There is so much music happening in St. Petersburg that it’s hard to keep track of it all. You can find music seven nights a week at multiple establishments, most with no cover and extraordinary efforts on the part of club owners to present with live music.
A show at the Ringside Cafe (next to Jannus Live) this Friday is a perfect example: three bands all at the top of their respective games right now. These bands have been part of many of the festivals in Central Florida: Hometeam New Year’s Rally, Gov-Fest, Little Econ Love Fest, Orange Blossom Jamboree and the Great Outdoors Jam. And they play regularly up and down the I-4 corridor… and beyond.
Row Jomah just released their first full-length album, a superb effort titled Cat People (look for a review in the near future). This Clearwater quintet is led by Joe Roma, whose acoustic guitar offers intros to many of the band’s songs. Joe is very soft-spoken, but when he sings, he is emotive, expressive, evocative. The great band behind him features stinging guitar leads from Melbourne Walsh and organ, piano and clavinet mastery from Austin Llewelyn. And the rock-solid rhythm section of Jason Berlin and Dylan Chee-A-Tow anchors the proceedings.
From Orlando comes Leisure Chief. This is one of the outlets for multi-reeds man Christian Ryan. Their strong funky jazz benefits from the contribution of all five band members. Keegan Matthews is an impressive keyboard player who blew it up at Roosevelt Collier’s Purple Hatter finale. Derek Engstrom drums, sings and writes, joined by Chris McMullen on bass. And Nick Bodgon’s lead guitar rocks and funks with ease. Leisure Chief was the subject of a MFN On the Rise article in March (read it here).
And Serotonic, another proponent of funky jazz, was the subject of our On the Rise article Tuesday (read it here). Jordan Garno (guitar) has been in demand for a variety of side projects (The 3rd Kind, Infinite Groove Orchestra, Funk D’s New Diggz), but his first focus is Serotonic. Same goes for keyboard wizard Bryan Lewis, who also plays in The 3rd Kind and in Acme Jazz Garage. Bassist Rob Sanger builds basses for himself and for others! Andrew Kilmartin put this band together, plays drums, and discovers that WWII flashbombs wash up on his beach backyard! And Jon Tucker is the most emotive sax player you may ever see, except that Ryan will be sitting in for him for this amazing show.
Row Jomah plays from 9:00 to 10:10, followed by Leisure Chief 10:30 to 11:45, and then Serotonic from midnight to 2:00. Count on lots of cross-pollination!
And here are a dozen great reasons for you to be there!