The Sonic and Visual Feast of Gasparilla Music Fest, 2019

By Vlad, Detroit Rock At Night and Chyrisse Tabone, Tampa Rock At Night

Gasparilla Music Fest

Festivals often are a mix of enticing tastes and smells, bringing the palette a choice of flavors. The 2019 Gasparilla Music Festival in Tampa, FL delivered goers a potent stew of blues, soul, and Americana—with fresh ingredients from throughout the United States.

Gasparilla is an annual festival in Tampa that celebrates a part of the region’s pirate lore; the music festival keeps the “Gasparilla” moniker, but brings a greater diversity of perspectives and performers than the rest of the festival. Rock at Night paid a visit to the Sunday set of the musical proceedings and found more than enough to feed its eyes and ears.


Gary Clark Jr.

The main course of the day was a stirring set from headliner and Grammy winner Gary Clark, Jr.  Clark, a highly noted blues/rock/soul fusionist with a commanding presence as front man, delivered intense, blistering renditions of tracks like the provocative “This Land.”


Roosevelt Collier

The biggest sampling of flavors this day found their way from sunny host Florida. Blues guitarist Roosevelt Collier from Miami brought it with spicy fretwork, while Orlando’s Hannah Lorber & the Lionhearts blended Americana tones with charming notes of longing and hope.

The Savants of Soul

Meanwhile, Gainesville’s Savants of Soul, a colorful, full-bodied ensemble, showed its roots in Memphis soul with its energetic, horn-laden attack. (One can imagine how profusely they sweat in the hot midday sun, decked out in black suits befitting Jake and Elwood!)

But other areas of the country also acquitted themselves convincingly. New Orleans Suspects’ Tribal Gold, merging two established musical forces from the Big Easy, delivered a highly theatrical, percussion-heavy tribal-funk set that was as much a flamboyant parade of feathers and rhythms as a showcase of the city’s funk and soul traditions.


And bringing a rustic Midwest take on folk rock were the Michigan Rattlers (hailing from scenic Petoskey) with a freshly earnest, observational style that provided a sonic shade to a scorching afternoon.




Chyrisse Tabone, Ph.D.
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