Three of the most popular events of the 11-day Chasco Fiesta celebration happen today and Saturday in and around Sims Park in New Port Richey: True Oldies Night, Chasco Country Concert and the Chasco Fiesta Boat Parade on the Cotee River.
Today's big doings start at 5 p.m. when the Native American Festival and carnival rides open, then shift into high gear at 6 with True Oldies Night, with the Legends of DooWop and Joey Dee of Peppermint Twist fame take the stage ($5 admission).
Those who go can expect an evening of mellow, romantic harmonies by doo-wop singers Tommy Mara (the Crests, Sixteen Candles) and crew, with high-energy songs by Dee's musicians.
Saturday's events start early, with the Cotee River Lions Club breakfast ($4) from 8 to 11 a.m. to get everyone energized for nonstop activities throughout the day.
The first highlight comes at 1 p.m., when decorated boats and riders in costumes form the Chasco Fiesta Boat Parade, which starts at Millers Bayou and floats to Sims Park.
The night is topped off when up-and-coming country singer Luke Bryan (All My Friends Say, Country Man) headlines the Chasco Country Concert, preceded by the trio Love and Theft (Runaway) and local favorites Wiley Fox.
Bryan has been touring with Kenny Chesney and Trace Adkins, but feels more than ready to headline his own show. He released his debut album in 2007 and since then has won Music Row's Breakthrough Songwriter Award and been a finalist for the Academy of Country Music's Top New Male Vocalist Award.
He says he has changed his style from heavy on the physicality to heavy on the song.
"I used to run around and dance and do back flips. The music wasn't necessarily there, so I had to do crazy antics," he told an interviewer. "Now I tend to let the music do the talking."
Love and Theft's three-part harmonies attracted the attention of superstar Taylor Swift, who wrote Hey Stephen about member Stephen Barker Liles after they all toured together. (Liles, by the way, grew up in Palm Harbor and went to the University of South Florida.)
The group has become an Internet favorite, scoring 19,000 paid downloads in the first six days of the release of Runaway, which helped put the album, World Wide Open, into the top 10 on the Nielsen Soundscan Country top 75 chart.
Love and Theft has been on both Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and the Today show and performed at the Grand Ole Opry.