Scene & Heard


Scene & Heard


Date: October 26, 2011
by: Heidi Kurpiela | A&E Editor



+ Blues Fest rolls on, Strauss still rocking out
Thought you wouldn’t catch a glimpse of Barbara Strauss at this year’s Blues Fest? Think again.

Just because Strauss finally parted with her beloved music festival, it doesn’t mean she quit it cold turkey. How could she? She’s run the event for 18 of its 21 years.

Even though the no-nonsense concert promoter sold the show to Houston-based ticketing company ExtremeTix, she’s still working her practical magic behind the scenes.

As usual, Strauss has booked a stellar lineup that includes headliner Los Lobos, Georgia soul musician and Grammy nominee Ryan Shaw, former Little Feat vocalist Shaun Murphy and Mississippi blues artist Lightnin’ Malcolm.

According to Strauss, the festival’s new owners have delivered on three key promises: They hired local vendors; they kept the ticket price low; and they grandfathered in Strauss’ favorite charity — All Faiths Food Bank.

“As far as I’m concerned, they saved the Blues Fest,” Strauss says. “You’re still getting a $22 rockstar concert and a $4 beer.”

For those of you who only know Los Lobos as the band that sings “La Bamba,” you’re in for a real treat. The group has won several Grammy Awards and toured with Bob Dylan, U2 and the Grateful Dead.

The gates open at 11 a.m. Nov. 5, at Ed Smith Stadium. That gives you nine days to practice singing, “Yo no soy marinero,” three times fast.

+ Wannabe TV scribes put on your thinking caps
Sarasota County’s “TV ME!” competition is back.

Sponsored by the Sarasota County Film & Entertainment Office, the contest is an excellent opportunity for aspiring screenwriters to get a shot at pitching material to major network executives.

Last year, the nationwide competition received more than 250 entries, including nine different pitches from overachieving grand-prize winner Austin McKinley, a freelance writer and artist from Sarasota.

Since jetting off last spring to Los Angeles to meet with big shots at ABC, CBS, Disney and Sony Pictures Television, McKinley, 34, has shot a short film, produced video for the Sarasota Orchestra’s “Journeys to Genius” series, created concept art for a gaming company and developed scripts with a former Fox bigwig.

Geez, Austin, you put us newspaper writers to shame.

The competition is accepting pitches now through Dec. 30. For contest details, visit

+ Circus Sarasota expands its big top
Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, children of all ages … it’s about time the Sailor Circus freed itself from the reins of the Police Athletic League. It’s not that PAL didn’t do a fantastic job shepherding the 62-year-old youth circus. It’s just that it makes more sense for the program to fall under the prevue of Circus Sarasota, which, when it was founded in 1997 by trapeze artists/lovebirds Pedro Reis and Dolly Jacobs, was originally chartered as a performing-arts school.

At a Sarasota County School Board meeting earlier this month, board members unanimously approved to transfer ownership from PAL to Circus Sarasota.

The student circus is the longest-running youth circus in the country. More than 10,000 students have come through the program since it was founded in 1949 as a gymnastics class at Sarasota High School.

Sarasota Chalk Festival: In case you haven’t noticed, the Sarasota Chalk Festival has gotten huge. It now spans one week and features more than 250 chalk artists from around the world. Now in its fifth year, the festival has spread beyond the pavement of Burns Square. Drawings are planned for the sides of buildings. There will be dance performances, kid chalk contests and a 24-hour chalk-off inspired by a famous street-painting competition in Italy. There will be optical illusions, designs by renowned 3D pavement artist Kurt Wenner and an all-chalk set on which the Sarasota Opera will perform excerpts from “Madama Butterfly.” Oh, and did I mention an entire city block will be wrapped in cellophane? There’s a reason the event is expected to draw more than 100,000 spectators Nov. 1 through Nov. 7. For more info, call 954-1818 or visit


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