On Saturday, the massive multi-venue music fest known as WMNF's Tropical Heatwave will once again hit the Cuban Club and its surrounding city block in Ybor City. Each year, the event brings original and exciting music, art and spoken word from around the city and the world, along with nifty handmade goods, gourmet and vegetarian food, and bars galore. • "A festival of this sort is unique from anything going on anywhere else in the U.S.A." said Shawn Kyle, singer for Tampa rock band the Beauvilles, which is performing. • If you attend Heatwave, there's a good chance you'll rub elbows with true music aficionados, people who love and play music for a living. And when you chat with them, it can make you feel privileged, like you're getting an inside scoop on which musicians are really worth seeing. • You can get a complete festival lineup at wmnf.org/heatwave. But why wait until you're there in the crowd? We asked some of this year's local and national headliners to help us sift through the mind-boggling variety of musical acts performing at this year's Tropical Heatwave Festival. Here's who they're planning to stick around to see. — Compiled by Julie Garisto
Traveling indie troubadour David Dondero has opted for the roads less taken, detouring between hipster fame and coffeehouse obscurity. When NPR invited the guitarist-storyteller to perform, radio personnel noticed he had spent the night in his car. Dondero's 2007 album Simple Love shows off the singer's romantic side with added sentimentality, contempt, humor and lust. He performs at 11:40 p.m. at the Orpheum.
"I'm so excited to see BeauSoleil (7:40 p.m., El Pasaje Plaza)! I've been getting deeper into traditional Cajun music, although I'm still at the beginning of my education. So I'm glad to see one of the best in the flesh. I hope I can get close up to really see what they're doing. If not I'll dance around by myself in the back.
"I have seen the Dirty Dozen Brass Band several times when I was living in New Orleans but haven't yet seen Big Sam's Funky Nation (5:40, El Pasaje Plaza). That's one I can't miss 'cause I loved that Dirty Dozen every time I saw them. Made me start smiling from ear to ear no matter what! It's hard to get a white boy like me to dance, but they did.
"I also wanna check out Trombone Shorty (9:40 p.m., El Pasaje Plaza). I do know what it means to miss New Orleans. Luckily part of New Orleans is coming to Tampa to blow all of our minds."
Keyboardist Soraya Zaumeyer is admired by many a music scene dude as the Lori Partridge of Tampa's Will Quinlan and the Diviners. She sings soft and pretty, adding starry-night magic with her keyboards. Lately the rootsy, melodic Diviners have been touring the state. They play at 10 p.m. at New World Brewery.
"Pop music owes so much to the sounds, rhythms, and melodies of Africa. 'World music' as a genre had never really intrigued me in the past, but WMNF has introduced me to some really dynamic acts from this continent. I would love to see what Kinobe and Soul Beat Africa (9:05 p.m., Cuban Club Cantina) has to offer.
"When I was in the Sugar Oaks, we shared the stage with the Modern Skirts (9:10 p.m., the Orpheum) more than a few times, and I was always captivated by their songwriting and super-tight harmonies. I seem to remember some solid keyboard playing as well. I'm definitely looking forward to hearing their set.
"I'm a retired ska kid, and Magadog (11:55 p.m., Cuban Club Bandshell on the Patio) was a fixture during my junior high and high school days. Maybe these guys can usher in a Tampa Bay ska revival? Can't wait to hear what they're up to now.
"Bonerama (11:30 p.m., El Pasaje Plaza): I need to see this. My family is full of band geeks — my dad was a trombone player, and I'm sure I would be disappointing him if I didn't take this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
Formerly of Barely Pink, Hangtown and Rebekah Pulley's Reluctant Prophets, singer-guitarist Ted Lukas would surely be an inductee for Tampa Bay's Music Scene Hall of Fame, if there were one. With his new band the Misled, he specializes in a smooth and potent concoction of rock, blues, country and power pop. Lukas and the Misled play at 9 p.m. at New World Brewery.
"Well, I am fortunate because my band is playing right after Roppongi's Ace (8 p.m., New World Brewery), which means that I will get to see at least some of their set. I've seen them play a couple of times before and they just keep getting better and better.
"Chuck Prophet (10:05 p.m., Cuban Club Bandshell on the Patio) floors me because he is one of the few songwriters out there who can successfully combine so many different musical styles and influences into his recordings. Who else can make a hip-hop beat work with a '60s Farfisa organ and a children's choir? Chuck is an energetic performer who always connects with his audience, and he plays the hell out of that Telecaster, too.
“Michael Burks (8:10 p.m., Cuban Club Bandshell on the Patio) plays Chicago-style blues on a Gibson Flying V guitar, just like Albert King. Now, ya gotta love that. I'm there.
"If we get down there early enough, I'll definitely head on down to the Cantina to see the Mojo Gurus (5:10 p.m., Cuban Club Cantina) play. Doc Lovett is a great friend of mine and he's also one of my favorite local guitar players."
Mark Warren is a busy musician and supporter of the Tampa Bay music scene, having played in several bands and helping Skipper's Smokehouse keep on top of showcasing local talent. His super-fun surf dance-rock band Vodkanauts performs the Friday Extra Concert Series at Lowry Park on Friday, and post-Heatwave, the band's appearing at a slew of WMNF tribute shows. The Vodkanauts play at 11:30 p.m. in the Cuban Club Ballroom.
"As it happens, by good/bad luck, the Vodkanauts are playing smack dab between two I'm very much looking forward to seeing, Blair Carman (8:40 p.m., Cuban Club Ballroom) and James Intveld (11:30 p.m., Cuban Club Ballroom). Carman is described as a mix of Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley, and the evidence on YouTube certainly backs up the claim. In a perfect world, Intveld would be a million-selling Top 10 country artist. He doesn't sound like current country, but rather, current country music should sound like James Intveld, with pedal steel and Telecasters out front, loud and proud.
"We recommend all Heatwave attendees start their Heatwave experience off with a proper aloha frame of mind and catch the set from our similarly retro-minded homies Stolen Idols (6:30 p.m., the Orpheum; see Page 33) — they're just fantastic and really do the Martin Denny/Arthur Lyman exotica trip with spot-on perfection. Hopefully somebody at the Orpheum knows how to make a mai tai."
The strikingly handsome Shawn Kyle has taken his band, the Beauvilles, far and wide through hard work and a "Don't hate me because I'm beautiful" determination. The majestic, big-sounding rock band worked around the clock recording, touring and promoting its 2009 CD, Whispering Sin, and performed in a slick music video for the hit Snow, which got airtime on MTVU and Fuse. The Beauvilles also scored opening dates with Drive-By Truckers and was invited to perform at South by Southwest. The band plays at 11:45 p.m. at the Cuban Club Cantina.
"Thomas Wynn, the frontman of Thomas Wynn and the Believers (6:30 p.m., Cuban Club Cantina), is a rare songwriter that not only means what he says; he lives it. I have a great respect for him, and we have gotten to chat at festivals and other tour dates we have played together in the past year. The Believers are a top-notch band, one of the best in the southeast. Their new record is great!
"Drummer and Queers alumni Hunter Oswald of the Sheaks (midnight at New World Brewery) has been yelling at me to see them for months. I know that they are good, because all the players in that band are good. Also, I just met bassist Chicago Joe (Montanaro), and he was crazy enough to invite me and some other friends back to his pad to party with him, and I think I got out of control and broke something, so I should go see 'em.
L. Cave McCoy
Singer-guitarist L. Cave McCoy is half of GreyMarket, a Tampa duo that delivers danceable rock so powerful, you're stunned when you realize it was created by two people. They released the CD Some Orbits Will Never Decay (S.O.W.N.D.) late last year to much acclaim. They perform at 11 p.m. at New World Brewery.
"I enjoy the honesty of Will Quinlan and the Diviners (10 p.m., New World Brewery), and I haven't had the chance to see his band in a long time. As for Quinlan, he's got a real old soul for songwriting, in the vein of, say, Neil Young — the art of making a lot of song out of a small pile of chords.
"I'm also looking forward to the Modern Skirts (9:10 p.m., the Orpheum). We played with them a few years ago and they were great. I'm most interested in the Modern Skirts' guitar player — he has a very George Harrison type of vibe and I enjoy his solos."
The Sheaks, composed of local and nationally recognized musicians — namely Hunter Oswald of the Gotohells and the Queers — emerged on the scene as a supergroup from the starting gun, attracting crowds and favorable word of mouth. The St. Pete band, which has wisps of Zeppelin, Beatles, Wilco and Pavement, has holed itself up in drummer Oswald's garage studio, recording the band's hotly anticipated debut LP. The band plays at midnight at New World Brewery.
"Green on Red was one of the first bands that I was hipped to when I moved to L.A. It wasn't until Chuck Prophet's (10:05 p.m., Cuban Club Bandshell on the Patio) second record that I realized he was in the band. I'd already loved his solo stuff. Having never been in town when he's been here, I'm anxious to get a chance to see him.
"Before that, I'm planning on checking out Kinobe and Soul Beat Africa (9:05 p.m., Cuban Club Cantina). If it's half as good as what I imagine in my head, I'll be happy. There are quite a few bands I wanna be able to see. It's not that easy for the performers though, having remembered the last time I played. With the marathon scheduling, we're often confined to our respective venues. Fortunately, the line-up at New World is as appealing to me as the rest of the festival."