A Hillsborough Community College Student Publication since 1978.
By Ray Roa
On any given night, only blocks away from HCC’s Ybor campus, The Old Ritz Theater, New World Brewery, and Crowbar – all located on Eighth Avenue – host up-and-coming national acts, as well as the best local talent.
“Nothing compares to the experience of seeing a band face to face, not an MP3, CD, or even vinyl,” said Tony Rifugiato, owner and operator of No Clubs Productions. In the past three years, Rifugiato has brought acts like Jimmy Eat World and Death Cab for Cutie to play concerts at the Old Ritz Theater at the intersection of 15th Street and Seventh Avenue.
Jim Fell, a student at the University of South Florida, can attest to the unique qualities of Ybor City’s live scene. At the Old Ritz Theater, his band opened for Skid Row. Fell thinks that anyone who likes music should take advantage of the opportunities to see bands live in Ybor City. “On weekends, when we don’t have a show to play, I get excited because I’ll be able to go out and catch a showdown at the Crowbar or New World [Brewery],” he said.
Tom DeGeorge, formerly with the Old Ritz Theater, has booked acts like Common and Talib Kweli. DeGeorge, who now owns and operates Crowbar on the corner of Eighth Avenue and 17th Street, recently featured Ben Kweller.
The New World Brewery, which may be the most unique venue in Ybor, is an open-air bar nestled among trees, tucked behind a building on Eighth Avenue, right next to Jose Marti Square. There, bands play directly in front of the crowd, not on a raised stage. The stage leads to the patio where patrons can sit in chairs while listening to the band perform.