Thursday, April 3, 2014

It Takes a Harbor - by D. Klein



Try to imagine what it would be like to plan the first of what will become an annual event and what it implies.   There’s a whole community riding on it, hoping it will be successful, for obvious reasons.


What kind of crazy people would undertake such a thing?  Hello?  Have you met Kiaralinda, Todd Ramquist, and Heather Richardson? It wasn’t enough to take a seed of an idea for a Community Center for the Arts and actually make it grow to fruition with fund raisers and hard work.  No. They had to go totally over the edge and decide that an annual Singer/Songwriter Festival would be a good idea as well.  And not just any festival, a FIRST Annual festival.  That means there will be one every year

Am I belaboring that point too much?

When I told my daughter, who’s been a road wrangler for bands for many years, I detected a note of concern in her voice.   Mommy, do they KNOW what a big concert event entails? Do they understand the challenges?  I told her that in all the years I’ve known K. and T., fear of failure was not something they ever expressed when taking on a project.   Kristin conceded that if anyone could pull it off, she supposed it would be them.  That’s something coming from my world-class cynic.



Yet, projects like this, that will potentially put Safety Harbor in good company with Austin, Texas and Newport, Rhode Island, and locally, St. Pete and Clearwater, can’t happen without help … lots of help.  It takes a village, as they say.  Safety Harbor merchants have been up to the challenge and have contributed in major ways.  So have businesses from neighboring communities, friends, and friends of friends from all over the bay area, and even the country.  

As we come down to the wire, there has been the very complex task of volunteer organization and fine-tuning by the very capable Julia Linn.  Volunteers had to volunteer to help with volunteers for Pete’s sake.  There is beer and wine to sell, crowds to manage, tickets to sell, musicians to feed and house, set ups, and tear downs, gift bags to make, flyers and posters to post, phone calls and emails to deal with.  There’s a budget to manage.  These things, ladies and gentlemen, are just the tip of the iceberg.  But this ain’t the Titanic. Nosirrreeebob.

I recently went at Dawn and Patrick’s Whistlestop where the volunteer hosts were meeting to pick up the artist gift bags for the musicians who would be staying in their homes.  It’s a big deal to assure that these very talented people feel welcome.  The gift bags were a labor of love from businesses in the community who donated goods and services. Christina and Randy Kautz took on the gift bag challenge, right down to the spreadsheets.

I asked Janet Lee and Brian Stinson, one of the host families, what they look forward to when they open their home to the band Callahan.  Janet Lee was especially excited about the impact it will have on the whole community. She wants them to feel safe and relaxed while they’re there.  “I just want them to be in a good, safe place so that they can be inspired to do what they do best, their art.” Plus, she really loves the stage pass she gets for being a host.  It is pretty cool.  All the art bags have slick stage passes for the musicians and host families. 

Bobbie Dusenberry is no stranger to having a house full of people.  She and Bill have an annual party that usually results in sleep-overs. She’s also no stranger to volunteering since she fills in on and off the air at WMNF 88.5 FM. (The best little radio station to the left of the dial.)  She and Bill will be hosting a husband and wife duo called Patchouli, from Madison, Wisconsin, as well as another duo who go by the name of Granville Automatic from Atlanta.  I asked if she’d been in touch with any of the artists. She’d talked to Julie of Patchouli, who is a vegan.  Her husband Bruce eats meat.  So Bobbie plans to make vegetable lasagna for them.  Her home is pet-free, which is important.  Many of the artists are allergic to pet hair.  There are so many things to consider when opening one’s home for an event such as this, so the logistics of matching the best host house for all the different artists proved to be challenging.


Cyndy Von Haden Peer and her husband will actually have family there at the same time, with a new four month old grand-baby.  She’s excited to be hosting Barrett Smith and his wife Nicole.  “We want to impart the same welcoming feeling that we experienced when we first moved here and got to know the SHAMc collective of people.  We want them to feel as connected to the people here as we feel we are. I’m actually writing a letter to them to let them know a little about us.” Cyndy confided.  “I hope I don’t ramble on too long in it though!”
The gift bags were quite a project too.   First, there were lots of phone calls and visits to various businesses in the bay area to see if they would contribute to them. (Think a sort of Welcome Wagon for hip people.) Almost everyone was willing and happy to contribute gift certificates for goods and services, beer cozies, insulated mugs, toiletries, pieces of art, and even a paper maraca from Earthbound Trading.  Todd and Kiaralindaeven made their famous wire hearts for each one. 

Who’s in the bag?   I’ll tell you who.  (I was tempted to grab one and run…)  Calm Community Acupuncture, Safety Harbor Dentistry, Safety Harbor Optical, Seadog Cottages, Courtyard Marriott of Oldsmar, Earthbound Trading, WMNF, Living Social, Pilot Moon Films, Fleur de Lis, 8th Avenue Pub, Brady’s BBQ, Carmel’s, Destination Magazine, Kelly’s Dunedin, Nature’s Food Patch, Nolan’s Pub, Parts of Paris, Pizzeria Gregario, Southern Fresh, Starbucks, Sweet Ida Mae’s Bakery, Tapping the Vine, The Sandwich on Main, Tupelo’s on Fourth, Whimzeyland, and Whistlestop.   WHEW! 

The artists are coming to town to put beautiful music in our ears that will travel to our brains and translate into all kinds of good food for our souls.  The very least we can do is make them feel comfortable and welcome.  The hosts and the community will experience a perfect symbiotic relationship for several magical days the first week and weekend of April. One heart.


Friday, March 28, 2014

Two Years Later: A Follow Up - Hollywood in the Harbor



Charles Chu and Ryan O'Nan with Todd and Kiaralinda at Gasparilla Film Festival
In August of 2012 a film company entered the neighborhood like a traveling carnival, while Republicans congregated in downtown Tampa and tropical storm Isaac decided to take a dump on the bay area. Almost two years later, we sat in a theater at Ybor Muvico, about to crawl out of our skins waiting for the movie to begin.

Two years ago, Alan Cumming strolled past my bedroom window in a kimono as a red golf cart with a pink Elizabeth emblazoned on the side with duct tape sped by. Handsome young men schlepped all kinds of stuff up and down the street. And here we were, on March 23, 2014, watching the same golf cart on the big screen. It was pretty surreal, although I really hate to use that word because it was more than that. It was Felini-esque. It was parallel universe. People who live in L.A. wouldn’t understand how cool it feels, to us, to see the house we drink wine and plan events in, in a movie with Alan Cumming, Annie Potts, and a host of other fine actors. After all, all of Hollywood is a movie, even when it’s not. It’s old hat to that town. Not that the house hasn’t been in the media before. It has been on TV a few times. Cool … but still.

So there was Alan Cumming, Annie Potts, (I ran and got stinky ice for her two years ago,) Ryan O’Nan, and Charles Chu sitting on the wicker couches inside of Casa Loco,the name lovingly given to Kiaralinda and Todd’s guest house. There were the ash trays that encrusted the studio outside! There was Annie Potts watering flowers in the Y2K bug that counted down the millennium on 12/31/1999! There was Alan Cumming dancing on the balcony, over the wooden mermaid, in a sheer red negligee!

Do I sound star-struck? You bet your ass I am. O’Nan and Chu, to me, are a younger version of Affleck and Damon. I suspect they’ll co-write many more creative projects together. At least I hope so. I won’t go on and on about the talent behind Chu and Blossom, or the mixed reviews. You can Google that shit if you’re curious. But wait! Let me just add that there is a big dead tree, (filmed in Largo,) with glorious, glowing, locusts raining down. It blew everyone away. The visual was created by the same guy that does special effects for Game of Thrones. I am totally not kidding. The crew also had to ice the balls of the dogs in the meat scene. It was the dog days of August, after all. I love the inside poop on the behind-the-scenes stuff. Curious yet? Chu and Blossom is not just another buddy-bonding story. It’s a story about Everyman’s Small Town and the fringe characters who struggle to maintain their unique identities among a more mainstream populace. These guys would actually fit in quite nicely in the Safety Harbors and Dunedins of America. But the fictional town, in which the characters come to know and accept themselves,(and each other,)is not of the “quirky” variety. C.and B. was the closing movie at the Gasparilla Film Festival. It’s going on to the Florida Film Festival and the Sarasota Film Festival. I encourage you to try to catch it. You may see your street, and maybe a bit of yourselves, in this picture. Movie making is not instant gratification. But when it’s done right, it’s sure worth the wait.

Hollywood in My Hood-Addendum



Charles Chu and Ryan O'Nan with Todd and Kiaralinda at Gasparilla Film Festival
In August of 2012 a film company entered the neighborhood like a traveling carnival, while Republicans congregated in downtown Tampa and tropical storm Isaac decided to take a dump on the bay area. Almost two years later, we sat in a theater at Ybor Muvico, about to crawl out of our skins waiting for the movie to begin.

Two years ago, Alan Cumming strolled past my bedroom window in a kimono as a red golf cart with a pink Elizabeth emblazoned on the side with duct tape sped by. Handsome young men schlepped all kinds of stuff up and down the street. And here we were, on March 23, 2014, watching the same golf cart on the big screen. It was pretty surreal, although I really hate to use that word because it was more than that. It was Felini-esque. It was parallel universe. People who live in L.A. wouldn’t understand how cool it feels, to us, to see the house we drink wine and plan events in, in a movie with Alan Cumming, Annie Potts, and a host of other fine actors. After all, all of Hollywood is a movie, even when it’s not. It’s old hat to that town. Not that the house hasn’t been in the media before. It has been on TV a few times. Cool … but still.

So there was Alan Cumming, Annie Potts, (I ran and got stinky ice for her two years ago,) Ryan O’Nan, and Charles Chu sitting on the wicker couches inside of Casa Loco,the name lovingly given to Kiaralinda and Todd’s guest house. There were the ash trays that encrusted the studio outside! There was Annie Potts watering flowers in the Y2K bug that counted down the millennium on 12/31/1999! There was Alan Cumming dancing on the balcony, over the wooden mermaid, in a sheer red negligee!

Do I sound star-struck? You bet your ass I am. O’Nan and Chu, to me, are a younger version of Affleck and Damon. I suspect they’ll co-write many more creative projects together. At least I hope so. I won’t go on and on about the talent behind Chu and Blossom, or the mixed reviews. You can Google that shit if you’re curious. But wait! Let me just add that there is a big dead tree, (filmed in Largo,) with glorious, glowing, locusts raining down. It blew everyone away. The visual was created by the same guy that does special effects for Game of Thrones. I am totally not kidding. The crew also had to ice the balls of the dogs in the meat scene. It was the dog days of August, after all. I love the inside poop on the behind-the-scenes stuff. Curious yet? Chu and Blossom is not just another buddy-bonding story. It’s a story about Everyman’s Small Town and the fringe characters who struggle to maintain their unique identities among a more mainstream populace. These guys would actually fit in quite nicely in the Safety Harbors and Dunedins of America. But the fictional town, in which the characters come to know and accept themselves,(and each other,)is not of the “quirky” variety. C.and B. was the closing movie at the Gasparilla Film Festival. It’s going on to the Florida Film Festival and the Sarasota Film Festival. I encourage you to try to catch it. You may see your street, and maybe a bit of yourselves, in this picture. Movie making is not instant gratification. But when it’s done right, it’s sure worth the wait.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Win a new pair of designer Oakley sunglasses with your festival ticket!

Dr. Shawn Hollander, OD, PA, of Safety Harbor Optical, has written about the upcoming Singer/Songwriter Festival, April 4-6. We appreciate his support and his help getting the word out. Dr. Hollander and his staff are wonderful people and they are actively involved in supporting our community. Read Dr. Hollander's blog to find out how to win a new pair of Oakley designer sunglasses with your festival ticket!

Thank you, Dr. Hollander and everyone at Safety Harbor Optical!


Click here to purchase your ticket for the Safety Harbor Singer/Songwriter Festival.


330 Main Street
Safety Harbor, FL 34695
Hours: Mon (9:30-5:00) | Tues-Thurs (9:30-6:00) | Fri (9:30-4:00) | Sat (8:30-1:00)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Angel Snow House Concert Stirs Excitement for Upcoming Festival

Photo by Holly Apperson

Maybe people who shine don't ever see themselves as being finished with dreams. Take, for example, the most recent Whimzey house concert performer, Angel Snow. She's humble, easy to talk to. She's kind. She also happens to be a super talented singer/songwriter.



I got to talk to her when she was driving back home to Nashville Wednesday morning. She pulled over to get some gas and we chatted over our cell phones. I asked her a few questions and of course, the first had to be about Whimzeyland and Casa Loco.

"It was one of the most charming places I've ever had the opportunity to stay in," she said, then added, "it was the most creative place I've ever stayed."

Photo by Holly Apperson

Snow's music career started soon after she met Grammy-winning singer Alison Krauss through a mutual friend. "I gave her one of my CDs," Snow said. The next day, she knew her life was going to change when she heard how much Alison liked her CD. Alison Krauss' brother Viktor wrote the music to Lie Awake - he'd written it years before meeting Angel Snow, but the lyrics and the rhythms meshed, as did the talents of the two musicians. The rest, as they say, is history. Three of Angel Snow's songs are on the newly released album Paper Airplane by Alison Krauss and Union Station. (It's worth listing to both Angel Snow's and Alison Krauss & Union Station's versions of Lie Awake - they are both beautiful!)

I asked Snow when she first knew she wanted music to be a part of her life. She told me she always knew in her heart that ultimately she wanted to be on stage and share her music and art with other people. "I started writing poetry in seventh grade. Then it turned into adding music to it," she said. "My parents were a big influence and tthey wanted  me to finish school, but I've always pushed myself to do more than I think other people thought I was capable of ... exploring everything I have to offer. I'm still doing that."

College allowed her the opportunity to find work and she traveled to California from Georgia on a bus when she was 22. She spent time as a nanny and she thought she'd become a teacher. She didn't imagine those early years writing poetry would turn into stardom, but her success hasn't affected her. "I still might like to teach English in another country ... there are lots of different things I'd like to do."

Her love of music stayed with her though, and no matter where she lived, she had her guitar.

For now, she is sticking to music. The kind that that will pull you into its plot, its layers, like a well
Photo by Holly Apperson
written book. Her voice is melodic, her lyrics can be sad, but with a definite helping of nostalgia and hope mixed in. Her guitar riffs are bluesy, easy to listen to, and like Alison Krauss' music, a very modern rendition of American Bluegrass.It's the type of music that will positively affect a whole city - Safety Harbor - come April  when she performs at the Safety Harbor Singer Songwriter Festival.

"Music was always a strength so I'm glad I pursued it, but there was always something else leading me too. I have always tried to go where my heart leads me. I think when you do that things can be difficult, but there is something else that carries you over."

Don's miss Angel Snow performing April 4-6 at the Safety Harbor Singer Songwriter Festival.
Purchase her CDs through her website at angelsnow.net. Find her on Facebook and you can follow her Twitter at @ImAngelSnow.