Local Love: Florida’s Favorites – Part 1

Each year as I explore the SunFest lineup, I keep an eye and an ear out for Florida’s own acts. The sunshine state has already spawned so many incredible musicians and bands– and each year SunFest spotlights new rising stars.


The Doors’ Jim Morrison hailed from Melbourne.
Tom Petty was born and raised in Gainesville.
Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba is from Boca Raton. So is Ariana Grande.
Orlando was home to Backstreet Boys, Nsync, and O-Town.
Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine hailed from Miami. So does Pitbull.
And half of Dead Prez is from our Sunshine State.

This May, take advantage of the opportunity to hear many of these acts first. A loyal, local following is critical to a band’s success. Today we’ll preview three Florida stars you must see.


Members: Nik Olas, Jared Steingold, Arminio “Crocodile Deathspin” Rivero, Luis “Louie” Estopiñan
Hometown: Miami, Florida
Listen Up: SunGhosts (great name, by the way) formed in 2013 when the four musicians met during college. The past few years have been intense for the indie-garage rock band.

These sun-kissed spirits already have a LOT of festivals on their resume. SunGhosts has haunted stages at Calle Ocho Festival, Wynwood Life Fest, Drive Music Conference in Atlanta, SXSW, the inaugural Okeechobee Music Festival, North Carolina’s NoDa Summer MusicFest, and Summerfest in Milwaukee.

What does that tell you? This foursome knows how to work a crowd. Festivals, as you know, require a special performance. Energy has to spill off the stage and infect everyone from the very front row– to the attendees trying to find their friends in the very back. It’s not easy, but SunGhosts are veterans at this point. (A little digging says the band has rowdy live performances, and have been known to play a set in their boxers.)

SunGhosts released their self-titled debut album in 2016 and celebrated the release with a nationwide tour.

This May, get ready to party with these Miami men. Their music is funky, funny, and requires a lot of dancing. Catch them on Wednesday, May 3, on the Ford Stage.

Members: Gregory Scot Dyer, Ivan Alexander, Mark Jacobs, Joe Louis, and Xavier Vanegas
Hometown: South Florida / West Palm Beach
Listen Up: This band gets 10 extra bonus points for a super SEO-friendly name. Chemradery (chemistry + camaraderie) doesn’t exist in your dictionary but should live on your playlist.

Chemradery has notably opened the Special Olympics (15’) “Relay Across America” Torch Ceremony. They’ve also headlined our local 4th on Flagler Independence Day.

This seasoned South Florida band comes from impressive roots. Lead vocalist Dyer previously sang professional opera with the Palm Beach Opera Company for many years, while Alexander, Jacobs, Louis, and Vanegas all performed in various bands and projects around the state. Now they collaborate together– creating a remarkable mix of pop, rock, and soul.

Dyer’s voice, with his operatic background, is truly remarkable. I’ve been sifting through their SoundCloud and have to consciously pick my jaw off the floor. I don’t know if I’ve heard anything quite like it. The control and depth to his sound, against uplifting pop instrumentals, is a recipe for greatness.

Also, they covered Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love.” So there’s another 10 points.

See Chemradery live on Thursday, May 4, on the Ford Stage.

Alex Di Leo
Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Listen Up: The first thing you’re going to notice about alt-indie singer-songwriter Alex Di Leo is his style. His sharp haircut, painfully cool clothes, and thoughtful tattoos will all lead you to start drawing opinions. Then, you’ll probably take note of his jawline, sharp features. Give him a good study, because by the time he opens his mouth, and starts playing his guitar, you won’t be able to pay attention to anything else.

Di Leo is just getting started with his solo career. After leaving the rock band Wyld Fly, Di Leo spent two years writing and recording his own indie rock. The results are what you hear today. His influences are all bands we love– Coldplay, Vance Joy, and Arcade Fire. His music is familiar –you already love this noise– but his experiences and thoughtful lyrics will elevate him even higher. The depth, maturity, and direction in his work will burrow into your heart.

He’s got the perfect look– and the perfect sound.

Find him on the Jet Blue Stage, on Sunday, May 7.

We have a lot more Florida natives to preview! Follow us on social (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) to keep up with all of our blogs.