The first days of March were full of fun and fundraising at the annual Music on the Bay festival in Tampa, FL. Trop Rock music fans, Parrot Heads and beach-loving locals attended the 5 day festival where over 25 musical acts entertained on the secluded beach at Whisky Joe’s.
The setup is ideal with 2 stages, a large outdoor tiki bar, multiple beach fire pits, palapa tables and plenty of sand to dig your toes into. Overlooking Tampa Bay with spectacular sunsets, the festival embodies everything we love about the beach lifestyle. From the beachy location to the laid-back rum soaked music. Music on the Bay is a destination festival for anyone with a big heart who enjoys sun, sand and beach bands.
It’s All About The Kids
Raising money for the Shriners Hospitals for Children is the top focus of Music on the Bay and they do it in the most fun ways. Several of the creative fundraising activities are the hat decorating contest, silent auctions, palapa table auctions and raffles. Attendees had the chance to win cool tropical wares and autographed memorabilia.
The favorite fundraiser is the annual event on Saturday afternoon. The legendary Sauce Boss performs as he cooks up a huge pot of gumbo on the stage. Getting everyone involved, fans donated for a chance to stir the pot and show off their dancing skills as part of the show. There were sexy dancers, funny dancers, talented dancers, several couple dances and even a radio broadcast by Radio A1A, all while stirring the big pot.
Several children benefiting from the local Shriners hospital services came out to enjoy the entertainment and each loved getting up on stage to stir the gumbo. At the end of the Sauce Boss’ performance, attendees passed through the line to get their steaming hot gumbo, donate to Shriners and meet these most precious children.
The number of musical acts during Music on the Bay is always abundant, but even more so this year. Starting off on Wednesday at the pre-party, the music kept going until Sunday evening.
The Wednesday pre-party is the calm before the storm at Music on the Bay. It’s the perfect evening to hug old friends, meet the new people you’ll hang out with over the next 4 days and enjoy the free buffet provided by Whisky Joe’s. The evening acts were Danny Rosado & Boomer Blake followed by headliner Don Middlebrook.
Danny Rosado and Boomer Blake are both up and coming artists in the Trop Rock genre. As a duo, their performance was engaging. Witty banter, well written original songs interlaced with energetic covers to the delight of pre-festival goers.
Don Middlebrook took the pre-party to the next level with an interactive show. He debuted his new song about Music on the Bay titled “Jump Start.” The lyrics pull you right in, “Every year spring gets a jump start. Tampa Bay opens up it’s heart.” The song is punchy and Don hones in on the charity focus of the event throughout the song. The lyrics are “Big town, big sound. Trop rock, big hearts. Be kind, rewind. Catch the wave, Music on the Bay”
One thing you can always count on at a Don Middlebrook show is audience interaction. Bill Connolly (one of the main organizers of the festival) gave a washboard performance while dancing in the sand, Nora Brown was deemed “the woman to blame” and Cindy Muir, Sheila Jorgensen, Gay Burks and Ileana Diaz joined in on stage as Don Middlebrook’s back up singers and maraca shakers.
Jeff and the Camaros started the beach side performances on Thursday afternoon. Jeff’s enthusiastic personality shined through on stage encouraging the crowd to join in as he played the best covers songs for a day at the beach.
The first big band concert at Music on the Bay took place on Thursday night with Jerry Diaz & Hanna’s Reef. The crowd migrated to the large beach stage to hear Jerry and the band perform original songs such as “Beach People,” “Let the Good Times Roll,” and “On a Beach in Mexico.” The energy kept pumping up as Jerry brought up guest artists during the show such as Reggie Starrett, Kristine Jackson and Donny Brewer.
Mark Mireles took the lead on several songs. His rich vocals are becoming well known in Trop Rock and his rendition of Earth, Wind and Fire’s song “September” was outstanding.
Jerry Diaz & Hanna’s Reef may have been the last beach stage performance on Thursday, but the night was far from over. The VIP party took place at the host hotel for special guests such as artists, organizers, volunteers, sponsors, industry professionals and the first 50 people who registered for the event. What a fantastic bonus for the attendees who were the first to commit to attending Music on the Bay 2019!
The Cabana Dogs were the host band for the show and Rich “Schooner” McGuire continually rotated singer/songwriters to the stage. Notably, the Sauce Boss was the highlight of the night. Many of us only see his gumbo-making show which includes a lot of made up lyrics and recipe songs. On this night, he highlighted his powerhouse originals. The Blues never sounded so good.
Friday was the first full schedule of music with seven acts performing through out the day and night. The highlight of the small stage was Reggie Starrett’s two performances. Singing his award winning co-written song “Back to the Sun” which sounded even better with the addition of Howie Golub sitting in on harmonica. And there was no lack of audience chanting when he sang “This Beer is Making Me Awesome.”
On the big stage, the 3 bands of the night were Jimmy and the Parrots, Donny Brewer and the Dock Rockers and Jim Asbell and the Tropiholics. Jimmy and the Parrots are always crowd favorites, but this year with a new set of cover songs geared toward people of a “certain age,” made these guys the talk of the event. This performance was a fun filled throwback show full of well-known sing-along songs. With the addition of Doyle Grisham on the steel pedal guitar, Jimmy and the Parrots were on top of their game.
Donny Brewer and the Dock Rockers were in the perfect slot of the night for their many drinking songs. The festival was in full swing and fans were ready to party. The crowd fully sang along to “No Working During Drinking Hours” and “Rum and Something” which brought up co-writer Reggie Starrett to the stage.
Jim Asbell and the Tropiholics looked fresh and invigorated for their late night show. The horn section adds great depth to their sound along with Sunny Jim who rounded out the band with his steel pans. The fans loved their performance of popular covers such as “Free” and “Knee Deep” by the Zac Brown Band and Jimmy Buffett’s “Grapefruit – Juicy Fruit.”
The rowdiest moment came when Jim Asbell performed “Take Your Shirt Off and Dance.” Quite a few brave guys gathered in front of the stage, sans shirts, and danced like no one was watching.
Saturday is the fullest day of the festival with fundraising events taking place along with the music performances. Scott Kirby showcased his soulful lyrics about boats, oceans and beaches to a swaying crowd. Corned Beef & Curry were full of their usual bounciness and watching Bob Banerjee seduce the violin is reason enough to seek out their show.
John Patti brought together various talents including Nadirah Shakoor, the vocalist from Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band. Steeling the show was Jeff Pike and Nadirah performing Foreigner’s recently re-released song “I Want To Know What Love Is” to benefit Shriners Childrens Hospitals. Jeff and Nadirah gave it their all and it was one of the most memorable moments of Music on the Bay.
Jeff Pike and his band, A1A, did an outstanding job of bringing the Jimmy Buffett songs to the festival. Jeff’s dynamic stage persona is infectious, plus he performed a number of the “songs you know by heart” which kept the Parrot Heads jumping, holding up their fins and singing about cheeseburgers.
In the middle of the A1A show, Jeff Pike announced he was giving the band a break and then introduced Scott Nickerson to join him on stage! A monumental moment to see the original A1A duo back together again. If you don’t know the history, back in the day Jeff Pike and Scott Nickerson formally met with Jimmy Buffett’s “people” to request permission to start a Jimmy Buffett tribute show. With Jimmy’s blessing, the duo were the first official Buffett tribute band.
The Boat Drunks closed out Saturday night with the addition of Nadirah Shakoor. Mixing it up, the lead vocals rotated between Mike Miller, Howie Golub and Nadirah. Mike’s song “Hollow Man” is always anticipated and as expected fans were singing every word to the song. Heather Vidal made a special appearance and John Patti joined the band for the night adding steel pan island sounds and some vivacious tambourine playing.
On the last day of the festival the attendees were still (impressively) going strong. The Bulawayos Band (Cory Young & Ty Therman) were the unexpected stars of the day. Cory and Ty have been touring together and their show was first-class. Fun, upbeat and featured more beach balls than a Jimmy Buffett concert. This new arrangement of talented musicians creates a whole new band in the genre and we’re sure to see them again at future Trop Rock festivals.
Music on the Bay sets the bar for Trop Rock music festivals and somehow it gets better each year. The key is in the organizers. The volunteer team works year round to pull off this professional event, ensuring attendees will hear the best music, have the most fun and never loose sight of “partying with a purpose.” Dorthy Beldam (President of Tampa Bay Parrot Head Club) says, “It’s all about the Kids.”
See you next year! February 26th – March 1st. Find out more at: Music on the Bay