In an area where talented musicians are as abundant as there are grains of sand on the beach, why is Jeff Hughes one of the BUSIEST Working Musicians around? Attend just one of his performances and you will quickly discover the answer: his relationship with his audience!
He not only gets them involved; he makes them all feel part of the ‘celebration’! Simply put, Jeff gives his audience what they want!
Jeff Hughes- the leader of Tropical Ave band, will be celebrating 40 years of playing music professionally in October. He got his start playing with a full time funk band in Chicago in 1973, when he was a Freshman in High School. Since then, he has played with a variety of groups. When he relocated to Sarasota – he started doing a weekly one man band gig at Lido Beach which lasted for 3 years.
So it’s no surprise that when Jeff decided to start a band again, it would involve lots of music styles and include many elements from his solo act.
In 2008 Tropical Ave was started. There were several key elements that Jeff wanted to bring to the band that would make it unique in the area. In addition to Jeff, Tropical Ave includes: Ken Cubicciotti on Keys and vocals. Rhonda Brown-Hughes on Bass. Donna Lamoureaux on Lead Vocals, Sax and Flute.Tank Martin on Drums and vocals.
“We started out with a simple business plan that included the music styles the band would perform, the areas we would target, what type of venues etc. We laid out simple goals and business ethics. For example, the first full calendar year – we just booked every available date we could, which found us playing 3-4 times per week. We quickly realized it would be too much for some of the members so we started our other band Trio De Janeiro for weeknight jobs”.
(Typically, Hughes Entertainment Groups, ie; the 2 bands and Jeff’s solo act played approx. 250- 275 dates per year).
“Another thing we borrowed from Steinway retail marketing was booking one venue per market. So for example, in Bradenton, we play at Tarpon Pointe exclusively. In Englewood – Lock N Key is our only venue. We found that over time, playing one place helped us bring in a better crowd consistently and helped venues feel more confident doing business with us. At times we have played a couple of venues in the same market, but we eventually try to decide which venue fits us best or vice versa”! “Finally, just like any successful business – we market and promote! Email is a big part of duties, done every week! We just started using Constant Contact and it saves us at least 5 hours per week! We can now send our 1700 emails instantly”.
The Band uses Social Media with individual event invites and takes full advantage of the area’s Facebook groups to post their gigs too! They even helped start a Facebook promotional group, SW FL Fanfare, covering Venice to N Ft Myers areas.
“We wanted to be, (at least in our minds) a true Florida band!! “
Jeff’s experienced playing in Miami in the late 70’s and early 80’s so the band plays Latin and Island music in addition to current Top 40 and R&B. The inclusion of which adds to the “Party” atmosphere! Tropical Ave is often at venues on or near the water, so that music is perfectly geared toward people having fun and participating. Their slogan or mantra is: Always A Celebration is something they take pretty seriously, especially for such a fun band!
“It’s especially nice when people are on vacation here in SW Florida. We feel in a small way, like we are ambassadors for the State’s tourism. We are responsible to help folks have a memorable vacation. Having people get up and play percussion, really seems to help! It’s heartwarming to see Grandparents jamming on stage with their Grandkids, or the wee little ones play a maraca for the first time. Makes for good fun! We typically take about 150 pictures per gig and edit each after every job, then post on our Facebook pages. We offer to email the link to people on vacation without adding them to our email list. They then have a keepsake of the their stay in Florida- documented proof of FUN”!!
You can catch Tropical Ave at a select number of nightclubs, (though they are performing more wedding and private events) including:
Lock N Key – Englewood, Sharky’s Venice, Tarpon Pointe- Bradenton, Dean’s South – Punta Gorda, , TT’s Tiki Bar- Punta Gorda, as well as special events!! Recently they played for the Life’s A Beach Triathlon on Lido Beach and every year they play for Mote Marine’s Crystal Classic Sand Sculpture on Siesta Key!
You can check out their entire schedule on their website: www.tropicalave.com, Or on Facebook, (they would really love a “Like” on their page) www.facebook.com/tropicalaveband.
About Leslie SRQ:
Leslie Hinsz Marron (aka LeslieSRQ) is a CRACKER!! Yes, she was actually born in Sarasota. In her early 20s, despite the sunshine, the palm trees & the beaches, she wandered off to Memphis to dabble in architecture & construction and to consort with the likes of Elvis & BB King. Predictably, like a fish to water, she came back home to Sarasota and has been swimming upstream ever since! Promoting & Praising the Paradise she calls ‘home’, her passion for all things Sarasota, is expressed on her website www.LeslieSRQProductions.com Whether it is the creation of unique and inspiring Videos, or Special Events, or exciting Graphics & Photos, Leslie promotes people, places & events in Full, Vibrant Color!! Please visit her site to see how she can help promote YOU or call 941-748-425