Clear86° WeatherClear86° Weather

Ticket Window: Jo Dee Messina, Ty Dolla $ign, Shaquille O'Neal's All Star Comedy Jam and more

This week's Ticket Window is headlined by a new announcement: Shaquille O'Neal's All Star Comedy Jam on Oct. 4 at the USF Sun Dome, with Mo'Nique, Gary Owen, Michael Blackson and Tommy Davidson. Our favorite part of the announcement was the line, "Shaquille O'Neal is not scheduled to perform." Bummer! We were so hoping for a live rendition of What's Up Doc? (Can We Rock)! Maybe the Fu-Schnickens are just too busy these days.

Other Tampa Bay concerts and with tickets going on sale this week: Shaquille O'Neal's All Star Comedy Jam (Oct. 4, USF Sun Dome), Ty Dolla $ign (Oct. 8, State Theatre), Ricky Nelson Remembered with Matthew and Gunnar Nelson (Nov. 12, Capitol Theatre), Break Science (Nov. 13, Orpheum), Jo Dee Messina (Dec. 10, Ritz Ybor), Ben Vereen (Dec. 18, Capitol Theatre), the Outback Bowl (Jan. 1, Raymond James Stadium), Dave Mason's Traffic Jam (Feb. 18, Capitol Theatre), Michael Amante (Feb. 21, Capitol Theatre) and Melissa Manchester (March 5, Capitol Theatre).

Also going on sale this week are numerous shows for the 2014-15 Straz Center season, including Tiempo Libre (Oct. 11), Gaby Moreno (Nov. 7), Margo Rey (Nov. 8), Mediaeval Baebes (Dec. 6), Gregory Porter (Dec. 18), Zap Mama and Antibalas (Jan. 22), Black Violin (Jan. 30), the Piano Guys (Feb. 4), The Hit Men (Feb. 11), Irwvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (Feb. 12), Rene Marie (Feb. 25) and Celtic Roots with the Celts (March 19).

Click here for this week's edition of Ticket Window.Full Story

Michael Jr. talks clean comedy, converting to Christianity, humor in the Bible and more

For the comedian known as Michael Jr., his standup career happened by accident.

Three decades ago, he went to see a movie and the film projector broke. When a friend dared the 17-year-old Michael Jr. to entertain the crowd, he accepted the challenge and started telling jokes.

"I knew I was funny, but that was the first time I stood in front of people and tried to make them laugh," Michael Jr. said. "Luckily, I was successful. Otherwise, I'd be a plumber or something right now."

On Sunday, Michael Jr. will cut it up live at the Crossing Church in Tampa. General admission is $18. VIP passes are available for $30. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.

For more of Sarah Whitman's interview with Michael Jr., click here.Full Story

Photos: Bea Miller swings by Tampa's 93.3-FLZ, covers Sam Smith's 'Stay With Me'

Bea Miller performs at the performance studio of 93.3-FLZ in Tampa on Aug. 26, 2014.

Jay Cridlin

Bea Miller performs at the performance studio of 93.3-FLZ in Tampa on Aug. 26, 2014.

Teenage singer Bea Miller dropped by pop station 93.3-FLZ in Tampa on Wednesday to perform a couple of acoustic songs -- new single Young Blood and a cover of Sam Smith's Stay With Me (hear a clip here) -- and meet and take questions from fans. She talked about singing through pain, her bucket-list dreams of skydiving and getting a tattoo and the pride she felt in watching her X Factor 2012 castmates Fifth Harmony win a Video Music Award. Check out a couple off photos from the performance by clicking the headline of this post.

Full Story

Reggae Rise Up Festival: Rebelution, Steel Pulse, Collie Buddz, more coming to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa



When Rebelution sold out a two-night stand at Jannus Live earlier this summer, it was clear: Tampa Bay was becoming a national hub for the new American reggae-rock movement.

Need more proof? Tampa will host two giant outdoor reggae-rock festivals on back to back weekends in September.

The latest addition is the Reggae Rise Up Music Festival, set for Sept. 27 at Raymond James Stadium. Rebelution will headline that show along with Steel Pulse, Collie Buddz, Zion I, Ballyhoo!, Rootz Underground, Los Rakas, Stranger and more. Tickets are $35-$55 for general admission, $100 for VIP. Click here for details.

Reggae Rise Up will take place exactly one week after the inaugural Chillin' Music Fest hits Curtis Hixon Park with Michael Franti and Spearhead, Pepper, Stephen Marley, the Expendables and more. Click here for details on that one.

Anyone else doubt that reggae rock (or hybrid reggae, or progressive reggae, or whatever you want to call it) is becoming a force to be reckoned with in American music?

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*

Full Story

SoundBytes: Method Man and Redman, Jo Dee Messina, Ty Segall and more

-- When it was announced that prodigious punk Ty Segall was playing Tampa's Epic Problem at the Skatepark of Tampa on Sept. 12, we thought: Man, that seems like a small venue for a guy with a lot of big buzz. Turns out we were right. After tickets sold out, his show has been moved from the black-box space into the actual Skatepark of Tampa to accomodate more partiers. The day will start with a lineup of punk acts at Epic Problem -- Sonic Graffiti, Orange Forest, Cretin Girls, the Gun Hoes and Plastic Pink -- before moving into the Skatepark around 7:30 for Segall, Wand and Jensen Serf Co. Tickets are $13-$15, and if you missed them the last time around, you'd better not delay getting them now. Click here.

-- In other Ty news, rapper Ty Dolla $ign is coming to the State Theatre on Oct. 8. Tickets are $21-$25 and they go on sale Aug. 29. Click here.

-- A pair of hip-hop greats are coming to Jannus Live on Sept. 12: Method Man and Redman. Tickets are on sale for $27-$40. Click here. …

Full Story

Review: Southern Darkness Fest brings Pelican, Primate, Black Tusk, much more metal to Ybor City

Black Tusk performs at Southern Darkness Fest in Ybor City on Aug. 23, 2014.

Jimmy Geurts

Black Tusk performs at Southern Darkness Fest in Ybor City on Aug. 23, 2014.

It’s hard to imagine that in a city with such a huge metal history, and one that’s increasingly music festival-crazy, there hasn’t really been a metal festival in Tampa.

There was Scion Rock Fest, which chose Tampa as its location two years ago. And there have been traveling tours like Mayhem Festival, which might earn you scowls from metalheads if you call them metal. But Tampa hasn’t had a metal festival we could truly call our own.

Until now, that is.

Southern Darkness Fest held its inaugural run Saturday in Ybor City, with nearly 30 heavy music bands across three stages. And in its first year out, the event already proved impressively ambitious, with a well-curated lineup headlined by Chicago instrumental group Pelican.

As expected for a first-time festival, there were a couple of snags. A few sets had technical difficulties, and Pelican went on 30 minutes later than scheduled because the previous band Bongripper apparently ripped so heavily, they blew out their amp.

But largely, things ran very smoothly. And the groundwork was established for a local metal festival that seems to be thinking nationally.Full Story

MTV VMAs: 5 Seconds of Summer, Drake, Jason Derulo among performers, winners coming to Tampa Bay

5 Seconds of Summer

5 Seconds of Summer

MTV’s annual celebration of pop hits and teeny-tiny outfits, the Video Music Awards, took place Sunday in Los Angeles, and if you’re hoping to catch any of the biggest and most controversial of this year’s winners and performers live in concert – Nicki Minaj, Taylor Swift, Iggy Azalea, Beyonce – you’re gonna have to make a road trip. Not many of this year’s big pop names currently have concerts scheduled in Central Florida. But hey, the 93.3-FLZ Jingle Ball’s only a few months away!

Until then, here are some of the MTV VMA winners and performers coming to Tampa and Orlando.

-- Drake, who wasn’t present at the VMAs but nonetheless took home the moonman for Best Hip Hop Video, is playing the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre with Lil Wayne on Sept. 4. Click here.

-- Presenter Demi Lovato is coming to Orlando's Amway Center on Sept. 15. Click here.

-- Pop singer-songwriter Charli XCX, singer of the hook on Iggy Azalea's Fancy and performer of her own hit Boom Clap on the VMAs red carpet, is coming to the Social in Orlando on Sept. 26. Click here. …

Full Story

Review: Tori Amos celebrates 51st birthday with passionate party at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater

Tori Amos performs at Ruth Eckerd Hall on Aug. 22, 2014.

Jay Cridlin

Tori Amos performs at Ruth Eckerd Hall on Aug. 22, 2014.

It was a beautiful and unexpected moment: The family, friends and crew of Tori Amos, leonine goddess of confession, wheeling out a cake for her 51st birthday as balloons and streamers fell from the rafters of Ruth Eckerd Hall.

Beautiful, because what does Amos do in that moment? She waves off 1,650 singing fans, some of whom brought their own party hats, and hops behind her piano, beaming, to play Happy Birthday to herself.

And unexpected, because, well, who knew Amos aged? At 51, her iconic red hair remains as fiery as her diary-honest lyrics. Save for a coquettish set of cat’s-eye frames, her elfin beauty – and command of her fiercely devoted fans – remain intact after close to 30 years onstage, preserved, probably, by whatever magical mist blows in the English forest she calls home.

Happy Birthday was as simple as the music got Friday in Clearwater, as Amos, alone but for her ivories, whipped through an appropriately autobiographical set that culled evenly and ambitiously from most of her albums dating back to 1992. It was less a pop concert than a recital-cum-revival, but even more than that, it felt like a personal two-way call from Amos to each and every fan in the house.Full Story

Artist of the day: Shawn Brown

Shawn Brown, performing at Ruby's Elixir in St. Petersburg.

Photo by Dirk Shadd.

Shawn Brown, performing at Ruby's Elixir in St. Petersburg.

Shawn Brown moved from Baltimore to Tampa with his father in 1980. From those teen years he rose to become known as one of the top Hammond organ players in the jazz community, and was featured in the 2013 documentary Killer B3.

Brown is also known for helping young musicians come out of their shell by giving them time to showcase their talent during his shows. One of those young musicians was a young Eric Darius. One of jazz’s top saxophone players who now lives in Los Angeles, Darius credits Brown for showing him the ropes of performing and entertaining.

Brown has regaled Tampa Bay audiences for more than four decades while sharing the spotlight with rising talent at club gigs, concerts, special events and wedding receptions. Now he shares the marquee Saturday with Darius and saxophonist B.K. Jackson in a special “Hot and Saxxy Night” at Tampa Theatre. Click here for details on the show.

For more on Shawn Brown, click here for Jonathan Milton's story.Full Story

SoundBytes: Benny Benassi, Yandel, Kool Keith, Tony Lucca and more

-- Burgeoning EDM hotspot Hogan's Beach has announced another big-time show by another big-time DJ. Benny Benassi, one of the headliners of this spring's Sunset Music Festival, will perform at Hogan's on Nov. 16. Ticket details are still in the works, but click here for info.

-- Latin station 92.5 Maxima is plotting a big "Herencia Hispana" concert for Oct. 12 at Coachman Park in Clearwater. So far, the only headliner announced is Puerto Rican reggaeton star Yandel, but we'll keep you posted. In the meantime, tickets are $14.02-$70.09. Click here.

-- Genre-bending rapper and producer Kool Keith is coming to Dunedin Brewery -- a supremely odd venue, but we'll take it. Click here for details.

-- Hogan's Beach isn't the only club in town honing its EDM game these days. Drynk in SoHo has shows coming up by Paper Diamond (Aug. 29) and Danny Avila (Sept. 19). Click here for their calendar.

-- Nerdcore rappers MC Chris and MC Lars will bring their geek-tastic game back to Ybor City on Nov. 16 for a show at Crowbar. Tickets are $13. Click here. …

Full Story

This week in Tampa: Tori Amos, Anthony Hamilton, Southern Darkness Fest and more

It's back-to-school week across Tampa Bay, which may explain why we've got a slightly lighter-than-usual concert calendar this week. It may also explain why we're squeezing in three end-of-summer festivals, including the metal-heavy Southern Darkness Fest, the punkish Under The Covers festival and the Tampa Urban Music Festival, featuring Anthony Hamilton, above.

For the rest of this week's concert picks -- including Tori Amos, Slash, Cash Cash, Crocodiles, Donavon Frankenreiter and more -- here's Ray Roa...

Full Story

Ticket Window: Brantley Gilbert, Martina McBride, Gin Blossoms and more

This week's edition of Ticket Window features shows by a couple of big country names, Brantley Gilbert and Martina McBride, but '90s rock fans will be excited about an upcoming gig by one of the decade's most underappreciated acts, the Gin Blossoms. Seriously, how can you resist Found Out About You, Hey Jealousy or Til I Hear It From You?

Tampa Bay concerts with tickets going on sale this week include: Ab-Soul (Sept. 17, Orpheum), Whitechapel (Oct. 16, Orpheum), Destroyer Fest (Nov. 15, State Theatre), The Birthday Massacre (Nov. 19, Orpheum), Gin Blossoms (Nov. 20, Capitol Theatre), Clockwork Indigo, a.k.a. Flatbush Zombies and the Underachievers (Nov. 21, Orpheum) Issues (Dec. 11, State Theatre), Brantley Gilbert (Dec. 12, Tampa Bay Times Forum), The Acacia Strain (Dec. 16, Orpheum), Martina McBride (Jan. 24, Ruth Eckerd Hall), Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons (Jan. 28, Ruth Eckerd Hall) and Leon Russell (Jan. 31, Capitol Theatre).

Click here for this week's edition of Ticket Window.

Full Story

Artist of the day: The Pals

Jennifer Martin Photography

The Pals are Clearwater quartet of mid 20-somethings who deliver catchy, sing-along, stick-in-your-head melodies. Their music teeters on the edges of traditionalism and modernism, taking listeners to a place that sounds simultaneously familiar and foreign — think the sonic foundations of Copeland and Death Cab For Cutie coupled with the intimacy of an acoustic guitar passed between friends on a front porch on a weekend evening.

The Pals are Adrienne Kidwell, piano and vocals; Joey Sarlo, guitar and vocals; Eric Sarlo, bass; and Andy Thomas on drums. They took a break from rehearsing one evening to introduce themselves to us.
How did the Pals come to be?

Kidwell: Most of us have actually known each other since we were kids, and we’ve always done music together in different fashions at church and just for fun. Me and Joey started writing some songs together, and it eventually became a band, and we started really doin’ it.

Is your subject matter religious?

Kidwell: I’m Christian, so it comes from my worldview, but it’s just about life in general and anything anybody would come in contact with.

Tell us more about your songwriting technique. …

Full Story

Review: Toto, Michael McDonald showcase stellar '70s chops at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater

Toto's Steve Lukather

Rob Shanahan

Toto's Steve Lukather

It may be one of the heaviest burdens for a pop culture critic to bear. But I’m ready to let go of the weight and expose my soul to the world right here.

My name is Eric Deggans. And I’m a Toto fan.

Get the sneers out of the way now; the snide references to the lack of recent chart hits, their status as slick session players in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, and the suffocating visibility of VH1-style soft rock tunes like Africa and I’ll Be Over You.

None of that matters. Because if you’d joined the 1,716 faithful who saw the band’s Tuesday stop at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater with Michael McDonald, you’d realize Toto remains one of rock’s tightest and sharpest rock bands, building a 35-plus-year history on an unexpected mix of melodic hits and genre-bending musical workouts.Full Story

Reviews: Benjamin Booker, 'Benjamin Booker;' Merchandise, 'After the End;' Set and Setting, 'A Vivid Memory'

Benjamin Booker.

Photo by Max Norton

Benjamin Booker.

These are supremely heady days for the Tampa Bay music scene. Three of the area’s highest-profile acts in recent years are releasing albums on back-to-back-to-back weeks, all on national or international labels, all accompanied by the sort of cool-kid buzz that rarely makes its way to Florida.

On Tuesday, blues-rock whiz kid Benjamin Booker released his self-titled debut on ATO Records, home to My Morning Jacket, Alabama Shakes and Drive-By Truckers. Next week, underground New Wavers Merchandise will release After the End on 4AD, home to Bon Iver, The National and Iron and Wine. And on Sept. 2, St. Petersburg post-metal quintet Set and Setting will drop A Vivid Memory via L.A.’s Prosthetic Records, which has released albums by Lamb of God, Gojira and Testament.

Here’s a look at each new release.


Benjamin Booker, 'Benjamin Booker’ (ATO)

Release date: Aug. 18

Last year, it looked like Booker was a shoe-in to become Tampa’s long-awaited big, breakout artist. Then he and drummer/co-conspirator Max Norton packed up and took their game to New Orleans. Oh well. Hard to argue the move didn’t work out for them, considering Booker, 22, has since toured with Jack White, performed on Conan and Letterman and been named the “suavest new kid in Southern rock” by GQ.Full Story