Whether he's performing solo or with his band Fifty Five South, St. Louis Native Ken Apperson's funky guitar style and clever lyrics have made him a popular performer at bars and festivals around town. Recommended for any fans of John Mayer, Maroon 5 and Matt Nathanson. facebook.com/kenappersonmusic.
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The Plant City native has been performing her brand of folk-tinged tunes locally for the past couple of years, culminating in her first album, Detour, which features tales of strength, independence, perseverance and self-preservation. She also organizes Plant City's Open Jam, an open mic on Tuesday nights at Big Dogs Patio in Plant City. reverbnation.com/annagavin.
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After writing her first song at age 7 and learning guitar at 13, Tampa singer Ashley Jones studied music at college in Tallahassee and moved to New York, where she performed at famed stages like the Knitting Factory. She later went to Rwanda, where she had directed previous charitable efforts, and wanted to tell the stories of the Rwandan children through her music. The result was The World Should See Her Face, an eight-song EP about her time in Africa. ashleyjonesmusic.com.
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Tampa singer-songwriter Frankie Raye has taken her music all across the state, performing a mixture of original pop songs and covers. Influenced by the likes of Joni Mitchell, Ingrid Michaelson, Daphne Willis and even Tampa Bay's own Geri X, she has described her music as "happy, meaningful and something like an early Sunday morning in the mountains, relaxed and content." frankieraye.com.
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Swearingen & Kelli
Singer-songwriter A.J. Swearingen has been performing for 20 years. Jayne Kelli is in her 20s. But as a duo, they make remarkably intimate folk-pop with heavy doses of Americana and country. Their collaboration has proven fruitful for both, as they have toured the country together and are working on a debut album for release this spring. When they're both in town, you can usually catch them at the Hideaway Cafe in St. Pete. swearingenandkelli.com.
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Tampa singer-songwriter Nghia Ta released his debut album, What I've Found, in late 2010. It's a collection of originals and acoustic pop covers, like Howie Day's Collide and Jason Mraz's I'm Yours. The title track is a delicate pop ditty with a groovy beat. Check it out on iTunes. nghiatamusic.com.
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Over six decades, Lake Wales folk singer-songwriter Thomas has penned more than 500 songs, leading some to call him the musical heir to legendary Florida songwriter Will McLean. Thomas now sits on the board of the nonprofit Will McLean Foundation, and is a leading force at Sertoma Youth Ranch's Will McLean Music Festival. In March he was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame.
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Michael J. Weiss
This year Michael J. Weiss released Grounded, an album that shuffles freely from breezy track to breezy track, with a floaty, happy-go-lucky vibe (see Living My Life and Looking for My Groove) that will please fans of Jason Mraz or Train. "This is my first big studio endeavor in a long time and surely the one I'm most proud of," Weiss says. Check him out at bars and cafes all over town, including a regular brunch gig at Irish 31 in Tampa. michaeljweiss.com.