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11th Annual Bonita Blues Festival

Studebaker John

The date is set and the tickets are on sale now for the 11th Annual Bonita Blues Festival, to be held on Friday March 10, and Saturday, March 11, 2017 at Riverside Park, Bonita Springs, FL. 

The Bonita Blues Festival is a two-day event held on Friday, March 10, gates opening at 1 pm and Saturday, March 11 gates opening at 11 am at Riverside Park in downtown Bonita Springs.  Both days will feature award winning blues music from around the country and a wide variety of food and other vendors.  Friday will include “happy hour” prices on beer and wine from 1 pm – 5 pm.

The artists performing include: Studebaker John and The Hawks with special guest Rick Kreher, Phantom Blues Band, Samantha Fish, Albert Castiglia, Dennis Jones Band, Cedric Burnside Project, Idlewild South, Zora Young with Little Mike and the Tornadoes, Vanessa Collier Band, Jeff Jensen Band, Brian James and the Revival and Hector Anchondo Band.

One of the headlining bands is Studebaker John and The Hawks.  Studebaker John was born in Chicago in 1952, and has lived there his whole life.  An avid music fan as a youngster, he learned to play several instruments, including first the harmonica, then the drums, and in his late teens, the guitar. 

He came of age in the ’60s, so was part of the rock ‘n’ roll/rock generation.  It was a time when musical boundaries and barriers were being broken down, and elements of different styles were combined into something new and vibrant that filled the airwaves of AM radio.  John liked a lot of different music, but as a young teenager he’d occasionally hear songs that especially captured his attention and imagination.

“At the time, I had no idea that this music was called blues, but listening to the radio, you’d hear Jimmy Reed, Freddy King, Slim Harpo, and things like that, all mixed in with other music I listened to,” he says.

A few years later, that included the music of the Yardbirds, the Rolling Stones, and Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac in England, and in the USA, Bob Dylan, Paul Butterfield, Mike Bloomfield, Johnny Winter, the Allman Brothers, ZZ Top, and countless others, all of whom took their inspiration from Chicago’s electric blues, and added a hard rocking edge to it. 

Also during the ’60s, John was traveling the city; working in his family’s plumbing business, which sometimes took him to the Maxwell Street open air market, where he heard street musicians playing a raw electrified blues for tips.

 “I got to see Big John Wrencher, the one-armed harp player who was a Maxwell Street regular and played with just a guitarist and drummer.  I was spellbound.  His music was simple yet so powerful,” John reminisces. 

The music he heard on Maxwell Street drew him in, and he started hanging out at clubs on the South and West Side to catch live acts.  One memorable night he saw a performance by Hound Dog Taylor that resulted in a personal epiphany: “I had to play slide guitar.”

Over the next couple of decades, John played every chance he got, sometimes sitting in with the cream of Chicago blues players, such as Big Walter, Jimmy Johnson, Buddy and Phil Guy, James Cotton, Jr. Wells and Hound Dog Taylor.  He built a reputation as a performer with an exciting, propulsive guitar style, and also developed into a fine blues harpist and vocalist.  He became a sought-after sideman and session musician. 

For example, when the remnants of The Yardbirds and the Pretty Things came to Chicago in the early ‘90s looking to make a blues album, they tapped John to provide guitar and harp backing.  Shortly thereafter, he was asked to join the reformed Yardbirds, an offer John tuned down in order to record his own music.  He realized that he wanted to stop playing cover versions of others’ music, and to develop his own voice as a songwriter. 

 “Writing songs is the most satisfying part of my job. I write a song to make myself feel better, and I hope it makes others feel better, too.”  Since then he has put out more than a dozen albums of all original music, recording on the Blind Pig, Evidence, and his own Avanti labels.  It is fitting that Studebaker John is now with Delmark, the oldest existing Chicago-based blues label.  He is a Chicago blues original, who plays from the heart and always takes his own distinctive approach to contemporary blues.

Proceeds of the Bonita Blues Festival will benefit the Bonita Springs Assistance Office, Music for Minors Foundation, Inc., providing musical instruments to local youth and The Music Therapy Program at the Golisano Children’s Hospital.

Tickets to the festival are just $50 in advance for a weekend pass. Ticket prices at the gate are $30 for Friday, $35 for Saturday and $60 for the weekend. 

– The 11th Annual Bonita Blues Festival will take place March 10 & March 11 at Riverside Park in Bonita Springs, FL.  For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.bonitablues.com. 

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Cirque Italia

Big Tent coming to town!

Packed full of incredible acts, there is no room for boredom. The variety presented is exceptional.

Cirque Italia has grown to the point where the next logical step can only be to expand operations and double our presence at the national level. In response to our wonderful fans all over the U.S., and with over 90% of shows being sold out, NOW is the perfect time for a substantial investment.

Beginning in 2017, Cirque Italia, the first traveling Water Circus, introduces a second unit, the Gold Unit: a luxurious experience where technology and preforming arts are mixed to create a one-of-a-kind show.

This new performance will feature an ultra-modern water curtain that controls every droplet of water meticulously. Cirque Italia is ready to provide a breathtaking experience. This new stage by itself is enough to amaze the most demanding audience, and synchronized with the most creative display of superhuman talent – the result is simply out of this world!

The latest trends of the industry are challenged with every Cirque Italia appearance and this 2nd unit is not going to be any different. A careful casting selection has united the best artists from all over the world. This production will feature acts all the way from Russia to Mexico. Cirque Italia believes in multi-culturalism as one of our strongest assets.

Packed full of incredible acts, there is no room for boredom. The variety presented is exceptional. For those who enjoy smart and well-thought out comedy, Alex the clown thrills while taking an acrobatic journey on the trampoline. Our Argentinian twin jugglers (with a Guinness World Record in their pockets) can handle all kinds of objects in the air, even fire! There is almost no bodily limit for our contortionist as she bends in ways you never would have imagined. She makes it seem so natural, you might end up trying it in yoga class.

Whether it’s a futuristic laser act or mesmerizing aerial performances, the show has something for all tastes and expectations. One thing Cirque Italia sets out to accomplish is to create a type of world-class entertainment suitable for all age groups.

This new second unit also follows the same strict animal-free policy that makes the Water Circus stand out from other circus entertainment shows.

The “magic touch” of the Italian entrepreneur Manuel Rebecchi, President and Owner of Cirque Italia, added to the flawless direction of the COO, Chanté DeMoustes, and has turned this once romantic project into a successful production known and acclaimed all over the country.

Don’t miss the opportunity to be amazed and transported to a fantastic realm where your deepest dreams can -and will- come true. 

Enjoy the show on:

February 2 – 5: Naples Fort Myers Greyhound Racing & Poker, 10601 Bonita Beach Road SE, Bonita Springs, FL

February 9 – 12: JetBlue Park, 11500 Fenway S. Drive, Fort Myers, FL

February 16 – 19: 917 NE Pine Island Road, Cape Coral, FL

February 24 – 26: Marketplace, 100 W. Marion Avenue, Punta Gorda, FL

– For tickets or more information, call (941) 704-8572 or visit www.cirqueitalia.com.

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Trucks Gone Wild!

Spring Breakers hit the mud

The March 24th thru 26th weekend-long event is designed to celebrate trucks, 4-Wheelers, mudding, and the outdoor lifestyle.

Redneck Mud Park, Florida’s largest and best known mud park, welcomes Spring Breakers from around the country to Trucks Gone Wild Spring Break.  The March 24th thru 26th weekend-long event is designed to celebrate trucks, 4-Wheelers, mudding, and the outdoor lifestyle.  Four-wheel off-road vehicles of all types will take part in the action, bringing thousands of enthusiasts to the Southwest Florida area. 

Activities include trail riding, truck pulls, airboat races, camping, vendors, evening entertainment and more. Additionally, the Mega Mud Truck Races will roar into action Saturday at 1pm on the Main Track, featuring over $7500 in prizes up for grabs.  The main stage will host Bikini Bull Riding and Spring Break-oriented contests throughout the weekend.  For a complete schedule of weekend events and times, visit: www.redneckmudpark.com/events.html. 

 “Spring break is here and we look forward to welcoming thousands of mud-loving visitors from around the world to Charlotte County, Florida for the huge Trucks Gone Wild Spring Break weekend,” said Dave Kelly, Redneck Mud Park’s Director of Sales and Marketing.  “Creating a fantastic, outdoor-oriented experience where our guests can let loose and have a great time in a safe, secure environment is our top priority.  Well-trained park staff – plus 800 acres of perfect mud conditions and typically-seasonal 80-degree weather – mean we’re rarin’ to get Trucks Gone Wild underway!” 

In addition to the usual weekend tickets, Redneck Mud Park is offering a special discount program this year.  If you purchase your weekend ticket on line, you’ll receive a $10 per ticket discount, PLUS you will be allowed into the park for FREE on the Thursday evening before event weekend to set up camp early.  Get these special tickets at: www.showclix.com/event/TGWSB60. 

Park General Manager Rob White expressed his appreciation for Charlotte County partners.  “We value the collaborative relationships we have with Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, EMS and the Tourism Bureau.  Redneck Mud Park contributes a significant impact to the economic vitality of this region, both directly and indirectly, and their support is vital to our continued shared success.”

Redneck Mud Park is the world’s most exciting off-road park, dedicated to the celebration of the mudding lifestyle.  Events are produced by Muddy Water Entertainment, the South’s destination for the best in outdoor entertainment.  MWE produces several popular mud-and music-oriented events throughout the year that attract thousands of outdoor enthusiasts from all over. 

– Redneck Mud Park is located at 44570 Bermont Road in Punta Gorda, FL.  For tickets to the Trucks Gone Wild Spring Break event or more information call (239) 823-3542 or visit www.redneckmudpark.com or www.muddywaterentertainment.com. 

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23rd Annual Storybook Ball

All proceeds support Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Florida

Co-anchor of NBC2 News Today, Rachel Pierce will emcee the 23rd Annual Storybook Ball benefiting Ronald McDonald House Charities on Saturday, February 4, 2017 at the beautiful Hyatt Regency Coconut Point in Bonita Springs.  The evening will include a special tribute to honorees, Jim and Karen Nathan. 

The black-tie evening will begin with cocktails and silent auction at 6:00p.m., followed by dinner and dancing to the Ruby Baker Band and a live auction, themed to an interpretation of “Aladdin.”  All proceeds support Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Florida in its mission to create, find and support programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children and their families. 

Since its founding in 1996, Ronald McDonald House has served thousands of families from Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Glades and Hendry counties, and other states and countries.  Here, families find a “home away from home” while their children are undergoing medical treatment at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.  Additional thousands are served by the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, a mobile healthcare unit providing medical and dental services to under-served children in Collier County, and by grants and scholarships awarded to deserving organizations and individuals in our five-county region.

 – For information about tickets and a variety of sponsorship opportunities, call (239) 437-0202 or visit www.rmhcswfl.org.