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Photos: Safety Harbor Songfest shines through the rain with Robin Zander, more



If any festival had to be delayed by gnarly storms, it might as well be Safety Harbor Songfest.

In its third year, the folksy waterfront festival has cultivated such an easy, breezy, small-town vibe that even the artists don't mind waiting to perform.

"We're from Colorado, where it's always sunny, except when it's snowing," SHEL singer Eva Holbrook said when Saturday's opening day kicked off about three soaked hours late. "Rain is kind of a novelty. So we appreciate it, actually."

The rain no doubt dented attendance, which at its peak brought a crowd of maybe 400 or so to Veterans Memorial Marina Park. But everyone there was in good spirits, particularly since Safety Harbor's own Robin Zander stopped in to play a rare hometown gig.

Most of the time, Zander's on the road singing for Cheap Trick. This time around, he got to play acoustic versions solo songs, covers and Cheap Trick hits, including Surrender, The Flame and I Want You To Want Me. He was joined by his 23-year-old son, Robin Taylor Zander; who played a couple of his own songs, and 15-year-old daughter Robin-Sailor Zander, who duetted with her brother on a cover of Coldplay's Fix You.

Most adorably, organizers presented Zander with a cake, baked and decorated right up the street, to commemorate Cheap Trick's upcoming induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. How can you not love that?

By the time Otis Taylor prepared to take the stage as Saturday's headliner, the rain was long since forgotten. Only a few acts saw their sets canceled, and others had fun with the rain delay -- SHEL even played a pop-up gig at Starbucks downtown.

And Matt the Electrician dedicated a song to the stormy weather -- the appropriately titled Osaka In the Rain.

"This right here, right now, is my favorite weather," said the onetime San Francisco resident. Right about then, the sun peeked out from behind the clouds for the first time all day.

"There's the sun? That's what happening?" he said. "That's fantastic."

Hopefully the rain will stay away on Sunday. The music once again starts at 11 a.m. in Safety Harbor, with headliners including Shawn Mullins and Love and Theft. Click here for details on the show.

-- Jay Cridlin

[Last modified: Sunday, April 3, 2016 12:45am]


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