Rocking the weekend with a live band isn't a rare practice for Bar Envy. Most weekends feature at least one local, high-profile band, touching on a variety of different music genres.
But Saturday, Bar Envy will unveil its first Freedom Fest, with seven hours of rock 'n' roll from three mega bands. Chrome Rock Band, Bob Hope Band and Fast 4 Ward will shake the parking lot beginning at 3 p.m.
In addition to live music, Bar Envy will also provide a dunk tank, bikini contest, barbecue and drink specials all day, including their classic Sink or Swim.
"Our bar doesn't do anything outside usually because we have the bank next door," explained Melissa Raines, a Bar Envy bartender for eight years. But she was inspired to push an outdoor venue for the Fourth of July celebration after realizing there wasn't much planned in terms of live music and community gatherings to commemorate the holiday weekend.
She also hoped to double the event by welcoming local soldiers who were returning from combat in Iraq. One of them, the husband of the bar's manager, returned just last week.
Raines facilitated the event by getting the word out that she was looking for high-profile bands to participate.
"As bartenders, we watch what the bands are doing," she said.
And as part of her job, Raines stays in contact with the most popular acts in the tri-county area.
She sent out a request on Facebook to attract attention to the event. She hoped to kick off this annual celebration with acts she knew would leave a lasting impression and return for other events.
Chrome, a 4-piece rock and roll band, has played various clubs throughout Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.
But this will be the band's first appearance at Bar Envy.
"Currently, I am the happiest I've ever been," said drummer Rick Lopez, who founded Chrome three years ago. "Our current line-up is nothing short of all pure energy!"
Chrome's members include Lopez on drums; Wendy LaForce, lead vocals; Chuck "Chainsaw" Hanson on lead guitar; and Mike "MFD" Dillon on bass.
Chrome is scheduled to appear from 4 to 8 p.m.
The Bob Hope Band is a regular at Bar Envy, playing the venue each first Friday of the month. Hope, who fronts the five-piece rock 'n' roll band, grounded his roots at Bar Envy tending bar, Raines said.
The Bob Hope Band is another rock 'n' roll group, playing full band gigs as well as acoustic performances throughout Hernando, Pasco and beyond. The members include Hope on lead vocals and Mike on guitar.
The Bob Hope Band is scheduled to open the event beginning at 3 p.m.
Fast 4 Ward is a five-piece country rock band, also playing their first time at Bar Envy's Freedom Fest.
Lead vocalist Dusty Ward said the band was eager to accept the chance to rock out and have a good time.
"We like to play any place that people are out to have fun," he said.
Fast 4 Ward includes Joe on lead guitar, Vinny on rhythm guitar, Nate on bass and Smitty on drums.
Freedom Fest will also present the National Anthem, performed by Nicolina, a favorite lead vocalist from another popular band.
Mark Sabadishin, Bar Envy's owner, hopes the event will be the first of many, bringing an opportunity for residents to enjoy a day of fun and live music while celebrating the Fourth of July holiday from home.
For Raines, it is a great opportunity to give something back to the community she has served for nearly a decade.
Hernando Today correspondent Kim Dame can be reached at email@example.com