The first day of the Gasparilla Music Festival drew a sold-out crowd to Curtis Hixon Park on Saturday.
Headliners included the Avett Brothers and 2017 NPR Tiny Desk Contest winners, Tank and the Bangas. But the nonprofit organization that plans and runs the festival also committed 50 percent of the spotlight to local acts.
The Gasparilla Music Foundation organizes the annual music festival in downtown Tampa the second weekend of March. It also supports music education through its Recycled Tunes program.
Just after noon Saturday, an all-girl rock band from St. Petersburg kicked off the show. It was the second time Sugar Rush has performed at GMF.
Clearwater Grateful Dead tribute band Uncle John’s Band, known for its regular gigs at Skipper’s Smokehouse in Tampa, performed songs from “Dick’s Picks Volume 1.” The set was a re-creation of a live album recorded by the Grateful Dead in 1973 at the now-demolished Curtis Hixon Hall, which was on the site where Curtis Hixon Park now sits.
GMF debuted in 2012 and was one of the first festivals at the Park after it opened.
"It started with a few friends," said David Cox, one of the festival organizers. "We got together and decided we just wanted to see something that was progressive and would attract maybe a younger crowd to Tampa. We saw this as a way to contribute to a strong downtown urban core."
Sunday’s GMF headliners include Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, who recently toured with Neil Young. Lukas is also the son of famed country musician Willie Nelson.
Gary Clark Jr. from Austin, Texas is scheduled to close the two-day festival. Clark is best known for his fusion of blues, rock and soul music. He is touring behind his newest CD, “This Land,” recently featured on NPR’s All Things Considered.