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The best of Tampa's homegrown music stars

Brooke Hogan may be a D-list celebrity, but the homegrown singer has two albums more than most of us.

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Brooke Hogan may be a D-list celebrity, but the homegrown singer has two albums more than most of us.

One thing you're not likely to read in the pages of Spin anytime soon: Tampa Bay is the country's next hot music scene.

For whatever reason, Tampa has yet to produce its very own Next Big Thing in rock, hip-hop or country. That's not to say the Gulf Coast isn't rich with musical talent, though.

Here are 18 artists with Tampa Bay roots who have made it big (sort of) around the country.

Automatic Loveletter: Hot Topic punk with a feminine edge. This Tampa band, fronted by Juliet Simms (the brother of Tommy Simms, who fronts local faves Win Win Winter), is making wave in anticipation of their debut full-length, due for release in mid-'09. In 2008, the band pulled a lengthy stint on the Warped Tour and played shows around the country with Secondhand Serenade and Cute Is What We Aim For.

Nick and Aaron Carter: There was a time, back in 1998, when one of the most famous pop stars in the world lived in Ruskin. That would be Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys, who grew up in South Hillsborough County. His little brother Aaron soon became the Ali Lohan to Nick's Lindsay, and the civil-obedience-challenged brothers grabbed a hit reality show, House of Carters. Admit it — you watched.,

Eric Darius: The name might not mean much to pop music fans, but the jazz saxophonist is a star on legendary Blue Note Records, home to everyone from Thelonious Monk to Norah Jones.

Willa Ford: Before Dancing with the Stars, before posing for Playboy, before dating bad boys like UFC star Chuck Liddell and hockey player Mike Modano, Ford seemed like a fairly wholesome version of a Britney-esque pop tart. Maybe her image changed when rabid Backstreet Boys fans began hating her for dating fellow Ruskin native Nick Carter.

Fueled By Ramen: This record label, co-founded by Less Than Jake's Vinnie Fiorello, is now based in New York, but it was founded in Gainesville and grew to prominence in Tampa, where it still has an office. The roster of talent the label has assembled over the years is staggering: Fall Out Boy, Panic at the Disco, Paramore, Gym Class Heroes, Jimmy Eat World, Cobra Starship, Phantom Planet and many more.

The Genitorturers: With a name like the Genitorturers, you pretty much know what you're going to get. Hailing from Orlando but calling Tampa home, singer Gen and company offer industrial music and an electric stage show highlighted by bondage, body piercing and shock-rock theatrics.

Matt Hires: The former singer of local alt-pop band Brer just released a four-song acoustic EP, Live from the Hotel Cafe, has played gigs alongside Dave Matthews Band and, in 2009, on John Mayer's party cruise. Don't be surprised if you hear his remarkably polished tracks (like Honey, Let Me Sing You a Song) on radio or TV in the very near future.

Brooke Hogan: Yeah, go ahead, laugh. But the pop princess of Hulk and the troubled Bollea family has released two albums and is working on another. Her national anthems were good-luck charms during the Lightning's 2004 Stanley Cup run. And she's already starred in two reality shows, which is two more than you've ever starred in ... so take that.

J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League: Producers and multi-instrumentalists Rook, Colione and Kenny "Barto" Bartolomei are based in Tampa, but their Atlanta ties opened doors with the likes of Rick Ross, Young Jeezy and Mary J. Blige. Check out Jeezy's Don't Get Caught and Mary J.'s No One Will Do to hear their handiwork.

Obituary: One thing Tampa has always had going for it is a strong field of death metal bands, among them Deicide, Morbid Angel and influential genre pioneers Obituary. The next time you hear a metal singer growl over choppy breakneck guitar riffs, you have these guys to thank.

Jennifer O'Connor: Before signing with Matador and setting off for Brooklyn, this affecting indie singer-songwriter grew up in Tampa. She's earned comparisons to Aimee Mann; in a recent profile, Spin recently praised her "unflinching lyrics and stunningly strong voice."

Plies: The rising rapper, who splits his time between Fort Myers and Tampa, broke big in 2007 with his chart-topping singles Shawty, featuring T-Pain, and Hypnotized, with Akon. One of his latest albums, Definition of Real, dropped the same day as Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III ... and still managed to sell 215,000 copies in its first week.

Tampa Red: The influential blues guitarist was born in Georgia but grew up in Tampa. When he moved to Chicago in the 1920s, his slide guitar technique helped shape that city's blues sound.

2 Pistols: The Tarpon Springs rapper had a bit of a hit with She Got It, a collaboration with T-Pain and Tay Dizm. He's still working on turning his local notoriety into a bigger national profile.

Underoath: One listen to this thrashy metal outfit, and you'd have no idea they were a Christian band. But Underoath is in fact one of the top-selling Christian hard rock bands around. Drummer Aaron Gillespie's emo side project, The Almost, has also won over fans around the country.

The Warren Brothers: Brett and Brad Warren started out in rock, but it was country music where they made their name. They've toured with Brooks and Dunn and Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, and have garnered a handful of CMA nominations. They've also starred in USA's Nashville Star and CMT's Barely Famous: The Warren Brothers.

We the Kings: These Bradenton pop-punks are as loyal to their home turf as anyone, closing their debut eponymous album with This is Our Town, an ode to the city they still call home. The unabashed Tampa Bay Rays fans had two radio hits in 2008, Check Yes Juliet and Skyway Avenue, and played a string of dates on the Warped Tour and with The Academy Is...

Yo Majesty: Outrageous? Electric? Genre-busting? You name it, and the rave-inducing electro-hip-hop duo of Shunda K. and Jwl B, who call Tampa and Plant City home, are it. The group has earned raves in Spin magazine, on and at South By Southwest. They're Tampa Bay's artsiest, raunchiest and most buzzworthy party clique.

The best of Tampa's homegrown music stars 12/13/08 [Last modified: Thursday, December 25, 2008 12:10pm]
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