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Scene & Heard: Motown Comes to Naples

Plus: Paid in bourbon, a swanky back porch concert and more

Jackie Bearse, Martha Reeves, Dundee Holt (Reeves' manager) and Patty Baker at the Time to Remember gala.

Charlie McDonald

The ageless Martha Reeves and the Vandellas brought Motown to The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, in April. They were the sizzle for the Time to Remember gala that raised $1.2 million for the Florida Cancer Specialists Foundation. The money helps lift some stress from cancer patients by paying their non-medical bills. The event’s founding chair, Jackie Bearse, said Reeves was anything but a diva when she went up to her room to welcome the 74-year-old entertainer. She was delighted with the warm embrace from the star. Event chair Patty Baker arranged for Reeves through her strong association with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Reeves and her backup singers kept the dance floor packed with hits like Jimmy Mack, Dancing in the Street and Heat Wave ...

In downtown Fort Myers, they say the best place to see Lee County movers and shakers conspiring, sealing business deals, getting the latest gossip or power-lunching is The Veranda restaurant; not only that—The Veranda is birthday central. On a Tuesday night in late April, there were three birthday dinners happening at the same time there. Owner Craig Peden and his wife, Dawn, were at one table celebrating the birthday of Glenn Green, Craig’s fishing buddy from Bokeelia; then there was Tricia Sanders Boone with the Caloosa Humane Society, who showed up with a gaggle of friends and family to celebrate her 50th; and finally, chef Gloria Jordan (right) of La Trattoria de Napoli and Mermaid Garden Cafe took over a big, round table near the fireplace to celebrate her special day with a posse of gal pals that included Sunny Lubner, Gina Birch, Lisa Marazzi and more. One would imagine there were plenty of wine bottles in the recycling bin of The Veranda the next day as the celebrations continued into the night, and we hope, since it was a school night, that some of the revelers got to play hooky the next day …

Some very worthy area notables posed for esteemed local photographer Brian Tietz as part of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s Faces of Philanthropy exhibition. More than 65 portraits were unveiled during two evening receptions in April where the subjects—think Tom Uhler, John and Ellen Sheppard, Diana Willis, Jay Scanlon and more—were there to mix and mingle with the artist who captured these generous area heroes and heroines so beautifully on film. Brian donated his time and talent, so when it came time to thank him, Foundation president and CEO Sarah Owen proclaimed his gift to the community invaluable, but she was sure he’d appreciate a nice bottle of his favorite bourbon. It did, indeed, put a smile on his face that was definitely picture-worthy …

There were smiles all around on Coconut Drive off McGregor on a warm Monday evening in May when voiceover artist Kevin Pierce and his wife, editor Cindy Pierce, gathered a diverse group of around 40 friends for a concert on their back porch. They invited noted British guitarist Richard Smith, plus blues picker George Worthmore for a night of music and friendship. The Pierces threw together some tasty lasagna, put out some coolers of wine and beer, and borrowed chairs from neighbors to set up their outdoor concert hall—and it was magical. Cindy and Kevin had seen the musicians play in Sarasota, they became Facebook friends, and the next thing you know, these award-winning entertainers are playing on their porch at their historic home, where Barbara B. Mann grew up. PR maven Laurel Smith was there and she was over the moon talking about her recent retirement and upcoming travels; jeweler Mark Loren chatted with marketing guru Sal Dickinson; architect Wiley Parker tapped his toes to the tunes while keeping his arm around his wife, writer Betty Parker; and Francesca Donlan of the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau caught up with Kathy Holiday of Chicos. It was such an inspired idea that there will likely be more musical nights on the Pierce porch in the future ...

When the Red Sox are in spring training, you can always spot locals sneaking away from work for weekday games at JetBlue Park. But just because spring training is over doesn’t mean Katie Haas gets to take a break. Katie’s the vice president of Florida Business Operations, so when Fort Rock, the heavy metal show featuring bands such as Megadeath, Arthrex and Five Finger Death Punch took over the ballpark on April 30, Katie (left) was right there with legions of metal fans, collecting money and posing with Rob Zombie and his band. Just keeping those cheers coming on that field of dreams ...

The campus of Artis—Naples was especially dynamic during a Sunday afternoon in May. Violinists, showing off talents during a national audition, filled Hayes Hall hoping to earn a seat in the Naples Philharmonic. Meanwhile a few feet away, my wife, Lori Oliver, brought her Naples Performing Arts Center production of The King and I to a sold-out crowd at Daniels Pavilion. Her team had its hands full keeping an energetic cast of 70 children quiet backstage. Shhh! Hats off to Artis—Naples CEO and President Kathleen van Bergen for inviting a range of arts and ages …

The Naples social calendar gets more crowded every year. “It’s hard to find an open spot,” explained Charity for Change founder Karen Conley. She slid her Giver challenge for character education around other fundraisers, Passover and the Kentucky Derby before finally settling on May 14 at the Hilton. State Rep. Kathleen Passidomo attended as honorary chair because the event rolled around late in the season, and after the legislative session wrapped up in Tallahassee …

Brio and BrickTop’s are about to get more competition. Construction is underway at Waterside Shops for True Food Kitchen. It’s a collaboration between health icon Dr. Andrew Weil and Phoenix restaurateur Sam Fox. Foodies rave about the healthy offerings and eclectic drink options. The Naples restaurant will be the first in Florida and the 12th in the country.


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