On the first Thursday of every month at 6:30 p.m., the Tampa Museum of Art is alight with a myriad of interchanging colors, and the beautiful spectacle is amplified by an outdoor exhibition of the Tampa Bay region's up and coming musical talent. Rock the Park
, a monthly event featuring local bands at the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park
on The Tampa Riverwalk
, brings together a wide demographic with a common interest in music. Children run throughout the unique playground, couples lounge on the sloping lawn, and others simply watch the bands perform while enjoying cocktails.
The next Rock The Park event on Thursday, Oct. 7, features Have Gun, Will Travel
(Americana, country), Poetry 'n Lotion
(acoustic, folk) and Acho Brother
The event is organized by a combination of companies, from REAX music magazine
to the Tampa Downtown Partnership
, but one group in particular is working throughout Florida to create progressive music-related events. THX MGMT
, created by USF graduate Joe D'Acunto, helps with the booking, marketing, and planning of Rock the Park along with creating parties and concerts in Tampa, Orlando, Gainesville and Jacksonville.
While Ybor City is no stranger to concerts and parties, it now has a rich spectrum of musical talent, with an appealing variation of genres and combination of local and national artists. This is partially the result of THX MGMT, which in the past year alone has organized more than 100 events, with artists including the hipster group Neon Indian
, New York band Twin Sister
, and hip hop master Del Tha Funkee Homosapien
. Along with these larger acts are smaller album release events, parties and performances by rising local artists.
"Our events cater to a large range of people. We try to push the music, push the talent. If the music is good, the people will come," explains D'Acunto. "You can have a rock band with a reggae band and a bunch of break dancers and an experimental indie rock act, and the people that attend would be able to catch on to other styles and genres pushing limits. Ultimately, if you are a music fan, you will dig something from the menu."
Apart from the hype on Facebook
and other social media outlets, THX MGMT promotes events with catchy posters that line the windows and walls of Ybor City. Whether advertising parties at Ybor's The Orpheum with bold black-and-white graphics or a concert at New World Brewery with a cycloptic skull, the company's posters are eye-catching and striking additions to the city's outdoor aesthetic. Though D'Acunto himself designs some of the posters, he allows college students in the area to contribute, merging art and music into one incredibly talented community.
From Freshman To Freshest
D'Acunto began attending the University of South Florida
in 1996 and immediately started working as a DJ for WBUL Bulls Radio
. He worked his way up without pay from program director to operations manager, and eventually became station manager after his sophomore year.
During the late '90s, the station was struggling with too little funding, and D'Acunto worked with student government to acquire a stable financial situation. Some of his coworkers from WBUL include Aaron Schultz, now owner of NYC record label Bastard Jazz
, Durium Jones of TampaHipHop.com
, and 95.7 disc jockey Jim Sandman
. According to D'Acunto, they "were incredibly integral in the history of WBUL and gave me a lot of inspiration."
Another source of inspiration for D'Acunto was his childhood, during which his parents exposed him to a variety of music from doo-wop to Motown and Frank Sinatra.
"In my high school days, I would just listen to as much as I could get my hands on and that just continued. Working at the station gave me access to brand new music along with their entire library,"
His passion for music and desire to improve WBUL led to D'Acunto's first experience with event planning.
"We decided to start to throw our own parties and then turn the money around and put it to the station,'' he explains. "We started by booking the bands of the DJs that worked at the station."
After graduating, D'Acunto left Tampa to work for the WB but returned a few years later and began planning Tastemakers, a weekly event at New World Brewery
. With more influence and experience, he began booking bigger shows featuring national acts, along with local concerts in the Tampa Bay region. Five years later, D'Acunto began doing shows for REAX and decided to form an event-planning company: Thus THX MGMT was born.Developing Community, One Party At A Time
D'Acunto's passion for music is apparent in his work and lifestyle, but it is his ability to share this passion that makes THX MGMT such a vibrant contribution to the Tampa Bay region.
"I've always felt that a lot of what we do as promoters or party throwers is a part of a larger respect for our community and community involvement. While some are involved in politics or neighborhood associations, this music community and ultimate music scene is something that I've always loved to be a part of, by proxy putting on these events is a part of a greater civic duty that I think we all have," he says.
The types of bands featured in THX MGMT events range from indie rock to hip-hop and electronic music, and with such an assortment of genres there is something for everyone. Not only does the company provide press for local bands, it makes national bands more accessible and helps put Tampa on the radar as a place to be recognized musically.
When asked about the future, D'Acunto admits that he prefers to deal with the present.
"To be completely honest I'm just trying to better the area, have bands on the road feel welcome to Tampa and St. Pete and continue to nurture the music," he says. "I've been doing this for a while so I've also been able to help some up and coming bands, steer some local acts and continue to just try and have a good time."
Brittain McNeel, a Tampa native, currently attends the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She enjoys watching sunflowers grow, browsing thrift stores and searching for the perfect taco. Comments? Contact 83 Degrees.