The Tampa Bay area's best live music experiences of 2010 as told by the locals (with photos)

[image-1]>>It was my first night out at New World Brewery with my then-new boyfriend, so between the great bands and my convivial mood, I think the Peter Baldwin/November Foxtrot Whiskey show might be my favorite of the year – though it's nearly impossible to pick just one. Orlando's Peter Baldwin was a revelation. His soulful voice and charisma – and ability to be both delicate and strong without a hint of cheesy showmanship – convinced me he'd be the next superstar to come out of Florida. Plus, November Foxtrot Whiskey is a personal favorite. Up-and-coming sweet party boys Florida Night Heat were just getting their feet wet at the time. [Photo from show at left by Phil Bardi.] –CL A&E Editor Julie Garisto

>>The Ditchflowers and Friends performing All Things Must Pass at the Largo Cultural Center, which has theater-style seating and a stage not unlike Ruth Eckerd Hall, but on a smaller scale (roughly 450 seats). We had to hold the show for 20 minutes to accommodate the line of people outside purchasing tickets for what turned out to be a sold-out show. I realized these people had been listening to this classic album for 40 years — but as Harrison rarely toured, no one had likely ever seen these songs performed live, let alone the album in its entirety. The Ditchflowers and Friends numbered between 13 and 17 band members, depending on the song, and the rotating ensemble tore into the album and staged a perfect cover performance; not note for note, but with just enough personality from the band to make it their own. They stretched the songs out a bit, used keyboards instead of horns, infused the vocals with a female tone (Rebekah Pulley and Freight Train Annie), and even added some eastern sounds that, although not on ATMP, just seemed to be a natural for the Harrison songs. I think the Ditchflowers interpreted the album in a live setting much as Harrison might have if had chosen to do so. They took a two-dimensional product and turned it into a 3D experience. Of course, I always get excited by these kinds of shows, but the response from the attendees that night was incredible. Sure, I got the usual "great show Flee" accolades afterwards, but it was the emails and Facebook responses days after that impressed me most — like "Best show WMNF has ever done" and "I was in tears."

The other event was The Grecian Urns performing Imagine at WMNF's tribute to John Lennon's 70th birthday. Their version wasn't that different from the original in feel and pacing, but they brought it to life with an array of acoustic guitars, mandolins, tambourines and incredible vocal harmonies that really got the crowd's attention. I've listened to "Imagine" many times and it never sounded so fresh and alive as it did that day. –Lee “Flee” Courtney, WMNF Sonic Detours

[image-2]>>Dunedin-based rockers Alexander & The Grapes opened up a set at Ybor's New World Brewery in January and really blew me away. Granted, I hadn’t been exposed to much of the Tampa local music scene at the time, but I promptly went on an enthusiasm fest — writing a feature on them and HYPERLINK and catching them again in May at the same venue. I think it was their melodic alt-country sound that did it for me, reminiscent of Wilco and Micah P. Hinson, two of my favorite musicians at the time. It's acts like these that make me happy to catch live music in the Bay area. [Photo from show at right by Nicole Kibert.] –CL Music Team writer Evan Tokarz

>>Flaming Lips at Jannus Live. I tried describing this show to my girlfriend (who lives out of town) and thought I had done a pretty good job remembering all of Wayne Coyne's antics. The next day, I remembered: oh, and he rode on the shoulders of a guy in a bear suit. You know it was a great show when you forget to mention something as unusual as that. I stood at the side of the stage at one point and was overcome by the sight of beaming faces in the crowd singing along in a blizzard of yellow confetti. For the next couple of days, I found that stuff in my pockets, my car, etc. –CL Music Team writer Steve Seachrist

>>The most memorable local music experience of 2010 was the month of October, or, as it has come to be referred to: Rocktober. Every week of the month, Tampa and Orlando had multiple shows from major national acts representing every genre of music, and too often scheduled on the same day. We all appreciate when musicians make the journey south for us Floridians, and we showed our gratitude with sold-out shows and empty checking accounts. Difficult decisions were made. Sleep was sacrificed. Work performance suffered. Nothing stopped the music. –CL Music Team writer and interior designer/art entrepreneur Deborah Ramos

>>1) The Expendables came to The Ritz Ybor and rocked out a killer, high-energy show bursting with guitar duels and mosh pits as well as swoon-tunes and lighter waves. After the show, lead singer Geoff Weers and drummer Adam Patterson moseyed across 7th Avenue to the Blue Shark, where my amigos and I were taking in some late-night blues music, and what followed was shots, close-up pics of Weers' killer mustache, and a Prince, "Purple Rain," dance off with the reggae-rockers and their groupies. Epic. 2) Do Me Like That: Tom Petty 60th Birthday Party/Tribute at Skipper's Smokehouse. Just a fabulous date night with the BF spent drinking Red Stripes, eating steamed clams and listening to 17 local bands (among them Hat Trick Heroes, The Punctual Hippies, and Alexander and the Grapes) bust out six hours worth of Petty tunes. 3) My favorite band in the whole wide sonic universe of guitar riffs, drum solos and funky bass lines, Sublime, decided to resurrect itself and undergo a 2010 international tour with an obscure, but talented new young frontman, Rome Ramirez, after 14 years of being pretty much dead to the concert-going public. The regroup has proven successful, due to the huge love Sublime fans have for the music, and in October 2010, Sublime with Rome rocked it under the stars at St. Pete's Jannus Live, with the performance easily sliding into my number one slot of all-time favorite live music experiences thus far in life. –CL Music Team writer Amber McDonald

[image-3]>>Best Unique Local Musical Event: The Candy Bars recently emerged from a way too long hiatus to perform a short string of shows, one of those a Wednesday evening appearance at Cappy's organized by New Granada [July 7]. This was a brilliant break of the routine show grind. Unusual venue setups don't always work out, but on this particular evening, tons of people came out of the woodwork to see the cult favorite. It was lovely to look around my favorite pizza place full of friends raptly watching one of Tampa's most elusive bands.

Honorary Local Best Memorable Performance: One of my favorite music memories of 2010 is dancing to indie pop under a parachute... and I got to do it several times this year! Andy Matchett & The Minks (Orlando) are honorary locals at this point. Their frequent visits to the Tampa Bay area are enhanced by a parachute pop party that concludes nearly every show. Truly, no matter how bleak the world seems, you can't help but smile when you are dancing under a parachute with confetti swirling around to the sweet sound of "All This Time." [Photo from November show at left, by Nicole Kibert.]

Local Performance Highlight: Have Gun, Will Travel's headlining performance with Whiskey Gentry at New World Brewery [Feb. 4] was a 2010 highlight demonstrating that a local band is absolutely capable of packing a house. It was heartwarming to see a local show with the whole crowd singing along and having a raucous good time... here's to many more in 2011!

Most Diverse Local Music Festival: Summer Jam! Summer Jam focuses on bringing a mix of local, regional and national acts spanning indie and hip-hop. This year the event was held on August 28, 2010, and was a particularly fine example of how mixed genre events can work in spite of challenging weather conditions...

Most Surprising Use of an Accordion: Jason Webley, a modern-day bard specializing in the accordion, played Transitions Art Gallery on December 1, 2010. It was the first and possibly last time that Tampa will be witness to an accordion techno song along with an eclectic range of accordion covers from Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" to Sex Pistols' "Anarchy in the UK" that culminated in the musician coaxing the whole crowd into spinning in unison.

Surprise National Act Splendid Performance: Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros with He's My Brother, She's My Sister... As I walked into the Ritz, I started getting nervous as I noticed the merch table was selling tambourines for audience members to use during the show and there was a definite undercurrent of patchouli in the air... Uh-oh, I stumbled into some weird hippie gathering — a frightening thought for a punk rock kid. Then He's My Brother, She's My Sister's set started and I saw my very first dedicated tap-dancing percussionist. Awesome! As Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros took the stage, I noticed something strange — everyone in the audience was happy and getting along, with none of that passive-aggressive shoving you usually see at indie rock shows. And somehow the band  managed to pull off their hit "Home" live, which is no small feat for a band with at least 10 members at any one time. Alex Ebert's enigmatic presence thrilled the crowd with many rows of people reaching for him each time he ventured out to the edge of the stage, and he did that frequently, thrilling the audience. --CL contributor/freelance photographer Nicole Kibert

[image-4]>>Crash-E-Oke, the recent benefit show for Sean "Crash" Mitchell. ??I got a text a month or so ago asking if Poetry 'n Lotion could play a benefit for our dear friend and recent "Best Elder Statesman" 2010 BOTB winner, Sean "Crash" Mitchell. Paul Catala, keyboardist of the Crash Mitchell Quartet, put everything together and without saying, we agreed to play alongside a slew of Crash's other favorite acts.

The first thing I saw when I got there was Crash rocking all Bucs gear in a wheelchair just a few steps from the stage. Turns out he got a night-pass and was released from the hospital with a strict curfew. The best part of the night was after everyone turned in their best performance of Crash's staples like "Radio Station Abomination," "Boobies" and "Baby Jesus Killed My Dog," and Crash joined the band.?? They promptly launched into "All my friends are assholes" and Crash slid his wheelchair up to the front of the stage, right in front of the on-stage monitors, then did a 180 so he was facing the crowd and belted out the song that brought us all out that night. While the tone was pretty heavy, Crash always rose above it and brought you back down with a laugh. Crash is doing fine now, up and moving around stirring up some kind of trouble. Here's to you Crash...we love ya!?? "All my best friends are assholes? / Don't know why I love 'em but I do / ?Guess it's 'cause I'm an asshole, too"? ... --Poetry n' Lotion Musician/Brokenmold entertainment promoter Matt E. Lee

>>My favorite local show of the year had to be the Dex Romweber Duo/The Mojo Gurus on Saturday September 18, 2010 at Dave's Aqua Lounge in St. Petersburg. The bands sold out the venue (something that's increasingly hard to do in this economy) and they just both put on amazing shows. Both Dex and the Gurus are going into the studio in early 2011 to record, so we heard plenty of new songs debuted alongside favorites from Dex's Ruins Of Berlin and the Gurus' Let's Get Lit With...The Mojo Gurus. Being that Kevin Steele (MG's) and Dex are good friends, there was a little friendly rivalry going that I think brought out the best in both bands and made for an amazing night of live music. –Brett Steele, Steele Management

>>My favorite local music-related experience of 2010 was working with Joe Popp, Shawn Paonessa and Neil Gobioff along with the entire cast and crew of Pericles to present the 2.0 version of the show in Tampa before making our Off-Broadway debut just a week later.  This show combined local musicians, writers, actors and designers to create something that we felt was pretty special in our home town and then play it on "the big stage" in NY. Second to that has to be the amazing talents of Pale Orchestra (John Nowicki's Morphine tribute), ex-Famous Monsters of Film Land (quoth Ravis Harnell, "It was just nice to play out and in not be Nessie songs") and the ever-amazing Vodkanauts who played for Jobsite Rocks just a few weeks ago. –David Jenkins, Jobsite Theater

[image-5]>>The whole experience of playing WMNF's Tropical Heatwave with The Hip Abduction was awesome. We had a tabla player and a three-piece horn section that night. I think it was nine guys total. We hit at the Orpheum right before Have Gun, Will Travel and The Movement. It was energizing to be in front of such a responsive crowd. All the people there loved music. I could see people dancing out in the street through the bar windows. [Pictured left] –Chris Powers, bassist, The Hip Abduction

>>Seeing a couple hundred people losing their shit as Little Dragon got deeper and deeper into their set would have to be near the top of my list. Excited to see how many of those folks bring friends & family with them to see these lovely Swedes return on January 27!!! –Jack Spatafora, aestheticized presents

>>Hands down, my favorite local music event of 2010 was the ULTIMATE show that took place on Thursday, August 19, 2010 at The RITZ Ybor. The ULTIMATE show was the finale of the Summer Battle of the Bands showcase that took place every Thursday in July. At ULTIMATE, five bands performed two original songs and a cover; voting was solely based on audience applause and the grand prize included $500 cash and the opportunity to open for an upcoming national touring act at The RITZ Ybor. Why was ULTIMATE my favorite local music event of 2010? It was refreshing to see local bands from genres of pop rock (10th Concession) to ska (Mighty Mongo) to reggae rock (SHAKEMODE and Orange Hour) to alternative rock (ANEW) engaging in the spirit of the event with their amazing interpretations of classic songs that they'd never normally perform, like "Who's That Girl" by Madonna and "One More Try" by George Michael. There was a heightened level of interest by the panel of judges and the audience on what songs these talented bands would choose and mix into their set of original compositions. The band's fanbases came out in full force and full support to cheer their favorite band onto the winning spot, and the energy from their enthusiasm was undeniable.  ULTIMATE represented the best of Tampa’s local music scene celebrating their love of music and their appreciation to their loyal fans and concertgoers. --Okesene "Okie" Tilo, marketing director for The RITZ Ybor

>>There were a lot of great local shows in 2010, including plenty of impressive tribute shows (thanks to WMNF); however, I prefer original music. Therefore, I'd have to go with the 5th annual WMNF Americana Fest at Skipper's. I organize this show ever year, so I guess I'm biased, but where else can you see 11 FL-based Americana acts playing nothing but original music all on the same bill (not on separate stages playing at the same time, like at Heatwave)? This year, I thought The Tares, Mike Dunn & the Kings of New England, and Black Finger were the stand-out acts. --Singer-songwriter Ted Lukas

[image-6]>>After extensive touring in Texas and playing something like nine shows in a weekend at SXSW, The Beauvilles made a triumphant return to Ybor City to rock the hell out of New World Brewery for CL's Sensory Overload. Their performance was so charged with electricity and passion that it sent a jolt through everybody there that night. [Photo from show at right, by Phil Bardi.] –Greg LeSar, professor of film and digital media at the Art Institute of Tampa

>>My best musical experiences were Sensory Overload and the Dreampusher CD Release Party. Dynasty, the “Femcee”

>>Orange Blossom Jamboree — Tons of awesome people, bands, and scenery...Perfect. –Local funk hop fusion act Green Sunshine

>>Songwriter night at Tre Amici every Thursday. On any given Thursday, you can hear some of the Bay Area's most well-known and great songwriters alongside yet-to-be discovered artists. It's just a weekly reminder of how much songwriting talent there is here in the Bay Area. –Local singer-songwriter Steve Vaclavik

>>2010 was the year of the return! The Mercury Program ... Scrog! It was like a ’90s flashback party except without all the Hammer-pants. –Alex Fedele, Auto?Automatic??

>>The most memorable local show I saw this past year was a Palantine performance at New World Brewery, where the band rigged their lighting up to a stomp box system! It's the only time I've ever seen anything quite like that. It was great to see something so out of the box from a local artist. Also, any Poetry-n-Lotion set is guaranteed good times. –George Toledo, interactive design and audiovisual artist

>>Hearing Rebekah Pulley covering "The Baby Jesus Killed My Dog" at the recent benefit for Crash Mitchell was unforgettable. Forming the Hindustani/Flamenco Group “Wahh” and playing the concert on June 6, 2010 for the Padit Jasraj School Benefit Concert was amazing and beautiful. Playing a few shows as the bassist for Antsy McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadours. Any gig with Rayzilla's PBS is a gift and a treat. And last but not least: My radio show, Step Outside on WMNF, getting resurrected by a humbling and voluminous outcry from our "Strange & Beautiful" community after I was " theoretically" sacked after 22 years on the air... Ray Villadonga, local musician and WMNF host

>>I'd be oh-so-lying if I didn’t say my favorite local event of 2010 was Crasheoke — the benefit for yours truly that happened on Thursday, November 16, 2010 at New World Brewery. Hearing some of my favorite acts cover my songs was a really big deal to me. Don't folks usually have to croak to have something like this happen?! –Local musician Sean “Crash” Michell

>>For me, without a doubt, it was the Ditchflowers & Friends tribute to George Harrison and All Things Must Pass. I had the honor of playing a small part in it, but the overall production and individual performances, and the amazing efforts of Ed Woltil, Brian Merrill, and Steve Connelly & Co., made me very proud of our Tampa Bay music scene. One of the best musical experiences I've had the honor of being involved with. –Local musician Rich Whitely, Earth Bombs Mars

[image-7]>>Fact: The Semis often play some low-attended shows... I don't get out much so it's always a big thrill to have a nice turnout on the nights I do. That said, one of my favorite experiences this year was the AntiWarpt Fest in downtown St. Pete, which was engineered by Sean from Brokenmold and Manny from Daddy Kool. The whole block was jumpin’. Big crowds at all the spots and electric magic in the air. Even some dude from my Spanish class, who yelled "Hola Guillermo!" at me while I was playing. That was fucked up. [Photo from show at left by Phil Bardi.] The Marmalade music series — the free Jannus shows that have given some locals a chance to do it right — have been super cool, too. I'm so used to not having monitors that this was like rock heaven. Imagine, a soundman not telling me to turn down! Plus there were great gobs of heads in the joint and a cool vibe rang clear.?? Lastly, the Back to the Future event was a blast. All the bands were great but the highlight for me was watching Ronnie Dee play with his old band Deeforce. His talent is unmatched and he is one of the best performers the Tampa Bay area will ever have. Keep on keepin on, Ronnie. –Billy Summer, The Semis

>>There have been so many this year... The BAAMO/ WMNF tributes have been fantastic. Every time I see the Chicken Chasers, they make me want to scream with laughter and burst out in tears all at once. The same with Rebekah Pulley — she just keeps getting better and better. Steve Connelly's solo release this year is just beautiful. Seeing Reina Collins (formerly of Multi Color House with Sam Bond and I) perform at Skippers with her new band after being gone from the area for 20 years was also fantastic. Being part of The Dirty Spoons and Trash Revue with Judy Tampa and Bunko Squad has been such a big part of my year — watching all those guys perform just amazes me; Sam Bond, Anne Van Atta, Harry Hayward, George Pappas, Steve Peake, John McKuen and Judy Tampa... they are so great. Then there was the Atomic Holiday Bazaar this with The Equines, Blind Buddy Moody, The Kenneth Brian Band ... There are tooo many good musicians around here! Natty Moss Bond, local artist and songstress

What was YOUR favorite show of 2010? We want to know! Leave your answer below in the comments section...

Witnessing as Candy Bars returned from a long break and performed with cool and compelling force at the Homemade Music Showcase; chowing down on barbecue and being charmed by folk-pop ensemble Grecian Urns at Ella’s Americana Folk Art Café; getting my face rocked off by Poetry n’ Lotion during their staging of Black Sabbath’s Paranoid at the Brokenmold Xmas Party ... All of these experiences and more have added rich color to my 2010 live and local music memories. But I’m only one of plenty who support, sustain and reap the benefits of the Bay area music scene. So I sent out a missive to an assortment of locals, from musicians to promoters to CL’s own group of music-loving writers, and asked: What was your favorite local show/performance/music-related event/local music experience of 2010 and why? Read the wealth of responses I received below.

>>The fiddle-off at New World Brewery between Whiskey Gentry and Have Gun Will Travel [Feb. 4], where the winner was ultimately a harmonica. [Photo from show at right by Nicole Kibert.] T. Hampton Dorhman, CL contributor and head of Hampton Arts Management

>>Best "Holy shit! We really do have a local scene" moment: AntiWarpt Fest … As a 37-year-old native, I've been in and around the Bay area music scene for quite a while and I've been to a whole lot of local musical festivals and block parties. Be it planet alignment, whiskey intake, amazing music coming from any direction, or some combination of the three, I've never walked away from a night feeling so proud of what's happening here in this area. –Bryan Childs aka Autopsy IV,

>>Roger "Pretty Voices" Peterson put together an all-star band for the “Monsters of Rock” tribute [9/18 at the Local 662] and asked a bunch of singers from local groups (including me) to belt out their favorite AC/DC tune. Car Bomb Dave, Evil Don, The Semis' Billy Summer, Tailgunner Travis, Billy Scam and many more killed it for friends and strangers in a celebration of community and good old three-chord rock 'n' roll. It was quite possibly the most no-pressure fun I’ve had at a gig all year, and definitely a marvelous expression of scene solidarity. Plus, I finally got to caterwaul "Whole Lotta Rosie" – it's a lot easier when you're not playing guitar. –CL Music Team writer and local musician Scott Harrell

>>An August set by Sleepy Vikings at the Shuffleboard Courts in St. Petersburg – This place needs to have more shows! Great sound, experience, seating, vibe, BYOB … shuffleboards!No Clubs Mistress Anna Serena

>>Sons of Hippies was one of those bands I always wanted to see but never made a priority to do so. I now know the wait was worth it. I was hosting the New World Brewery stage for WMNF's Tropical Heatwave and keeping the crowd at bay while vocalist/guitarist Katherine Kelly set up her myriad pedals and effects machines. Kelly's voice is heavy with Floricana grit and attitude, her guitar playing heavy and commanding. Add Jonas Conales’ backup vocals and full attack on the drums to the mix, and I was in full-blown body-rocking ecstasy. Think the Breeders and B52s with hotter tempers, better sound effects and a little blues and grunge texture. Arielle Stevenson, CL contributor and host of WMNF’s Artful Dodgings Mondays.

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