Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Brooksville's Bandshell Bash may have played its last note

Singer Eddie Lawrence wanders the stage as his Company Swing Band plays during the first Bandshell Bash on Feb. 12, 2005, at the Hernando Park band shell in downtown Brooksville.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times (2005)

Singer Eddie Lawrence wanders the stage as his Company Swing Band plays during the first Bandshell Bash on Feb. 12, 2005, at the Hernando Park band shell in downtown Brooksville.

BROOKSVILLE — For five years, the Bandshell Bash concert series served as a small cultural oasis in a town starved for after-hours activities.

In addition to showcasing local and regional talent, the shows at the Hernando Park band shell attracted nationally known rock acts such as Rick Derringer, and oldies doo-wop groups such as the Coasters and the Crests.

But the once-popular free monthly concerts appear to have taken their final bow. Hernando County Fine Arts Council chairman Brian Brijbag on Friday said the organization has voted to drop its support of the series, citing lack of sponsorship money and its desire to focus its attention on other events.

"It's sad to lose it," said Brijbag, a former member of the committee that organized the event. "The Bash was a positive event. But over time, the popularity faded. We felt it was time to move onto other things."

Former Bandshell Bash committee chairman Mike Hannigan said the Fine Arts Council's support of the event had been on the wane for some time. Upon news of the council's pullout, Hannigan and fellow Bandshell Bash committee member Wayne Lowe resigned from the organization.

"I just don't agree with their reasons for dropping it," Hannigan said. "It brought constant exposure to the community. The costs involved were pretty minimal in my opinion."

Launched in February 2005, the concert series was part of a unique partnership between the Fine Arts Council and the city of Brooksville, and was thought by many to be the spark needed to kick-start a long-awaited downtown business renaissance.

Billed as a "family friendly," and alcohol-free event, the concerts offered every genre from jazz and country to hard rock and hip-hop.

Though attendance averaged about 200, occasional name acts sometimes pushed the limits of the 1.5-acre park on E Fort Dade Avenue.

An appearance by the Coasters drew an estimated crowd of 5,000, forcing organizers to find parking spaces blocks away from the park. Classic rocker Rick Derringer drew nearly as many fans, many of whom were from outside of Hernando County.

"You could tell the difference when it was the day of the Bash just by looking at the increase in traffic around town," said Pierre DesJardins, a Brooksville business leader and former Bandshell Bash committee member.

Indeed, on the day of the concerts, several downtown merchants kept their doors open later in anticipation of an uptick in customers.

In 2006, the Fine Arts Council earned a $48,000 challenge grant from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs. The money was intended to fund the series for many years to come. However, DesJardins believes it wasn't spent wisely.

"They went a little wild with it, (hiring) a lot of expensive acts," said DesJardins, who left the Bandshell Bash committee shortly after the grant was awarded. "Had they used it right it should have lasted them a long time."

By 2008, the concert series was under financial strain. Unable to drum up much support from local businesses, the council held a fundraiser and collected an additional $5,000 to keep the series going.

Hannigan said he never supported the committee's push to hire big-ticket acts, preferring instead to keep the concert series focused on affordable local and regional acts.

"We had a lot of people who would come out no matter who you put on the stage," he said. "We should have paid more attention to them. They were the ones that supported what we were doing."

Hannigan said he sees no reason why the concert series can't continue. He'd like to find a suitable nonprofit organization to piggyback the effort onto in order to get a more favorable liability insurance rate. And he's in the process of hunting for sponsors that would like to be associated with the Bandshell Bash.

"During the five years we did the concerts I don't recall getting even one complaint," Hannigan said. "It was something that was fun and free. These days, there aren't many things like that."

Logan Neill can be reached at or 848-1435.

Brooksville's Bandshell Bash may have played its last note 03/12/10 [Last modified: Friday, March 12, 2010 8:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Mayor Rick Kriseman endorsed by another police union


    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman is already backed by the city's largest police union, the Suncoast Police Benevolent Association.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman has secured another police union endorsement
  2. Drinking alcohol on St. Pete Beach beaches now allowed — for hotel guests only

    Local Government

    ST. PETE BEACH — Guests at gulf-front hotels here can now drink alcoholic beverages in permitted hotel beach cabana areas.

    Guests relax on the beach near the Don Cesar at St. Pete Beach. Guests at gulf-front hotels in St. Pete Beach can now drink alcoholic beverages in permitted hotel beach cabana areas after the change was passed unanimously by the City Commission Tuesday night. Residents and other beachgoers who are not registered guests of the hotels continue to be barred from imbibing anywhere on the city's beaches.
  3. Man found floating in 'Cotee River in New Port Richey

    Public Safety

    NEW PORT RICHEY — A body was found floating in the Pithlachascotee River on Tuesday morning, police said.

  4. More than 13,000 fact-checks later, PolitiFact celebrates 10-year mark


    ST. PETERSBURG — Bill Adair still remembers the moment when he realized his idea to fact-check politicians could turn into something big.

    From left, Aaron Sharockman, Politifact executive director, introduces a panel featuring Angie Holan, Politifact editor; PolitiFact founder Bill Adair; and Neil Brown, Tampa Bay Times editor and vice president, at the Poynter Institute on Tuesday.
  5. Trump, McConnell feud threatens GOP agenda


    The relationship between President Donald Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, has disintegrated to the point that they have not spoken to each other in weeks, and McConnell has privately expressed uncertainty that Trump will be able to salvage his administration after a series of summer crises.

    Sen. Mitch McConnell has fumed over Trump’s criticism.