Robby Robb is on a mission to make a music festival that celebrates local bands — whether they’re locals from Miami or somewhere else. This November 18, Robb will inaugurate his Imaginary Radio Music & Arts Festival at Gramps.
The festival is a project by the Imaginary Radio Network, a “radiocast” created and hosted by Robb. The radio-show/podcast hybrid, which has completed more than 200 episodes, began in 2015 when Robb and cohosts Rob the Rum Guy (a rum connoisseur) and Captain Dapper (“just strange”) had the idea to create an old-school variety show-style program in which they discuss topics such as weird news, Florida Man stories, science, and what they call “geek stuff” in movies and television.
Each episode features music from unsigned local bands. Originally, “local” naturally meant Miami, where Robb and company were all born and raised, but over time, they included bands from Spain, the United Kingdom, Australia, and other nations. “Before we knew it, we were getting music sent to us from all over the country and all over the world,” says Robb, deeming his creation an “international local music show.”
Though Robb holds no grudges against Miami’s dominant electronic scene, he confesses that he and his cohosts prefer “music with real instruments.” After his show exploded as a place for local bands to perform their music, Robb decided to create an annual festival to celebrate the local scenes that “gave them so much.”
“One thing that people from Miami — and not from Miami — miss is an organic music scene here that’s like no other place,” he says, refuting the common misperception that Miami doesn’t have a “real” music scene. “We have a lot of really unique bands, and they blend a lot of strange elements into their stuff. We want people to see that.”
This year’s festival will present Miami gems such as Afrobeta, Above the Skyline, Boxwood, Dama Vicke, Raker, Snowmoon, the Hoy Polloy, the Deadly Blank, Xotic Yeyo, and Pans on Gramps’ indoor and outdoor stages. The festival will also show off the work of local visual artists who contribute to Miami’s underground scene.
Robb, who spent nearly ten years as a DJ for Tallahassee’s alternative station, X101.5, curating unsigned local music on the air, has long been a friend to local and DIY scenes. “I was doing my regular radio shift in Tallahassee,” Robb recalls, “and I guess people were just in a good mood; a lot of people were calling me and were being very outgoing, like, ‘Hey, my friend, what’s up?’ And I was like, I don’t know these people. I got a wild hair to start calling myself ‘your imaginary friend on the air.’” The Imaginary brand stuck.
Your imaginary friend has hopes for the festival’s future as a patron of Miami’s music scene. He emphasizes that proceeds from ticket sales will not go to him or his cohosts but to the bands. “This is something we’re not making money off of, because we want to give back to the bands that have helped us out,” Robb says. “We want to bring people in [to] have a good time and get a sense of how great the Miami music scene actually is.”
Imaginary Radio Music & Arts Festival. 5 to 11 p.m. Saturday, November 18, at Gramps, 176 NW 24th St., Miami; 305-699-2669; gramps.com. Tickets cost $5 presale via imaginaryradiostore.ecwid.com and $10 at door. Submit art and music inquiries to [email protected]