Saturday, September 6, 2014



Anu Tali,  the new Music Director of the Sarasota Orchestra, will be on scene most of season. This is just one reason for the anticipation. The other is a strong program across the board from Masterworks to Pops to Great Escapes.  Last year 39 concerts sold out.  This season promises more sell outs.  For a complete month to month schedule as well as on opportunity to buy tickets online click here.

VAN WEZEL recently announced their  programs for the coming year.  In all honesty, I am underwhelmed.  After teasing us with Bill Maher, Multi-Tony winner Audra McDonald, Martina McBride, Phillip Phillips and a strong line-up of Broadway musicals, Dance and Symphony Orchestras, the  schedule appearing in the Herald Tribune was much of the same old of past years.

Don't get me wrong, Johnny Mathis, Paul Anka, Wanda Sykes and Diana Krall are great entertainers, but outside of the above mentioned plus Vanessa Williams and Susan Boyle,  VAN WEZEL's remaining dates are uninspiring.  For a complete list of performances along with an opportunity to purchase tickets on line click here. Single tickets  go on sale September 12.

Main Street at Lakewood Ranch relaunched their Farmer's Market as a once a month event in hopes of going weekly by winter.  Sad to say, there was not much to recommend about last Saturday's market.  There were twenty two vendors with little or no produce to offer.  Mostly jellies, crafts, food and little else.  The longest lines were at Starbucks, which as you know if you read this blog on a continuing basis, was "overlooked" by the Herald Tribune in their list of top 20 Main St. attractions.

On the other hand, Saturday was a big day at the only Farmer's Market that matters.....Lemon and Main in downtown SARASOTA.  According to merchants we spoke to this has been their best summer.  And for good reason.  An expanded and growing number of booths with fresh produce on both ends and organic produce in the middle.  Food booths galore, and the additional attraction of Whole Foods once you have finished with market.

Continuing my reviews of restaurants committed to the University Town Center, I was going to tell you about Zinburger.  While in Atlanta we stopped at their Lenox Mall location to give it a try.  Unfortunately,  the Bradenton Herald reported today that Zinburger had backed out in July. It would have been a nice addition to Sarasota.

I am happy to report their replacement is in the same genre ; unfortunately they will not be ready for the October opening.  Look for B&B Burger and Beer Joint to join the other restaurants in time for Black Friday shopping frenzy.  Their wide menu of burgers even offers a 10-pound "mother burger" along with a bar offering more than 75 beers, several of which will be local.

It was also announced national chain Noodles would occupy one of the out parcels near the mall.  No opening date as yet.

TELEVISION ALERT:  For those of you Bill Maher fans who have tickets for his Van Wezel performance in October, you can also catch him for TWO hours this Friday on HBO.  In an interesting programming move, Maher will return to Real Time (9 pm) live in D.C. with Jerry Seinfeld and Nancy Pelosi among his guests.  Then he will run to another venue where he will perform his comedy act (10pm) in front of a live audience.  He promises everything from religion to Donald Trump to the political dysfunction in Washington.  These are two hours to record or watch live or catch On-Demand; but they are hours you should not miss!!!

I am beginning a new feature this week honoring those who are making a difference with their money, services, and hands on approach to community commitment in SARASOTA/MANATEE.  Without the generosity of this community in total we would be like any other Florida city offering beaches, restaurants, shopping, warm weather and not much more.  Due to that generosity our culture and other services far exceeds many larger markets and is responsible for the good word of mouth SARASOTA creates around the country.

My first "person making a difference" is not an individual, but a company led by a father and son, Randy and Shaun Benderson, who learned how to make it matter from their father/grandfather, the master , Nate Benderson.  The Benderson Family gives so much to the community beyond the landscaped beauty of their shopping centers and other developments from Ellenton to North Port and beyond. 
There is the Nathan Benderson Park attracting world class rowers from around the world; Benderson Rehab Center in the Anchin Pavilion; contributions to Temple Emanu-El such as repaving  the driveway and parking lot, putting  in landscaping, as well as matching funds for a renovation of the social hall and sanctuary.  The Benderson's are heavily involved with All-Faiths Food Bank, as well as JFCS and of course Nate's Place where you can adopt a rescue dog. All donations to Nate's Place go directly to the care and rehabilitation of these rescue animals.  There is more, but you get the idea.  Giving back and doing it with NO fanfare is what makes us so fortunate to have them as citizens of our community.

Hat's off to the Benderson Family for making SARASOTA a better place for all of us.

JIM'S RANT....Once again I am targeting the Herald Tribune for not paying attention to it's winter, but really year round resident, THE BALTIMORE ORIOLES. As of this writing The Orioles  stand atop their American League Division, and hopefully not jinxing them, a lock to win and advance to the American League playoffs at least. If not for the daily box score you wouldn't even know this team existed.  Think of all the dollars generated by the Orioles and the attention they bring to Sarasota throughout the season. You would think the Herald would have the good sense to make them part of their daily sports reporting and you can add the Manatee neighbor  PITTSBURGH PIRATES as well.....just one man's opinion; though I have heard this from several others.

Once again, we have lost an entertainment icon.  Joan Rivers was the ultimate entertainer, and even at 81 was as strong as ever.  She was a true trailblazer for female comediennes, and she will be missed.  Hard to believe she Joins Robin Williams who passed away a short time ago.  If you did not see her documentary it is available On-Demand.  

Thanks, as always to Tracy for her editing my early messy version of this week's blog.   More about Tracy and her family next week.....JIM

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