Tony Bennett sings in Sarasota

The 87-year-old singer performs a sold-out Valentine's Day concert

February 13, 2014 

Tony Bennet focuses on perfecting the Great American Songbook. PUBLICITY PHOTO

Tony Bennett realizes that he's an anomaly in an industry obsessed with flash, trends and hits.

It has been years since Tony Bennett had a chart-topping record, but every year he sells a lot of albums.

"I have 50 years of recordings, and they're all still selling," he said in his instantly recognizable voice during a phone interview a few years ago from his Manhattan apartment. "The old ones sell as well as the new ones."

He'll perform a Valentine's Day concert at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota.

Bennett's 87, but he's still drawing enthusiastic audiences. And, in fact, the Van Wezel show is sold out, but sometimes tickets become available shortly before the show.

Bennett said that he has resisted the occasional suggestion that he change with the trends. He knows what he likes, and what the music-loving public will ultimately return to.

And instead of Bennett changing with the times, the times have changed to suit Bennett. The music he's always performed is again in vogue with artists from Michael Feinstein and Michael Buble to Rod Stewart and Boz Scaggs performing songs from the great American composers.

"I do the American songbook, and there's still a tremendous demand for that," he said. "I try to do the definitive version of each of these songs."

Details: 8 p.m. Feb. 14, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets: $81-$126. Information: 941-953-3368,

-- Marty Clear

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