The organizers of the annual Gasparilla Music Festival in Tampa say their goal is to make it "the best music festival in the world."
They've got a very, very long way to go, but it's a decent two-day festival that always provides a solid mix of established acts and interesting new artists that are exciting to discover, plus a wide variety of musical styles.
The 2016 Gasparilla Music Festival is set for this weekend on six stages along Tampa's Riverwalk in downtown Tampa. (If you know where the Straz Center for the Performing Arts is, just head a couple of blocks south from there, and you'll see the crowds and hear the music.)
If you've only got time for one day, you might want to make it Saturday, when jazz-soul singer Erykah Badu headlines. She'll start her set at 9 p.m. in Curtis Hixon Park. Stylistic experimenters Blitzen Trapper will be on that same stage at 2:30 p.m., and Memphis alt-rockers Lucero at 5:50 p.m. Some area bands worth checking out are the Applebutter Express, who have roots in Bradenton (11:35 a.m., Kiley Gardens), and the great jazz percussionist Gumbi Ortiz with his band new Groove City at 1 p.m., Curtis Hixon Park.
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Sunday's headliner is Stephen "Ragga" Marley, son of Bob, at 5:30 p.m. in Curtis Hixon Park. There's also an after party with the New Breed Brass Band from 7-10 p.m.
Details: March 12-13, Tampa Riverwalk, 600 N. Ashley Drive, Tampa. Hours: 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $40 Saturday, $30 Sunday, $60 two-day pass. $75 per day VIP, $20 Latin stage only. Information: 813-708-8423, gasparillamusic.com.
-- Marty Clear