Saturday, January 26, 2013

Justin Bieber brings his 'Believe Tour' to Orlando

ORLANDO — Pop star phenom Justin Bieber wowed his enthusiastic fans, know as “Beliebers,” that filled a sold-out Amway Center arena with deafening screams on Friday, Jan. 25.

Bieber asked his fans on stage near the start of his performance “I want to know how many of you have seen me in concert before?” This was followed by an uproarious reaction from the over 12,000 in attendance.

Like most major concert performances, this show was just as much about the extras as the music. Video monitors with flashing transitions, pyrotechnics and laser light displays and an elaborate triple layered stage, laid the foundation for a cutting edge live event.

A grand entrance from Bieber himself started the show. As the young performer descended from the top of the main stage to the center stage catwalk, adorned by giant silver wings made from the shapes of musical instruments, a back-up band and large dance crew accompanied the singer throughout a majority of the concert.

Most of his songs are fast paced jams built for dance clubs, and his performance reflects this with pop-n-lock moves and crowd interaction. With all the extra showmanship aside, the young performer has a soulful sound that is most recognizable when he slows down his performance to sing in a capella.

Two of his songs “Be Alright” and “Fall,” were performed midway through the concert with only an acoustic guitar and demonstrated a level of mellow diversity. He also used this acoustic moment in the show to mention his newest album “Believe Acoustic” will be available to purchase on Jan. 29.

“I truly think he's a good person, and I've been a fan of his throughout his progression of becoming famous and becoming an adult,” said Zoe Manhan. She also recently saw the group One Direction perform at the Amway Center, but felt that Beiber's show was far more entertaining even though he is only a solo artist compared to a group performance.

Also accompanying Bieber at the concert was surprise guest Mike Posner, who performed his hit song “Cooler Than Me.” Posner also wrote and produced Bieber's hit song “Boyfriend,” and has worked with several other popular musical artist in recent years.

An up-and-coming Australian pop singer, Cody Simpson, 16, was the opening act for Bieder's Orlando show. “I'm a long way from home right now, but it means a lot to be able to come all the way down here to Florida,” said Simpson on stage. He took over as opening act after the original opening artist Carly Rae Jepsen announced at the beginning of the month she would not be attending the “Believe” shows in Orlando and Miami.

Halie Ostanik, a die-hard Beiber fan, was upset that she couldn’t afford a ticket to the concert in Orlando. “Justin's manager has a group called 'SB Projects' that finds true 'Beliebers' on Twitter that can't afford tickets, and they give them tickets,” said Ostanik. “I really couldn’t afford to come to this show and it was just amazing that they help me out.”

Bieber's two most popular songs “Boyfriend” and “Baby” that have received over one billion views on YouTube combined, were saved till the end of the concert for his encore songs. The thunderous chanting of “Justin Justin Justin,” demonstrated the need for his fans to hear just a few more songs before calling it a night.

His “Believe Tour” is only the second concert tour for the 18-year-old Canadian singer, and kicked off back in September of last year. In total, it is currently scheduled for over 100 performances across America, Canada, Europe, and Africa, and “Believe” is well on its way to being one of the top grossing tours of this year.

By James Tutten

(All photos by James Tutten)

Thousands of fans filled the sold-out Amway Center in Orando, to see Justin Bieber on his "Believe Tour."

Bieber's opening act, Cody Simpson, on stage at the Amway Center in Orlando.

Bieber sings from the top level on stage at the Amway Center in Orlando.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Mecum Auctions holds largest ever car sell-off

KISSIMMEE, Fla. Mecum Auctions held their largest car auctions in history at the Osceola Heriatage Park from Jan. 18 - 27. Featured at this event were more than 3,000 cars from classic to cutting edge, muscle cars, rare collectors showpieces, motorcycles and much more were made available to the highest bidder at this widely popular annual event in Osceola County.

(Click above to watch video)
(Produced by James Tutten)

By James Tutten

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Hot Water Music brings steamy punk to Beacham

ORLANDO  Gainesville’s own Hot Water Music played a breakneck exposition of punk rock music at The Beacham club in downtown Orlando Thursday, Jan. 17. This packed show gave the seasoned group, originally formed in 1993, a chance to shine with a crowd of diehard fans.

It hasn't been easy for the Hot Water boys with times of separation challenging the band's founding members and the general drag of life on the road with time spent away from family. They have made it through the good and the bad after 18 years of playing together to establish a core group of supporters that have fallen in love with their music.

Christopher Black has been a fan of their music since he was in high school over a decade ago and said “I just can’t help but feel a connection with their music, it was the soundtrack to my life and one point.”

Hot Water Music have performed with some of the biggest bands in punk rock such as Rancid, NoFX and The Bouncing Souls.

Their sound is like most post-hardcore groups with wrenching vocals and driving rhythms, but lead singer Chuck Ragan and fellow singer Chris Wollard often alternate back and forth on a number of songs while maintaining an overall cohesion.

The younger crowd of fans were also in attendance for this tour thanks to the addition of two up-and-coming groups called The Menzingers and La Dispute. When asked, the older fans in attendance said they came out to see Hot Water Music.

“I like Hot Water Music and everything, but I honestly think The Mezingers are a better band,” said Jacob Kingsley, one of the younger concertgoers.

Though all three groups fit well together for one evening, once HWM took the stage it was apparent that they have earned the right and display the musical chops needed to be considered an headlining act.

“I’ve been a fan of theirs for about 12 years, and they haven't played in Orlando in five, so I wouldn't miss it,” said enthusiastic fan, Soorya Arsala.

After going eight years since releasing their last album it looks like Hot Water Music is back with a vengeance after releasing “Exister,” and have proven themselves to be a legitimate punk rock force to be reckoned with.

By James Tutten

(Published: Jan. 23 issue of "Valencia Voice" on page 10.)

(All photos by James Tutten)

Chuck Ragan, singer-songwriter from Hot Water Music.

The Menzingers rock out on stage at The Beacham in Orlando on Jan. 17

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Seinfeld turns banality into hilarity at King Center

MELBOURNE – Few comedians have the ability to turn the mundane into outright hilarity like one of the kings of stand-up, Jerry Seinfeld.

His show at the King Center for the Performing Arts in Melbourne, Fla. on Jan. 11, left no doubt that he’s still sharp as ever with his keen observations about life. He remains the definition of a natural comedian.

“Everyone's life sucks and that's OK, don't ever feel bad that your life sucks,” said Seinfeld near the start of his comedy set. “I think the greatest lesson you can learn in life that I've learned is ‘that sucks’ and ‘great’ are pretty close.”

He says that this is the secret to life, that things can go from great to ‘sucks’ and vice versa in an instant and learning to look on the bright side makes the difference. Someone can recommend a “great” restaurant to you that for several different reasons and leaves you feeling terrible, while something you know “sucks” like a cheap hotdog at the ballpark ends up tasting great.

Everything Seinfeld jokes about brilliantly reflects all of our inherent connections to everyday life and makes his brand of humor so relatable.

Topics ranged from relations in life to dealing with death, while everything flowed effortlessly from one concept to another.

And most people who are married or in long term relationship know about the love and hate compromises they have to endure just to leave the house to see a live show, as Seinfeld pointed out while gently jesting at his captive audience.

“He tells it like it is, if you don't like it too bad,” said Tani Corthell, a long time fan of Seinfeld that was thrilled to finally see him perform live.

Seinfeld is best known for the nine years from 1989 to 1998 that he spent playing himself on the widely successful comedy show that shares his name. He and his fellow cast-members used the same common observational humor to craft a show that remains in syndication around the world to this day, over 14 years after its final episode.

“We were planning our vacation and we knew that Seinfeld was going to be here, so we arranged the dates to match so we could come here and see him perform,” said Marcello Costa. He was with a small group of friends that traveled from Brazil and pointed out that Seinfeld's show is on every night in their home country.

One of the fans sitting in the front row was even a “Newman,” who portrays the antagonizing neighbor to Seinfeld throughout the sitcom series. This individual interrupted Seinfeld on-stage by calling out unannounced several times near the opening, which Seinfeld easily navigated as he subdued his heckler throughout the rest of the night.

This heckler inevitably got the final word of the evening as Seinfeld concluded his set by taking questions from the audience. He got Seinfeld’s attention one last time and asked why he decided to come back to stand-up after the success of his television show.

Seinfeld pointed out that after the show ended he could have retired or done anything he wanted to do, but nothing quite matched the love and joy he feels by connecting with people and making them laugh, a skill that he has refined over 36 years of doing stand-up comedy.

He is now set to bring his classic comedic style to two sold-out performances at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Center in Orlando on Saturday, Jan. 19. If you are lucky enough to have a ticket for these upcoming shows, you're in for a “great” evening that most likely won't “suck.”

By James Tutten

(All Photos by James Tutten)

Surfers stay cool, hot new products at Surf Expo

ORLANDO – The chance to showcase their latest and greatest products is a big draw for big name retailers coming to Surf Expo.

Three internationally known businesses--Oakley, DC Shoes and Reef--gave an up-close look at some of their newest products.

Best known for their high-quality sunglasses; Oakley is now offering a newly designed wetsuit called the “Blade” compression boardshort and “Blade” compression top, built around increasing the performance and strength of surfers in the water.

“It helps surfers keep their muscle strength, you can last longer in the water and it gives the guys in the water more of an edge,” said Jimmy Leasure, field marketing representative for Oakley in Florida.

The compression top is brand new and the compression boardshorts have been out for about a year, but they are continually updating the style and technology. Some of the features of this new product include nanotechnology fabric treatments that repel water at a microscopic level and material that allows for stretching and comfortable movement.

Reef is a big-name provider of surf apparel that started with marketing popular beach sandals back in the 1980s. Later this year they will offer a new line of ladies boots and are looking to bring surfer girl fashion to dry land in a big new way.

“It's a boot you can wear all day long with a nice quilted footbed at the bottom, and then you have that Reef DNA look on the outside,” said Kelley Bruemmer, director of girls footwear at Reef.

Skateboarders are another big part of Surf Expo, and DC Shoes is now looking to expand on the products they offer to dry-land athletes. Of the hundreds of shoes they had on display, some focused on cross training footwear like the new PSI Flex.

“We’re trying to expand into things like training because we're normally associated with action sports, and by getting more into athletics puts us in another arena to compete with other bigger footwear brands,” said Jefferson Pang, sales director with DC Shoes.

By James Tutten

(All Photos by James Tutten)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

2013 Surf Expo has global reach with refined style

ORLANDO – The Surf Expo has expanded in diversity over the 37 years of its existence, and has ultimately become a global watersports and beach lifestyle trade show that is a world unto its own.

More than 2,000 vendors, multiple business-savvy seminars, skateboard exhibitions, surfboard shaping competitions and eye catching fashion shows encompass this all things outdoor and action sports paradise that took over the Orange County Convention Center from Jan. 10 through 12.

“You just gotta love all this expo has to offer there really is something for everyone, I try to make it out every year,” said convention attendee, Jason Rogers.

Summing up the mission of Surf Expo was a surfboard shaping contest called the “Florida Shape Off,” which works to promote handmade surfboards in America.

Six competitors each had two hours to try and best copy the design of an existing long board, with prize trophies and a free vendor booth at the next year's Surf Expo provided to the winner. Along to announce the winner was surfing icon Robert August, who is a popular board shaper himself, and know best in the surfing community for his starring role in the classic 60s surf film “The Endless Summer.”

“It's not a big money-making business, but it's definitely a labor of love,” said competitor and shaper, Daniel “Bagel” Capuano, who has been shaping surfboards for about 20 years out of Cocoa Beach. “I think we're blessed in this area to have so many great craftsman with a real love for what’s going on.”

One of the recently crafted boards received another element: a truly remarkable spray painted design, which for this board was inspired by the widely popular AMC television show “The Walking Dead.”

“Well a lot of people like the artwork of 'The Walking Dead,' and this is just something to demonstrate what we are capable of at our factory,” said Josh Dirocco, who has been working exclusively for the past eight years as a painter for R&D Surf based out of Cocoa Beach.

Another attraction was a large indoor skateboard park that hosted several competitions and allowed everyone from veteran riders to the youngest of skaters to experience the thrill of riding on a obstacle filled street course and half pipe ramps.

Eastern Skateboard Supply had a large display booth nearby to meet the needs of skateboard distributors and enthusiasts, and David George, a salesmen for the company said “..we're here to meet with our retailers old and new, and make sure they have everything they need to be successful.”

The Surf Expo fashion show used several models to display the latest casual and beach wear outfits and accessories from dozens of designers. Some of the featured styles included tropical print bikinis, Stars and Stripes brand cut off jeans, a multi-colored tie-dye maxi dress and a strapless cobalt jumpsuit.

Featured at Surf Expo alongside big name companies were hundreds of small businesses and startups, all hoping to impress retailers with their wares.

One such company was Polar Basics based out of Jacksonville. They were marketing a range of products designed with polyvinyl alcohol integration, which gets substantially cold when wet.

“Our most popular product is a cooling towel that activates when you add water and will stay 65 degrees for two and a half to three hours,” said spokesmodel, Courtney Vaughn.

The next Surf Expo will take place in September, and more information on this event and all the retailers can be found on their website at

By James Tutten

(All photos by James Tutten)

Shaper, Scott Busbey, focused on his work during the Florida Shape Off contest at the 2013 Surf Expo in Orlando.

Skateboard competition in full swing during the 2013 Surf Expo in Orlando at the Orange County Convention Center.

The Walking Dead artwork painted by Josh Dirocco on recently shaped surfboard at the 2013 Surf Expo in Orlando.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Still ‘The Greatest’ as Ringling Bros. circus amazes

     ORLANDO — Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s newest circus show “Built To Amaze!” stays true to their roots while putting a fresh spin on family entertainment.
     This show kicked off in Tampa last week, and the Amway Center in Orlando marks the second stop on a 90-city North American Tour. Despite the recent start, the pieces of this live production are already running in perfect harmony.
     Circus fans young and old are sure to be amazed by what this latest Ringling Bros. installment has to offer.
     “‘Ringling Bros. Presents Built To Amaze!’ is a blast of excitement created in a fun way of girls versus boys that will leave audiences cheering for their favorite performers,” says show producer Nicole Feld in a statement released by Ringling.
     And this girls vs. boys competition plays a vital role during the show as the audience sees the circus come to life.
     If you weren’t already expecting to be wowed by the animals that make up this production, “Built To Amaze!” doesn’t waste a moment by grabbing your attention from the start. Ringmaster Andre McClain says a few words to get things started and begins singing the national anthem, as a king-sized elephant parades around the floor with an American flag waving beauty sitting atop the impressive pachyderm.
     We see the contest between the “Ringling Girls and Barnum B-Boys” near the middle part of the first act. Each group has a chance to shine and prove who’s got the best to offer the circus. Soon the ultimate message is made clear as we find that both groups can achieve great things when they learn to work together.
     That seems to be the primary theme for this show, where they have to start from scratch to make “The Greatest Show On Earth,” and can only get there through teamwork. With 110 incredible performers from around the world and over 90 exotic beasts in all shapes and sizes, it’s a lot to bring together under one roof.
     It’s easy to get distracted by all of the activity on stage, as there’s a lot to take in at all times. This is a live experience where, even after watching the show several times, you can still catch something that you didn’t see before.
     “We love coming out to the circus, it’s a lot of fun. My oldest looks forward to it every year,” said Jennifer Burg. Her family has come out to see Ringling Bros. shows for the last three years and they are always impressed with the talent on display.
     There are several new acts that were added to this installment of Ringling, including Alex and Irina Emeling, who have won nine international comedy awards with the help of their specially trained pack of performing poodles. And a group of basketball players from New York City called the King Charles Troupe rides atop unicycles of varying heights as they spin, shoot and slum dunk around each other.
     Seemingly the most dangerous part of this production for the audience is when Tabayara “Taba” Maluenda enters the tiger arena. If you don’t look away in fear you risk your eyes drying out due to lack of blinking as this fiery daredevil faces down 18 full-sized tigers in an enclosed space. Maluenda controls the movements of these great beasts with a precision and confidence that is almost impossible to believe.
     “I thought the entire show was great and my kids had a blast, I have to say the man with the tigers was incredible,” said audience member Jason Mills.
     Will all the expert refinement put into this production, “Built To Amaze!” will surely amaze all who come out to experience its wonder. Generations of circus tradition has created a show that defines delight and remains remarkable.
By James Tutten
(All photos by James Tutten)

Elephant parading at the start of Ringling Bros. show "Built To Amaze!" in Orlando.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sandy Shugart to perform again at Garden Theatre

Dr. Sanford “Sandy” Shugart is the honorable president of Valencia College, and when he isn't running one of the largest post-secondary institutions in the nation, he is also a poet and singer-songwriter.

He will once again share his famous folk music style, with an upcoming performance at the historically rich Garden Theatre in Winter Garden.

Shugart’s sound is a warm blend of easy listening tunes that harken back to a simpler time. He uses his personal past experiences in life, and the diverse cross section of people he has met, to inspire his musical style that comes straight from the heart. Artistic influences have always been a part of Shugart’s life, when even as a young man he was inspired by the musical talent found in members of his own family.

His accomplished career at Valencia began when he was selected as president and head administrator back in January of 2000. Working to improve student experiences and graduation success rates for over a decade, Shugart eventually lead Valencia to be recognized as the top community college in the nation when the campus was awarded the inaugural Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence in December of 2011.

The stage will be set for this live performance like an inviting family living room; complete with comfy couch, cozy rug, and a tight knit group of fellow musicians that will accompany Shugart during the show.

Tickets for this concert will be $25 for general admission, or a discounted rate of $14 for any students or faculty members that purchase tickets with their Valencia ID. For more information and to bye tickets in advance visit the Garden Theatre website at or by calling 407-877-4736.

This unique concert experience is a rare treat from the busy president of Valencia. So make time to see “Sandy Shugart In Concert” at the Garden Theatre on Saturday, Jan. 12 at 8 p.m.

By James Tutten

(Above photo by James Tutten)

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