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SoundBytes: Natalie Prass, Earl Sweatshirt, Old Crow Medicine Show and more

-- All this positive press singer-songwriter Natalie Prass is getting these days is boosting her profile and making her more in demand ... which might be why a "schedule conflict" is to blame for why she's dropped out of the Straz Center's Club Jaeb concert series on May 11. In her place will be Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion. Tickets to that one are $28.50. Click here.

-- Americana favorites Old Crow Medicine Show are coming back to Jannus Live on May 15 with support from The Devil Makes Three, which should make for a pretty wild show. Tickets are $36-$42. Click here.

-- Odd Future rapper Earl Sweatshirt is making a rare appearance in Florida! Details are slim, but according to Pitchfork, he'll be joined by Vince Staples and Remy Banks on April 30 at the Orpheum. We'll keep you posted on ticket info when we get it.

-- Metal outfit Prong is coming to the Orpheum on Nov. 4. Tickets are $12-$15 and they go on sale March 14. Click here.

-- Perpetual Groove are preparing a two-night stand at the State Theatre on July 31 and Aug. 1. Tickets are $25-$30. Click here. …

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Aloe Blacc, Austin Mahone, Daughtry, more added to Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival lineup

A week from the kickoff of Busch Gardens' inaugural Food & Wine Festival, the theme park has unveiled the fest's full concert lineup -- and it's stacked with big names from the pop world.

Aloe Blacc (above), Daughtry, Daddy Yankee, Austin Mahone, Echosmith, Josh Turner, Collective Soul and KC and the Sunshine Band have been added to the Food & Wine Festival, running Saturdays and Sundays through the end of April. They join previously announced acts like Kenny Rogers, Pentatonix, Steven Curtis Chapman and Kool and the Gang.

The Food & Wine Festival kicks off next weekend, with Gavin DeGraw on March 7 and Fifth Harmony on March 8. Here's the full schedule:

March 7: Gavin DeGraw

March 8: Fifth Harmony

March 14: Kool and the Gang

March 15: Boys Like Girls

March 21: Kenny Rogers

March 22: Pentatonix

March 28: Steven Curtis Chapman

March 29: El Gran Combo

April 4: Collective Soul

April 5: Echosmith

April 11: KC and the Sunshine Band

April 12: Josh Turner

April 18: Austin Mahone

April 19: Daddy Yankee

April 25: Daughtry

April 26: Aloe Blacc

Click here for more info on the Food & Wine Festival.

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*

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Artist of the day: Robert Wegmann

Robert Wegmann is an enigmatic musician, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and painter who has been playing in the bay area for 30-odd years.

On Friday, he’ll be performing with his trio at the Hideaway Café in St. Pete (click here for details). The ensemble is composed of musicians he has worked with in one capacity or another over the years, including Nina Slyusar on accordion and background vocals and Frederick Charles on guitar and background vocals.

Wegmann, who sings and plays guitar and bass, met with us in the dimly lit American Legion lounge in Seminole Heights to talk about his life in the Tampa Bay music scene.

 How did you get your start musically?

First band that gave me notoriety was a band called the Triple X Girls; that was in the early ’80s. We weren’t girls; we just wore makeup like the New York Dolls. The 360 was the next band, and then I went onto my own after that. It was all me after that. So, probably ’86 I broke away. I became solo.

What prompted you to go solo?

I don’t have to explain anything to anybody else except myself.

That’s a nice way to put it.

(laughs) If I wanna quit the band, I can cite differences with myself. …

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Wanda Sykes talks about returning to stand-up, 'egomaniac' Kanye West and more

Wanda Sykes doesn't give a damn what Kanye West thinks after bum-rushing Beck at the Grammys. 

"He's crazy. He's just an egomaniac. He's nuts," Sykes said by telephone from Los Angeles.

"I wanted someone to ask him, when he's going off about real artists and Beck and whatever: Have you listened to Beck's album? It's pretty good. And having (West) think singing over a manhole cover is pretty spectacular? I say no, thank you, sir."

Sykes' opinionated, no-nonsense humor is back in fine form. And so is she, returning to Ruth Eckerd Hall on Friday after spending much of the last few years focusing on her family and the Amazon series Alpha House. Click here for details on the show.

For more of Steve Persall's interview with Wanda Sykes, click here.Full Story

This week in Tampa: Strawberry Festival, Indigo Girls, Miranda Sings, Chris Tomlin and more

Are you heading to Plant City tonight for the kickoff of the Florida Strawberry Festival? Good! The 11-day affair features a ton of country music talent (Hunter Hayes, Reba McEntire, Alabama, Loretta Lynn, Brett Eldredge and more) as well as a few Oscar-winning A-listers (Kevin Costner, above, and John Legend) on this year's bill. It runs tonight through March 8 at the Strawberry Festival grounds. If you've missed our previews so far, here's a look at the lineup, here's our interview with Hunter Hayes, and here's our interview with Scotty McCreery.

One more show next week for your calendar: Ray Roa, who writes each week's installment of "This week in Tampa" here on SoundcheckCorps., is reviving his music site, Suburban Apologist, as a print publication at a concert featuring the Generationals and Rose Quartz. The show is at 8 p.m. March 5 at Crowbar, and tickets are $10-$12. Click here for details.

Other artists performing around Tampa Bay this week: The Indigo Girls, Miranda Sings, Chris Tomlin, Chris Cagle, Megan Hilty, Hoodie Allen, Ferry Corsten, Leo Kottke, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Shpongle, Kris Delmhorst, Kalin and Myles, Melissa Manchester and more. Ray and others will walk you through it after the jump...Full Story

Strawberry Festival preview: Hunter Hayes, Scotty McCreery, more keep the lineup family-friendly

Country music these days tends to be a rowdy and randy landscape dominated by studly, stubbly rascals who spray beer from the stage while howling about moonshine and Daisy-Duked cuties.

But not at the Florida Strawberry Festival. This year's acts, like Hunter Hayes, Scotty McCreery, Brett Eldredge and Dan + Shay are doing their darndest to put the good back in good ol' boy, delivering mostly PG alternatives to the wild, woolly bro-downs that sell out amphitheatres and arenas. Along with legacy acts like Alabama, Reba McEntire and Loretta Lynn, these clean-cut, charismatic cats will light up the Wish Farms Soundstage, proving you can, in fact, make it in Nashville without getting your 'shine on, smoking a little smoke or getting drunk on a plane.

"We have to find something that keeps pretty close to our family values," says Paul Davis, the festival's general manager. "We don't want any really bad language. We want something you'd feel comfortable taking your children to see. PG is all right, but we don't want to get real vulgar."

That's just fine with the artists. "I'll never be the guy who goes out drinking until dawn or getting drunk in the bar with the boys or anything like that," says McCreery. "That's just not me as a person. I've done pretty decent the last couple of years not singing about that stuff."


For our full Strawberry Festival preview, including a complete lineup breakdown, click here.Full Story

Review: Maroon 5, Adam Levine bring over-the-top energy, sold-out crowd to Amalie Arena in Tampa

Maroon 5 performed in Tampa on Feb. 25, 2015.

Jay Cridlin

Maroon 5 performed in Tampa on Feb. 25, 2015.

How long until Maroon 5 headlines halftime of the Super Bowl?

It might happen sooner than we all think. The way the L.A. pop-rockers strutted out guns a-blazing at Tampa’s Amalie Arena on Wednesday – with a breathless, frenetic 25-minute cavalcade of hits that barely gave the extremely sold-out crowd a second to take it all in – it practically felt like an audition for Roger Goodell. Was he secretly in the building?

That electric opening run (for the record: Animals, One More Night, Stereo Hearts, Harder to Breathe, Lucky Strike and Wake Up Call) was nearly impossible to follow, but it didn’t really matter. By the time singer Adam Levine finally paused the music long enough to say hi – “We’re just getting warmed up, right?” – the crowd of 16,947 had enough of a charge to last all night.Full Story

Ticket Window: Kevin Hart, Sam Smith, J. Cole and more

This just in: Due to popular demand, Kevin Hart has added a second show to his May 8 date at Amalie Arena in Tampa. We know he's like the most popular comic in America, but that's pretty amazing for a comedian to inspire that much ticket demand. He'll now perform at both 7:30 and 10 p.m. that night. Tickets to the 10 p.m. show start at $56.75 and go on sale Friday.

Other Tampa Bay concerts and events with tickets going on sale this week: Midnight Special (March 21, State Theatre), Orgy (April 11, State Theatre), Flyleaf (April 23, State Theatre), John Mulaney (May 2), Kevin Hart (second show on May 8, Amalie Arena), Shaun Hopper (May 9), The Story So Far (May 28, Orpheum), Gipsy Kings (June 14), Sam Smith (July 21, Amalie Arena), J. Cole with Big Sean, YG and Jeremih (Aug. 16, MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre) and all single-game tickets to the Tampa Bay Rays' 2015 season.

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

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Hunter Hayes talks new music, 'Top Gear,' working with Ed Sheeran and more

When you play 30 instruments — as singer-guitarist Hunter Hayes did on his self-titled debut — time can slip away from you in the studio.

“Easily, 16-hour days are not a problem,” Hayes said by phone from his Nashville home studio. “You don’t even realize time is just flying by, and then right around midnight or 1 o’clock, you’re like, ‘You know what? I should probably turn in.’”

Hayes started as a teenage prodigy and earned millions of young fans through ceaseless touring and a relentlessly professional, squeaky-clean image. But fans of all ages quickly grew to respect his formidable talent. He was nominated for Best New Artist at the 2013 Grammys; the next year he returned to the same stage to perform his anti-bullying anthem Invisible, from his latest album Storyline; this year he actually hosted a portion of the Grammy ceremony.

Hayes is coming to Tampa on Sept. 5 with Lady Antebellum and Sam Hunt (click here for details), but first, on Sunday, he’ll headline the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City — his second appearance there in three years. …

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Photos: 'Game of Thrones' Kristian Nairn raves at Tampa's refurbished District 3 nightclub

Kristian Nairn, who plays Hodor on the HBO series 'Game of Thrones,' came to Tampa's District 3 event space for a DJ set on Feb. 20.

Luis Santana

Kristian Nairn, who plays Hodor on the HBO series 'Game of Thrones,' came to Tampa's District 3 event space for a DJ set on Feb. 20.

Game of Thrones actor Kristian Nairn, a.k.a. Hodor, is also a respectable DJ -- and he brought his "Rave of Thrones" to downtown Tampa's refurbished District 3 event space on Feb. 20.

The club -- almost unrecognizable to the old Club Underground -- was really nice and spacious, and although there were hundreds of people packed in to see Nairn, it didn't seem too packed. He got on stage and other than saying a few words to the crowd when he first got on stage, he mainly got into his zone and played his set.

The crowd seemed to enjoy it, although I couldn't tell if it was because of the music or because the Game of Thrones star was in the building. Other than the usual EDM-style clothing, there were about 20 or so people dressed in Game of Thrones-style costumes.

Overall, I really liked the layout, and see it as a great place to see future acts that come through town.

For more photos of Kristian Nairn in Tampa, click the headline of this post.

-- Luis Santana, tbt*

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Savion Glover talks about tap-dancing to Prince, why he won't judge a reality TV show and more

In his latest tour, tap master Savion Glover takes his flying feet to sets of staircases, slamming the bass line and surfing the melodies of everyone from funkmaster Prince to Russian composer Shostakovich.

It's STePz, coming to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday. Even if the materials seem disparate, they have all inspired Glover in some way.

"It's just giving people a chance to hear the musicality through tap and see how that's matched with today's sounds," Glover said on a call before heading to Florida.

The show is at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Straz Center; tickets are $30-$50. Click here for details.

For more of Stephanie Hayes' interview with Savion Glover, click here.

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Scotty McCreery talks 'American Idol,' his role as a sex symbol, writing new music and more

Ladies of Plant City, take note: The way to Scotty McCreery’s heart might be through his stomach.

The last time the country baritone played the Florida Strawberry Festival, in 2013, the thing that stood out to him the most was the food.

“The folks that work it, they really make you feel like you’re at home, like you’re family,” McCreery said by phone from his home in Raleigh, N.C. “There were some really sweet old ladies walking around offering me different strawberries — chocolate covered, white chocolate covered, everything you could imagine. Me and the band, we really dug in pretty good.”

Nearly four years after winning the sixth season of American Idol, McCreery, 21, is still able to appreciate the little things about life on the road. He’s balancing his status as an increasingly bankable headliner — all three of his studio albums, including 2013’s See You Tonight, have charted in Billboard’s Top 10 — with some semblance of a normal life as a college student at N.C. State. …

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SoundBytes: John Mulaney, Talib Kweli, Gipsy Kings, Orgy and more

-- Comic John Mulaney, a popular stand-up, writer for Saturday Night Live (he co-created the Bill Hader character Stefon) and creator of the Fox sitcom Mulaney, is coming to the Capitol Theatre on May 2. Tickets are $35. Click here.

-- World-music titans the Gipsy Kings are coming to the Mahaffey Theater on June 14 with Nicolas Reyes and Tonino Baliardo. Tickets are $52.50-$92.50. Click here.

-- Rapper Talib Kweli is coming back to Tampa for the first time in a minute. He'll be at the Orpheum with Niko Is on April 7. Tickets are $15-$45. Click here.

-- Swedish synthpop icons Covenant are coming to the Orpheum on April 21 with the Labrynth and Ms. FD. Tickets are $20-$45. Click here.

-- A mini-Warped tour is coming to the Orpheum on May 28: The Story So Far, Four Year Strong, Terror and Souvenirs. Tickets are $20-$23 and they go on sale Friday. Click here.

-- DJ Borgeous is coming to the Amphitheatre on June 6. Early bird tickets are $15. Click here. …

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Chris Tomlin talks fame vs. faith, navigating Christian music superstardom and more

Ten albums into his music career, Chris Tomlin testifies to 30 million records sold. Church choirs around the world sing his songs. In 2012, he won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Christian Album. In 2013, his album Burning Lights debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s top 200, an accomplishment matched by just three other Christian artists.

But Tomlin doesn’t think much of fame. As a husband and a father to 3-year-old and 4-months-old daughters, he celebrates day-to-day family life. God blessed him with a love for music, not the spotlight, he says.

"For me, it’s not about making songs for the radio, it’s about making songs that will find a way into the church," Tomlin said in a recent interview. "It’s such a humbling thing to know the music I make goes way past me, that it’s all about people singing the lyrics to God."

Tomlin brings his Love Ran Red Tour with Tenth Avenue North and Ren Collective to the USF Sun Dome on Friday. Tickets are $25-$39. Click here for details.

For more with Chris Tomlin, click here for Sarah Whitman's interview.

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Fresh from his Grammy triumph, Sam Smith coming to Tampa

Los Angeles Times / TNS

Get ready for the saddest summer ever!

Fresh off practically sweeping this year's Grammy Awards, British singer-songwriter Sam Smith has announced an expansion of his forthcoming summer tour, and according to his website, it includes a stop at Tampa's Amalie Arena on July 21. According to the venue, tickets are $32.50-$96.25 and will go on sale to the public at 10 a.m. Friday. Click here for details.

As we predicted, the Stay With Me crooner is sweeping through the Southeast around the time of the Forecastle Festival in Louisville, Ky. (his Tampa stop is preceded by a date at Miami's AmericanAirlines Arena on July 20). We know things are going pretty well for him these days, but we still hope he's able to recreate some of his signature sorrowful magic while vacationining in sunny F-L-A.

We'll update you with more details on this show as they become available.

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*

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