Local Flavor Fest 2: A Taste of The Bay Area’s Music Scene

LFF24squareexaminer*Originally published at my Tampa Concert Tours page: http://exm.nr/175wPxw

favorite tour stop in Florida for national and regional acts, Jannus Live lends a nurturing hand to Tampa Bay’s thriving local music scene this Friday.

Sparked by Jason Frilot and William BrooksLocal Flavor Fest 2 features bands selected by the pair on criteria like originality, musicianship, attitude, songwriting and work ethic.

“I was hanging out at Cafe del Mar when I met William.” said Frilot. “We had some drinks and talked about how great it would be to make a positive effect on the music scene.”

Frilot, a transplant from New Orleans, headlined the first Local Flavor Fest at the beginning of the summer with his reggae-rock group, Freelow.

Meet The Bands

This time around, LFF features the Stick Martin ShowShoeless SoulDropin’ Pickup and Orange Hour.

“We’ve all seen many shows there (Jannus Live) throughout the years, so it’ll be pretty cool to play on the same stage,” said Stick Martin Show bassist Eric Harlow.

Their mix of rock, blues, country and hip hop has landed them on WMNF 88.5’s Center Stage, in supporting roles with headliners like Afroman, and Creative Loafing’s Best of the Bay awards. Mainstays in the bay area since 2003, the band released their latest album, the Dodge Store EP, in late 2012.

Shoeless Soul, a trio that formed in 2010, recently played the Orange Blossom Jamboree and released their new album Sharps and Flats. Lead singer and guitarist Rene Schlegel echoed Harlow’s sentiments, anticipating the opportunity to play one of the area’s largest clubs.

“We’re looking forward to the experience,” said Schlegel.

Back after a short hiatus, Clearwater’s Orange Hour features singer/guitarist Darell Bevins, who’s shared the stage with groups like Days of the New, Crosby, Stills and Nash and the Steve Miller Band while playing in various musical projects.

Rounding out the evening, Dropin’ Pickup brings an eclectic brand of jam, rock and reggae, accented by the sounds of viola player Nick Ewing.

Local Music Revolution

For Frilot, this is more than one show. The outcome of Friday’s event determines how other cities foster and sustain this area’s local acts.

“The more support we get, the more we’ll able to do for the local scene,” said Frilot.  When one area flourishes, its surrounding areas begin to flourish as well.”

Proceeds from Friday’s show will directly benefit the Anthony W. Burbano trust fund, a victim of a tragic accident in downtown St. Pete.

If you’re going: Friday, August 23. Tickets are $2. Doors open at 7. First band takes the stage at 8. All ages welcome. http://www.JannusLive.com

Hip Hop Open Mic Night Part of Dunedin’s Flourishing Art and Music Scene

DLS*Originally published at my Tampa Concert Tours Examiner account: http://bit.ly/12VDiuJ*

Dunedin, a small city just north of Clearwater, Fla., may not seem like an epicenter for hip hop and graffiti art, yet that has failed to stop a group of passionate local artists and musicians from assembling every Monday night to combine these two art styles into a thriving, flourishing weekly experience.

The Dunedin Lyricist Society, started in a small, multi-purpose events room at the Dunedin House of Beer. Within a year, the weekly gathering outgrew its previous digs, and moved into the larger Blur Nightclub and Show Bar.

Promoter and co-host Jon Didier encourages performers to freestyle instead of reciting written material, with the exception of special “Show-and-Tell” nights, meaning that each rapper must come up with his or her own material on the fly. This helps up-and-coming MCs hone their rhyming skills and craft their stage presence. At the beginning of each session, Didier and co-host Andrew McComber lay ground rules, stressing one very important facet over all others.

“The goal of the night is to come intending to participate, not to shine,” said Didier.

Didier is one half of Dunedin hip-hop group Project Save C.A. Hircus.  The other half is Derek Saballos, who DJ’s the night.

Didier, Saballos and McComber come up with different activities each week.  One of these activities, “Own the Beat,” calls for each musician to freestyle for the duration of one beat, with each beat lasting around 3 minutes.  Other activities throughout the night include “Word Surprise,” where MCs are given two words to create rhymes around, and “Four Bar Spar,” where two MCs engage in a friendly war-of-words, passing the microphone to and fro every four measures until the beat ends.

Enter Live Art

Out on Blur’s back patio, artist Dominic De La Rosa creates and hosts the live art portion of the night. He contacts and organizes artists each week to come out and create conceptualized pieces before the crowd.

“I grew up painting, so any chance I can get to make art, I’ll take it,” said De La Rosa.

At the end of each night, one artist is selected to have his or her art auctioned off to the highest bidder. Kyle Kripps, a recent featured artist at the DLS, realized he had a career as an artist at a young age, under slightly uncomfortable circumstances.

“I was stopped by a cop while creating graffiti art at 13,” said Kripps.  “He brought me home to my mother, looked at her and said ‘you know…he’s pretty good.’ ”

The officer’s words stuck with Kripps, and he began making commissioned pieces at 16. He encourages young artists just getting their start to practice religiously and make an early commitment to art.

“The only way to make progress is to keep creating,” said Kripps.



Catch the artists and musicians of the Dunedin Lyricist Society every Monday from 9 p.m. -1 a.m. at the Blur Nightclub and Show Bar in Dunedin, Fla.  For more information, visit Blur’s website by clicking here, or the Dunedin Lyricist Society’s Facebook page by clicking here.

“Unsinkable” Tampa Band Releases New Album, Prepares for Florida Music Festival

The Curse of the Unsinkable ShipAn interview with Johnny Cakes and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypso’s Michael Middlebrooks. Originally posted at the Tampa Concert Tours Examiner.com page.

2013 is already a big year for Tampa’s Johnny Cakes and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypso, enjoying the successful release of their new album “The Curse of the Unsinkable Ship,”and earning a spot at the Florida Music Festival.

Now in their seventh year as a band, the initial idea behind Johnny Cakes came to fruition around 2004 in Jacksonville Beach, Fla, but really lifted off when lead singer Michael Middlebrooks moved to Tampa and met guitarist Mikey Imperiale. The pair connected with a few players through Craigslist, and played their first official gig at the Uptown Bar (now Fubar) in 2006.

The nine-piece band features a wide array of musical madness, nearly spilling off stages at smaller-sized venues. The group features an eclectic mix of horns, vocals, and steel pans mixed with engaging guitar, bass, and drum licks. They have coined their unique genre of music “Gutter Calypso,” and their manager is a life-sized plastic blow-up penguin named “Skippy.”

“He’s not a very good manager, and he’s not very good with money, but the ladies love him,” said Middlebrooks.

The group released their newest disc in January at Ybor City’s Crowbar. The impending departure of former drummer Nick Souder motivated the band to create the record.

“The album is inspired by the band itself. It has always seemed that no matter what we would do with the band, through our best attempts at bringing it down, the band keeps together and continues to see success,” said Middlebrooks.

The new album has an uplifting, lighthearted, make-you-wanna-dance vibe. The band gets the tropically infused party started right away with “Johnny Cakes Jump Up.” The band diversifies lyrically, with topics covering a broad range of subject matter. “Responsible Adult” documents the struggles of conforming to societal norms of adulthood, each chorus ending with “Weiner!” A trip through Starke, Fla., and a truck packed with beehives became the back-story of “Bee Tuck” a topic still heavily discussed between band members. “Dream Vacation” chronicles a day-dreamy yet creepy tale of a man’s infatuation with a girl, and his plans to take her on adventures around the world, as documented, supposedly, on her voicemail.

Middlebrooks’ awkward, real-life encounter with former Florida governor Charlie Crist is the basis behind the song “Charlie Suntan vs. the Hurricane.” Crist, who was touring Florida during his run for senate, was touting the belief that a hurricane had not hit the state since 2005 due to a note he left for God on Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall.

“I asked him if he really believed that and he got pretty irate,” said Middlebrooks. “While I was talking to him, one of his aides put a campaign sticker on me, which Crist ripped off when it came up in conversation that I’m an atheist.”

The band uses social media to get the message out as much as possible, but Middlebrooks is a firm believer in promoting in person. For young musicians just getting their start in the greater Tampa Bay music scene and beyond, he recommends hitting the pavement just as much as hitting the “share” button on Facebook.

“Go to shows you aren’t playing, meet people there, meet people in other bands. Have fun; be friendly and supportive of others. It’s all about building a bigger, better music scene,” said Middlebrooks.

Catch Johnny Cakes and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypso Friday, April 18 during the Florida Music Festival at The Social in Orlando, Fla.

Visit the band’s official website Guttercalypso.com to purchase their new album, and to find further tour information.

*If you’re a musician or band currently playing in or touring through the greater Tampa/St. Pete/Clearwater area, I’d like to feature you here.  Please contact me by emailing Brennerevan@gmail.com*

Rising Reggae Stars SOJA Poised To Rock St Pete

Fresh off a their first-ever set at Wanee fest, SOJA rolls into Jannus Live Tuesday night, pumped to play the venue for the first time in almost a year-and-a-half.

“It’s one of the coolest venues in the country, and St. Pete is just a great place in general” said lead singer and guitarist Jacob Hemphill.

SOJA is currently touring as the opening act for reggae legends Steel Pulse, a band that got their start in the 1975 England punk scene, opening for bands like The Clash, The Police and XTC.

The band’s most recent release, Strength To Survive, is an album that taps on Bob Marley for influence.

“He’s my role model,” said Hemphill.

He was influenced by music, even at a young age, due to his father’s involvement in a church orchestra and choir and acquired his first instrument as a teen.

“When I was about 12 or 13, my dad got me a guitar, and that’s how I started,” said Hemphill.

As a kid, he traveled around the world with his father, who was a resident representative for the International Monetary Fund.  He spent his formative years growing up in Africa, in countries like Nairobi and Nigeria.

As a reggae artist, Hemphill said he thinks that the genre as a whole understands unity better than other styles of music.

“I think reggae gets it better than most,” said Hemphill.  “Reggae’s talking about how the human race is really one thing.”

And this summer, the band enjoys their first set at festivals like Wakarusa and Bonnaroo , where they’ll play alongside the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Radiohead and Phish.

“This is actually the first summer we’ve been playing these larger festivals,” said Hemphill.

And what can you expect to see if you’ve never taken in a live SOJA performance?

“Everyone loses it for an hour, we leave it all on the stage,” said Hemphill. “It’s super-high energy.”

Hemphill credits the internet, file sharing and social media with spreading the message of SOJA faster than perhaps traditional methods of publicity would have in the days before the Web.

“Without the internet, we wouldn’t be anywhere,” said Hemphill.

Hemphill acknowledged that the band is currently working on new material when not on tour, and encouraged fans to keep an ear to the ground for new music in the coming months.

“When you’re home, you have to focus on music,” he said.emphill acknowledged that the band is currently working on new material when not on tour, and encouraged fans to keep an ear to the ground for new music in the coming months.

Catch SOJA at Jannus Live Tuesday night in downtown St. Petersburg, Fla.  Doors open at 6. $25

The Lonely Forest Brings a Fresh Pacific Northwest Blast to Florida

Hailing from Anacortes, WA, The Lonely Forest visits Tampa on their way through Florida.

“It’s nice to be in the warm weather,” said the Lonely Forest’s Jon Van Deusen. “We haven’t played Florida in a long time, so it’s good to be back,” he said.

Van Deusen mans the keys and vocals in the group, with a side of guitar. The band, which also consists of guitarist Tony Ruland, drummer Braydn Krueger and bassist Eric Sturgeon, got its start in 2005, playing locally in Washington state and the surrounding areas.

Their hometown of Anacortes has a well-known D.I.Y. scene, a scene that Van Deusen and company became involved with immediately, even while some of the members still attended high school.

The group is accompanied on this tour by fellow Pacific Northwest rock group, Portugal. The Man, a band that recently released the critically acclaimed album In The Mountain In The Cloud. PTM’s members hail from Northwest cities like Portland and Wasilla, Alaska.

The Yagermeister-sponsored tour, which began April 3, has already landed Van Deusen and his band mates in front of fresh faces.

“A couple of the spots we’ve played on the tour are cities we’ve never performed in yet like Reno and Boise,” said Van Deusen.

Later this year, the group will play at one of the biggest festivals in the nation: Bonnaroo.

“We’ve never played a festival this size,” said Van Deusen.

The Lonely Forest is no stranger to festivals, though. In 2009, the band played Bumbershoot, and in 2010, the group had the honor of playing at Sasquatch festival. In august, the group headlines at a large festival in their hometown of Anacortes, where many Washington state indie rock bands will play as well.

Van Deusen describes the band’s music as loud, but straight and to the point.

“We have fun, and we try to stay away from gimmicks,” he said.

Check out The Lonely Forest, Portugal. The Man and The Sunbears at the Ritz Ybor Wednesday night. Doors open at 8:30, and tickets are $18.

Listen to The Lonely Forest on social media and the web:

Facebook: http://facebook.com/thelonelyforest
Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/thelonelyforest
Website: http://www.thelonelyforest.com
Twitter: Twitter.com/thelonelyforest

Big Freedia Bringing Bounce To Bonnaroo

When Big Freedia takes the stage at Bonnaroo this summer, booties will bounce.

Freedia, fresh off one of her biggest performances to date, a late-night performance on the Jimmy Kimmel show, is known as the “Queen Diva” of bounce, a type of music that originated with Freedia and other artists from New Orleans.

Bounce music, for those unfamiliar, is best described in a recent interview Freedia gave to Fuse TV, where she’s quoted describing it as “simple, uptempo, heavy bass, call and response type music.”

Freedia’s career so far has landed her in prestigious places like the New York Times, who wrote a full-fledged lifestyle piece on her career-to-date.

And, Freedia just released her first-ever video game on her Web site, aptly named the Booty Battle Game, where, you guessed it, two voluptuous booties battle for the best bulge.  Players pick from four different “booties,” and battle it out.

But her music career began as a sophomore in high school.

“I got my start singing in the choir” said Freedia.

Her role as a choir director and eventual sharing of her love of music with friends is what initially gave her the spark to enter the New Orleans musical threshold.

Her involvement with the local music scene has landed her guest appearances and performances with some of the most well-known names in music from New Orleans, LA., to Brooklyn, NY.

“I’ve collaborated with artists like Galactic and Matt and Kim,” said Freedia.

Freedia mentions her love for performing at festivals, and said concert attendees might even see her outside of Centeroo, Bonnaroo’s main stage and vendor area.

“We’ll definitely be walking around,” said Freedia.

Recent health issues forced Freedia to cancel some of her most recent tour, but Freedia said since her health issues are now resolved, she’s ready to come back bigger and better, noting that the crowds at every show is the force behind her continued assault on music.

“The fans is what keeps me going,” said Freedia.

In parting, Freedia has advice for first-time Bonnaroo campers:  Be prepared.

Check out Big Freedia on social media and the Web:

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/bigfreediadiva

Twitter:  twitter.com/bigfreedia

Myspace:  www.myspace.com/bigfreedia

Website: bigfreedia.com/

Bonnaroo Couldn’t Come Sooner for Nashville’s Moon Taxi

Bonnaroo Blog caught up with Moon Taxi’s Wes Bailey to talk with him about the band’s first appearance at the festival in June.

By Evan Brenner

This year marks 11 exceptional years for the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, and Moon Taxi’skeyboard player Wes Bailey couldn’t be more excited to finally play the festival that’s literally down the road from his band’s home base of Nashville, Tennessee.

“Seeing a Moon Taxi-less lineup for so many years was pretty discouraging,” said Bailey.

But, Bailey, who’s originally from Knoxville, said he feels the festival invite couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for the group, and accredits years of writing, practicing and playing shows to the band’s readiness to rock Bonnaroo.

Bailey began playing music with friends at the age of 15.  Hearing Phish for the first time encouraged him to study jazz theory and improvisation.  By the time he reached college, he had several songs written, which he shared with Trevor Terndrup, Moon Taxi’s lead singer.

“Moon Taxi’s singer (Trevor) heard one called ‘Totally Nude’ and loved it,” said Bailey.

Terndrup wrote lyrics for it, and started performing the song.  This eventually led to Bailey joining the band, making it his main project.

Bailey is excited to play the festival, and hopes the group’s music will find new listeners that enjoy their style as well.

“I think I’m most looking forward to all the people that have never seen or heard Moon Taxi experiencing their first show,” said Bailey.

When it comes to the Bonnaroo’s makeshift city, otherwise known as the campgrounds, Bailey said he might take advantage of the proximity to his Nashville home during the weekend.

“I don’t think my girlfriend will go for bathing in that mushroom fountain,” he said.

Bailey’s keyboard playing recently landed him in an issue of Keyboardmag.com, which can be viewed by clicking here.  The band has also received praise in newspapers like the University of Georgia’s independent student newspaper, Red and Black.

He recalled his most memorable show with Moon Taxi to date, where they opened forMatisyahu in Washington, D.C.

“I had never played a room that size where the balcony wrapped around the stage packed with people. There was insane energy coming from every direction and it felt like we were the headlining act that night,” said Bailey.

Speaking of Matisyahu, the reggae artist lends his vocal prowess to the band’s track, Square Circles, off their most recent record, Cabaret.

Make sure you catch Moon Taxi at this year’s Bonnaroo, and heed to Bailey’s advice regarding an item nobody in the campgrounds should forget:  Gold Bond.

Check out Moon Taxi on Social Media:

Check out Moon Taxi on Facebook:  Facebook.com/ridethemoontaxi

Check out Moon Taxi on Myspace:  Myspace.com/moontaxi

Official Web site:  Ridethemoontaxi.com

Twitter:  Twitter.com/ridethemoontaxi