By Erin Stover Sickmen
The band Parrothead Massacre, as the name suggests, prides itself on brutally decimating the Trop Rock genre that pervades Key West. The four-piece punk/metal band shreds and screams, darkening the musical landscape. What the band members don’t want anyone to know, though, is that they’re all actually pretty soft-hearted. Parrothead Massacre first crashed onto the scene with a show to raise money for relief after Hurricane Irma and last year, they gave a kind-hearted encore raising funds for the Boys and Girls Club. This summer, they’re storming the Studios of Key West with a fundraiser for the Key West Wildlife Center. Please, nobody tell anyone that these guys are actually saving birds, not massacring them. It would totally kill their image.
It’s also probably best not to mention that the band members are, by day, a wine shop owner, an architect, an insurance broker and an eco-tour charter captain. Fortunately, when the foursome of Mark Gambuzza, Will Shepler, Ayden Philips and Clint Moore jumps on stage, a dark moon overtakes the room eclipsing all thoughts of day jobs. If Gambuzza’s tattoo sleeves leave any doubt, the first chords remove any lingering reservations that this is just another strummy, sunny Key West band. Gambuzza, who fronts the band, has a personal mission to ensure Key West remains an eclectic mecca for artists of all stripes. Parrothead Massacre pulls its weight in diversifying the music scene, and they do it with a wink, a nod and a whole lot of talent. Though the name may be tongue-in-cheek, the band members are all pedigreed performers looking to shake up the scene in Key West. Shepler originally played with Agnostic Front, a New York band that wrote the rulebook of the hardcore scene in the 1980s.
Parrothead Massacre again takes the stage on Saturday, July 20. Key West Wildlife Center board member Shane Craig recognizes that some supporters may be a little less metallically-inclined. To keep the night humming along, Craig promises “a little something for everyone” with an opening piano act and the musical talent of The Murials and Linda Richardson.
Thrashing and head-banging aside, the real thrust of the night is a rollicking fundraiser for a worthy recipient. The Key West Wildlife Center is a local nonprofit rehabilitation center that assists rescued birds from Key West to Big Pine. The center also works with other agencies, like The Turtle Hospital and Marathon Wild Bird Center, to provide holistic coverage to feathered friends (and the occasional finned, shelled, scaled buddy) throughout the Lower Keys. Director Tom Sweets and primary care provider Peggy Coontz put in countless hours dedicated to a mission to “ensure the future of our diverse native wildlife by providing timely rescues and quality rehabilitation with the hope of release back to the wild.” The center even provides care for a classic Keys icon – the chicken. Since 2009, Key West Wildlife Center has worked directly with the city of Key West to provide medical care and adoption services for injured feral chickens, which are a protected species.
The scope of services provided by the center is expansive, creating a clear need for funding. The Key West Wildlife Center rehabilitates over 1,400 wild birds annually, providing extensive veterinary care, rehoming services and 24-hour emergency rescue service for animals located anywhere between MM 0 and MM 30. They also remain open year-round, maintaining seven acres of land that house numerous long-term patients.
All funds raised by Parrothead Massacre will directly benefit the animals. One main fundraising goal of the center right now is the construction and maintenance of the aviary, a crucial centerpiece of the center. Naturally, the birds need good housing – they’re practically secondary staff. Craig brings up his favorite long-term resident: “There’s a rooster named Chuck who was dropped off years ago. He still hangs around and keeps everyone in line.” Quite a few species hold court there. Hawks, cormorants and herons that can’t be released back into the wild are granted permanent citizenship at the center. In return for their room and board, they provide educational programming and welcome visitors who stop by to see the magnificent creatures of the Keys up close and personal.
Battle for Birds
Parrothead Massacre fundraiser for Key West Wildlife Center
Saturday, July 20
Doors 7 p.m., show 8 p.m.
The Studios of Key West, 533 Eaton St
Tickets: $30, available at Key West Wildlife Center, Uva Wine Shop or at door.