Annual Winter Concert Series

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    The Turnstiles on January 30

    Two tribute bands and “an act to be named later” headline the 8th annual “Winter Concert Series” sponsored by the Fort Myers Beach Friends of the Arts at the Fish-Tale Marina at 7225 Estero Boulevard, behind the Santini Marina Plaza.

    Winter Concert Series shows are all on Thursdays, from 7 until roughly 9 p.m., explained Janeen Paulauskis, Treasurer of the FMB Friends of the Arts. “The first one is January 30 with ‘The Turnstiles,’ a Billy Joel tribute band. ‘The Turnstiles,’ however, are not just another Billy Joel tribute band; they are THE ultimate Billy Joel tribute band! They were here two seasons ago and immediately became a fan favorite, with folks practically begging us to schedule them again. The group leader looks and sounds exactly like Billy Joel!”

    The FMB Friends of The Arts cannot yet officially announce the February 20 headliner, “but we will soon,” Janeen related, “and rest assured, it will be a top-notch quality act, as our audience expects of us.”

    Wrapping up the series on March 19 is “Back to Chicago,” another tribute band that pays homage to the Rock-&-Roll Hall of Famers. “They were with us last season, and the crowd exceeded 500 people, so it was a no-brainer to bring them back this year,” raved Janeen! “They actually started out right here is Southwest Florida, so it is exciting to see their fan base grow throughout the state and beyond. I must speak from experience here – I am a native Chicagoan, so I not only love ‘Chicago’ but have been to many of their concerts, so in this case an endorsement from me carries a lot of weight – you will love ‘Back to Chicago’ as they are amazing!”

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    Tony Monaco at the piano with The Turnstiles Band.

    “Winter Concert Series” shows are outdoors, “at a marina, next to water, so dress appropriately,” related Janeen. “Even here in Paradise, it can get chilly when the sun sets. In a pinch, we have an inside option, but have not had to utilize that the past few years. When you purchase your tickets, we remind people to bring a sweater or jacket, just in case, but most people keep warm by dancing! People shake their booties right in front of the stage, behind the last row of chairs, and sometimes even in the aisles!”

    What Our Audience Wants

    When the FMB Friends of The Arts books its acts, “we listen to what our audience wants,” Janeen emphasized. “Our demographic is the Baby Boomer generation, and what could be more appropriate for that age group than shows centered around performers who channel Billy Joel and ‘Chicago.’ I belong to the Florida Festivals & Events Association and at our annual convention, we personally watch many of these acts perform 15-minute showcases, and that along with ‘word of mouth’ from the performance circuit is how we decide which ones to schedule.”

    The Winter Concert Series benefits the Fort Myers Beach Friends of the Arts, a non-profit that promotes creative arts on the island, including the visual, sound and culinary varieties. It sponsors large-scale events annually, including the Fort Myers Beach Film Festival in the spring and  the Sustainability Dinner each Fall, along with the Winter Concert Series. Become an FMB Friends of the Arts member through its website, to help bring the arts and various festivals to the island community.

    Winter Concert Series tickets are $30-per-person-per-show. Purchase them online at FMBArts.org and pick them up at the Will Call area at Fish-Tale Marina the evening of each show beginning at 6 p.m. “While there are always tickets at the door, we recommend buying them in advance, because you will have a seat. Often people who get them the night of the show must be in the Standing Room Only area behind the last row of chairs.”

    Janeen concluded, “The best part of the Winter Concert Series is watching our residents and visitors come together, young and old alike, with smiles on their faces, singing and dancing to the entertainers. Eight years ago, when we first began hosting these concerts, we were happy when 75 people showed up and now we can have over 500 – look how we have grown!”