Last Sunday, Will’s Pub demonstrated just why they’ve become such an important part of the Orlando rock music scene as they celebrated twenty years of memorable rock ‘n roll in their cozy Mills Avenue venue.
For this fantastic event, Will’s Pub spread out to consume Lil Indies, and the lots on both sides of their respective buildings. The result was a nice venue with indoor and outdoor areas that easily accommodated constant music revolving across three stages. What I loved about the festive atmosphere is that all twenty-five bands were Florida artists, and every beer featured in the beer tasting was a Florida brew. It was a fitting tribute to what makes the Florida music and pub scene special, and what makes Will’s Pub such an iconic club in the area.
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Will’s is exactly the kind of venue that music fans from the area deserve. They serve up live rock ‘n roll every day of the week, and their offering of bands is just as diverse as the beers gracing their taps. They are a true indie music venue that is a thriving, vital part of the community and a gift to all rock fans in the area.
We stopped by early during the event and missed out on the headliners, Thomas Wynn & The Believers and The Legendary JC’s, but we still caught plenty of excellent Florida music. In our few hours we sampled half a dozen bands at both the outdoor stage and Will’s Pub stage.
My favorite act of the day was Bradenton’s Have Gun Will Travel. They featured a stand-up bass and slide guitar, as the quintet served up delicious Americana under the sunny afternoon skies. Richard Sherfy & All God’s Children dished out their unique bland of rock, and Bithlo Rising pounded out a slew of classic rock offerings, including an excellent cover of Nazareth’s “Hair Of The Dog,” a song we had discussed earlier in the day with a few other attendees..
When I snuck inside, the first thing that caught my eye was the new sign hanging behind the stage: The iconic Red Fox Lounge illuminated sign that Mark and Lorna made an area landmark. The bands playing in front of the sign were also excellent and quite different from the artists performing outdoors. Teen Agers impressed with their aggressive yet melodic punk rock, while Grave Return and The Ludes doled out heavier rock.
Six very different bands, all talented in their own right, gracing the stage over a two hour period. Good stuff for sure, and there was plenty more after we departed.
We tried to corner Will himself for a couple of words, but he was too busy (or disinterested) to chat with us, so we took advantage of the opportunity to sample a few of the local beers from the 20 local breweries who were graciously pouring samples for the crowd.
Two brand new Orlando area breweries caught our attention – Ten 10 Brewery which just opened up around the corner from Will’s Pub in the Mills 50 district offered up an excellent Milk Stout, while Red Cypress Brewery, a brand new brewhouse still preparing to open their Winter Springs doors, served up their delicious Devil’s Chair IPA, which was one of the highlights of the session and a nice sign of things to come from the new brewery on the block.
My photographer’s favorite offering was also the most unique, Funky Buddha’s Blueberry Cobbler Ale, a wheat ale with hints of cinnamon and vanilla and just the right amount of blueberry flavor. I’m more of a bitter beer fan, and I loved the Two Henry’s Brewing English Style IPA which was amazingly smooth and flavorful. Definitely worth a trip to Plant City in the future.
It was a great way to cap off a killer day feting one of Orlando’s finest rock houses. If you haven’t been to Will’s, you need to visit their website and find a band that fits your tastes to soak it all in.
Here’s to another 20 years of great rock music!
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