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Friday, May 20, 2011

WMNF's Tropical Heatwave 2011

Several years ago, I attended my first WMNF Tropical Heatwave and I had an amazing time. The Tampa Bay area public radio station hosts this festival every year, bringing in eclectic musicians from around the country (and sometimes, visas pending, the globe!). When I returned to Florida just six (wild and crazy) months ago, I already knew I would be attending the next Heatwave.

The weather on Saturday could not have been more perfect. We had some pretty strong rainfall in the morning and early afternoon, and to my memory, rain like that usually cools down the temps but amps up the humidity. Not on this day! By the time my friend and I arrived in Ybor City, it was the perfect temperature, and there was even a slight breeze! Perfect weather for romping around from venue to venue.

We kicked off our scavenger hunt of sounds with the Two Man Gentlemen Band, who not only had a fun, vintage sound, but rocked the look from their three-piece suits to their vintage guitars. They were fun, bouncy, and a little crass, and I liked them a whole lot. Here's an idea of their sound:

The Carolina Chocolate Drops were one of two bands I had heard of before Heatwave. Some of you may be familiar with their cover of "Hit 'Em Up Style." Unfortunately, they didn't sing this at Heatwave, otherwise I would have called my friend Brandon IMMEDIATELY.

But there WAS some bad-ass "mouth music."

They were delightful.
Toward the end of their set, we stopped by the Lettuce Eat Healthy vegan hot dog cart, which was just outside the area the CCDs were playing. Jim, the owner, is a really cool guy and I was excited to see his cart at Heatwave since I'm rarely in St. Petersburg, where he primarily operates.

I went with a simple little dog with kraut, grilled peppers, and Daiya. Lettuce Eat Healthy offers a whole bunch of fixin's!

My friend went with the Philly cheese-"steak," which is a whole lotta sammich!

Neither of us had ever had a "real" (meaty) Philly cheesesteak before, so we couldn't compare it to that, but this was a very good sandwich. It had a certain sweetness to it that added another layer of flavor.

I would, of course, love to see some gluten-free breads offered in the future. As it was, I peeled back much of the bread from my little soy dog. Aside from that, this was a delicious little detour and it fueled us up for our next stop: Peelander-Z! Unfortunately, there was some misinformation on what time their set started, so we missed the first half. I'm so glad we caught the remainder of the set, though, because these guys are HILARIOUS and AWESOME.
All of my pictures from their set are blurry because they are so high energy, and I was hanging off of a ledge during their set, which made it difficult to steady the camera.

There were props, costumes, lights, screaming, spitting, dancing, and various other craziness. I LOVED IT! Seriously, if Peelander-Z are coming to a city near you, GO GO GO!

We closed out the evening with a most beautiful surprise. I really liked the name of this next band, and that is the main reason we went to check out their set. It was such a lovely finale to Heatwave: Miss Tess and the Bon Ton Parade.
Their set was outside on the PLAY Lounge courtyard. Look at how picture-perfect this was: icicle lights, palm trees, cool breeze, a perfect Florida night with some truly lovely music. Miss Tess has a gorgeous, soulful voice. These youtube videos just don't do her justice.

So WMNF, you did it again: another AMAZING Tropical Heatwave. I'm already excited for next year's!

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