It was a muggy Saturday evening over the Fourth of July weekend as barefoot men and bikini clad women danced on the sand at Hogan’s Beach in Tampa, FL; it was a big night for country music in Tampa, as Pied Piper Productions was debuting their new concert series “Boots on the Beach” at Hogan’s Beach. It was definitely a spectacular line-up for the first night, with acts such as Mixin Dixie, Soul Circus Cowboys, Trailer Choir and headliners Love & Theft , and the location could not have been more perfect; cabanas, sandy terrain, multiple bars adjoining the local famous eatery while the Gulf of Mexico provided a perfect backdrop.
Mixin Dixie, consisting of DJ Barry Carew and Cliff Brown, were the first to hit the stage and definitely got the party going. Although it was their first performance on stage together as Mixin Dixie, the duo brings a wealth of experience and energy to the performance; Carew is one of the most sought after DJ’s in country music, having toured with artists such as Kenny Chesney, and Brown is a Grammy Award winning producer. Attendees danced to remixes of favorite country favorites and Mixin Dixie originals, including “Pasture Party” and “It’s Been 21 Days“. And the guys have fun while on stage; fan favorite moments were when the guys danced “The Dougie” and even Sugarhill Gang’s “The Apache”. They definitely set the tone for a great night.
Fitting in true Florida fashion, nasty storm clouds started rolling in as the local favorite band, Soul Circus Cowboys, took the stage. A little bit of drizzle and lightening didn’t stop the set; as everyone watched the sky the band played on, performing fan favorite such as “Jerkin My Chain” and their latest single “That’s the Way We Roll“. Lead singer Billy McKnight boasts “We’re not going to let a little bad weather stop this show” as the band played on.
The sky remained ominous as DJ Barry Carew performed while the stage was set for the next act, Trailer Choir. If anyone knows how to entertain the crowd it is definitely the duo consisting of Vinny “Bigg Vinny” Hickerson and Marc “Butter” Fortney; not only was the crowd entranced with favorites such as “Rockin’ the Beer Gut” and “Off the Hillbilly Hook” but also with the eccentric hillbilly dancing styles of Bigg Vinny, who flailed his arms, shook his tush, and even broke out into the worm. Hickerson, who lost almost 200 pounds on the NBC show “The Biggest Loser” back in 2011, and Butter definitely worked the crowd, making their performance the best of the night.
After much anticipation, the sky cleared and it was time for the headliners; being as the concert was held at Hogan’s Beach it was only natural that WWE Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan came out to introduce the headliners, Love & Theft. Coming on stage to his wrestling theme song, Hogan sent the crowd wild with his signature entrance move of placing his hand to his ear for the audience applause. “It’s a great night for us, and thank God for our freedoms, for country music, and for the weather clearing up” Hulk said before Stephen Barker Liles and Eric Gunderson, who comprise Love & Theft, hit the stage. Performing their hits such as “Runnin’ Out of Air” and “If You Ever Get Lonely“.
Gunderson pointed out this was Liles bachelor party weekend and they had brought a few friends with them. Bringing Nashville singers/songwriters Trent Tomlinson and Tyler Reeves on stage to perform a few songs with the duo, Tomlinson was soon given the spotlight, performing acoustically crowd favorite “Preach On“. When Love & Theft hit the stage again, they brought Trailer Choir out for a few songs before closing with their biggest hit, “Angel Eyes” to loud cheers, applause and singing from the crowd.
As the Hulk said, it was a great night for country music and the debut for the series Boots on the Beach was a hit. Pied Piper Productions, including all of the artists who performed, truly outdid themselves for a night attendees will not soon forget. I am sure attendees, and definitely us at Got Country Online, look forward to future events at Hogan’s Beach Tampa.