+ Cigar-box guitar craze spawns a band
Last week, I touted the ingenuity of The Garbage-Men band that came out of Pine View School’s 10th-grade class.
This week I’m tooting the horn of another crafty musician: Steve Cinnamon, a Nokomis retiree, who after recovering from a heart attack in 2009, shook himself out of a funk by building cigar-box guitars.
You heard right. Cigar-box guitars. They used to be all the rage when jug bands first cropped up in the 1920s.
Well, guess what? They’re all the rage again. Just ask Cinnamon, a 65-year-old former advertising exec from New York who continues to rack up press, both nationally and locally, for his homemade instruments.
In February, Cinnamon was the focus of a long St. Petersburg Times feature. Last month, “A Gulf Coast Journal” picked up the story. According to Cinnamon, host Jack Perkins and his film crew were so taken with the instruments they each purchased one at the end of the three-day shoot.
The next step for the entrepreneur: forming a cigar-box band with local musicians Eddie Wright and Steve Arvey. The group will go by the same name as Cinnamon’s company: Cotton Pickin’ Blues.
Cinnamon says he won’t be playing with the band. Despite his dexterity at building cigar-box guitars, he claims he’s “no musician.”
“I’ve got to learn how to build a bass guitar for Steve,” Cinnamon says. “I better get the move on. They already booked something in August.”
+ Jack Perkins’ ‘Journal’ goes off the air
After eight seasons, nine Suncoast Emmy Awards, 33 Suncoast Emmy nominations and two Griot Drum Awards, WEDU has canceled “A Gulf Coast Journal.”
Fans of the monthly PBS news magazine are bummed, to say the least.
Hosted by Casey Key resident and former A&E “Biography” host Jack Perkins, the program was born out of a $178,000 programming grant — the largest programming grant in WEDU’s history.
Perkins signed off the air May 31, with an episode devoted to Steve Cinnamon’s cigar-box guitars, shark teeth, teen court, Lakewood Ranch lacrosse and baby owls.
The veteran journalist is working on a book, “Finding Moosewood, Finding God: What Happened When a TV Newsman Abandoned His Career for Life on an Island.”
+ City Commission approves ‘Complexus’ purchase
When Sarasota wants a sculpture, it’ll stand at nothing to get it.
“Complexus,” the 70-foot tall red sculpture in front of One Sarasota Tower, is well on its way to becoming a permanent fixture in downtown Sarasota.
Its creator, John Henry, must be so relieved.
I was there in November when Henry and his team erected the monumental steel work for this year’s Sarasota Season of Sculpture. It took all day to set up.
Its price tag was originally $850,000, but when the Sarasota Public Art Fund (SPAF) launched a campaign to purchase the piece from Henry, the sculptor agreed to sell it for $500,000.
At a public meeting June 18, the Sarasota City Commission approved the group’s request to buy the outdoor sculpture for the city’s permanent art collection.
The group has already raised $350,000 toward the purchase, thanks to Sarasota resident Jan Schmidt’s $250,000 donation.
Says Thomas J. Savage, president of SPAF, “‘Complexus’ is one of (John Henry’s) most significant pieces — a signature piece that cries out, ‘Hey, look at me! I’m big, bold and beautiful!’ This physically powerful work makes an immediate impact on all who see it.”
Contributions to the "Complexus" campaign should be made payable to the Sarasota Public Art Fund. Checks can be mailed to the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, 2635 Fruitville Road, Sarasota, FL 34237. Donations of $5,000 or more will be recognized on a donor plaque at the sculpture site. For more information, call 955-3000.
Launched by the Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota, this inaugural summer festival showcases national and local performing artists in concert June 29 through July 8, at a variety of venues. Emmy Award-winning singer/actress Liz Callaway and pianist Alex Rybeck will kick off the series at 7:30 p.m. June 29, at the Sarasota Opera House. The program will include guest performances by tuba player Jay Hunsberger, composer Francis Schwartz, dancer Leymis Bolaños-Wilmott, harpist Bonnie Caplan and violinist Anita Brooker. For tickets, call 360-7399 or visit artistseriesconcerts.org.