A year and a half of concert drought is about to end in a downpour.
Sax star Kenny G. Rockers Blue Öyster Cult. Crooner Bobby Rydell and his Fifties buds Frankie Avalon and Fabian. Country star Clint Black. Sixties pop darling Peter Noone with Herman’s Hermits. And there’s more at the Seminole Casino Immokalee concert hall. (A full list appears in the box accompanying this story.)
Food, music news: Ben Allen talks new East Naples restaurant with tropical vibe
The Paradise Coast Sports Complex off Collier Boulevard in Naples is opening its concert season with just one show. But it’s a big one: the Ben Allen Band, whose lead singer belted his way almost to the top five on “The Voice” in autumn 2020 and parlayed his fame into a soon-to-open pub and grill in Naples.
Every generation gets a show
For the Seminole Casino Immokalee, bringing more name entertainment was always in its sites.
“Even before the pandemic, we were always well positioned, I think, as the No. 1 entertainment destination in Southwest Florida,” said Mike Warren, the casino’s vice president of marketing. “Over my years here it was something we continued to ramp up, with the frequency of shows and even the types of shows we offered.”
The COVID-19 pandemic stopped that trajectory. But this month, its ZigZag Lounge is once again fielding live entertainment nearly every night, and 10 name concerts are on the books for its concert hall, the Seminole Center, this fall and winter.
“Year after year we continued to add more entertainment here, so I would expect that is going to continue,” he said. “Even in the months when we were shut down, we were planning 2022 as if it were going to happen. We have a lot in the works that are yet to come.”
The venue had already filled its outside parking lot for starlight shows with Olivia Newton-John and KC and the Sunshine Band. It had brought public shows to its 836-seat indoor hall, Seminole Center, as well as high-level private shows for its club members with stars like Wynonna and Electric Light Orchestra.
The array of stars seems to span a 40-year gamut — 1950s to 1990s. But Warren says the casino wasn’t trying to offer entertainment on rotating generational basis.
“It isn’t really deliberate. We try to offer what we believe there’s an appetite for out there — not to just our customers, but the community. We really look at entertainment as something we’re offering back to Southwest Florida,” he emphasized. “It isn’t just for casino entertainment. We are a bona fide performance venue here.”
Stars surprise in intimate setting
One thing Warren especially likes about Seminole Center is the intimacy of the hall: “It’s like being in the ‘Orchestra’ section for every seat.”
He has a hard time choosing his own favorite: “The ones that stand out…