What we need more of in Tampa Bay’s music scene …

In my three solid years of covering the Tampa Bay music scene, I’m experiencing what seems to be a slowdown. I hope I’m wrong. By all means, prove it to me.

I look on MySpace, I ask promoters — what are the new acts you recommend?

I’m seeing more shoulder shrugging.

Come on people. Wake up. Motivate. It’s gotten too expensive to go to concerts at arenas. We need quality local music shows. I don’t think there could be a more opportune time to promote our talent-rich scene to a wider audience.

Here are some requests, a wishlist of sorts:

* Form a band we can dance to (please — that is not a jam band). Dumbwaiters, for all intents and purposes, has disbanded. They were the last rock act I really loved to shake it too. Orlando’s got some groovealicious stuff — Legendary JC’s, and then there’s G-ville’s Umoja Orchestra and others. Then there was the Gainesville-turned-Athens band Velveteen Pink. Tampa needs a good dance party band to energize a Saturday night crowd.

* No more singer-songwriters and Americana acts — not that there’s anything wrong with those! We’re just saturated with ’em, that’s all.

* Better sound. Adapt the appropriate volume to the venue. I hate going to a small venue and hearing loud crunchy shit. Or going to a bigger one and hearing sorority chick chatter above the bands. If folks don’t have a way to converse outside the main concert perimeter, lower the volume a bit. Not everyone at shows is a musician who’s lost half of his or her hearing.

* Afternoon, earlier shows on the weekends at non-bar venues as well as drinkin’ spots. I’ve talked to JoEllen at the Globe and other people about the possiblity of putting on daytime shows. Pickers and grinners Pickford Sundries recently played to a Sunday happy hour crowd at New World. Heard good things about that gig.

* More benefits = opportunities for different types of events and shows. I think if local acts get behind a cause and raise money, they can get into beach/park/public places they might not otherwise. Maybe? Let’s consult with BAAMO or Southeast Music Alliance and see what they think.

* More adventurous genre-crossing. Combining electronics and rock and melodic rock, so we can dance and scream and ponder and whatnot — all at the same time. There’s been too much niche-ifiyin’. I love that we have instrumental, post rock bands, and we have garage rock and we have synth pop, noise acts, punk bands, country-rootsy acts, etc. Now let’s take those elements, throw them in a hat and see what we can come up with.

A sidenote: I heard Lounge Laura Taylor play an old Let’s Active song (Every Word Means No) on her Wednesday night radio show (on 88.5 FM) and thought to myself, wow, no one really creates earthy, rootsy pop while simultaneously veering away from traditional styles like Let’s Active did back in the 80s. No wonder front man Mitch Easter was such an awesome mastermind behind early REM. Easter sounded like a boyish nerd from the California suburbs, not the backwaters of Georgia. He was quirky and offbeat. His vocal style might be endearing to some, painful to others, but it was different and so were his licks and arrangements. We just don’t celebrate that sort of different-ness as much anymore.

Ostensibly we’re impervious to niche standards, but even local acts more and more are influenced by expectations.

Please start thinking outside the genre checkbox and try something new.

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9 thoughts on “What we need more of in Tampa Bay’s music scene …

  1. Brahm Bones is a good example of taking American music by the roots and transplanting it in interesting and unfamiliar gardens. Would like to see ’em play out more.

  2. Jules!!! so f-ing glad to see this. thanks for getting this going… as you know how desperately Tampa Bay needs this. i see GREAT things in yr blogging future!!! hope to see you soon! plur, j

  3. I don’t think the worry is too many acts in one niche. The open market will sort that out (like the Bay area did with hardcore in the late 80’s).

    What I worry is not enough venues and promoters to attract diverse national and regional acts. This in turn gives local acts opening slot opportunities and exposure to the community. For a healthy scene we need money to trickle up and down, from fanst to venues and from promoters to bands. What does help is Orlando has blown up awith Gainesville and Miami slowly growing as well. We need national bookers to look at a “Florida swing” when scheduling, touching all the “necessary” bases, which should include the Bay area.

    Sweet blog. Keep it up. I’d be happy to repost to our site.

    Mike Rabinowitz
    Head Writer
    REAX Music Magazine
    miker@reaxmusic.com
    reaxmusic.com

  4. well put julie. but don’t discount dumbasses… err..dumbwaiters just yet! old shit attracts old flies and freshly dead horses attract culture vultures and maggots. thusly we get new shit. am i right or am i right?

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