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Ticket Window: 98 Rockfest, Wild Splash, Paramore, Slipknot, 'Weird Al' Yankovic and more

Concert announcements happened so fast and furious this week that we could barely keep track of them all. This week's edition of Ticket Window includes several all-new announcements, including the Ting Tings, above. And in addition to the usual crop of tickets going on sale Thursday, Friday and Saturday, let's not forget that early-bird tickets to Wild 94.1 Wild Splash, March 7 at Coachman Park in Clearwater, went on sale Monday.

Other Tampa Bay concerts with tickets going on sale this week: Hoodie Allen (Feb. 27, State Theatre), Wild 94.1 Wild Splash (March 7, Coachman Park), Big K.R.I.T. (March 12, Orpheum), George Lopez (April 4, Ruth Eckerd Hall), the Ting Tings (April 17, State Theatre), 98 Rockfest with Five Finger Death Punch, Rise Against, Breaking Benjamin and more (April 24, Amalie Arena), Home Free (April 25, Capitol Theatre), Kid Ink with Jeremih and Dej Loaf (April 9, Ruth Eckerd Hall), Paramore (April 28, Ruth Eckerd Hall), New Kids on the Block with Nelly and TLC (June 5, Amway Center), Slipknot (July 25, MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre), "Weird Al" Yankovic (Aug. 13, Ruth Eckerd Hall) and Mark Knopfler (Oct. 30, Ruth Eckerd Hall). …

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Mario Lopez talks Gasparilla, Golden Globes, drinking on the job and more

It wouldn't be Gasparilla weekend in Tampa without copious amounts of booze and merriment, making a grand marshal who can hold his drink and still interview celebrities worth his weight in beads.

Enter Mario Lopez. The Saved By the Bell and Extra hunk recently made headlines by doing shots with Channing Tatum, Kevin Spacey and Emily Blunt at this year's Golden Globes. Compared to that, serving as co-chair of this year's Gasparilla Pirate Festival parade should be a piece of cake.

"I'm looking forward to it. I'm really excited because I've never seen it. I've been there right before and right after, but never on the day of the parade. Any opportunity to meet good people and be in a great city celebrating is awesome to me."

For more with Mario Lopez, click here for Robbyn Mitchell's story. And for your full 2015 Gasparilla game plan, click here.

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Steve Hackman talks 'Brahms v. Radiohead,' uniting classical and alternative audiences and more

When we got Steve Hackman on the phone recently to talk about Brahms v. Radiohead, his symphonic mash-up of BrahmsSymphony No. 1 and Radiohead’s OK Computer, which the Florida Orchestra will perform Friday in St. Petersburg, we had to apologize in advance. We here at SoundcheckCorp. are gigantic Radiohead nerds ... but Brahms? Not so much.

Thankfully, Hackman was happy to explain in layman’s terms why his unique piece works for both rock fans and classical fans. We wrote an article about it — click here to read it — but there was plenty of good stuff left over that we wanted to share here.

In advance of Hackman and the Orchestra’s performance on Friday at the Mahaffey Theater (click here for details), here’s what the composer had to say about classical music, Phish, possibly collaborating with Radiohead and more. Here are excerpts.

I’m a huge Radiohead nerd, but not quite as knowledgeable about Brahms. Why is this show for me? …

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Spring Beer Fling lineup: Black Lips, more coming to Curtis Hixon Park in Tampa

The Black Lips

The Black Lips

Last year's Spring Beer Fling in Tampa was a fun and creative experiement that almost went totally awry.

Indie rockers Surfer Blood were about to headline last March's inaugural concert and craft beer festival, organized by the team behind Big City Events (Tampa's Margarita Festival, Bourbon & Brew Festival and more), but a nasty weather forecast forced them to postpone the event by a day, from a Saturday to a Sunday. The move paid off, as some 3,500 people showed up throughout the day.

The Spring Beer Fling is coming back for Round 2 in 2015, and organizers have locked up another cool indie rock headliner: Atlanta punkabilly-garage outfit the Black Lips, who are veterans of Coachella, Bonnaroo and just about every other major festival you can name. Joining them on the bill are a half-dozen quality local and regional acts: Jensen Serf Co., Band in Heaven, Funny Bunny, the Riot Act, Wake Up, the Wooly Bushmen and the Johnny Zoom Hi-Fi Show. …

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SoundBytes: Mark Knopfler, Diarrhea Planet, Minus the Bear and more

-- Big concert announcement from Ruth Eckerd Hall: Guitar legend Mark Knopfler of the Dire Straits is coming to Clearwater on Oct. 30. Tickets are $68.50-$175, which is a whole lot of Money for Nothing (sorry, couldn't resist). Click here for details.

-- Wild 94.1's Wild Splash lineup for 2015 hasn't been revealed just yet, but early bird tickets are on sale now for $20. After they sell out, they'll go up to $35, or $100 for VIP. Keep an eye out here for Wild Splash lineup announcements, but in the meantime, click here.

-- When six-string army Diarrhea Planet came to Crowbar last fall, it ended up being one of Soundcheck's favorite concerts of 2014. Don't miss 'em when they return on April 14, with Left and Right and Florida Night Heat opening. Tickets are $8-$10. Click here.

-- Minus the Bear is coming to the State Theatre in St. Petersburg on May 13 with Into It. Over It. opening. Tickets are $28.75. Click here for details.

-- Moon Hooch are coming to Crowbar on March 31. Tickets are $10-$13. Click here.

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*

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Slipknot coming to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa

Slipknot

Slipknot

Happy Monday! Your nightmares are coming to Tampa!

Okay, fine, Slipknot may not be anyone's nightmare these days (although man, those masks do kinda hold up in the creepiness department). But the Iowa industrial-metal titans still pack a frighteningly loud and percussive punch, and anytime they go on tour, it's usually a show for the ages.

So get ready to step right up for their new "This Summer's Last Stand Tour," which will hit Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on July 25. Joining them are a trio of big names in metal: Lamb of God, Bullet for My Valentine and Motionless In White. Tickets are $24-$63 and they go on sale Friday. Click here for details.

Snicker at Slipknot at your own risk. The last time they came to town, in 2012, they brought a pyro-filled party to the amphitheater formerly known as Gary as part of the Mayhem Festival, and Corey Taylor remains one of power metal's best all-around vocalists. This year marks their 20th (!) as a band, and they don't appear to be slowing down anytime soon. Let's just hope they give those masks a good, regular washing.

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*

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SoundBytes: Dash Berlin, Andy Grammer, En Vogue and more

-- Two big-name DJs are coming to Ybor City. Ferry Corsten will return to the Amphitheater on Feb. 28 (tickets are $15, click here) and Dash Berlin, above, will be spinning at the Ritz Ybor on March 7 ($26.50-$40, click here).

-- Cheap Trick singer Robin Zander will once again bring his Robin Zander Band to the incredibly tiny and intimate Hideaway Cafe in St. Petersburg on Feb. 15. Tickets are $30-$100. Click here.

-- Singer-songwriter Andy Grammer is coming to the Orpheum on March 7 with Alex and Sierra and Paradise Fears. Tickets are $20-$30. Click here.

-- The Color Morale is coming to the Orpheum on April 29 alongside Vanna, Slaves and Favorite Weapon. Tickets are $15-$30. Click here.

-- Get ready for the fifth annual Dre Day in Tampa. This year's celebration of Dr. Dre's birthday will take place Feb. 12. Click here.

-- Live music is coming to Epcot's International Flower and Garden Festival. The park's new "Garden Rocks" concert series kicks off in March and includes acts like the Gin Blossoms, En Vogue, the Village People, Jon Secada and more. Click here for details.

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Paramore coming to Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater

Paramore

Paramore

Ain't this a fun concert announcement? Paramore is coming to Ruth Eckerd Hall.

Hayley Williams' increasingly mature pop-rock outfit announced Thursday that they're bringing their spring run of intimate concerts to the stately venue on April 28. Tickets will cost $43.75-$78.75 and go on sale to the public Jan. 30, but the venue is encouraging fans to get in on the pre-sale action -- and we don't blame them, because this is could be a hot ticket.

Though this will be Paramore's third Tampa Bay concert in a little more than a year (see here and here), it comes on the heels of what is arguably their most successful stretch as a group. Not long after Paramore nearly imploded due to intra-band conflicts, their self-titled album's single Ain't It Fun became their biggest hit to date, and is nominated for Best Rock Song at next month's Grammys. …

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This week in Tampa: Martina McBride, Merle Haggard, Andrew W.K. and more

A mix of iconic folk and country singers lead this week's edition of This Week In Tampa, but there's a ton of fun stuff everywhere you look, including shows by Martina McBride, Merle Haggard, Andrew W.K., Arlo Guthrie, Iris Dement, Patty Larkin, Kris Allen, Joe Nichols, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Jonny Craig, J-Zone, Napalm Death, Millionaires, the Lettermen, Gaither Vocal Band and more. Here to walk you through it all is Ray Roa...

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Rush coming to Amalie Arena in Tampa

It's the year of the anniversary tour in Tampa. Alan Jackson just celebrated his 25th at the USF Sun Dome, and in April, The Who will celebrate their 50th at Amalie Arena.

Now another iconic classic rock outfit is marking their 40th anniversary with a tour: Rush.

The prog-rock polymaths have announced plans for their R40 Live Tour, and according to their website, it includes a stop at Tampa's Amalie Arena on May 24. It is, at the moment, their only concert scheduled in Florida.

Tickets will cost $46-$151. An on-sale date have not yet been announced (Rush's web site says only "on sale soon," but tickets to concerts in other cities will go on sale starting Jan. 30, so keep an eye out here for updates. Click here for details.

Technically, this is actually a 41st anniversary tour, as the band's self-titled debut album came out in 1974. Last year, guitarist Alex Lifeson told Rolling Stone that this tour could be "very pleasing for the fans across the board," but also said it'll feature some tracks they haven't played in a while. "I've always wanted to do some rarer Rush material, and this should be a good opportunity to do that," he said. …

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Ticket Window: Train, The Fray, Artie Lange, Ralphie May and more

Another eclectic group of Tampa Bay concerts have tickets going on sale this week: Ralphie May (Capitol Theatre, Feb. 14), Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman (Feb. 14, Tampa Theatre), Mike Calta's Brew Ha-Ha with Artie Lange, Jim Norton and Robert Kelly (March 20, Mahaffey Theater), The King Khan and BBQ Show (March 24, Local 662), Fortunate Youth (March 26, Local 662), Atmosphere (March 27, Orpheum), Welcome to Night Vale (April 3, Capitol Theatre), The Bright Light Social Hour (April 4, State Theatre), Mates of State (April 8, Crowbar), Robert Cray and Shemekia Copeland (April 28, Capitol Theatre), Lisa Loeb (May 8, Capitol Theatre), Train with The Fray and Matt Nathanson (June 6, MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre) and Brit Floyd (July 18, Ruth Eckerd Hall).

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

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Luke Bryan coming to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa

Country music’s hottest hunk is headed back to Tampa.

Luke Bryan announced plans on Wednesday for his massive “Kick the Dust Up” summer and fall tour, and once again, Tampa is on the list. Randy Houser and Dustin Lynch have been tapped as openers on the tour, which hits the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on Sept. 18.

Looking at the list of cities on the tour, it might initially appear that Tampa got the short end of the stick from the Country Music Association's reigning Entertainer of the Year, as West Palm Beach is getting a two-night stand and other cities are getting stadium shows with Florida Georgia Line and Thomas Rhett. But if you’ll recall, in each of the last two years, Bryan added a second Tampa show after the first one sold out. Bryan’s not an idiot — Tampa’s a major country market, and there are plenty of fans willing to buy tickets for back-to-back nights. We would not be shocked in the least to see Bryan add a second Tampa show on Sept. 17. …

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Charlie Murphy talks Bill Cosby, bombing, the stigma of being Eddie Murphy's brother and more

Jay Cridlin

George Lopez called up Charlie Murphy when he was gathering comedians for an all-star benefit to erect a statue of Richard Pryor in Peoria, Ill. The roster of comedians invited to perform included some of the most famous names in the industry’s past 20 years, and Charlie Murphy, who has only been doing stand up since 2003, was among them.

“How could we not go there to pay homage to one of the greatest to ever do this?” said Murphy, 55, who rose to comedy prominence on Chappelle’s Show. “Definitely, everybody was on their game and we killed it. Promoters seen that and it started from there.”

Promoters took the principal performers from that November show and created the Black and Brown Comedy Get Down Tour, which kicks off in Tampa Friday night. Murphy will share the stage with Lopez, Cedric the Entertiner, Mike Epps, Eddie Griffin and D.L. Hughley. (Click here for tickets and details.)

He doesn’t take for granted that he’s the least experienced of the bunch. “I’m a student of the game. I will always be a student. I started stand-up at 42,” Murphy said.

Tbt* reached the comedian by phone to pick his brain about Bill Cosby and how he finds his hilarious true Hollywood stories. …

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Safety Harbor Song Fest lineup: Steep Canyon Rangers, Joseph Arthur, Shawn Mullins and more

Last year's inaugural Safety Harbor Singer Songwriter Festival kind of flew under the local radar, especially since it was pretty light on national names -- the biggest headliner was probably Ben Taylor.

In only its second year, the fest appears to be evolving nicely.

Steep Canyon Rangers -- best known for their bluegrass work with Steve Martin -- and singer-songwriters Joseph Arthur (above) and Shawn Mullins (singer of the '90s hit Lullaby) are among the biggest names at this year's renamed Safety Harbor Song Fest, slated for March 28 and 29 at Safety Harbor Waterfront Park. Joining them are Ryan Montbleau, Randall Bramblett, Jim Lauderdale, Callaghan, Seth Walker, the Vespers, Joe Craven, Meiko and more.

Two-day tickets to the festival are on sale now for $40; single-day tickets are $25. Click here for details.

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*

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Review: Ben Howard digs deep for patient, penetrating concert at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg

Ben Howard performs at Jannus Live on Jan. 20, 2015.

Jay Cridlin

Ben Howard performs at Jannus Live on Jan. 20, 2015.

About three years ago, a shaggy-mopped young English guitarist took the stage at Jannus Live on his way to world domination. Earnest young fellow by the name of Ed Sheeran.

Ben Howard, who played the same stage on Tuesday, may not have Sheeran’s frizzy ginger ’do or screamy-tween fan base, but he knows his way around a six-string and pen, and has developed quite a following for his pensive, penetrating poetry. At 27, he’s quite a big deal in his homeland, the kind of chap who wins awards and fills arenas, and has played massive festivals around the world.

But can Howard ever become a household name here in the States, like Sheeran? Ah, that’s the tricky part. Judging from his show in St. Pete, you’d have to say no — but you’d also have to admit the world might be better for it.

Steering clear of any semblance of Sheeran-like snap, Howard delivered an intense, slow-burning performance dripping with melancholy and heart. It was a set that rewarded the patient: Over the course of an hour and 45 minutes, he only churned out 13 songs — five-, six-, and seven-minute epics of tension and release that played out more like film scores than singles. Full Story