YBOR CITY — Lizzy Plapinger and Max Hershenow of the band MS MR walked into Coppertail Brewing, where the brewmaster was waiting by the bar.
"Wanna show us your morning routine?" Plapinger asked, as cameramen tailed them back into the brewery.
Ten a.m. seems a bit early for a private brewery tour and beer tasting, but hey, these guys are musicians. Why not start the party early?
"That just really speaks to the rock 'n' roll lifestyle," Plapinger laughed later. "Drinking first thing in the morning, haven't even had breakfast in our stomach yet. My mother's gonna watch this thing and be mortified."
The New York indie pop duo are in Tampa Bay this week to film an episode of The Navigator Live, a music and travel documentary series on the cable network AXS TV. The series is sponsored by Renaissance Hotels, and MS MR's two-day shoot will culminate in a free live concert Friday at the Vinoy Renaissance Resort & Golf Club in St. Petersburg.
Between Coppertail on Thursday and the concert Friday night, the show's producers lined up a handful of fun excursions for the band, including a trip to the Salvador Dali Museum, shopping at the Ybor City vintage boutique La France, a horseback ride into the shallow tides of Tampa Bay, and at least one more brewery, Cigar City Cider and Mead.
Is that a normal itinerary for an indie rock band on the road? If only. On most tours, Plapinger and Hershenow spend most of their downtime on the bus or doing promo work, although they do squeeze in quick trips to vintage shops or cool restaurants when possible. After arriving Wednesday evening, they dined at the Birch & Vine in St. Petersburg.
The freedom and flexibility to explore a city's culture is part of what has attracted artists like Walk the Moon, Grouplove and Awolnation to The Navigator Live. While Renaissance logos occasionally find their way into frame — such is the price of corporate sponsorship — the artfully filmed travelogues generally focus on smaller local businesses and artisans, giving bands the chance to interact with their destinations on a more personal level.
That's exactly what Renaissance Hotels always hoped the series would do. The Navigator Live is named for Renaissance's "Navigator" program, which operates sort of like a concierge desk with an emphasis on hidden gems — "opening our front doors and recommending the local discoveries here within our area," said Clint Anderson, senior operations manager at the Vinoy.
When MS MR (pronounced "miz mister") were invited to film an episode, they specifically requested Florida, a state where they have a lot of fans, but is a costly place to route a tour.
"This is an unusual thing for us to be doing, but it's fun," Plapinger said. "At the root of it is a show for an audience that we don't get to play to as often as we'd like."
If they do come back through town, they'll have a better idea of how to drink like a local. During their Coppertail tour, MS MR quizzed brewmaster Casey Hughes on his brewing history and process, and the differences between each of his beers. They left with T-shirts and a list of all the beers they tried.
"If you're in St. Pete," Hughes told them, "you can put this on your rider."
That would be fine with MS MR, who got a big kick out of day-drinking with Hughes.
"It's always fun to talk to somebody who's incredibly passionate and excited about what they're doing," Hershenow said. "We can get behind that no matter what, if they're into it, and they're truly an expert in what they're doing. It if involves beer at 10 in the morning, even better."
Contact Jay Cridlin at [email protected] or (727) 893-8336. Follow @JayCridlin.