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Music on track for train depot

By BILL COATS

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 30, 2000


LUTZ -- The man who brought a train depot back to Lutz wants to bring musicians to its open-air platform.

If Ron Stoy has his way, music lovers will relax under the stars for several free concerts each fall and spring at the newly rebuilt depot.

Stoy said the programs could feature nights devoted to jazz, folk, blues, country, gospel or whatever other musical talent can be procured. The Sunshine Brass Band, which on July 4 became the first musical group to play at the depot, will be invited back for an encore, Stoy said.

"The type of music we're looking to attract is really the down-homey kind of stuff," Stoy said.

Stoy said his business, the Sound Exchange music store, will be a sponsor of the events and he plans to solicit other sponsors. He broached the idea last week to fellow board members of the Lutz Civic Association, of which Stoy is vice president.

"I think it was a dynamite idea," said Auralee Buckingham, a board member and an organizer of most celebrations in Lutz. "Everybody was excited about it."

"We're going to do the coordination, for sure," said Denise Layne, president of the association.

Stoy chaired the effort to rebuild the Lutz depot, recognizing Lutz's origins more than 90 years ago as Lutz Junction, a railroad connection. The depot project grew from a deeper purpose: shoring up Lutz's sense of small-town identity.

So Layne, Stoy and others considered the depot as a first step. The concerts may be a second one.

"We're serious about bringing the small-town community feeling back into our downtown," Layne said.

Stoy is more qualified to chair a music series than he was to lead a construction project. His store caters to serious music fans seeking rare titles, and Stoy hopes to recruit some of the depot's musicians via his customers.

"We would love to draw Lutz talent primarily," Stoy said. "We will supplement that with Tampa Bay area musicians."

Shows might include some acts with only a half-hour repertoire, he said.

"This is going to be structured entirely on the talent we're able to attract."

Stoy envisions events funded partly through corporate sponsorships and partly through food sales during the performances. Donations might be sought to cover expenses and pay the musicians.

"You're not going to have any problem at all getting people, unless it's really highbrow classical music," Buckingham said. "You're going to fill that park to the rim."

- Bill Coats can be reached at (813) 226-3469 or coats@sptimes.com.

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