Friday, February 17, 2017

'Albanach and Dublin City Ramblers' coming back to St. Augustine

International bands Albannach and the Dublin City Ramblers will return to St. Augustine this March during the 7th Annual St. Augustine Celtic Music & Heritage Festival. The annual event is set for March 10-12, 2017 at Francis Field in downtown St. Augustine.

Albannach – The headlining band, Albannach, will return to the festival main stage for an energetic performance by these born-and-bred Scotsmen.  The group's music combines the culture, history and heritage of the Scots-Gaelic. Not another Scottish pipes and drums band, this music is exciting and enchanting – with an award-winning piper, a main drummer, bass drummers and a bodhran musician - bringing a new approach to percussion and Celtic music

Dublin City Ramblers – The Dublin City Ramblers were named Ireland's No.1 Ballad & Folk Group of The Year by The Irish Country Music Association.  The group has performed at major festivals worldwide, including headlining The Milwaukee Irish Festival, The Cleveland Irish Festival, Hollywood Irish Fest, Miami Irish Fest, and other festivals around the globe.

In addition, the group has performed at every major venue in Ireland and abroad, including Dublin's National Stadium, National Concert Hall, Cork's Opera House, England's Royal Albert Hall, New York's Carnegie Hall and many others.

Celtic Festival – The St. Augustine Celtic Music & Heritage Festival was voted the ‘Best Festival’ in St. Augustine and was the 2016 winner of ‘Jacksonville's Bold City Best Concert/Event.’  The event also features international bands Emmet Cahill, a popular Celtic performer, and headliner The Real McKenzies, on stage for the first time in St. Augustine.  National bands performing are: Emish, Seven Nations, Whiskey of the Damned, and regional group Jig to a Milestone will also take the stage.

The three-day St. Augustine Celtic Music & Heritage Festival is arguably the finest Celtic event in the United States, according to the international bands who perform here. The festival is set for March 10-12 in downtown St. Augustine, featuring internationally acclaimed Celtic bands, a pre-festival Whiskey Tasting, Highland games, Celtic shopping and food, live music, two stages, and a variety of entertainment - and the ONLY St. Patrick's Day parade in Northeast Florida begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 11, 2017.

  Heritage Festival

  Main Festival Events on Francis Field
  St. Augustine, FL 32084

TICKETS: Vary online or they may be purchased at Ann O'Malley's Irish Pub, 23 Orange St., St Augustine; Prince of Wales Restaurant at 54 Cuna Street, and Aunt Matilda's Steampunk Trunk at 106 St. George Street, downtown St. Augustine.

IHOP free Pancakes fund raiser in its 12th year

Once again it’s time to enjoy a family breakfast (any time of the day) and donate to an annual worthy cause.  Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia IHOP restaurants will offer each guest a free short stack of their famous buttermilk pancakes on Tuesday, March 7, 2015 from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. in celebration of National Pancake Day.  In return, guests are asked to help make a difference by leaving a donation of any size (on-the website or in-restaurant) with all funds going to their area’s children’s hospital. This year marks the 12th anniversary of this family-friendly tradition, which raises funds and awareness for Wolfson Children’s Hospital and the pediatric programs at UF Health Jacksonville through Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals.

Now through March 7, guests visiting any IHOP restaurants in the U.S. can help reach an ambitious $3.5 million goal by purchasing a “Miracle Balloon” to publicly pledge support or donate on check. Select IHOP restaurants will be offering a discount coupon that can be used on a future visit with the purchase of a special balloon icon.

Since launching in 2006, IHOP National Pancake Day has become a pop-culture phenomenon with millions of guests and communities helping IHOP and its franchisees raise $24 million to-date for youth health and wellness organizations. All of the money raised on IHOP National Pancake Day stays local and directly helps children in need.

Stop in to these local IHOP restaurants and support CMN Hospitals Jax:
DATE: Tuesday, March 7, 2017
TIMES: all day from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
      7940 103rd St. JAX, FL 32210
      8400 Baymeadows Rd. JAX, FL 32256
      315 Blanding Blvd. JAX, FL 32073
      9010 Atlantic Blvd. Jacksonville, FL 32211
      3322 US 90 West Lake City, FL 32055
      2560 State Rd. 16 St. Augustine, FL 32092
      1825 East/West Parkway Fleming Island, FL 32003
      1350 S. Walnut St. Starke, FL 32091
      1160 Boone Ave. Kingsland, GA 31548
      5031 New Jesup Hwy. Brunswick, GA 31520

For more information on IHOP National Pancake Day, or to learn more about CMN Hospitals and make an online donation, visit

‘Close to You: The Music of The Carpenters’ comes to JAX

Considered one of the best vocalists of all time; Karen Carpenter captured the attention of a generation with her unabashedly catchy pop music.  The Carpenters’ beautiful, memorable love songs topped the Billboard charts with more than a dozen number one hits.  Now singer Lisa Rock and her 6-piece band are bringing the music of The Carpenters back to the stage with their spot-on renditions of Carpenters classics.  Close to You: The Music of The Carpenters is coming to Jacksonville’s Times Union Center’s Terry Theater for two performances only!

Considered one of the best vocalists of all time, Karen Carpenter captured the attention of a generation with her unabashedly catchy pop music.  The Carpenters’ beautiful, memorable love songs topped the Billboard charts with more than a dozen number one hits. Now singer Lisa Rock and her 6-piece band are bringing the music of The Carpenters back to the stage with their spot-on renditions of Carpenters classics with "Close to You: The Music of The Carpenters".

Lisa Rock, a singer as well as a playwright, has been performing to sold-out crowds for years.  She’s written more than 15 original concerts and cabarets that have been seen across the country. Now, Rock has arranged a 6-piece band, complete with back-up singers, and together they are dedicated to creating a Carpenters experience like no other. Rock’s amazing four octave range allows her to sing the hits like “We’ve Only Just Begun” and “Rainy Days and Mondays” in their original key, keeping the songs genuine and more recognizable for the audience. “When she hits the lower range of her marvelous voice,” notes Chicago critic Alan Bresloff, “if you close your eyes, you can see Karen Carpenter’s face.”

But Rock goes beyond the music in her concert.  She draws the crowd in with anecdotes about Karen and Richard Carpenter, their lives and how some of the songs originated.  Like the story of “We’ve Only Just Begun.”  It turns out, Richard Carpenter heard the song on a TV commercial, recognized the singers’ voices and called to see if there was a full version of the song.  There was, and Richard turned that commercial jingle into a Billboard chart-topper and timeless love song.  Through stories such as these, Rock engages the audience to the point where they can’t help but sing along with her and share the memories of The Carpenters and their music.

“Close To You”
The Music of The Carpenters

DATE: Saturday, March 4, 2017
TIMES: 3 & 8 p.m.

LOCATION: Times Union Center Performing Arts
      Terry Theater
      300 West Water St.
      Jacksonville, FL 32202

TICKETS: start at $38.50, and may be purchased online at FSCJ Artist Series (the official presenter of the Jacksonville show), or by calling (904) 442-BWAY (2929) between 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday.  Discounts are available for groups of 10+ by calling (904) 442-2947 or emailing

Olivia Newton-John brings Live Concert to OP, FL

Internationally recognized four-time Grammy Award-winning singer, actress, community activist and breast cancer “Thriver” Olivia Newton-John performs live in concert at the Thrasher-Horne Center in Orange Park.
With a career spanning over five decades with more than 100 million albums sold, Olivia’s successes include: four Grammys, numerous Country Music, American Music, Billboard and People’s Choice Awards, an Emmy Award, ten #1 hits and more than 15 Top 10 singles.  She recently scored another #1 hit, this time on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart with her daughter Chloe Lattanzi – becoming the first mother/daughter duo to top this chart.  In 1978, her co-starring role with John Travolta in “Grease” catapulted Olivia into super-stardom and to date remains the most successful movie musical of all time.

In 1992, Olivia was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Her personal triumph against cancer led her to announce her partnership with the Austin Health and the creation of the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Center (ONJCWRC) in her hometown of Melbourne, Australia, which opened its doors in 2012.  The Centre provides a comprehensive range of services and facilities for cancer treatment, education, training and research as well as a dedicated wellness center.

Her latest recording, “LIV ON,” a collaborative, inspiring new CD with friends Beth Nielsen Chapman and Amy Sky is intended for those who wish to transcend loss while walking a journey toward new-found meaning and hope, was recently released to critical acclaim.  For more information visit: her website or follow her on Twitter @OliviaNJ or Instagram @TheRealONJ.  This concert is presented in partnership with Get Off the Bus Concerts.

DATE: Sat. March 4, 2017   TIME: 8 p.m.

LOCATION: The Thrasher-Horne Ctr.
      St. Johns River State College
      283 College Drive
      Orange Park, FL 32065

TICKETS: range from $49 – $89 with all fees included, and may be purchased in person, online at THcenter, or by calling (904) 276-6815 between 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., Monday – Friday.  Discounts are available for groups of 12+ (15% discount), or 40+ (20% discount).  The Thrasher-Horne Center is a not-for profit performing arts venue and conference center owned and operated by St. Johns River State College.  The Thrasher-Horne Center is located on the Orange Park campus.

Gail Bliss releases new CD and new project in the works

She’s been in JAX town since January 27th, playing to a sell-out crowd at the Alhambra Theatre and Dining, and Gail Bliss recently took a little time out with her band (The Boys) to entertain at the Mudville Music Room on Beach Blvd.  Bliss also is proud to introduce her latest CD entitled “Play It By Heart - Songs From the Musical.”  Every show has been a “sell-out” performance and you can testify to that fact when you get a chance to listen to Ms Bliss.

This new CD (Play It By Heart - Songs From the Musical) is actually the soundtrack for a musical that Gail has been working on for years.  Bliss started the project some years ago. Gail Bliss is the lead producer on this musical project which was co-written by David Spangler of Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Jerry Taylor of Nashville; also under the direction of Tony Migliore, of Nashville, Tennessee.

A brief synopsis of the show "Play It By Heart": Jeannine Jasper's career as a superstar country singer is on the decline.  She's been on the road for years and is ready for major changes in her life.  The dysfunctional Jasper Family - three strong women and their men - struggle to survive and find love as the music industry dramatically changes.  Emotions run high as years of deception and betrayal unravel in the songs they write and the lies they hide.

(LtoR) Paul Kramer, Gail Bliss, Brian Aylor, Dave Webb, Penn Pennington, Russ Wever, and Rory Hoffman
When you listen to the CD, you can hear the show's story-line unravel (Get a snippet of the CD HERE).  The opening song, "Play It By Heart - Songs From the Musical" (which was co-written by Gail) pretty much sets up the entire show with its lyrics.  Gail has rewritten each song in order to fulfill a dream.  Gail is singing the men's songs, the younger and the older gal's songs, in addition to songs specifically for "Jeannine" on this album.

Just in case you missed the performance at Mudville Music Room, here’s a taste of what you missed.
Gail sang: “Let's Fall In Love,” “Gonna Be Your Little Devil” (the two-step original from her new album, Play It By Heart); “Cry,” “I Love You More” (an original from her gospel CD), “Heartaches,” and “Will The Circle Be Unbroken.”

Gail and The Boys also combined their voices to sing: “Sentimental Journey,” “Working On a Building,” “Bei Mir Bist Du Schon,” and “Happy Trails” (Haven’t heard it this good since the Roy Rogers & Dale Evans show).
Rory Hoffman was featured singing and playing: “Avalon,” “Autumn Leaves,” “Half As Much” (vocals and guitar and scat with solo that Rory performed solo on the Grand Ol' Opry) and his original “Day Job.”
Paul Kramer was featured on: “Picadilly Circus” and “Old Devil Time” (two originals from Paul's album.), “Monkeys With Car Keys” (original from Paul's "Swing Street" CD) and “Man of Constant Sorry.”
Penn Pennington (guitarist) vocal feature: “San Antonio Rose.”
Dave Webb (Bassist) vocal feature: “Lay You Down.”
Russ Wever (steel guitarist) feature: “Stealin' Home.”
Brian Aylor is the drummer for all of Gail’s shows while here in Jacksonville, Florida.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

‘Jersey Boys’ rock JAX once again

2012  Marquee       and       2017 Marquee

Back in March of 2012, people thought that it was the last time that Jacksonville Florida would get a chance to see the Broadway hit musical telling the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.  “Jersey Boys” is back in town once again, at the Times Union Center for the Performing Arts, and it is a must-see show.  Ticket sales are going well, yet, if you hurry, you’ll still have the opportunity to see this fantastic presentation while it’s in town.

As stated before, “Jersey Boys” is NOT recommended for all ages.  The show contains smoke, gun shots, strobe lights, drug & blood references, sexual innuendos and authentic "profane Jersey language."  Recommended for mature audiences only!

The cast has changed, nonetheless, the voices still meld together perfectly as you will sing along to familiar Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons tunes.  If you take a look at your program from the show, you will notice that actor Aaron De Jesus has a striking resemblance to the real Frankie Valli in mannerisms, looks and vocals.  Cory Jeacoma, Keith Hines and Matthew Dailey round out the foursome with their dynamic singing, lines and strutful dance moves.  You almost want to get out of your seat and march along to the rhythm of the beat.

The music from the Jersey Boys Orchestra will have you wondering if the horn section is LIVE or is it Memorex.  The drummer (Mark Papazin) is usually present on stage and keeps a precise beat, while the keyboardists, guitarists and bass players give a quality in-studio sound.  The ladies in the cast, (Kristen Paulicelli, Leslie Rochett, Jenna Nicole Schoen and Jesse Wildman) add a little glitz and glamour to the stage.  These ladies can also act, sing and dance the night away.

Frankie Valli, who came to fame in 1962 as the lead singer of the Four Seasons (and appeared live at the Times Union Center JAX on March 5, 2014), is hotter than ever in the 21st century.  Thanks to the volcanic success of the Tony-winning musical Jersey Boys, which chronicles the life and times of Frankie and his legendary group, such classic songs as “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Rag Doll,” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” are all the rage all over again.  The real Frankie Valli is also packing venues around the world and has toured almost continuously since 1962.  Don’t forget to check your program for “The Ones That Got Away” (familiar songs) that you didn’t get a chance to hear.

The majority of the 71 chart hits of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons (including 40 in the Top 40, 19 in the Top 10, and eight No. 1’s) came during the 1960’s, but the music didn’t just disappear.  The songs have been omnipresent in such movies as: The Deer Hunter, Dirty Dancing, Mrs. Doubtfire, Grease. Conspiracy Theory, and The Wanderers.  As many as 200 artists have done cover versions of Frankie’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” from Nancy Wilson’s jazz treatment to Lauryn Hill’s hip-hop makeover.

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons have influenced many other great recording artists.  That was acknowledged in dozens of recent tributes collected for Jersey Beat, the new Four Seasons boxed set.  For example, from Barry Gibb: “Frankie Valli to me has become one of the hallmark voices of our generation. From the deepest emotions of his real voice to the power of his falsetto, he created a style that we all still strive to emulate.”  From Billy Joel: “I wrote ‘Uptown Girl’ as the flip side to the story of ‘Rag Doll.’ I always loved that record.”  And from Brian Wilson: “In the early ’60s the Four Seasons were my favorite group. I thought they were fantastic.  The voice blend was fantastic.  The competition helped me to get cracking.  It inspired me, because they made good music.  I went to the piano thinking I could top their music.”

DATES:         TIMES:
Tues., Feb. 14, 2017   º7:30 p.m.
Wed., Feb. 15       7:30 p.m.
Thurs., Feb. 16      7:30 p.m.
Fri., Feb. 17       °8 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 18      2 & 8 p.m.
Sun., Feb. 19     º1:30 & 7p.m.

      Moran Theater
      300 West Water St.
      Jacksonville, FL 32202

TICKETS: start at $39.50, and may be purchased online at FSCJ Artist Series, sponsored by Chase (the official presenter of the Jacksonville show), or by calling (904) 442-BWAY (2929) between 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday.  Discounts are available for groups of 10+ by calling (904) 442-2947 or emailing