By photojournalist Jeffrey Moellering
Skipper’s Smokehouse is a legendary Tampa, Florida landmark, known for its rustic flair, great food, championing Americana roots music, and for shining light on worthy causes. It’s thankfully re-opened and going strong after a Covid shutdown.Saturday, April 2nd shone the spotlight on caregivers to those with dementia. That terrible disease devastates not only those afflicted, but their families and those who do so much to provide support to them.
Dementia Spotlight Foundation is a non-profit organization committed to teaching the whole truth about experiences of dementia and increasing life-enhancing supports for individuals and families. Skipper’s generously hosted a fundraiser concert to raise awareness and resources for those who give so much to fighting this disease.
Roots rockers Cracker headlined the fundraiser, featuring their idiosyncratic blend of country, desert folk-rock, psychedelia, and silliness that has attracted a dedicated fanbase during their three decades plus history. Bandleader David Lowery holds a degree in mathematics and is a business lecturer at the University of Georgia, though you might never suspect it based solely on the whimsical stories he weaves in Cracker’s songs about teen angst and Euro trash girls.
Cracker’s fans travel well, and there were several people in attendance from around the country. The normally dry springtime Florida weather gave way to a deluge more familiar to tropical storm season, but that didn’t stop the faithful from flooding into Skipper’s to support their favorite band and raise money for a great cause.
Lowery gave praise to Skipper’s and Tampa for their strong support of the band through the years, and the committed fans returned the love, singing choruses to all the Cracker favorites that have been a staple of college and alternative rock radio.
Despite the somewhat soggy evening, the rain tapered off during the show, and didn’t at all dampen the spirits of the large and enthusiastic revelers who stayed until the last encore. The carefully crafted memorabilia and large turnout no doubt raised a generous sum in support of Alzheimer’s caregivers, with everyone leaving thankful that they got off their couch for a great event.
Vincent Zangaro, Director of Development and Special Events, Alzheimer’s Music Fest Founder issued a statement to Tampa Bay Music News.
“Alzheimer’s Music Fest Tampa Bay was a huge success last night. Thank you to Cracker for their stellar performance and amazing kindness. To my Dementia Spotlight Foundation family, I feel so blessed to be on the front lines with you every day. Big shout out to all of our Sponsors, Volunteers, Attendees, Southbound 75, Brother Brownlow and The Skippers Smokehouse Family. I just love the Tampa Bay community and my brother in arms, Gary Joseph LeBlanc! I can’t wait until next year. Whitney DeMarlo Oeltmann and I grabbed a quick photo with Cracker backstage last night before they hit that stage and blew the crowd away.”