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with Rob Mondora

Five questions for Rob Mondora of the Largo Cultural Center

Rob Mondora, head of the Largo Cultural Center, loves music and motorcycles. He brings them together on Saturday, with the center’s August Rocks in Central Park.

Courtesy of Rob Mondora

Rob Mondora, head of the Largo Cultural Center, loves music and motorcycles. He brings them together on Saturday, with the center’s August Rocks in Central Park.

Rob Mondora plays the drums, the clarinet and the saxophone. He's a motorcycle aficionado who has at least two bikes in his garage here in Pinellas County and a secret stash at his buddy's house in New York.

As the one remaining, original staff member at the Largo Cultural Center, he can tell you swiftly when the venue opened. "It's been 121/2 years. I can tell you fast because my daughter (Nicole) was born the night of the grand opening. I went to the hospital in a tuxedo.''

Mondora was promoted from technical director to head of the center eight months ago after the departure of Colin Bissett. He is also one of the chief organizers of Saturday's event, August Rocks in Largo Central Park.

From 3 to 10 p.m., Central Park will have a motorcycle show and an outdoor rock concert going on simultaneously. And to add a little spice to the afternoon, Mondora led a request to allow patrons to roam freely through the event with their beer.

"I just thought it would be silly to keep people confined to a beer area when so many different things will be going on.''

Mondora said he will ride one of his bikes to Saturday's event, though he wouldn't say whether the ride would be his V65 Magna 1100 or his Kawasaki LTD 1000.

1What is your favorite genre of music? That's tough. There's so much, but if I have to say, it would be music from the '80s. That's what's got the most emotional connection for me, but I love jazz, blues, so much.

2In the spirit of August Rocks that includes so many tribute bands, I have to ask, what was your first concert back in the day? Was it something like ZZ Top and Black Oak Arkansas' joint tour in the late 1970s? Bon Jovi? Actually, no. My first concert memories were with my parents. They would take me to see the Pittsburgh Symphony or Cincinnati Pops. I also remember they took me to see the group Manhattan Transfer. Those are more my first concert memories.

3Have you seen a change in the Largo Cultural Center's reputation in recent years? Yes. We're beginning to negotiate better contracts and getting performers that would normally be in larger halls.

4What's the biggest challenge you face in your job? The biggest challenge is we're going to take a 30 percent hit in our budget. However, we're booked through May 2010, and I'm happy to say I've figured out how we'll handle it. For example, we've taken on some new sponsors.

5Do you think that there will be other events like this, allowing people to drink beer throughout park? I don't see why not. I don't expect any problems.

BonusDid you study for this type of career, managing a performing arts center? I've been working in the entertainment and theater business for more than 20 years, but I have a degree in another field. I actually had a geology internship in a phosphate mine in Central Florida.

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If you go

What: August Rocks in Largo Central Park, 101 Central Park Drive, featuring five Tampa Bay-based tribute and rock bands along with a motorcycle show created in partnership with Born to Ride, a motorcycle enthusiast magazine.

When:

3 to 10 p.m. Saturday

Admission: Free. Concessions will be sold. Proceeds benefit scholarship funds through the city of Largo.

For list

of lineup: Visit largoevents.com.

Five questions for Rob Mondora of the Largo Cultural Center 08/11/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 11, 2009 6:24pm]

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