We make a fuss around here when the big guns come through town, with good reason. We gave Taylor Swift the cover treatment in October, and best believe Queen Beyonce can expect the same in April.
But the superstars all have to start somewhere, don't they?
This week we pay homage to the local artists working the Tampa Bay music circuit, some making the stage at Tampa's Gasparilla Music Festival this weekend.
Many moons ago, I sang in a local band. Although it was definitely more of an occasional hobby than a job, I can vouch that the pursuit of music can be a thankless task. The only payment is often a drink and free cover for a friend.
Of course, if you put in the work and have the chops, things can work out much better. The bands pop music/culture critic Jay Cridlin spotlights in this issue have managed to sign with record labels and play on major stages including last weekend's inaugural Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival.
We know you're lining up for the big stadium shows. But if you want to support the acts still on their way to superstardom, here are a few of my favorite local music haunts to spot talent.
Dunedin Brewery, Dunedin
Whether it's bagpipes or punk covers, you're going to get a healthy musical mix at the Dunedin Brewery. One weekend, I wandered in and caught visiting Canadian retro rockers the 24th Street Wailers. I stayed for the whole set.
Skipper's Smokehouse, Tampa
I like the visual message when you walk into Skipper's Smokehouse. There are tables, but there's also a big, empty floor, because — let's be honest — you're going to dance. Flower children love this joint for Uncle John's Band, and it also plays host to some quality WMNF tribute shows.
New World Brewery, Ybor City
The vibe is laid back and cozy, like a back patio at the home of some cool friends with decor they got on overseas trips. The people are friendly. The pizza is delicious. And New World Brewery gets some of the coolest local and traveling acts playing a few feet from your face.
Emerald Bar, St. Petersburg
Any place with an ATM at the door and red Solo cups at the bar is going to offer a divey good time. If you can wade through the smoke, you'll hear some of the loudest rock and roll St. Petersburg has to offer. Just step out into the night air for a breath later.