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For tbt*'s Ultimate Local Artists, it's onward and upward

Musically, Set It Off and Tallhart don't have a ton in common. Set It Off is a pop-punk band, while Tallhart plays driving indie rock.

But the two Tampa Bay bands are alike in a few important ways. First of all, both are former tbt* Ultimate Local Artists. Set It Off made our list in 2010, and Tallhart — who until recently went by the name Marksmen — followed suit in 2011.

More importantly, there's this: In the past 12 months, both Set It Off and Tallhart signed to a national label. The groups are now touring the country through Equal Vision Records, home to artists like Say Anything, Eisley and We Came As Romans.

(Obviously, we're not taking credit for their success. But hey, we're not NOT taking credit for it, either. Just sayin', guys, if you want to send us a platinum record for our office wall, you know where to find us.)

It's exciting to see a local artist break through on a national level, especially someone we've had our eye on for years. This marks our sixth annual Ultimate Local Music Guide, a chronicle of the best, newest and most exciting artists on the Tampa Bay music scene, and it's always cool to see what our previous picks are up to.

Singer-songwriter Geri X (2009)? She was featured in the Bulgarian edition of Rolling Stone. Rapper Laws (2010)? He was just at South by Southwest, hanging with Three 6 Mafia, Mobb Deep and Brother Ali. Tommy Simms, the leader of indie rockers Win Win Winter (2008)? He's been in Los Angeles, helping his sister, Juliet Simms, blow away the competition on NBC's The Voice.

This year, as always, we've picked out 10 more of our favorite local acts, groups and solo artists alike who are making excellent music, and doing it in creative, unique ways. From dubstep to indie rock, from world beat to retro soul, from jazz fusion to driving metal, this year's crop is an eclectic bunch.

To check out music and exclusive video of this year's top 10 bands, head to Or simply use your smartphone to scan the QR codes that accompany to each band's profile — as well as the one on this page — and we'll take you straight there.

Many thanks to the writers, photographers, editors, designers and Web geniuses who helped make this year's Ultimate Local Music Guide a reality. (Worth noting: One of them, tbt* correspondent Aaron Lepley, is a former Ultimate Local Artist in his own right. His band, November Foxtrot Whiskey, made our Top 10 in 2008. Take our word for it — they're as good today as they were back then.)

One more thing: On May 4, tbt* is partnering with the folks behind Tampa's Rock the Park to present a special Friday edition of their free monthly concert series. Four of this year's Ultimate Local Artists — Sleepy Vikings, the Groves, Drake and Sofia and Crash Mitchell — will play a free show at 6:30 p.m. at Curtis Hixon Park in downtown Tampa. Anyone who attended the inaugural Gasparilla Music Festival will attest that the park is a fantastic setting for live music. We'll be there with bells on, and we hope you will too.

After all, who knows how long these artists will stay local? It's time to say you knew 'em back when.

We're sure proud to say we did.


Your top 10 artists

Drake and Sofia 26

Sleepy Vikings 30

The Groves 32

Palantine 34

Crash Mitchell 38

The Hip Abduction 43

The Black Honkeys 44

Poetry 'n Lotion 46

The Rukus 53

SubPirate 59

145 more top artists

Indie/experimental 27

Rock 31

Loud and fast 34

Folk/country/blues 38

Singer-songwriters 41

Ska/reggae/jam 42

Jazz/funk/world music 45

Hip hop/R&B 52

Pop 54

DJs 57

Christian 60

Summer concert preview

Get the scoop on the 25 hottest tours coming to town this summer, from Jason Aldean to Coldplay to One Direction. Pages 50-51

This week's concert picks

Get the details on Van Halen, Newsboys, the Tampa Bay Blues Fest and more. Pages 66-67.

And as always...

Check out our Soundcheck blog at for the latest tour news, concert reviews, local artist profiles and more!

For tbt*'s Ultimate Local Artists, it's onward and upward 04/12/12 [Last modified: Thursday, April 12, 2012 2:34pm]
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