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Florida Strawberry Festival building new, bigger concert venue

Emily Topper / Plant City Times & Observer

Get ready for big changes to the concerts at the 2018 Florida Strawberry Festival.

The bleachers of Schneider Memorial Stadium on the festival fairgrounds -- home this year to concerts by Willie Nelson, Little Big Town, Rascal Flatts and more -- are being torn down to make room for a much larger and more modern venue, including aluminum seating.

"We're adding an extra 2,000 sellable seats," general manager Paul Davis said. "We've been discussing this for about eight years.

"We've been playing a music venue in a football stadium," Davis added. "The bleachers are sideways. After watching a concert for an hour and a half, your neck hurts. We're going to give people a better line of sight."

The new seats will additionally be brought closer to the stage, ending where the existing bleachers begin. The new seats will have backs to them and will form a semi-circle around the stage, creating more room and, as Davis said, enhancing the experience for both concert guests and performers.

"We're also going to be adding bigger screens," Davis said. "We're trying to enhance the experience substantially."

For more on the Strawberry Festival's expansion, click here for Emily Topper's story.

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2017 Rays postgame concerts: Sabrina Carpenter, Lauren Alaina

Sabrina Carpenter

Sarah Barlow

Sabrina Carpenter

The Tampa Bay Rays' 2017 postgame concert series is taking a decidedly family-friendly turn.

Teenage pop singer and actress Sabrina Carpenter and American Idol alum Lauren Alaina will play free postgame concerts for the Rays this season, both for early afternoon games on family-friendly Sundays.

Carpenter, above, who stars on the Disney Channel's Girl Meets World and appeared at the 93.3-FLZ Jingle Ball in December, will play following the Rays and Baltimore Orioles on June 25. Alaina, a rising country star who will tour this summer with Luke Bryan, will perform following the Rays and Boston Red Sox on July 9. Both games start at 1:10 p.m.

A Rays spokeswoman said more acts should be announced in the coming weeks. Click here to buy tickets to the 2017 Rays season.

-- Jay Cridlin

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Bell Biv DeVoe, SWV, En Vogue coming to the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg

Bell Biv DeVoe

Bell Biv DeVoe

The early-'90s R&B revival just keeps on rolling in Tampa Bay.

You've got Guy, Dru Hill, 112, Tony Toni Tone, Silk and Doug E. Fresh coming to the USF Sun Dome on April 21. You've got New Kids on the Block, Paula Abdul and Boyz II Men coming to Amalie Arena on July 15. You've even got New Jack Swing aficionado Bruno Mars coming to Amalie Arena in October.

And today comes word of another big show: Bell Biv DeVoe, SWV and En Vogue on May 14. Happy Mother's Day, all you fly girls!

Tickets to the show start at $49 and go on sale Friday. But you can't put a price on a playlist that includes Poison, Do Me!, My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It), Free Your Mind, Weak and Right Here/Human Nature, all in one night, can you?

Slip an MTV Party to Go album in your Discman and click here for details on the show.

-- Jay Cridlin

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Mike Posner to headline University of Tampa's 2017 Party in the Park

Mike Posner

Getty Images

Mike Posner

Plant Park isn't exactly Ibiza, but it might just feel that way April 7.

Mike Posner, the Grammy-nominated pop singer and songwriter behind hits like Cooler than Me, Please Don't Go and I Took a Pill in Ibiza, will headline the University of Tampa's annual Party in the Park concert for students, faculty and staff. Opening the show are Adam Friedman and Madnap, a UT student and producer-DJ whom Earmilk just today called "your new favorite producer."

The concert takes place at 8 p.m. and is free for Spartans with a Spartan Card, though each student can bring one guest for $30. Click here for details.

And University of South Florida students needn't worry; they've got a free concert coming April 7, too. The school's annual USF Bullstock concert will take place in the parking lot of the USF Sun Dome. The 2017 lineup hasn't been announced, but we'll keep you posted.

-- Jay Cridlin

 

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Jason Aldean coming to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa

The secret's out.

The MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre has announced the final act of its 2017 Country Megaticket, and as expected, it's Nashville superstar Jason Aldean on Aug. 18. Chris Young and Kane Brown will open. 

All of this was anticipated, as Aldean had already announced a Tampa show (but no date) for this summer, and that date was suspiciously blank on the Amphitheatre's calendar.

Individual tickets to Aldean's show are not yet on sale; to get them now you'll have to buy a Megaticket for $149 and up. Doing so gets you a seat at six shows in Tampa: Brantley Gilbert (June 2), Dierks Bentley (June 16), Lady Antebellum (July 28), Aldean (Aug. 18), Brad Paisley (Sept. 16) and Florida Georgia Line (Oct. 13). Individual tickets are on sale now for Gilbert and Bentley; the rest will go on sale in the coming months.

Click here for all the details on the Country Megaticket.

-- Jay Cridlin

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SoundBytes: Jamey Johnson, Adam Ant, James Blunt, Gad Elmaleh and more

-- Outlaw country star Jamey Johnson is coming to the Mahaffey Theater on May 25. Tickets are $30 and up and they go on sale Friday. Click here.

-- If British singer-songwriters are your thing, you'll get double the pleasure this summer, as Ed Sheeran has just announced James Blunt will open his upcoming North American tour, which hits Tampa's Amalie Arena on Aug. 29. Click here.

-- New Wave icon Adam Ant is coming back to town for a concert at the Capitol Theatre on Sept. 8. Tickets are $39.50 and up. Click here.

-- Everclear is coming to the Capitol Theatre on April 30 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their 1997 album So Much for the Afterglow, which spawned hits like Father of Mine and I Will Buy You a New Life. Tickets are $29 and up. Click here.

-- Speaking of the Capitol Theatre and the '90s: Sister Hazel will be performing there on May 25. Tickets are $29 and up. Click here.

-- And two new Classic Albums Live concerts are coming to the Capitol Theatre: Rush's 2112 on June 16 (click here) and Led Zeppelin's IV on July 21 (click here).

-- Boyce Avenue is coming to Jannus Live on Oct. 7. Click here. …

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2017 Fun 'n Sun Clearwater country lineup: Billy Currington, Chase Rice, A Thousand Horses, more

Billy Currington

Billy Currington

Clearwater might be going all-in on a big new amphitheater for Coachman Park to host some of its annual festival-style concerts. And one that would benefit in a big way is coming up soon: Fun 'n Sun Clearwater.

The annual citywide celebration features a big country concert on April 29, and this year's headliners have just been announced: Billy Currington, Chase Rice, A Thousand Horses, Runaway June and Aubrey Wollett.

Currington is the big name here, with a stable of hits including Good Directions, Pretty Good at Drinkin' Beer and People are Crazy. But Rice is a hot name too, having co-written Florida Georgia Line's Cruise, and A Thousand Horses, Runaway June and Wollett are all artists on the rise.

General admission tickets are $10 advance, $20 day of show, with VIP tickets starting at $75. Click here for details.

And don't forget, there are other concerts coming to Coachman Park this spring, too, including Kenny G and Jake Shimabukuro on April 21, John Legend on May 13 and Third Eye Blind on June 10.

-- Jay Cridlin

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Pitbull, Enrique Iglesias coming to Amalie Arena in Tampa

Two Miami megastars will be Messin' Around on tour together this summer.

Pitbull and Enrique Iglesias are teaming up for a blockbuster summer tour that'll hit Tampa's Amalie Arena on June 22. CNCO will open. Tickets are $29.95 and up, and they'll go on sale Friday. Click here for details.

With Pitbull's controversial stint as a Visit Florida spokesman behind him, he's free to focus on his music, especially his new album Climate Change. The man has enough hits to fill several lifetimes, and his concerts are ridiculously high-energy affairs. 

And whle Enrique Iglesias has played a couple of 93.3-FLZ Jingle Balls in Tampa, this is his first headlining (well, co-headlining) show in Tampa in ages, which will give fans a chance to hear even more of his hits, from Hero to Escape to Bailamos to Tonight (I'm Lovin' You).

And then there are Pitbull and Iglesias's numerous collaborations, including Messin' Around, I Like It and I'm a Freak. Here's hoping this tour will feature a mini-set featuring both of them sharing the stage.

-- Jay Cridlin

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St. Paul and the Broken Bones' Paul Janeway talks snazzy suits, soul heroes and more

St. Paul and the Broken Bones

David McClister

St. Paul and the Broken Bones

Here’s one thing they don’t teach you in Rock Star School: The importance of wardrobe maintenance.

“When I first started, I got this really nice Billy Reid suit, and it was like, Wow, this is awesome! This is the nicest suit I’ve ever owned!” said Paul Janeway, the flamboyantly attired singer of Alabama soul-rock collective St. Paul and the Broken Bones. “Then about two weeks in, I blew out the crotch, and I was like, All right, I’m going to have to have more than one suit.”

These days Janeway rotates three suits between shows, ironed and steamed and crisp as they day they were tailored. But he can probably afford a lot more, considering St. Paul and the Broken Bones are one of the most in-demand live acts touring today.

Thanks in large part to the timeless pipes and theatrical flair of their bespectacled, slightly doughy and wholly arresting frontman, St. Paul and the Broken Bones have opened for the Rolling Stones, played Elton John’s Oscar party and suited up at nearly every major festival you can name. Janeway, who once thought of becoming a preacher and studied to be an accountant, is the group’s lodestar, its defining source of energy and flair. …

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St. Petersburg's the Hip Abduction, SweetWater Brewing team up for 'Hip-Biscus Tropical Ale'

The Hip Abduction is partnering with SweetWater Brewing Company on "Hip-Biscus Tropical Ale."

The Hip Abduction

The Hip Abduction is partnering with SweetWater Brewing Company on "Hip-Biscus Tropical Ale."

Bands teaming up with Tampa Bay craft breweries to create a custom beer is old hat — see Cigar City Brewing with Gwar, Dunedin Brewery with Dropkick Murphys or Rock Brothers Brewing with 311 or Hootie and the Blowfish.

But a Tampa Bay band teaming up with an out-of-state brewery? That’s new.

The Hip Abduction, a popular, nationally touring reggae-world-fusion band from St. Petersburg, is partnering with Atlanta’s SweetWater Brewing Company on Hip-Biscus Tropical Ale, a “light, crisp, super drinkable/crushable pale ale,” the band wrote on Instagram, with “a zest of hibiscus and passionfruit.”

According to singer David New, the brewery reached out after the band booked a slot at its annual 420 Festival, April 21-23 in Atlanta. 

"We chatted about what type of beers we loved and they nailed it," he said. "Wanted to bring in the Florida vibes."

The bad news, for now, is that the beer will only be available at and around 420 Fest, which this year features headliners Widespread Panic, Trey Anastasio Band, Ween, Slightly Stoopid and others. But the band and brewery are talking about sending a few kegs down to St. Petersburg before or after the festival. So stay tuned on that. …

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R.I.P. Chuck Berry: A rock 'n' roll architect whose influence knew no bounds

Associated Press

Chuck Berry was the architect. Rock 'n' roll was designed for the young, and he was the man with the blueprints.

Did he invent rock 'n' roll? No, not wholly. But like Elvis Presley, he set it straight, gave it legs, etched forever in our minds what it meant to be young and angry with an itch you could only scratch with a pick.

He was the bridge from the blues to the Beatles, the StonesSpringsteen and every teen with a haircut and a gleam. He taught rock 'n' roll to duck-walk and bare its teeth, to make it not just swing but howl. He made America’s veins pulse cherry neon.

Chuck Berry, a singer and guitarist who did as much as anyone to make rock 'n' roll matter over the past 60 years, died Saturday at age 90. And one of the last ringing chords of rock’s earliest days died with him.

Berry was found unresponsive at his home outside St. Louis, police said; attempts to revive him failed. Rolling Stone reported that Berry had recently suffered a bout of pneumonia. …

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SoundBytes: Scott Stapp, Taj Mahal, Lloyd, X and more

-- Scott Stapp is coming back. The Creed singer will bring an acoustic tour to the Palladium in St. Petersburg on May 14. Tickets are $32.50 and up. Click here.

-- Two big-name guitarists are hitting the road together. Taj Mahal and Keb' Mo' are bringing their so-called "TajMo" tour to the Palladium in St. Petersburg on Sept. 26. Tickets are $50 and up. Click here.

-- Here's a neat project from Jack Daniel's. On March 30, the brand's Tennessee Fire line is partnering with iHeartRadio to throw a private concert by R&B singer Lloyd at the Tampa Firefighters Museum. The "Rise From the Fire" concert series will benefit fire fighters and communities impacted by fires. You can enter to win tickets to the Tampa event through March 26 (note: you must be of age, and you must have a Tampa-area ZIP code). Click here to enter.

-- Punk legends X are going on a 40th anniversary tour featuring an all-original lineup including former St. Petersburg resident Exene Cervenka, and it's stopping at the State Theatre on May 14. Tickets are $30 and up. Click here.

-- Starlito and Don Trip are coming to the State Theatre on April 15. Tickets are $20 and up. Click here. …

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T.I. coming to Jannus Live in St. Petersburg

T.I.

Getty Images

T.I.

The time might be right for T.I. to reclaim his crown as King of the South.

With a horde of young Atlanta, Alabama and Florida rappers taking over the world these days -- Future, Migos, Rae Sremmurd, Kodak Black, Lil Yachty, et al -- the 36-year-old rapper is heading out on tour and coming to Jannus Live in St. Petersburg on June 10. Tickets start at $26.75 and go all the way up to pricey meet-and-greet packages. Click here for details.

No word yet who will join T.I. on this trek, but it's called the "Hustle Gang Tour," so odds are good it'll include some rappers from his Grand Hustle Records label, home to acts like B.o.B., Trae tha Truth, Young Dro and Travis Scott.

It's possible the tour is happening because T.I. might need an influx of cash amid reports his longtime marriage to wife Tiny might be on the rocks. Whatever the reason, it's a rare chance to hear T.I. plow through hits like What You Know, Whatever You Like and Live Your Life in a pretty intimate setting.

-- Jay Cridlin

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How the Florida Bjorkestra turned the songs of Bjork, Kate Bush and Tori Amos into a St. Petersburg sensation

Jeremy Douglass, left, and Colleen Cherry rehearse for the Florida Bjorkestra's next performance.

Scott Keeler

Jeremy Douglass, left, and Colleen Cherry rehearse for the Florida Bjorkestra's next performance.

Jeremy Douglass was driving to a wedding gig in Naples, listening to Björk's 2001 album Vespertine — specifically, the song Unison.

"It has this little slidey synth sound — it just sounds like a synth line toggling between two notes about a fifth apart, but with some portamento on it, so the note slides up and down," he said. "As I was listening to it and having an emotional reaction to it — because that song is absolutely gorgeous — I thought, A trombone could play that part."

Thus began the germ of an idea for the Florida Bjorkestra, a whimsical musical idea that has blossomed into a minor musical sensation in St. Petersburg. After selling out its first three performances, the Björkestra on Sunday will graduate to the Palladium's 850-seat Hough Hall, with up to 18 musicians — strings, horns, keys, vocalists, percussionists — performing songs by Bjork and David Bowie. They'll have a face painter. They'll even sell T-shirts.  …

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Fiesta Maxima: Daddy Yankee, Gente de Zona coming to USF Sun Dome in Tampa

Get ready for a reggaeton explosion in Tampa.

Daddy Yankee and Gente de Zona lead the lineup for this year's Fiesta Maxima concert at on May 13 at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa.

The annnual event, organized by Latin station 92.5 Maxima, brings together two of the most popular reggaeton artists around -- Daddy Yankee, thanks to worldwide smashes including Gasolina; and Gente de Zona, a Latin Grammy-winning Cuban duo who have worked with Enrique Iglesias and Marc Anthony, among others. 

Tickets to Fiesta Maxima 2017 start at $27.75 and go on sale Friday. Click here for details.

-- Jay Cridlin

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