USF’s Bullstock to Host Local Performers Student Bands

The University of South Florida is ready to celebrate their most eventful week of the year, as its annual USF week began on Monday. USF week is a week-long celebration, headlined by the Bullstock music concert on Friday night.

“Bullstock is the biggest event USF has to offer,” Richard Scibetti , a coordinator at the University’s Center for Student Involvement who oversees Bullstock, said.

The event has hosted bands such as Panic! at the Disco, Young the Giant, Thirty Seconds to Mars, and Twenty One Pilots. This year, the organizers decided to do something different.

“This year we wanted more of a festival feel,” Scibetti said. “Where there is no big key headliner. There is a group of bands that have their different audiences.”

The performers at this years Bullstock are New Politics, Børns, and a package of bands featured in this years Vans Warped Tour. Those bands are Mayday Parade, The Maine, Reckless Serenade and Assuming We Survive.

The event also showcases some of USF’s talent as well. Athena Bressack, who oversees USF Week as a whole, said that this was her favorite part about Bullstock.

“The first two bands that open (Bullstock) are student bands,” Bressack said, “Earlier in March we had an event called Battle of the Bands that we have every year and there is a judge winner and a people’s choice winner. So both of those bands get to open up Bullstock and who knows? Maybe they’ll be headliners somewhere one day.”

Bullstock is expected to draw a crowd of over 5,000 people. The event kicks off at 5 p.m. in parking lot 22D at the USF Sun Dome.

Bullstock is free and open to the public.

Tampa park undergoes artistic renovation

Since 1979, Perry Harvey Sr. Park has been a staple in the Tampa Bay community. Named after the Bay’s first African-American councilman, the park has been a landmark for civil rights.

April 2 marked the grand opening of the park’s renovation. Various forms of artwork depicting civil rights leaders will be displayed throughout the park.

Photo by: Brian Fernandes

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Monday, March 21, Lara Alexander helps put the final touches on the art gallery at Perry Harvey Sr. Park, commemorating civil rights leaders.

Photo by: Brian Fernandes

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Michael Parker, the artist responsible for the renovation, labors under the sun. The commemoration took Parker a year to construct.

 

Photo by: Brian Fernandes

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Parker constructed a stone portrait of one of Tampa’s African-American pioneers, Georgette Gardner. Gardner was a principal of several African-American schools in the Bay area.

Photo by: Brian Fernandes

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Among other pieces of Parker’s work is this portrait of entertainer, Henry Joyner. Joyner established and owned the Tampa night club, Cotton Club.

Photo by: Brian Fernandes

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A portrait of Tampa’s Meacham School founder, Christina Meacham. For 40 years Meacham devoted her life to teaching children in Florida.

 

 

 

Dinosaurs in Motion

Gaming technology can open up a new realm of ideas and possibilities to those involved in gaming, computer engineering, and for other fields and occupations. MOSI, the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, is the prime example of its technology by bringing dinosaurs to life with levers, pulleys and the Sony PlayStation controllers in their new exhibit “Dinosaurs in Motion.” 

Grayson Kamm, the communications director of MOSI, explained the concept of the mechanics of the way the dinosaurs are manipulated. 

“Controls can get more complex and machines can get more complex,” said Kamm. “So you start with a lever moving the T-Rex all the way up to a PlayStation video game controller, and getting that to work to where you’re using these controls to run electric motors to coordinate everything is not an easy task. 

It’s an interesting experience to everybody who visits MOSI, especially the employees who work at the exhibit. Stephen Shuey, a MOSI employee, has witnessed the visitors’ experiences and expressions with how the PlayStation controller controls the dinosaurs. 

“It’s like manual and game control both are fun,” Shuey said. 

This exhibit expands visitors imagination of what game controllers can do besides controlling something in a video game. Things like controlling robots, a crane, or anything in the real world.  

“By getting to think about new ideas, fresh ways to do different things, that’s what it’s all about at MOSI because the possibilities down the line are going to be totally different and totally endless,” Kamm said.

 

Tampa Theatre Hosts True West With a Twist at USF

University of South Florida alumni returned to their old stomping grounds on Sunday for the Tampa Repertory Theatre’s production of “True West,” a comedy about two brothers arguing over a screenplay that could change their lives.

Screenplay director Megan Lamasney was excited to come back to her alma mater and showcase her work.

“I was an undergrad here in the theater department and it was cool to come back to home base and see where it started,” Lamasney said. “It was great bringing some exciting work here.”

Although Lamasney was excited for the project, actor Jack Holloway was rather nervous when asked to perform. Rather than sticking to one role, Holloway had to alternate roles between both brothers in the screenplay.

“I was terrified when Megan called me and told me about doing the roles and then switching every night,” Holloway said. “I had never done that before in terms of switching roles, so I was a bit nervous.”

Being back in the Theatre Arts Rehearsal Building brought back several memories for Holloway.

“It was wonderful, but it is strange because a part of the play is about coming back home and it feels like I don’t have to act that,” Holloway said. “It’s honestly surreal because you’re acting in a place where you grew up.”

On the other side of the play is actor Dan Granke, who is a performing arts professor at USF. Granke admitted that getting to perform and being able to teach students was a unique experience.

“This is home for me, this is where I work and it very much feels like home,” Granke said. “I have so many students who haven’t seen me perform, and it feels great to show them rather than just tell them.”

Granke worked constantly with Holloway to perfect the art of switching the roles each night and staying in character. While difficult, Granke enjoyed the challenge and said it comes with good parts.

“It’s a lot of fun because it’s a piece that has its hard moments, but it also has its comic moments. So getting to do both allowed you to feel like you’re not stuck to one role,” Granke said.

Granke moved to Tampa in 2013 to become a professor, meanwhile working with Holloway as an artistic director for the Tampa Shakespeare Festival.

“It was interesting because when I moved here three years ago, I was told that I have a doppelgänger,” Granke said. “We both love working together, Jack and I do comedy, stage combat and we’ve gotten close over the years.”

Aside from the great role and being able to perform in front of students, Granke said his first priority was and always is to entertain.

“I go out as an actor, I’m also a director and a fight director,” Granke said. He directs the combat onstage during scenes.“My goal is always to entertain people. I want to challenge people and just let people have a good time so they want to come back and see more.”

Granke holds theater performances close to his heart because in today’s age of digital streaming and technology, the art of live theater seems rare to him.

“Any time there’s a chance for live theater I think it’s great, and with everything becoming live streaming it’s kind of hard to appreciate it,” Granke said. “I just think theater is just one of those places where you can’t do it any other way.”

 

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Jack Holloway and Dan Granke alternated roles between Austin and Lee in the Tampa Reportory Theatre’s rendition of “True West”

Poetry fights against black on black crime

 

Andrea Little and Hector Angus are not your typical college students. They are owners of a grocery store, 1 Apple Grocery.

The University of South Florida students put their money together to help a low-income neighborhood thrive in this “food desert.”

Phil Scott has been president of Black on Black Rhyme Tampa for the last three years.  The poetry troop is the longest running in the Tampa area.

The troop assembles every third Friday of every month at Joffrey’s Coffee House. Their aim is to help the people in the poorer side of the community be able to express themselves in a healthy way.

When asked, “is it worth it,” Phil Scott answers, “Undoubtedly. From the neighborhood that I come from, it’s vital to our survival as a community, in order to have these outlets for us”.

Located at the corner of 8th and 15th street in downtown Ybor, Joffrey’s Coffee House hosts the Black on Black Rhyme shows every third Friday of each month.

Phil Scott is FAMU graduate, obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Science and Music. He is currently the band director at Van Buren Middle School.

He says, “I didn’t choose Black on Black, Black on Black really chose me.  It was kinda like they just welcomed me with open arms”.

Black on Black Rhyme Tampa show times are available on the Tampa Bay Poetry page on Facebook. Be sure to check out there show this Saturday evening at 8:30 p.m.

Keeping Sinatra alive, one performance at a time

Rick Michel laughs as he recalls a conversation with his mother before singing Sinatra’s “You Make Me Feel So Young.”

At the age of seven, already dabbling into the world of impersonations, he asked his mother which of his impressions was her favorite.

While first requesting Paul Newman, his mother responded with, “How ‘bout Frank Sinatra?”

Michel, a Las Vegas singer, attributed this moment to the start of his career.

“I went down to the basement and got one of the old 33 and one-third albums out, it was Nelson Riddle’s “Sound for Swinging Lovers”, and I took the first cut and I put it on my Panasonic Reel to Reel that I got for my bar mitzvah,” Michel said in between songs at the Largo Cultural Center’s Tonne Playhouse. “Next thing you know, I’m doing Frank Sinatra.”

Michel has been an impersonator for more than 30 years, first as a stand-up comedian and now as a musician. Michel has had the opportunity to share the stage with many successful 1960’s and ‘70’s celebrities; including Rich Little, Mickey Rooney, John Byner and Sherman Hemsley.

“Forever Sinatra: A Tribute to Frank Sinatra” is different from the other comedic acts in his repertoire.  He doesn’t pretend to be Sinatra, but rather pays tribute to his idol’s long and wonderful career.

“Nobody can fill his shoes, that’s why I call it an interpretation not an impersonation,” Michel said. “I’m emotionally drained after every show.”

Michel has had Frank Sinatra, President Gerald Ford, Tony Curtis, Bob Hope and Steve Allen in his audience. Meeting Frank Sinatra, he said, was the height of his career.

“There are a lot of moments where I have literally pinched myself,” Michel said. “His aura, I mean standing next to him I can see why women get weak at the knees.”

Michel’s goal is to touch upon all aspects of Sinatra’s life by choosing a variety of music that best represents his career.

In Sunday’s matinee performance, the audience was treated to Sinatra’s greatest hits, including “I’ve Got the World on a String,” “Lady is a Tramp,” “The Way You Look Tonight,” “Fly Me to the Moon,” “Strangers in the Night,” and “New York, New York.

Almost every seat, in the Tonne Playhouse’s 466 seats, was sold as the audience routinely interrupted the performance with applause.

“It’s just like Ol’ Blue Eyes,” said B.A. Rand Marsters, a Canadian painter and musician in the audience. “I’m a big Sinatra fan and he does him justice.”

The audience responded especially well to the chemistry between Michel and the three other members of his band: Ray Von Rotz on Drums, Mark Neuenschwander on Bass and Stan Collins on the Piano. Michel doesn’t travel with a band, instead he picks up local musicians in the city where he is performing.

“It’s too expensive to travel with a band,” said Leslie Gregory, Michel’s wife of nine years. “You play so many cities, you know people and who contracts bands.”

The performance did not miss a beat once, in fact, the four of them were chatting on stage like old friends throughout most of the show.

“When you’re pros, it makes it easy,” Michel said.

Michel loves being able to bring the audience to a different time. Hearing people tell him if they close their eyes it’s like Sinatra was there is one of his favorite parts. He couldn’t imagine another career.

“It’s the music, it’s the passion, it’s the words,” Michel said. “I can feel the music through my soul.”

 

 

Photo gallery: Fun in the Sunset at Pier 60

The Sunset at Pier 60 Daily Festival is located at Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach. It is a weather permitting event that is every day from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. It starts two hours before the sun sets and lasts two hours after the sunset fades away.

At this event, skilled crafters and artisans come together to display their handmade crafts and entertainers perform their latest tricks for the public to watch. The Sunset Celebration Festival started on March 17th, 1995 and in 2015 the festival celebrated their 20th Anniversary.

Tarpon Springs High School Marching Band achieves success

Tarpon Springs High School’s marching band program is a National Pilot Program that focuses on building leadership skills through the arts. The marching band has won many state and national competitions as well as a world competition. Two years ago, the marching band had the honor to march in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Poetry highlight of USF German Day

This year’s German Day theme was “25 Years of German Unity.” The event was held on Oct. 23rd and was sponsored by the German Embassy in D.C.  The German Section at USF and the German Culture Club presented the event, which consisted of a poetry slam and a poster contest. There were also free refreshments, raffle prizes and other items given away. 

Local Artists Showcase Talent at Don’t Stop St. Petersburg

Don’t Stop St. Petersburg just came back for the event’s third year in the Arts District of downtown. Over 40 local and regional musicians came out to play on the streets showcasing some of the raw talent this city holds.

The event was crowded with people checking out all of the musicians, artists and other vendors that volunteered for the event. There was a wide variety of art styles and food, representing the artistic diversity in St. Pete. The event served as a great venue for bringing the community together for the day.

Several successful bands such as Underoath and Sleepwave have come out of St. Pete, and events like this are a great way for local musicians to get noticed and supported. The same thing goes for the other vendors that are hoping to grow their businesses.

Don’t Stop St. Petersburg was a great success, and there is no doubt that we will be seeing it come back again next year.

Students Escape Stress at USF Botanical Gardens

Located just steps from some of the most popular spots on the University of South Florida campus lies a hidden gem, the USF Botanical Gardens.

From whimsical plant displays and breathtaking views of the water to educational facilities, the gardens have been offering a wide variety of services to USF students for over three decades.

The gardens were established in 1969 and were used primarily as a research and education facility. Throughout the 1970’s the biology department was the only educational group to conduct research within the gardens.

It wasn’t until the mid-1980’s that the area was expanded, incorporating the palm garden, wetland forest and many of the other displays seen today. During this expansion period university staff aimed to create an area that all students could use. Garden Director Laurie Walker says that today almost every college utilizes the space.

“We have classes from the college of fine arts, arts and sciences and engineering,” Walker said.

However, as the gates opened to the public in the 1990’s the gardens shifted to incorporate aspects of relaxation and recreation.

“We also have picnic tables, benches, beautiful places to sit and relax and study or have lunch drawing in the public for a unique look at Florida’s natural beauty,” Walker said.

University of South Florida sophomore Mack Galdames says it is the perfect place for him to take a break from the stress of school work.

“I usually come out here by the lake and sometimes just stare or I’ll read a book or play guitar,” Galdames said. “It’s just a wonderful peaceful place. It’s isolated and it’s not isolated, it’s got a balance to it.”

Florida Studio Theatre Improv brings excitement to Sarasota

If there’s one thing that you can find an abundance of at Florida Studio Theatre Improv, it’s laughter. Florida Studio Theatre  is located in downtown Sarasota off Palm Avenue. The theatre features musicals, plays, improv and a full restaurant and bar.

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The FST Improv troupe has a new show every Saturday night.   This season’s show is called Out of Bounds. It incorporates two teams that compete for points given by the audience. The teams can range from as little as two cast members to as many as four. The winning team receives a trophy they get to keep until next week’s show where they compete all over again.

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One of the most important aspects of improv is rehearsal. The entire troupe gathers at 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays to practice improv games and discuss how to improve their acting.  Darryl Knapp is a performer for FST Improv.

“I think rehearsal is very important because it is good for camaraderie for one thing, to get to know other players,” said Knapp.

Rehearsal

Normally one wouldn’t think of preparation as something that goes into a show that is thought up on the spot. However Chris Friday, who also performs with FST Improv, feels strongly that it is preparation is key.

“It’s very important. We don’t rehearse what we’re going to do in the shows as far as these are the lines we’re going to use or any of those kinds of things. Because we’re really creating the show with the audience in the moment. But you rehearse the technique of the game and part of that rehearsal and part of what makes an improve show go so well is playing with people,” said Friday.

FST Improv also features piano accompaniment. Not all improv troupes have a pianist to accompany the scenes, so FST makes use of the piano to enhance the shows. Pianist Hunter Brown brings his unique skills to the table.

“I’ve been playing piano since I was 8 years old. And I was like ‘yeah sure’ so I ended up playing a little diddy from there, for some reason they had enough faith in me to be the accompanist for this and I had no idea what to get into. But I was just like ‘yeah sure I’ll do it’. And from there I guess it ended up turning out really well cause I feel like my talents suit improve pretty well,” said Brown.

Hunter Brown

The Florida Studio Theatre tries to get as much audience participation as possible. They lay out suggestion cards on the tables before the performance that the audience can fill out. The scenes are then used in the shows.

Scenes from a Can

Improv is a popular thing, not only in the Tampa area but also around the country. Edith Jones is an audience member for one of the Out of Bounds shows.

“I love improv. But I’ve never been to it in Sarasota so I thought it would be fun to see how it is. I’m looking forward to it,” said Jones.

There is no doubt that when you go to an FST show, you’ll have a great time.

 

Festa Italiana spreads Italian culture

 

Festa Italiana was hosted in Ybor City for the 18th year with the help of Joe Capitano Jr. The festival, celebrating Italian culture in Centennial Park, took place Thursday afternoon through Sunday afternoon.

The celebration of Italian culture allows the community to come together to share the culture and support local businesses, while raising funds for the Italian Club of Tampa.

“It brings awareness to Ybor,” Alice Mueller, the Italian Club manager said. “Sometimes there’s a negative connotation attached to Ybor City, but really it’s a great place to come.”

The Italian Club begins preparing for the event in August each year and continues working up until the event takes place in April.

Over 15 thousand people attended each day. Every day offers unique events to draw in crowds.

The annual Bocce Ball tournament takes place Saturday morning, while Sunday morning kicks off with a Catholic mass in the Italian Club.

Following mass, Centennial Park opens up to the public where over 100 food and beverage vendors line up along the street to sell their unique dishes and drinks.

“It’s really a family event,” Gilda Ferlita Capitano, President of the Italian Club, said.

Though family is near to many Italian’s hearts, food is a close second.

“Food, Italian food, a bunch of other Italians they get it,” Andrea Diaz, a festival attendee said.  “When they see loud voices, big gestures, it’s welcomed.”

Gilda Capitano couldn’t be prouder of her son Joe Capitano Jr. who works hard to ensure this event lives on.

“Seeing so many people together, it’s really just gratifying,” Gilda Capitano said.

 

Saturday Night Live, Donald Trump creates controversy

Over the years, Saturday Night Live has been involved in many racism scandals over its four decades on the air. The award-winning sketch series is under fire again after they announced that presidential candidate Donald Trump, who is known for his recent racist comments, will be hosting the show Nov. 7.

The announcement caused people to question whether the show and its network, NBC, truly believes in the racial stereotypes they seem to perpetuate, or if it’s just a ratings game.

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Last year, Saturday Night Live came under fire for their race issues after their decision to hire six white actors stirred up conversation about the lack of diversity in the show’s cast. At the time, there were no black women and only two black men on the show.

As pointed out by National Public Radio, the lack of diversity in the cast is representative of the bigger picture.

“It’s true that talented performers can and should be allowed to play characters of different ethnicities and cultures. But there’s a long history in American entertainment of locking out talented performers of color by letting white entertainers play racial and ethnic minorities. In the 21st century, it would be nice to see a sketch comedy show with 16 cast members find a way to allow a Latino or black performer to play such characters, at least occasionally.”

After people began noticing Saturday Night Live’s exclusion of black women, producers decided to hold an audition with a concentration on minority women in early 2014. They hired two female, African-American writers, LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

During this same time period, they also hired another African- American woman, Sasheer Zamata, as an on-stage performer and promoted a young black man, Michael Che, to a more important role as the co-anchor on their famous Weekend Update segment.

With all of the racially diverse additions to Saturday Night Live, one might think that would be the end of their racial insensitivity, but their decision to have presidential candidate Donald Trump host the show on Nov. 7 has put them under fire yet again.

According to a recent NPR article, there could be an ulterior motive behind the decision:

“Donald Trump’s upcoming appearance hosting SNL has drawn the ire of Latino groups, who note the show is featuring someone who has made bigoted comments about Mexican immigrants at a time when there are no Latino cast members on the program. This isn’t a new problem for SNL; there have only been two Latino members in the show’s 40-year history.

Trump’s return to the SNL hosting gig comes months after NBC dumped the GOP front-runner as host of its Celebrity Apprentice series and dropped participation in his Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants. The reason, according to a statement from NBC in July: ‘derogatory statements by Trump regarding immigrants.’

Before Trump’s SNL hosting gig, he’ll appear in a town hall Monday on NBC hosted byToday show anchor Matt Lauer. There’s a sense here that NBC is mending fences with its onetime star; given his status as GOP front-runner and media magnet, ratings and relevance seemed to have, um, trumped concerns about any past ‘derogatory statements.'”

This poses the question: Are the makers of Saturday Night Live showing racial prejudice or are ratings and fame more important than issues of race?

 

USF School of Music Student is Nominated for GRAMMY Award

Jose Ruiz may seem like your average student at the University of South Florida, but it turns out, there is a little more behind the music major than meets the eye.

“He is actually the first student from USF to be nominated for any sort of GRAMMY,” Dr. McCormick, a USF professor who has worked with Ruiz for over 20 years, said.

At just 28-years-old, Ruiz has been nominated to win a Latin GRAMMY in the category of Best Latin Jazz Album.

“I first met Jose when he was 8. He was in the third grade. He’s always been very diversified in his musical interests,” McCormick said.

“Going in this project, it was never about me. I wanted to be inclusive and invite my students as well and even my dad, my dad who has been there for me this whole time. He’s nominated now because he was one of the producers, you know, of the album,” Ruiz said.

Jose earned his Bachelors in Music Studies at USF. After travelling to the University of Miami for his Master’s Degree, he returned to USF to teach students while also earning his Ph.D. in Music Education.

“Dr. McCormick, that’s her name. She’s responsible for teaching me how to be an expressive player through an instrument,” Ruiz said. “And my father is responsible for cultivating my innate ability to adapt to different musical settings and to improvise and to pick things up by ear.”

The 2015 Latin GRAMMY’S will be held this November in Las Vegas.

 

MOSI plans new exhibit

 

 

The Tampa Museum of Science and Industry is working on adding a new major exhibit that is scheduled to be up and running sometime this year.

“We’re not quite ready to reveal any secrets just yet,” said Megan Haskins, a member of MOSI Marketing and Communications, “but let’s just say we have some very exciting things coming, hopefully as early as the fall, so stand by.”

MOSI used to have a history of hosting traveling exhibits, such as a Titanic exhibit or Bodies, but in recent years the museum staff has decided to halt those and instead create their own new exhibits.

“We’ve decided to take an internal look at our core experience,” said Tanya Vomaka, Vice President of Guest Experience and Marketing. “We’ve been working very hard on updating our current visitor experience.”

While the museum staff has been very quiet about their new exhibit, they have said it has something to do with “looking to the future.”

The last major new addition to the museum was the inclusion of a 3-D printer exhibit, where visitors can watch the printer in action and see some of its creations.

The entertainment and education the museum provides makes it popular with families, getting roughly 500,000 to 800,000 guests per year, despite the big theme parks nearby.

MOSI admission is only a little over $20, and as a non-profit organization, ticket prices help to fund summer camp programs, MOSI’s own education classes and various scholarships.

Salsaween, the best of two worlds

 

Greg McBride had never been to an event quite like the Latin American Student Association’s Salsaween Halloween celebration on Wednesday evening.

McBride, a junior studying international business at USF Sarasota-Manatee, was visiting his friends at USF Tampa, and they decided to go to the event hosted in the Marshall Student Center Ballroom. He said he heard about the event from one of his friends and decided it would be a cool event to go to.

“I’m not in the club and neither are any of my friends,” McBride said. “But all of us are either from Peru or Venezuela so we know Spanish culture.”

Salsa music coming from the event in the ballroom could be heard upon entering the MSC. The lights were dim and there were Halloween decorations all around the room including a giant blow-up arch adorned with skulls in the entryway. There were balloons, tables with decorations and even food like chips and salsa and Cuban sandwiches. One of McBride’s favorite activities at the event was the photo booth.

“I went in with all my friends a bunch of times. There were a lot of props to choose from and I really liked the big crazy glasses and the hats,” McBride said. “I’ll go to any event that has a photo booth and free food.”

At one point during the evening there was a break from salsa music, and a student band came up and played a few popular songs. The dancing didn’t stop though. The crowd of about 150 people loved the music and seemed to enjoy it just as much as the Spanish music.

There was also a costume contest. Students were wearing everything from super hero costumes, to elegant dresses, to traditional salsa dancing outfits. Some students, like McBride and his friends, weren’t wearing costumes at all.

“I don’t really dress up,” he said. “I’m going to another Halloween event on Friday and I’m not wearing a costume for that either.”

Even though Salsaween was first and foremost a Halloween event, students and club members were able to come together and enjoy an evening of music, dancing, food and friends. It is one of the club’s most anticipated events each year.

“I’ve had a lot of fun here so far and I would want to go to another event hosted by the club,” McBride said. “And I loved being able to come with my friends and meet other people who appreciate Spanish culture.”

 

Local band takes Tampa by storm

A local band, The Applebutter Express, is drawing in crowds from all over the bay area. Kyle and Shannon Biss started the band as a vocal duo back in 2004 when they met in high school before getting married in 2011. Since then, they added Joe Trivette as a fiddle player and Matt Desear as the bassist to complete the band.

“I always knew that Shannon could sing because she was in chorus, but she wanted nothing to do with it at first,” Kyle said. “She didn’t want to sing in front of a bunch of people. Once I finally got her up there the first time, she was fine and I realized we had this chemistry on stage together.”

The Applebutter Express has a unique sound given to their use of stringed-instruments like the ukulele played by Kyle. Their folk-like, bluegrass style is more uplifting than most music played today. What first started as a hobby for the band, has led to performances all throughout Florida and even to other states for festivals such as Bonnaroo.

“We would start to go to local festivals and campsites, walk around and perform for people around there by singing and playing around,” Shannon said. “We didn’t think of doing anything professional yet. We decided one night after so many positive responses from people that maybe we can do something with this. That was enough encouragement to go to open mics and tryout for local gigs and now it’s a whole thing.”

The band members do not focus on a certain niche when it comes to their audience and their eclectic music has drawn in a variety of listeners from children to seniors. 

“What’s really funny to me is that kids just take to us,” Shannon said. “I guess that we are good dancing music for kids. Really we get crowds of all ages because we do a lot of 60s and 70s covers and that kind of thing. That’s the music that we are really into, Allman Brothers and Grateful Dead, so we get a lot of older fans from that.  But we get a little bit of everybody.  A lot of people you wouldn’t expect.”

The Applebutter Express already released two CDs and plans to have more. Their recently signed publishing deal and featured song “Hey, my brotha”  in Ron Howard’s film “The Good Lie” foreshadows they have nothing but a successful future to look forward to for years to come.

 

 

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In ambitious exhibit, Tampa Museum of Art showcases works by USF’s Graphicstudio

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Todd Smith is changing the face of art exhibits in the Tampa Bay area.

The Tampa Museum of Art executive director has put together countless art exhibits for the museum since he started his position in 2008.

Smith has partnered with the University of South Florida to hold an exhibition in the Tampa Museum of Art titled “Graphicstudio: Uncommon Practice at USF.

“We’ve brought all of our staffs together to collaborate and put together this show, which is the largest ever to look at the history of graphic studio,” Smith said.

The exhibit, one of the largest that the Tampa Museum of Art has seen, has been a success.

“There was a huge turnout for both artists and appreciators of art,” Smith said.

One was USF College of Visual Arts alumni Lindsey Batz.

“Being in Tampa is great opportunity,  having the Tampa Museum of Art so close,” Batz said. “It will kind of bring you back to what you have going on in school as far as, you know, having your professor’s work, having your peer’s work. Everything you see kind of brings out a new little piece.”

USF Japanese Club welcomes spring with Haru Matsuri Festival

Spring is a big deal in Japan.  The cherry blossom represents the changing of the season to the people, and Haru Matsuri is the festival that ushers in the warmer weather.

The Japanese Club at USF puts on its own version of Haru Matsuri to educate students more about the culture.

Lisa Ton is one of the senior members.

“Here, we celebrate spring by presenting our own spring festival,” Ton said. “We have Japanese food, games and performances, and we just try to bring a slice of Japanese spring to USF.”

The club features organizations such as the USF Judo and Aikido clubs at the festival. They also provide experts to talk about traditional and new art forms, dances, cuisines and practices that are emerging in Japan.

One of these experts is Seth Cole, a collector of Japanese War memorabilia from World War II.

“I love sharing history of people,” Cole said. “I believe when you can touch history hands-on, it reinforces the stories of our grandfathers. It makes it a little more real.”

Even as a non-Japanese member of the club, Cole has felt more than welcome every time he presents his collection or attends a meeting.

“I’ve been welcomed with open arms and have made some truly incredible friendships,” he said.

Japanese Club festivals like Haru Matsuri build a bridge for students to learn about a culture that may be very far and foreign for them.  It also provides a forum for Japanese students to interact with and relate to students of different cultures.