Sunday, May 20, 2018
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New music festival in Tampa attracts top acts

Deer Tick, the Lee Boys and Alvin Youngblood Hart will be among the headliners of the Gasparilla Music Festival March 10 in downtown Tampa.

Organizers announced Tuesday the daylong festival will have up to 20 performers, including a dozen headline acts playing on two stages at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and the adjacent Kiley Gardens.

"We didn't want to be specific to any genre,'' said David Cox, board president of the festival. "We wanted to get up-and-coming bands with an edge to them.''

Also on the lineup are the Rebirth Brass Band from New Orleans, alternative folk-rock band Have Gun, Will Travel from Bradenton and Kaleigh Baker, a jazzy, blues-rock singer from western New York. Several more bookings are in the works, and local acoustic acts will play in the small amphitheater along the Riverwalk.

Phil Benito, the festival's vice president, scouted the talent and wanted an upbeat lineup of national, regional and local acts with multigenerational appeal.

Among the headliners, Deer Tick is an alt-country band from Providence, R.I., and Alvin Youngblood Hart is a Grammy Award-winning musician from Oakland, Calif. The Lee Boys, a funk and gospel band from Miami, have performed across the United States, Canada and Europe.

A group of longtime area residents created the festival to add a musical component to Gasparilla. They chose a date in March to coincide with the Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts March 3-4 and the Gasparilla International Film Festival March 29-April 1.

Corporate and private donors are funding the event, which will run from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. rain or shine. More than 60 people donated $1,000 each to join the Ring of Fire founders' circle.

Organizers hope the festival becomes an annual, signature event for downtown Tampa that could expand to other venues. An estimated 5,000 people are expected to attend the first year.

"There's always been this element here and we really want to bring it back,'' said Cox, citing concerts by Elvis Presley and the Allman Brothers Band at the former Curtis Hixon Hall.

Tickets are $15 in advance at gasparilla.frontgatetickets.com or at various retail outlets, including the Hub bar in downtown Tampa, Microgroove in Seminole Heights and Daddy Kool Records in St. Petersburg. Admission at the door will be $20 or $25, with children under 12 free before 2 p.m.

VIP tickets will be $75 and include viewing areas next to the stages, drink tickets and access to the VIP tents with Ping-Pong tables, foosball and massages.

All the food will come from local restaurants such as Fly Bar, Pipo's, Malio's, Sono Cafe, Mise en Place, Tun-du-ree and Cafe Hey.

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