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Musical time warp
By GINA VIVINETTO
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 24, 2001
The musical acts flooding Tampa Bay during Super Bowl weekend have reaffirmed one thing: We love our classic rock.
Some of the biggest names in 1970s guitar rock fill important venues the night before the big game. Lynyrd Skynyrd performs at Tampa's Ice Palace, Thin Lizzy plays at Jannus Landing in St. Petersburg, and the double bill of once-upon-a-time chart toppers Styx and REO Speedwagon will lure to USF's Sun Dome the folks who still think a mullet hairstyle is chic.
At Coachman Park in Clearwater Three Dog Night and the Atlanta Rhythm Section kick off the weekend long Super Celebration on Thursday. The next night, everyone's favorite Macho Men of the disco era, the Village People, strut their stuff in the park.
The papas of '70s power pop Cheap Trick play at the Bud Bowl Ybor Celebration. The 2001 Superfest at Vinoy Park on Saturday features Chet McCracken, formerly of the Doobie Brothers.
(Translation to youngsters: a "doobie" is now a joint.)
How did this happen?
"It's a coincidence with us," says local promoter Rob Douglas, talent buyer for Jannus Landing. Though an outside promoter is in charge of the Thin Lizzy show, Douglas says he's sure it will do well. Classic rock always is a strong draw, he says, and it's smart to book such acts during the lucrative Super Bowl festivities.
"The fact of the matter is those acts continue to do good business," Douglas says. It depends, of course, if the original line-up is intact, or at least, if the band's most prominent members are still involved.
Not so with Thin Lizzy, whose charismatic lead singer Phil Lynott died of a heroin overdose in 1986. But Internet buzz on the band is that the current line-up puts on an awesome show. Besides, hits like The Boys Are Back In Town, an almost Springsteen-like ode to the working class letting off steam, are perfect fare for the football weekend.
Similarly, Douglas has booked early 1980s rock act Loverboy to play the venue Feb. 9. The band's bassist Scott Smith recently died in a boating accident, but as Douglas points out, fans will want to see flamboyant vocalist Mike Reno, who still sings with the rest of the original line-up.
Tampa Bay, whose two classic rock stations, WTBT-FM 103.5 and WHPT-FM 102.5, are hugely popular, is not alone in its love for vintage rock, says Douglas.
"It's not just in this area; it's nationwide," Douglas says. Nostalgia plays a part, and certainly, the love of a good time.
Maybe it's also about these bands putting on a good show. After all, many classic rock acts have perfected the art of performing live, with real instruments -- no lipsynching and pre-recorded tapes -- and powerful anthems like Working For The Weekend to get the crowd singing along.
"If you're asking for my personal opinion," says Steve Miller, superintendent of recreation programming for the City of Clearwater Parks and Recreation Department, "I'm more in tune with people actually singing and playing guitar rather than lip synching."
Miller says Three Dog Night, known for the hits One and Joy To The World, and the Atlanta Rhythm Section were selected specifically to kick off the Super Celebration. Those acts appeal to folks ages 35 and up, the demographic interested most in the Super Bowl, he said. Miller hopes the bands attract local fans as well as out-of-towners here for the game.
Budget also played a part in the selection. Those acts have well-known hits, but, Miller says, "They are performing for less than they did in their heyday."
Sean Flynn, vice president of marketing for the Ice Palace knows people want a good time this weekend in Tampa, which is also hosting the Gasparilla parade. Flynn is optimistic for Lynyrd Skynyrd's Saturday performance. And why not? "Everybody loves classic rock," Flynn says.
Tickets are selling well for the event, which Flynn expects nearly 10,000 to attend, and the venue plans to saturate Saturday's Gasparilla parade and the Palace's neighboring streets with flyers to draw more revelers.
Those party goers, after all, are exactly the type to enjoy a big frosty beverage with friends while Skynyrd kicks into Gimme Three Steps or Sweet Home Alabama.
Today's Super Bowl story lineup