Category Archives: Tampa Bay

Bob Andelman (l) and Phil Esposito statute in front of Amalie Arena, downtown Tampa, home of the Tampa Bay Lightning, 2017

Phil Esposito: Hockey in Florida? INTERVIEW

Bob Andelman (l) and Phil Esposito statute in front of Amalie Arena, downtown Tampa, home of the Tampa Bay Lightning, 2017
Bob Andelman (l) and Phil Esposito statute in front of Amalie Arena, downtown Tampa, home of the Tampa Bay Lightning, 2017

By Bob Andelman

(Originally published in The Sun-Times of Canada, January 11, 1993)

Maybe the Tampa Bay Lightning has turned out better than any of the jokes about how ridiculous it would be to play ice hockey in Florida. But with a second NHL team on its way to the Sunshine State as early as next season, can a new round of jokes be far behind?

Consider: They’re talking about naming the team “The Humidity.” As in, if you thought the Miami Heat was bad, wait till you see the Humidity.”

Phil Esposito isn’t exactly thrilled to see a second Florida hockey team hitting the boards by the 1993-94 season. It’s a little soon, says the president of the first-year Lightning, much the same way new Miami franchise owner H. Wayne Huizenga said last summer that it was a little soon for Tampa Bay to get a baseball team to compete with his new National League team, the Florida Marlins.

“Now that it’s a done deal, I’m very excited,” he says. “But I didn’t think it should come yet. It should wait until ’95, ’96, give us a chance to sink our roots.”

Esposito is especially concerned about the way Huizenga may market his team. “There’s no way the Miami franchise can call itself ‘Florida’s team,'” he says. “They might try to do that, but we’ve got to stop them. He can call it Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood. I don’t care. But I don’t want it called the ‘South Florida Hurricanes.'”

The president of the Tampa Bay Lightning figures that without him, Huizenga wouldn’t even have a hockey team.

“They wouldn’t have even come close to getting the franchise (without us),” he says. “We were the guinea pigs. We’re doing a lot better than most expansion teams do in their first year. We’re way ahead.”

Still, he believes, “It’ll be a good, friendly rivalry.”

As for the continuing wisecracks and snickering he hears out of northern fans, Esposito doesn’t understand what all the fuss over hockey in Florida is all about.

“Once you get inside the building, it’s the same to me,” he says. “I don’t know what’s going on outside, whether it’s snowing, raining or 90 degrees. Inside, the fans are yelling; I’m very impressed with their knowledge of the game, by how fast they’ve started picking on the referees. It’s no different than Boston or New York.”

Ric Green, director of sports development for the Broward Economic Development Council in Fort Lauderdale, thinks hockey will work in South Florida. “Personally, I don’t know a blue line from a hockey stick, but I’m looking forward to learning about it. And South Florida is populated by so many people from elsewhere that I think we might be surprised by how much sense it makes,” he says. “Hockey is a real nitty-gritty, city sport. I think it could do real well.”

During a sold-out December exhibition game between the Lightning and the New York Rangers at the Miami Arena, 80 percent of the crowd cheered for the Rangers. “If the Dolphins aren’t on, we don’t get the (Tampa Bay) Bucs games, we get the Jets and Giants.”

Green expects hockey will make a smooth transition across South Florida’s multicultural lines. “All the Dolphins games are carried in Spanish, as will be the Marlins games,” he says. “I’m going to be curious to see how this plays with kids because they can’t go out and play hockey here.”

Not now. But soon. A popular ice rink in Homestead was destroyed by Hurricane Andrew; with the coming of the NHL, it is expected to be rebuilt. And a new Miami rink will open in January. Statewide, rinks are open or scheduled to open in the Tampa Bay area, Orlando, Sarasota and Jacksonville. Rich Wasilewski, owner of the SunBlades Ice Arena in Clearwater, expects that Miami’s NHL franchise will cause a flurry of new rink construction in South Florida.

“The Lightning has had a significant impact on hockey awareness in our area,” Wasilewski says. The Lightning practices at SunBlades once a week, he says, and visiting teams often come to the arena as well. SunBlades is home to 16 leagues and the University of South Florida hockey team. A competing rink opened nearby a year ago but hasn’t dented SunBlades’ business.

* * *

In related Florida hockey news, Tampa Coliseum Inc. – which has an exclusive contract to build a permanent arena for the Lightning – has missed deadline after deadline to complete its financing and begin construction. By the fall of 1992, TCI began to make large penalty payments to an escrow fund, first of $250,000, then $500,000, due every 30 days. Failure to make the payments would wipe out TCI’s deal with the Lightning.

“If they aren’t going to build it, I sure as hell want to know soon,” Esposito says. “It’s very difficult to make plans.”

Esposito says TCI’s D-Day is March 7. “If they don’t have everything in place on that day, we terminate (the lease agreement),” he says. Tampa developers would like to build the Lightning a downtown arena, one of several options Esposito is considering. Other possibilities include a $30-million upgrade of the Expo Hall; a retrofit of the empty Florida Suncoast Dome in St. Petersburg, converting it from a baseball-primary facility to hockey; and a facility built by and for the Lightning itself.

The significance of TCI’s failure to start the arena weighs heavily on the Lightning’s purse strings. Season ticket sales were flat until the team actually began play at a temporary facility, the Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Hall in Tampa. But even a sellout accommodates just 10,000 fans, half of what a permanent arena will handle.

“It’s hurt quite a bit, to be honest,” Esposito says. “We still have a lot of people say, ‘They’re not going to make it, they still don’t have a building.’ But we’re not dumb. We know we need a facility.”

end



Stadium For Rent by Bob Andelman, Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay Rays
Order ‘Stadium For Rent: Tampa Bay’s Quest for Major League Baseball’ by Bob Andelman, now available in an expanded, updated and illustrated 456-page special edition, available from Amazon.com by clicking on the book cover above!

Why Men Watch Football by Bob Andelman, Mr. Media Interviews
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Tedd Webb, Tampa Bay radio legend, photograph by Bob Andelman

Tedd Webb: The Sports Answer-Man in Tampa Bay! PROFILE

By Bob Andelman

(Originally published in Sports Arena, October 1987)

Tedd Webb, Tampa Bay radio legend, photograph by Bob Andelman
Tedd Webb, Tampa Bay radio legend (Photograph by Bob Andelman)

Got a question about sports? Tedd Webb is the answer.

There are days when it seems like this familiar face and radio voice knows every sports player, team, scouting
report and statistic on the books. He also has an opinion on every sports situation and is not shy about sharing it.

Most amazing about Webb is that he seems to know everybody in town. He remembers their names, faces, jobs – even telephone numbers.

“I know prosecutors, public defenders, cops, burglars, cocaine dealers,” he says with a touch of irony. “The section of town where I grew up – it was either saints or sinners. We had lawyers come out, and a lot of people doing time at Raiford.

“I used to cultivate relationships with people media guys don’t want to know,” he adds. “Those guys generally only want to know the presidents of big corporations. You’re better off knowing the janitor – he cleans everybody’s office.”

As for his widely admired memory, even he describes it as amazing.

“I don’t know how it happens. I remember phone numbers because of football players’ jerseys. An example is 229-8963 – I always remember that as 229, then Kevin House (#89) followed by Lee Roy Selmon (#63). I was great in school. The rest of the stuff I can’t explain. I also remember voices really well.”

Since getting out of the Air Force in 1969, he has worked on every radio station in town – from the original Q-Zoo on WRBQ to WPLP and WWBA – “some three, some four times.”

He never wanted to work at WFLA (970 AM) and yet it’s been his steadiest gig – four years in November.

The years at WFLA have been a time of increasing popularity for the 38-year old native Tampan, a graduate of Jefferson High School. His hour-long “Sports Huddle” show, a collection of scores, commentary, guests and listener calls, was highly rated and completely sold out in advertising terms.

When the station changed hands this year, though, someone looked at Webb and said he should be doing more. To capitalize on his popularity, “Sports Huddle” was canceled in mid- summer and replaced with three hours of Webb as a general interest talk show host.

Reviews to date have been mixed. Some enjoy hearing Webb speak out on everything; others wish he’d shut up and stick to jock topics.

“When I was told ‘Sports Huddle’ was canceled and they wanted me to do talk, the only
thing to do was go with the
flow,” says Webb. “But, it wasn’t like I was bored with sports and ready to move on.

“The transition to general interest has been tough for me,” he continued.
”Every day is something different. I get more hate mail than ever before.”

Sports still make up a portion of Webb’s new show and they’re still big part of his personal life. In order, he loves football, baseball and basketball “during the playoffs.”

Wrestling is also a favorite – in the late 1970’s he managed Black Samson, the Scorpions, Colt Brothers and Colonel Karl von Stroheim.

For football, Webb visits his nephew on Sundays for an afternoon of television contests, warming up with NBC’s pre-game show because he hates CBS’s Brent Musberger.

In Tampa, Webb is more likely to be catching a game on the tube rather than in person.

“I don’t go to the stadium because I’m not a Bucs fan,” he said. “I’m a Dolphin fan. They were the first (NFL) team in the state and I’m a loyal person. “I hope the Bucs do well, I pull for them, but I’d rather stay home and watch the other games on television.”

As for his second favorite sport, Webb believes baseball is destined for Tampa Bay. He doesn’t care which side of the big water it comes to, either – to a point.

“It’s coming. Baseball can’t stay away. I don’t think it’ll be expansion. It’ll be relocation – preferably an American League team so I can see the Yankees; and, I can’t wait.”

“I would go no matter where it was (played),” he says. “I would go less to St. Petersburg. But, not because of St. Petersburg, but where they’re building (the stadium) is ridiculous.”

But, what does he think about the groups trying to bring baseball to the Tampa Bay area?

“They’re split whether they even want it in Pinellas. The Tampa groups, though, have it all together.”

As for other sports, Webb faults a lack of promotion for the demise of the Rowdies, Thrillers, Flash and Stars.

“This area expects a winner,” he said. “Promotion is a big factor. What was the last Thrillers commercial you heard or saw (for the Thrillers)? A great team doesn’t means … You have to promote them. You have to sell them.

“The Rowdies – when they first came on – had great advertising. You have to tell people you’re exciting, remind them that you’re exciting and then you have to be exciting. The Rowdies simply lost track of excitement.

Ever the optimist, Webb thinks the new Arena Football League would succeed in Tampa Bay.

“There’s enough fans that would pack the Bayfront. I think it would fly and I’d like to be part of that ownership,” he says.

Also on his wish list for Bay area sports: Professional boxing, an NFL Governor’s Cup and the Pan Am Games.

“I would like to see the Bucs and Dolphins play every year in pre-season for a Governor’s Cup. And, I would like to see them bring the Pan Am Games, or something similar. That would make this area big league.

Webb ponders his last wish and laughs.

“You print that,” he said. “And, St. Petersburg will try and lure the Winter Olympic Games… And now, folks, the slalom in Largo…”

Tedd Webb WebsiteFacebookTwitterWFLA Salutes Tedd WebbIMDB


Stadium For Rent by Bob Andelman, Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay Rays
Order ‘Stadium For Rent: Tampa Bay’s Quest for Major League Baseball’ by Bob Andelman, now available in an expanded, updated and illustrated 456-page special edition, available from Amazon.com by clicking on the book cover above!

Why Men Watch Football by Bob Andelman, Mr. Media Interviews
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Jack Ellery, WCTC radio, Central New Jersey

Jack Ellery: Announcer brings back early memories!

By Bob Andelman

(Originally published May 9, 1986.)

Jack Ellery, WCTC radio, Central New Jersey
Jack Ellery, WCTC radio, Central New Jersey

Bob Andelman is the Tribune’s new radio columnist, and he will report weekly in this space news about Bay area and national radio. But in his first column, he reminisces about radio in his hometown – and about one announcer in particular, an announcer who now is on the air in Tampa.

My mother has an old radio, cased in tattered black leather, planted squarely on a little corner table in the cramped kitchen of her house.

It’s there, beneath the phone, standing upright among telephone directories, scratch pads, dried-out pens and blunt-end pencils, the most important object in getting her hectic days off to a good start, rating higher even than a good cup of strong black coffee.

I’m not even sure she’s consciously aware of her dependence on the old radio. But for the 20 years she has been in that house in a small central New Jersey town, turning on the radio in the morning has been as automatic as walking a frantic 60-pound dog at the crack of dawn or telling one of her three kids we were going to be late for school – again. The radio has three bands – AM, FM and shortwave – but its dial rarely has been twirled in these past two decades. It sits at 1450AM, tuned to WCTC.

WCTC is the station you listen to in Middlesex and Somerset counties for all the local news, high school sports and agricultural county agent programs.

When I was growing up in the ’60s and early ’70s, listening to WCTC meant listening in the mornings to announcer named Jack Ellery, who was spinning lightweight pop records and cracking wise.

I was a child when I first discovered him. Ellery struck me as a laugh riot, telling silly jokes a 10-year-old considered sophisticated. As I got older, he didn’t amuse me much anymore. My grandfather had given me a radio of my own, and I listened to New York City sta-tions such as WABC (with its DJs, Cousin Brucie, Dan Ingram and Harry Harrison) and WNBC (Don Imus, Wolfman Jack) with a pale yellow wire plugged permanently into my right ear.
Tuning into Ellery and WCTC became something I did only on winter school days when I’d look longingly out the window at 7a.m. for even the faintest hint of snow.

Ellery was the man whom the principal would call to announce school closings, a man everyone under the age of 18 knew deserved to be revered at least a few times during each cold winter season.

My mother never stopped listening to Jack Ellery – like Archie Bunker, he always was referred to by his full name in my house.

Jack Ellery,WFLA 970 AM radio, Tampa, Florida
Jack Ellery,WFLA 970 AM radio, Tampa, Florida

A few weeks ago, a cycle of sorts came full circle when David Okamoto reported in this column that Jack Ellery had come to Tampa to work at WFLA (970 AM).

It struck me as ironic that as I was taking over the writing of this radio column, the man responsible for my earliest memories of radio should turn up in town and fall under the scrutiny of my new beat.

I called home with the news about Jack Ellery. Mom was glad to hear he was still working.

“Ever since Jack Ellery left, I do not listen to WCTC,” she said, to my surprise. “I didn’t like him, but he was so outrageous to listen to. The new guy is dull, monotonous. You can hate what Jack Ellery says, but it’s never dull listening to. him. He creates reaction.'”

And Jack, if you read this, I know that even as a talk-show host, you’re up to your old tricks. Last week that involved declaring that “South Florida is full of anti-Zionists,” and a recent morning you were wondering aloud if convicted murderer Ted Bundy didn’t deserve clemency from the governor .

Good luck, old friend. And welcome to Tampa.


Stadium For Rent by Bob Andelman, Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay Rays
Order ‘Stadium For Rent: Tampa Bay’s Quest for Major League Baseball’ by Bob Andelman, now available in an expanded, updated and illustrated 456-page special edition, available from Amazon.com by clicking on the book cover above!

Why Men Watch Football by Bob Andelman, Mr. Media Interviews
Order ‘Why Men Watch Football’ by Bob Andelman, available as an e-book from Amazon.com by clicking on the book cover above!

The Party AuthorityThe Party Authority in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland!

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Copyright 2018 by Bob Andelman

Good as Gold: Tina Little’s luxury jewelry business is sparkling (Biz941)

By Bob Andelman

(Originally written in December 2007; the story is no longer on Biz941’s website archive so I am re-posting it here.)

Tina Taylor Little, owner, Queen's Wreath Jewels, Sarasota, Florida
Tina Taylor Little, owner, Queen’s Wreath Jewels, Sarasota, Florida

Gemologist Tina Taylor Little discovered up-and-coming jeweler Michael Beaudry at the 1996 New York Jewelry Show, and it changed her professional life. At the time, Little was the manager of the jewelry department at Sarasota’s Saks Fifth Avenue, but she sensed that Beaudry was a rising star, and her eye for spotting talent gave her the confidence to quit her job and open her own store. Within 30 days, she obtained financing from a private angel and welcomed her first customers to Queens’ Wreath Jewels.

That was in 1999. A year later, brandishing strong initial sales numbers, Little went back to Beaudry-who, at 41, is now one of the most respected jewelry designers in the luxury niche-and asked if he would do a trunk show for her in Sarasota.

He did; customer response was enthusiastic; and the two have been a powerhouse duo ever since. Little continues to show and sell Beaudry’s designs, along with a variety of other luxury jewelry.. Her store, now on St. Armands Circle, is one of the region’s most upscale jewelry businesses, with customers-many of them from Sarasota-who have the ability and desire to pay six figures for an heirloom-quality piece.

Being an upscale retail jeweler is not a bad position to be in these days, according to both Little and Lauren Thompson, public affairs coordinator for the New York-based industry trade association Jewelers of America.

“Retail jewelers are experiencing greater sales growth than other retailers,” Thompson says. “And mass-market retail won’t experience as much growth this year as a high-end retailer such as Tiffany. Consumers will pay more for quality. And high-end consumers are still shopping. Ken Gassman, president of the Jewelry Industry Research Institute, predicted that the higher-end retail jewelers might see growth as high as eight to 12 percent. It’s very important to differentiate your business; it’s easier for an independent jeweler to do that versus a mid-range jeweler who is competing with a big-box retailer or jewelry chain.”

Little agrees.

“We tend to sell at the extremes,” she says. “We’re kind of living in a bubble here in Sarasota, as far as a luxury market goes.”

For the past five years, Little has organized and hosted a private, invitation-only dinner and jewelry event (our sister publication, Sarasota Magazine is a sponsor) for 75 called “Beaudry & Bentley.” For the past two years it has been held at the Crosley Estate.

“Tina plans this event a year in advance,” Beaudry says, “and always comes up with new ideas to make it a luxury experience. She sets the stage, and I show up with my dancing shoes. It has grown every year to be the must-attend event in Sarasota [raising $70,000 for All Children’s Hospital in Sarasota]. The idea of a ‘Best of Breed’ partnership for events and promoting had not really been done when Tina started this. We have shared this winning formula with our dealer network. You cannot pick up a magazine now without seeing co-branding advertisements featuring two separate companies in a complementary brand statement.”

This summer, Beaudry named Little as a consultant and ambassador for his jewelry line, sending his good friend and supporter to Dubai last December to represent his interests at an international jewelry show.

“Tina is one of the most successful brand ambassadors of Beaudry in the country,” the diamond designer says. “She has a wealth of experience in high-end retail jewelry sales, presentation, sales training and event planning, and is willing to share her knowledge with other Beaudry dealers to help enhance their business. This is a testament to Tina’s mindset and broad vision.”

Little was born and raised in Los Angeles. Her mother, Wilda Taylor, danced in films (Roustabout; Harem Scarem; Frankie and Johnny) and choreographed Elvis Presley movies in the 1960s. Taylor worked with everyone from Pearl Bailey and George Raft to Don Knotts and Andy Griffith (separately), eventually growing her influence from dance to design, placing her clothes with Saks Fifth Avenue and I. Magnin at one point. More recently, Taylor-who has her own Web site (www.wildataylor.com )-appeared in small roles in Star Trek Enterprise and Six Feet Under. She also performs every Monday at The Comedy Store in L.A. “I was expected to take that road,” her daughter says, “but I had my own passion, which was jewelry.”

As for her father, producer Robert Fallon, Little thought he was dead until she was 15 and he came out of the Hollywood shadows after his wife, actress Marie Wilson, had died, prompting him to acknowledge Little-born out of wedlock-as his daughter.

“That’s the facts,” Little says. “I’m not protecting him; he’s dead. He was a guy’s guy who went hunting with Steve McQueen and Paul Newman. He was one of those guys who hung out on motorcycles on Sunset Boulevard. It was not pretty in a lot of ways. He never helped my mother. She raised two kids all by herself. He liked looking at me because I looked like him.”

Little followed her heart to Nashville in 1984-her father’s famous last words to her were, “I can’t believe you’re leaving L.A.”-and became a graduate gemologist, learning the business from top to bottom. A vacation in Sarasota turned her on to the city a few years later and she relocated here, managing stores for jeweler McCarver & Moser, among others, and opening a jewelry department for Saks.

“Several of my clients have been putting together collections with me here in Sarasota for more than 20 years,” she says. “That’s my niche; helping people put together their heirloom collections. It is all about collecting. If a man says, ‘You already have three rings, why would you need another?’ the answer is, ‘She doesn’t need another ring, but it would enhance her collection.’ I deal in diamonds that are so rare that there might be only five or six available in their category in the world. When I handpick a diamond, I have had people hand-carry it from Europe to New York to Sarasota to delivery it to a client.”

Diamonds aren’t cheap, certainly not at Queens’ Wreath.

“At this store there really is not a limit to what we could handle,” says Little. “Several hundred thousand dollars is not unusual. That would not be our average sale; we fill the gamut from $500 to whatever the customer’s desires are. Whatever the price tag, we feel confident.”

Queens’ Wreath Jewels has one stockholder, a family that is a silent partner to Little’s success. She won’t reveal annual sales revenues, although it is tempting: “I don’t even tell the Jewelers Board of Trade, who would love to put me in their Red Book. It’s like a DMV for jewelry stores.”

For the same reason, Little declines to discuss how she finances her high-flying jewelry deals.

“Some of it is trade secret,” she says. “What I do is magic. At the end of the day it may be a three-carat fancy, intense pink diamond. If everyone knew how I acquired things, then what have I done spending my whole life separating myself from a crowd? This business is trust-oriented. Deals are made on handshakes that are irrevocable. This is probably the last business in the world where a handshake and a word are a commitment.”

Little is married to architect and interior designer Thorning Little in Sarasota. Thorning, who is known for his expertise in lavish Mediterranean-style architecture, has designed all three of his wife’s stores.

Little also has discovered and cultivated relationships with many fine jewelry designers, but there is no question it is her chemistry with Beaudry that has loomed large over the success of Queens’ Wreath Jewels. The store is now in its third location in eight years, each one progressively larger and in a more highly trafficked spot than the last. Employment hovers around 10 people.

“In every jewelry store I’ve managed in Sarasota, I personally captured a share of the market’s loyalty and trust. And they followed me,” Little says. “When I opened my own store, they supported me. I have acquired friendships and relationships through trustworthy transactions. I established a reputation and I work hard to maintain that.”

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Ed Yarb today

Fast Eddie Yarb slows down! INTERVIEW

(I used to write a bi-weekly column, RadioRadio, for Players magazine in the Tampa Bay area. The following story appeared in 1990.)

By Bob Andelman

They bid him farewell with a medley of Neil Diamond/Air Supply/Johnny Mathis and then “Fast” Eddie Yarb – master of voices, traffic, game shows from hell and song parodies – was gone.

“First place and you’re leaving now, Eddie?” kidded Ron Diaz. “When we were in 12th place, that was the time to leave.”

95 WYNF Tampa Bay radio station promo photo: (Front) Carey Curelop, Scott Phillips, Shawn Portmann; (Back) Russ Albums, Ron Bennington, Ron Diaz, JJ Lee, Robt Reed, Fast Eddie Yarb, Becky Flash Gordon
95 WYNF Tampa Bay radio station promo photo: (Front) Carey Curelop, Scott Phillips, Shawn Portmann; (Back) Russ Albums, Ron Bennington, Ron Diaz, JJ Lee, Robt Reed, Fast Eddie Yarb, Becky Flash Gordon

Perhaps the timing was ironic – Fast Eddie bid farewell to his buds at WYNF (95 FM) on July 19, just one day after the latest Arbitron ratings showed “Ron & Ron” had risen to the top of the Tampa Bay area morning ratings heap in virtually every category.

But for Eddie the chance to become creative director at easy listening WARM (107 FM) was too good to pass up. Besides, he may be leaving the station with the top-rated morning show but he’s signing on with a new station that has the highest overall ratings in the market.

“It is a position that I always wanted, a golden opportunity,” he says. “I’ve never really (wanted) to be on-air. I have no desire to do what these guys do, to be pressed to make ratings. Money was a small, very small part of it. Matter of fact, they counter-offered me very nicely. But I’m looking to see what creativity I have in the real world.”

Yarb has now completed his second cycle at YNF. He began at the station in 1983 as an intern/assistant to Diaz, who was then doing middays. “I made sure his office was in order,” recalls the formed flunkie. When Diaz joined up with Jack Strapp in the “Breakfast Flakes,” Yarb started doing “goofy things” for them. He left in ’85 for a stint as creative director at WTOG-TV (Ch. 44), then returned in ’87 as a producer of Russ Albums’ short-lived and under-appreciated morning show. That’s when he was “Eddie Moore,” as in “Albums and More.”

That rolled into Diaz’s return from a brief stint in Los Angeles and back to the a.m. and subsequent teaming with comedian Ron Bennington. As “Ron & Ron” emerged, so did Fez Whatley, Becky “Flash” Gordon and “Fast” Eddie, on-air traffic reporter and behind-the-scenes production and creative whiz.

“A lot of the game show themes are mine,” says Eddie. “A lot of the concepts are developed by me and fleshed out on a group basis. ‘Andy’s World’ was my idea, although I blatantly ripped off (Saturday Night Live’s) ‘Wayne’s World.’ ‘Catholic Jeopardy’ was all mine. So was ‘Pick the Pervert.’ ‘Awful Options’ – done to the American Bandstand theme – was my first attempt at harmonies.”

“I give him all the ideas for the morning show,” interjects Charlie Logan, who eavesdrops on all of Eddie’s telephone calls.

“Being a producer,” continues Eddie, “my job was to take voices and concepts and jazz them up. I can’t take credit for ‘Dykes on Bikes,’ but I gave them the format.” A pick-up group he calls Eddie & the Idiots – mostly Eddie – did the singing on most of “Ron & Ron’s” most famous bits.

One bizarre Fast Eddie concept was “Silk ‘n’ Jeans.”

“My favorite,” says Logan, picking up the phone again.

“‘Silk ‘n’ Jeans’ sounds like every bad spot you would hear over on WRXB or TMP,” says Eddie. “It’s your Don Cornelius (host of Soul Train) voice with a lot of echo. My latest is one is ‘Silk ‘n’ Jeans’ having a Marion Barry sale.”

An excerpt: ” … Clothes designed to cover up all your crack problems …”

“I think Eddie was a good player in the morning show,” says Program Director Tom Marshall. “He brought a lot more to the show than just the traffic reports. He’ll be missed, but we’ll move onward.” (Marla Stone will do afternoon traffic with Logan; no full-time replacement for Eddie in the A.M. will be named immediately.)

Eddie – whose 1988 wedding to Karen a one-time YNF secretarial temp, their honeymoon and the birth of daughter Melissa three months ago were all chronicled by Ron & Ron – says he’ll miss YNF.

“We really put something together,” he says. “It was tough to make the decision but I’m just looking down the road for myself. I’m really proud of what we created on the morning show. It’s been 100% blast.”

Ed Yarb today
Ed Yarb today

•••

He Called! Finally heard from Randy Wynne at WMNF (88.5 FM), who confirmed the hiring of Greg Musselman as the new station manager of the alternative community station.

Musselman, who is currently a social worker with a Hillsborough County youth services program, is a familiar name to the station’s volunteer core and listeners. He’s been president of the board of directors since October and has worked on-air and behind the scenes himself as a volunteer for the past four years.

The hiring of Musselman ends a nine month search to replace Lisa McCormick, the embattled former station manager who last just one year at WMNF.

“I think a lot of people are hoping – because of the past experience – people are nervous about somebody they don’t know,” says Wynne. “Lisa was hired from out of town and they feel she didn’t have an appreciation for what the station was about.”

Musselman takes the conn Aug. 20.

From the Heart of Tampa Bay! I’m real late in reporting this but long-time WTMP (1150 AM) jock Mark Vann split the station in April for WYLD AM/FM in New Orleans. Alfonzo “The Fonz” Blanks picked up his slot and can be heard nightly from 7-11 p.m.

Anybody Remember? … Dr. Chuck Stevens, former music director and on-air guy at WLCY? WYUU (92 FM) is bringing him back on Sun. July 29 to do all-new editions of “Breakfast with the Beatles.” The show will air weekly from 8-9 a.m. and feature Moptop tunes, rarities and information.

Alert the Media! Have you ever heard WYNF – a.k.a. 95, 95 YNF, YNF or even the Pirate – ever called “Y95” ? Me either, yet the Tampa Tribune and St. Petersburg Times insist on referring to it that way.

Question for Mike Welch of St. Petersburg! What’s the frequency?

Say Goodnight, Ed! Famous Fast Last Words: “Meet a couple of guys who are number one in your hearts and they’ve got the ratings to prove it … Ron & Ron!” (Fast Eddie’s final intro, July 19, 1990.)

Ratings Blarney! Next issue, we’ll do our quarterly dissection of the latest Arbitron ratings. By now you’ve probably heard the basics, anyhow: 95’s “Ron & Ron” swept nearly every morning category for the first time; the Q Morning Zoo and the rest of 105’s lineup continue their tailspin; Power 93 is losing ground; and WARM and country kicker WQYK (99 FM) have shot to the top.

Here’s a few harsh notes from program directors around the dial on the latest ratings:

Scott Robbins, U92: “WHBO did not show! They’re gone. They’re not in the book.

“I’m sorry to see it happen. I am. Hey, I like Howard (Hewes) and Marvin (Boone). But they did it to themselves.”

Greg Mull, 98 Rock: “We’re happy that we’re still moving up. It wasn’t (as much as) I expected.

“The one thing I get out of the book is there’s only one morning show in this town in all formats. Until somebody puts a morning show on, all the Top 40 (listeners) are going to YNF.

“Cleveland – there’s a big vacuum over there (at Q105) where he’s sucking real bad. And the Pig – they’re doing what we’re doing, playing a lot of tunes.”

Tom Marshall, 95 YNF: “We try to be entertaining and informative to the listener but we also try to give them what they want. The ratings show the people prefer us over 98 Rock, at least in the demos we’re after.

“I think some of (the morning increase) is coming from Q105. The guys are hot. They may even be bringing in people who haven’t been listening to radio. And I think we’re getting people listening longer.

“(Power 93) spent a lot of money on cash giveaways and yet they dropped down. Maybe they’ve peaked a little bit. Maybe it’s just the audience sampling. Maybe because Q105 is going dance and urban, even though their numbers were down.

“(Q105) probably realized it’s a different situation than it was a few years ago. The heyday of Q105 is gone. The market is tougher and more fragmented. It’s tougher for any one station to dominate the way they had in the past.”

95! 95! 95! One place 98 Rock has been hurting 95 is in the evenings and at night.

“Nighttime has been a challenge for us,” says Tom Marshall. “It’s not unusual for a station like 98 Rock to do well at night. When AOR was core 18-24 adult, (night) was core. As they aged up, it was harder to get them to listen at night, they’re watching TV, playing with their kids.”

Marshall began a new assault on late-night listeners on July 23. He and Charlie Logan are fine-tuning the music from 7 p.m. on and adding something called “Revvin’ at Eleven” at 11 p.m.

“It’ll be an opportunity to air more new music and local music. It’ll be more sizzle, a little more of an attitude,” says Marshall. “Sometimes it could be a whole hour, other times it will be 20 to 30 minutes.”

Scott Phillips, Robert Reed and Don “The Hitman” Capone maintain their positions as the overnight guys.

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Fred Johnson, jazz singer, profile by Bob Andelman

Jazz singer Fred Johnson making a name for himself! 1985 INTERVIEW

 

By Bob Andelman

Fred Johnson, jazz singer, profile by Bob Andelman
Fred Johnson, jazz singer

Originally published October 16, 1985

Fred Johnson wears Klompen – Dutch shoes.

“I know they’re weird,” he said, “but I don’t care.”

The St. Petersburg-based jazz singer also has a distinctive tattoo on his left forearm.

“This was supposed to be Dennis the Menace, but the blond hair didn’t show up too good,” he said, joking. “I got it when I was in the Marine Corps, part of my crazy days.”

All of which had nothing to do with why this 36-year-old man can sing and “scat” with incredible precisions and style. But physical appearance is part of the image, and Johnson is pretty straight-arrow aside from these quirks.

“I can’t remember a time when I didn’t sing, since I was 4 years old,” he said. “It was just a gift that the good Lord gave me. It’s helped me jump some barriers that might otherwise have been insurmountable. Music is my life.”

When it comes to jazz in the bay area, more people will probably recognize Johnson ahead of any “name” performers at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday.

FOR THREE years a fixture at B.B. Joe’s management, Jim Reichle and Greg McCarthy, for much of his good fortune.

“I started at B.B. Joe’s about a month after it opened. Not too many guys that do improvisational music like I do keep a gig three years. We’ve developed both a professional and a personal relationship.”

Johnson came to St. Petersburg from Boston in 1977. He first turned up in these parts at the Hurricane Lounge in Pass-a-Grille with Bobby Kostreva.

Perhaps the brightest star in a small constellation of regional jazz acts, Johnson, together with Kamau Kenyatta, has forged a strong reputation in an area noted for limited support of live music in any category.

“It’s certainly an evolving area. I’ve been here eight years. I’ve seen the growth, and I’ve seen the changes in attitude. I really think the Tampa Bay area is fusing its likes. A lot of professional folks are coming out, more people are traveling between Tampa and St. Petersburg. I think they’re learning to appreciate it.”

JAZZ IS not the easiest musical art form to market. Club owners get afraid they’re not going to make the dollar they would if they put in recorded music.

“A lot of good concerts are coming to the area with Ruth Eckerd Hall Modern Jazz Quartet, Wynton Marsalis – I think that’s done a lot to educate the community about how varied the music is.”

Johnson blends popular and standard music with improvisational leanings. “There are people that say I’m not the purist I used to be,” he said. “What’s important to me is to give good quality, a feel, your own signature.

“When I started here, the audience was more into standards. I’ve moved more into the pop vein the past few years.”

This year, people will find Johnson a little more electric than in the past. The band has added a second synthesizer player and is performing a lot more original material.

Kenyatta, a triple threat on soprano saxophone, tenor sax and synthesizer, is the leader of Johnson’s group and writes much of their original compositions.

“KAMAU IS a very creative writer,” Johnson said. “We’ve been together as musical partners since 1980.” The two met in Detroit. “I consider him to be my best friend and my musical planet.”

Two of Kenyatta’s songs – “The Sailing Song” and “For Lady Day” -. have become. Johnson standards. Another, “All My Own,” which Kenyatta wrote with Mike Scaglione, is very special to the singer.

“Kamau said when he wrote it he had me in mind. It’s about a singer who goes out into the world and tries to make it:

As long as I can glue

I’ll keep shining, growing, singing, growing. . .

Now I’ve found others of the same mind

Now the road is not too hard to bear

I thank God, who brought us together.

“I’m sure that’s an example of a lot of groups, but that’s what it’s all about. When you Ian hnd people you know are really–on you-r side and support you, that’s what it’s all about.”

Together, Johnson and Kenyatta composed “Journey,” “I’m Glad to Know” (a recently released single) and “Regina” (pronounced HEY-zheena).

“Kamau is sort of the solidifier,” Johnson said. “He has the ability to put together a collection of ideas into a finished product. He has said he’s not sure of the finished product until I sing it. I’m basically just an interpreter. They give it to me and I blow that final breath of life into it.”

FILLING OUT the quartet are bassist Mark Neuenschwander; Scaglione, who can play alto sax, flute and synthesizer; and drummer John Jenkins.

This is the group that will play the festival. Guitarist Todd Dykman will join them on stage, and he will be replacing Neuenschwander in the group. Following the festival, Ted Thomas, formerly a drummer with Earl Klugh, will take Jenkins’ place.

“It’s hard for me to do that,” Johnson said of the replacements. “And you don’t want to put anyone out of work. That was probably the most difficult thing I’ve had to do, tell someone that I have to make a change. (But) as you grow, your direction changes.”

“For the first time in my life,” he added, “I’m considering having a manager and agent. I love this area, and I always want to work here, but my scope is broadening and I think it’s time to gain some national recognition.”

Fred Johnson Facebook

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Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page, Mr. Media Interviews

Rock fans fill Jimmy Page vigil with some idol gossip! 1986 FEATURE STORY

By Bob Andelman

Originally published March 14, 1986

Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page, Mr. Media Interviews
Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page. Order your copy today by clicking on the book cover above!

The fans started waiting around the parking lot at 5:30 p.m.

Most never got to see more than the back of Jimmy Page’s head, but it didn’t matter. They were there, and so was he.

Page arrived at rock radio station WYNF 95-FM just after 11 p.m. Monday night. Smiling slightly, he was surrounded by about a dozen people, including security guards, promoters and radio station personnel.

The guitarist was herded off to a studio, out of reach of the media and the 10 people who had been invited to the station to meet him.

Page, in the area rehearsing with the Firm for the kick-off of their 1986 concert tour at the University of South Florida Sun Dome tonight at 8 p.m. (tickets, available through Select-A-Seat are $15, reserved seating) came to be interviewed by people across North America during a rare remote broadcast of RockIine, a weekly, 9O-minute call-in talk show which is simultaneously broadcast via satellite to 135 stations in the United States and Canada.

“It is an honor to be speaking with you,” began Kurt from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma “I hope someday to meet you in person.”

Rockline normally originates from Los Angeles, where host Bob Coburn is a disc jockey at KLOS. The last time the program hit the road was to go to Texas last spring to talk to Page’s former mate from Led Zeppelin, Robert Plant.

“You can see the stature of artist that it takes to drag me out of L.A.,” says Coburn.

“We feel Jimmy Page transcends rock ‘n’ roll – it’s a cliche, but if there is such a thing as a legend, he certainly qualifies,” Coburn says.

Led Zeppelin released its first album in 1969, its last in 1982. “Stairway to Heaven,” a solemn, winding ballad, is the song that defines the essence of the band, but the Zeppelin could rock hard and fast, as on “Communication Breakdown “and “Whole Lotta Love.” The band’s followers remain fanatic in their devotion to Page and Plan” who reunited publicly for the first time at Live Aid last summer. Rumors are still strong that Led Zeppelin will officially get back together sometime this year- sooner if the Firm doesn’t pan out.

While Page was on the air with Coburn, the Firm’s bass player Tony Franklin wandered about the WYNF studios, chatting with fans and posing for pictures.

Janice Cohen was one of the lucky ones. She took a picture of her 14year-old daughter Joann with Franklin, then posed for a picture with them. Mrs. Cohen got the chance to beat the studio by winning a contest for the best excuse for being late to work. She refused to repeat the rea…, son, citing acute embarrassment.

One of the callers asked Page if playing with Franklin, singer Paul Rodgers, and drummer Chris Slade in the Firm was different from working with Led Zeppelin.

“For me, playing with the Firm it’s three new guys. The output of each guy is obviously different from Zeppelin. Hopefully, it’s something you enjoy; it appears you do,” said Page. Outside the studio, almost three dozen fans – mostly young men had car radios turned up or carried portables. Those in front of the building congregated beneath the window they decided’ Page was behind.

I wish they’d open the curtains,” an unidentified man said.

“He’s a great artist,” said Mike Edwards, 21, of St. Petersburg, when asked why he was standing in wet grass outside a two-story building after midnight. Edwards was wearing a T-shirt that read “Drunken State.”

“There’s only two groups that I’d do this for,” he continued. “One is the Beatles. The other is Led Zeppelin/The Firm. Wouldn’t do it for anybody else. I’d be out partying … I still can’t believe he’s here.”

A man called Rockline and asked Page about an album the guitarist played on called White Boy’s Blues.

“I don’t know anything about it,” Page said, irritated. “I don’t have any bootlegs.”

“Oh, I don’t think it’s a bootleg,” the man insisted.

“Tell me what titles are on it,” Page said.

“I don’t know,” the man responded. “I can’t read. I’m blind.”

“Well, if you don’t know the titles,” said Page, “I can’t help you.”

It was the only evidence of the guitarist’s legendary short temper, but the incident caused the guys sitting on their car hoods to shake their heads at their hero’s insensitivity.

At the back of the building, several men and women were waiting to see Page depart after the show.

“This band here started rock ‘n’ roll,” said Scott Henkel, 20, of Clear-OJ’ water. “If it weren’t for them, there wouldn’t be no bands. Zeppelin is the number one band. I wouldn’t be here if it was any other band. I wish they were still together. They mean a lot to me. If it wasn’t for Led Zeppelin, I don’t know if I would listen to music.”

Night disc jockey Charlie Logan was thrilled about Page’s appearance at the station.

“I’m excited about it and I’ve been in rock ‘n’ roll for a long time. But when it comes to rock ‘n’ roll, is there a bigger name? Mick Jagger might be a bigger name in a certain demographic, but Led Zeppelin I’ crosses all demographics. My brother-in-Iaw would love to be here. My 8-year-old nephew would kill to be here.”

Logan was quite an attraction himself. Several women asked him to pose with them for photos.

“This is a very big moment for the station,” he said. ‘4We’re getting a lot of exposure – it’s because we have a lot of respect nationally that we were able to do this.”

WYNF was just one of the local places the Firm could be spotted in the past two weeks. The first sighting was made at the Del Fuegos concert at London Victory Club last Thursday; several band members reported1ywentbackto the Tampa club last weekend. The group rehearsed this past week at the Sun Dome.

After the interview, contest winners were escorted in pairs to meet Page and get their pictures taken with him. (He had autographed albums for them earlier.)

“I thought it went very well,” described host Coburn. “Jimmy’s manager was even commenting on what fine form Jimmy was in.”

Curelop agreed. “He was a very gracious guest, seemed very glad to be here. Sometimes you hear about people and their bad reputations- I didn’t see any of that tonight.”


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Joan Baez: 75th Birthday Celebration, Mr. Media Interviews

Joan Baez mixes humor with strong spirit! 1985 CONCERT REVIEW

By Bob Andelman

Originally published July 1, 1985

Joan Baez: 75th Birthday Celebration, Mr. Media Interviews
Joan Baez: 75th Birthday Celebration. Order your copy today by clicking on the album cover above!

Three summertime faces of Joan Baez:

Singing in a recent episode of the syndicated TV show Fame, helping the students of a performing arts school understand the importance of speaking up for their futures relative to a nuclear freeze;

Singing in the upcoming July 13 “Live Aid” concert in Philadelphia – alongside Mick Jagger and Duran Duran – in a benefit for the starving in Ethiopia, and;

Singing at Ruth Eckerd Hall before a sold-out crowd on Sunday night, despite the lingering after-effects of a bout with laryngitis. ,’.

Baez, is more visible in the summer of 1985 than she has been in years, full of irrepressible spirit and determination, still ambitious to educate minds and change perceived injustices, yet balanced by the times rind their limitations.

Baez played 13 songs in about 70 minutes, apologizing frequently for the condition of what she felt was a ravaged voice. Actually, the 43-year-old singer hit her notes more than she missed and even if she did miss, there gill are very few people who could do better.

Besides her music, the most entertaining taste Baez left was not of her left-wing politics and convictions for her humor.

She introduced a new song called “Recently” this way: “This is the song I wrote for people my age who get married, had children, got divorced, went through bitterness and then more bitterness . . . This song helped me – for about an hour and a half.”

Her impression of friend Bob Dylan near the end of “Lily, Rosemary and The Jack of Hearts” (which he wrote) was hilarious, as was her jabs at Tina Turner before singing a surprisingly touching acoustic cover of “Private Dancer.”

There were political moments, of course. “Everything happened in the ‘60s, but if we don’t do anything in the ‘80s, we won’t have the ‘90s,” she said before singing “Children of the ‘80s.” The funny, sometimes poignant lyrics ticked off current interests, music, style in health and fashion – and their attendant hypocrasies.

“Warriors of the Surf” had the best line of the night:

“You prove you’re needy by eating dog food;

“One of these days, the Alpo’s gonna hit the fan.”

Another song, “Freedom,” had a pedigree as riveting as its lyrics. Baez said she had once sung it to wake up Martin Luther King Jr., as well as to the dissident Sakharovs in the Soviet Union, from the roof of a building in Hanoi during a bombing raid, and more recently, for Bishop Desmond Tutu in San Francisco.

To give her voice a break, Baez read an excerpt from a book she is, writing. It provided vivid imagery, first from her kitchen window, then out into the heavens of Star Wars, down to earth in Nicaragua and the American farmland, off to the American hostages in Beirut, to Israel for the release of Shiite prisoners “not because of pressure but because it’s a good time of year,” and finally back to things flowery and sweet. It was “Doonesbury,” “Bloom County,” the Democratic Party and everything to the left rolled into one, and left a desire for a look at the rest of the book in the future.


Kicking Through the Ashes by Ritch Shydner, Mr. Media Interviews
Kicking Through the Ashes: My Life As A Stand-up in the 1980s Comedy Boom by Ritch Shydner. Order your copy today by clicking on the book cover above!

The Party AuthorityThe Party Authority in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland!

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Playlist: The Very Best of Loverboy, Mr. Media Interviews

‘Ultimate dream’ comes true for faithful fan – she kissed a Loverboy

By Bob Andelman

Originally published March 8, 1986

Playlist: The Very Best of Loverboy, Mr. Media Interviews
Playlist: The Very Best of Loverboy. Order or download your copy today by clicking on the album cover above!

Mike Reno, the lead singer, gave her a big hug and a kiss.

So did the other four members of the rock ‘n’ roll band.

They also signed her handmade, blue Loverboy scrapbook- full of pictures, headlines and ticket stubs, with a page devoted to each musician – and a white hotel towel with an arrow green stripe down the middle. “I got this towel- it was around Mike’s neck at the Blossom in Ohio,” recalled Kelly Thorsby. “I tried to get ‘onstage and a roadie gave me this.”

Miss Thorsby, a 17-year-old high school senior dressed in green blouse, skirt, beads and earrings, was quaking with joy, shaking in disbelief.

SHE WAS one of more than 700 fans of the rock ~ Loverboy to stand in line for autographs, pictures. arid’ kisses in the Peaches record store on Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard. The band stopped by Friday afternoon on the way to play a concert in Lakeland.

Are you okay?” asked her friend, Kelli Kovalchik, 18, who flew in from Ohio with Miss Thorsby.

“No,” Miss Thorsby answered. “I’m gonna pass out.”

“She paid $400 for a plane ticket to fly here for the weekend to see them,” her friend explained.

Told by her sister to calm down, Miss Thorsby- in tears – said, “I can’t, I can’t! This is my _dream, my ultimate dream. to Seconds later, she burst out: “I knocked Paul (Dean) off his chair! I can’t believe I did that!” Mike Reno’s response to his fan’s devotion?

“HE LAUGHED at me. Mike Reno… he kissed me! Did you see it? He’s going, ‘Just don’t attack me.’ … He got marker on my hand. I’ll never wash it.”

The surprising thing was that Miss Thorsby traveled so far just to get an autograph. She wasn’t planning to go to the concert, referring to wait until the hand plays Cleveland next week.

“She’s not to going to see us at the concert?” drummer Matt Frenette asked later. “(She) just came to see us here? Unbelievable.”

A vast majority of the autograph seekers were women. And for a band with hits like “Get Lucky,” “The Kid Is Hot Tonite,” “Lovin’ Every Minute of It” and “Hot Girls in Love,” there could be no more appropriate fan.

Pretty women – chosen by band members – were taken aside by the band’s road manager and tempted to the night’s show with back stage passes.

IN THE meantime, mother surged their daughters to kiss the boys in the band while they took pictures.

But one of the most interesting interactions between the band members and their fans came when a woman carrying a small baby arrived at the front of the line.

“Oh! What a cutie!” sighed Frenette. “What’s her name?”

“Tiffany,” said the mother.

“She a good kid?”

“She’s a very good. kid.”

As mother and child took their leave, the 32-year-old musician waved.

“Bye!” he shouted. “Have a nice life!”


The Millionaire's Convenient Arrangement by Jane Peden, Mr. Media Interviews
The Millionaire’s Convenient Arrangementby Jane Peden. Order your copy today by clicking on the book cover above!

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Playlist: The Very Best of Jermaine Jackson, by Bob Andelman

Jermaine Jackson’s struggling under the shadow of his brother 1986 CONCERT REVIEW

By Bob Andelman

 

Playlist: The Very Best of Jermaine Jackson, by Bob Andelman
Playlist: The Very Best of Jermaine Jackson. Order your copy today by clicking on the album cover above!

August 4, 1986

There were three times Saturday night when a person in the more than half-empty Ruth Eckerd Hall could have forgotten that Jermaine -Jackson was you-Know-Who-With-the-Gloves older brother.

The first was during a handsome version of his biggest hit, “Do What You Do.” Jackson pushed his voice and emotional range to its limit in making a strong vocal and visual demonstration. It was the first time ali night he sounded like a lead singer instead of someone in the chorus.

The second and third instances came immediately thereafter.

“Feeling Free,” a funky chestnut from one of his first Motown solo albums, was the peak of an extravagant light show, hot band and Jackson himself melding together for the first time. Unfortunately, it was the penultimate song of the evening.

For his encore, Jackson pumped up his most recent single, “I Think It’s Love.” And in a rare relaxation of house rules, people were allowed to rush to the edge of the stage and shake hands with Jermaine, creating an electric atmosphere as he sang a nine-minute version of the perky tune.

The closeness with his fans was exactly the opposite of what his brother might have done and that left a good impression.

So much for the good news.

The first 50 minutes of Jackson’s 70-minute concert was simply a disappointment.

Appearing onstage half an hour late and without an opening act, Jackson wore a gold lame cape, jacket, slacks and suspenders. Under the jacket he wore a white muscle T-shirt.

For the first four song, “Dynamite,” “Tell Me I’m Not Dreamin’,” “Come to Me,’ and “I Hear a Heart Beat,” Jackson couldn’t be heard over the percussion.

Between then and “Do What You Do,”; the three female back-up singers were the lead vocals, or so it seemed. Jermaine sounded as though he was still doing harmony parts behind Michael’s faisetto in the Jackson Five.

Speaking of which:

“Seventeen years ago, my brothers and I created a musical force that captured the world,” Jermaine said, modestly, of course. “All we wanted to do was give love, peace and harmony through our music.”

And here’s where Jermaine, on his first solo tour ever, made a tactical error, performing a medley of J5 hits that Michael originally sang lead on “I’ll Be There,” “I Want You Back,” “ABC” and “Never Can Say Goodbye.”

It was a mistake because it invites comparisons. And “Jermaine just doesn’t compare to Michael.

Wait “a minute, though. Who can compare to Michael Jackson?

The point is that Jermaine invites the comparison and it isn’t necessary. Compare him against other current R&B acts with big l0-piece band & and Jermaine shines. As a solo artist, he has had plenty of success with good songs, from “Let’s Get Serious” to “Do What You Do.”

In a relatively brief show like this one, Jermaine early on needed to attain the level he reached at the end of his Eckerd Hall concert, then top it. Undeniably, he has- the-tools; he just needs more practice asserting himself and what he is today, not what he was part of a decade ago.

Jermaine Jackson WebsiteFacebookTwitterInstagramTumblrWikipediaIMDB


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