Copeland's Aaron Marsh has curated the ultimate Lakeland local music playlist

Emilie Weiss, Mrenc, Glass House Point and more all show up and make us want to plan a trip to Polk County.

Copeland's Aaron Marsh has curated the ultimate Lakeland local music playlist
Emily Weiss

He may have been born in Eugene, Oregon, but Aaron Marsh is Lakelander through and through. His grandpa was an athletic director at Florida Southern. Marsh's studio — The Vanguard Room — is in Lakeland, and it's produced great records from national and local artists alike (St. Petersburg songwriter Kerry Courtney is working on his record there).

While Tampa Bay and Lakeland have had a collaborative relationship that's ebbed and flowed in waves, Lakeland's music scene hasn't always felt like the city's arts community embraced it.

"I’m trying to find ways to build us up," Marsh — who fronts world-renowned indie-rock band Copeland — told CL in 2016. "Things have been good in music here, but now is not one of those times. A lot of people think there should be less bars or kids around. It’s generational. Our creative community is really awesome, right now it’s just lacking support for the musical component."

Well it looks like things are changing. There's a fantastic DIY space, ART/ifact, a coffee shop hosting shows (Hillcrest Coffee) and the larger community is starting to embrace its musicians. Marsh even got to profile singer-songwriter Crystal Velez for an article in Lakelander magazine in which he sings her praises and gives props to producer Evan Eliason.

Evan Eliason’s production on the album is striking but never overpowers Crystal. The instrumental arrangements stay sparse and focused, making use of traditional funk and hip-hop grooves in the drums and bass, while layers of synths and manipulated vocals fizz and swirl around Crystal’s confident melodies. Despite the elaborate production, Evan challenged himself to keep the listener focused squarely on Crystal’s vocal. “I wanted there to be a revealing sense of Crystal’s true vibe, one that’s always playful and can find a way to laugh in any situation, even if it’s right after singing one of her most heartbroken lyrics.” 

"M.U.M.M.," a song from from Velez's 2018 EP Make Up My Mind, shows up on a Spotify playlist curated by Marsh. The 41-song, nearly three-hour playlist features CL mainstays like Mrenc, Poster and Kristopher James as well as new favorites like Michael McArthur (we just played McArtuhur's song "Run Around" on WMNF).

Emilie Weiss, a songwriter who has collaborated with Tampa's Joel Davis, is on there, and Marsh's bands (Copeland plus his new Lulls In Traffic project with Ivan Ives) also show up, but most of the list is made up of brand new artists that make us want to plan a trip to Polk County. Listen to the playlist below, and follow it via Spotify.

About The Author

Ray Roa

Read his 2016 intro letter and disclosures from 2022 and 2021. Ray Roa started freelancing for Creative Loafing Tampa in January 2011 and was hired as music editor in August 2016. He became Editor-In-Chief in August 2019. Past work can be seen at Suburban Apologist, Tampa Bay Times, Consequence of Sound and The...
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