Gasparilla Music Festival Suncoast Credit Union Gasparilla



Gasparilla Music Festival Suncoast Credit Union Gasparilla
Founding Board Members
of the Gasparilla Music Festival:
Front - (L-R): Ty Rodriguez, Jamie
Zinober, Aydin Keskiner, David Cox
Back - (L-R): Paul Dolcimascolo, Jeff
Hunt, Phil Benito, John Wakefield,
Carter Henderson
GMF at night along the Curtis
Hixon Waterfront Park
ifth generation Tampa native,
David Cox, recalls conversations
shared over drinks with friends
and business associates who debated
what industries should be courted to
fuel Tampa’s economy, as well as, what
type of events could energize this
community and kick up its cool factor.
It took the all-volunteer group made
up of some 80 like-minded individuals,
drawn from all walks of life, an estimated
18 months to plan, fund, organize and
implement the inaugural Gasparilla
Music Festival. The timing proved ideal
due to downtown Tampa’s newly
developed Curtis Hixon Waterfront
Park, which provided a perfect urban
setting, for the festival to feature its mix
of local talent and nationally recognized
“We knew we could do a signature
event there. Having that as our venue
was a huge part of our success,” Cox
said. “It is the only place in the world
with panoramic views of the University
of Tampa, the cylindrical Sykes building, the Tampa Museum of Art and
downtown. No where else in the world
has a stretch of riverfront like ours.”
As attendance climbs and tickets
sell out, organizers hope to broaden
the event’s appeal by offering an even
more diverse musical mix. This year,
a new stage located in downtown
Tampa’s MacDill Park, will be
devoted to an all Latin music line-up
on March 13.
“That music is a part of Tampa’s
culture and we want to showcase it
more this year,” said Cox. “We want
to be Tampa-focused and serve this
community. We want to try to stay
eclectic while letting the event
continue to evolve.”
As the festival’s executive director,
a position Cox filled in August to carry
on the work Ty Rodriguez had handled
for the previous two years, he oversees
year-round activities that include
collecting and distributing donated
musical instruments to local schools
and providing paying gigs for local
talent at various venues, including the
city’s streetcars where passengers can
enjoy live music on select dates.
While the focus will still remain on
enhancing Tampa’s image through
the festival and supporting aspiring
musicians with roots here, Cox feels
there is potential to grow to 100,000 in
attendance by its 10th year, a goal
that would require more room and a
longer run.
“Bigger is not necessarily better
and we still want to keep it a great
event,” said Cox. “We don’t have the
answers yet, but we are constantly
exploring ways it can get better.” M
Gasparilla Music Festival
March 12 - 13, 2016
Suncoast Credit Union
Gasparilla International Film Festival
March 30 - April 3, 2016
Photo by Michael Schuhmann
February|March 2016

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