tbt*'s 2010 Ultimate Bar Guide: Tampa Bay's best bars for music lovers
Readers, please do us (and yourselves) a favor and pick up a copy of tbt*'s 2010 Ultimate Bar Guide, on newsstands this weekend. This year we're covering not just WHERE to go, but WHEN to go -- Mondays at the Castle, Tuesdays at Hyde Park Cafe, Sundays at Shephard's Beach Resort, and so forth.
Almost all of these nights have one thing in common: Great music. Whether it's a cadre of top DJs (Retro Red Square Saturdays at Orpheum or Pulp the Party at Czar), a funk-loving werewolf (St. Pete Soul at the Local 662) or the best blues jam in Tampa Bay (Mondays at the Green Iguana on West Shore Boulevard, above), some of Tampa Bay's top talent comes to some of these weekly nights to entertain crowds looking for drink specials.
The full guide -- which, as we mentioned, we totally recommend checking out -- covers more than 50 bars in all, across all genres, and also includes the best ladies nights, Latin nights and hospitality nights. But for you Soundcheck readers, we're pulling out 15 of our favorite weekly music nights at some of Tampa Bay's best bars. (For the purposes of this list, we're not counting some of Tampa Bay's best LIVE music bars, such as New World Brewery or the Ringside Cafe.)
Click here for the full guide. For now, on with some of our favorite music bars ...
The Green Iguana (above): The Green Iguana on West Shore Boulevard invites rhythm and blues musicians to jam on stage every Monday night. About two dozen musicians perform throughout the night, belting out solos and jamming with Dean Germain , who leads on his 1959 B3 Hammond organ, an attraction in itself. Germain, who goes by B3 Dean, has hosted Monday blues nights every week since the Green Iguana opened along West Shore 20 years ago. You never know who’s going to show up, and that’s part of the allure. Rest assured, the musical result is better than you’d anticipate. 10 p.m. to close. 4029 S West Shore Blvd., Tampa; (813) 837-1234.
The Brass Mug The specials are okay — $2 PBR tallboys, 75-cent pool, 50-cent darts — but we defy you to name another bar in Tampa Bay that promises “death, thrash, black, sludge, doom and traditional metal.” Yes, the Brass Mug recently launched “Metal Mayhem Wednesdays” with metal music and a vinyl record trading show on the last Wednesday of each month. It’s 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. at 1441 E Fletcher Ave., Suite 101, Tampa; (813) 972-8152.
Crowbar: One of the top indie rock clubs in Tampa, Crowbar stages the area’s most popular hip-hop open mic, dubbed “Da Cypher,” on Wednesdays. Hosted by rapper and scene leader Aych since 2006, it’s $5 to get in; performances start about 11:30 p.m. 1812 N 17th St., Ybor City; (813) 241-8600.
The Castle: DJ/VJ Rob Pittman has been at the helm of this popular ’80s night since before ’80s music was retro chic. Every Monday night, crowds of longtime regulars and new faces head to the Castle for his selections, which have grown to include music from throughout the ’90s and into the last decade, as well as a great mix of tunes that venture well past the typical ’80s night fare. DJ Rob has been running this night in Tampa since 1990 (and at the Castle since 1997), making it one of the longest-running weekly events in the area. It was the first weekly event in the Bay area to focus exclusively on music videos — a format that dominates today’s club scene. There’s a notepad in the hallway to the left of the DJ booth where you can jot down requests, but take a moment to read through the often bizarre and amusing notes that people leave on it in various states of inebriation. 10:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. Mondays at the Castle, 2004 N 16th St., Tampa; (813) 247-7547.
Fubar: Filth, a weekly electro/punk/old-school party on Wednesday nights at The Emerald, moved to Fubar several months ago. Organized by DJ Justin “JG” Grant (who, full disclosure, is a tbt* correspondent and contributor to this year’s Ultimate Bar Guide), Filth offers a mix of old-school punk, classic rock and modern dance and hip-hop. The cover is $1; PBR tallboys are two for $3; Strongbow is two for $5 and Yuengling pints are $2. Not your scene? These days all the Cool Kids are into dubstep, a funky, jittery blend of house, reggae and breaks. Get into the grimy groove at the popular Turbo Tuesdays at Fubar, and get an education in the musical movement of the moment. 658 Central Ave., St. Petersburg.
The Local 662: The bar serves up local music (and some national acts) on weekends, but on Wednesdays, it’s all about St. Pete Soul — delightful old-school funk, boogie and R&B performed by DJs Funk Jesus, Gregg Schmidt and Sugar Bear. From Earth, Wind and Fire to Rick James to Morris Day to Erykah Badu, the grooves are irresistible and different from most anything you’ll hear in any other club. “If you’re into hip-hop, you’ll like tonight, because you’re going to recognize stuff that people have sampled,” said Funk Jesus, a.k.a. Bryan "BC" Clardy. You can sample St. Pete Soul on the Hillsborough side of the Bay. For the past four years, Funk Jesus and Schmidt have hosted Soul Night on the last Monday of each month at Orpheum in Tampa. St. Pete Soul starts at 10 p.m. at 662 Central Ave., St. Petersburg.
Czar: Why it’s hot: The weekly “Pulp the Party” helped spark a renaissance for subculture dance nights in Ybor City and beyond. No need to peacock here, folks; just let your freak flag fly. “It’s about blowing off steam and not having to pop your collars or putting on a jacket,” said mastermind Paul Geller, a.k.a. DJ Pauly Crush, of Orlando. “We take pride in delivering music that isn’t being played at other clubs yet, or maybe ever will — certainly not on the radio.” That means maintaining a core group of like-minded DJs with similar musical tastes; Geller even grooms new up-and-coming DJs to fill in. When Pulp moved to Wednesdays, Czar brought in another party, Filthy Richard, on Friday nights. This one features mostly Tampa DJs and a killer “Broke Ass Bottle Service” — a bottle of liquor and a pitcher of mixers for $15-$18. 1420 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City.
Orpheum: About eight years ago, DJs Rig and Noi got the idea to start a digital dance party designed to depart from the Orpheum’s typical live band format. Retro Red Square Recall Saturdays were originally focused on British pop, gradually morphing into the electro-indie dancefest it is today. Today hipsters far and wide turn out for this sink-or-swim dance party in one of Ybor City’s indie rock corners. Girls in ballet flats and tatted guys in skinny jeans flock weekly for the eclectic mix of music from DJs Rig and Noi — danceworthy new stuff like Friendly Fires, Hot Chip and the Bravery, sprinkled with guilty pleasures like Whitney Houston, the Jackson Five and Justin Timberlake. 1902 Republica de Cuba Ave., Ybor City; (813) 248-9500.
Mirage: Sure, Ybor City can be fun. But if you really want to dance — salsa, merengue, bachata — head to Mirage, which offers the hottest Latin nights in Tampa Bay. There might be a wait to get in, but inside, couples are dancing in every corner of the bar. “That’s where the party’s at, and that’s where the party’s always been,” said Luis Gonzalez, a.k.a. DJ Speedy, who spins hip-hop both nights.
If you can’t dance, no problem — Island Touch Dance offers free salsa classes starting at 9 p.m. each Wednesday. 3605 W Hillsborough Ave., Tampa; (813) 673-8835, miragetampa.com.
Dunedin Brewery: Anything goes at Dunedin Brewery — punk, jam, folk, blues and indie. But on Tuesdays at 8 p.m., it’s time for “Drum and Dance,” a weekly drum circle that attracts some 20 to 25 beatniks per week. Bring your own bongos and bang along . 937 Douglas Ave., Dunedin; (727) 736?0606.
Fly Bar and Restaurant: On Thursdays, Tampa DJs Soft Rock Renegades hold down the beats at this smooth downtown Tampa hangout. But Thursdays are also “Mug Club” nights — $2 refills and 2-for-1 bottled beers starting at 10 p.m. 1202 N Franklin St., Tampa. (813) 275-5000.
Skipper’s Smokehouse: Who said Jerry Garcia was dead? Not the Grateful Dead tribute act Uncle John’s Band, which has held a Thursday night residency at the Skipperdome for a dozen years. There’s a $7 cover … but you can’t put a price on love, man. 910 Skipper Road, Tampa; (813) 971-0666.
Stumps Supper Club/Howl at the Moon Want to be a rock star? Do it at Rockstar Fridays, a karaoke night with a live backing band. Led by Tommy Tutone guitarist Jimmy James, the band offers more than 300 songs from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., and there are specials like $2 Bud and Bud Light drafts. Or head next door to Howl at the Moon, where dueling pianos take center stage from Thursday to Saturday. Both are located at Channelside Bay Plaza, 615 Channelside Drive, Tampa.
Tre Amici @ The Bunker: Technically it’s a coffeeshop, not a bar … but they do sell wine and select bottled imports. And Thursday is singer-songwriter night, featuring some of the area’s top talents in an intimate setting from about 7 to 9 p.m. 1907 N 19th St., Ybor City; (813) 247-6964.
Yeoman’s Road Pub: Tuesdays at this locals-only British Pub on Davis Islands are some of the best open mic nights in Tampa Bay. There’s a wide array of music, from jam reggae to singer-songwriters, in 15-minute sets from 10 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Sign up by 9 or 9:30 p.m. if you want to play, because it can get crowded. 236 E Davis Blvd., Tampa; (813) 251-2748.
-- Jay Cridlin, Susan Thurston, Stephanie Hayes, Justin Grant. Photo: Luis Santana, tbt*