Music Issue: Paving the way — Kim Dicce lived her dream and opened the door to a rock revolution

This promoter held her own in a male-dominated field.

click to enlarge DICCE DOES IT: Kim Dicce held her own in a male dominated field back when female promoters were nearly unheard of. - Amy Kate Anderson
Amy Kate Anderson
DICCE DOES IT: Kim Dicce held her own in a male dominated field back when female promoters were nearly unheard of.

Any conversation about the coolest bands to tour Tampa Bay leads inevitably back to longtime local promoter and music scene stalwart, Kim Dicce. Growing up in Long Island, New York, Dicce (prounounced DEE-cee) dreamt of one day being as famous as the promoters who booked big rock shows at her local neighborhood arena.

“I’d see the words 'Tony Ruffino and Larry Vaughn presents…’ on the marquee at the Nassau Coliseum and I used to think, I wanna be Tony Ruffino and Larry Vaughn,” Dicce remembers.


And so her journey began. Moving to Florida in 1984, Kim enrolled at the University of South Florida (USF), where she took an active role in student government and started working concerts, including a stint as a stagehand for Sun Dome shows in the latter ’80s.

“I learned how to make flyers and book shows,” she recalls. Then, after a brief return to New York, she came back to the Tampa area and was hired as the director of USF’s student government productions. She soon took on a more significant role, booking bands at the small basement campus bar The Empty Keg, where she welcomed acts like The Flaming Lips and Redd Kross at a time when few in the area had heard of them. 

Her range stretched out beyond the campus, too. One time, at The Masquerade (now The Ritz Ybor formerly located where Empire one was), Dicce booked a Seattle band that would soon go on to megastardom. 

“I booked Soundgarden when they were just starting and there were about 12 people there to see them. I think it was in 1989,” she says. She keeps a dusty trunkful of memorabilia, tickets and articles from those days to help her remember dates and events since, as she puts it, “My memory is kind of rusty.”   

Kim’s options at USF increased with the addition of a small performance hall, USF’s Special Events Center, to her battery of stages. Rifling through flyers and such, she rattles off a who’s who of cool bands she helped bring to town: Sonic Youth, The Pixies, Fishbone, Living Colour, Mudhoney… the list goes on and on. If you were lucky enough to see any of these groundbreaking bands in their infancy on a small local stage, you probably owe it to Kim Dicce. 

“I booked alternative and college rock bands… that was my thing. I was in college for many, many years,” she laughs, remembering how she intentionally changed majors to prolong her status as a USF student and hold on to a job she didn’t want to leave. 

She would eventually join forces with another woman intent on getting into the booking game, Susan Gralla, also a USF student government volunteer. The two formed Medusa Productions and started booking shows at off-campus venues, beginning with a double bill of Dinosaur Jr. and My Bloody Valentine at Jannus Landing in early 1992 — talk about starting off with a bang. The duo also opened the Stone Lounge, a small, cozy and welcoming bar on Nebraska Avenue that hosted bands like Buffalo Tom, Unrest and Five Eight. 

Dicce held her own in a male-dominated field back when having a female promoter and bar operator was nearly unheard of. “It’s still a field many women are not involved in,” she laments. But luckily for the Tampa Bay area, she made a huge difference in the caliber of bands who’d regularly swing through town, back when promoters faxed offers to booking agents in hopes of landing a tour date. She seems genuinely joyful when recalling those lean yet exciting days. 

Some of her more memorable experiences include booking bands on the brink of superstardom at The Brass Mug, the tiny hole-in-the-wall dive bar in North Tampa. Dicce brought in Green Day and No Doubt to play that venue way back when. (For even more ancient Green Day history, see the timeline here.

After landing a job with swanky Ybor City nightclub The Rubb, Dicce decided not to renew the Stone Lounge lease and focused on devoting her time and energy to her new surroundings, working with bigger national acts and shows that were sometimes sponsored by local radio station 98Rock.

“It was a great time of my life. Most people don’t get to live their dream,” she admits. 

Does she miss it? She still seems tickled by the memories of those days. She’s genuinely grateful that Tony Rifugiato and Dave Hundley, two longtime area promoters, are still going strong, and she’s proud of her accomplishments. Now the mom of a teenage child and working full-time as a real estate property manager, she still keeps her hand in the scene by bartending once a week at downtown St. Petersburg dive The Emerald. 

But even if she’s no longer in the game, there’s no doubt that Kim Dicce did plenty to pave the way for Tampa Bay to become a viable market for cool bands to play. When I thank her for helping to build a scene, booking artists like Robyn Hitchcock, Babes In Toyland and Sonic Youth, she’s modest and humble. But I’d be willing to bet that, just as she was influenced by the men whose names she read on that marquee on Long Island, she herself influenced many people to follow their musical dreams. Take it on good authority from this writer, whose live concert experiences were made all the more vivid and exciting thanks to her vision and hard work.

Read more about the music issue here.

About The Author

Gabe Echazabal

I was born on a Sunday Morning.I soon received The Gift of loving music.Through music, I Found A Reason for living.It was when I discovered rock and roll that I Was Beginning To See The Light.Because through music, I'm Set Free.It's always helped me keep my Head Held High.When I started dancing to that fine, fine...
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