01/17/18 Music & Concerts
BAREFOOT BLUE JEAN NIGHT: Jake Owen
Can we identify Floridian strands in the DNA of modern country? A few notable younger artists hail from here, including Michael Ray, Cassadee Pope and Florida Georgia Line's Brian Kelley. But the state's biggest country export over the past 12 years might be Jake Owen, the Winter Haven-born, Vero Beach-raised hunk who has charted enough singles to release his first greatest hits album by age 36. Barefoot Blue Jean Night is his biggest by far, but Beachin' does a better job capturing the sun-dappled, surfside-tailgate lifestyle espoused by everyone from Kenny Chesney to Dierks Bentley, Florida Georgia Line to the Zac Brown Band. If this is the sound that ends up defining Florida's country music niche, Owen is a fitting laureate. He somehow hasn't played Tampa since 2013, but he'll headline the U.S. 103.5 Throwdown by the Bay at 7 p.m. Saturday at Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive. Joining him are Dan and Shay and fellow Floridian Easton Corbin. $16.24 and up. (813) 301-2500. amaliearena.com....
It's barely been a year since Steve Martin and Martin Short last brought their roadshow to town. But there was never a doubt in their minds they'd be back.
"We thought — and I seriously mean this — we've got to play Florida more." Martin said in a phone interview. "We really love doing this. And I will add that we have loved playing in Florida."
Over the past decade, the longtime friends and comedy collaborators have played Tampa Bay a combined five times — thrice together and once apiece on their own. Not a bad rate, since it's not like either actor needs the work, and Martin famously quit stand-up in 1981....
01/10/18 Music & Concerts
FRESH CATCH: Sunshine Music Festival
Jam bands are known for living on the road, yet it's been 23 years since Phish's last Tampa Bay show. How is that possible? "People say that all over the country," bassist Mike Gordon, above, said recently. "The simple fact of the matter is that Phish just doesn't play as much. We play for more people in less time, and it's mostly major markets. We just can't go anywhere. People have their other lives, other creative work." Indeed, several members of Phish have come to town with solo projects, including Gordon, who plays Saturday's Sunshine Music Festival at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg. In its sixth year, Sunshine has attracted a nice slate of rock, jam and funk wizardry, including headliners and festival co-founders Tedeschi Trucks Band, Medeski Martin & Wood, Galactic, Hot Tuna, the Suffers and Foundation of Funk, a supergroup with the Meters' Zigaboo Modeliste and George Porter Jr., Soulive's Eric Krasno and John Medeski. If you see Gordon, who's touring behind his new solo LP Ogogo, tell him to bring the whole band next time. $64.95 and up. sunshinemusicfestival.com....
01/03/18 Music & Concerts
BUILDING INTEREST: Robb Bank$
Earlier this spring, Robb Bank$ dropped a video campaigning for the fan-voted 10th slot in XXL magazine's coveted Freshman Class issue. He lost out to fellow South Floridian and onetime collaborator XXXTentacion. The thoughtful and treasured Bank$ has pursued success through more conventional means, including signing to Cash Money. XXX carries himself like a (very troubled) outsider, rising swiftly through the DIY world of SoundCloud Rap, and generating much more heat as a result. What this says about Bank$'s chances of breaking big in 2018 isn't as clear, though on Twitter he has blamed a "label war" for stalling his career. He's still young enough for a breakthrough, so maybe the 2018 Freshman Class isn't out of the question — he's just got to release his new album Falconia first. Until then, he'll perform at 7 p.m. Thursday at Transitions Art Gallery at the Skatepark of Tampa, 4215 E Columbus Drive, Tampa. Kid Trunks opens. $20 and up. ticketfly.com....
12/28/17 Pop Culture
This was the year that took Tom Petty. That fact alone qualifies 2017 as one of the most soul-sucking, 365-day nightmares on record.
But 2017 couldn't stop there, could it? Oh no. Put the latrine fire that is our nation's widening political chasm aside for just one second — I know, it's not easy — and just think about the year in pop culture.
Honestly, we should have seen this coming last New Year's Eve, when Mariah Carey ushered out 2016 — itself no picnic of a year — with a disastrous, lip-synced trainwreck of a performance in Times Square. A crazier cultural fiasco unfolding on live TV, one could scarcely imagine — until, in March, the Academy Awards went all "Hold my beer," handing Best Picture to Moonlight over La La Land (or was it the other way around?) in an epic envelope snafu. Toss in legions of Rick and Morty fans rioting over Szechuan sauce at McDonald's, and yeah, in 2017, that was pretty much the way the news goes....
12/27/17 Music & Concerts
RITZY PARTIES: Slushii, Sam Feldt, Slander
The good thing about New Year's Eve falling on a Sunday: You can go just as hard all night on Friday and Saturday. That's the thinking at the Ritz Ybor, which is planning to be an EDM wonderland all weekend. On Friday, bassheads will throw down as Slander ($20 and up) takes the stage for a special, noggin-throttlin' edition of Pound Fridays. On Saturday, things will get more tuneful as Dutch deep and trop house DJ Sam Feldt ($20 and up), whose recent two-album collection Sunrise to Sunset featured vocals from singers as disparate as Akon and Joshua Radin, and even includes a cover of Eagle-Eye Cherry's Save Tonight. Headlining the whole shebang on Sunday is Slushii ($30 and up), whose melodic, at times ethereal new album Out of Light belies the innately crowd-pleasing live chops he displayed at this year's Sunset Music Festival, where he mixed in oddball choices like Oasis' Wonderwall and Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams. As EDM weekends go, it's an eclectic mix, which is a good way to close out a pretty unpredictable year. Each show starts at 10 p.m. at the Ritz, 1503 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. (813) 390-0397. theritzybor.com....
12/20/17 Music & Concerts
AN IDOL RETURNS: Kris Allen
Four months ago, Kris Allen hopped back on the American Idol train. The Season 8 winner was in Orlando for the opening day of auditions for ABC's upcoming Idol reboot, doing interviews alongside fellow former champs Jordin Sparks and Ruben Studdard. "Disney's very much a part of what they're doing because of ABC," Allen said by phone recently. "That was very cool, because as a grown man, I love Disney World." He would, wouldn't he? The Arkansas native toppled Adam Lambert thanks in part to his boy-next-door looks and squeaky-clean pedigree, so of course he'd feel at home at Disney. But Allen was a songwriter when he auditioned for Idol, and that remains his passion Thursday. When his Christmas tour hits the Attic, 1510 E Eighth Ave. in Ybor City, he'll play holiday hits and perhaps a cut or two from Idol — but it's the songs that he's written or co-written that he still loves the most. "I try to come up with things that feel very 'me' when I'm writing for myself," he said. "I want it to feel like myself and different in that way, where it's like, no one else could have written that song except for me." 7 p.m. Thursday. $35 and up. (813) 241-0110. facebook.com/theatticyborcity. ...
12/20/17 Music & Concerts
Every year, we add another holiday album or two to the family rotation. This year it was the Carpenters' An Old-Fashioned Christmas; the year before, Phil Spector. Stevie Wonder and Sufjan Stevens and the Chipmunks always get their due, too.
But there are two albums I know I'll definitely be spinning every Christmas until my last. They came out half a century apart. But next to one another, they sound perfect....
12/15/17 Music & Concerts
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A half hour to curtain, Al Pitrelli unwinds on a couch in his spartan dressing quarters, fresh off a loading-dock Marlboro.
He's deep inside an arena, about to play the 29th show in the 18th city of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's 19th winter on the road. Out in the hall, violinists tune and singers apply mascara and crew members pop in and out of catering — fajita night is always a hit. But Pitrelli is all out of pep talks and rituals. ...
12/13/17 Music & Concerts
WHERE'S THE PURPOSE? Katy Perry
You can pinpoint the exact moment when things started to unravel for Katy Perry's Witness. It was 12:23 a.m. on Feb. 10, when she tweeted of her latest musical direction: "We gonna call this era Purposeful Pop." You kind of got a sense of what she meant two days later, with a performance of Chained to the Rhythm at the Grammys that suggested we were all living in denial about the state of our world, "stumbling around like a wasted zombie," as the preamble to the Constitution splashed behind her. Problem was, the rest of Witness failed to make any grand statements about the world, and often felt just like the cartoonish Katy of old, which made fans and critics wonder: What, exactly, was this album's purpose again? When Perry's eye-popping, mind-melting Witness Tour rolls into Amalie Arena on Friday, whatever message of wokeness she promised in February will be overshadowed by its spectacular costumes, props and stage design. So if you leave Perry's concert on Friday feeling more perked up than purposeful, don't feel too bad. Swish Swish and Bon Appétit may have dropped the ball Perry set rolling with Chained to the Rhythm, but at least it's still comfortable living in her bubble. Just dance, dance, dance to the distortion, and everything will be okay. Purity Ring opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $45.75 and up. (813) 301-2500. amaliearena.com. ...
Before Tampa tour stop, Katy Perry's creative team breaks down her Witness Tour's 'big, bold images'12/13/17 Music & Concerts
In the ever-escalating arms race to be the most eye-popping pop star on the planet, sometimes you have to call in for backup. Even if you're Katy Perry.
When plotting her lavishly spectacular Witness Tour, which arrives in Tampa on Friday, Perry turned to choreographers Ashley Evans and Antony Ginandjar, a.k.a. the Squared Division, an Australian choreography and creative services agency that has worked with stars like Taylor Swift, Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas. ...
12/06/17 Music & Concerts
PACKAGE DELIVERY: 98 Degrees
Oh, the weather outside is far from frightful — that's one of the perks of December in Florida, you know. But inside the Mahaffey Theater on Friday, it'll be 98 Degrees and steamy. The Brothers Lachey will unwrap This Gift and other holiday hits in a Christmas concert that's been a long time coming. Their new Let It Snow is the boy band's first album in four years, and their first Christmas album since 1999's platinum-selling This Christmas. Nick, Drew, Justin Jeffre and Jeff Timmons are wrapping up their 20th year as a foursome — give or take a nearly decadelong hiatus here or there — and this holiday run will feel like the icing on the fruitcake. 8 p.m. 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. $39.50 and up. (727) 893-7832. themahaffey.com....
12/04/17 Music & Concerts
R.Lum.R swears he didn't put Jimmy Kimmel up to it.
When the Bradenton-raised singer-songwriter played Kimmel's late-night show in August, the host surprised him with an unusually personal introduction.
"Jimmy had also worked at a radio station in Tampa for a number of years, and he was like, 'Oh, I love Bradenton! My cousin went to IMG!' " R.Lum.R, a.k.a. Reggie Williams, said in a recent phone interview. "I literally didn't hear it until he did it. I was in the shot, and if you watch the video again, he holds up my album cover, and he says, 'Shout out to Bradenton!' And you can see me throw up my hands, and I'm like, Yooooo!"...
12/01/17 Music & Concerts
Songs of Innocence never got a fair shake.
U2's last album caused an uproar before you could even buy it, as the band brazenly plunked it into every Apple user's inbox for free, without warning. Some howled outrage, others were just confused. But lost in the noise was the fact that, once you gave it a spin, Songs of Innocence was actually a really good album, risky and ferocious and shockingly personal in all the ways a big rock experiment should be. That U2 followed it with two acclaimed tours — including this summer's cinematic celebration of 30 years of The Joshua Tree — was proof they had more left in the tank than all the haters gave them credit for....
I was working construction the year Roxanne peaked on the Billboard charts and was playing all the time. With some of the more monotonous jobs, such as grading slabs, the radio is an important part of getting through it. I wasn't into the Police, yet had nothing against them. I preferred Roxanne to Message in a Bottle, which in 1979 was just being released, mainly because of that annoying line in the latter about sending out an S.O.S....