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Jingle Ball, Mistletoe Show concerts returning to Tampa Bay in December

Luis Santana (2014)

Who's on the 2016 lineup?

That's the question that'll be on our minds for the next few weeks, now that we know radio empire iHeartMedia is bringing its Jingle Ball and Mistletoe Show concerts back to Tampa Bay this fall.

The Mix 100.7 Mistletoe Show will hit the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg on Dec. 9, while the 93.3-FLZ Jingle Ball will return to Tampa's Amalie Arena on Dec. 17, according to iHeartMedia in Tampa.

The Jingle Ball is the bigger deal by far. Tampa's one of only a handful of cities in the country that gets one of the iHeartMedia-backed pop parties, and they typically attract acts like Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Pitbull, Ariana Grande and Maroon 5. Last year's headliners included Demi Lovato, Shawn Mendes and 5 Seconds of Summer. The 2016 lineup will be unveiled in mid-October.

The Mistletoe Show is a newer but more intimate affair, focusing on pop-rock acts like Train, Rob Thomas and Third Eye Blind. It originated at the Mahaffey, but moved to Ruth Eckerd Hall in 2015. Now it's back in St. Pete, with a lineup to be announced in late September. …

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Lauryn Hill coming to the House of Blues in Orlando

Luis Santana (2011)

Lauryn Hill is one of those artists you just have to catch when you can.

Her tours are all too rare, her live presence unpredictable. But when the former Fugee and multiple Grammy-winning singer and rapper comes around, you'd best not miss the chance to see her, because there's no guarantee she'll be back again anytime soon.

So don't delay in grabbing tickets to her just-announced tour, "The MLH Caravan: A Diaspora Calling! Concert Series," which stops at Orlando's House of Blues on Dec. 8. Tickets start at $57 and go on sale Saturday. Click here for details.

"The MLH Caravan allows me to continue the theme of unity and celebration of the many facets of cultural and artistic beauty throughout the African diaspora while on tour this summer and fall," Hill said in a statement. "In these days of tension, tumult and transition, an exchange of this kind can yield direction, expression, understanding and empowerment as well as connection, self love and appreciation that hopefully overflows into our respective communities." …

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As Drake comes to Tampa, we ask: Where's his music and legacy going next?

Drake has the Feels.

He always has, from Best I Ever Had to Hold On, We're Going Home to Hotline Bling, and his new album Views does little to flesh those Feels out. It's music you can set and forget in the car, in the pool, at a party, in your bedroom. It works anywhere, anytime, on any device. It's easy-listening hip-hop.

And as he comes to Amalie Arena with Future on Saturday (click here), it's time to ask: Is all of that enough from one of North America's biggest pop stars?

From the permafrost far below, he appears to be idling atop his mountain, pleasing all kinds of people but going nowhere in the process. After Saturday's show in Tampa, where will Drake go next?

Click here for Jay Cridlin's story about Drake's maddening medium-ness.

For an alternate perspective, Stephanie Hayes wrote about why Drake's calm, consistent coolness is the musical equivalent of comfort food, something everyone can agree on at any time of day. Click here for her column.

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Oddball Comedy Festival cancels Friday's concert in Tampa

Gabriel Iglesias

Gabriel Iglesias

Nothing funny about this.

The Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival has canceled the first run of dates on its 2016 tour, including Friday at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre. A Live Nation representitive blamed "routing issues," but no further information was immediately available. Tickets will be refunded at point of purchase.

"I would like to apologize to my fans who expected to see me performing on the @OddballFest," headliner Gabriel Iglesias, above, tweeted late Monday. "The promoters just canceled this weeks dates."

Presented by Live Nation, Funny Or Die and IFC, the third annual festival was to feature Iglesias, Hannibal Buress, Sebastian Maniscalco, Bert Kreischer, Iliza Shlesinger and others to the Amp. Previous headliners included Amy Schumer, Louis C.K. and Aziz Ansari. This year's Oddball will now kick off Sept. 2 near Chicago.

No word on whether there'll be a rescheuled Oddball date in Tampa, or whether any of the aforementioned comics will book a makeup show in town. But at least one of them was really looking forward to the trip -- especially after her shows at the Tampa Improv were also canceled last year. …

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SoundBytes: Dillinger Escape Plan, Carcass, Peter Cetera, Jerrod Niemann and more

-- After two decades, vaunted New Jersey hardcore outfit the Dillinger Escape Plan has announced they're easing into retirement -- but not before at least one more show in Tampa Bay. They'll perform at the State Theatre on Nov. 10 with O'Brother, Car Bomb and Cult Leader. Tickets are $18.50 and up. Click here.

-- Another couple of heavy acts hitting the State Theatre soon: Carcass and Deafhaven with Inter Arma on Nov. 11. Tickets are $26 and up. Click here.

-- Newly minted Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Peter Cetera will perform at the Mahaffey Theater on Oct. 30 (without his old mates in Chicago, of course). Tickets are $34.50 and up. Click here.

-- Country singer Jerrod Niemann (Drink to That All Night) will perform at the Dallas Bull on Sept. 8. Tickets are free with normal cover, though expect this one to get crowded. Click here.

-- Legendary pop and soul singer Gladys Knight will perform at Ruth Eckerd Hall on Jan. 30. Tickets are $49.50 and up. Click here.

-- Also coming to Ruth Eckerd Hall: "The Orchestra," made up of members of Electric Light Orchestra, on Jan. 14. Ambrosia will open. Tickets are $48.75 and up. Click here. …

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Steve Martin, Martin Short coming to Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater

For a couple of comedy legends, Steve Martin and Martin Short are surprisingly familiar faces in Tampa Bay.

Martin's brought his bluegrass band to the Mahaffey Theater in 2013, and Short has performed twice at Ruth Eckerd Hall since 2008. And in 2014, they came to the Mahaffey together for a night of fun and games. 

Now they're bringing their joint roadshow back to Tampa Bay, this time to Ruth Eckerd Hall on Feb. 11. Tickets start at $100.25, and will go on sale Saturday. Click here for details.

The actors and occasional co-stars (Three Amigos, Father of the Bride) will trade stories, banter with the audience and each other, and generally offer more laughs than Martin has given paying audiences since largely quitting stand-up years ago. Any chance you get to see either of them live is one not to be missed, so to catch them both together is a treat.

-- Jay Cridlin

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Review: Dixie Chicks dynamic, unapologetic as ever at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre

The Dixie Chicks performed at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on Aug. 19, 2016.

Jay Cridlin

The Dixie Chicks performed at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on Aug. 19, 2016.

This just in: Natalie Maines wants to say she’s sorry.

“I’m just going to make some apologies,” the Dixie Chicks singer told the crowd of 16,000 Friday at Tampa’s MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, just before playing Don’t Let Me Die in Florida, a rollicking Patty Griffin cover that’s not so kind to the Sunshine State.

“I just wanted to say we all love Florida – the beaches, the sunshine,” she continued. “I have no explanation for Patty and her reasons for the song, but me, for this song, I’m drawn to the melody and the groove.”

You were expecting something else? An apology for We’re-Ashamed-The-President-Is-From-Texas-Gate, maybe? Yeah, no chance.

Thirteen years after Maines, Emily Strayer and Martie Maguire became Nashville pariahs, the Dixie Chicks still aren’t ready to make nice with their haters – and judging from their dynamic performance Friday night, they don’t need to. …

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SoundBytes: Sarah Jarosz, Nyle DiMarco, the New Mastersounds and more

-- Acclaimed singer-songwriters Sarah Jarosz, above, and Parker Millsap are performing at Skipper's Smokehouse on Sept 29. Tickets are $17-$20. Click here.

-- There's virtually no chance Phish fans missed this announcement, but just in case: Phish is coming to Florida. They'll perform at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on Oct. 16. Click here for details.

-- Turkuaz and the New Mastersounds are coming to Jannus Live on Oct. 22. Tickets are $19. Click here.

-- The University of South Florida's annual USF Round-Up comedy show returns Aug. 26 with Damon Wayans Jr. (Let's Be Cops) and Kevin Barnett (The Eric Andre Show). It's free, but open only to USF students with an ID. Click here.

-- Speaking of USF, the school has announced the first speaker in its annual University Lecture Series: Nyle DiMarco, the deaf winner of America's Next Top Model and Dancing With the Stars, on Sept. 27. Click here.

-- Amorphis is performing at the Orpheum on April 18. Tickets are $22 and up. Click here.

-- Jay Cridlin

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Frank Ocean releases visual album 'Endless,' including a song called 'Florida'

Florida. It's everywhere, man. It's even on Frank Ocean's new album.

After what seems like eons of waiting for an impatient Internet, the reclusive future-R&B singer finally dropped a new album -- technically a "visual album" -- called Endless late Thursday via Apple music. And it includes a song called Florida.

Actually, "song" might be stretching it -- Endless is a long, ambient soundscape that drifts in and out of various states of melancholy and moodiness as Ocean builds himself a spiral staircase. According to lyrical bible Genius, it lasts a mere 37 seconds (25:12 to 25.49) and features Ocean crooning a distant, distorted "Are you with me?" over sparse clicks and tones.

According to Rolling Stone, Endless is actually a precursor to Ocean's "real" follow-up to 2011's Grammy-winning Channel Orange, which may or may not be titled Boys Don't Cry, and which could be released as soon this weekend.

No word on whether Florida will make the cut for that album. But the Sunshine State has definitely been on the singer's mind this year. In June, he posted an open letter on Tumblr in the wake of Orlando's Pulse nightclub shootings. …

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Five Finger Death Punch, Shinedown coming to Amalie Arena in Tampa

It seems 98 Rockfest has grown so popular that there's now a mini version of it coming to Tampa in December.

Well, not officially, of course. But Five Finger Death Punch (above, who headlined 98 Rockfest's lineup in 2015) and Shinedown (one of the top bands this year) are teaming up for a major fall and winter tour that looks and feels quite a bit like 98 Rock's annual metal-palooza. Joining them on this trek are SIXX:A.M., featuring Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx; and British rockers As Lions.

A big slate of heavy bands, all one night? Yeah, that does sound a little like a certain festival we're used to seeing in Tampa each April. Only this time, it'll hit Amalie Arena on Dec. 9.

Tickets are $37.50, and they go on sale Aug. 26. Click here for details.

Now the wait is on for the lineup to 98 Rockfest 2017. Can it top this one? We'll see.

-- Jay Cridlin


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Did Disney World give Aerosmith's Steven Tyler a finger over the 'shocker'?

Today in theme-park hijinks we have Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, one of the stars of Disney World's Rock 'n' Rollercoaster.

According to theme park blog Behind the Thrills, Tyler's video presence on the coaster has been edited to change a somewhat obscene three-finger hand gesture known as the "shocker" into a full four-fingered wave. Tyler's reps haven't confirmed it, but video footage posted online appears to show an all-new digit attached to the rocker's palm. Guess the park didn't want to miss a thing.

Click here for Christopher Spata's full report.

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Broadway star Laura Benanti pregnant, cancels Straz Center concert in Tampa

Laura Benanti


Laura Benanti

Add this to the list of unusual reasons artists have canceled concerts in Tampa Bay.

Tony-winning Broadway star Laura Benanti has cancelled her Jan. 22 concert at the Straz Center in Tampa after announcing she is pregnant with her first child.

In a statement, the Straz Center said it's looking to reschedule Benanti's concert for a later date, and "a new cabaret performer (to be announced) will be scheduled" in her place. Click here for details.

Benanti won a Tony in 2008 for her role as Louise in Gypsy, and received her fifth Tony nomination this year for a revival of She Loves Me. She also appeared in NBC's The Sound of Music Live!, has had roles on Nashville and Supergirl and starred in a viral video from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in which she impersonated Melania Trump.

She'll only get busier with a new baby girl in her life, but maybe someday she'll make room for Tampa, too.

-- Jay Cridlin

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Garth Brooks coming to the Amway Center in Orlando

We're still a long way from Garth Brooks returning to Tampa after three planned shows at Amalie Arena were cancelled last summer due to the Stanley Cup playoffs.

But here's the next best thing: Garth is coming to the Amway Center in Orlando.

The country superstar has announced he'll be playing Orlando for the first time in 18 years on Oct. 8. Odds are good he'll add at least one more show in the near future; most of his tours these days feature extended runs each city.

As always, wife Trisha Yearwood will open the show. Tickets are $74.98, and they go on sale Aug. 26. Click here for details.

What does this mean for a potential makeup date for the cancelled Tampa shows? Hard to say. At the time those shows were called off, we knew it would be a long time before both Brooks and the venue could figure out a new date. His tours are planned out (if not publicly announced) up to a couple of years in advance, meaning there's a good chance Orlando was already on the books when Tampa was canceled.

Bottom line: If you're desperate to see Brooks in concerrt, this is likely going to be your best bet for a while.

-- Jay Cridlin

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As the Dixie Chicks return to Tampa, it's time to reassess their impact on American music

It's been more than a decade since the Dixie Chicks have performed in Tampa Bay, and all that absence ought to have made your hearts grow fonder. Because when they play Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on Friday, you'll see why they've had an underrated impact on music over the last 20 years.

In the 21 years since Natalie Maines joined the group founded by sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Strayer, the Dixie Chicks have paved paths and opened doors for a generation of artists. From the women responsible for modern country's most forward-thinking albums, to artists of all genres emboldened to speak their minds from the stage, the time is right for a reappraisal of everything the Dixie Chicks brought to American music — and how their influence is still felt today.

"The coolest thing was just hearing a group of women really be loud, really speak up and just change the game a little bit," said Maddie Marlow of the chart-topping duo Maddie and Tae. "Every time we're writing, we never just settle on a song that feels good. It's always like, hey, we want to make sure that this song has a little punch. Because if the Chicks can do it, we can too." …

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Trans-Siberian Orchestra coming to Amalie Arena in Tampa

Last we checked, Christmas was going to happen again in 2016. That means another Trans-Siberian Orchestra tour is right around the corner.

The blockbuster symphonic rock act, one of the most successful touring acts in the world, will bring their annual holiday roadshowback to their home base of Tampa for a pair of concerts on Dec. 18 at Amalie Arena. The band's just-announced "The Ghosts of Christmas Eve" tour will play at 3:30 and 7 p.m. on Dec. 18.

Tickets starting at $32 go on sale to fan club members starting Sept. 7, and the general public Sept. 16. Click here for details.

In the meantime, we highly recommend reading a fantastic recent profile of TSO from New Statesman, which digs into the band's Tampa connections and the odd life of founder Paul O'Neill. Click here to check it out.

-- Jay Cridlin

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