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The Gasparilla Music Festival celebrated its second birthday on March 9th.
Lord Huron, lead by Michigan-based Ben Scheider, is still early in his career. After releasing a trio of EPs in 2010, Schneider released his debut record Lonesome Dreams this year. The new record explores themes of the Old West and self discovery. The Guardian described Schneider's style in the debut effort as "a folk-rock Thoreau", and Consequence of Sound described the record as "impressionistic, world-bent Americana" with inspirations from Animal Collective. Lord Huron made a stop at Gasparilla Music Festival before playing California's coveted Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival later this year.
The festival's national artists also included California's Best Coast. Their surf-rock inspired songs of yearning and romance earned the title of 'Best New Music' from Pitchfork Media. Their second album, 2012's The Only Place received less critical acclaim, but it did help the band land a tour opening for Green Day.
It seemed almost inevitable for Dr Dog to play Gasparilla Music Festival this year. After a cancelled tour date at the State Theater last November, this opportunity seemed an ideal return for the band to the Bay Area. Their indie psychedelic sound brought the enormous crowd together as the band played tracks from across their discography.
Not to be out-done, the festival's climax and come-down was delivered by official headliners The Meter Men featuring Page McConnell. McConnell, formerly of acclaimed jam-band Phish, joined established New Orleans funk band The Meter Men have been playing since the 1960s and performed with Dr John, Robert Palmer and Sir Paul McCartney.
Gasparilla Music Festival is one of Tampa’s best, if not youngest music events of the year. Capping off the almost South by Southwest-like compilation of parades, movie festivals, a 5k and much more, the Gasparilla events are not to be missed. This year’s festival takes place on March 9th at Curtis Hixon Park includes headliners Dawes, Best Coast, Dr. Dog, The Meter Men featuring Page McConnell of Phish, Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears and many more.
For an authority on the best artists to watch out for, Bulls Radio asked some of Tampa's top music journalists and show promoters for their most anticipated set of Gasparilla Music Festival this year:
Sean O'Brien, co-owner of Tampa's Broken Mold Entertainment:
“I'm most excited to see Lord Huron, I love all the other bands as well, that's why we booked them!! Lord Huron is the only one I haven't had a chance to see live before though, that's why he gets my vote.”
Ray Roa, Staff Writer at Suburban Apologist:
“Although Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears are a very very close second, I am really excited to see how Ben Schneider & co. [of Lord Huron] play songs from their debut LP on stage. If weather is anything like it was last year, then hearing songs from LONESOME DREAMS, then I expect to have one of the best live experiences in recent memory. Lofty expectations yes, but the LP's folk dreamscapes (which Schneider says here inspired by nature anyway) combined with view of the Hillsborough River and UT's minarets is going to be amazing. Kind of like Deer Tick's set last year except less dingy rock & roll and more quietly transcendent.”
Melanie Cade, co-owner of Mojo Books & Music:
“I would've said Dr Dog, but instead I'm going to say Lord Huron. I don't have a favorite song, because I only just discovered Lord Huron while browsing the Gasparilla lineup, then playing a few songs on youtube. Like the instrumentals and the interweaving of elements. Very interested to hear more in person.”
Leilani Polk, Music Editor at Creative Loafing:
“I'm super stoked about seeing Phish's keys maestro, Page McConnell, jam with New Orleans mainstays The Meter Men. Though they've never recorded any material together officially, I imagine they'll get the funkin' and groovin' dance party started for sure.”
Quite often, people criticize the University of South Florida for being a culture-less commuter school. The university is relatively young compared to state university competitors University of Florida and Florida State University. However, the city of Tampa definitely has its own thriving cultures and traditions.
The Gasparilla Festival, initially named for the 19th century pirates that invaded Florida’s western coast, is an annual celebration of Tampa Bay history. The festival, typically lasting four to six weeks, has many fun components including a children’s parade, a Mardi Gras-style adult parade, a movie festival, and much more. The last and newest installment to the Gasparilla festivities is the Gasparilla Music Festival at Curtis Hixon Park. The festival is entering its second year, and the lineup will include Ozomalti, Dawes, Lord Huron and many more.
Check out our coverage from last year’s festival including our interview with Ra Ra Riot, Deer Tick and a review of the local food trucks.
Dawes is a folk rock band from Los Angeles. No stranger to critics, Rolling Stone describes their music as “authentically vintage.” After releasing several albums with Dawes, lead singer Taylor Goldsmith formed a ‘secret’ super group called Middle Brother with members of Deer Tick and the Delta Spirit at South by Southwest in 2011. Last year was also a great year for Dawes, as they helped headline the historic Newport Folk Festival along with Bright Eyes, the Black Crows and My Morning Jacket.
Earlier today, Dawes announced the track list for their new record, Stories Don’t End. Perhaps the most exciting news is that Gasparilla Music Festival is the first show Dawes will be playing since announcing the new material. Check out this profile on the new album on Rolling Stone. Stories Don’t End is meant to showcase the band’s ability to have a more modern sound, and is set to be released on April 9.
There is a certain luck that comes when you catch a band between albums.
The electric background of the stage brightened the night sky as the band went on at 9:15. The architectural delights of the University of Tampa laying just across the Hillsborough River, the scene was reminiscent of the fun and majesty of Orlando’s Disney World.
Arriving at an opportune moment, many people were camped out in front of the Amscot Financial Stage at Kiley Gardens to catch Sarasota’s Have Gun Will Travel. The band has received acclaim from local and national media; theirl hit “Blessing and a Curse” was recently placed in a Chevrolet commercial.
Unlike many festivals, Gasparilla Music Festival set itself apart by featuring local food vendors instead of your usual hotdog and pretzel stands. This allowed food trucks and small companies to showcase their best and perhaps attract new fans. Many of the vendors offered vegetarian and even vegan options and used locally raised livestock and locally grown produce. Casey DeFreitas and Andie Cunniffe tried much of the local fare. Here is their take on seven of Tampa's food vendors. For a list of all local vendors at the festival, check out this list.
Dreaming about Coachella?
Bummed about missing your favorite acts because you’re a little tight on cash?
Wishing there was a music festival in Tampa, featuring great music and promoting the community right here in the 813?
The Gasparilla Music Festival is kicking off in downtown Tampa this Saturday, mixing the best of local and national music, food and entertainment. A full set list including indie rock headliners Ra Ra Riot and Deer Tick, as well as Bay Area bands Have Gun Will Travel and Geri X will be gracing three stages in downtown Tampa. Other folk artists include Rich Whitely, The Groves, The Infinite Groove Orchestra, and many more will be jamming out in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and Kiley Gardens this Saturday, April 10th.
Is it just me or is there something just perfect about listening to folk rock in the morning?
The sun shining on a cloudless blue sky, your coffee cup steaming, the day lying unconquered.
The Black Keys and Mumford and Sons are great. But they, as a manifestation of how folky roots rock crosses over into something great, are not alone. There is another band you should know about.