Ultimate Local Music Venue

By Julie Garisto
Published June 28, 2007

Skipper's Smokehouse, Tampa

Once upon a time, in 1980, Air Force buddies Vince McGilvra, Tom White and Anders Bastman (who's since been bought out) operated a takeout smokehouse in North Tampa that had a popular open jam on Sundays. Now local, national and international acts headline the joint's outdoor area lovingly known as the "Skipperdome" - a loose construction of stars, clouds and oak branches over a concert room of sand, wooden benches and holiday lights. Yes, it's as charming as it sounds, and the food's good, too. You can eat fried alligator there - it doesn't get much more Florida than that. Talk to anyone who's grown up in the bohemian-arts-music subculture of Tampa and they will relate childhood memories of dancing barefoot at Skipper's. Eclectic acts as far ranging as Sun Ra and Jonathan Richman have played there. In 2001, the Blues Foundation honored Skipper's with the Keeping the Blues Alive Award, naming it the best blues club in America. The show setups offer a powerful sound system, great vantage points and very few blind spots. One of the most often sought-out venues by WMNF FM-88.5 Community Radio for benefit concerts, Skipper's has played host to the station's tribute shows, which have featured headliners all genres coming together to salute the Beatles, Elvis Costello, Who, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones. Skipper's Smokehouse: 910 Skipper Road, Tampa; (813) 971-0666, www.skipperssmokehouse.com.

How you voted

Skipper's Smokehouse, Tampa: 54%

Crowbar, Ybor City: 23%

New World Brewery, Ybor City: 11%

Other: 8%

Dave's Aqua Lounge, St. Petersburg: 2%

Transitions Art Gallery, Skatepark of Tampa: 1%