Thor Bendickson and Wayne Tagle, hosts of In the Groove on WMNF 88.5 (Tampa), have hosted a number of very successful GrooveFests in the past. After a successful WMNF show last year at the Little Manatee Canoe Outpost in Wimauma, they set their sights on a two-day jam fest, which is now a reality, just two weeks away.
Thor, Wayne and program manager Randy Wind went about collecting an impressive lineup for the intimate inaugural event on the banks of the Little Manatee River. Music starts early Friday evening, April 1st, and goes until the Bath Salt Zombies shut it down Saturday night. (Full disclosure: Scott Hopkins cohosts a jazz show on WMNF.)
Several additions to the lineup have made it truly appealing. Here is a look at the great music you have to look forward to April Fool’s weekend (no joke!).
Trae Pierce and the T-Stone Band blew everybody over at last year’s Tropical Heatwave, also a WMNF event. They also headlined last summer’s Great Outdoors Jam in Lakeland, where the band’s riveting performance electrified the crowd. Here is MusicFestNews’ review of their set:
Trae Pierce and T-Stone came to show us, to quote The Godfather of Soul, “where the funk come from.” Boy, did they ever! If you want to get everyone’s attention, starting with “Cosmic Slop” is a brilliant plan. After that, Trae and band had their way with us; we were powerless to resist the funk. The second tune led into “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again),” and at this point singer Missy Tenbroeck jumped into the crowd and led everybody in a singalong while Brandon “Twitch” Lewis was shredding away. Everybody on stage and in the crowd was bouncing.
Next, they crushed Gary Glitter’s stadium anthem “Rock and Roll, Pt. 2.” Trae and singer Ray Pierce joined the crowd. After “We Got the Power,” Lewis crowd-surfed on his back and never missed playing a note — to “Whole Lotta Love!” Then there was a Rage Against the Machine song, maybe, followed by Trae playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” on bass. And it was only 9 PM. The night was still young!
Fasten your seatbelts, Funkateers!
Voodoo Visionary first travelled to Florida for shows in April 2015 and immediately grabbed everyone’s attention with deep grooves, blistering guitar leads, great Southern rock, and delicious jams. They returned for the Umphrey’s McGee afterparty with Roosevelt Collier that was simply insane. Voodoo Visionary was appeared in a MFN On the Rise feature.
Their next Florida tour includes five dates, starting with a live in-the-studio performance at WMNF on Tuesday, March 29th, shows in Orlando and Dunedin, and Saturday at RevFest in Ft. Walton Beach in addition to their Little Manatee appearance. Their energetic performance will keep you dancing.
Shane Meade and The Sound open Friday evening. Meade is a gifted singer-songwriter and the catalyst behind this soul-infused, rock-jazz project. His music captivates the imagination, and audiences connect to his inspirational lyrics and universal subject matter. His unique and soulful style helps deliver an engaging live performance that is both powerful and uplifting.
The Marcus King Band is led by a 19-year-old guitar slinger likened to many of the Southern rock greats, but he stands on his own as a fine singer as well, playing soul, blues, southern rock and great jam. King and his group have opened for such acts as the Foo Fighters, Johnny Winter and Gov’t Mule, where Warren Haynes came to recognize the talent of King and his group and issued the band’s debut album on Haynes’ Evil Teen label.
Bobby Lee Rodgers is a magnificent guitar player and songwriter who could be likened to Art Blakey for his tutelage of young talent, and he has musicians waiting to play with him wherever he goes, including the Wanee and Peach Music Festivals, among others. He has played with just about everybody, and with good reason. His talents in rock, blues and jazz are widely recognized.
Whether rocking out to his own compositions or presenting his unique interpretations of musical greats such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Thelonious Monk, Rodgers impresses fans and critics alike. He brings a unique sound to his performance because he plays through a combination of Leslie cabinet and vintage guitar amp, which gives him the beautiful sound of an organ and guitar together. He channels Wes Montgomery and shreds with the best of them.
It is difficult to explain The Bath Salt Zombies; you have to see them as well as hear them. Their performances are an entertaining mix of originals and covers that has been variously described as grunge grass, carnival freak folk and sideshow cabaret: circus music gone bad. At daylight shows, you notice their unusual style of dress (mid-1800s Victorian, undertaker-style) represented by their top-hat logo. They have teamed with incredible artists to design amazing props for outdoor shows and body paint which glows under black light.
At Orange Blossom Jamboree 2015, we wrote this about one of their sets:
The highlight (you should pardon the pun) of the set came about 20 minutes in. This will be easier to explain if you are a fan of – or at least familiar with – the 1988 John Carpenter classic They Live starring Rowdy Roddy Piper. That’s the movie where he finds the special sunglasses that allow him to see that the planet is being overtaken by aliens with skeleton-looking faces.
The Bath Salt Zombies have recruited some remarkable artists to work with them, on their sets and especially with black-light paint. Up until the 20-minute mark, the stage was bathed in normal stage lights, with five men playing on stage. Suddenly, and I mean suddenly, they switched to all black lights, and suddenly there were five skeletons of varying colors playing on stage. IT. WAS. AWESOME. They did lots of black-light playing after that and for the next two nights, but nothing eclipsed that first jolting moment. I’ll never forget it!
Troy Youngblood and Soulfish might consider moving into the studio at WMNF; they have played live there three times in the past two months. This is a remarkable band for a number of reasons, first and foremost Troy’s beautiful deep tenor voice along with his superb songwriting skills. The band is pure dynamite, able to simmer and cook and then explode at any moment. Thee Eloquent Barbarian, the man with the amazing bass voice, is a great keyboard and harmonica player. And they have latched onto another young whippersnapper on guitar, George Pennington III, who is quickly making a name for himself (and his fine trio).
Their music is dripping with whiskey and deep front porch soul: witness “Blues in My Blood.” Also, the Chris Brown song: “Molly’s Door.”
Kettle of Fish have all the bases covered: blues, rock, soul, funk and R&B. They play plenty of original music, also mixing in reggae and New Orleans soul, and their covers show a deep love of American music of all sorts, from Little Feat, the Stones, and the Neville Brothers to Otis Redding, Freddie King, Howlin’ Wolf, and more. No matter what you were expecting, this is a totally different Kettle of Fish!
Future Vintage is perfectly named. Their mix of ‘70s funk and fusion and modern electronic dance music produces one outrageous dance party. Keyboard wizard Matt Giancola and Trevor McDannel on bass and bass synth have been the core of the band since its inception, and Eric Layana was the perfect addition to the trio when the drum chair was vacated. Evoking Herbie Hancock, Daft Punk and everything in between, they suggest you bring your dancin’ shoes! Check out their MusicFestNews feature and album review.
Row Jomah has made a big splash on the Bay area scene with intelligent lyrics and great music. The band released their first full-length album, Cat People, last year to critical acclaim (read our review here). Songs often start with leader Joe Roma’s acoustic guitar; his voice is perfect for the band’s music. The rhythm section of Jason Berlin and Dylan Chee-A-Tow is rock-solid, and Austin Llewellyn is an excellent keyboard player. Guitarist Melbourne Walsh is drastically underrated; you’ll enjoy his shredding.
Christie Lenée Project is the brainchild of Ms. Lenée. She is a brilliant guitar player, both acoustic and electric, and has expanded her fan base from her Tampa home nationally, touring frequently and delivering vibrant energy at every show. She has the deep respect of some of the best in the business, including Tim Reynolds, delivering profound instrumental compositions with heartfelt, consciously uplifting songs. Her guitar work includes an abundance of innovative techniques and a percussive approaches. Check out the MusicFestNews review of her most recent album.
There you have it: ten superb reasons to join WMNF for a delightful weekend on the river. You can come for a day or stay for the weekend.