Gasparilla Music Festival 2017: Five Bands to Know (If You Already Don’t)

We’ve never been shy about our adoration for the Gasparilla Music Festival. Taking place on Saturday, March 11th and Sunday, March 12th, it is hands down, one of the best music fests in Florida, year in and year out. From the location, downtown Tampa’s Curtis Hixon Park, to the price, a general admission 2-day pass will run attendees about $60, to the dynamic and unique lineups GMF crafts each season, it is an all around brilliant event.

Past performers include such eclectic acts as Erykah Badu, Gogol Bordello, The Flaming Lips, and Modest Mouse . This year is no different, but we’d like to take the time to spotlight the artists that form the guts of the event.

Most fans already know the headliners – Ryan Adams, Cage The Elephant, Ghostface Killah – and some of the supporting acts including those who love to visit Florida often: Moon Taxi, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and Los Amigos Invisibles. However, Gasparilla always curates a genre-diverse roster that features both local and left-field bands, sure to enrich the two-day celebration of art and creativity.

Bears and Lions

Shea Barclay Stage at Tibbetts’ Corner. Sat, March 11, 1:00 PM > 1:45 PM

Falling somewhere between a G-rated Tenacious D and a Saturday morning cartoon, Bears and Lions are a goofy duo of what could best be described as kids folk rock. Although they list Michael Jackson, John Denver, and Kermit the Frog as influences, the Gainesville-based band have more in common with the easy, breezy harmonies of Fountains of Wayne and the semi-serious hooks of an another animal-themed outfit, The Aquabats. Although they should probably have their own children’s show by now, Bears and Lions are charming and funny enough that both parents and adults, in general, might get a kick out of their furry festivities.


Sykes Stage. Sun, March 12, 4:30 PM > 5:45 PM

Hailing from Spanish Town, Jamaica, reggae singer Chronixx, makes the sort of music that’s as genteel and as lush as the crystalline waves of the Caribbean lapping up the creamy shores of many an island nation. The son of dancehall artist, Chronicle, Chronixx broke through with his hit single “Here Comes Trouble,” instantly capturing the attention of American audiences after an appearance on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Combining traditional reggae vibes and silky R&B vocals, Chronixx should pair beautifully with a sunny afternoon in Florida.

Have Gun Will Travel

Sykes Stage. Sat, March 11, 1:00 PM > 2:00 PM

Bradenton, just up the road from the site of Gasparilla Music Festival, is home to a foot-stomping outfit that is pure roots rock Americana. Have Gun Will Travel, appropriately named after a late 50’s TV western, is an energetic four-piece that just released their fifth LP, Science from an Easy Chair. The concept album is based entirely on British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton and his 1914-16 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. It’s the sort of left-field, high-minded concept one may not expect from a group of jangly folk rockers, but amazingly they pull it off with aplomb.

Lady Wray

Sykes Stage, Sat, March 11, 4:00 PM > 5:00 PM

In 1998, Nicole Wray, then just a teenager not even old to drink, broke through with the single “Make It Hot.” Missy Elliott produced her debut album by the same title and then, well, not much else. Over the years she worked on several projects with the likes of The Black Keys, Cam’ron, and Kid Cudi, but it wasn’t until 2016 that she re-emerged from her long-gestating creative cocoon. Nearly 20 years later, under the moniker Lady Wray, she dropped Queen Alone, a criminally underappreciated album. It’s a big, brassy, sultry soul record that harkens back to the sounds of Aretha Franklin and Patti Labelle, but with modern interpretations akin to Adrian Younge or Amy Winehouse.

Twin Peaks

Channelside Bay Plaza Stage. Sat, March 11, 3:15 PM > 4:15 PM

It would be easy to write off Twin Peaks as weirdo indie rock, but their scuzzy sounds joyously mash The Cars with the Pixies to the extent that their songs are downright infectious. The Chicago natives slap together garage with power pop for a sugary rush of smiling, fuzzed out noise. The band’s latest release, Down in Heaven, has been lauded for being cleaner and more grown up. However, Twin Peaks don’t want people to get the wrong idea. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, bassist Jack Dolan said, “By no means do I think we want this to be defined as our ‘mature’ album, because it makes it sound like everything we’ve done before has been this goofy little game we’ve played,” Dolan continues. “We’re the same dudes but just a little bit older.” In other words, it’s still youthful, but just as ready to have a good time.

Full schedule below: