This week’s topic is people—specifically, how many of them I encountered out and about in and around Naples in late August, when supposedly no one wants to be here because of the heat and humidity. Not this August. People are definitely here. Let me give you a few examples so you know I am not hallucinating. We had dinner at MASA at Mercato recently with friends. We dine early since my husband, Bob, has to get up at 4:30 a.m. to do his show, The Bob Harden Show, so we made a reservation for 6 p.m. There was no place to park. We drove around a bit and were lucky enough to spy someone leaving and grabbed the spot. Our friends had to park on a high level in the parking garage behind Silverspot. At 6 p.m.! Plus, the restaurant was busy—as were AZN, The Pub and The Wine Loft across the street. With Nordstrom Rack coming to Mercato in the fall, and with the addition of TAPS and Second Cup, parking in this coming season could get challenging at Mercato.
Second case in point: Gulfshore Playhouse Producing Artistic Director Kristen Coury launched an inaugural event this year called The New Works Festival. A team of professional actors and directors worked with playwrights for several days leading up to public readings of three plays at the Norris Center on August 16-17. In the past, Coury has shied away from doing productions in the summer, since low attendance is expected. On Friday night, August 16, a crowd of 100 people attended the show. Oh, and by the way, before the performance, Bob and I met friends at Café Lurcat, which was full, and Fifth Avenue South was jumping with activity.
Summer has traditionally been challenging for entertainment venues as well—not lately, though. Every Tuesday evening, we head over to Weekend Willie’s (formerly Freddie Rebel’s) on Shirley Street off Pine Ridge Road to catch the great blues band Mudbone. In season, it is absolutely necessary to have a reservation, since the band has acquired a large following. In past summers, attendance was anemic, so Ricky Howard, the band’s main man, always encouraged us to come and bring friends who were in town. These last three weeks at Willie’s, just about every seat has been filled. I now make our reservations a week in advance. More good news for Mudbone (whose other members are Mario “The Cat Man” Infanti, Bill E. Peterson, and David C. Johnson—who also plays with Aaron Neville): The group has been tapped to play at the Daniels Pavilion at Artis—Naples on September 5 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10.
So there you have it; proof positive that Naples isn’t rolling up its sidewalks any longer in the summer—and that’s good news for everyone.