Florida Folk Show Debuts On WMNF


            TAMPA – A very eclectic, sometimes misunderstood, and generally under-rated musical genre will be explored by Community radio WMNF, Tampa, Jan. 23, (2003) when the brand new “Florida Folk Show” hits the airwaves at 9 a.m          Hosted by Tampa Bay area songwriters Pete Gallagher and Bobby Hicks, the Florida Folk Show is one of nine new program offerings by WMNF, all part of the largest programming reorganization in WMNF’s  25-year history as Tampa Bay’s premier community radio station.

            “Florida folk music is not just a guy or girl with a guitar singing about the Suwannee River,” says Gallagher, who has been involved with numerous Florida folk arts projects since the early 70s. “It’s amazing how many Florida singer/songwriters there are, performing in public every day, singing about Florida people, places, culture and living. I hope to present a lot of this new Florida folk music, along with the gems from the past.”

            "You don't pick up a dictionary and start rhyming Okeechobee and call it Florida folk.," says Bobby Hicks, whose personal anthem "Florida, Need I Say More" is considered a state musical treasure. "What is Florida folk music. I know it when I see it."

            Gallagher, 51, was born in Fort Lauderdale, raised in Rockledge and has lived in the Tampa Bay area since 1974. A graduate of Cocoa High School and the University of Florida, he worked ten years as a columnist and feature writer for the St. Petersburg Times and spent 15 years managing Communications for the Seminole Tribe of Florida. He is currently a freelance writer and producer, and occasionally performs as a Florida folk musician, himself.

            Hicks, 50, is a Tampa native, where his family goes back five direct generations, long before the first condo, when the Alafia River was clear to the bottom and the brain coral thrived in Old Tampa Bay.

Born in Tampa General hospital, educated at H.B. Plant High, matured in the U.S. Army (1970-74), he worked 20 years in the electronic alarm industry before settling down to full time Florida folk music and some “dabbling” in used motorcycle sales. Married with two sons, Hicks is the natural descendent of Florida’s first folk singing forest – the departed and much loved Will McLean, Don Grooms, Gamble Rogers and Jim Ballew.

Defining Florida folk music, “is very difficult,” says Gallagher. “Everyone has their own idea what makes a song a Florida folk song.  Those who like traditional folk often discount contemporary folk, and vice versa. To me, it has less to do with rules and more to do with soul. Does the song or songwriter or performer have a Florida soul? Can you feel it? I hope the Florida Folk Show will help capture that soul , step up interest in the genre and, maybe, inspire some new Florida songwriting.”

             The Florida Folk Show will air 9 – 10 a.m. each Thursday on WMNF 88.5 Tampa. It can be picked up on live streaming audio by going to www.wmnf.org .