Iris DeMent returns to Tampa Bay, 26 years after the WMNF incident

In 1997, the station played 'Wasteland of the Free' and a GOP lawmaker got big mad.

click to enlarge Iris DeMent - Photo by Dasha Brown
Photo by Dasha Brown
Iris DeMent
Sometime in 1997, our friends at WMNF Tampa 88.5-FM decided to play Iris DeMent’s “Wasteland of the Free” (which should have been a warning of what was to come in the 21st century).

In response, former Florida Senator John Grant—an avid anti-LGBTQ+ advocate who now has a massive Ron DeSantis fetish—decided to cut $104,000 from the station’s annual state funding. An emergency fundraiser staged by WMNF raised $120,000 within a day and a half, but this early brush with Floridian fascism is all the reason for the 62-year-old folk singer to remain active.

Her new album Workin’ on a World has a title track in which she expresses how her only takeaway from living in such a rotten world is that she’s working to make it better for future generations, as her ancestors did for her. DeMent is definitely on the right side of history, and her buddy John Prine—who she toured with in the aughts—will surely be there in spirit when she performs in Largo.

Tickets to see Iris DeMent play Central Park Performing Arts Center in Largo on Sunday, April 15 are still available and start at $29.50.

About The Author

Josh Bradley

Josh Bradley is Creative Loafing Tampa's resident live music freak. He started freelancing with the paper in 2020 at the age of 18, and has since covered, announced, and previewed numerous live shows in Tampa Bay. Check the music section in print and online every week for the latest in local live music.
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