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Review: Train, Matt Nathanson, Mary Lambert rock fun, freewheeling Mistletoe Show at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg

Train headlined the Mix 100.7 Mistletoe Show on Dec. 19, 2014 at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg.

Jay Cridlin

Train headlined the Mix 100.7 Mistletoe Show on Dec. 19, 2014 at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg.

Here’s the thing about these huge year-end radio festivals: You get so many big-name artists in the one room, and you think, “Oooh, wonder what crazy, unpredictable turn of events is gonna happen here tonight?”

The answer, more often than not, is none. Blame these shows’ inherently corporate nature, their tightly controlled production, fragile artists’ egos, whatever. The craziness just doesn’t always happen.

That’s what made Friday’s Mix 100.7 Mistletoe Show at St. Petersburg’s Mahaffey Theater such a wonderfully, delightfully, shockingly good time. On paper, the bill — Train, Mary Lambert and Matt Nathanson — looked like the softest soft-rock softstravaganza one could imagine. And yet from beginning to end, the extremely sold-out show bounced gleefully from unexpected highlight to unexpected highlight, with fans delighting in every goofy, grin-inducing moment.Full Story

Against Me! coming to the Ritz Ybor in Tampa

Brian Mahar

We're in the thick of "best of the year" season in the music world, and as you scan your list of choice, be on the lookout for Against Me!'s Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Rolling Stone, for one, has it at No. 15.

The past couple of years have borne witness to massive upheaval within the band, as frontwoman Laura Jane Grace -- formerly known as Tom Gabel -- continued her evolution as a performer since coming out as transgender in 2012. Transgender Dysphoria Blues was a searing, honest look at her life right now, and so far, it's resonated with fans.

So here's good news: Against Me! is returning to their home state in 2014. They'll play Tampa's Ritz Ybor on Feb. 18, it was announced today, alongside Creepoid and Worriers. Tickets are $20-$23 and they're on sale now. Click here for details.

Need further enticement? Next week on Soundcheck, we'll be rolling out our annual year-end series about our favorite concerts of the past 12 months. Spoiler alert: Against Me!'s January show at the State Theatre made the cut.

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*

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Elizabeth Futral talks Christmas classics, getting into opera and more

Elizabeth Futral has performed with the Metropolitan Opera, at Carnegie Hall and all around the world. She’s been everyone from Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire to Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare to Musetta in La Bohème.

But the coloratura soprano was just Elizabeth when she happened to meet St. Petersburg Opera Company maestro Mark Sforzini in Virginia. The two had dinner, and he invited her to be a soloist in St. Pete Opera’s annual Seasonal Sparkle concert, Sunday and Monday at the Palladium in St. Petersburg. Futral has family in Clearwater and Brandon, so the opportunity had a built-in holiday vacation.

Futral joins baritone Galen Scott Bower on selections from The Youth’s Magic Horn by Mahler. The St. Pete Opera chorus and orchestra will present a mix of opera and traditional carols including Fantasia on Christmas Carols, Ding Dong, Merrily on High, O Holy Night and selections from La Bohème.

"It’s a child’s view of heaven, kind of like an angel talking about what it’s like to be in heaven," Sforzini said of the Mahler selection during a recent phone interview. "They’re wonderful sort of playful pieces, and from a children’s perspective. They’re very descriptive and beautiful and fun, and I think it’s a nice choice for a Christmas concert."

For more on Seasonal Sparkle, click here. And fore more of Stephanie Hayes' interview with Elizabeth Futral, click here.Full Story

SoundBytes: Joan Jett, Millionaires, Tove Lo and more

-- The Who's 50th anniversary tour, the North American leg of which kicks off at Tampa's Amalie Arena on April 15 -- just got a whole lot radder, as it was announced newly voted-in Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Joan Jett and the Blackhearts will serve as openers.

-- Swedish alt-pop singer Tove Lo has been forced to withdraw from St. Petersburg's Coastline Festival, Feb. 21 at Vinoy Park, due to throat issues that will require surgery. Her replacement on the bill will be announced in early January.

-- Trash-popsters Millionaires are coming to the Orpheum on Jan. 25 with opener Eryn Woods. Tickets are $12-$15. Click here.

-- The Contortionist is coming to the Orpheum on Feb. 14. Great Valentine's Day present if your honey loves metal! Opening acts include Revocation, Fallujah and Toothgrinder. Tickets are $14-$30. Click here.

-- DJ Wildstylez is coming to the Amphitheatre in Ybor City on Jan. 30. Tickets are $10. Click here.

-- The Lettuce concert that was scheduled for Jan. 13 at Jannus Live has been moved to the State Theatre.

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*

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Hogan's Beach concerts, rowdy parties causing headaches with Tampa officials, nearby residents

Luis Santana

It's been a huge year for Hogan's Beach as the club emerges as a major player in Tampa's EDM world. Acts like Skrillex, Cedric Gervais, Dash Berlin and the Chainsmokers have all performed there in 2014, leading Hulk Hogan's waterfront bar and grill to become one of the area's most unlikely new party destinations.

Unfortunately for the Hulkster, it may have gotten a little too big.

After numerous complaints about noise and rowdy late-night activity from nearby residents, a Tampa city zoning official says it appears Hogan's is in violation of its zoning and could be facing fines or worse.

"People cannot sleep in their own homes," said Pamela Adkins, one of about a dozen Dana Shores residents who took their complaints to the Tampa City Council on Thursday.

For more on the controversy, click here for Richard Danielson's story.Full Story

This week in Tampa: Jingle Ball, Fleetwood Mac, Train, Steven Curtis Chapman and more

It's the end of the year, and that means two big year-end radio shows are coming our way: The Mix 100.7 Mistletoe Show with Train, Matt Nathanson and Mary Lambert; and the 93.3-FLZ Jingle Ball with Pharrell Williams, Calvin Harris (above), Fall Out Boy, Demi Lovato and more. There are plenty of other notable year-end shows by local promoters (Thx Mgmt, Brokenmold, New Granada) and a few huge shows as well (Fleetwood Mac, Steven Curtis Chapman, Blue October, Trace Adkins, Yoni Wolf and more). Here to walk you through it all is Ray Roa...Full Story

Ticket Window: Santana, Diana Ross, Of Mice and Men and more

Looking for a last-minute gift for the music fan in your life? How about concert tickets? A fresh round of them are going on sale this week for shows around Tampa Bay. They include: Of Mice and Men (Jan. 16, State Theatre), Mr. Big (Feb. 17, Capitol Theatre), Diana Ross (Feb. 18, Mahaffey Theater), Al Di Meola (Feb. 19, Capitol Theatre), Mod Sun (Feb. 22, Local 662), Santana (March 8, Mahaffey Theater), Enter Shikari (March 27, State Theatre), The Devil Wears Prada (March 31, State Theatre) and Peter Hook and the Light (April 18, State Theatre). Click here for this week's edition of Ticket Window.

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Jillian Edwards talks Christian music stardom, touring with father-in-law Steven Curtis Chapman and more

When acoustic songstress Jillian Edwards talks music with Grammy Award winner Steven Curtis Chapman, she calls him Papa Steve.

Of course Edwards, who married Chapman’s son and drummer Will Franklin Chapman in 2012, holds her own with the Christian superstar in-laws -- her latest release, Daydream, hit No. 1 on iTunes’ singer-songwriter chart in 2014.

Edwards, who appears Saturday at the USF Sun Dome on the Evening of Joy and Worship Christmas tour featuring Steven Curtis Chapman, Third Day and Brandon Heath, calls her musical family a blessing.

"I received a really kind offer from Papa Steve," she said in a recent phone interview We had talked about how fun it would be to do a Christmas tour. It’s been going really well. It’s great being on tour with my husband. He is the drummer on the tour. I get to sing some of my own Christmas songs. I do some backup vocals for the other artists and Papa Steve. It all comes together."

Click here for details on the show. For more of Sarah Whitman's interview with Jillian Edwards, click here.Full Story

2015 Gasparilla Music Festival lineup: Gogol Bordello, Trampled By Turtles, the Gaslight Anthem and more

Gogol Bordello

Gogol Bordello

How do you top a glittery alien invasion in downtown Tampa? Book a band of electric gypsies.

Dynamic global folk-rock collective Gogol Bordello are among the initial headliners announced for the fourth annual Gasparilla Music Festival, March 7-8 in Curtis Hixon Park. Joining them are Springsteen-inspired New Jersey punks the Gaslight Anthem and Minnesota bluegrassers Trampled By Turtles.

Other national acts on the initial bill span genres from funk to indie rock to African-influenced soul: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Hiss  Golden Messenger, Dumpstaphunk, the Budos Band, Hot 8 Brass Band, Margo and the Pricetags and the Packway Handle Band.

Local and Florida artists include the Hip Abdution, Roadkill Ghost Choir, Selwyn Birchwood, Thomas Wynn and the Believers, Miggs, RedFeather and the Mt. Zion Baptist Gospel Choir. Organizers will announce a full lineup of around 40 artists by January.

“We feel that GMF works best with a diverse lineup,” said Ty Rodriguez, the festival’s executive director. “With festival-seekers, what we hear back from the questions we ask them, both online and offline, we feel as if people are getting bang for their buck. There’s always something for everyone.” …

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As Tampa's Jingle Ball nears, we salute Pharrell Williams, a man of many hats

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What’s the perfect Christmas gift for the man who has it all? If that man is Pharrell Williams ... how about a new hat? 

Nothing against his trademark Vivienne Westwood Buffalo lid, of course — Pharrell rocks the freshest Mountie look this side of Saskatoon — but one hat is nowhere near enough to cover the prodigious performer’s vast career.

Pharrell is a man who dons many hats — singer, songwriter, producer, entrepreneur, TV star — and over the past 22 years, he’s worn them all with inimitable panache. From co-writing Wreckx-N-Effect’s classic 1992 booty jam Rumpshaker to topping the charts with his 2013 triptych Get Lucky, Blurred Lines and Happy, Pharrell has given more to the world of music than almost any other artist — and this Christmas, as he comes to Tampa’s Amalie Arena for the 93.3-FLZ Jingle Ball (click here for details), we think it’s time we give back.

On your way to Monday’s Jingle Ball, stop by your local haberdashery and pick up a little something for pop music’s favorite cat in the hat -- maybe a wizard hat to salute his studio magic, an android helmet to celebrate his collaborations with Daft Punk, or a top hat to honor the massive mogul he's become. …

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Review: The Black Keys go big, St. Vincent gets weird at Tampa's Amalie Arena

The Black Keys performed at Tampa's Amalie Arena on Dec. 16, 2014.

Luis Santana

The Black Keys performed at Tampa's Amalie Arena on Dec. 16, 2014.

There’s a moment or two in every Black Keys concert when singer Dan Auerbach ambles to the riser of his bandmate, drummer Patrick Carney, and for a split second they’ll catch each other’s eyes.

In that moment, I’d give a crisp fiver to know what each one sees. Recognition? Inspiration? A hint of something grounding, something that takes them back to their sweaty garages in middle-class Akron, Ohio?

No matter how big the Black Keys get, how eye-popping their stages become, the connection between Auerbach and Carney is the gas that makes their machine go vroom. You could feel it deep in the nosebleeds Tuesday at Tampa’s Amalie Arena at the group’s first local show in four years.

In that time, the Black Keys have gone from niche sensation to bona fide superstars -- a whopping 7,510 fans turned out to welcome them back. And my, what strides they’ve made -- newer smashes like Lonely Boy, Gold on the Ceiling and Fever are absolute arena-rock tinder, spawning a lake of bobbing bodies on the Amalie floor.

But are the Keys a better band today than they were four years ago? Full Story

SoundBytes: Iggy Azalea, Wilco, Mr. Big, Ghostface Killah and more

-- One of the breakout pop acts of 2014 has finally announced plans for a big-time Florida concert. Unfortunately, it's all the way over in Orlando. Fancy rapper Iggy Azalea will perform at Orlando's Amway Center on May 15, with Nick Jonas, Tinashe and DJ Wizz Kidd opening. Tickets are $37.50 and up, and they go on sale Friday. Click here for details.

-- Another great show coming to Orlando but not Tampa: Wilco at Hard Rock Live on April 28. Tickets are $33 and up. Click here.

-- Two key members of the Wu-Tang Clan, Raekwon and Ghostface Killah, are coming to Jannus Live on Jan. 8. TIckets are $25-$50. Click here.

-- Ever wanted to hear hair-metal favorites Mr. Big perform To Be With You live? You'll soon have your chance. They're coming to Clearwater's Capitol Theatre on Feb. 17. Tickets are $38-$48 and they go on sale Saturday. Click here.

-- Also coming to the Capitol Theatrer: Jazz great Al Di Meola, formerly of the '70s fusion supergroup Return To Forever. Tickets are $35-$45 and they go on sale Saturday. Click here.

-- The Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band is coming to the State Theatre on March 15, and tickets are $13. Click here.

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*

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Review: Usher crushes a dynamic, crowd-pleasing performance at Tampa's Amalie Arena

Usher performed at Tampa's Amalie Arena on Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014.

Luis Santana

Usher performed at Tampa's Amalie Arena on Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014.

Tampa was the end of the road for Usher's UR Experience Tour, and everyone involved decided to leave it all on the stage Sunday night.

Extra explosions, backflips and dance breakdowns helped round out a night of talented people coming together to present one cohesive show for the mass of fans gathered in Amalie Arena.

Usher Raymond IV didn't try to reinvent the wheel. He payed homage where he should: Glittery armbands and sneakers to match his MJ swag foot work, calls for hits from the drummer to compliment his James Brown splits and stunner shades to hide his eyes when he went all R. Kelly-sexy on the ladies. The combination of all the influences made the show an enjoyable 90 minutes of sound and movement. Full Story

Review: Brantley Gilbert revs up rowdy 'Throwdown' at Tampa's Amalie Arena

Brantley Gilbert headlined the U.S. 103.5 Throwdown by the Bay at Tampa's Amalie Arena on Dec. 12, 2014.

Jay Cridlin

Brantley Gilbert headlined the U.S. 103.5 Throwdown by the Bay at Tampa's Amalie Arena on Dec. 12, 2014.

Here’s a fact that’ll astound guests at your next holiday party: The most-played song on TouchTunes jukeboxes in 2014 was Brantley Gilbert’s Bottoms Up. It beat out Katy Perry’s Dark Horse, Pharrell WilliamsHappy and Lorde’s Royals, among others.

A rusty-nail rocker about sipping from a Solo and setting your sights on a cutie? Yeah, we can see how that might play well in a bar.

But that’s not the only reason Gilbert is on the cusp of country’s A-list, why he’s about to go on tour with Kenny Chesney, why he headlined Friday’s inaugural U.S. 103.5 Throwdown by the Bay mini-fest at Tampa’s Amalie Arena.

Gilbert, 29, is the walking embodiment of the modern country outlaw, more roughneck than redneck, a heavily tattooed troublemaker with a sound that hews more toward Godsmack than Garth.

Is Nashville ready for a singer like that to headline arenas? Well, 6,528 fans turned out for Friday’s Throwdown, which is a pretty good sign. And the feisty Gilbert can hold his own on a big ol’ stage. Take out all the obligatory references to pickups and keggers, and you’d swear you were watching a rock show.Full Story

Diana Ross coming to the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg

Dazzling diva Diana Ross returns to the Mahaffey Theater on Feb. 18 on her In the Name of Love tour.

The legendary Miss Ross, who turned 70 this year, was last at the Mahaffey in September 2013 where she rocked five costume changes, each one more blingy than the next, and was backed up by a nine-piece orchestra and three back-up singers as she wailed Love Child, Upside Down, Love Hangover and even Ease on Down the Road from The Wiz. Wear your dancing shoes for this show.

Tickets are $70.50-$130.50, and go on sale Dec. 18. Click here for details.

— Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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