Ask Tampa-based music promoter Rich Rubin why tribute bands sell concert tickets and his answer might surprise you.
"Along with nostalgia, it's because of Guitar Hero,'' said Rubin, 43. "Kids are playing the electronic game that comes with classic rock songs from 1975, and now I see them coming to the shows.''
Rubin's company, Maximum Bands, is working with the Largo Cultural Center for this month's "August Rocks,'' a series of rock tribute shows. Running Friday through Aug. 23, the lineup includes Fleetwood Max, Highway to Hell, Supertzar, ZZ Not, and Texas Flood, a Stevie Ray Vaughn tribute band.
"For some people, it's definitely a way to go back in time to their youth, but these shows do more than that,'' Rubin said. "These shows honor when the bands were at the top of their game.''
Which event will pull in the most fans?
Rubin expects a big draw for Saturday night's Highway to Hell/Supertzar show, two tribute bands for AC/DC and Black Sabbath.
"They are the most well-known in the area. The Highway to Hell band headlined the Pirate Stage at Gasparilla for the past two years,'' he said.
However, according to the Cultural Center's box office, Fleetwood Max, with Stevie Nicks look-a-like Sharon Epperson, has sold the most advance tickets.
"You have to remember, heavy-metal fans are prone to wait until the last minute,'' said Donna Seaman, box office manager. "We expect a lot of walkups.''
Piper Castillo is reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4163.