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Tampa's best bands: Let there be rock!



10th Concession

A single artist of the day on this blog? No, no no. That'll never do. Instead, we're going to spend some time over the next week introducing you some of Tampa's best bands across multple genres. Christian? Hip-hop? Country? You name it, we're on it.

First up: Good ol' red-blooded American rock 'n' roll. Whether you're looking for Disney-friendly pop-rock (10th Concession, above), funky roots music (Southside Serenade), funk-influenced prog (Tides of Man) or straight-up classic rock (Stormbringer), we've got you covered. Check out some of our picks after the jump...

Southside Serenade: In just a year together, St. Pete’s funky, bluesy Southside Serenade (not to be confused with emo act Secondhand Serenade or Riverview’s Southside) has racked up impressive gigs opening for Edwin McCain, Marc Broussard and Sister Hazel. Singer Addison Arfaras, guitarist Ian Longen, bassist Tim LeFebvre and drummer Tony Martin recently began working on a full-length album of fun-loving acoustic pop that might make them Tampa’s next great breakout band.

10th Concession: If South Tampa brothers Evan and Ian Koteles, a.k.a. 10th Concession, sound too polished for a local band, there’s a good reason: They’ve been around music their whole lives. Dad Albi Koteles drummed for the bands Orleans and Conspiracy. After recording in Nashville with former Disney music honcho Fred Mollin, Evan and Ian — is it too soon to call them the KoBros? — are preparing for the big time with a self-titled album full of radio-ready pop-rock singles.

Tides of Man: Tilian Pearson (vocals and guitar), Adam Sene (guitar), Spencer Gill (guitar), Alan Jay (bass) and Josh Gould (drums) offer dynamic rock with impassioned vocals and strong, jazz- and funk-influenced percussion — like Mars Volta, with more emphasis on the energy. They just finished a 10-song concept album, due for release April 17. Read more about Tides of Man here.

Killer Without a Cause: Not all teen bands list Guns ’N’ Roses and Black Sabbath among their top influences. But like We Are Scientists and Eagles of Death Metal, Tampa’s Killer Without a Cause — singer Kyle McPherson, 17, guitarist Matt Cazes, 16, and Matt’s brother Brett, 13, on drums — are unapologetic in their love for classic rock head-bangers. (The band’s name even comes from a Thin Lizzy tune.) The choppy guitars and drum solo — yes, a drum solo — on Edge of a Knife make you wanna “rock this f---er till the break of dawn,” as the lyrics put it.

Talk to Mark: In November, Talk to Mark — singer Mark Murphy, guitarist Scott Swift, bassist Joe Arruda and drummer Gene Young — released their debut CD of original bar-rock songs, Unfamiliar. Before then, they’d been playing bars and venues throughout Tampa Bay for 3 1⁄2 years, including a Clash tribute show and a WMNF listener’s choice show at Skipper’s Smokehouse.

Stormbringer: Longtime Safety Harbor rockers Stormbringer — singer John Vasalakis, guitarist Rick Moon, bassist Nick Cardullias, drummer Dana Newcomer and keyboardist Mark Frye — have been making it rain in Tampa Bay bars since 1986 and have recorded four studio albums since 1990. The key to longevity, said Moon, is “having the same players who you get along with, being serious about what you do, staying fresh and having fun.” With a sound that begs comparisons to Yes and Kansas, its members have shared the stage with a host of classic-rock luminaries, and are favorites at outdoor festivals and bars around town.

The DSC Project: After forming in Port St. Lucie, the DSC Project — singer Nick Dietz, guitarist Adam Burton, bassist Tim Smith and drummer John Bitner — coalesced in Tampa in late 2007. Their most recent CD, Animato, was marked by a Weezer-esque quirkiness, but the band is recording new, more intricate material. On new single Swear, Dietz’s warbling tenor and Burton’s crunch-tastic riffs call to mind high-energy hard-rockers like Thursday and System of a Down. Dietz, Burton and Smith are also working on a side project called Welcome Stranger. For more on the DSC Project, click here.

Rebel Pride: Southern rockers Rebel Pride — the current lineup includes singer Pat Buffo, guitarists Tommy Spittle and Brian Jeffries, bassist Big Dave Stevenson and drummer Sonny Harlan — have performed around town for 20 years, including a recent concert with Gregg Allman at Busch Gardens. But one of their most memorable gigs was for a special episode of CMT’s My Big Redneck Wedding. “That was either one wacky look at the redneck phenomenon or a vision of the decline of Western civilization,” Spittle told tbt* last fall. “I’m not sure which yet.” For more on Rebel Pride, click here.

Basic Rock Outfit: Descriptive name, huh? Jeremy Thomas (vocals), Andy Stafford (guitar), Jason Gaines (bass) and Eric Bice (drums) play a catchy brand of modern rock, a la Daughtry or Lifehouse, with a little bit of Foo Fighters thrown in. The Clearwater group plays at bars, venues and parties three or four nights a week, and were asked to perform at a party hosted by Paris Hilton at Jackson’s Bistro in Tampa on the Saturday night before the Super Bowl. “We had a blast and got to play for about 3,000 people that night,” Thomas said, “which is great when you’re a bunch of hams like us.” They’ll have a new CD coming out in about four months.

Greg Billings Band: Clearwater rock vet Greg Billings fronted the super-popular local rockers Stranger in the ’80s and early ’90s, scoring a record deal with Epic and touring with big-name bands like Quiet Riot and Skid Row. In the ’90s, Billings fronted another popular band, Damn the Torpedoes. Now he’s got his own classic bar band, with George Harris on guitar, Tom Cardenas on bass, Leroy Myers on drums, Ronnie D. on sax and Rob Stoney on keys — and the occasional guest superstar, like AC/DC’s Brian Johnson, who sang with Billings on the band’s 2008 CD Do-Overs. In April, the band will preparing to release a live CD/DVD recorded during last fall’s Ribfest in St. Petersburg — one of many festivals where the band regularly performs for thousands of fans who still remember Stranger. “We’re very fortunate to be this busy at this stage of my career,” Billings said. “The guys I’m working with — I love these guys. I’ve got some talent in my band.”

John Q: John Q.’s acoustic pop-rock sound is rustic and rootsy, yet still upbeat. Guitarist Dave Turner, bassist Scott McAtasney and drummer Brian Oliver provide a funky Southern backdrop for frontman John Allison’s bluesy, awake-for-days rasp. In April, the St. Pete band will enter the studio to record an 11-track LP titled Sunrise.

Blondes Not Bombs: From the ashes of No Recess comes Blondes Not Bombs, a fun, passionate duo consisting of former No Recess drummer Tommy Cornillow and singer-keyboardist Theresa Jeane, who’s got a Kate Nash-Nellie McKay vibe. With influences like Dresden Dolls, Mates of State and the Ting Tings, they’re working on an EP to be released this spring.

MunkeyFist: One of the best things about MunkeyFist? You can sing for them. The band — guitarist Steven Dillenbeck, bassist Chris Stainton and drummer Jason Edwards — had a regular “live karaoke” gig at Side Splitters Comedy Club in 2008, with a repertoire of some 120 songs. In 2009, they’re hoping to switch directions and write more original material.

Al Torchia and the Tattered Saints: Al and company write and perform arena-rock screamers about life in Tampa Bay with the anthemic chords and energy of Bon Jovi or the Hold Steady. Torchia, formerly of longtime locals Standing Shadows, is working on an eight-song LP, due by the end of summer. And they‚Äôre looking for new members, so if you play bass, keyboards or sax, hit ‚Äôem up.

Too Many Subplots: Singer Aimee Trachtenberg, guitarist Steve Connelly, drummer Ricky Wilcox and bassist Scott Dempster have played with a number of Tampa bands since the ’80s, notably the Headlights and the Pin-Ups. Together they call themselves Too Many Subplots, and their bouncy alt-pop tunes remain catchy. They’re currently working on a new CD.

Down Jr.: Crunchy hair-metal throwbacks Down Jr. (singer James Pergolatti, bassist Davey Angelo and drummer Rob Taylor) recently opened for Steven Pearcy of Ratt. The pairing works; Down Jr.’s tunes are full of lighter-waving, guitar-face solos that scream ’89 — in a good way.

[Last modified: Friday, March 20, 2009 1:00pm]


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