It sure was an eventful year. On the arts and culture front, big stars came to Tampa Bay, and our little world collided with showbiz. These illustrious smashups included a nebbish film legend, visits from two fabulously snarky gay men, one sassy Brit, the taping of a national radio show and a huge party thrown in honor of a "Dude."
10. Tim Gunn
Sept. 17, International Plaza
TV celeb and style expert Tim Gunn
knows how to "make it work" on the reality competition show Project Runway. He came to Tampa to talk to the crowd about his recent memoir and advice manual, Gunn’s Golden Rules: Life’s Little Lessons for Making It Work
9. Alphabhetto Launch Party
Sat., Sept. 10, at the Collective Tattoo and Art Gallery
Tampa-based artist Josh Pearson's Alphabhetto
, an urban triptych inspired by children's ABCs books, derives from the morphed-object inventions of Pearson's Michigan childhood and, as an adult, his signature style of hybridizing living and non-living things in his tattoos and illustrations. A huge crowd came to see the super-cool alphabet of urban flotsam and jetsam melded with familiar creatures.
8. Woody Allen and His New Orleans Jazz Band
Dec. 21, Ruth Eckerd Hall
With only a cursory knowledge of New Orleans jazz but armed with a sub-scholarly understanding of Woody Allen’s oeuvre I enjoyed a solid two hours of his band (Allen on clarinet) playing tunes straight out of any Allen movie — from the gin-soaked barroom dirges to brassy marching classics that nearly conjured the iron-and-brick universe of New Orleans right there on a dramatically downplayed stage. The musician and legendary film director's plentiful clarinet solos were a great mélange of sentimental and ballsy, and his performance was pitch perfect — cool and rhythmic. The only thing missing was the dancing and drinking and as I scanned the surface of the room — filled with mostly shortly cropped grey-haired heads, all perfectly still — I felt that this was more of an intellectual exercise than the way the New Orleans jazz musicians intended this music to be performed. Which left me wondering — is this exactly as Woody wanted it or is it something that might be parodied in one of his movies? Either way, it was a thoroughly satisfying glimpse into the heart of one of the best filmmakers of all time." (Text by Natalie Campisi Tarpley)
7. Closing of Vinyl Fever and The Globe Coffee Lounge
The year was book-ended by the closing of two local cultural institutions, a Tampa record store
and St. Pete food and arts cafe
that were more than just businesses. Their employees were like family to many of us, their owners looked out for ours, and their shops were refuges from the inane and generic clutter of 21st century our lives. Both also provided performing spaces for local talents, with many memorable shows over the years. (Photo of the Globe by Chip Weiner)
6. Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!
Nov. 17 at the Straz
Show host Peter Sagal and the man, the voice, Carl Kasell, held court on the left side of the stage while the show’s three panelists, Roy Blount Jr., Faith Salie and Adam Felber occupied a table near front and center. Behind them, producers and technicians worked their magic to get the show on-air ready for Saturday’s broadcast. Celebrity guest Marc Maron called in from his L.A. garage and said that it was “the biggest conference call I’ve ever been on.” Click here for more from Carol Cortright's story about the event.
(Photo by Drunk Camera Guy)
5. John Oliver
Oct. 21, Straz's Ferguson Hall
Seeing the spry and silver-tongued Brit from the Daily Show
and supporting cast member of Community
live, you realize that he is vastly underrated and deserves his own big gig a la Stewart and Colbert. Oliver is eloquent, hilarious and badass live. During his Tampa show, a drunk, "hippie" from Ontario heckled him on stage, and he played up his exchanges with the wacky audience member — whom he dubbed "Canada" — effortlessly and hilariously. At one point the woman rendered Oliver so frustrated that he wound up with his head in hands, seated at the edge of the stage. The crowd erupted in laughter, and Oliver continued his masochistic endeavor of incorporating Canada into the act throughout the evening.
4. Microgroove Grand Opening in Seminole Heights
Music fans came out in droves to shop in Microgroove
, owned by former Vinyl Fever employees Carl Webb and Keith Ulrey. The event was momentous on three fronts: 1.) It was a triumphant return of the VF guard. 2.) A new, affordable independent record store opened in Tampa Bay, and 3.) It was an important milestone in Seminole Heights growth as a vital neighborhood. Neighboring business owners got in on the fun. Cappy's Pizza
sold $2 slices for one night only and The Independent
was pouring drafts for half off with a purchase at Microgroove. The celebration continued through the weekend and included appearances by the following: fellow former Vinyl Fever employee/Matador recording artist Jennifer O'Connor
, Arizona-based artist Tracy Shedd, WMNF 88.5's Scott Imrich broadcasting his "Saturday Asylum
" show live by remote from Microgroove, Tampa's Sleepy Vikings, I Was Totally Destroying It from N.C., Mitzi Gordon's Blue Bird Book Bus and Rebekah Pulley performing Will Quinlan. Former Vinyl Fever-ite (and DJ) Chris Preston, aka Cub, provided custom screen-printed limited-edition Microgroove shirts, and photos from indie-rock show photographers Nicole Kibert
and Kelley Jackson
were on display. microgroovetampa.com
3. Weird Al Yankovic, Alpocalypse Tour
2. John Waters: This Filthy World
Oct. 5, Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater
Weird Al Yankovic summoned the geek gods and brought the Force to Clearwater's favorite concert hall, draped in an Obi-Wan Kenobi-style cloak and flanked by a chorus line of Stormtroopers (and Darth Vader himself!). He performed his tribute to the Star Wars series, "The Saga Begins" (to the tune of "American Pie") followed by "Yoda" in the style of the Kinks' classic "Lola." A large projection of his spliced MTV interviews from around some 10-15 years ago recaptured the incoherent and self-serious inanities of superstars Madonna, Jennifer Simpson, Eminem, Robert Plant and Keith Richards, along with his hilarious music videos, provided an extra oomph to the oom-pa-pa. Beyond the extras, Yankovic demonstrated his honest-to-goodness musical talent, shredding on the accordion and belting out in key while performing mano a mano with his super-tight live band of three decades.
Jan. 27, USF Theatre The Pope of Trash
visited Tampa for a free lecture and book signing. The Baltimore native, writer, director and fringe humanitarian shared stories about his twisted classics like Pink Flamingos
, Divine and his unabashed love of Justin Bieber. Waters endeared the crowd with his delightfully deviant sense of humor and uncanny, even if at times flippant, empathy for society's disenfranchised.
1. Lebowski Fest
Feb. 25-26, Ybor City
Jeff Dowd, the gregarious and eccentric inspiration behind the The Big Lebowski
's lovable lead, came to Tampa for the momentous first-time installment of the movie-fan convention and bowling-balls-out celebration in Tampa
. The blowout took place over two days, comes courtesy of local promotion gurus Brokenmold
. The first night’s event at the Ritz Ybor features music by Have Gun, Will Travel (they do a mean cover of Dylan’s “The Man In Me,” which plays during the film's opening credits) and The Lambasters (Nervous Turkey’s Ernie Locke), and Saturday’s shindig pleased the Achievers in appropriate fashion at University Lanes bowling alley in Tampa.
Note: CL's news, music, visual arts and music editors have created Top 10 lists, too, so check theirs for those that don't appear here.
Thanks to Natalie Campisi Tarpley, Carol Cortright and Kate Bradshaw for their invaluable contribution to this report.