Veteran Tampa brewer Tim Ogden strikes out on his own with Deviant Libation

Photo by Chris Fasick

For craft beer lovers, the Tampa Bay scene is a paradise. We’ve lost count of the number of breweries that are now open within a five- or six-county radius, and several districts feature multiple tasting rooms within a short walk of one another — you can spend whole days in Dunedin or St. Pete’s Grand Central District or Tampa’s Heights neighborhoods drinking homegrown beer, and never drink the same beer twice. There are breweries that specialize in IPAs or sours, breweries that feature traditional European styles, breweries that are, heaven forbid, branching out into hard seltzers.

It’s an insanely good time to be a craft beer fan around these parts.

Being a craft beer producer, on the other hand, is a more complex proposition.

Yes, the local brewing community is an amazingly intermingled and cooperative one. Yes, the phrase “a rising tide lifts all boats” is one that exists. But the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been. More breweries inevitably mean more competition and, like it or not, craft brewing is big business in Tampa Bay these days, not only because of deep local pockets but also because of outside investment. As with restaurants, we’ve already seen some smaller, less well-funded concerns close or scale back further, adopting or reverting to a model that doesn’t compete with other breweries with the capital to try to take things to another level.

Exciting? Sure. Daunting for brewers who’d like to make their own mark by striking while the iron is hot? Undoubtedly.

It’s gotta take some serious nerve to step out on one’s own — but more importantly, it’s gotta take confidence, determination and, above all, passion.

“I did cross country and track and field in high school,” says 42-year-old Tim Ogden. “And I want to do better than I’ve done before every time I go out there.”

Sitting on the floor in the gutted building on North Nebraska Avenue in Tampa that once housed a church and will be the home of his own brewery, Deviant Libation, Odgen is more than aware of the area’s big fish — after all, he’s worked for more than one of them over the years. But it was a love of beer that got him this far, and he’s sure that love, along with the skills he’s learned over nearly a decade and a half in the business, will show his decision to strike out on his own to be the right one.

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‘Fun Home’ wrenches and enriches the heart at American Stage

Photo by Beth Reynolds for American Stage

Entertainment doesn’t have to be substantial. The word itself doesn’t even attempt to convey any sort of weight.

But when entertainment is substantial — and let’s not even get into the “but is it art” thing, OK? — it’s imbued with the opportunity to turn into something more, to transcend “entertainment” (not that there’s anything at all wrong with “entertainment”) and become an important part of the shared cultural conversation. And usually, it’s a resonance with what it means to be human that creates that elevation.

The five-Tony-winning musical Fun Home — the first, by the way, to feature a lesbian lead — is fucking important, maybe the most important Broadway work since Angels in America. It’s a simultaneously beautiful, brutal and often hilarious look at familial relations and coming to terms with one’s own identity. It’s an empathy machine, one that forces viewers to deal with the fact that not everyone is perfect, and not everyone is the same — but that everyone is human, and everyone can (and should) relate.

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St. Pete’s freeFall Theatre revitalizes unique ’70s classic ‘Pippin’

Photo by Thee Photo Ninja for freeFall Theatre

Ah, ‘70s theater.

So weird. So wacky. And yet, even when dealing with serious or even dark subjects, so celebratory.

freeFall Theatre’s production of the 1972 musical Pippin checks off all of those adjectives, and even manages to update some aesthetic elements of the tale to create a unique balance of that ‘70s feel and something more modern and minimalist. It might not be for everyone, but this show is definitely going to elicit a response.

freeFall’s Pippin sticks close to the plot of the original — originally directed by none other than Bob Fosse on Broadway — in its tale of the son of Charlemagne’s quest to find his place in life. It’s a long and arduous journey, to be sure, including warfare, palace intrigue, patricide, misdirection and even a lovely young widow and her equally lovely son. Will Pippin follow in the footsteps of his father to become a conqueror? Will he choose the life of the mind? Will he opt for a simpler existence, knowing what could have been, given the advantages of his lineage?

Read the rest at Creative Loafing Tampa Bay…

Surfer Doctor: Season 2, Episode 10

Tonight on Part 2 of the Surfer Doctor season finale: Surfer Doctor and his coworkers fly to Peru and take a small charter plane into the Andes and the pilot is blinded when a ray of sunlight glints off the eye of the alpaca in Surfer Doctor’s shoulder bag and crashes but Surfer Doctor has time to fashion parachutes from seat covers and unsold promotional T-shirts from the 2016 Olympics in Rio and they drift down right in front of the sacred waterfall of illusion and charge through into the cavern of becoming and the faceless ones are there surrounding Secret Knowing Resident as she lies on a stone altar before a cave painting of an alpaca with a conspicuously large recess in its head and the faceless ones sing into Surfer Doctor’s heart and mind that it’s time and a coworker says look and the younger version of Surfer Doctor in the cave painting has changed into Secret Knowing Resident and Surfer Doctor places the eye of the alpaca into its recess and the harmonies of the universe reach a fever pitch as silver light glows from the opal and showers Secret Knowing Resident and suddenly it’s over and the faceless ones are gone and Surfer Doctor and Secret Knowing Resident share a look and everybody else is like what what and Secret Knowing Resident asks Surfer Doctor if he can still do anything and Surfer Doctor says there’s one thing I can still do and he takes his lab coat from his bag and puts it around her shoulders as they make their way down the mountain to the coast to go you know

Surfer Doctor: Season 2, Episode 9

Tonight on Part 1 of the Surfer Doctor season finale: Surfer Doctor goes to Bayside Memorial to tell his team about Secret Knowing Resident’s abduction but there’s been a terrible turkey fryer explosion at a Thanksgiving family reunion and he’s torn but Surfer Doctor pitches in until the worst is over then tells the team to meet him at his shack and on the way across the hospital parking lot a homeless man stops and tells Surfer Doctor they have her and they want the eye of the alpaca returned so when his team gets to the shack Surfer Doctor has packed a bag and tells them to do the same and when they ask where they’re going he reaches into an ancient urn by his desk and pulls out an opal the size of a chihuahua’s head and says the Andes