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Artist of the day: Midnight Bowlers League

26

February

Midnight.bowlers.league

For more than a decade, Tampa's Midnight Bowlers League have been putting their trademark old-school spin on rockabilly rarities and modern pop covers (Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Flo Rida), right down to the pompadours and upright bass.

"When we first started the audience tended to be people who were into the vintage and swing dance scene," said guitarist Nafa. "Now, though, we’ll draw all sorts of people (who are) into all sorts of music and styles — it’s not uncommon to look out and see a Rasta girl with dreadlocks and a Toots and the Maytals shirt dancing next to a rockabilly cat with a perfect pompadour and rolled-cuff jeans next to a grandmother bopping about with her grandchild."

Still, their heart remains with rockabilly.

“We play quite a few rare tunes,” said singer Tim Masters. “Music was very regional in the ’50s, and many smaller labels had trouble with promotion and distribution. For this reason, so many cool records either remained in the can or only sold a few copies.  Nevertheless, some of these songs rock just as hard as the songs we all know. I’ve Changed My Wild Mind by Johnny T. Talley is a perfect example. This was released in 1956 on the Mercury label, I think. It’s just a way-gone record that screams rockabilly!”

LISTEN - Midnight Bowlers League, 'Folsom Prison Blues'

You can check out Midnight Bowlers League when they play at 8 p.m. Friday at Crowbar alongside Dread Clampitt and Scythian. Tickets are $10. Click here for details.

Click here for a review of Midnight Bowlers League's 10th anniversary concert last summer. And after the jump, check out Julie Garisto's full profile of Midnight Bowlers League ...

A league of their own: Tampa’s Midnight Bowlers League includes Tim Masters, lead guitar and vocals; Mike Fluno, drums; and Scott “the Knyfe” Mattis, upright bass and vocals; and Nafa on rhythm guitar and vocals.

Sound: Vintage rockabilly with professional musicianship and a dynamic range.

Mononymous: “My name is very long and complicated Samoan name,” Nafa shared, “so probably just leaving it as Nafa is best — there’s only one of us in Tampa.”

Staying strong: What keeps things fresh and fun after being a band for more than a decade? “Part of what keeps us going is our love for the music and our friendship with each other outside the band. … We’re much more relaxed and have fun on stage (than earlier days),” Nafa said, “whether it’s talking utter rubbish between songs, laughing when we mess up rather than getting frustrated, or throwing in a brief Lady Gaga or Britney Spears cover. …  And there is a mutual respect and admiration among the bands now. We’re big fans of our peers Sarge and the Aeromen and the Cadillac Bombers, and it’s always a great time when we play with them.”

Why the band name? “We all had an obscene number of vintage bowling shirts,” Masters said, “and we bowled a lot around that time, so …”

Crossover appeal: “We tend to draw a really great variety of people out to the shows,” Nafa said, “and a wide variety of ages too. When we first started the audience tended to be people who were into the vintage and swing dance scene. Now, though, we’ll draw all sorts of people (who are) into all sorts of music and styles — it’s not uncommon to look out and see a Rasta girl with dreadlocks and a Toots and the Maytals shirt dancing next to a Rockabilly cat with a perfect pompadour and rolled-cuff jeans next to a grandmother bopping about with her grandchild. That’s something you might not have seen back when we started.” 

Rarities: “We play quite a few rare tunes,” Masters said. “Music was very regional in the ’50s, and many smaller labels had trouble with promotion and distribution. For this reason, so many cool records either remained in the can or only sold a few copies.  Nevertheless, some of these songs rock just as hard as the songs we all know. I’ve Changed My Wild Mind by Johnny T. Talley is a perfect example. This was released in 1956 on the Mercury label, I think. It’s just a way-gone record that screams rockabilly!”

Day jobs: Nafa works at USF-Tampa library; Masters is in the financial sector. Fluno works in the energy conservation field, and Mattis is the proprietor of the S.E. Mattis Barber Shop, located in King Corona in Ybor City.

Hangouts: “Our base of operations has shifted over to the Seminole Heights area (from USF),” Masters said, “and after a show you can often find some of us at Three Coins Diner. And our favorite spot after practice is Cappy’s Pizza.” 

Nafa: “My personal favorite place in the USF area is the Olde World Cheese Shop on 56th. Their menu has been virtually unchanged since I moved to Florida in 1981. Plus, they’ve even started hosting concerts and shows there at night time.”

Hear them: Friday at 8 p.m. with Dread Clampitt and Scythian at Crowbar, 1812 17th St. N., Ybor City. Friend them on Facebook.

-- Julie Garisto, tbt*

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 3:17pm]

    

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