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Geri X. leaving St. Petersburg for Atlanta




John Mayer made a name for himself in Atlanta. So did the Black Crowes, Indigo Girls and Sugarland.

Now one promient St. Petersburg musician will attempt to do the same.

Indie-rock singer-songwriter Geri X., one of tbt*'s Ultimate Local Artists in 2009, is moving to Atlanta at the end of this year. She'll say goodbye with a farewell show at 8 p.m. Dec. 12 at the State Theatre, alongside a well-regarded national band, Ours. Tickets are $8 advance, $10 at the door. Go here for details.

The Bulgarian-born Geri X. (nee Micheva) has lived in St. Petersburg for about five years, during which she often traveled to gigs in Wisconsin for long stretches of time. But this is the first time she’s ever considered permanently leaving Tampa Bay.

“This is the first time we’re selling all of our stuff," she said. "That’s it. The door’s open, we’re about to go through the door, and hopefully good things will come out of it.”

The reason for the move, she said, is simple: “We want to actually have a career.”

Geri and bassist/boyfriend Greg Roteik have worked out a deal with an independent label in Atlanta to release the follow-up to her well-received Anthems of a Mended Heart, which came out in 2007. That record was released independently, then re-recorded and re-released in January through Tampa label 24 Hour Service Station, which Geri said mishandled promotion of the disc.

“It was both of our fault, because we didn’t communicate right,” she said. “The record didn’t get a chance, ever. We didn’t tour, we didn’t push it; all we did was have the CD release show for it.”

That, said 24 Hour Service Station chief Marshall Dickson, is not exactly how it all went down.

"The label put in months of marketing and PR support which garnered international press recognition and reviews," Dickson said in an e-mail. "The band chose not to do a proper tour, but instead played a few summer festival dates in Wisconsin. After repeated attempts to stabilize a communication standard and continued lack of cooperation from Geri, we as a label had to focus our attentions elsewhere. I had been warned by another music business associate of his turbulent and event-filled relationship with this artist, so I should extend the same to the next crew -- caveat emptor: buyer beware."

Geri has written about five songs for her next album, which she hopes to finish by February. She’s been playing plenty of gigs around Tampa Bay all summer, knowing she won’t return very often in the future. “We may come back once every two or three months to play a gig. But as for playing actively, I know I’m not going to be doing it anymore.”

Fair or not, she said, Atlanta has much more to offer aspiring musicians these days than Tampa Bay.

“Atlanta is the fourth musical city now,” she said. “There’s talent there, record labels are constantly going there, critics are going there. It’s ripe for me.

“Imagine if I was on the cover of Creative Loafing in Atlanta — how much would that do for me? Instead, I was on the cover of Creative Loafing here, which did a lot for me, but it’s still Tampa. It’s ridiculous, because there’s so much talent here, so many good bands, but it’s mind-boggling that there will probably never be a music industry here. Well-known bands from Florida have to move out of Florida to get any claim to fame.”

The farewell show at the State Theatre should be a big one. Ours, who had a small hit in 2001 with Sometimes, are cult favorites thanks to singer Jimmy Gnecco’s soaring vocals. Geri said she’s working to bring another nationally known indie band onto the bill, but nothing’s set in stone just yet.

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*. Photo: Palmer Holmes.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 3:14pm]


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