Response from 'The assholes at Creative Loafing'

Keith Ulrey, who helms Tampa indie label New Granada Records and is a member of the local band Zillionaire, recently sent a missive that began: "To the assholes at Creative Loafing." In it, he criticized my music coverage, particularly my local music coverage. He also pointed out an error in my write-up of the New Granada band the Candy Bars and my mistake regarding a mix-up between the two Zillionaire bands registered on MySpace (one is based in Rhode Island, the other is Ulrey’s.)

The Candy Bars error was corrected online as soon as Ulrey contacted me. Incidentally, The Candy Bars entry has also been updated (as of Sun., July 22) with a statement sent to me from their former cellist Melissa Grady (formerly Melissa Castellano).  Here’s the correction that’s running regarding my foolish Zillionaire mistake: “A Music Week entry in the July 18-24 edition of Creative Loafing incorrectly stated that the Rhode Island band Zillionaire would be opening for Richard Buckner Fri., July 20, at New World Brewery in Ybor City. Zillionaire, of Tampa, is the one scheduled to perform.”

My goal is to be accurate. Period. But mistakes do happen. The only thing I can ask is for people to alert me of them. Errors will be corrected as soon as possible.

Ulrey also questioned my qualifications. I started as staff writer/music critic at Creative Loafing in February. Before that I was music writer for Weekly Planet Sarasota, correspondent for the St. Petersburg Times and Sarasota Herald-Tribune as well as staff writer/music critic for the Bradenton Herald, where my music stories ran in publications such as the Chicago Tribune, Houston Chronicle and Denver Post. I have also written for national magazines such as the alt-country tome No Depression. My local coverage began in 2001 while I was at the University of South Florida Tampa campus editing The Oracle’s Off Limits entertainment section.

Since returning to Tampa after a four-year hiatus, I have made a concerted effort to immerse myself in the local original music scene. Admittedly, I still have a ways to go before I’m familiar with each and every one of the myriad bands that enrich the area. It should also be noted that a significant part of my job is staying abreast of the national scene, especially indie buzz bands coming to town like Bloc Party, Silversun Pickups, Dr. Dog and Deerhoof, all of which I interviewed. Same goes for alternative rock icon Les Claypool and the phoner I scored with Little Richard, the hippest legend in rock ’n’ roll.

Music Week (which is continued here), our two-page installment dedicated to upcoming shows, is rife with write-ups of local bands. For instance, 21 of the 26 entries in the July 18 edition include items about Tampa Bay and Sarasota bands.

Two of my past three music features have been profiles of Tampa Bay acts (Car Bomb Driver, July 11; Steve Connelly, July 4). In addition to the Car Bomb and Connelly pieces, I have done features on area luminaries like Geri X and Military Junior. Our music issue, which was published April 11, included profiles of the “Top 10 Women Musicians in Tampa Bay.”

I also have written numerous in-depth concert reviews of local acts including the Americana Fest at Skipper’s Smokehouse (July 18); Summer Jam III at Crowbar and New World Brewery (June 27); hardcore Tampa rapper Jersey at Crowbar (June 20); and SMAsh 8: A benefit for SMAsh Radio at The Garage (March 28), among others.

Finally, every week in our Spins section I review a CD released by a local band. Tampa’s proggy, mostly instrumental quintet Red Room Cinema earned a three of out five star review in the July 18 issue.

Another repository for local music info and commentary is my Creative Loafing sanctioned music blog that can be found at A recent post (“Jannus Landing: Too good for tribute shows," July 19), argues that St. Pete’s most venerable venue is selling itself short by booking acts like the AC/DC Tribute Show — Highway to Heel, which arrives Sept. 8.

Incidentally, heaping praise on every local band in town, as is the case with a couple other area publications, is not what is expected of me from my editors. Our goal is to offer readers thoughtful criticism that will both steer potential concertgoers in the right direction, and maybe, for those musicians open to criticism, inspire the local talent to strive even harder to perhaps one day make Tampa known nationally for something other than our infamous death metal scene.

I greatly appreciate feedback. Even more so when I make a factual error so I can correct it immediately. Keep in mind, though, certain responses only undermine the overall message.

“Fuck you Creative Loafing,” concludes Ulrey. “You can take a shit and eat it.”

All I can say is no one here at Creative Loafing will be doing anything of the sort. But we appreciate the fact that Ulrey cares enough about this publication that it inspired such a strong response.

Here's Events Editor Leilani Polk's response to Ulrey's claim that his New Granada Presents press releases arrive before deadline but then are ignored:

I'm very sorry you're upset. However, there seems to be some confusion regarding what happened in regards to you sending your show info to the paper on time.

A few months ago, I had a conversation with Phil Benito in which he told me that you (New Granada Presents) were unhappy that your shows weren't making it into the paper. Because I personally receive all the event info that's submitted via the website, I was quite familiar with you as I'd consistently received your info after our deadlines. (FYI: This was before my email address was added to your mailing group.)

I gave my business card to Benito and told him to tell you to email your shows to me directly, and that's when I started getting direct emails from you. I've mostly received your show info on time ever since, and if you looked at the Soundboard Section of the paper, you'd find that your show info was included.

Music Week listings are compiled at the discretion of our music writer, and at no time did I make any guarantees that yours would appear in this part of the paper. I can guarantee that when you send your show info on time, it will always appear in our Soundboard listings.

Feel free to email me at [email protected] or call me with any questions at 813-739-4800.