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This week’s best Tampa Bay concerts: Ribfest, Chris Stapleton, Sammy Hagar, more

By Jay Cridlin
Handout photo of Sammy Hagar, who's performing in Coachman Park in Clearwater on 11/14/17. Credit: Kampaign PR

RED RUM RUNNER: Sammy Hagar

Sammy Hagar didn’t want to cancel on you. Really, he didn’t. But Hurricane Irma left him no choice. "We were playing a couple of amphitheaters, and the lawns were just soaked in mud, and we said, ‘Let’s not put the fans through all this,’?" said Hagar, who postponed a September show at Clearwater’s Coachman Park in the wake of the storm. "I don’t want to go there and ask my fans to try to get to a beat-up venue and go through all this s--- when probably half of them are trying to get their houses back together, trying to get their electricity back on." Now that the show is back on for Nov. 14, Hagar and his supergroup the Circle — drummer Jason Bonham, guitarist Vic Johnson and former Van Halen bandmate Michael Anthony on bass — wants to give them a reason to rock. A high-energy night of hits by Van Halen (Right Now, Best of Both Worlds) and Hagar’s solo career (I Can’t Drive 55) should do the trick. Night Ranger and Drew Hagar open at 7 p.m. $45 and up. (727) 791-7400. rutheckerdhall.com.

For more with Hagar, see tampabay.com/soundcheck.

SHOW YOUR BONES: Ribfest

Wet-Naps and earplugs. That’s really all you need to pack for Ribfest, St. Petersburg’s annual salute to barbecue, classic rock and country, which returns to Vinoy Park this weekend. Sure, original Friday headliner ZZ Top had to drop out due to injury, but Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers is a fine replacement. Plus if you purchased an advance Friday ticket at Circle K, you may now opt to use it on Saturday (with Styx’s Dennis DeYoung) or Sunday (with the Charlie Daniels Band) instead. At least the barbecue’s not changing, with a selection of award-winning ribbers from across the East Coast and Midwest slated to bring the heat. Here’s the main stage lineup:

Friday: Paul Rodgers, above (8:30 p.m.), the Wholigans (6:45), Bobby Lee Rodgers (5).

Saturday: Dennis DeYoung, above (8:30 p.m.), Show Biz Kids (6:45), Ambrosia (4:45), Orleans (3), the Tropics (1:30)

Sunday: Charlie Daniels Band, above (6:30 p.m.), Rodney Atkins (4:30), Granger Smith (2)

Gates open at 11 a.m. daily. Tickets are $25 per day at Circle K stores through Thursday; $30 and up at the gate. ribfest.org.

NO SURPRISES: Chris Stapleton

Chris Stapleton isn’t sneaking up on anyone anymore. He took the music world by surprise with his 2015 debut Traveller, which swept the CMA Awards and earned him a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year. Fans have to breathe after an album like that, and Stapleton’s followups let them, with one album in May (From a Room: Volume 1) telegraphing another in December (From a Room: Volume 2). He knows you’re watching, and he wants to deliver while you are. He and his wife/muse/backup singer, Morgane, just announced they’re expecting twins in early 2018, and if you’ve ever seen Stapleton live, you know he’s focused on Morgane the whole time. And if she’s not on the road, he might not be either. So catch his fire while you can. Marty Stuart and Brent Cobb open at 7 p.m. Friday at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. (813) 740-2446. livenation.com.

FOLDING PAPER: Ben Folds

Leave it to an off-kilter genius like Ben Folds to reinvent the idea of audience participation. On his new tour, Folds is only taking requests by airmail — paper airplanes, specifically. Write your pick on a sheet of paper, fold it into your best pointy rocket, and hurl it toward the stage. Folds will sample what you send and play what moves him. We beg of you, though: Don’t be the guy who requests Brick. Go with something marginally deeper, like 1999’s Hospital Song or 2003’s Bruised with his indie supergroup the Bens. Or ask him to debut something new — Folds seems like he’d be up for a challenge. Tall Heights open at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the Straz Center, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $48.50 and up. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.

ROAD TRIP: Jay-Z

We got 99 Problems, and here’s one of them: Jay-Z is coming to Orlando but not Tampa. You crazy for this one, Jay! Still, Jay-Z remains the president, chairman and CEO of the rap game. His resume is hard to match, from old hits like Dirt Off Your Shoulder and Hard Knock Life to his acclaimed new album 4:44. And that’s why you should be willing to drive 55 in a 54 to get to the Amway Center, 400 W Church St., at 8 p.m. Saturday. Vic Mensa opens. $26.50 and up. (407) 440-7900.
amwaycenter.com.

MUSIC PLANNER

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