Sunday, December 26, 2010

Frankie & Bain at Hub Baja Grille in Siesta Village

Topping off a day of holiday eating and visiting, we took an early evening stroll through Siesta Key Village Saturday night and were pleased to see Bain Beakley and Frankie Lombardi peforming as a duo at The Hub Baja Grille on Ocean Boulevard. Offering up a mix of covers and originals, the pair blended seamlessly, both players facile as usual with rhythm and lead guitar.

Bain's vocals resonate up from deep inside and power out into the sea air with a tone and volume unique to him. Frankie's sound is full of passion and intensity, showcased beautifully in his rendition of "Smile", a sweet original from his CD "Shank Songs".

Catch Frankie & Bain whenever you can, for the good music and good energy they project.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Saturday: Shift Change at Mattison's City Grille

Noticing that T.C. and the Troublemakers were not playing at Mattison's City Grille in downtown Sarasota last night, we headed over there to check out the classic rock band, Shift Change, and were pleased to discover a high octane, very danceable, smooth blending 5-piece group that got the place rocking.

Memorable moments included covers of Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix (well, not so danceworthy, but deja vu-ish nonetheless), and other faves from the '70s. We're looking forward to finding Shift Change at other venues around Sarasota, now that we know they're keepers on the live music scene.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saturday Night in Downtown Sarasota

What a beautiful evening. Perfect temperature, a gentle sea breeze, and live music everywhere in downtown Sarasota. John Howard and Captain Matt offered a an enthusiastic rendition of familiar tunes and originals at O'Leary's Tiki Bar on the Sarasota Bayfront from 5 to 9PM. Captain Matt's left-handed musical artistry on various string instruments is always a pleasure to admire. John Howard's songbook is packed with tunes both rollicking and sweet.

At Mattison's City Grille, the busy outdoor bar/restaurant that anchors the corner of Lemon Avenue and Main Street, T.C. & The Troublemakers got the crowd going -- and not stopping -- on the dance floor and on the street. With a date, with your friends, or by yourself, it's a friendly free-for-all in front of the bandstand, and this band is a great way to spend a fun Saturday night.

There were other bands here and there on Main Street tonight, but these are two of my favorites. Enjoy them whenever you can.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Gabrielle Louise in Park City, Utah

High and dry in the Wasatch mountains, Park City, Utah, is a popular tourist destination in the summer as well as the winter, when it's best known for great powder skiing. A local organization called Mountain Town Music promotes live music at numerous venues around the area during the summer.

Walking uphill on my way home, in scenic Old Town last night, I was drawn to the sound of a woman vocalist singing on Main Street under the permanent stage at Miners Park Plaza. Turned out to be Gabrielle Louise, who's here from Denver with her drummer and bass player. She entranced the crowd with soulful originals, including a number inspired by her winter spent in Buenos Aires.

Here's a youtube video to give you a feel for her sound:

Beyond her potent musicality, Louise is a passionate environmentalist, who has apparently fueled her entire national tour with vegetable grease: "For over a year - 60,000 miles on the road - The Gabrielle Louise Show has toured using vegetable grease collected, for free, from restaurants. The tour van was converted to run on 100% waste vegetable oil at a cost of less than $1000.

Driving from coast to coast several times as well as to Alaska and back, The Gabrielle Louise Show has saved over $9,000 in would-be fuel costs and spared the atmosphere of over 11 tons of CO2 - the equivalent amount of CO2 release to power a 60-watt light bulb 24/7 for 20 years!"

How incredibly inspiring is that? And how does she do it? "Ridiculously simple!
Clean (filtered) waste vegetable oil, heated to 160+ degrees, functions the same in a diesel engine as petroleum diesel. Waste vegetable oil has already served its purpose (cooking!) thus this second use comes free of any manufacturing, transportation, or pollution requirement. Unlike diesel and gasoline, waste vegetable oil emits no sulfur oxides or sulfates (acid rain) and is 100% carbon-neutral (does not cause an increase in the overall amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere)."

For my part, I'm happy to be without a car in Park City this summer. There's an entirely FREE bus system here. Sturdy sneakers, a knee wrap (ouch, the hills!), and hiking boots take care of the rest.

I hope to be posting more musical finds from Park City, now that I can breathe again, after two weeks of adjusting to high altitude (7300 ft.) and walking up and down the hills and stairs. Best to all in SRQ, where the beaches are beautiful and storms never touch down.

Friday, June 4, 2010


Walking out of the Whole Foods garage in downtown Sarasota last weekend, I heard a unique collection of sounds coming from the outdoor plaza. Upon closer inspection, I saw yet another talented group of Sarasota middle-school musicians. (Yes, this town is full of precocious players, including Jazz Juvenocracy and Fogt's Jr All Stars.)

The twist in this case was that each of their "instruments" was constructed from recycled junk. The lead "guitar" body was a cereal box, the bass "guitar" was made from a shoebox, and both had been electrified and hooked up to an amp. The "drum kit" consisted of jars and metal cans. The "horn section" included a trombone, flute, and recorder, all wrangled out of PVC pipe and a plastic funnel.

Beyond the novelty of their instruments, these kids could actually play music, by ear, and they surely cheered up an empty day downtown in the heat of the Memorial Day weekend.

In addition to their appearance at Whole Foods in downtown Sarasota, the Garbage Men can be seen entertaining the strollers at the First Friday Towles Court Art Walks.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Thursday: Susan James at Sarasota Vineyard

Local Sarasota singer/songwriter Susan James will perform at Sarasota Vineyard tonight, from 6 to 10PM. Along with familiar songs from the 70s and 80s, she'll serve up originals with folk-rock and country flavors. Themes include love and the quirks of everyday life, with music from sweet to rockin'. Look for a couple of special guests backing her up at the mic stands.

Sarasota Vineyard is a comfortable wine bar located on Main Street, next to Barnacle Bill's, a few doors east of Lemon Avenue, in downtown Sarasota.

No smoking, no cover. Tips and CD purchases appreciated. This show is part of the Vineyard's week-long celebration of its 2nd year anniversary in business.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tuesday: Special Guest with Michael Kach Group

Mike's been inviting some special guests to join The Michael Kach Group onstage at The Irish Rover the past few weeks. Dickey Betts and Tony Tyler showed up recently. Tonight there'll be another surprise or two, so stop by the Rover to listen and enjoy.

No cover, no smoking. The show runs from 7:30 -10PM. The Irish Rover is on Gateway Avenue in Gulf Gate, Sarasota.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Profile: Kenny Crawley

It takes a certain kind of patience to keep the beat to slow, hypnotic music. Especially for musicians raised on pop or rock 'n roll, stretching out the measures and relaxing into a dreamy vibe can be challenging. In the case of Kenny Crawley, drummer for The Instigators, it's par for the course.

Born in Sheffield, UK, and now living in Florida, Kenny Crawley has been performing for thirty years. He's also an experienced session player, first in London, where he recorded with Glen Matlock, bass player for the Sex Pistols; Dave Bascombe, producer of Tears for Fears; and Don Was. During the 1980s, he was signed by Virgin Records with the band Floy Joy.

In the United States, Crawley has done session work and performed with Bo Diddley; Santana vocalist Alex Ligerwood; and Brian Johnson of AC/DC. He toured with Dickey Betts in 2005, 2006, and 2008.

On the creative side, he composes trance dance pop music. (Note: According to, trance music is "a genre of electronic dance music that developed in the 1990s. Trance music is generally characterized by a tempo of between 130 and 155 BPM, short melodic synthesizer phrases, and a musical form that builds up and down throughout a track. It is a combination of many forms of music such as industrial, techno, and house.)

Since January of this year, Crawley's been keeping the beat and offering up some impressive drum solos with The Instigators, every Thursday evening from 7:30 - 10PM at The Irish Rover in Gulf Gate, Sarasota. If you stop by tonight, you can see Kenny's sticks in action.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tuesday: New Sounds from Michael Kach Group

Another stand-out night of surprising and captivating sounds from The Michael Kach Group at The Irish Rover in Sarasota. The first set started out with the band "trying out" a Duane Betts original, with Duane on vocals, and backup vocals by Bain Beakley and Burt Engelsman. Smooth as silk, and everyone knew the words, so it came off flawlessly.

Then it seemed every other tune was a smooth jazz composition by Mike Kach, with his keyboard and Duane's lead guitar playing off each other as if connected by one brain, or something like that. You just can't categorize these guys.

The second set was more of the driving Southern rock flavor that The Michael Kach Group cooks up so well. The surprise guest was a young tyro named Tony Tyler who smoked on slide guitar in tandem with Duane Betts and then delivered roaring lead vocals on a blues number later on. Props to Mike Kach for generously sharing the stage with other interesting local talent, with which Sarasota is overflowing for sure.

Continuing his nightly quest for complex variations of stick-flying and kick-pedaling on the skins, Frankie Lombardi dove into a couple of blazing solos, and all I could see was sticks whippping as fast and accurately as a hummingbird's wings, and legs in constant motion on the bass drums. When Frankie gets going, you've got to just sit back and be mesmerized until it's over, as his bandmates do up there on the stage. Whew!

How refreshing that this group presents a constantly evolving stew of creative ideas, all offered up for just tips at the Rover. Catch 'em every night you can--it's never the same show, and it's always a treat.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Friday: The Strangeways

It's always intriguing to hear an unusual sound, and that's what was emanating from The Five O'Clock Club on Hillview Street in Sarasota late last night. From outside the club, I heard a horn section and saw drums and guitars, so I paid the $3 cover and stepped inside to see who was playing. (Full disclosure: I was tipped off to the gig by kinetic keyboard player Tim Meyer, who gave an entertaining performance Thursday night when he sat in with The Instigators at the Rover.)

Arrayed onstage were The Strangeways, well-named as they combine a highly percussive sound--insistent drums and lively keyboards--thumping away behind a cluster of horn players on sax, trombone, and trumpet, with bass and lead guitars lending rhythm and top notes to the mix. In addition to the sort of jazzy funky long, long tunes, there was a bit of horseplay among some of the performers, which all combined to keep the crowd on the dance floor stepping and gyrating happily, with lots of rapt listeners in the background.

The Strangeways is an eight-piece reggae and ska band founded in 1994. In addition to playing in the Southeast, they've completed two national tours and have a CD to their credit. Yet another testament to the versatility and technical virtuosity to be found in the Sarasota live music scene.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Venue: Marina Jack

Imagine dancing to live music in Sarasota while looking out at a spectacular sunset across Bayfront Park to Sarasota Bay. Well, you've just imagined what it's like every night at the bar at Marina Jack restaurant, located at the western end of Main Street, across Mound Street from downtown. You can choose to sit outside on the deck, watching the tide lap against the bulkhead. Or sit inside, covered by the high ceiling above, yet open to the Gulf breezes in this bar-without-walls. Best of all, just get out on the dance floor and move to the beat.

There's live music seven days a week at Marina Jack, with no cover charge. Highlights include Democracy playing joyful reggae on Sunday afternoons from 5PM; The Venturas kickin' it with swing, blues, and jazz on Wednesdays from 6PM; and Omni dance band on Fridays.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Profile: Bain Beakley

Tampa-born, Sarasota-based singer/guitarist Bain Beakley has learned to interweave his technical, vocal, instrumental and songwriting skills as both a touring musician and local stalwart on the Sarasota area live music scene.

Recently off the road after providing guitar tech services for Dickey Betts & Great Southern for three years, Bain can be seen at The Irish Rover on Tuesday nights playing guitar and singing backup vocals with The Michael Kach Group. He also performs as a solo act and sometimes in a duo at Sarasota Vineyard on Main Street, in downtown Sarasota. Here's a video from one of those gigs:

His own band, The Chillbillies, featuring Bain on vocals and guitar, Tim Dodge on drums, Taylor Collins on Bass, and Tommy Troglin on guitar and vocals, entertains with their particular flavor of country, rock and blues at private parties and benefits.

Growing up, Bain formed bands with friends in Sarasota, developing his chops as a self-taught guitarist. He later toured with Guns & Roses, Poppa Roach, and Sebastian Bach (of Skid Row) as a guitar tech, followed by his stint with Dickey Betts. When not on tour, he gigged with Mike Kach, Burt Engelsman, and Dave Reinhardt in The 504 Group.

Going forward, Bain Beakley promises more original tunes by himself, Mike Kach, and Frankie Lombardi showing up in the The Michael Kach Group and The Chillbillies set lists. To see Bain in action, stop in at The Irish Rover on Tuesday night, from 7:30 -10PM. No cover, but tips are appreciated and well-deserved.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Saturday: Michael Miller & The Heart Machine at Felice's

Stopping in at Pastry Arts Cafe last night on Main Street, in downtown Sarasota, I enjoyed listening to Michael Miller, a local up-and-coming rock/indie singer/songwriter, whose band, The Heart Machine, is the headliner tonight, Saturday, May 8th, from 8 - 11PM, at Felice's (formerly Sarasota Olive Oil Company), 500 Central Avenue, at 5th Street, in the Rosemary District.

Miller's earnest and capable delivery of covers and originals, in a duo performance with his bass player, drew a full house that stayed around to hear more. If you're looking to change it up a bit tonight, several blocks away from the madding crowd, check out Michael Miller & The Heart Machine at Felice's. No cover, smoke-free, casual atmosphere.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Thursday: The Instigators Contract Renewed at Rover

Good news for The Instigators' fans: Their contract to play at The Irish Rover was renewed for another month. So Thursday nights are still full of live music and reggae fun. The show runs from 7:30 -10PM tonight at The Irish Rover on Gateway Avenue in Gulf Gate. Ya mon!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wednesday: Live Music in Downtown Sarasota

Wednesday's a busy night in downtown Sarasota. Here are some live music highlights:

7 -10PM, Radio Free Carmela and David Brain host open mic night at Pastry Art (just east of Lemon Avenue on Main Street)

7:30 - 10PM, Jimmy Gee hosts an invitational open mic at The Box Social across the street (on Main Street, just east of Lemon Avenue)

7 - 11PM, Big T & the Tornadoes, Chicago blues, at Mattison's City Grille, corner of Main Street and Lemon Avenue. Look for bassist Burt Engelsman, guitarist Richy Kicklighter, and drummer Frankie Lombardi backing up the vocalists onstage.

Venue: Blase Cafe in Siesta Village

Aside from a small alfresco bar and a few tables, you can't tell much about Blase Cafe from the outside. It's located at the back of a small parking lot on Ocean Boulevard, across from the Best Western hotel, just a block from Siesta Beach access 10.

When you enter Blase, though, you're immediately transported to another world. The bar areas to the left and in front of you feel larger than they are, due to the high ceiling. A deep rosy pink color suffuses the walls, and vintage decor creates a sort of European mystique. During dinnertime, there are tables set up in the room. On select Sunday and Monday evenings, the tables are moved to make room for musicians who set up against the back wall.

When you hear that Los Rombaros are playing, make sure to catch their mesmerizing Gypsy, Latin, fusion music. The whole room ends up gyrating on the dance floor. It's a most unusual Sarasota live music experience.

On some nights, there's an open jam. Tonight, Wednesday, May 4th, stop by to listen and dance to Siesta Key Lei and his band.

Blase Cafe offers a tasty menu with a variety of appetizers and entrées, including seafood, pasta, beef, poultry and lamb.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Profile: Richy Kicklighter

On Thursday nights at The Irish Rover, in Sarasota, you'll see Richy Kicklighter onstage, quietly creating or enhancing a mood, with his subtle and emotive guitar leads for The Instigators. At Marina Jack's on Sunday evenings, he alternately blends and showcases mellow strums and deft picking into the reggae dance music of Democracy. Wednesdays, you can hear him at Mattison's City Grille, where he plays with Big T and the Tornadoes. Richy's guitar playing is both workmanlike and brilliant by turns. Lucky for us here in Sarasota, you can see him in action all over town.

His specialty is playing blues, jazz, R & B, worldbeat and reggae, on both acoustic and electric guitars. Through a long career that's taken him from Sarasota to New York to Atlanta to Macon and touring all over, Richy has played with the best of them, including Rufus Thomas, Eddie Floyd, Neil Larsen, Sammy Lawhorn, Little Johnny Taylor and Bo Diddley. He was a co-founder of the legendary R&B/Blues band Cool Breeze, which toured the blues circuit from New York to Florida, sharing the bill with Stevie Ray Vaughn, Room Full of Blues, Night Hawks, Average White Band, Dixie Dregs, John Hammond, and others. He played with The Instigators for 8 years and rejoined them in January when they re-entered the Sarasota live music scene.

Along with live performances, Richy writes original music and, through his publishing company, Midnight Pass Music, handles music licensing, supervision, and production for film and TV projects internationally. A very busy guy.

You can see Richy Kicklighter in action, when he sits in with The Michael Kach Group at The Irish Rover from 7:30 - 10PM tonight, Tuesday, May 4th. No cover, smoke-free, family-friendly, the Rover is located on Gateway Avenue in Gulf Gate, Sarasota.

Profile: Paul Duffy

For most people running a successful restaurant business would keep them busy enough. That's clearly not enough for Paul Duffy, owner of The Irish Rover Pub in Gulf Gate, who's also an accomplished and active musician.

You might have seen him stepping in to blow a rocking and soulful sax alongside one of the bands onstage in the large and comfortable dining room at the Rover. Or grabbing a mike to add powerful vocal harmonies to the mix. "Wow, who is that guy? He's terrific," you may think to yourself. Well hold your hat, because not only does Duffy wail on saxophone--he also plays trumpet, flute, guitar, keyboards, drums, bass, tin whistle and bagpipes. As Michaleen Oge Flynn (Barry Fitzgerald) exclaims in the classic Irish movie, "The Quiet Man", "Prodigious!"

Born into an Irish circus family, Duffy's International Circus, Paul Duffy actually walked the tightrope while playing sax. As a young man, he played with The Miami Showband and The Irishmen, also working in Dublin as a studio musician. His siblings are also musicians, and the lot of them formed a band called MPH. While touring in Mexico and Texas, he was hired to join The Commitments, a gig that lasted for six years. Over the years, he's played with the likes of Ben E. King, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, Brian Johnson, Suzi Quatro, Chris de Burgh, Paul Hazel, The Corrs and Hazel O'Connor.

Along with performances at numerous Irish pubs along the Eastern Seaboard, Duffy played for seven years at Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando, FL.

He has the mien of a true entertainer, reliably presenting a smiling, energized face to the room, giving his all whenever he instrumentalizes or sings. You can see and hear him every Friday night at The Irish Rover, on Gateway Avenue, in Gulf Gate, Sarasota, from 7:30 - 10 PM, where he plays traditional Irish songs and American classics.

The Rover is smoke-free and family-friendly.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Saturday: Bain & Frankie at Sarasota Vineyard

Arriving at Sarasota Vineyard in downtown Sarasota last night to hear Bain Beakley play solo, we had a double surprise to find a rockin' duo at the front of the house. Sharing the stage with Bain was Frankie Lombardi on guitar and vocals. Familiar with Frankie's drumming pyrotechnics from his local gigs with The Michael Kach Group, we hadn't heard his strong vocals and impressive guitar work.

It's always interesting to see two accomplished lead players weave in and out of each other's riffs, and Bain and Frankie had fun finding the spaces in between. Both are veterans of 10 years on the road with Dickey Betts & Great Southern. Their repertoire is varied and spans decades of rock history, spiced with their own personal emotive delivery. The guitars and voices blended and amplified each other.

If you hear that Bain & Frankie are playing somewhere, get over to see them. It's a treat I hope we'll enjoy often in Sarasota.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday: Michael Kach Group at The 5 O' Clock Club

If an early Friday night is your preference after a long work week, head over to The 5 O'Clock Club on Hillview Street tonight to catch The Michael Kach Group from 5:30 - 7:30PM.

These virtuoso players have toured with The Allman Brothers and Dickey Betts & Great Southern, so you're getting a top-shelf performance for the cost of some bucks in the tip jar and a drink. Not a bad deal, eh?

Michael Kach plays keyboard, Burt Engelsman is on bass, Frankie Lombardi keeps the beat going on drums, and Bain Beakley steps up with lead guitar and back up vocals. Duane Betts sits in on lead guitar as well.

The Michael Kach Group plays a longer and later show every Tuesday night at The Irish Rover, so if you enjoy the jam tonight, you can invite some friends to join you on Tuesday for more musical surprises and impressive riffs.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thursday: Last Night for The Instigators at The Irish Rover!!

Just as "Thursday night with The Instigators" was turning into a regular live music event on the Sarasota nightlife scene, it turns out their contract to play at The Irish Rover is over this week. So TONIGHT, APRIL 29, 2010, may be the last night we get to hear them until they find a new venue. . . OR, Let's show The Irish Rover that The Instigators have a BIG following, and maybe their contract will be renewed!!

The Instigators offer an intriguing blend of reggae, world, and subtle jam music that started back in the 1980s here in Sarasota, and only recently came back to life with their re-entry in January. Since then, they've made Thursdays a laid-back, groovy night for starting the weekend with some listening and dancing at the smoke-free, family-friendly Irish Rover pub on Gateway Avenue in Gulf Gate.

The show tonight starts at 7:30PM and runs until 10PM. "Be there or be square", as they used to say! Let's pack the house!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Profile: Frankie Lombardi

When you go out to hear The Michael Kach Group at the The Irish Rover on Tuesday night, take note of the percussive passion of drummer Frankie Lombardi. Watch him take off on one of his no-holds-barred journeys of sticks on skins. Whew! The energy just flows out of him and flies around the room.

Who is this guy, and where else has he played during his 25 year career behind the drum set? He studied at the drummer's collective in NYC, then moved to Boston to attend the Berklee School of Music. While in Boston, he was a member of the rock band, Sunshine Jive.

Lombardi's next stop was California, where he played with guitarist Blues Saraceno and opened for Steve Smith's Vital Information. On his return to Boston, he recorded on Sunshine Jive's eponymous debut release at Michael Bolton's Passion Studios in Westport, CT. The record was released in Japan and 14 countries in Europe by MTM music (a German company).

Frankie moved home to NYC to play with Furious Styles, described as a 'Tower of Power without horns.' During this time, he recorded his first solo release, entitled "Shank Songs". Frankie Lombardi also serves as a staff music writer (programmer) for Soundtrack Recording Studio's N.Y.C./Boston, and has played drums and percussion on numerous recording sessions including Fayva, Home Depot, AT&T, WWF, Sylvania, Casual Male, Baybank, Tupperware, SNET, Volkswagon, WCW, Norelco, etc.

Most recently, he toured with Dickey Betts & Great Southern. With Betts' decision to take a break from the concert circuit, Frankie Lombardi has been keeping The Michael Kach Group on track at The Irish Rover on Tuesday nights. The show starts at 7:30PM and keeps everyone on the edge of their seats until 10PM.

The Irish Rover, in Gulf Gate, Sarasota, is smoke-free and family-friendly. Unbelievably, The Michael Kach Group show is cover-free. Throw some green into the tip jar, though. These performers are world-class, and Lombardi is right up with them.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday: Jazz Juvenocracy at The Irish Rover

You may have heard them play at the Downtown Sarasota Farmers Market on Saturday mornings, where the sounds of professional-quality horns and drums drew you to their "stage" on Lemon Avenue. Once there, you'd no doubt have looked twice to see if your eyes were playing tricks on you. How could those smooth sounds and flawless performances be coming from kids?

Jazz Juvenocracy is a band composed entirely of middle school and high school students from Sarasota, and they've been impressing audiences for three years. You can hear them tonight from 6PM to 10PM at The Irish Rover, in Gulf Gate.

The band consists of six teenagers, ranging from 13 years to 18 years old. The idea for the group was theirs, and as a result of their weekly Saturday performances in front of a local grocery store, Greg Nielsen, a jazz trombonist who's performed with Slide Hampton, Cab Calloway, Ron Carter, Bobby Shew, Nancy Wilson and many other jazz legends, offered to coach them.

Since then, Jazz Juvenocracy has played regularly at jazz clubs in Florida. Individual members of the group have performed at the Grammy Awards, The Berklee Jazz Festival and the Clearwater Jazz Festival. This summer, they'll tour Europe, with dates already booked at the Jazz a Vienne Festival in France, the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, and The Tuscany and Umbria Festivals in Italy. Jazz Juvenocracy musicians are Austin Parker Gill, guitar; Alex Hernandez, tenor and soprano sax;Brent Layman, upright and electric bass; Bit Risner, trumpet, flugel horn and vocals; Rodney Rocques, drums; and Tommy Silverman, alto sax, clarinet, flute and EWI.

The Irish Rover is smoke-free and family-friendly, with a full dinner menu, in addition to drinks. No cover for the Jazz Juvenocracy show there tonight.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Profile: Burt Engelsman

It's easy to do a double-take when you're going around Sarasota listening to live music. Seems like all the bands have the same bass player: Burt Engelsman. Well, maybe not all of them, but quite a few. For example, on Tuesday nights, he plays with the Michael Kach Group at The Irish Rover; on Wednesdays, he's up on the stage with Big T and the Tornadoes at Mattison's City Grille; on Thursdays, it's The Instigators at The Irish Rover; Fridays it's the Michael Kach Group for happy hour at the Five O'Clock Club; and Mondays it's the Al Fuller Blues Jam at the 5 O'Clock Club. Assuming he's like other musicians, there are probably some private parties and once-in-awhile gigs in his schedule.

Who is this guy, and how did he get so popular? Burt Engelsman started playing bass in 1971 when he was 18 and still plays the vintage 1965 Fender Jazz bass purchased when he was 20. At age 21, he moved to Macon, GA, and played in a band called the Underground Railroad, which included Bobby Womack's horn section, drummer John Morgan and guitar player Robert Coleman from James Brown's band. Managed by Zelma Redding (Otis Redding's widow) they toured as the back up band for Percy Sledge, Clarence Carter, Candi Staton, and King Floyd.

From 1982 to 1983, Burt toured with the Gregg Allman Band and in Sarasota played with Eclipse from 1983 to 1986, with the Instigators from 1986 to 1989, with Twinkle during the mid 1990's (was in her music video "Can't Get Love With Money" which aired on VH1 and MTV) and several other R&B bands.

Over the years Burt had opportunities to play with James Brown, Freddie King, Dickey Betts, John Lee Hooker, Mitch Ryder (and the Detroit Wheels), Elvin Bishop, Pinetop Perkins, Archie Bell (and the Drells) and other name R&B players.

For some reason, Sarasota has become a destination and settling-down place for musicians with really impressive careers, and Burt Engelsman is surely one of them. But don't take my word for it. Stop into The Irish Rover in Gulf Gate tonight from 7 - 10PM to hear his bass and back up vocals with one of Sarasota's favorite reggae/world music/jam bands, The Instigators.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wednesday: Florida Mountain Boys at JR's Old Packinghouse Cafe

Put on your goggles and headband and get ready for speed. The Florida Mountain Boys will be whizzing through their lively bluegrass repertoire tonight at J.R.'s Old Packinghouse Cafe (on Old Packinghouse Road, one block east of Cattleman Road) in Sarasota.

While not all down-home Southern boys, these string-thing artists bend guitar, banjo, fiddle, and standup bass to their wild wills, regaling the crowd with bluegrass standards and originals that sound like you might have heard them all your life.

J.R.'s Old Packinghouse Cafe is smoke-free, family-friendly, and serves a full menu of comfort food in a funky Old Florida setting that used to be a celery packing warehouse (thus the name). You can hear live music here six nights a week. The show starts at 7PM, but get there earlier to snag a table and put in your food order. Then just let your feet do their stompy thing when the fiddlin' begins.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Profile: Michael Kach

Keyboardist and vocalist Michael Kach has been performing since he was 12 years old, when he began appearing with his band every Saturday at the Downtown Cabaret Theatre in Bridgeport, CT.

Over the years he's played with notable musicians including Chris Layton & Tommy Shannon (Double Trouble), Dangerous Dan Toler & Frankie Toler (Toler Bros./Allman Bros./Gregg Allman Band/Marshall Tucker), Greg Poulos (Freddie King), Gregg Allman, Allen Woody & Warren Haynes (Allman Bros.), Floyd Miles, Rick Derringer, Charlie Daniels, and Johnny Neel.

He's also opened for Buddy Guy, Lonnie Brooks, Leon Russell and more. He toured nationally with Molly Hatchet and was recorded by Relativity Records with Chris Anderson (Outlaws/Blackhawk) on his “Old Friend” album, among many other privately mastered CDs.

Most recently, he's been a member of Dickey Betts & Great Southern. With Betts' decision to take a break from touring, Kach has now formed his own band in Sarasota, called The Michael Kach Group. With Frankie Lombardi on drums and vocals, Burt Engelsman on bass and vocals, Bain Beakley on guitar and vocals, and Duane Betts on guitar, The Michael Kach Group energizes Tuesday nights at The Irish Rover in Gulf Gate, Sarasota.

Kach's piano playing is astonishing, fast and fluid. His throaty, driving vocals carry the songs and give ample space for lead breaks by other band members. A memorable show each week.

Check out The Michael Kach Group tonight, Tuesday, from 7 - 10PM. Tips only, no cover. The Irish Rover is smoke-free, family-friendly, with a full menu.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday: Fogt's Jr All-Stars at The Irish Rover

Not all live music in Sarasota is performed by talented grownups. On Monday night, April 19, from 7 - 10PM, at The Irish Rover in Gulf Gate, Fogt's Jr All-Stars, directed by Jimi Gee, will wow you with some of the most accomplished middle school and high school musicians from the Sarasota and Bradenton area. The band includes a horn section, keyboards, guitars, drums, and more. The set list ranges from big band to blues to rock.

In Sarasota, a town that already brims over with musical talent, established musicians are generously offering a hand-up to younger generations coming onto the scene, from teens to college and post-college. You'll sometimes see underage talent sitting in on the drums or impressing with prodigious guitar leads at a gig. Live music is roaring back into Sarasota, and it's so very cool to see it percolating at all ages.

Jimi Gee, whose successful career as a guitarist with major acts left him with the desire to pass on his passion to kids, rehearses Fogt's Jr All-Stars in a warehouse building behind Fogt's Music in Sarasota. Several of the band members already play multiple instruments. It used to be that school band music irked and ached with lumbering rhythms and wrong notes. No longer. Fogt's Jr All-Stars and Jazz Juvenocracy, another local junior group, take their tune seriously and already have ambitions for visible careers in music.

The Irish Rover is smoke-free and family friendly. Try dinner and live music tonight, instead of another DVD on the couch. You'll be inspired by what you see and hear.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday: Democracy at Marina Jack

Sometimes Sundays can be too quiet. If you're looking for a way to energize your "day of rest" with live music in Sarasota, the open-air bar at the back of Marina Jack offers a big room and deck full of smiling people of all ages and inclinations dancing to the soulful reggae, hip-hop and tropical sounds of Democracy. From 4 to 8PM every Sunday afternoon, you can shake and sway to the hypnotic beat while oohing and aahing at the sight of the sun setting over the Sarasota Bayfront.

You don't need a date. Just find a seat at one of the many tables or at the bar, and get out on the dance floor to do your thing. It's a big, friendly celebration.

Democracy band members Oswald "Ham" Caines, Reggie Knights, Richy Kicklighter, and John Walker blend instrumental and vocal harmonies with warm, danceable energy. Democracy also plays at the 5 O'Clock Club on Hillview Street on Thursday nights.

Marina Jack is smoke-free indoors, with tropical breezes wafting through the room from the adjacent Sarasota Bay. Ya mon! No more silent Sundays.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Saturday: TC & The Troublemakers at Mattison's City Grille

Set right in the heart of downtown Sarasota, Mattison's City Grille is an all-outdoor, covered dining restaurant with live music seven nights a week. While there are lots of tables and seats at the bar, when TC & The Troublemakers get going with their brand of Southern rock, classic rock and blues, it's hard to stay seated. IMHO (in my humble opinion), they are the most fun dance band in Sarasota on a Saturday night.

Let's start with TC's smooth growl of a singing voice. He just throws out those lyrics like a seasoned baseball pitcher, and he can adjust the mood and tone verse by verse, to set the crowd jumping or slow dancing. His lead guitar breaks are fluid and creative, oozing with soul. It continues to amaze me how many extraordinary guitar players we're gifted with here in Sarasota. And TC (Tim Chandler) is surely among the best of the best.

Backing him up energetically on bass and vocals is Doc Mambo. Rodney "Hot Rod" Johnson keeps the beat with kickin' drum work and both backup and lead vocals. When Rodney croons a Willie Nelson song, you'd swear Willie was up there doing the honors.

Besides impressing with facile musicianship, TC expertly reads the mood of the "room" on Saturday nights at Mattison's and delivers slow dances that crowd the floor with romantic couples, sweetly teases bachelorettes and birthday girls, and leaves few sitting when he launches into classics like Brown Sugar and Jumping Jack Flash, among other classics. TC & The Troublemakers plays some originals, too, which adds variety to their set list.

On his MySpace page, TC says, "Absolutely LOVE the blues, killer players like Albert King and BB and the like. Clapton has some fantastic songs and I'm REALLY into the sounds of Delbert McClinton. I grew up and started taking my music serious in the "Southern Rock" era, bands like Marshall Tucker and the Allman Bros. are what I began with and still somewhat emulate to this day." While I can hear the influences of those legends when TC & The Troublemakers play, they bring their own flavor to the music. Just can't keep from dancing when I hear it. Maybe you'll enjoy them, too.

If you want to hear an interesting contrast to TC & The Troublemakers' Saturday night party band sound, give a listen to some of Tim Chandler's original tunes on his individual MySpace page.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thursday: The Instigators at The Irish Rover

It's relaxing to go out on Thursday night, as the work week winds down. A nice way to ease into the weekend is to check out The Instigators at The Irish Rover in Gulf Gate on Thursday evenings from 7 to 10PM. This is an unusual band, which creatively blends reggae and world music sounds with sometimes ethereal, sometimes rocking riffs.

Formed in Sarasota in1982, The Instigators were the first reggae band in the area. As they slowly built an appreciative fan base, they developed into one of Southwest Florida's most popular bands. In 1985 they recorded their album Between the Worlds and while touring the southeastern part of the country they were asked to open shows for some of Reggae’s biggest names including Jimmy Cliff, Third World, King Sunny Ade, and Steel Pulse.

Fast forward to this Season when The Instigators returned as a band to Sarasota, with a packed-house reunion concert at The Irish Rover, where they continue to play on Thursday nights. The $5 cover charge is well worth this unique live music experience. These are all top-notch musicians, some of whom you'll recognize from other bands they play with around town.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Michael Kach Group Rocks Again at Irish Rover

It was another amazing evening at The Irish Rover last night, when the Michael Kach Group had the room cheering in admiration over their soulful vocals and instrumental jam breaks. Here's a snippet of what it was like (from a video recorded last month).

Their sound is influenced by the Allman Brothers and Dickey Betts & Great Southern, but they've clearly got their own thing going. Michael Kach's wailing, guttural vocals set the tone, and it's a blast watching the other players riff off his energy. Frankie Lombardi's drum solos were smokin'--where does all that energy come from? Bain Beakley and Duane Betts did some interesting lead-swapping. Burt Engelsman's fingers never stopped finding the bass lines that kept the whole package in synch.

But, truly, you've got to be there in person to see how these guys smoke. There's also a fun energy among them onstage. Enjoy the tips-only nights at the Rover while you can. The Michael Kach Group has got to be headed for bigger venues, and you'll want to say you saw them when they were starting out, right here in Sarasota.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Music at the Phillippi Farmhouse Market

New to the Sarasota live music scene this Season has been a little music festival that's been growing along with the Phillippi Farmhouse Market on Wednesday afternoons. This new farmers market, run by the Sarasota County Agricultural Extension, includes a music booth set up in the center of the array of farm, flower, takeout and crafts booths that ring the field along S. Tamiami Trail at Constitution Boulevard on the grounds of the historic Phillippi Estate. In contrast to the other early morning markets in Sarasota, the Phillippi Farmhouse Market is an afternoon event, opening at 11AM and closing at dusk. The music begins at 11AM and continues until 5PM, with a different musical group playing each hour.

All the musicians are volunteers, playing for tips and CD sales. Marco Cicerone, of Natural Vibes, opens the show each week, with his up-tempo steel drum dance and party tunes. He stays all afternoon, lending the use of his sound system to all the other performers. This season has seen an interesting variety of musical styles, including folk, folk/rock, blues, bluegrass, Americana, reggae, dulcimers, washtub bass, and other fun stuff.

Local and visiting musicians who have played at the Phillippi Farmhouse Market so far include Hymn for Her, Myakka (Brad & Lisa Fitzgerald), Susan James, Ray Paladino, Dean Johanesen, Marco Cicerone, and Dennis Brock, among others. There's lots of free parking on the grounds of the Phillippi Estate, the takeout foods are inexpensive and delicious, and there are picnic tables set up in the center of the field, so you can eat, socialize, listen to the music, and dance in the sunshine.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sarasota Live Music Venues

There are several venues in Sarasota that offer live music six or seven nights a week. This makes for an especially lively Sarasota nightlife scene, since you don't have to wait until the weekend to have fun listening to your favorite bands and solo performers.

UPDATE: The Irish Rover is closed.

In Gulf Gate, on Gateway Avenue, The Irish Rover is a smoke-free, family-friendly pub with a small bar in front and a spacious dining room with tables large enough for groups of friends to gather 'round. There's a full menu of comfort-food dinner items, as well as drinks, so you can stop in for a meal and stay for the music.
Owner Paul Duffy is a prodigious musician in his own right, expert on saxophone, trumpet, flute, guitar, keyboards, drums, bass, tin whistle, bagpipes, and vocals. He's played with Ben E. King, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, Brian Johnson, Suzi Quatro, Chris de Burgh, Paul Hazel, The Corrs and Hazel O'Connor. The Irish Rover offers music Tuesday through Saturday, with a diverse lineup of musical styles. Current highlights include the Michael Kach Group (southern rock and blues) on Tuesdays; The Instigators (reggae and world music) on Thursdays; and Paul Duffy's Irish Night on Fridays. You'll see people of all ages at The Irish Rover, including kids. Oh, yes, on the first Sunday afternoon of the month, don't miss Jazz Juvenocracy and amazingly talented jazz band whose members are all middle school students.

On Main Street in downtown Sarasota, Sarasota Vineyard is a smoke-free wine-tasting bar/restaurant with a tantalizing menu that includes appetizers like baked brie, spinach and artichoke dip, specialty salads, gourmet flat bread pizza, main dishes and desserts. You have your choice of seating, from club chairs, high-top tables, and a bar in the front, to cozy booths in the back. Sarasota Vineyard presents live music on Friday and Saturday nights. Make a point of stopping by to hear Al Fuller and Gary Davis harmonize on folk-rock favorites and originals. Bain Beakley, who plays at The Irish Rover on Tuesday nights with the Michael Kach Group, also delivers strong vocals and guitar work in his solo act at Sarasota Vineyard.

Mattison's City Grille, an outdoor restaurant at the corner of Main Street and Lemon Avenue, in downtown Sarasota, is always hopping with impressive bands playing live music seven nights a week. T.C. and The Troublemakers is a sure thing on Saturday nights, with very danceable sets of rock, blues, and originals. You can have fun on the dance floor whether you've got a date or not. Simply get up and join the crowd moving to the beat. On Thursday nights, The Venturas' repertoire of jazz, pop and swing highlights lead singer Ally Couch's husky and soulful vocals.

J.R.'s Old Packinghouse Cafe, on Old Packinghouse Road, one block east of Cattleman Road, near I-75, is a funky Old Florida, smoke-free, family-friendly restaurant with a small bar in the back, outside dining on the deck in front, and a tiny stage that serves up live music Monday through Saturday. Be sure to check out The Florida Mountain Boys (bluegrass), Kraig Kenning (slide guitar wizard), and the Al Fuller Band (blues, rock, originals) when they show up on the music schedule. Shows start at 7PM, so if you want a table and a short wait for your dinner, get there earlier to avoid the rush. The Old Packinghouse Cafe used to be part of a celery packing warehouse, thus the unusual name.

Marina Jack restaurant dominates the far west end of Main Street, where it meets Sarasota Bay. On the ground floor, in the back of the building, open to the breathtaking view of Island Park and the sunset over the John Ringling Bridge, there's a spacious bar, tables and chairs, and a spacious bandstand and dance floor where Sunday afternoons star Democracy, a very popular reggae band that draws a diverse and friendly crowd who can't keep their feet still as soon as the music starts. Notice the fluid and creative lead guitar by Richie Kicklighter, who also plays with The Instigators at The Irish Rover on Thursday nights. Reggae at Marina Jack goes from 4 - 9PM every Sunday. Dress is casual to glitzy, depending on your mood.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Tuesday: Michael Kach Group at Irish Rover

If you missed the debut of the newly formed Michael Kach Group at The Irish Rover in Gulf Gate, Sarasota, last Tuesday night, the good news is that they're playing again this Tuesday, April 13, from 7 - 10PM. This is one group that's worth getting out to hear. Really.

What you missed last week was a concert-arena-quality concert delivered for tips-only in an intimate, smoke-free, family-friendly setting. Michael Kach's fingers fly across the keyboard faster than any I've seen, Frankie Lombardi's drumming is virtuosic, and Burt Englesman's artful bass playing keeps everyone on track. Soulful lead guitar breaks by Bain Beakley, alternating with fluid lead guitar riffs by Duane Betts were outstanding. Kach's vocals, with backup vocals by Lombardi, Beakley, and Engelsman, are a blend of Allman Brothers howl with a bit of John Fogerty thrown into the mix. Lots of lung-power filling the room with a driving, jam-band sort of passionate fun.

Engelsman has toured with the Allman Brothers; Kach, Lombardi, Beakley, and Betts have toured with Dickey Betts. Now they're here in little Sarasota, gifting us with their musical wizardry every Tuesday night at The Irish Rover for the next few weeks.

What did we do to deserve this? Well, what we can do to appreciate it is to show up--hey, bring a tableful of friends and family--and give these guys the audience they deserve. The Irish Rover is located on Gateway Avenue (behind the Sarasota Pavilion) in Gulf Gate, Sarasota. In addition to drinks, you can order dinner from the comfort-food menu.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

About Best Music Tonight

Sarasota's a music town, with live music performances available seven days a week. This beautiful small city on Florida's Gulf Coast features several dining and nightlife districts, all easily accessible and within 10 or 15 minutes of each other.

On any given day or evening in Sarasota, you can find live music at friendly restaurants, bars, clubs, tiki bars, and hotel lounges. To see a list of venues and artists, with listings for tonight, tomorrow, yesterday, or future dates, go to, an excellent nightlife guide for the Sarasota - Bradenton area. You'll also find listings in Creative Loafing, the free weekly entertainment newspaper, and in the Ticket, the weekend magazine section of The Herald Tribune.

But how do you choose where to go? If you're not a local music afficionado, it's a wild shot to select a venue and live music gig you'll enjoy. That's where can help.

It began as a simple email list of my personal favorite performers and music venues around Sarasota. It will continue to grow as I explore and discover new places and musicians. It's not intended to be comprehensive or critical. Just as an art gallery owner selects artwork that appeals to his or her own taste and preferences, I offer an edited selection of gigs worthy of my time, and, I hope, yours as well.

My email list is called, "Get off the Couch". It's so easy to stay at home and spend the evening watching TV or DVDs, or lost in your computer screen. In a cultural community that's so full of local talent--of all ages, from kids to Boomers to seniors--it's really worth giving yourself the adventure of a night on the town.

And, by the way, that's one of the unique charms of Sarasota nightlife. At many venues, you'll find a blend of ages in attendance and on-stage. Also fluid is the range of fashions, from 6-inch stilettos to flip-flops, from sequins to tank tops. The main thing is to just show up and see what the night offers. More often than not, you'll go home humming that last song or skipping down the sidewalk, feet still tapping from happy dancing.

Many venues in Sarasota are smoke-free and charge little or no cover fee. For a few dollars dropped into the tip cup, or used to purchase an original CD, you can enjoy an evening of casual listening, fun dancing, or just watching real live humans, and still get home in time to catch the late news or snuggle with your honey.