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The singles scene sizzles outdoors

The Hyde Park Live Music Series offers a three-hour window of meeting and greeting for visitors who come to listen to cool music.

By VALERIE Q. CARINO, Times Correspondent

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 21, 2000


It's Wednesday night and you know you'd rather run to Kash n' Karry for ice cream than deal with the beasts and babes at the Chatterbox.

Lo and behold, in the cat litter aisle, you meet a hottie. You chat for a few, but not long enough to get any digits.

Since then, you've been wracking your head as to where, just where, you might run into your cutie again.

We've got news for you, Romeo: the Hyde Park Live Music Series.

In its 13th year, the weekly event has become a kind of meat market for Hyde Park residents. And why not?

"It's always a pretty crowd -- people who like to see and be seen," says Dave Shealy, a saxophonist for the Willie Lomax Blues Revue, one of the series' regular acts.

Part beer party, part concert, part dog show (as pooches are not discouraged at these things), the outdoor fest in Old Hyde Park Village is a fundraiser for charities. More than $500,000 has been collected for organizations such as the Children's Home and the Life Enrichment Senior Center since the event began on Dakota Avenue. Wildlife on Easy Street is this year's beneficiary.

Hundreds of thirsty young professionals park their Volkswagens the last Wednesday of every month to destress over Budweiser and a chance at making that swingin' single change his/her mind.

Funny, although these shows come with music, Shealy says, "The music is almost secondary."

Still, the 6 to 9 p.m. event has drawn some pretty decent local acts. Patty Samphy of the Women's Blues Revue just played there. Next comes Top 40 band Bleeding Hearts, the Willie Lomax Blues Revue (Aug. 30), rock band Chrome Yellow (Sept. 27) and local faves Beanstalk (Oct. 25).

The crowd can balloon from 2,500 to 5,000 people, depending on whom you ask. The numbers were at their highest when the party used to be held on Friday nights. But the crowd just got too big.

"It was the kind of party that didn't want to end because no one had to work the next day," says Jessica Sandler, marketing director for Old Hyde Park Village.

At a glance

The Hyde Park Live Music Series, 6 to 9 p.m. July 26, at the fountain at Old Hyde Park Village, Swann and Rome avenues, Tampa. Next up: Bleeding Hearts, Top 40 band. Call (813) 251-3500.

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