Saturday, February 24, 2018
Business

Tampa Pitcher Show fundraiser nets an eclectic crowd

CARROLLWOOD — The movie and music lovers gathered at the venerable theater.

They came to hear one of their favorite local bands. They came to share memories of a long-ago dance club.

Most all, they came to help a business that has been a home to many for nearly 35 years.

Times have grown difficult in recent years for the Tampa Pitcher Show, which celebrates its 35th anniversary in June.

Wayne Valenti, who manages the movie-restaurant at 14416 N Dale Mabry Highway with his wife, Cindy, said, "The higher technology in the movies didn't drive more business."

Tampa Pitcher Show is having a series of fundraisers, including one May 15, when more than 100 people joined together to hear the Lint Rollers and other bands.

Independent film lover Rich Danford organized the event.

"We want to keep the doors open" because of the venue's support of independent films and events, he said as he gave away prizes.

Almost half of the attendees were former employees, musicians and customers of the Casbah Lounge. The popular gathering place in the late 1970s to the late 1980s was at the Stadium Holiday Inn on North Dale Mabry near what was then Tampa Stadium. Reunions are held every few years.

"We both had events on the same day so we said, 'Why don't we do it together?' " Valenti said.

Khalid Pervez served as the manager of the Casbah and brought the Casbah crowd to the Tampa Pitcher Show to reconnect and reminisce.

It's not surprising they stay in touch as of "everybody just started becoming friends and it grew into a family," said Athena Cartaya, who was a Casbah regular.

"I just enjoyed it; I closed it down a lot and I danced a whole hell of a lot."

She usually danced to Rhapsody, the house band that played there in the early 1980s.

Duke O'Connell and his then wife, Lynn Dee, now Lynn Dee Snyder, were the band's lead singers.

"It was a real friendly atmosphere, a younger crowd, an older crowd," O'Connell said.

Debra McGurery was a server and bartender from 1982 to 1986; she remembers the first Super Bowl in Tampa in January 1984.

"It was a crazy week; we worked from 10 a.m. to 3 or 4 a.m. the next day," McGurery recalled. "We met a lot of celebrities. Jim Plunkett (a former NFL quarterback) used to come in a lot."

Casbah even attracted others in the food and drink industry with Monday night designed as Hospitality Industry Night.

But any night was fine for Debra Miller, who sang at nearby Malio's, which closed at midnight. When she and others got off work they would go to Casbah, which stayed open later, she said.

"We would make a living at bands, and they would let you go and sit in with them," she said.

The lounge, which was remodeled in 1980, was typical of the era with a wooden dance floor, but had a custom-built sound system installed by Joey Donovan of Donovan Audio.

Donovan now plays with the Lint Rollers, which was the featured act at the Tampa Pitcher Show event.

"I designed it custom for the venue. It was a place with lots and lots love for the music," Donovan said.

"I wanted it to be comfortable for local bands to walk in and hook right into the system," he said.

He added it was in green to the match the room and created by Ramsdell Pro Audio of St. Petersburg

"I still get my equipment from them."

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