I had been living off of Nebraska Avenue when I first heard Maggie Council's song about Tampa's notorious thoroughfare more than 10 years ago. By the time she was halfway through the first verse, I knew I was experiencing the magic of an artist who'd captured the very essence of a place and a time.
Ask most Tampans about Nebraska Avenue, and you'll likely elicit a litany of urban cliches along with the occasional recommendation for a good restaurant, dive bar, or by-the-hour motel. Ask an artist like Maggie Council, and you'll get a more melodic perspective.
I sat down with one of my favorite Tampa artists at Grownman Brand studio to learn more about her muse and how it shaped one of the great songs ever written about the Cigar City.
But first, here's a live performance of "Nebraska Avenue" by the incomparable Maggie Council:
In the video below, Maggie talks about how she came to write "Nebraska Avenue," gives a rundown of the real-life colorful characters in the song, and explains why she see's the place as a unique canvas the natives keep re-painting in their own image.
Maggie Council's terrific album Not in the House featuring "Nebraska Avenue" is available on CD Baby HERE.
What to read next:
If you enjoyed this story, here's another about a great Tampa artist whose music has helped define the Cigar City.
Tampa's Musical Raconteur
Fred Smith is an author and filmmaker who's set many of his stories against the backdrop of his hometown of Tampa, Florida. His book of short stories How Long Can a White Girl Last on Nebraska Avenue? and other stories of wayward youth was inspired by Maggie Council's song.