Welcome to tbt*'s 2015 Ultimate Local Music Guide!
Since tbt* launched its annual Ultimate Local Music Guide in 2007, we’ve shined a spotlight on more than 90 of our favorite local acts from all genres. And while we always like to think of each year’s issue as a snapshot of the Tampa Bay music scene, it’s always fun to look back and see where our top artists ended up.
Some have signed to big labels and toured internationally (Set It Off, Merchandise, Dynasty). Many release inventive new music every year (Zulu Wave, Alexander and the Grapes, Polyenso, Wolf-Face). Plenty changed direction or broke up; a few eventually got back together. One Ultimate Local Artist, the Hip Abduction, played tbt*’s 10th anniersary party last fall at Jannus Live. Another actually writes for tbt* — Aaron Lepley, formerly of November Foxtrot Whiskey and currently of Funny Bunny. (Check out his work here!).
The best thing about looking at the list is seeing how many of our past Ultimate Local Artists still gig constantly around Tampa Bay. On any given night, you can probably catch a show by Rebekah Pulley or Geri X.; the Black Honkeys or Have Gun, Will Travel; the Applebutter Express or Florida Night Heat. Seven past picks performed at this year’s Gasparilla Music Festival; another dozen or so will play Tropical Heatwave. Add in side projects and new bands that formed from old ones, and those numbers climb even higher.
Every year, it’s a challenge to whittle our list of contenders to 10, but I’m always proud of those who make it. This year is no exception. In fact, we’ve streamlined this year’s guide from years past, choosing to focus entirely on our top 10 artists. There are many more we’d love to feature, and perhaps will do so soon. In the meantime, if you haven’t been following these 10 bands, singers and rappers, it’s time to start, because you’ll be hearing a lot more from them in the months to come.
Without further ado, here are this year's 10 Ultimate Local Artists:
-- Infinite Skillz: Hustling his way from the suburbs to the scene
Not sure where to start? Head to tampabay.com/music, where we’ve developed a quiz to help you figure out which of our 2015 artists is right for you. If you want to hear some actual music, check out a Spotify playlist here. Not only does it feature many of this year’s Top 10 artists, but we’ve dug into our archives to find tunes from our past Ultimate Local Music Guides. And as always, you can be part of our ongoing music coverage by using the hashtag #tampabaylive on Twitter and Instagram.
For me, this Ultimate Local Music Guide is bittersweet, as it’ll be my last as an editor with tbt*. In the next few weeks, I’m going to become the Pop Music/Culture Critic for tbt* and the Tampa Bay Times. The good news is that means I’ll still be keeping close tabs on the Tampa Bay music scene, hopefully writing about it even more than I do now.
After nine years of putting together our Ultimate Local Music Guide, I’m as aware as ever that great local music is out there. Always has been, always will be. So don’t hesitate to keep reaching out with suggestions for cool local artists and concerts to check out. Heaven knows there are plenty.
-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*