Tropical Avenue is not the standard weekend bar band.
First of all, it’s named after a street in Port Charlotte — that’s where its first drummer lived — and draws its music from the tropical bands associated with South Beach in Miami. It’s also a band that invites the audience to participate with the percussion.
So, something a little different will be in store when Tropical Avenue takes the stage for the Downtown Spring Bash Street Party, to be held from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. May 25. It will be held in front of the Old Courthouse at the corner of Taylor Street and Olympia Avenue. Admission is free. The band is scheduled to perform from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Jeff Hughes, who plays guitar and trumpet and provides vocals, had a specific sound — if not a specific address — in mind when he founded the band in 2007.
“I used to play in Miami in late 1970s and early 1980s, and I always wanted to have a band that you’d hear on South Beach,” the Chicago native said. “We play a lot of top 40 dance music and Latin music— Bruno Mars, Pit Bull, Jennifer Lopez. I took what I learned over the years and moved it to the west coast of Florida.”
Tropical Avenue features a flexible lineup that includes three bilingual singers. The roster for the Bash includes Hughes; Jessica Pignotti on vocals; Rhonda Brown-Hughes on bass; Tatia Kay on keyboards and vocals and Mark Matson on drums.
Members of the audience also get to take their turn at a song or two. The band makes it a point to encourage folks to take a break from dancing and hop on stage to play bongos and other percussion instruments.
“We want to make it a real community party,” Hughes said.
The event, sponsored by the Downtown Merchants Association and the Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce, will also feature a wide variety of food trucks and vendors. Beer, wine and nonalcoholic beverages will be available. Folks are invited to bring seating. Coolers are frowned upon.
“It’s billed as a spring bash/street dance party,” Hughes said of the Bash. “It kind of fits us pretty well.”