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This week in Tampa: Brad Paisley, Steve Aoki, Ani DiFranco, Death Grips and more

It's a busy and eclectic week in Tampa Bay music, kicking off with Brad Paisley on Friday and ending with Death Grips next Thursday. Do those guys belong in the same sentence together? Probably not, but we'll take it.

Other acts with Tampa Bay concerts this week: Ani DiFranco, Steve Aoki, Dr. John and the Nite Trippers, Kylesa, MisterWives, Corey Smith, Adventure Club, Clutch, Corrosion of Conformity, In the Valley Below, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Electric Six and Here Come the Mummies. Here to walk you through it all are Jay Cridlin and Ray Roa...Full Story

Ticket Window: Rob Thomas, Vince Gill, Lyle Lovett and more

We missed last week's edition of Ticket Window, so we're combining it with this week's, making for a super-sized edition of concerts whose tickets are either going on sale this week, or are on sale now.

Events with tickets going on sale last week include The Exorcist with Linda Blair (Oct. 29, Tampa Theatre), Whitechapel (Nov. 12, State Theatre), Kevin Smith's Talk Salad and Scrambled Eggs (Nov. 25, Tampa Improv), Billy Gibbons (Nov. 29, Mahaffey Theater), Kinky Boots (Dec. 1-6, Straz Center), the Delta Saints (Dec. 10, Local 662), Robert Randolph and the Family Band (Feb. 14, Capitol Theatre), Robert Klein (Feb. 26, Capitol Theatre), Los Lonely Boys (March 6, Capitol Theatre), Joe Satriani (March 17, Ruth Eckerd Hall), Los Lobos (March 18, Capitol Theatre), Richard Nader's Doo Wop Reunion XVI (March 19, Ruth Eckerd Hall), Don Rickles and Regis Philbin (March 23, Ruth Eckerd Hall) and the Bronx Wanderers (April 3, Capitol Theatre). Click here. …

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Ani DiFranco talks activism, mellowing with age, becoming a target and more

A quarter-century after founding Righteous Babe Records in her hometown of Buffalo, N.Y., Ani DiFranco is still as fiercely independent as ever, pondering big topics like race, incarceration, gender politics, LGBT rights and the relentless stream of invective she sees every day in the media.

"Human dynamics are so fascinating to me," she said in a recent phone interview.

Is she the same teenage maverick who shaved her head, founded her own record label and busked for years on the road to ensure her poetry, her music, her progressive politics and activism would never be diluted by the corporate music machine?

No. At 45, she has mellowed, is married with two kids, living in New Orleans.

"All of these things have made my biorhythm come down a few notches," she says, "which has been really good for my singing. And good for my soul. I think as I get older, I'm less full of that youthful confidence and unstoppable-ness."

DiFranco's live shows, however, remain where her voice and spirit come alive. Find out when she performs at the Capitol Theatre in Clearwater on Oct. 7. Tickets are $35 and up. Click here.

For more of our interview with Ani DiFranco, click here.

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Underoath's Tim McTague talks reunion shows, King State Coffee, touring in 2016 and more

Octavio Jones

In today's Tampa Bay Times, you'll find our story about Tampa's burgeoning small-batch coffee scene, led in part by musicians like Joel Davis (formerly of Ascend the Hill, currently of Fistful) of Commune + Co., and Nate Young (Anberlin) and Tim McTague (Underoath) of King State Coffee.

Young and McTague aim to hopen a coffee shop in Tampa sometime in 2016 -- this, despite Underoath reuniting for a tour that'll kick off with a sold-out performance at Jannus Live in March.

"That was the big thing we talked about before we started," said McTague, Underoath's guitarist, who also works for online merch compnay Merchline. "Nate's basically the manager of the on-the-ground company. As far as the space, he financing, the funding, taking care of business licenses, opening up the accounts, that's what I do, and I can do that from anywhere."

McTague said the timing was simply right to reunite the Christian metalcore outfit -- but originally, the plan was just to do a one-off concert celebrating the 10th anniversary of They're Only Chasing Safety.  …

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Review: Jose Gonzalez enchants St. Petersburg's State Theatre with heartfelt indie folk

Jose Gonzalez performed at the State Theatre in St. Petersburg on Sept. 29, 2015.

Jay Cridlin

Jose Gonzalez performed at the State Theatre in St. Petersburg on Sept. 29, 2015.

It’s the little things. That’s what made Jose Gonzalez’s concert on Tuesday at the State Theatre in St. Petersburg such a joy to behold.

Tiny handclaps and fingersnaps. Soft bells and percussion rattles. Clicks of a clave or wood block.

Gonzalez could get away without any of this – his songs are so intensely intimate, delivered in such a hush, that he could tour America with only a guitar and most fans might not mind, or even notice.

But the addition of a four-piece backing band did wonders for Gonzalez’s music. Though the accoutrements those musicians offered were often sparse, they provided such depth and texture that the full and swaying State was left enchanted by each song, and Gonzalez was left grinning ear to ear after his first solo show in Tampa Bay.Full Story

Michael Francis talks leading the Florida Orchestra, adjusting to America and more

For months, Michael Francis has been preparing to lift the baton as the fourth musical director in the Florida Orchestra's 48-year history. He'll do so Friday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, conducting Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3. Click here for details on the show.

Florida is one of the biggest states in the nation, Francis says, "and we don't have an orchestra at the moment at the level of that stature. We can grow way, way more ... I think it can go a very long way."

For Andrew Meacham's full profile of Michael Francis, click here.

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Lil Wayne, August Alsina, iLoveMakonnen added to Tampa's HIT Music Festival

Luis Santana

Tampa's new HIT Music Festival just got a whole lot more real.

A slew of big-name hip hop stars have been added to the inaugural bash on Nov. 9 at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa, including Lil Wayne, August Alsina, DJ Khaled, iLoveMakonnen, Yo Gotti, Troy Ave, Jo Rodeo and more. They join previously announced headliner Nas and acts including Fabolous, Tink, Trae the Truth and Cyhi the Prince.

The fact that Nas is headlining a prime-time show is a big enough deal, but adding acts like Lil Wayne, DJ Khaled, August Alsina and iLoveMakonnen to the mix? This one just got a little cray. And we're told more acts are coming.

Tickets to the show are $27.75 and up and on sale now. Click here.

-- Jay Cridlin

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Rob Thomas to headline Mistletoe Show with 'Fight Song' singer Rachel Platten

Merry Christmas from Rob Thomas to us.

Fans were bumming when Thomas postponed his July concert at Ruth Eckerd Hall to be with his wife as she underwent treatment for a brain lesion. But the Matchbox Twenty frontman showed up in August just as his new solo album The Great Unknown, was released. And reports are his wife's surgery went well.

Now comes news that Thomas will be back again to headline Ruth Eckerd Hall for Mix 100.7's Mistletoe Show on Dec. 14. The annual holiday season concert will also feature singer-songwriter Rachel Platten (Fight Song), who was also in town in August opening for Colbie Caillat at the Capitol Theatre, and earnest English songwriter Jamie Lawson, last seen in Tampa earlier this month opening for Ed Sheeran. Mistletoe Show tickets go on sale Thursday at the REH box office and online for $42.75-$72.75.

Thomas' long list of hits are a given and fans are sure to come to sing along to Platten's double platinum Fight Song. Lawson is a singer-songwriter from England and was the first artist signed to Ed Sheeran's label Gingerbread Man records. He is currently supporting Ed Sheeran on his U.S. tour. His current radio single is the song Wasn't Expecting That. …

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Ferg's books first big concert: Warrant, Ratt, L.A. Guns

Last week, word arrived that venerable St. Petersburg baseball hangout Ferg's Sports Bar was getting into the live concert game, with former Jannus Landing owner John C. "Jack" Bodziak at the helm.

Now Ferg's has its first major concert on the books: A show by veteran hair-metal trio Warrant, Ratt and L.A. Guns on Nov. 6.

Okay so it ain't Taylor Swift at Raymond James Stadium on Halloween. But it's a start. And tickets will start at just $14.95, which is a nice cherry on top of your slice of Cherry Pie.

Tickets will go on sale Oct. 2 via Ticketmaster. We'll update this post with a link when we have it.

Meanwhile, it's worth noting that across the bay, Ferg's Live in Tampa has a major concert of its own on the books -- a pre-Halloween jam on Oct. 23 with Drowning Pool, Alien Ant Farm and more. Tickets to that one are on sale now for $33 and up. Click here for details.

-- Jay Cridlin

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Review: Janet Jackson controls dance party at Tampa's Amalie Arena

Janet Jackson performs "Burn It Up" during her Unbreakable World Tour stop at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Thursday.


Janet Jackson performs "Burn It Up" during her Unbreakable World Tour stop at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Thursday.

Janet Jackson stands motionless, giving the crowd lots of attitude, and definitely some side-eye. She just delivered You Want This (You know you want me // You want this) and now she's surveying the fans, soaking in the desperate screams for more. But she's not gonna move. We wait a little longer. Then the beat drops, letting us all know who's in control.

Janet Jackson's Unbreakable World Tour burst into Tampa Thursday night and Miss Jackson-if-you're-nasty delivered a nonstop hair-flipping show featuring 32 (!!!) of her hits. She commanded the dance floor as the devoted crowd bumped along to the beats. Screams followed as each of her chart-topping hits began, smoothly going from one to the next, and we traveled through time with one of pop's original divas.

Janet's back, you guys. And yes, she was gone, because trying to get someone to come with me was a much more difficult task than I expected. "What are her songs, again?" "Meh. I think I have other plans." So I brought my older friend who actually remembers 1989's smash album Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814 (I was only 2). Plus, to seal the deal, Amalie Arena just introduced a new poutine stand. …

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Bret Michaels added to Ribfest 2015 lineup

After weeks of switch-ups and announcements, this year's Ribfest lineup is complete, thanks to a major new addition Thursday night.

Poison frontman Bret Michaels will headline the opening night of Ribfest 2015 on Nov. 13 at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg.

The Celebrity Apprentice star and Every Rose Has Its Thorn power-balladeer might be the biggest name yet in a Ribfest lineup that, once again, is heavy on classic rock. Joining him on Friday are Ratt singer Stephen Pearcy and the band Blended Brew.

The lineup on Sunday, Nov. 14, includes Three Dog Night, America, .38 Special, former Kansas singer Robby Steinhardt and tribute bands China Grove and Supernatural.

Sunday's country day on Nov. 15 features a handful of up-and-coming Nashville artists: Kip Moore, Chase Rice, Michael Ray and the Cadillac Three.

Ribfest tickets are on sale now for $16 on Friday and $20 Saturday and Sunday (with discounts available at Circle K stations around Tampa Bay). At the gate, they increase to $20 and $25.

Click here for all the details on Ribfest 2015.

-- Jay Cridlin

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This week in Tampa: Dr. Dog, Jose Gonzalez, Collective Soul, Plan B Block Party and more

Nicky Devine

It’s kind of a laid-back week in Tampa Bay, with more club and local shows than usual this week. After tonight’s Janet Jackson concert at Amalie Arena (click here for details), you can downsize for a few days and check out concerts by Jose Gonzalez, Dr. Dog (above), Collective Soul, Three Days Grace, the Wailers, Andrew Rayel, Joyce Manor, Delbert McClinton, Stokeswood, Pop Will Eat Itself, Stephen Kellogg, Skipper’s Smokehouse’s 35th anniversary and the Plan B Block Party, featuring RJD2 and a slew of amazing local acts. Here to walk you through it all are Jay Cridlin and Ray Roa...

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The Neighbourhood added to 97X Next Big Thing lineup

Did you miss last night's show by swoony alt-rockers the Neighbourhood at Jannus Live? Good news: They're coming back to Tampa sooner than you think.

The Neighbourhood have just been announced as the final band on the lineup for this year's 97X Next Big Thing, coming to Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on Dec. 5. They'll be joined by Twenty One Pilots, Of Monsters and Men, Walk the Moon, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness and more.

This year's Next Big Thing, its first in Tampa since 2011, already has significant buzz; first-day ticket sales were "record-breaking," according to the station. Adding the Neighbourhood will only boost that buzz, as the group's new album Wiped Out comes out Oct. 30.

Tickets to Next Big Thing are $32.10 and up via Live Nation. Click here for all the details on the show.

-- Jay Cridlin

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Stuart Ward talks 'Once,' busking, Irish folk songs and more

The Broadway sensation Once, originally a 2007 Irish musical film, has evolved over the years into an international feel-good spectacular -- one that embraces sadness as part of love and life.

Stuart Ward can relate. He stars in a production of Once that opens at the Straz Center on Tuesday, and he relied on his own life experience busking on the streets of England to relate to his lead role of Guy.


"The great songs come out of the saddest moments, really" said the singer-songwriter. "I guess that's what people dwell on the most. When we are happy we just enjoy it, but when we are sad we look back on it and think, 'That was a really sad time.'"

Once runs through Sunday at the Straz Center; tickets are $46.50-$81.50. Click here.

For more with Stuart Ward, click here for Andrew Meacham's interview.

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The Vamps talk 'Wake Up,' breaking through in America and more

Bassist Connor Ball of the Vamps performs during soundcheck at the Walmart on Gandy Boulevard in Tampa on Sept. 21, 2015.

Jay Cridlin

Bassist Connor Ball of the Vamps performs during soundcheck at the Walmart on Gandy Boulevard in Tampa on Sept. 21, 2015.

Factoid of the day: They don’t have Walmart in the United Kingdom.

“We’ve got Asda in the U.K.,” said Tristan Evans, bassist for British pop-rock band the Vamps. “It’s the same company over there. It’s not as widely spread, though.”

“You can get everything in Walmart,” added guitarist James McVey.

Even, apparently, an appearance by one of the world’s fastest-rising boy bands.

McVey, Evans and bassist Connor Ball came to Tampa on Monday for a free concert at the Walmart on Gandy Boulevard, an honor bestowed upon the city’s fans by virtue of a back-to-school contest staged by the mega-retailer on Twitter.

Walmart doesn’t stage concerts often, but when they do, they can be international affairs – see U2 launching Pop, or Pitbull visiting Alaska. So it was when the Vamps – a band that has recorded with Demi Lovato and Shawn Mendes, which claims nearly 3 million Twitter followers, and which is friendly with a slew of young stars and starlets – came to Tampa. …

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