This week, the first rounds of acts were announced for two of the area’s most popular annual music festivals in Tampa —The Gasparilla Music Festival, March 12-13 in Curtis Hixon Park, and the WMNF Tropical Heatwave, April 30 in Ybor City.
(Disclaimer: I’ve played both fests with various bands, so that means … not sure).
GMF, which has steadily raised its profile as a purveyor of notable indie rock bands and national and local bands of various other genres, this year is playing host to Antibalas, above, the oversized, Brooklyn-based Afrobeat outfit; New Orleans trumpeter Kermit Ruffins; Americana band Greensky Bluegrass; soul singer Charles Bradley; Erykah Badu (R&B); and Talib Kweli (R&B).
Jazz-funk group Serotonic, master conga player Gumbi Ortiz & New Groove City, and blues guitar slinger Damon Fowler and Poetry ‘N Lotion are among the locally based acts on the bill (coincidentally, Serotonic keyboardist Bryan Lewis and I play in Acme Jazz Garage; and Gumbi is a special guest on our new CD; Acme played GMF in 2013).
Five stages will be home to more than 50 bands, also including Carlos Varela, MS MR, Savoy, Sweet Crude, Blitzen Trapper, David Wax Museum, Andrew & Polly, New Breed Brass Band, Fruition, Gwan Massive, Diealps!, The Woolly Bushmen, Ries Brothers, Samurai Shotgun, Jackson Davis & The Jackettes, Gritt, Mr Tommy, Mt Zion Gospel Choir, Seminole Indoor Percussion Ensemble, and Dunedin Highland Middle School Pipe Band.
The Cuban Club is out of the mix for this year’s Tropical Heatwave, because the venue will be home to a show the previous night by The Alabama Shakes (too bad they couldn’t have joined the fest bill).
Instead, for the 35th edition of the fest, more than 40 bands will play on eight stages throughout Ybor City.
As usual, it’s an appealingly eclectic lineup, with Americana singer James McMurtry, above, indie rockers Ra Ra Riot, Brit punk rocker Restless Eric, New Orleans roots-rockers Dash Rip Rock, and Austin psychedelic rockers The Bright Light Social Hour among the headliners.
Also: The Mantras, Mingo Fishtrap, Peterson Brothers Band, Stokeswood, Get Right Band, Caravan of Thieves, Trae Pierce, Max Norton, UNRB, Matt Woods, Big Shoals, Fay Roy, Flat Land, and Florida Folk Night hosted by Pete Gallagher and Kelly Green.
Next month, the eighth annual St. Petersburg Jazz Festival is playing host to another strong lineup, starting Feb. 24 with the James Varnado Jazz/Funk Band at the Side Door at the Palladium Theater, starting at 8.
The next night, Feb. 25, saxophonist Austin Vickrey (above, another guest on the Acme CD) and trumpeter James Suggs lead “Bird & Diz,” a tribute to Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie at the Side Door, at 7:30.
Also: Silvano Monasterios Trio, 2/26, 7:30; Fred Johnson and the Helios Jazz Orchestra, 2/27, 7:30 at the Music Center at St. Petersburg College; Post-Festival Jazz Jam, 2/28, 6 p.m. at the Manhattan Casino.