SAFETY HARBOR, Fla. — As the Thursday morning crowd starting filing in, Janet Hooper’s smile started spreading.

“That’s the wonderful thing about it,” she said.

The Mattie Williams Neighborhood Family Center is tucked away on a quiet street in Safety Harbor. You can’t see it from nearby McMullen Booth Road. The sign out front is a little understated. But the tiny building has become a lifeline for dozens of families.

“They give so much,” said Catherine Bancroft, who moved to the city nine years ago. “They help within so many places. So many people.”

Mattie Williams offers clothing and food services to people in need. Its food pantry routinely serves 70 families.

This after being empty a little more than a year ago.

“For 17 years, Church and Community Outreach ran a food pantry here and they moved down closer to Gulf To Bay. And we were left with no food pantry and we had 50 families that had no place to go,” explained Hooper. “It’s one of those things where you just do it. You just make sure you can feed people. That’s what we did.”

Donations slowly trickled in. A local church provided a refrigerator. Others got a much-needed freezer. Shelves were added and were later filled. Within two months, the harried pantry was up and running again.

“Now, we have to stock it,” said Hooper.

That’s where Phil Esposito comes in.

“If you can play music and put food on the shelves, that’s the perfect thing for me,” said the lead singer of the popular band The Black Honkeys. “It doesn’t make you happy to see that many people in need, but it does make you happy to see that they’re getting the help.”

On March 2 at Safety Harbor Waterfront Park, three other performers will join The Black Honkeys on stage for the 4th-annual Bands On The Bay music festival. The proceeds will benefit Mattie Williams’ food pantry and the local Kiwanis. The event runs from 3 to 10 p.m. and features food, music, craft beer and more.

“I couldn’t in good conscience let people go without food,” Hooper said. “The fact is, without food it’s a real problem for these families. Every dime that goes into that music festival is going to help families in this community.”

Here's all the information you need to attend the 4th-annual Bands On The Bay music festival:

Where: Safety Harbor Waterfront Park, 110 Veterans Memorial Lane, Safety Harbor.

When: 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, March 2, 2019.

Tickets: $5 general admission and a limited number of $50 VIP are available online at or at the Mattie Williams Neighborhood Family Center, 1003 Dr. MLK Jr. St. N., Safety Harbor, (727) 791-8255. $5 tickets will also be sold at the gates.


  • 3:00 p.m.  Jeff Vitollo & The Quarter Mile Rebels mix rockabilly, blues and the roots of rock with swagger, attitude and fun as they perform original and classic songs, creating the feel of a rock-n-roll revival.

4:30 p.m. Shevonne and The Force has a funky bohemian style that features sounds ranging from pop, reggae, fun-rock to soul and blues. Founder Shevonne Philidor appeared on America’s Got Talent (2010) and American Idol (2016).

6:30 p.m. Soul Circus Cowboys bring a new edge to country rock. Their debut album, Love’s Like A Rodeo, defined the band’s signature sound of high-performance, fuel-injected Southern Rock, a sound their fans call “Tailgate Country.” They were voted “Best Country Band” in the Tampa Bay Area in Creative Loafing’s 2018 “Best of the Bay.”

  • 8:30 p.m. The Black Honkeys, a popular Tampa Bay area R&B, funk, soul, and rock and roll band, play a high-energy mix of covers and originals. Keeping the multi-year streak going, they again were voted “Best Soul/R&B/Funk Band in the Tampa Bay Area in Creative Loafing’s 2018 “Best of the Bay.”

BEER 3 p.m-9:45 p.m.

Craft brews from Big Storm Brewery for just $5; Wine, Miller Lite and additional beer selections also will be available for $5, or purchase a $17 beer/wine pass good for 4 drinks (a 15% discount).


Several food trucks will be onsite during the event for your dining and snacking pleasure, including Sarge’s Smokehouse BBQ; The Dude & His Food; The Kings Bistro; Flip’n Tasty Filipino and more. An assortment of vendors, from clothing to jewelry to snacks and desserts will also be on site.

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