Tampa is located on Tampa Bay near the Gulf of Mexico, on Florida’s west coast. The area’s original settlers were the aboriginal tribes, notably the Tocobaga and Pohoy Indians. In the 16th century, the region was explored by Spanish sailors, and between subsequent, violent conflicts between the Conquistadors and the native population, and the introduction of European diseases, the native cultures were all but wiped out.
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Spain did not found a colony in the Tampa area, and there were no permanent settlements there until after Florida was acquired by the United States in 1819. The village of Tampa was incorporated in 1849, and grew slowly until the 1880s, when railroad links, the discovery of phosphate, and the arrival of the cigar industry jump-started its development, helping it to grow from a quiet village of less than 800 residents in 1880 to a bustling city of over 30,000 by the early 1900s.
Today, the city of Tampa is part of a much larger metropolitan area - usually referred to as the “Greater Tampa Bay Area” - that includes other nearby cities, such as St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and Sarasota, and their suburbs. The combined population of Greater Tampa Bay is over four and a half million people, and growing steadily. Because of its mild climate and abundant waterways, Tampa is highly ranked as an “outdoor city” and a place where many want to live.
So, outdoor music festivals proliferate throughout the Greater Tampa Area for many months of the year. For example, the Summer Concert Series presents county, pop, and rock and roll concerts from April to October in three venues: The MidFlorida Amphitheatre, Raymond James Stadium, and Amalie Arena. The Sunset Music Festival, Tampa’s premier dance music event, also plays at the Raymond James Stadium in May. The Gasparilla Music Festival takes place every March in downtown Tampa, featuring musical acts from a variety of genres. The Big Guava Music Festival is held at the Florida State Fairgrounds and the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa Bay in May. And one of the longest running festivals in the country is Ybor City’s, Annual Tropical Heatwave, sponsored by radio station WMNF. This past May was the festival’s 34th year.
Music festivals are great places for lesser known musicians and bands to get an opportunity to shine in the spotlight. It’s also a place where musical artists can disseminate the sounds they’ve recorded on CDs to old and new fans, alike. At Bison Disc, our role is to help these artists by duplicating and replicating their discs, and then packaging them in one of our customized Jewel cases, Wallets, Jackets, Sleeves, or Digipaks. We don’t make the music at Bison Disc – we just help make it get heard.
Other cities within the Greater Tampa Bay area also have abundant outdoor music festivals. For example, the Tampa Bay Blues Festival, the Van Warped Tour, and the Next Big Thing rock extravaganza all happen in nearby St. Petersburg. Clearwater hosts the Clearwater Sea-Blues Festival, and a little further north, the Dunedin Wines the Blues Festival offers both wine and top blues performers every November. Of course these metropolitan areas also have their share of nightclubs, bars, and other musical venues.
Speaking of venues, the Greater Tampa Bay area is home to many performing arts organizations including the Florida Orchestra, Opera Tampa, The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay, the Tampa Bay Opera, and the Tampa Bay Symphony. These groups perform at places such as the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts; the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, which is the largest performing arts center in the Southeastern United States; the Amalie Arena; the Tampa Theatre, built in 1926; the Ritz Ybor; the Orpheum; the Hard Rock Café – Tampa; Crowbar; the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg; and the 11,000 seat Sun Dome on the campus of the University of South Florida.
Ybor City, on Tampa’s east side is home to many smaller, musical venues. Ybor City is a historic Tampa neighborhood that was founded in the 1880s by cigar manufacturers and populated by thousands of immigrants from Cuba, Spain, and Italy. The area prospered into the mid-twentieth century, then experienced a long period of decline. After many decades of neglect, a portion of the original neighborhood has been redeveloped into a night club and entertainment district. By the early 1990s, many of the old, long-empty brick buildings on 7th Avenue had been converted into bars, restaurants, and lounges.
In the 1980s and 90s, Tampa was known as an epicenter of the death metal subgenre of heavy metal music, largely due to the existence of the Morrisound Recording studios in Temple Terrace, a Tampa suburb. Many of the genre's pioneers and foremost figures were based in and around the city. Chief among them were the bands Deicide, Six Feet Under, Obituary, and Morbid Angel. Notable albums recorded at Morrisound include works by other bands such as Sepultura, Savatage, Death, Control Denied, Napalm Death, Obituary, Incubus, Cannibal Corpse, Iced Earth, Six Feet Under, End-Time Illusion, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Atheist, Kamelot, Seven Mary Three, and Demons and Wizards. That’s a lot of death metal!
Over the years, Tampa has been a background location for several major Hollywood films. Strategic Air Command is a 1955, American film starring James Stewart and June Allyson that was partly filmed at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. Summer Rental, a 1985 comedy film, directed by Carl Reiner and starring John Candy, was filmed in St. Pete Beach, near St. Petersburg. Cocoon is a 1985 American science fiction, fantasy, comedy-drama film directed by Ron Howard that was also shot in and around St. Petersburg. Other movies shot in the Greater Tampa Bay area include: Dolphin Tale, Magic Mike, Spring Breakers, and A Fonder Heart.
Annual area film festivals include: the Gasparilla International Film Festival, the Sunscreen Film Festival, the Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival, the Tampa Bay Jewish Film Festival, the India International Film Festival, the Tampa Bay International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, the Clearwater Film Festival, and the Sarasota Film Society’s Cine-World Film Festival. Here at Bison Disc, we play an important, background part in the film and video industry because we duplicate and replicate movies and video productions that have been recorded on DVDs and Blu-ray discs. Then we help film and video artists package their products in one of our custom-designed Jewel cases, Wallets, Sleeves, Jackets, or Digi-paks. We also make box and collector sets that preserve and showcase these master works to their best advantage. So, while we may not be a big Hollywood producer, we do consider ourselves the “Big Guava” of CD, DVD, and Blu-ray reproduction and packaging.
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