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Robbyn Mitchell, Times Staff Writer

Robbyn Mitchell

Robbyn Mitchell covers pop culture, entertainment, night life, local events and arts for tbt* and the Times. She is a native of Washington, D.C., and a 2007 graduate of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee.

Phone: (813) 226-3373

Email: rmitchell@tampabay.com

Twitter: @RMitchellTimes

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  1. Tampa leather goods company Branch & Wilder a labor of love for designer

    Rows and rows of tiny tools line the walls of a small studio space in the back of dilapidated cigar factory on N ­Albany Avenue in Tampa.

    Chris Pass smiles as he picks up each one, remembering keenly where he acquired it and how useful it's been since founding Branch & Wilder, a handmade leather goods company, in 2013.

    "I started this as a hobby first, which is dangerous, because instead of thinking, 'I made this amount,' you end up thinking, 'Sweet, now I can buy this new tool,' " laughed Pass, 26, a digital advertising employee from Seminole Heights. "That's how I ended up with so many of these things. ...

  2. For Krewe on the outside, Gasparilla 2015 parade politics a mystery

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — For the past five years, the Anna Maria Island Privateers haven't been allowed to march in the Gasparilla Pirate Festival parade.

    Sometimes the reason was clear — new parade rules mandated floats be towed instead of driven, for example. Other years, the explanation got murkier.

    "They told us they had too many pirate krewes and weren't accepting any more," said John Swager, 51, a plumbing shop manager and Privateer since 1994. ...

    "They told us they had too many pirate krewes and weren't accepting any more," said John Swager, 51, a plumbing shop manager and Privateer since 1994. "Back in the day, I used to run up and down the parade route with the best of them. I wear 65 pounds of gear including an authentic sword. It was a great time." [Times files (1997)]
  3. Tampa sports bars gear up for nonstop Gasparilla, Super Bowl parties

    Monday can't come fast enough for Tampa sports bars preparing to deal with crowds for the Gasparilla Pirate Fest and the NFL's Super Bowl all in one weekend.

    Food orders have grown exponentially, and staffers thinking about taking a day off can think again, say some bar managers about what may be the most jam-packed two days of the year.

    On top of the two main events. Hattricks Tavern also has a home Tampa Bay Lightning game to think about....

  4. Interview: Mario Lopez dishes on Gasparilla game plan

    Events

    This year, Gasparilla organizers picked the right man for the job when they reached out to actor, author and radio and Extra host Mario Lopez to be one of the grand marshals for the annual Pirate Fest's parade.

    While on the red carpet of the Golden Globes earlier this month, the man who became famous as A.C. Slater on Saved by the Bell took more than several tequila shots with some of the biggest stars in the world — transforming the stuffy step-and-repeat into an outdoor party. ...

    Chris Faris, the command sergeant major of U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDilL AFB. Faris is a co-grand marshal of gasparilla 2015. He is also retiring at the end of February after 31 years in the military.
  5. Charlie Murphy talks career, comedy before Tampa's 'Black and Brown Comedy Get Down'

    George Lopez called Charlie Murphy when he was gathering comedians for an all-star benefit to erect a statue of Richard Pryor in Peoria, Ill. The roster of comedians invited to perform included some of the most famous names in the industry's past 20 years, and Murphy, who has only been doing stand up since 2003, was among them.

    "How could we not go there to pay homage to one of the greatest to ever do this?" said Murphy, 55, who rose to prominence on Chappelle's Show. "Everybody was on their game and we killed it. Promoters seen that and it started from there." ...

    charliemurphy.com
  6. Charlie Murphy talks Bill Cosby, bombing, the stigma of being Eddie Murphy's brother and more

    Blog

    George Lopez called up Charlie Murphy when he was gathering comedians for an all-star benefit to erect a statue of Richard Pryor in Peoria, Ill. The roster of comedians invited to perform included some of the most famous names in the industry’s past 20 years, and Charlie Murphy, who has only been doing stand up since 2003, was among them.

    “How could we not go there to pay homage to one of the greatest to ever do this?” said Murphy, 55, who rose to comedy prominence on Chappelle’s Show. “Definitely, everybody was on their game and we killed it. Promoters seen that and it started from there.”...

  7. Review / photos: Rich Gang Tour a frustrating mix of highlights (Migos, Rich Homie Quan) and lowlights (Birdman) at Tampa's USF Sun Dome

    Blog

    Even the strong performers of the night couldn’t save the frustrating mess that turned out to be the Rich Gang Tour at Tampa's USF Sun Dome Sunday night.

    The arena concert for an act with no official album wasn’t necessarily a red flag, but in hindsight, perhaps this tour was better suited to a large nightclub or smaller venue with fewer rules and time restrictions.

    Shortly after midnight, Young Thug took the stage hyped up and ready to go. He sped through several hits including Hookah, the second song of his set. Young Thug skipped around the stage, giving the crowd his best, while taking brief breaks to take sips from a double cup....

    Young Thug performed as part of the Rich Gang Tour at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa on Jan. 18, 2015.
  8. Moving away from Tampa Bay Fashion Week may boost the profile of Cocktails X Couture.

    Events

    Flamboyance and fierceness will be on tap Saturday night at the Ritz Ybor as the venue kicks off the year in fashion with the Cocktails X Couture event.

    Eight local designers will showcase small collections on an 80-foot by 24-foot runway specially constructed for the evening in the Ritz's theatre. There will be live performances by musicians, dancers and showcases of art.

    "Our theme this year deals with gender identity but it's not an overarching banner," said Okesene Tilo, a spokesman for the Ritz Ybor. "We will have themed cocktails for each room of the venue including male and female interpretations of the Moscow Mule."...

    Three runway shows will be featured at CXC.
  9. Tampa's Gypsy Junque bus brings bohemian fashion to the streets

    Consumer

    Right away, the smell of the Gypsy Junque bus transports all those who board to another place. Elke Lockert burns incense that recalls peace signs and shaggy hair, while her Internet radio station plays a selection of soothing classic rock just as appropriate during the Nixon administration as it is today.

    "People always comment on the incense smell," said Lockert, 46, a media saleswoman from Seminole Heights. "I like shopping on the Gypsy Junque bus to be an experience. And music, you know, creates an atmosphere. This place wouldn't work with me playing 'untz-untz' Hyde Park Café music."...

    Inside the bus, you’ll find an array of custom pieces.
  10. Review: DMX finally shows up in St. Petersburg for erratic but magnetic Jannus Live concert

    Blog

    DMX is a lot of things. He’s charismatic, chatty, vulgar, angry and spiritual. That confluence of traits makes him dynamic, keeping the rapper beloved in the hip hop community for nearly 20 years. But it’s not exactly conducive to a one ]-hour set. Fans need time to experience DMX.

    At Jannus Live Friday night, they got a taste, but many came expecting a meal.

    Local opening acts Jinx, Infinite Skillz and Rival breezed through their sets in the 9 p.m. hour and left the stage open for the DJ to hype the crowd until DMX, 44, arrived. Chilly fans bounced along for a little over an hour until the rapper and his full entourage – which included his two adorable 6-year-old children – took the stage just before 11 p.m....

    Fans were thrilled for the chance to see rapper DMX at Jannus Live, especially after he no-showed at a gig there last fall.
  11. Vanessa Williams talks fame, race and pageantry before coming to Clearwater

    Music & Concerts

    It's been a while since Vanessa Williams has come to town. Since her last Florida performance, she's had star turns on two hit ABC TV shows, Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives, and she's returned to Broadway for acclaimed productions After Midnight and The Trip to Bountiful.

    Now, with a break in her hectic schedule, the 50-year-old singer and actress will bring her mini tour to Clearwater's Capitol Theatre, fine-tuned to titillate fans who love her classic albums and others who appreciate her Broadway work. She talked to tbt* about what fans can expect, her upcoming nuptials and why fame should never be the goal....

    Vanessa Wiliams has a lot to say on fame, race 
and more.
  12. From This Day: Stacey Endicott and Paul Raspitizi

    Relationships

    ST. PETE BEACH — Paul Raspitizi knelt in front of his new wife, Stacey Endicott, and playfully reached up her gown for her garter — receiving a fake kick for his efforts.

    "We thought it would be fun to choreograph that part of the wedding," said Paul, 30, a financial planner for Ernst & Young who lives in Riverview.

    As he pretended to reel from the fake blow, Paul transitioned into his signature wedding dance move, the Worm, which he has performed at more than 10 weddings. ...

    Stacey Endicott, 34, and Paul Raspitzi, 30, of Riverview married Nov. 22 at the Grand Plaza Hotel in St. Pete Beach.
  13. Tampa Bay's best concerts of 2014, Part 5: Usher, Jill Scott, Drake vs. Lil Wayne and more

    Blog

    (Through the end of the year on Soundcheck, our contributors are looking back at the best local concerts of 2014. Today: tbt* staff writer Robbyn Mitchell.)

    Whittling down the list of performances I’ve seen this year into a “Best of 2014” list is considerably difficult since almost every live music experience has a strong point if the artist is present (I’m looking at you, DMX) and sober-ish (Let’s not mince words, Wiz Khalifa.)...

    Usher performed at Tampa's Amalie Arena on Dec. 14, 2014.
  14. Review: Jingle Ball brings Pharrell Williams, Demi Lovato, frenetic pop spectacle to Tampa's Amalie Arena (w/photos)

    Blog

    What do two Top 10 singles, a pair of Grammy nominations and the fact that it’s your 21st birthday get you at the 93.3-FLZ Jingle Ball?

    If you’re Meghan Trainor, it means a scant 10 minutes on stage at the very tip-top of the night. And the singer couldn’t have been more thrilled to get it.

    “Opening the show is epic,” said the singer of All About That Bass, one of 2014’s biggest pop-chart juggernauts. “It's actually my favorite, because I get to watch everyone and relax out there. I don't want it to end.”...

    Singer Jake Roche of Rixton signed autographs and took photos with fans outside Amalie Arena in Tampa following the 93.3-FLZ Jingle Ball on Dec. 22, 2014.
  15. Backstage at the Jingle Ball: Jessie J, Charli XCX, Shawn Mendes, Meghan Trainor and more

    Blog

    So much happens at each year's 93.3-FLZ Jingle Ball that it's impossible to cram all into one recap. This year's Jingle Ball on Monday at Tampa's Amalie Arena is no exception. Here are a few highlights from our backstage chats with performers...

    *****

    "Tampa just feels like a holiday place," said British pop star Jessie J about the final stop of the Jingle Ball tour. The Bang Bang singer did her Christmas shopping in Tampa and her parents and best friends arrived in town Monday afternoon. "That's what so hard about being on tour. Being away from the people that make you feel like you can do this."...

    Jessie J walks the red carpet of the 93.3-FLZ Jingle Ball on Dec. 22, 2014 at Amalie Arena in Tampa.