Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Billy Seward Band at Mattison's City Grille in Sarasota

I just couldn't leave. Usually, I can enjoy a few tunes and then continue on my way. And it's not like I haven't seen most of these guys play in various band formations around the Sarasota live music scene. And it was blues, in a blues town. Yawn, right? Wrong, so wrong. Tonight's lineup at Mattison's City Grille in downtown Sarasota, playing as the Billy Seward Band, just had me mesmerized -- body, mind, and spirit. One song flowed into the next, and I had to stay and sway and marvel and smile. 

Tonight at Mattison's, on a slow Tuesday evening no less, I happily stumbled upon a lush, intoxicating wall of sounds that felt like one sound. One stellar rendition that stays in my head was Seward's version of "Let's Straighten it Out", written by Clarence Carter.  Oh, my, my, it took me outta there.

Billy Seward is relatively new to the Sarasota live music scene. He injects a refreshing collection of variously punchy, smooth, and dynamic Chicago blues and Memphis soul sounds into a town that seemingly already provides every musical flavor one could imagine. 

With rhythm in capable hands like those of Burt Engelsman on bass and Steve Camileri on drums, every song was firmly grounded. Sidney Wingfield added bright keyboards and supercharged vocals, and the ever-steady and innovative Richy Kicklighter contributed his dazzling yet seemingly effortless lead and rhythm guitar stylings.  I haven't heard Seward play elsewhere, so I can't compare, but he's cherry-picked some of the best sidemen Sarasota has to offer, and they profoundly enhance what he brings to the table. 

Clearly, there are no limits to where music can take you in Sarasota. There are surprises around every corner here, even when you're not looking for them.

Live Music on Siesta Key

Monday is usually a slow night for live music in Sarasota. Nevertheless, it was a beautiful evening for a long walk on Siesta Beach, so I headed to Siesta Village, knowing I'd at least pass by some music along the way. As usual, the Sarasota live music scene did not disappoint!

First, I heard the clear and sweet tones of Andres Colin, smilingly engaging with the dinner crowd of vacationing families at The Hub Baja Grille. Had to stay for his renditions of No Woman, No Cry and O' Sole Mio (sung in Italian -- Andres is multi-lingual). Colin exudes fun and happiness, serving it up with rich musical talent and flair. I cannot watch him play without a big grin on my face, which is also true of the multi-generational audience he entertains.

On the way back from my beach walk (nothing like walking barefoot in the supersoft sands of Siesta Beach at sunset!), Zach Yoder's deep and plaintive voice caught my attention. He was set up at Siesta Key Oyster Bar (S.K.O.B.). I've seen him play guitar with Berry Oakley's Skylab and other local bands, so it was interesting to hear him perform in a duo. When he sings, out comes the voice of a man way beyond his youthful age, and when he plays, he goes into a fast, head-swaying trance, long locks obscuring his face. His guitar work is prodigious and deeply felt, and his vocal stylings really interesting and resonant of the 60s'.

Finally, to top off an already-top-notch night of walk-by live music, I joined the crowd gathered around The Garbage Men, a trio of high-school-age guys playing 60s rock 'n roll classics on instruments made from old cereal boxes, plastic jugs and cardboard tubes. Ya gotta hear 'em to believe it, but they really nail the sounds and feel of songs like The Doors' Hello, I Love You.

Last night's stroll proves, once again, that it's always worth it to "Get off the couch!" and go out to find live music in Sarasota!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Brenda Kay Benefit Bash on Siesta Key - TODAY

I don't know whether to be happy or sad . . . I guess I have to feel both right now:

Happy for all the people who are showing up this afternoon at the Brenda Kay Benefit Bash  (1-7PM) at The Beach Club in Siesta Key Village to show Brenda Kay how much they love her. Showing up so she can see them, hear them, hug and be hugged by them. Showing up to serenade her with incredible music.

Sad for the situation that brought out this crowd today. No one deserves to receive an unappealable sentence. No one should have to face the relentless predation of cancer. No one should have to say goodbye in the middle of a healthy, vital, love-filled life.

I'll close on a happy note: The music at the Brenda Kay Benefit Bash this afternoon (Sunday, June 1st) is fabulous. Sarasota musicians know how to show the love better than anyone out there. 

There are still 3 more hours to go, filled with the best live music that Sarasota has to offer. So, please, head out to the Key, and show up. Even if you don't know Brenda. No one judges where love comes from, just that it shows up.

I don't know Brenda, but I'm glad I've had a glimpse of how much she is loved. I wish you life and peace and as much joy as you can fit into each day.