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Surf and Song Festival: Annual music benefit attracts record crowd

April 4, 2012
Melissa Schneider - Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

The largest, all-charity music festival of the city, the fourth Surf and Song Festival went on all day and night downtown last weekend, hosting an impressive array of more than 100 musicians on 16 stages and two headliners along with numerous special guests, spread over six blocks.

Headliners included the Goo Goo Dolls' Johnny Rzeznik ("Black Balloon"), Stroke 9 ("Little Black Backpack"), Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers ("Gravity"), Cracker ("Low") and John Waite ("Missing You"). Special guest appearances took place throughout the festival on multiple stages, but a couple included Bon Jovi's bassist Hugh McDonald and Bellvue Cadillac's Doug Bell, rocking the hell out of his guitar with the Mike Facciola Band.

After a longstanding two solid days, festival coordinators, volunteers and crew were exhausted, but before powering down for some serious, well-deserved slumber, Mike Von Plinsky, chairman of the foundation and one of the lead coordinators of the event, stated, "Surf and Song 2012 is in the books and what a GREAT time it was! My body is sore all over, but I'm still smiling! Thanks so much to all of our great volunteers, who, once again, did phenomenal service and had fun doing it. And, our longterm staff, what can I say? From Fritz Caraher's vision on down, we have a leadership group that is second to none. We're already getting thank-you calls even one from a group that came down from Chicago to party Fort-Myers-style! Now, sleep, sleep sleep!"

Article Photos

Stroke 9’s lead vocalist and guitarist Luke Esterkyn, headlining the Saturday night festival festivities. Photo by MELISSA SCHNEIDER

Joel Armstrong, member of the band Wallow Sound, one of the groups to effortlessly volunteer their time and rockin' sound to the cause, stated, "The Surf and Song concert was off the hook! Fritz Caraher, Mike Von Plinsky, Daniel Rubush, Jenne Stuntz, Patrick, Todd the list is endless all did a fantastic job in putting on one of the best shows in Fort Myers! My wife, Jennifer, and I were proud to be a small part of this incredible event!"

Music was heard from Anthony Wayne, Backlash, Carnival of Souls, Chicago Mob, Damn Outlaws, Down to Fall, Father Al and the Congregation, Folk Festival, the George Lewis Project, Ghost Radio, Groove Alliance, Ground Zero, Headcount, Ins and Outs, Jason Holt, John Webber, Kehv, Long Story Short, Love in War, Marty Stokes, Mike Imbasciani, New Vinyls, Next Level, No Way Jose, Pulse, Pushmower, Robby Hutto and the Absent Minded Band, Sunshine and Bullets, Team Cybergeist, Sand Fleas, The Troublemakerz, Traffic Jam, Underground, Wallow Sound, William Metts and so, so many more amazing, talented artists.

"Our singular focus is to support the Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida, to meet the challenges presented to our community's children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)," Mike said. "We are delighted to be an integral part of the creation of the Hospital's "Navigating Autism program."

About the foundation

The "Surf and Song Festival" is an annual charity event that is supported by musicians, artists and businesses for the enjoyment of our community and to raise funds and awareness for a range of charities.

"The Surf and Song Festival is hosted by The Surf and Song Foundation, a charitable organization that is supported by musicians, artists, businesses and the public to raise awareness and funds for local charities in our community," Mike said. "We believe, through our actions, we help create change, starting by taking care of our families, neighbors and community. Be it one person or a hundred, we can all make a positive difference where we live and with those among us!"

The group's flagship charity is the Lee Memorial Health System's Southwest Florida Children's Hospital and its "Navigating Autism" program.

"We strive to continue to demonstrate, be it one person or 100, we can all make a positive difference where we live and with those among us!"

The group has officially become the Surf and Song Foundation, a non-profit organization under which members conduct all of the fund-raising efforts.

"This year was our largest and most ambitious festival to date, expanding to two full days of music, art, food, vendors and family fun," said Fritz Caraher, Surf and Song Foundation president and chairman of the board. "We will continue our tradition of helping raise awareness for all non-profit and charitable organizations in our community. Our goal will always be to help as many people as possible through our local music and arts, as well as continually expand to a national stage, bringing help to as many of the less fortunate in Southwest Florida as we can."

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