Urban Explorer 4.0: The top local music sites

The Merry Andrews
Who runs it:
A 20-something trio of passionate but playful Bay area indie rock aficionados: Aly Carr (whom we've recruited as a contributor to our own music blog, Tampa Calling), Ashley Renee and Marc Karimi. They co-host a weekly internet radio show and a website that spotlights underground and indie bands with interviews, tour info, in-studio performances and MP3s. (Proof they don't take themselves too seriously: A "Merry Andrew" is an Old English synonym for clown.)
Why you need it:
If you want to know anything about up-and-coming indie rock and pop groups, this is the site for you. Though Aly, Ashley and Marc don't limit themselves to acts that are coming through town, you can count on finding something about said acts (and music clips) on the Merry Andrews site.

Southeast Music Alliance
Who runs it:
Joran Slane (aka Joran Oppelt), former leader of the band Auditorium and current promotions director for Creative Loafing.
Why you need it:
Formed in 2002 by a coalition of Bay area acts to advance the cause of local music, SMA's website includes dozens of links to band sites, a calendar of gigs, a venue resource guide, a photo gallery and the Smash Radio podcast, which showcases bands performing and being interviewed. The site is boosterish and informative.

Sean Daly's Pop Life blog
Who runs it:
Daly, pop music critic for the St. Petersburg Times, takes the "pop" in the title of his blog very seriously. No genuflections to arcane indie bands here. Daly writes about the superstars — their misadventures, their foibles, their cultural impact and (depending on the act) their music — in prose that is clever and often insightful.
Why you need it:
If consuming fresh snark about American Idol or reading a live blog about the latest big show at the St. Pete Times Forum are on your to-do list, don't miss Pop Life; if information and criticism about the local music scene is a concern, you're best to look elsewhere.

Aestheticized Presents, State Media, THX MGMT
Who runs them:
Aestheticized is owned and operated by longtime indie scene promoter and stalwart Jack Spatafora, who books shows at Crowbar but also works with State Theatre, Czar and New World Brewery. State Media (aka No Clubs Productions) is managed by area show-promo veterans Tony Rifugiato and Dave Hundley; State Media promotes and stages shows at State Theatre, Orpheum, The Ritz Ybor and, less frequently, Jannus Landing. And the newest to the scene, Joe D'Acunto and THX MGMT, has been bringing some noteworthy, taste-of-the-moment acts to Tampa venues like Crowbar, New World Brewery and Orpheum.
Why you need them:
These three are powerhouses when it comes to bringing the hottest up-and-coming Pitchfork.com-beloved indie and major label pop and rock acts to the Bay area's smaller (1,500 or less) venues. Anyone who considers themselves music followers should probably check their sites on a regular basis. As added bonuses, Aestheticized bills certain shows as "essential" and usually offers details as to why these shows should not be missed, while State Media hosts MP3s by all of its upcoming acts on its website.

Something Planet
Who runs it:
Three offbeat local dudes — David the Day, John J (John Murray) and Stuey B (Stuart Best) — record a weekly 90-minute talk radio-style podcast of "the latest and greatest about Something." Jokes, trivia and other nonsense is scattered amidst music and interviews.
Why you need it:
The site tends to feature local and regional bands and offers interesting and witty blog commentary in between the weekly podcasts. Something Planet is gearing up to celebrate its first anniversary this May with a rock show at Gasoline Alley, the "Something Planet Birthday Extravaganza #1," with local acts Rise of Saturn (featuring members of Soulfound and Weaksauce), Badda Skat and Geri X, as well as contests, prizes and a free compilation CD of acoustic performances by local artists who've been featured in their podcasts.

Who runs it:
Tampa-based monthly Reax Music Magazine has been around since 2006. The publisher is Joel Cook; Editor in Chief is former CL music critic Scott Harrell
Why you need it:
The site and the mag cover the music scene from a local, statewide and national perspective with a chatty, insider vibe. The loose assemblage of writers freely veers off into pop-culture commentary, arts critiques and lifestyle narratives. Reax hosts no fewer than 11 separate blogs, from Stephanie Bolling's "Do It For the Love of Music" to Scott Jenson' "Your Band Blows" to Harrell's "Dancing About Architecture" and "Step By Step."

Who runs it:
Bryan Childs, aka Autopsy IV. (Read a profile of Bryan Childs here.)

Smaller venue sites:
Jannus Landing
, Skipper's Smokehouse, State Theatre
Why you need them:
These are the Bay area's three most heavy-hitting venues, those that bring top-name talent to town on a regular basis and don't necessarily need an official promo group to publicize their shows; Jannus Landing and State Theatre work with Live Nation and Ticketmaster on most occasions, but Skipper's, for the most part, has been on the DIY bandwagon for so long that simply sending out weekly email blasts, publishing a calendar on its site, and getting WMNF behind some of its biggest or most noteworthy shows has kept the place going for more than 25 years.

Performing arts center sites:
Ruth Eckerd Hall, Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Mahaffey Theater, Palladium Theater
Why you need them:
These Web destinations offer complete event listings for their respective facilities, thumbnails about featured acts, general information and a means to buy tickets online.

Tampa Hip-Hop.com
Who runs it:
The site was formed in 2002 by local artists DJ Sandman, DJ Kramtronix and Phenam. The troika continues to run and maintain it.
Why you need it:
The site is the most authoritative source of information on the Tampa Bay hip-hop scene, including an extensive list of artist bios, links and MP3s; concert and club listings, news and an active message board. You walk away with the understanding that there's a whole lot of music being made by hip-hop acts in Tampa Bay, on the streets and in the clubs.

New Granada Presents/New Granada Records
Who runs it:
Keith Ulrey, a musician and local and regional music supporter and promoter.
Why you need it:
New Granada stages pretty much any local indie show you'll find in Tampa, and helps the bands to get the word out. New Granada also records anywhere from two to four DIY-style albums for these bands each year, and brings bigger acts to town to give the bands some additional exposure.

Mass media sites:
Tampa Tribune, St. Petersburg Times/tbt*, Tampa Bay Metromix
Why you need them:
The two major dailies provide listings, news, criticism, blogs and more, mostly from the national and international mainstream. Tbt*, the St. Petersburg Times-owned freebie, takes a more irreverent approach, albeit one that still falls within family guidelines. And Metromix, a national joint venture between publishers Tribune Co. and Gannett, has been inundating the countrywide market with events listings for the past few years, including here in Tampa.

Return to the Urban Explorer's Handbook 4.0

About The Authors

Eric Snider

Eric Snider is the dean of Bay area music critics. He started in the early 1980s as one of the founding members of Music magazine, a free bi-monthly. He was the pop music critic for the then-St. Petersburg Times from ‘87-’93. Snider was the music critic, arts editor and senior editor of Weekly Planet/Creative...
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