There’s a tribute to The Smiths set to go down at Ybor City’s Crowbar on Friday, August 11, and we couldn’t help but josh with organizers about the chances of the party — where bands will play covers and Morrissey lookalikes will vie for prizes — getting canceled just like so many of Moz’s tour dates these days.
“Maybe,” Michael Bagley joked, “if the Ordinary Boys can't make it from Miami or the gladioli don't arrive on time.”
WMNF 88.5 FM’s Alternative Music Director is in high spirits, and it's all on account of this soiree where indie rock’s original sad boy will be celebrated in grand fashion. CL caught up with Bagley, 53, to talk all things Moz; full Q&A and more information on the show is available via local.cltampa.com.
Why does Morrissey speak to so many people across many age groups? What does he mean to you?
I think Morrissey speaks to a lot of people because he speaks from the heart about his personal experiences of heartache, loss and grief — it's a very rare commodity in songwriting these days. He spoke to me in so many ways, especially for a person who sort of felt some of the emotions he was feeling in his songs who felt much like the outsider who was looking for a reason to belong.
What does a world that never knew Moz look like?
I think if The Smiths had never happened, there would be a large hole to fill as far as clever indie pop goes. I feel like a lot of us would still be looking for that poet who could express our emotions through the use of music as the message.
Your favorite Morrissey or Smiths tune, and why?
My favourite Smiths tune has changed over the years. It used to be "This Charming Man" because it was my first introduction to the Smiths, but I realized that "I Know It's Over" from The Queen is Dead sort of sums up how I look at my life.
What should someone on the fence about coming know about the show?
It will be a great experience to hear and appreciate the music of The Smiths without them actually playing. A lot of people never got the chance to see the band back in the day, so this is a great way of taking yourself back to a time, emotionally, when people felt music really meant something special.
It’s a Morrissey tribute, so we gotta ask — what are the chances of this thing getting cancelled?
I don't think The smiths Tribute will get cancelled. Well, maybe if the Ordinary Boys can't make it from Miami or the gladioli don't arrive on time.
Do you have any expectations for the lookalike contest?
I just want people to get into the spirit of what we are trying to do, which gives the whole event a bit more authenticity. Plus, it will be great just to see how many more Morrisseys there are out there in the world, looks-wise, especially in the Tampa area.
We led our music issue with a photo of you outside of Blue Chair. Talk about those times and how they helped create a sense of community that you still bring to WMNF.
The whole Blue Chair, Blue Funk, Three Birds Bookstore, Ritz era in Ybor City was a special time because it really did feel like, at last, a music, fashion and arts community was really happening in the Tampa Bay area. Going to see bands play live on 7th Avenue or hanging out at your favourite mom and pop shop — especially when everything was in walking distance — made it feel like we were kind of creating our own Little Five Points or East Village.
You had a moment in the ‘80s when you heard Underground Circus on WMNF and it changed you. What’s your overall goal with alternative programming and the events you are putting together?
Just like when Underground Circus was at its peak, we hope that we can build our alternative music programming to a point that it can stand on its own, not apart from the station, but as an entity that can help the station attract new and younger listeners to our airwaves.
Last time we spoke was in March when you were throwing an event at The Local 662 to help bring awareness to late night programming on WMNF. How’s that going?
As far as station awareness goes, that's something we have to always work on in regards to non-core events. I think the WMNF After Dark promos have helped people figure out when their favourite late night and weekends shows are on by giving them a guide for overnite programming. I'd love to see us do more outreach that speaks to non-WMNF listeners by setting up shows and functions in places we wouldn't normally use. With late might programming, there are many options we just haven't tapped into.
Talk about your time in New York? What did it teach you and what did you bring back to Tampa?
The New York time was pretty special because it made me see a bigger world than what I was used to here in Tampa. A lot of people used to take that the wrong way when I would say that to them back then but i meant in a way that Tampa always had the potential (back then), but we still needed more people and places to make it really, really happen. And it definitely has. Just look at all the choices now, every night of the week. I was just talking with someone the other day regarding how much we actually had for choices, entertainment-wise, back in the late 80s, early 90s as opposed to what we have now, and it was like, “Wow!”
You always hoped we would get there back then, so you just never knew. I remember when I first moved back and everyone said, "Dude, your bringing that energy back that we actually need around here!" I basically wanted to do everything because I had absorbed so much in the city and I knew we could always do it here if we just gave it a shot. That Big Apple energy is just really hard to beat.