For those who truly love the live music experience, the Fort Myers Beach Friends of the Arts have a present they’d like to give to everyone on Fort Myers Beach: The Friends’ Boat Barn Concert Series starts on Friday, January 15th – and this time they have five concerts planned that are guaranteed to help folks keep their boogey shoes on all through season.
Those of our readers who have yet to experience one of the shows the Friends put on are in for a treat – as the caliber of these performances are on par with something that might be seen at a large concert hall like Barbara B. Mann, but for a much lower price.
Friends Board Member Bob Layfield explained that the concert series serves as a fundraiser for the Friends of the Arts, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization formed to promote the arts on Fort Myers Beach and aid in enhancing the image of the island to be that of a place to come for culture, not just cocktails.
“Our primary focus is raising funds for the Friends’ mission,” he told us. “Most of the proceeds go into the budget for Paint the Beach and the Film Festival, but hopefully more funds can be raised to support other events that feature our local performers and visual artists.”
So what do the Friends have in store for us this coming season? That’s where Jo List comes in.
“This is my second year putting together this series, and I’m excited that the Friends have asked me to do this again,” List said. “This series is for people who really enjoy a musical experience as the stage is set up to showcase each individual act. It’s a way to expose our locals, seasonal residents and visitors to our local talent – people they can go out and see any time of the year.”
Jo says that the concerts will be held either inside one of Fish Tale Marina’s boat barns (hence the name) which will be transformed into the ‘Propeller Room’ – a professional entertainment venue complete with lights and sound done by local musician Steve Lutke, or just outside, depending on the weather. All of the concerts will feature entertainment in a cabaret-like setting, with light noshes and a cash bar.
“We set the time for all the concerts at 7-9pm, which gives people a chance to have dinner and gets them out early enough so they can enjoy the rest of their evening,” she said. “And, except for the first one, which is on a Friday, they will all be held on Thursday nights so as not to interfere with the many things going on over the weekends this season.”
List has worked hard in the off-season coming up with just the right collection of diverse local artists for the 2016 season, so the following is a sneak peek:
GLEN LEONARD & HITSVILLE LIVE
On January 15th, take a journey back in time with us to simpler times, through an evolution of music that was created by Motown, when this all-star musical cast featuring Glen Leonard, lead singer of The Temptations from 1975-1983,takes the stage.
“I was lucky to see them perform in Orlando and they were absolutely spectacular,” said Director of Marketing for Fish-Tale Marina, Jaime Huffman. “They covered all my favorites, including ‘My Girl’, and we’re so excited to bring them to the beach.”
Leonard, a 2013 inductee into the R&B Music Hall of Fame, will also be showcasing the music of The Supremes, The Marvelettes and Smokey Robinson in this not-to-be-missed concert.
AL HOLLAND WITH HIS BAND
On January 21, Al Holland will take the stage, and, for the first time since the Friends’ concert series began, he will be accompanied by his band from Nashville.
“Al performed for the last two years and was very popular, so the Friends asked me to make sure he’d return this year,” Jo told us, and Bob explained that Al is “a classic Motown veteran who features music from the Four Tops, the Temptations, Smokey Robinson along with a variety of blues and pop.”
“Special thanks to the Wyndham Garden Resort for sponsoring this concert,” List added.
FLORIDA SOUTHWESTERN JAZZ ENSEMBLE
The Florida SouthWestern State College Jazz Ensemble (formerly the Edison Brass Band) comes to the island on February 11. “The Board asked me to get them, so I called up one of the members who I’ve known through previous experiences – Dr. Tom Smith -and booked them for February again this year,” List told us. “Dr. Smith is a fellow islander who teaches at Florida Southwestern, and this concert will be a spectacular event as they will probably come with about 20 pieces, including a piano.”
The Jazz Ensemble performs works from all eras of the Jazz story. Audience members are regularly treated to compositions that range from Dixieland to the Jazz Age; Swing era favorites to Be-bop; Cool jazz to Hard Bop; and Free Jazz to Fusion.
JAZZMATICS WITH LYNN RICHARDSON
Many of our readers will remember Lynn Richardson and the huge following she had on the island in the late 90’s and early 00’s. This March, Lynn returns to the beach on March 31st for a very special concert with her new band, The JazzMatics.
“Lynn made a name for herself on the beach and in this area playing with The Juice, a very popular blues band from days gone by that she still performs with,” List said. “She and the JazzMatics play regularly at The Roadhouse in the Big Lots plaza, and they are amazing.”
The JazzMatics are also connected to the beach through the drummer – Joe Bilardo – whose wife, Amy, works at our own beloved Beach Elementary School.
JO LIST & FRIENDS
Finally, on April 7th, Jo returns to the stage herself for a reprise of the previous two season’s legendary concerts. Performing with the same lineup of Michael Oakland, Bill Rountree, Carveth Clauson and Joe McConaghy, ‘Jo List & Friends’ will be performed ‘cabaret style’, meaning each musician will intermingle with the audience and each other, highlighting the best of each one’s unique talents.
“Michael Oakland has this very unique guitar style…He literally makes magic with that guitar.” A career musician and recording artist, he is the host of the television show ‘It’s the Music, Man’ and has shared the stage with folks like Michael McDonald and the Boston Pops Orchestra, among many others.
Like Oakland, bassist Bill Rountree is also a musical snowbird and can be seen performing with another eclectic group ‘Left of Center’. A lifelong musician, he spends his summers playing bass and singing lead and backup vocals for the very popular band, ‘Hazy, Hot and Humid,’ and has recorded his original songs in Nashville.
Percussionist Carveth Clauson has been performing professionally since the age of sixteen. In his career, he has taken part in over sixty bands spanning a wide variety of musical styles. He has performed at the Monterey Blues Festival twelve years in a row, and has opened shows for headliners such as Bonnie Raitt.
Tickets for all five events in the series can be purchased for $25 per concert. A cash bar will be available, as will light fare served by Skye’s Mexican & More. Buy tickets in advance at the Fish Tale Marina Office or at the door on the night of the event – though in past years the series has sold out so advance purchases are recommended. The Propeller Room is located behind Santini Plaza, and actually faces the back bay, so attendees can watch the moonrise over the bay. Parking is free by the Ship’s Store and shuttle service will be provided between the parking area and the event.
“This concert series is designed to be a step above your typical beach bar type of music,” Layfield said. “We wanted to bring something different to the music scene on the beach and we think we’ve succeeded with this line-up. There will also be a dance floor as spontaneous dancing has been known to erupt at previous concerts!”
“The focus is on the music, so it’s a real treat both for those who love to hear music and for those who love to perform it,” she said.
For more information, visit the Friends’ new website at friendsoftheartsfmb.com.
Keri Hendry Weeg
Friends’ Concert Series Kicks off With Free Christmas Show
To kick off their 2016 concert series, the Fort Myers Beach Friends of the Arts has a special treat for islanders and their families: ‘The Tidings of Great Christmas’ concert – which will be held on Sunday, December 13th from 4-6pm in front of Santini Plaza and will be free of charge as a gift to the people of our community.
“For this concert, we are featuring King Guys – “The Cool Yule Band,” who are an incredible brass band from Orlando who put their own spin on the music of ‘the most wonderful time of the year’,” said Fish Tale Marketing Director Jaime Huffman. “They present an interactive stage production titled, “Tidings of Great Joy – A Cool Yule Celebration.” Performing arrangements like “Funky King Wenceslaus” and “Salsa Claus is Comin’ to Town” – this is a Holiday spectacular you won’t soon forget.”
Along with the music, Islanders can enjoy special Christmas treats, cookies and cider by Truly Scrumptious and holiday treats from Skye’s, along with other holiday themed items.
“Come enjoy the spirit of Christmas with us!” said Jaime. “Thanks to the Friends of the Arts for making this happen!”