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TAMPA BAY'S MUSIC SCENE A FESTIVAL FOR THE SENSES

Music fans today are living in a festival culture. Here in Tampa Bay, we're seeing it in a big way.

Last year saw the launch of two successful fests, the eclectic Gasparilla Music Festival and electronic Sunset Music Festival. This year, we'll see debuts of the Funshine Music Festival at the Florida State Fairgrounds and the Big Pre-Fest in Little Ybor, an offshoot of Gainesville's iconic Fest.

So it's no accident that many of the bands in tbt*'s seventh annual Ultimate Local Music Guide have had major success on the festival circuit.

Some made a national splash: The Applebutter Express at Bonnaroo, Zulu Wave at the CBGB Festival in New York, Rec Center and Merchandise at South by Southwest. But even local fests like Antiwarpt, Tropical Heatwave or Whigfest can expose you to talented Floridians like Jun Bustamante, Wolf-Face and Polyenso.

For the third straight year, we're teaming up with a great local mini-festival, Tampa's free monthly Rock the Park, to showcase three of this year's Top 10 artists: Bluegrass jam band The Applebutter Express, fun-loving punks Wolf-Face and genre-pushing rapper-producer Heights NS. They'll all perform in Tampa's Curtis Hixon Park Thursday, starting around 6:30 p.m. For details, see rocktheparktampa.com.

You'll also see several festivals in our list of the 25 hottest local concerts of the summer (Page 54), including Funk Fest and the Vans Warped Tour. Why are these festivals such a good time? Because they always expose you to artists you previously knew nothing about. That was the case for me at every festival I attended in 2012, from Antiwarpt and Gasparilla to DeLuna Fest and Bonnaroo.

That's also why we love creating this issue. Every year, we discover new local artists who are making great music. Give each of this year's top 10 artists a listen, and we guarantee you'll find something you like.

If not, just head to the next stage. More and more of them keep popping up all around town.

- cridlin@tampabay.com

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Get more local music coverage

Is one Ultimate Local Music Guide a year not enough? Head to tampabay.com/music for a ton of bonus content, including:

- Songs and videos from this year's Top 10 Ultimate Local Artists.

- Photo galleries of this year's top artists, as well as portraits of our top artists from years past.

- Our #tampabaylive Twitter and Instagram gallery, featuring staff and reader concert photos. Hashtag your music photos #tampabaylive, and you'll be in there, too!

- Year-round coverage of local bands, concert announcements, reviews, photos and artist interviews on our Soundcheck blog. (Follow @tbtsoundcheck on Twitter for up-to-the minute local music news.)

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Enhance your experience

Throughout this issue, you'll see this little dude, who we call Augie. His job? Turn this issue into a multisensory, multimedia experience. Here's how he works:

1. Head to your favorite app store and download a free app called Layar. Or scan this QR code with your smartphone and go straight there.

2. Any time you see Augie, scan the page with your Layar app. Videos and music from each of this year's Top 10 artists will magically appear on your phone.

3. Try it out now! Scan this page to visit our revamped music page, featuring playlists, photo galleries and much more.

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