Saturday, April 21, 2018
Music News, Concert Reviews

After 34 years, WMNF's Tropical Heatwave leaving Ybor City's Cuban Club — but why?

Alabama Shakes get solid airplay on Tampa's WMNF-FM 88.5. The station has even tried to book the group to play Tropical Heatwave, its eclectic, long-running music festival in Ybor City.

So, how's this for irony? Tropical Heatwave is leaving its home of 34 years, the Cuban Club, and Alabama Shakes may be to blame.

For months, Tropical Heatwave 2016 was scheduled to take place April 30 at the Cuban Club — until last week, that is, when the venue announced it was partnering with concert promoters AEG Live to bring the acclaimed alt-rock band there for a concert April 29.

At first, this looked like a win-win for local music fans. Alabama Shakes one night, Tropical Heatwave the next, would make for a potent double bill.

Behind the scenes, that wasn't quite the case.

Cuban Club president Patrick Manteiga said April 29 has been on hold for Alabama Shakes for at least nine months, and the show was looking solid by December. The entire time, he said, the Cuban Club kept WMNF in the loop.

But WMNF program director Randy Wynne said last week's announcement took the listener-supported station by surprise.

"As of a week ago, we were totally planning to be in the Cuban Club," he said Monday. "Then when we got that news about Alabama Shakes being there the night before, it kind of threw us."

For one thing, Wynne said, any lineup they could present would probably pale in comparison to Alabama Shakes, whose latest LP Sound & Color debuted at No. 1 and is up for Album of the Year at next month's Grammys.

More daunting to WMNF was the prospect of tearing down one big concert, with an expected crowd of more than 3,000, and setting up an entire festival in less than 24 hours. Stages, fences, tents, outdoor toilets — the logistics seemed untenable for the largely volunteer-run station.

From the venue's perspective, none of this was a problem. The Cuban Club has hosted many events on back-to-back nights, from concerts to weddings. Manteiga said he thought WMNF could even save a little money by sharing some infrastructure from the previous night's show.

"We still don't have a problem with turning around the venue in a day," he said. "This was not our issue."

Instead, days after the Alabama Shakes announcement Jan. 19, the station announced it was pulling Heatwave out of the Cuban Club and onto eight stages in various clubs around Ybor City, including Crowbar, New World Brewery and the Ritz Ybor, the likely main stage. All have a smaller capacity than the Cuban Club courtyard, but Wynne doesn't anticipate a major dent in ticket sales. He believes the move will save the station money "because it's quite expensive to do the Cuban Club."

Tropical Heatwave has had stages in many of those same Ybor City clubs for a few years now, but the nearly century-old Cuban Club has always been its physical and spiritual home.

"We always thought, would it really be Heatwave if it's not the Cuban Club?" Wynne said. "This kind of pushed us to test that."

Heatwave aside, the Alabama Shakes booking is a big deal for the Cuban Club, which has long sought to become a bigger player in the concert industry.

In 2014, the club razed its bifurcated courtyard to make room for larger crowds, specifically in hopes of booking acts like the Shakes — too big for a theater or club like Jannus Live (which the band sold out with ease in 2013), too small for a venue like the USF Sun Dome or MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre.

Eventually, Manteiga said, the Cuban Club hopes to host 15 to 20 concerts a year. He still hopes Heatwave can be one of them, but he said at this point, the station is not returning his calls.

"I frankly looked at it as a big opportunity," he said. "We would love to have Tropical Heatwave there. We still want to see Tropical Heatwave there. We would love to work with WMNF on making Tropical Heatwave happen."

For his part, Wynne doesn't sound too bitter about WMNF leaving the Cuban Club and supposed Tropical Heatwave could return there in 2017.

He harbors no ill will toward Alabama Shakes, either.

"I'm happy for the Cuban Club because that's a great band to have," he said. "A lot of the WMNF crowd will be there the night before."

Contact Jay Cridlin at [email protected] or (727) 893-8336. Follow @JayCridlin.

   
Comments
RIP Avicii, an EDM superstar who helped break rave culture in America

RIP Avicii, an EDM superstar who helped break rave culture in America

Here's all you need to know about this decade's explosion of electronic dance music in America.In September of 2011, Swedish DJ Avicii played a late-night show at a nightclub on Ulmerton Road in Clearwater.By June of the following year, he was headli...
Published: 04/20/18
Producer and DJ Avicii has been found dead

Producer and DJ Avicii has been found dead

Avicii, the Grammy-nominated electronic dance DJ who performed sold-out concerts for feverish fans around the world and also had massive success on U.S. pop radio, died Friday. He was 28. Publicist Diana Baron said in a statement that the Swedish per...
Published: 04/20/18
Underoath’s Spencer Chamberlain talks breakup, reunion, getting sober and returning to St. Petersburg

Underoath’s Spencer Chamberlain talks breakup, reunion, getting sober and returning to St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — HGTV fanatic that he is, Spencer Chamberlain sees a metaphor for his band in the ever-evolving St. Petersburg skyline."When you go downtown and you look at the ONE, that used to be a dirt parking lot," said the singer, referring to a...
Published: 04/20/18
New Hot 101.5 Summer Jam bringing Meghan Trainor, Liam Payne, Alessia Cara, more to Amalie Arena in Tampa

New Hot 101.5 Summer Jam bringing Meghan Trainor, Liam Payne, Alessia Cara, more to Amalie Arena in Tampa

A new radio mega-festival is on its way to Tampa Bay.Hot 101.5 on Friday unveiled plans for its inaugural Hot 101.5 Summer Jam, June 29 at Amalie Arena.Based on the lineup, it sounds like a proto-version of the Jingle Ball. Best New Artist Grammy Win...
Published: 04/20/18
Joey Fatone’s hot dog food truck is coming to Plant City this weekend

Joey Fatone’s hot dog food truck is coming to Plant City this weekend

We're still a few weeks from Justin Timberlake's nearly sold-out concert in Tampa. Until then, you'll have to make do with Joey Fatone's hot dogs in Plant City.Timberlake's 'N SYNC bandmate has a burgeoning wiener empire in Orlando, Fat One's Hot Dog...
Published: 04/19/18
Huge concert week in Tampa: Foo Fighters, Kenny Chesney, 98 Rockfest, more

Huge concert week in Tampa: Foo Fighters, Kenny Chesney, 98 Rockfest, more

PURE NIRVANA: Foo FightersDave Grohl may be America’s last unquestioned rock god. He’s played with Kurt Cobain and Jimmy Page, Tom Petty and Trent Reznor and St. Vincent, and he also leads a pretty decent group — perhaps you’ve heard of them — called...
Updated: 8 hours ago
SoundBytes: Steel Panther, Surfer Blood, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and more

SoundBytes: Steel Panther, Surfer Blood, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and more

— Florida's own indie rockers Surfer Blood are returning to Crowbar on Aug. 24, with the Blonde Tongues opening. Tickets are $13 and up. Click here.— Hair metal satirists Steel Panther are coming to Jannus Live on Aug. 16. Tickets go on s...
Published: 04/18/18
Shinedown’s Barry Kerch talks Jacksonville, rock festivals, the demons that inspired their new album and more

Shinedown’s Barry Kerch talks Jacksonville, rock festivals, the demons that inspired their new album and more

There was a time in the lifespan of Shinedown when Barry Kerch wasn't all that keen on festivals."Backstage for the bands has gotten a lot better," he said by phone before Shinedown was set to play a biker festival in Arizona. "It used to be an extre...
Published: 04/18/18
The Flaming Lips have a Record Store Day beer. Here’s where to get it in Tampa Bay

The Flaming Lips have a Record Store Day beer. Here’s where to get it in Tampa Bay

It's no surprise the Flaming Lips are behind one of the most unusual collectible items this Record Store Day. This is a band, after all, whose past Record Store Day stunts include an album encased in a life-size chocolate skull and another infused wi...
Published: 04/18/18
Review: Jason Isbell breathes life into masterful lyrics at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater

Review: Jason Isbell breathes life into masterful lyrics at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater

Kendrick Lamar won a Pulitzer Prize on Monday, and a more deserving recipient you'd be hard-pressed to find. He's the best songwriter in America, and it was nice to see that reflected in a way the straw-spined Grammys never will.But if you want to ta...
Published: 04/18/18