Since 2010, Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park has held a “Rock the Park” monthly concert series that invites local bands, up-and-coming artists and vendors to come together and spend a relaxing evening with the community.
Held in the evenings on the first Thursday of every month, guests can sit in the amphitheater and enjoy the free and dog-friendly event with half a dozen decorated pop-up shops and local ska, alternative, or rock bands who hope to gain exposure.
First-time performer Shane Schuck, whose stage name is Pajamas, was thrilled to be able to play a set for his friends and new fans right in his own backyard.
“My buddy, Joe, does some of the promoting here,” the Clearwater resident said. “He just offered it to me a couple months back and it sounded like an awesome opportunity.”
One new business in particular was extremely excited to promote their brand at the concert. “Whatever Pops,” an ice pop-stand-turned-storefront, was selling organic ice pops to the audience.
“The Popsicles have natural ingredients with no added sugar,” employee Anthony Licary said. “Even the ingredients like the teas and fruit are locally grown in Tampa.”
The annual Straz Live! in the Park was held this past Sunday at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.
It was a picturesque scene, as thousands gathered to listen to opera and Broadway pieces, selected from the upcoming season at the Straz Center. Children played in the park while parents and other patrons of musical theater enjoyed a warm afternoon of music.
The show opened with an opera program and transitioned to Broadway after a brief intermission. Pieces from Charles Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet, La Cenerentola, Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca were performed during the opera section, while selections from Wicked, Cabaret and Motown: The Musical highlighted the Broadway section.
“We’re here to show you that opera is not scary, it’s a lot of fun,” said the Managing Director of the Opera Tampa, Robin Stamper. “We give you every reason to come to the opera when you come to the Straz Live.”
University of South Florida student Ryan Haft had to agree. He missed the opera section, but commented, “I wasn’t planning on going and seeing anything, but after hearing the girl from Wicked, I might want to go see that.”
It might be too late to see this year’s Straz Live! in the Park but mark your calendars now for the first Sunday, next November. It’s not an event you want to miss.
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.
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.
34th Annual John’s Pass Seafood Festival in Madeira Beach, Florida is a free event filled with activity. The weekend long festival features live music, craft vendors, and more seafood than you can eat. This past Friday ended with an adult costume contest hosted by DJ Infinite Skillz. The event continues throughout the weekend featuring local bands Pirate Flag headlining on Saturday and Resinated closing out the evening on Sunday.
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 soundgiven to their use of stringed-instruments like the ukuleleplayed by Kyle. Their folk-like, bluegrass styleis more uplifting than most music played today. What first started as a hobby for the band, has led to performances allthroughout 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.
The University of South Florida’s School of Music currently features its own junior and senior students during recital season.
Recitals are a part of both junior and senior music majors’ curriculum.
Junior and music education major Kelsey Donahoo had her clarinet recital March 31.
“I was just so excited to show everyone all these technical abilities that I’m able to do,” Donahoo said. “Once I took that final bow I was thinking ‘Wow, that’s another big step towards graduation. It’s almost here.’ ”
Students are responsible for not only picking and practicing their musical selections, but reserving the room and getting the word out too.
They create the flyers that are posted throughout the School of Music as well as the programs that are handed out to people as they walk into the Lewis and Enid Barness Recital Hall.
“I think it’s a great bonding thing for everybody,” said physics major and vocalist Regina Battista. “I think it’s such a great opportunity for everybody to learn and for everybody to learn about each other as well.”
Recitals take plenty of preparation with music students practicing many months prior to when recital season starts. They also have weekly lessons with their assigned music professor to practice their pieces.
“In college you’re mostly in your ensembles and then I’m focusing on teaching,” said Donahoo. “So to be able to build up my clarinet professional skills up to this level to be able to perform my own solo performance was an amazing experience.”
Recital season will continue until the end of the month.