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Funk Fest 2011: Improvements promised, big names coming (Kem, Bobby Brown, MC Hammer)




A letter like this is never a good sign.

“Dear Funk Fest supporters,” begins a statement from organizers of the April 2010 concert at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg. “Words cannot express how truly sorry we are for the inconvenience experienced at Funk Fest 2010.”

The three-day event —which featured Babyface, Bell Biv DeVoe and SWV — drew some 15,000 fans to a sweltering Vinoy Park, more than expected. As a result, scores of fans complained about a lack of food and drink vendors, restrooms, parking, sight lines, clear speakers and secure tickets. It was, in short, a bit of a fiasco.

So with Funk Fest 2011 returning to Vinoy Park Saturday and Sunday, organizers are promising a few changes, including:

• More water tents throughout the park, with water accessible outside the gates as well.

• Jumbotrons and speakers set up throughout the park.

• Tickets mailed with delivery confirmation, with a 24-hour hotline for customers who bought tickets online.

• More restrooms, including separate restroom areas for VIP and preferred ticektholders.

Assuming all that has been taken care of, Funk Fest 2011 should be a pretty fun time. This year’s lineup is arguably stronger than last year’s, with performers from the ’70s and ’80s (Charlie Wilson, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly), ’90s (MC Hammer, Bobby Brown, Keith Sweat, Guy) and ’00s (Kem, above).

The lineup should have been even better. One of this year’s headliners, El Debarge, had to drop out due to substance abuse issues. But Funk Fest can hardly be blamed for that, right.

And if that turns out to be the biggest problem with Funk Fest 2011, we should all breathe a sigh of relief.

The event is Saturday and Sunday at Vinoy Waterfront Park in downtown St. Petersburg. Single-day tickets are $45 (general), $60 (preferred), $80 (VIP) and $130 (platinum VIP). Two-day tickets are $55, $85, $125 and $205. To order tickets by phone, call 1-800-514-3849. To order online, or see a list of physical ticket outlets, click here. The complete Funk Fest lineup by day:

Saturday: MC Hammer (4 p.m.), Bobby Brown (5:45 p.m.), Keith Sweat (7:15 p.m.), Charlie Wilson (8:30 p.m.). Gates open at 2 p.m., music starts at 4.

Sunday: Guy (3 p.m.), Kem (4:30 p.m.), Maze featuring Frankie Beverly (6 p.m.). Gates open at 1 p.m., music starts at 3.

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*

[Last modified: Saturday, March 26, 2011 5:43pm]


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