Pack your coolers, grab your flip-flops and beach clothes, whip up a potluck dish and head on out to Siesta Beach on Sunday, Oct. 14 for the 5th Annual WSLR Beach Bash.
This free community celebration is open to all and takes place from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the picnic area and wooden gazebo toward the south end of the Siesta Beach complex — a three-minute walk south from the main concession stand at the center of the beach, and nice and close to the south parking lot.
“The Beach Bash is way for us to celebrate with the community following the fund drive — the success of seven years of community radio here in Sarasota and a way to show appreciation to our volunteers and our members while enjoying live music on America’s number-one beach,” said WSLR station manager Arlene Sweeting.
“We love this community and they always show us the love all year-round and especially during our on-air membership drives,” Sweeting said of WSLR’s recently completed fall membership drive.
“We’re $800 short of our goal ($30,000); we’re at $29,200 right now and money’s still coming in. People can still go online and pledge and we still have lots of Thank You gifts folks can check out online,” she added.
Beach Bash attendees are invited to bring a potluck dish to share and coolers stocked with your personal beverages of choice — keeping in mind that glass containers are not allowed in the picnic area or on the beach.
Charcoal, grills, water, cold beverages and condiments will be provided. As part of WSLR’s ongoing efforts to promote sustainability and ecological awareness, folks are encouraged to bring reusable plates and utensils to help reduce waste.
Taking the stage at 4:15 p.m., Ukumelee features Dan “Duckie” Garrido, Doug Conroy, Bryan Spainhower and David Townsend. They describe their sound as “songs spanning a wide variety of genres including Hula favorites, reggae, ska, pop, rock and alternative, all with a ‘Hapa-Haole’ Hawaiian twist!”
Villanova Junction consists of Ryan O’Neill (vocals and guitar), Justin Kaiser (vocals and bass), Megan Jourdan (vocals and percussion), TWIS Managing Editor Sara Moone (keyboards and strings) and Tim Moone on the drums. Their show will start around 6 p.m.
Sara describes Villanova Junction’s sound as “vintage-retro-psychedelic-blues rock” and says, “People have compared our sound to the Doors and the Animals — with a little bit of Iggy Pop, the Misfits and Elvis thrown into the mix.”
You can check out Villanova Junction’s latest album and find out where they’re playing next at the band website.
DJ Haile, host of WSLR’s INI Radio show, will be grooving the festivities with Caribbean-reggae tunes before and in between the live bands.
WSLR volunteers will be on hand, distributing WSLR Soundwaves newsletters, giving away WSLR bumper stickers and informing the uninitiated about WSLR’s mission and role in the community.
“It’s just a real good time, a nice, laid-back, fun time to get know each other better,” Sweeting concluded. “I encourage people to come out and take advantage of it.”
Listen to WSLR online and learn more about Sarasota’s listener-supported community radio station at the WSLR website.
Phil Lee in Concert
Never ones to stand idle, the WSLR weekend of fun kicks off Saturday night, Oct. 13, with Nashville roots rock and rockabilly singer-songwriter Phil Lee giving a benefit concert inside the WSLR performance venue located at 525 Kumquat Court.
The Associated Press lauded Lee as “combining the social consciousness of Woody Guthrie with the twisted fury of Jerry Lee Lewis.”
Lee’s appreciation for blues and the Beatles are evident in a songwriting style elevated by the wit and heartfelt emotion expressed in his poignant lyrics. A Phil Lee performance also contains “a healthy dose of self-deprecating humor.”
Tickets are $7 in advance, $9 at the door. Advance tickets are available at the WSLR website.
My Own WSLR Story
I attended my first WSLR Beach Bash in the fall of 2008. At the time, I was a freelance writer for the Pelican Press. WSLR talk show host Gary Olson invited me to the bash, hoping to expose me to the work being done at the community radio station.
Having read my columns on downtown Sarasota, Gary also invited me to join him and his co-host Francis Scheuer on their Two: Early in the Morning talk show.
My first-ever radio appearance went well and I became a regular guest on the show. After much prompting from Sir Francis, I applied for my own show and I’ve been hosting my Local Matters talk show since. (Local Matters airs the first, third (and sometimes fifth) Wednesday of each month from 9 to 10 a.m.
As part of my monthly volunteer obligations, I spent a few years co-hosting the Jumping Mullet Local News Report, which tied in nicely with my affection for community journalism.
I served for one year as a paid AmeriCorps/Vista volunteer for WSLR, followed by a one-year paid stint as the station’s volunteer coordinator, where I got to witness first-hand the incredible work ethic of station manager Arlene Sweeting and her partner in life and radio deeds, Dave Beaton.
During my time as volunteer coordinator, a mutual friend (Sven Frackleton, host of WSLR’s Hot Rod Rock) put me in touch with guitarist/roots-rock singer/songwriter Ted Stevens — a connection that led to my current and much-appreciated gig as drummer and mouthpiece for Ted Stevens and the Doo-Shots.
I no longer “work” at WSLR, but like the rest of the volunteer programmers I’m required to give the station two hours per month of volunteer time in exchange for the privilege of hosting a radio show. When asked recently by our station manager to write a story about local independent media outlets for the WSLR Soundwaves newsletter, an interview with This Week in Sarasota owner and founder Matt Orr led to an invitation to write for his publication, which then led to an invitation to also do some freelance writing for the Anna Maria Island Sun newspaper.
It’s all connected … by invisible radio waves …
Getting involved with WSLR has also led to many wonderful friendships and has connected me to Sarasota’s progressive, holistic community-within-a-community. Without WSLR my life might look very different, and I am among the many in Sarasota who will forever hold a fond spot in my heart for the “little radio station that can.”