There’s something to applaud about Tampa when a concert rightfully sells out! It restores my faith in this city having exceptional taste in music, and gives me hope that other fantastic artists and musicians will take note and head down this way to perform. Last night’s SOLD OUT Phantogram wih Bad Things concert at The RITZ Ybor was simply put… FUCKIN’ AWESOME! An even bigger bonus when the music artists are just as cool and genuine as you would hope them to be.
Check out more photos online RIGHT HERE.
Another year, another Gasparilla International Film Festival (GIFF). This year’s Closing Party FINALLY took place at The RITZ Ybor historic theatre, where I’ve always said that it should take place since I attended my very first one four years ago and not because I work there. It only makes sense that Tampa’s independent film festival kick off and conclude at this city’s oldest theatres that are still in operation: the historic Tampa Theatre built in 1926 and the historic Ritz Theatre built in 1917. Hats off to GIFF for making that magic happen this year!
“Artifice” by SOHN: My latest song obsession is “Artifice” by British singer-songwriter-producer Christopher Taylor who performs under the moniker SOHN. One listen to SOHN’s gentle, delicate vocals singing the chorus lyrics “Somebody better let me know my name, Before I give myself away… Somebody better show me how I feel, Cause I know I’m not at the wheel…” gliding across a lush, layered electronic backdrop, and you’re instantly hooked.
The 16th Annual Festa Italiana took place in Ybor City on Sunday, April 7, 2013. Festivities officially kicked off at The Italian Club’s Wines of Italy event the Thursday prior, and the celebration continued each day until the main event at Centennial Park. My work is a huge supporter and sponsor of Festa Italiana which amusingly began as my bosses’ picnic for their friends and family. Today, a staggering 10,000 patrons attend their lil’ Italian festival picnic.
Way before I ever became involved with and worked for Festa, I remember loving the event which can best be described as an overwhelming experience of food, drinks, culture and people. To now officially be a part of a local tradition that honors and preserves a culture’s heritage and traditions is rewarding and very worthwhile.
Viva Festa Italiana!
Photos courtesy of Radko Keleman Photography
Please click on an image to view / enlarge:
I have a slight obsession with Olly Murs whose Right Place, Right Time album has been receiving ample play on my iPod. Olly rose to fame on the UK version of The X-Factor, and conquered the European charts before storming American shores. His current single “Troublemaker” is rapidly racing up the Billboard charts, and he’ll be playing at The RITZ Ybor next week Wednesday, May 8, 2013.
Say what you want about Madonna. She’s old. She’s tired. She has no talent. She can’t sing. She can’t dance. She’s a slut. She’s past her prime. There simply is no denying the woman and the mark she’s left on pop culture and music. She is the world’s best-selling female artist of all-time and is still breaking records this year with yet another #1 album, a sold out world tour, the most Tweeted about celebrity achievement (during this year’s Super Bowl performance) and a $550-million payday according to Forbes.
This past Tuesday, my friend Jocelyn’s company threw their annual “Happy Birthday Madonna!” party at Timpano Chophouse in Hyde Park Village. There was live Madonna-inspired entertainment, a video wall playing all of her iconic music videos and images, look-a-like contests, photo stations, birthday cakes and more. As I walked into the packed house filled with Madonna wannabe’s and look-a-likes, I was suddenly transported back to the late 1980s / early 1990s where you couldn’t go anywhere on the planet without running into someone who wasn’t copying or imitating her style and look. I remember growing up as a child and staring at this woman on MTV in total awe and fascination. Sure Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey sang better than her and Janet Jackson and Paula Abdul were better dancers, but Madonna had the message, the originality, the brazen starpower.
Nearly 30 years into her career, and she is still seen as a contemporary alongside today’s pop starlets. From Pat Benatar to Cyndi Lauper to Kylie Minogue to Britney Spears to Jennifer Lopez to Katy Perry to Rihanna to Lady Gaga, Madonna has stood by them all. While Jennifer Lopez and Kylie Minogue have perfected sexual confidence as an art, theirs lacks the depth and meaning that Madonna brings to the table. While Katy Perry and Britney Spears sing undeniably catchy pop songs, theirs lacks the message of empowerment that accompanies a Madonna track. And while Lady Gaga and Rihanna never fail on the visuals and the flash, they have yet to exude an ounce of vulnerability. It always amazed me how a bold, brassy and outspoken person (see “Justify My Love” or nearly any of her MTV VMA performances) can also be so soft and humble (see “This Used To Be My Playground” or “Live To Tell.”) In response to the newer generation that will undoubtedly disagree with any of the above statements about their idolized pop diva, I simply say that they have not been properly educated. From her bragging to her High School classmates’ in their yearbooks with her bold yet prophetic statement that she would be “the most famous woman in the world one day” to her risky move to New York City at the age of 19 with 30 bucks in her pocket and sheer determination, Madonna is a survivor.
And to those who doubt Madonna as a live vocalist performer…
“Sooner or Later” performed by Madonna
1991 Academy Awards
I’m at the stage of my life where the typical hype before any type of monumental life event fails to exist anymore. I hadn’t seen my very good friend Neil or Jason since… I cannot even remember. I had never been to the annual Southern Decadence celebrations in New Orleans ever. I had been feeling burnt out with work, friends, life and everything in between, so suddenly embarking on a new vacation with two of the only people who can read me like a book failed to phase me. What on Earth was going on?
When you get older in life, it seems like you automatically sign a contract with time to rush by faster than ever before. Back in my 20’s, a trip such as the one I took over Labor Day weekend would have been met with “butterflies in my stomach” tossing & turning with anticipation and excitement for at least 3 days prior. However, I didn’t even flinch a thought of the reality of this trip until I needed to secure: (1) a ride to and from the airport (I love you Nicolas) and (2) luggage to borrow since the handle on my carry-on decided to break (I love you Jocelyn).
Let’s just say this about celebrating my first Southern Decadence in New Orleans with Neil and Jason and Tanner… I could not have needed more of a gust of fresh, new air than what that weekend brought upon me. I smiled. I laughed. I laughed even more. I laughed until my stomach hurt. I laughed so much that I should have a six-pack. Neil has always been a constant source of amazement in my life, and Jason Moriarty… the same guy who I could viciously turn sour on at the drop of a hat, became someone that I hold dear in my heart. I never considered someone as a “best friend.” I’ve always been fortunate in life to have a plethora of “very close & good friends,” and Jason has definitely ascended to that category.
Neil lives in Chicago but works in St. Louis. Jason and Tanner live and work in NYC. Every Memorial Day, we made a pact to meet one another in Chicago. Every Labor Day, we made another pact to meet again in New Orleans. The thought of spending time with those two negates the first half of this post, because I will be holding a countdown in absolute excitement until my next weekend that I am able to spend with them.
Coming back from New Orleans could not have been more difficult. Every trip, I crave and obsess over coming back home… being back in my bed… being back in all that is familiar… returning to what has become my home. Something was completely different with this trip. I found myself dreading coming back home. Why was I still living in Tampa? Why did I continue making Tampa my home if returning home was nothing more but upset? These questions clouded my mind, and stayed with me for a good two days after landing.
What could’ve and should’ve homogenized into a full-blown month-long depression instead vanished after this past weekend…
I truly do have the best friends here in Tampa, and feel like I am FINALLY with others who are in the same, exact boat as me. I am 31-years-old and making the most out of every single breathing minute of life. Whether enjoying a spontaneous $100.00 steak dinner with friends on a Friday night, or getting obnoxiously intoxicated the next evening and suffering for it the entire next day… it is all worth it.
I love my friends as much I love life. As Tom Cruise told Renee Zellweger in Jerry Maguire, they, my friends, “…complete me.”