures that I had to throw out when I had a pocket camera that made me go out and buy my first Cannon Rebel 3 years ago.  Throwing out too many dark pics is a frustrating experience and so is walking into a venue where the band is playing in the darkness of an unlit stage.  Here, then, is Stephen’s point of view on the subject:

I have been around a stage one way or another since I was 18. Albeit most of my hours were spent back stage dragging cord, pushing cases, climbing trusses, or manning a spot light in the balcony. I have never been “on tour” with anybody, but I have seen a lot different stage sets, sound checks, tear downs and last minute scrambles for supplies that would make MacGyver shiver in his sneakers. So when Rob (Weekend Concierge) asked me to write something about the importance of stage lighting for his blog I was happy to do so.  Stage lighting can make or break a performance just as easily as the failure of the lead singer’s wireless battery. Everyone has attended a pro-circuit concert and went home and awed about the lights or the production in some way. It’s the job of the venue owners and the performers to provide the best show possible to the families, the fans and the regulars that make up the listening audience at every show. It is also the responsibility of the band to do a little homework including the simple question of asking the  booking agent if lights are provided. If you don’t get a solid answer, make it your mission to visit the venue weeks before your gig and scope the space out. If there are lights DO NOT assume they are the venues or that they even work. I have been to a club that had six thousand dollars worth of gobo‘s hanging from fifteen hundred dollars worth of trusses that did nothing. You do not want to be the band that played that nobody can see.
There are 5 rules to lighting your stage.

Project-X with lights

Project-X with lights

1. Sit down and figure out your lighting budget. Then spend 90% of that on the initial purchase – there is ALWAYS something else you need to finish the job.  There are a lot good fixtures out there that don’t cost an arm and a leg. Lucky for us that two of the largest lighting suppliers are located right here in South Florida. Also, do not forget to budget for an electrician. Some fixtures take more power than a small welder while the new LED fixtures can run 35 on one circuit and draw less power than your home refrigerator.

Project-X without lights

Project-X without lights

2. (a) If you’re going to do the job yourself, DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Do not be afraid to ask questions. I have consulted on a lot of  ‘do-it-yourself’ lighting jobs. (b) If you hire someone to do the job, make sure they did their homework.  Make sure they know what you need. If they are not taking measurement of your space, you are probably not getting the right lights.  There are algorithms out there that take distance and beam angle to predict the size of the beam circle and optimal wattage of a fixture based on ambient light.

Lighting at Cheers Sunrise

Each band members is highlighted

3. Make sure you get the right light for YOUR space. There’s this club on the beach that I worked at that spent way too much money on the totally wrong kind of light. Your light should light the space and the performers without the need for the band to wear tanning goggles. (Ray-bans are acceptable only if it’s the drummer)

Mainstreet Band Fishtales

Mainstreet band brings their own lighting

4. Buy a controller. If your budget does not include a DMX controller….well you’re just buying a glorified, overpriced Christmas tree decoration. Yes, it’s cool to set the lights on auto, or sound activated and let them change unattended while the DJ’s playing, but every good controller has a button that will do exactly that! So let’s talk about what the lack of a controller will NOT let you do:

(a) It will not light up the stage solid white for the New Year’s Eve toast or the announcement that it’s the owner’s birthday. (b) It will not let you do a cool slow fade from blue to purple to red during a Pink Floyd or a Dave Matthews song. (c) It will not allow you to do a full blackout at the end of Highway to Hell, or flash solid white to Van Halen’s Jump! (d) It will not light up the guitarist for his 4 1/2 minute tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughn. (e) they will not light the stage solid for Jam night. (strobe lights and acoustic guitars do not mix)

But hey… they flash really cool…all by them-selves….

5. Safety. Safety. Safety. Hanging 45 pounds of fixtures from the drop ceiling is NOT acceptable! EVERYTHING should hang from a proper point and EVERYTHING should have TWO points of attachment, specifically a safety wire on every fixture. Let’s face it – you’re not going to climb up there every week and check on these things so they need to be mounted in such a way that they are considered to be as permanent as the light above the pool table.

So to address Rob’s original request… “How important are lights to the live band experience?” – It’s easy; if your patrons know that the venue has gone the extra step and forked out a couple of hundred dollars so they can see EVERY band in your place, they will be back for more. However, if the band foots the bill for the visuals, well “your” patrons may just follow the band to their next venue.

Thank you Stephen for enlightening all of us on your insight on the subject!  If anyone would like to get in touch with you, I have included a link to your web-site, Feedback Sound Company.