Vertical Guitarist Cesar Rios, singer-bassist Eric Omar Rodrigues, drummer Louis Alicea and pianist Chris Bonafe won the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino's recent band battle to find a local finalist in the worldwide Hard Rock Calling contest. On Facebook, fans can vote for Alma Vertical, a groove-driven band with Latin and Christian touches, to perform at this summer's Hard Rock Calling Festival in London, alongside Bon Jovi and Rod Stewart. facebook.com/AlmaVertical.
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The Black Roses
Young duo Drew Anthony (guitar/vocals) and Fona Erdem (drums) are putting their own unique, feedback-laden twist on the blues. Anthony's lightning-fast, resplendent leads are evocative of Ten Years After's Alvin Lee's late-'60s and '70s handiwork; while Erdem holds down the fort with her solid, primitive, drumming, a la Maureen Tucker of The Velvet Underground. theblackrosesband.com.
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Dunedin's Captive may be a Christian rock group, but like a few other prominent artists in that genre, they don't want to be limited by the tag "Christian artist." Their melodic alt-rock sound has been compared to bands like Skillet and Red, though their single Flowers (Acoustic) is a lovely pop-rock song with delicate pianos and indie orchestration. reverbnation.com/captivemusic.
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Since founding in 2011, Escape Tonight have performed with Paper Tongues, Less Than Jake and Hoobastank. In August, they released their CD Far From Home. Produced by Joe Quinde (Jay-Z, LL Cool J), it's full of fuzzy, humming grunge-power-pop in the vein of Husker Du, Dinosaur Jr. or early Foo Fighters. escapetonightband.com.
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Koncrete Kite may be Tampa Bay's ultimate family band. Brothers Rich, Greg, Chris, Joe and P.J. Bove have played together off and on for some 30 years, with styles of music that suit the times, from classic rock to grunge to modern rock. Their new album Full of Bull, Rich said in 2012, "took four years with constant recording, and fighting, and re-recording, a childbirth, a divorce, more recording ... but the brothers and I are very happy with the end result."
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The Heene Boyz
Influenced by old-school metal artists like Black Sabbath, Dio and Iron Maiden, the Heene Boyz aren't your everyday teen band. Singer-bassist Falcone Heene was the boy at the heart of the "Balloon Boy" story that dominated the news for a brief period in 2009, when it looked like he'd climbed inside his father's giant silver balloon contraption, which was floating adrift over Colorado. The family later moved to Spring Hill, and Falcon, now 10, sings and plays bass in what he calls "the world's youngest metal band," alongside brothers Bradford, 13, (guitar) and Ryo, 12, (drums). Thanks to Falcon's noteriety - and their legitimate chops - the band has received press attention from around the globe. heeneboyz.com.
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Jason Trunzo of St. Petersburg says his band, Lushbudget, plays "singer-songwriter rock with an edge." The Pittsburgh native once led a successful touring band called D.O.S.E., but in the past two years, he began reinventing himself in St. Petersburg. Along with Travis Lacey, Jason Gilbert and Sara Walter, Trunzo and Lushbudget play songs that straddle the boundary between '90s pop-rock and grunge. facebook.com/lushbudget.
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The Music Box
Clearwater post-rock outfit the Music Box has been around off and on since 2010, performing soaring, atmospheric indie-alternative music at venues around the bay. With no vocalist, the group is frequently compared to Explosions in the Sky, and the comparison can be valid - their EP I've Got A Feeling We're Not in Kansas Anymore closes with a song called Remember Me, which would sound right at home in Dillon, Texas. The band currently is campaigning for a slot on this year's Warped Tour stop in St. Pete. facebook.com/tmb.band.
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Tampa's New Cathedral - Scott Perez, Chris Perez, Ryan Kersey and Ricky Stephens - released its debut album, Haunted, last fall. It bears the influence of artists like Thrice, AFI and Danzig. It's "kind of a dark sound ... but we also focus on catchy and memorable songwriting," they say. newcathedralband.com.
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Tampa hard-rockers Red Calling - singer-guitarist-keyboardist Jessica Pons, guitarist-synthman Javier Pons, drummer Destiny Covault and bassist-synthman Luis Pons - cite influences like Lacuna Coil and Deftones in their music, but their use of piano and synths call to mind Evanescence as well. redcallingmusic.com.
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Dunedin group SuperCruiser - singer-guitarist Simon McGintey, guitarist Dan Lajoy, bassist Rob Parlaman and drummer Ryan O'Rear - have been together for almost a year, playing a fuzzy, sludgy blend of metal and folksy, bluesy Americana. Their latest album, Gunn Hwy EP, calls to mind a more laid back Soundgarden or Alice in Chains. supercruiser.net.
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Taking a cue from surf giants the Ventures, the Shadows and the Safaris, this instrumental Land O'Lakes trio has caused a splash with its unique variation on a traditional rock form. Led by guitarist-bassist Jonathan Zakel and his father, Bill Zakel, they conjure a trance-inducing tone with parallel melodies that swim within a wash of silver reverb and primal drumbeats. facebook.com/TidalWaveFL.
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Tidey teaches children to rock as co-director of the Rock School at the Patel Conservatory at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. Before that, he was a touring guitarist with the British band Feeder - and he's part of a popular Japanese supergroup called Muddy Apes, who recently convened for a recording session in Tampa. patelconservatory.org.
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Trop Rock Junkies
Florida has no shortage of Buffett-esque beach-rockers. Seven of them have come together to form the Trop Rock Junkies, a Caribbean-leaning outfit with members from around the globe. Steve Tolliver and Collin Ward (guitar and vocals), Greg Sabol (bass), Doug Wilcox (keys), Mark Sweat (drums), Lightning Jack McGivern (steel pans) and Tim Poole (guitar/harmonica) came together in 2009 when Tolliver, formerly a touring musician in Australia who now lives in Clearwater, needed a band to play live gigs. troprockjunkies.com.
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Trust for Liars
Trust For Liars is a local modern-rock supergroup of sorts, with members hailing from well-known bands like Trace of Day (vocalist Nate Kuusela, drummer Chuck Barilla and guitarist Adam Catalano) and Rude Squad (bassist Kyle Sokol). Along with guitarist Anthony Ellis, their new project is a crunching alternative act with searing vocals. trustforliars.com.
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The Wilson Van
A cross-platform, multimedia, family-band supergroup, the Wilson Van is a Van Halen cover group made up of brothers Patrick, Mark and Paul Wilson. Actor Patrick, the star of such films as Young Adult and Watchmen, plays drums and sings in a Tony-nominated tenor. Paul, a local advertising guru, is the David Lee Roth of the bunch, a savvy showman with a freewheeling stage presence. And guitarist Mark, an anchor for WTVT-Ch. 13, is an Eddie superfan who possesses his own custom Frankenstrat. Together they play their favorite Van Halen songs - Panama, You Really Got Me, Running With the Devil, Jump - as well as '80s covers like Journey's Don't Stop Believing and the Outfield's Your Love. thewilsonvan.com.