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Siesta Key producer wants to add more music to Sarasota's arts scene

Barry Weisblatt is teaming up with McCurdy's for Music Mondays and also launching WhiteLeaf Private Concert Club.

Siesta Key resident Barry Weisblatt wants to shake up the music scene in Sarasota with his WhiteLeaf Events.
Siesta Key resident Barry Weisblatt wants to shake up the music scene in Sarasota with his WhiteLeaf Events.
Photo by Monica Roman Gagnier
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Everyone agrees that Sarasota’s got a great arts scene. “It punches above its weight” is how Florida’s “Cultural Coast” is commonly described. But could it be even better? Concert producer Barry Weisblatt thinks so. 

And he’s got the credentials to make it happen. On his website, Weisblatt describes his WhiteLeaf Events, as a boutique event company specializing in the design, production and management of private and corporate events nationwide. 

What exactly does that mean? If you want Sting to play your wife’s birthday party or Steven Tyler to perform at your son’s bar mitzvah, Weisblatt is your guy. For years he was on the artist side of the music business; now he’s on the client side. 

On the corporate front, WhiteLeaf has serviced such clients as Choice Hotels, Harley-Davidson and Revlon, to name just three on a blue-chip roster. 

A New York transplant who moved to Siesta Key in 2019, Weisblatt has spent 37 years in the music industry. Along the way, he rose from the proverbial mailroom at the talent agency Associated Booking Corp., where he got his start booking B.B. King, to setting up tours for Guns N' Roses and Paul McCartney at another talent agency, where he discovered soul singer Joan Osborne.

It’s been a long and winding road. (That was McCartney’s song, even though both he and John Lennon were credited.) It’s led Weisblatt and his family to a place they love to call home and to new friends, like Les and Pam McCurdy, owners of McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre, and to new business ventures.

In fact, WhiteLeaf’s Main Street office is just around the corner from McCurdy’s. It’s a bright space accented with music memorabilia like guitars autographed by musicians such as Sting. 

In case you’re wondering where the name “WhiteLeaf” came from, Weisblatt notes that it’s the English translation of his surname. It’s also a tribute to his uncle, who had a company with the same name, and who encouraged him to follow his dreams.

Raised in New York’s Hudson Valley, Weisblatt is married to Caroline Villela, who works at Selby Gardens. Their son, Zachary, plays soccer and is a graduating senior at Out of Door Academy.

If you know anything about the concert business, you know it’s a rough-and-tumble industry not for the faint of heart. But if Weisblatt ever had any rough edges, they were smoothed out a long time ago. It’s hard to imagine him screaming, “You better book my client or else” and then slamming down the phone. 

Just don’t mention the words “LiveNation” to him. 

Weisblatt used to run the corporate events division of Metropolitan Entertainment, owned by New York concert promoter John Scher until Metropolitan got sold to LiveNation. Any bitterness about that experience is long behind Weisblatt, but he’d rather not talk about it.

What he does want to talk about is two ventures that he’s convinced will turn up the volume on Sarasota’s music scene. One is high-end and exclusive; the other is low-key and affordable.

The WhiteLeaf Private Concert Club costs a minimum of $5,500 to join and includes admission to three private concerts at venues such as the Circus Arts Conservatory tent, Municipal Auditorium and the Sarasota Opera House. 

Membership in the private club is limited to 275 members, who are guaranteed an “intimate, boutique concert experience.” The first event is expected to take place this fall. Each concert will include a charitable donation to a local foundation.

“Reinstating civility, ease and access to the live concert experience is my goals,” Weisblatt says. “The memories made will be left to the artists and the audiences in a manner that only private experiences will allow for.” 

To pave the way for the rollout of WhiteLeaf’s private concert club, Weisblatt has recruited “ambassadors,” whom he describes as “well-respected members” of the Sarasota community. They include Ian Black, Mike Evanoff, Allison Imre and Ron Trytek, to name a few.

Attendees of Sarasota Manatee Originals’ recent Forks & Corks Grand Tasting found a card with a QR code on it in their swag bag. WhiteLeaf is making itself known on Sarasota’s black tie circuit.

Weisblatt’s second music venture in Sarasota has been quietly happening at McCurdy’s, under the auspices of Les McCurdy and Weisblatt’s partner, Mark Caragiulo, owner of the restaurant that bears his last name as well as Veronica’s and Owens Fish Camp.

Called “Music Mondays: The Master’s Series,” each monthly event at McCurdy’s features an onstage interview with a special guest and a performance by house band Rockin’ Ramblers, composed of local musicians Mike Kach, RJ Howson, Garrett Dawson and Berry Oakley Jr. 

There have been two McCurdy’s shows so far, one in October featuring a talk with New York Times best-selling author Alan Paul and an Allman Brothers tribute show. Last month’s Music Monday combined comedy and country music with appearances by comic Steve White, who Weisblatt represents, and musician Jay Taylor. 

The Alan Paul event was particularly successful, Weisblatt says, because Southwest Florida is the epicenter for fans of the Allman Brothers and founding member Dickey Betts. Paul is the author of “Brothers and Sisters: The Allman Brothers Band and the Inside Story of the Album That Defined the ‘70s.”

Next up at Music Monday is a Feb. 19 concert with GE Smith, the longtime music director of “Saturday Night Live.” During his career, Smith has been a guitarist for Bob Dylan, Hall & Oates, Roger Waters and Mick Jagger. He also was musical director and guitarist for the historic rock concerts Live Aid and Farm Aid. 

Tickets to the GE Smith show are $44, considerably less than the investment required for the WhiteLeaf Private Concert Club.

Mondays have gotten a bad rap in songs like “Monday, Monday” by the Mamas and the Papas to “I Don’t Like Mondays” by the Boomtown Rats. Maybe McCurdy’s Music Mondays will generate some good vibes for the first day of the workweek. 



Monica Roman Gagnier

Monica Roman Gagnier is the arts and entertainment editor of the Observer. Previously, she covered A&E in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for the Albuquerque Journal and film for industry trade publications Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.

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