Make us your home page

Martin Lawrence, Eric Paslay, Sutton Foster, more coming to Tampa's Straz Center

In case the calendar has been sneaking up on you, July 31 is right around the corner -- it's Friday, in fact.

Friday is the day that most single tickets to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts' 2015-16 season go on sale to the general public. That includes a slew of Broadway shows; speakers like Cary Elwes and David Sedaris; concerts by the likes of Matisyahu, Patti LaBelle, Itzhak Perlman and Will Hoge; and the Straz's annual Club Jaeb Americana series.

As Friday's on-sale date approaches, however, the Straz is throwing a slew of new concerts our way -- starting with a just-announced gig by comic Martin Lawrence on Sept. 12. Tickets to that one start at $39.50, and like all Straz shows, it'll go on sale Friday. Click here for details. …

Full Story

SoundBytes: Jose Gonzalez, Slow Magic, Thee Oh Sees and more

-- A few years ago, Swedish indie-folk singer-songwriter Jose Gonzalez brought his band, Junip, to Ybor City -- a rare treat for fans of the band and even Gonzalez himself, but still, it wasn't really a proper solo set, was it? So here's an awesome concert to announce: A show by Gonzalez on Sept. 29 at the State Theatre. Tickets are $22-$25 and they go on sale Friday. Click here.

-- Three more fantastic September concerts to note by promoters Aestheticized, who are doing the Jose Gonzalez show: Vacationer on and Thee Oh Sees with Jensen Serf Company and Plastic Pinks on Sept. 18 (tickets are $12-$15, click here); Vacationer with Great Good Fine OK and more on Sept. 22 ($10-$13, click here); and Slow Magic with Daktyl on Nov. 14 ($13-$16, click here).

-- Country singer Eric Paslay had a big hit with Friday Night, and now he's coming to the Straz Center in Tampa on Oct. 2. Tickets go on sale Friday. Click here.

-- Also coming to the Straz: Comic Christopher Titus on Sept. 12. Click here.

-- Chicago rapper Lil Durk is coming to the Orpheum on Sept. 16 with Gunplay and Hypno Carlito. Tickets are $25-$30. Click here. …

Full Story

'Legends of the Old School' Salt-N-Pepa, Vanilla Ice, Naughty By Nature, more coming to Tampa's USF Sun Dome

Let the battle of the old school throwdowns begin!

Coming first, on Aug. 22, we have Funk Fest Tampa Bay, with '90s R&B and hip hop stars Jodeci, SWV, Dru Hill and 2 Live Crew, among others, coming to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

Then on Sept. 19 it's the Super Freestyle Explosion, with a host of freestyle pop icons -- Stevie B, Taylor Dayne, Lisa Lisa, the Original Cover Girls and more -- coming to Amalie Arena.

Now comes word of what might be the funkiest show of them all: The Legends of the Old School, coming to the USF Sun Dome on Dec. 4.

Salt-N-Pepa, Vanilla Ice, Naughty By Nature, Color Me Badd, K7 and TKA and, once again, 2 Live Crew are all coming to the Sun Dome for the '90s-tastic party. DJ Magic Mike will also perform a live set. Talk about your MTV Party to Go hits: Shoop, Whatta Man, Push It, Ice Ice Baby, Hip Hop Hooray, OPP, I Wanna Sex You Up, All 4 Love, Me So Horny, Come Baby Come ... this is one stacked lineup.

Tickets are $35-$125, and they go on sale July 31. Click here for details.

So who's got the flyest, freshest lineup so far? Funk Fest, the Super Freestyle Explosion or the Legends of the Old School? Let the vogue-offs begin!

-- Jay Cridlin

Full Story

Fifth Harmony's Lauren Jauregui talks fan armies, social media, her song of the summer and more

Most of us will never know the work that goes into leading a fan army.

“We’re always engaging them on social media, letting them know that they’re important and reminding them as often as possible that they are so important to us,” said Lauren Jauregui of the wildly popular girl group Fifth Harmony. “It goes beyond that whole celebrity-fan relationship. In person, they’ll ask us for advice on things. We have major moments with them. We make them feel so special and let them know that as people, they’re important, not just as our fans.”

Jauregui knows what she’s talking about. Fifth Harmony’s fans, dubbed the Harmonizers, are among the most ardent in Top 40 pop; MTV recently gave them a trophy for “Best Fandom Army.” It’s been like this ever since Fifth Harmony rose to fame in 2012 on the American X Factor. Fans obsess over every move made by all five members (Jauregui, Camila Cabello, Ally Brooke Hernandez, Normani Kordei and Dinah Jane Hansen), and support the group’s endeavors with almost frightening fanaticism, pushing their hit summer single Worth It to the brink of Billboard’s Top 10. …

Full Story

Funk Fest Tampa lineup: Jodeci, 2 Live Crew, Dru Hill, more coming to Raymond James Stadium

We've said this before, but it bears repeating: Funk Fest, the annual traveling tribute to old-school hip hop and R&B, hasn't had an easy road in Tampa Bay.

It's been held in three homes (Vinoy Park, Curtis Hixon Park and Raymond James Stadium) over the past five years. Some headliners have arrived late; others haven't shown at all. And there have been many complaints about amenities.

All that said: Last year's Funk Fest, held for the first time at Raymond James Stadium, must have been a relative success. Because Funk Fest will return there next month.

This year's Funk Fest Tampa lineup is out, and it includes a slew of names from the '90s and beyond: R&B outfits Jodeci (above), SWV and Dru Hill; rappers Trick Daddy, 8Ball and MJG and 2 Live Crew (featuring Luther "Uncle Luke" Campbell, Fresh Kid Ice and Brother Marquis); and singer-actress Demetria McKinney. Funk Fest lineups do tend to change here and there, so don't be surprised to see additions or deletions. But for now, that's the lineup.

Funk Fest 2015 is Aug. 22 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Tickets to this year's event are $35-$120, and they're on sale now. Click here for details.

-- Jay Cridlin

Full Story

Kacey Musgraves' band celebrates 'Happy Bibthday' at Tampa Bay Rays game

Instagram: @planksound

Despite losing 5-1 to the Baltimore Orioles, there was much for the Tampa Bay Rays to celebrate on Saturday. An announced crowd of 24,327 -- their largest home crowd since Opening Day -- was in the stands, many of whom came for a free postgame concert by country star Kacey Musgraves.

The team's 70th postgame concert was a big one -- Musgraves is a multiple Grammy winner and one of the brightest young stars in country music -- and so the team, as always, pulled out all the stops to make the artist and her team happy. That included access to a suite along the right-field line, where a banner overhead wished Musgraves' guitar tech Chris Plank a happy birthday.

One problem: The banner actually said "Happy Bibthday." D'oh!Full Story

Review: Shreya Ghoshal proves 'music knows no language barrier' at Tampa's USF Sun Dome

Shreya Ghoshal performs at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa on July 25.


Shreya Ghoshal performs at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa on July 25.

Earlier Saturday on social media, Shreya Ghoshal opined that she was "sleep starved" heading into Tampa for the last date on her North American tour.

Before a crowd at the USF Sun Dome, not a bit of it showed as the 31-year-old Indian superstar delivered a three hour performance that proved just how versatile she is.

Ghoshal, flanked on some numbers by a quartet of dancers, hit everything from ballads (O Saathi Re from the movie Omkara) to dance hits (Radha from Student of the Year) to a tribute to Bollywood's Golden Age, singing in no less than eight languages.

"Music knows no language barrier," she told the crowd. "It's such a pleasure to be able to sing in so many different languages. … I come from a country where there's just such a beautiful variety."

Ghoshal has one of those voices that transcends language, the kind you could swear is otherworldly angelic, especially when she hits notes so high they pierce in a good way. She put it to good use  at her first ever local show from the chills-inducing Sunn Raha Hai from Aashiqui 2 to the sass of Ooh La La from The Dirty Picture to the pressing rhythms of Nagada Sang Dhol from Ram-Leela, which suddenly turned any empty space into a dance floor. (The last was a real highlight, as on the whole the crowd seemed more willing to sit back and watch Ghoshal work her magic despite her constant entreaties to dance, clap and sing along.)

Full Story

Photos: Marilyn Manson, Smashing Pumpkins rage in the rain at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre

Marilyn Manson performed at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on July 24, 2015.

Luis Santana

Marilyn Manson performed at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on July 24, 2015.

Torrential rains couldn't keep a mighty double bill of Smashing Pumpkins and Marilyn Manson from rocking Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on Friday, as the '90s Goth-grunge titans brought their co-headlining End Times Tour to Florida. Luis Santana braved the weather (and cross-shaped confetti) to snap photos. Click the headline of this post for a slideshow.

Full Story

This week in Tampa: Dave Matthews Band, Kacey Musgraves, Slipknot, Marilyn Manson, Idina Menzel and more

We've got just a jam-packed week of music this week, with tons of '90s alternative rock (Smashing Pumpkins, Marilyn Manson, Dave Matthews Band, Slipknot, Tonic, Everlast), reggae-rock (Slightly Stoopid, Dirty Heads, Original Wailers) and country (Kacey Musgraves, Bellamy Brothers) leading the way.

One of the bigger shows is Broadway and Let It Go sensation Idina Menzel, who plays Ruth Eckerd Hall on July 28; click here to read Andrew Meacham's interview with her. Here to walk you through the rest of a busy week, including Fifth Harmony, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Harry and the Potters, Authority Zero, Rocky Votolato, Bro Safari and more, are Jay Cridlin and Ray Roa... …

Full Story

Ticket Window: Chvrches, Bo Burnham, Dr. Dog, Gang of Four and more

For the middle of summer, we had a pretty crazy week of concert and event announcements this week, including a few new ones every day at the State Theatre -- like Dr. Dog, above, on Sept. 28. …

Full Story

Idina Menzel talks about finding her singing voice, her whirlwind life and more

Since launching her world tour a couple of months ago, Idina Menzel has turned crowded stadiums into her living room.

She has been known to take off her shoes and go barefoot, then curl up at the edge of the stage to tell a story. The Broadway superstar makes her concerts feel like hanging out with a friend.

Look for Menzel to do the same Tuesday at Ruth Eckerd Hall, where she is likely to mix hits from her roles in Wicked (Defying Gravity) and the movie Frozen (Let It Go) with anecdotes from nearly 20 years in the spotlight.

"These things ebb and flow, the successes and failures, the record deals and getting dropped from the deal," she said in a recent phone interview. "The older I get, the more I appreciate how these things go. I live for every moment, take advantage of every moment that I can."

Menzel performs at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Ruth Eckerd Hall. Tickets are $58.75 and up. Click here for details.

For more of Andrew Meacham's interview with Idina Menzel, click here.

Full Story

Review: Sam Smith bares soul, breaks hearts at Tampa's Amalie Arena

Sam Smith performed at Tampa's Amalie Arena on July 21, 2015.

Luis Santana

Sam Smith performed at Tampa's Amalie Arena on July 21, 2015.

With all he's been through over the past few months, it’s a miracle Sam Smith is still with us.

Career-threatening vocal cord surgery this spring. A Segway accident last week. A terrible sunburn in Miami only Monday. What’s next, Legionnaires’ disease? Spontaneous combustion?

Thankfully, Smith’s magnificent moan sounded no worse for the wear as he soulfully serenaded a sold-out and screaming crowd of 10,600, many in their date-night finest, at Tampa’s Amalie Arena on Tuesday.

The show was touch-and-go for weeks as the unlikely British pop crooner recovered from a vocal hemorrhage, but in the end, he not only made it to Tampa but took the city to church, smoldering through an passion-baring set that both broke and melted hearts.

“It’s been one of my dreams to come to Florida, and I’ve had the most amazing few days," said Smith, 23, "even though I’m very sunburnt."

Well, pain always did seem to suit him.Full Story

Rays Postgame Concerts: After 9 years, free shows still rock the Trop

Kidz Bop perform at Tropicana Field on June 28.

Will Vragovic

Kidz Bop perform at Tropicana Field on June 28.

On Saturday, the Rays and partner Ruth Eckerd Hall will host country star Kacey Musgraves in their 70th postgame concert since 2007.

For nine years, the concert series has been a bright spot amid hand-wringing over the Rays' attendance woes, drawing tens of thousands of additional fans to the Trop to see acts like the Beach Boys, ZZ Top, LL Cool J, Calvin Harris, Miranda Lambert and Train.

The shine might be wearing off the promotion, though. In 2008, concert games drew, on average, around 10,300 more fans than the average weekend non-concert game. In 2014, it was just 210 extra fans. This year, average attendance for concert games is actually lower than it was for weekend home games before the concert series began.

But even if concert crowds are down, they remain a big part of the Rays' overall marketing strategy, which is why the team and Ruth Eckerd Hall still pull out all the stops for each one.

"The biggest goal is to energize our fans," said Stephon Thomas, director of promotions. "We still want to be one of the leaders in the sports arena in being unique and different." …

Full Story

MTV VMA nominations: Should Video of the Year go to Taylor Swift, Beyonce or...?

The nominations for the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards were unveiled Tuesday, and as you might expect, the biggest pop stars in the world got their due.

Taylor Swift led all artists with nine nominations, including Video of the Year for her star-studded single Bad Blood. Just behind are Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars with six nominations and Kendrick Lamar, Beyonce and Mark Ronson with five.

In addition to Swift's Bad Blood, Video of the Year contenders include Sheeran's Thinking Out Loud, Lamar's Alright, Beyonce's 7/11 and Ronson and Mars' Uptown Funk.

Who deserves to take home the top trophy? Let's break down all five nominees.


Full Story

Sufjan Stevens coming to the Dr. Phillips Center in Orlando

We're gradually whittling down that long, oft-complained-about list of Artists Who Never Come To Florida.

This year alone, we've seen Tampa Bay concerts by indie rock holdouts like the Strokes, Ryan Adams, Modest Mouse, Neutral Milk Hotel, the Pixies and James Blake. Today you can throw another all-timer on the pile: Sufjan Stevens.

The cultishly adored indie singer-songwriter has announced a fall tour, and while it won't bring him to Tampa Bay, he will at least be coming to Florida for the first time in ... ever? We'll get back to you on that.

Stevens will perform at Orlando's Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on Nov. 6. (He'll also be at Miami's Olympia Theater on Nov. 7, if you want to road-trip it.) According to his label, Asthmatic Kitty, tickets go on sale Friday and will cost $42-$59. Click here for details. …

Full Story