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Dance this mess around with B-52s at Riptide Music Festival

On his way to Riptide Music Festival, B-52s' Fred Schneider talks new music, new coffee.

This weekend's inaugural Riptide Music Festival will provide an interesting test of the conventional wisdom that the Fort Lauderdale area in the past few years has been transformed by a wave of youthful and hip new residents with money, modern tastes and millennial energy. It's certainly not your mom's old beach town, am I right?

With that in mind, Riptide is bringing some of the most popular alt-rock and electronic acts to Fort Lauderdale beach for the first time, with ocean-side performances by Miike Snow, Awolnation, the Struts, Silversun Pickups, Robert DeLong and others at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park on Saturday, Dec. 3. This is the new soundtrack of the city.

Or is it? Riptide organizers aren't so sure, and also have booked bands that mine the memories of more mature fans, with classic 1980s party pop from Earth, Wind & Fire, the B-52s, A Flock of Seagulls and Expose. The balance mirrors the festival's eclectic list of sponsors, which include alt-rock radio station 104.3 The Shark, along with 101.5 LITE FM, 102.7 The Beach and 790 The Ticket.

But unlike such genre-mingling events as West Palm Beach's SunFest and the Okeechobee Music Festival (where Hall and Oates, Robert Plant and Bassnectar performed within minutes of one another), the organizers of Riptide will take a different approach, segregating its audience into distinct tribes: youth-skewing music on Saturday and nostalgic sounds on Sunday.

The festival is expected to draw 10,000 to 15,000 each day, and if ticket prices are a reflection of demand, organizers expect the older acts to be the bigger draw. Admission is $49 on Saturday, $85 Sunday.

An argument certainly can be made that there are music fans interested in attending both days (a two-day pass costs $99). That group would include Fred Schneider, founding member of the new-wave party starters the B-52s, who has always been a dabbler in different styles of music.

With a discography that includes classic B-52s hits such as "Rock Lobster," "Love Shack," "Private Idaho" and "Dance This Mess Around," Schneider recently added "Truck," a dark, Moog-y disco track with his vocals, never the most mellifluous in pop music, howled into a CB radio.

"Truck" is included on the album "FT" by DJ and dance producer Hifi Sean, also known as Sean Dickson of the Soup Dragons. The September release also features performances by Yoko Ono, Bootsy Collins, Crystal Waters, Teenage Fanclub's Norman Blake and Suicide's Alan Vega.

"It's about a demented, caffeine-addled trucker," Schneider says of his song. "It's out there."

Schneider is just about to release a new album with his side band, the Superions, which includes a Spanish-language track called "Albóndiga" (Meatball), and has been in the studio recently working on a song with another unlikely collaborator, Brian Hardgroove, producer and bass player for hip-hop icons Public Enemy.

"He likes my voice," Schneider says, with a nasal-y laugh.

Schneider is also involved in another project, which may be the source of his creative energy: A partnership in a coffee roastery in Deland, in Central Florida. Breyting Community Roaster, owned by a longtime friend, Rick Coven, sells bags of Schneider-created Fred's Monster Blend, and that's just the beginning.

"I just went in on some property, so I'll be spending time in Deland," says Schneider, who lives on the east end of Long Island, N.Y. "We're thinking of opening a coffee shop and things like that in Deland. I love the town."

Breyting sells fair-trade coffee, raised organically in Laos, with a portion of the proceeds going to "removing all the bombs we dropped on the Laotian people," Schneider says. (For information, visit

This year marks 40 years since the B-52s started making music together in Athens, Ga., but the enduring popularity of their trashy brand of party rock does not surprise Schneider.

"Our show is not like anybody else's. We don't do the same stage patter every night, and we don't hold back," he says. "We want to get everybody up and dancing, having fun. We are the perfect antidote to a lousy day at work or this president-elect."

The Riptide Music Festival takes place 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4, at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park, 1100 Seabreeze Blvd. Tickets cost $49 on Saturday, $85 Sunday ($70 with promo code Cyber); two-day pass $99. Call 305-521-5100 or visit

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