Girls to the Front: An Interview with Lauren Alexander of The Cerabellas

By Carlee Griffin

All through the month of March, Indie Jones is celebrating National Women’s History Month with our local women in music. In our “Girls to the Front” series, we ask local female musicians about what inspires them to contribute to our live music scene in the Bradenton + SRQ area.

Lauren Alexander is the lead vocalist in the Bradenton based band “The Cerabellas”. Described as “music that makes you want to dance and pairs well with beer”, we at Indie Jones caught up with Lauren after her show at Cock and Bull in SRQ to talk about music and celebrate talented women everywhere.

IJ: Hello, Lauren. How was tonight’s show?

Lauren: We had such a great time playing tonight at Cock and Bull. I felt like I was prepared but I still get self-conscious. I just figure we are all here to see live music, so we are gonna do great! We all had fun and tonight and the show was definitely empowering.

It’s so funny to hear that you would get self-conscious on stage. You’re very talented. Do you have stage fright?

Honestly, my biggest worry is that I don't come through as authentic and real. I want people to feel my music and groove, relax, dance if you want to - all that. That’s my main goal: I want people to just let loose and really have fun. I get more joy out of that then just performing.

Talk to me about your roots in music. When did you start singing?

I have sung all my life but it’s always been a hidden thing. I sang in the shower, or in my room alone, but I wasn’t ever pushed or encouraged to perform professionally until recently.

How long have you been with The Cerabellas?

They formed as a four-piece before I was in it. JB, our rhythm guitarist, would sit in the car and listen to music and just sing to each other. Eventually, he asked me “Why aren’t you doing anything with this? Why is no one hearing your voice?” and that’s how I got on board. We did a little jam session and the rest is history.

What do you think about the Florida music scene right now in our area?

It’s hard because there just aren’t enough venues, but it’s made us musicians get creative. We can play in bowling alleys, retail spaces - anywhere there’s room. I wish more businesses would recognize the value of hosting live music. It really does benefit everyone.

How do you feel that other women creating art help the scene survive?

The power behind the voices of women that inspire me is what drives me to sing, too. Amy Winehouse, Adele - their voices really speak to me. Janis Joplin, Florence + the Machine, Aretha - there is so much incredible influence from women making music. Locally, I think Dana Laag of The Pretty Dirties is amazing. She’s so comfortable onstage and makes me feel like I can get there, too. I want to have that same kind of stage presence.

But you have that same magic, you know.

I’m self-conscious, but I'm learning and I'm growing and just trying to put myself out there. I’m interested in doing some side projects soon. I love music. Period. As long as I can feel something or take something from it, it matters to me. That’s something I would like to do for other people.

What can people in your community do to support you as an artist?

Just listen to my music. Come to the shows. Tell me you enjoyed it. That encourages me and makes me want to keep it up. I have a lot of personal self-doubts and I’m still learning. It’s fun and frustrating and amazing all at the same time. It’s hard for me to get out what I need to say but when I’m up there on stage with my band it’s fun. We have a good time.

What do you think about women becoming more involved in their local music scene?

I think it’s awesome and I’m like “Yes, please, take over and reign where you belong!”

I feel like there are more women that speak up for themselves and others, but there’s also a beautiful movement of men and the queer/trans community really being advocates and allies for women. We create our own community in a way and it’s really special in so many ways. Women coming up is just a beautiful thing.

Listen to The Cerabellas here.

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This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Independent Jones
Girls to the Front: An Interview with Jodi Sorrentino of Long Lost Enemies

By Carlee Griffin

All through the month of March, Indie Jones is celebrating National Women’s History Month with our local women in music. In our “Girls to the Front” series, we are asking local female musicians about what inspires them to contribute to our live music scene in the Bradenton + SRQ area.

Jodi Sorrentino is the bassist in one of our favorite local punk bands, Long Lost Enemies. A pioneer in the DIY punk scene of Bradenton, Florida, Jodi shares her thoughts on punk rock, local bands, and why it’s so important to have music venues in your hometown.

Independent Jones: Hey, Jodi. Thanks for interviewing with us. Currently, you can be spotted as the bassist for Long Lost Enemies. How long have you played for?
Jodi: Just about ten years. I started playing about 10 years ago as a hobby, then about 4 years ago I met Aaron Olmsted and we started a pop-punk band that eventually broke up then reformed as Long Lost Enemies around 2016. I had just finished vet school and, after giving up playing guitar when I was about 13, I just wanted to get back into it. I figured you’re never too old to try again, so I just started taking lessons. I didn’t start playing in a band till I moved back to Florida from Long Island probably 4 years ago? I’m from here, though.

What music acts or artists inspire or excite you?

I love folk punk right now - like Mischief Brew, Days n Daze, My Pizza My World...  but my favorite record this year would have to be The Interrupters “Fight the Good Fight”. As far as local bands go, I’ve been listening to a lot of 430 Steps, Dial Drive, and I can’t forget that newly released Green Bastard record.

How are things going with your band “Long Lost Enemies”?
Our comp just came out, “Live Your Gimmick” and we’ve got a couple shows coming up. The songs on our comp are a little funnier, sillier -  and a little more on the punk side, a little less Pop-y… but it’s pretty similar to “Bearshark” and “I Am The Liquor.” It’s the first time we’ve done a compilation album, so that’s cool. As with any artist's progression of their craft, we should want to go in and improve over our last work we did and recording situations are no different. We were not concerned with rehashing either of the previous EPs. It was more like a natural progression of what we do; fast, sarcastic blasts of fun. We went to our secret 6th member Matt Desear's laboratory (Burnt Orange Sound Studios) and recorded the band live with minimum overdubs as before. We had less than a 2 month time frame for recording and submitting the songs and PR kits to make the release deadline - we had never had to deal with deadlines before. Brian from Tuna For Sushi Records wanted specific content from us and the other three bands involved in the project (The Runz - The Supermen and Never Say Die) I think we achieved a good balance of something new and something familiar for our fans.

What was the first album that you owned?

A New Kids on the Block cassette tape when I was five. My first punk record was Guttermouth’s “Teri Yakimoto.”

That’s a great album, too. How does specifically being a woman affect you in the music scene?
I have insecurities about my playing but being around a lot of male and female musicians that are so talented has made it easier. They have all been so nice and complimentary of my playing and people seem to like seeing female musicians nowadays. It’s always been kind of a male-dominated industry. There’s not a lot of us and it’s almost kind of like a novelty.

How does it make you feel to go out and see your girlfriend play music?

I think it’s awesome. Take Julia from Dealbreaker, for example. She is crazy talented. She can play multiple instruments and she’s better than most of the guys around (a lot of them anyway.) So that cool, and it makes me want to be better. I always enjoy being on shows with other women like Julia Simms, Kim Varrasso of The Frenzied Passions, or Kari Frankenstein of The Prople. Some of the women in the international scene that I look up to would be Linh Le of Bad Cop/Bad Cop, Amy Interrupter of The Interrupters, Whitney Flynn of Days n Daze, and Brody Dalle of The Distillers. There are a lot of great Southwest Florida bands we have played with like Frenzied Passions, The Antidont’s, Abortion Twins, The Jim Parsons Project, 430 Steps, and Mosquito Teeth to name a few... but unfortunately, the venues are really few and far between.

Talk to me about some of your feelings about the SRQ/Bradenton music scene.

We no longer have the venues and it’s frustrating we don’t have hardly any places to play. We need those kinds of places here.

Why do you think it’s important to have those kinds of venues in your neighborhood?

It makes it easier for performers to work on music. It’s hard to want to continue without a place to perform and it’s tough to maintain the desire to do it if no one can actually take part in it. Just attending whatever local shows you can makes a difference. It’s the most important thing... without that local support, we will never be able to move towards having more venues.

I would really love to see the resurgence of the house show.

Yeah, there have been more house shows with the death of 600 Block in St. Petersburg. People seem to be doing it more, and I've even seen more shows being booked at local VWFs coming up soon, so people are finding a way. Our next show is at Cage Brewing in St. Petersburg.

Yeah, I just went and saw the Antidont's and Rutterkin up there not too long ago. You guys will like it there. The punk scene gets a bad rap which is a bummer. There's something really special about the totally DIY scene. What inspires you to play punk music?

Since I was 13, it’s really been the only music I've been interested in playing. There’s something about it. The fast rhythms, the energy. It brings everyone together in such a special way when you’re all kind of part of that close-knit community. Makes it feel like home.

Listen to Long Lost Enemies on Spotify here.

Keep up with Jones, as we like to say, by signing up for our newsletter, and follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Spotify.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Small Venues Define our Local Music Scene

By Carlee Griffin

I spent my teenagers years all over Bradenton, Sarasota, St. Petersburg, and even Tampa just trying to catch the next show. I, like so many others, grew up in small music venues all over my little Floridian hometown stretch. Going to a show meant an opportunity to discover new subcultures, make new friends, and hear something completely new and exciting. The music business is absolutely thriving, but it’s still difficult to find a dedicated venue in our area.

Small music venues and clubs are essential for musicians and the surrounding community alike. Having a dedicated space for music allows for artists to truly hone their craft. Playing live for one's own peers is a crucial step in fine-tuning performance and style before hitting big stages and playing for the masses. It’s in these small to mid-sized performance spaces that artists and fans connect in the most genuine and meaningful of ways. Big name music festivals and superdome shows will always have their place, but for me? Nothing beats being up close and personal.

Here in the Bradenton + SRQ area, there is a significant lack of spots to check out new music. Despite a steady increase in population and tourism, our town has watched stage after stage shut down. Classic spots like Aces and Kelly’s Live have unceremoniously boarded up their doors. This isn’t a problem unique to our town, either - our neighbors on the 600 block of St. Petersburg know all too well how fast a whole subculture can be priced out of their home base. It’s becoming clear just how crucial it is to cultivate and support live music right here in our backyard.

Fortunately, today brings some especially good news for the small to mid sized venue scene: Joyland is reopening this Saturday on February 9th! Joyland has been a long time contributor to the musical heritage of Bradenton. Over the last 20+ years, they have maintained a place for country musicians from near and wide to come perform for us in the Manatee area. Joyland perfectly represents a venue that caters to the fans and musical talents alike.

So, what can we as live music listeners do to support our scene? It may seem obvious but the best way to ensure that local music stays thriving is to go to a show! There are still a few great opportunities to check out the next big thing here in town. Bars and beach houses alike - such as Decoy Ducks on Anna Maria Island and McCabe’s in Downtown Bradenton- have done us a great service by letting bands set up and jam all night. The city has made it clear they support the arts by building the Riverwalk Pavilion and allowing great events like Main Street Live in downtown Bradenton and Music on Main in Lakewood Ranch. It’s a smart move on our city’s part - these venues increase city branding, foster a proud community identity, and boost our local economy. Cities with solid music scenes often attract tourist and make the area more residentially appealing.

We here at Indie Jones have dedicated ourselves to helping our music community grow and find new spaces to bring fresh music to our community. We love to see a band booked at a venue of any size, but we hold a special place in our hearts for the small stages. That’s why we focus so much on bringing you music wherever we can. Check out our events here to see what's coming up right here in your town!

Keep up with Jones, as we like to say, by signing up for our newsletter, and follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Spotify.