What was it about the inaugural Gasparilla Music Festival that made it feel like such a triumph? Maybe it was the way everything fell into place so effortlessly, more than 6,000 locals showing up to enjoy a grassroots endeavor at a scenic but underused site in downtown Tampa, and being treated to pristine weather, an easy-to-navigate site, a fine multi-stage lineup of live music that ran as scheduled and with little overlap, a range of succulent eats and thirst-quenching treats, and, most importantly, plenty of clean bathrooms (toilets and Port-O-Johns). But more than anything, it was the laid-back atmosphere and the general sense of community and well-being that seemed to permeate; we were all in the right place, at the right time, under the bright rays of the Florida sunshine, sharing a special moment of Tampa music history. I left with fond memories, renewed feelings of appreciation and pride for the city, and anticipation about what the next year would bring.
This Saturday’s second annual GMF is gearing up to be even better than its predecessor, growing from three to four stages and boasting a bombastic, genre-spanning bill — 10 solid national acts supported by an array of local and Florida-bred talent. Among the day’s musical highlights are free-spirited party vibin’ Ozomatli, an LA-bred septet who've been plying their vibrant bouncing blend of rock, hip-hop, reggae, funk and Latin music (cumbia, salsa, calypso, jazz, merengue) for the past 18 years. Kid-friendly incarnation, Ozokidz, maintains the trademark Ozo aesthetic but their songs discusse youth-oriented topics like spelling, keeping fit, skateboarding, fighting germs, going to the movies and chasing a “Moose on the Loose,” and leaves plenty of opportunities for sing-a-longs. Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears bring a spirited howling namesake and tight, brass-fused instrumentals encompassing blues, funk and a mix of ’70s psychedelic soul and the high-octane revue-style sounds of James Brown. L.A.’s hard-buzzing indie darlings Best Coast (musicians Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno) have earned all manner of acclaim for their two surf-washed garage-pop LPs, 2010’s Crazy for You and 2012 California-themed follow-up The Only Place, and will likely play cuts from both. A third act hailing from L.A., Lord Huron, uplifts with a mix of vast, pastoral folk pop dreaminess and indie rock drive-and-dazzle, the quintet’s instrumentals marked by polyrhythmic beats, percussive flourishes, pliable Afro-flavored guitar lines, and sweet vocal harmonies and choruses. And finally, New Orleans funk fathers The Meters break down into a smaller sub-group — drummer Zigaboo Modeliste, guitarist Leo Nocentelli and bassist/singer George Porter Jr. — to perform as The Meter Men with special guest maestro of the ivories, Phish’s Page McConnell. The lineup played a run of shows in New England last fall, and their setlist was comprised primarily of 1960s vintage Meters numbers. The quartet closes GMF, and I can guarantee an after-dark dance party.
The forecast calls for a perfect day of clear skies, cool breezes and highs in the 70s, and more than 20 high-quality local eateries, food trucks and beverage purveyors will be represented (including Cigar City Brewing, The Refinery, and Tun-du-ree). A full-scale Children’s Festival from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. features family-friendly performances, programming and activities; an exhibit of images, Tampa Bay Rocks: Four Decades of Rock and Roll Photography, shows select shots from the Tampa Bay Times photo archive; and there's even a green initiative to offset the fest’s carbon emissions.
Overall, it’s looking to be another fine day. What are you waiting for? Go get your tickets already …
Tyler- I can't believe how talented of a writer you are. This article was beautifully…
Great interview! Give the interviewer a full time job! He's great!
The DJ was actually The Castle's very own DJ Tom Gold :)
Fabulous review Gabe! Too bad I missed it.