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Review: Gin Blossoms revive '90s nostalgia at the Capitol Theatre in Clearwater

The Gin Blossoms perform at the Capitol Theatre in Clearwater on Nov. 21, 2014.

Jay Cridlin

The Gin Blossoms perform at the Capitol Theatre in Clearwater on Nov. 21, 2014.

Robin Wilson didn’t have to do much to get the Capitol Theatre on his side on Thursday -- spin through the driving hit single Follow You Down, toss a tambourine into the crowd, and soon enough, the first few rows were on their feet.

“A standing ovation on the first song?” he aw-shucked. “Jess, this never happens.”

“They must think we’re Better Than Ezra,” said guitarist Jesse Valenzuela. “They must think we’re Toad the Wet Sprocket.”

Actually, it’s the Gin Blossoms, but their point is well taken. If you haven’t given the Arizona rockers a second thought in the past decade and a half -- aside, of course, from all those times you’ve heard Hey Jealousy and Found Out About You pop up in your neighborhood Chili's -- you likely lump them in with other nameless, faceless dad-rock bands of the Clinton Era, filing them somewhere between the Spin Doctors and Sister Hazel.

Not the nearly sold-out Cap, though. The 700 or so fans packing the place stood and cheered for the big hits, sure, but also sang along to deeper and more recent cuts, the ones that often get left out when the band books one of their frequent food fests or package tours. More than a few sipped $12 “Gin Blossoms” – pineapple, sour and gin – and danced like the ’90s never ended.Full Story

This week in Tampa: Melissa Etheridge, Lil Boosie, Anberlin and more

The week leading up to Thanksgiving doesn't seem like it'd be jam-packed with shows, but think again. Among the concert offerings this Turkey Day week are Melissa Etheridge, Anberlin, Lil Boosie, Webbie, Copeland, Garfunkel and Oates, Clint Black, Bassjackers, Dyro, Beenie Man, Flatbush Zombies, the Underachievers, Aaron Carter, America, Pujol and more. Here to walk you through it all is Ray Roa... …

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Artist of the day: Soapbox Soliloquy

Soapbox Soliloquy

Jasmine Deja

Soapbox Soliloquy

When she’s not busy playing with the raucous, ’60s style psych-out trio Selectric, Jasmine Deja channels her creative energy into her home-grown recordings under the pseudonym Soapbox Soliloquy.

Her songs are a Hi-Fi reverb-soaked mystical adventure, riddled with unexpected twists and turns. Her structures are folksy in nature, and adorned with Smile-era Brian Wilson-esque orchestration, coupled with the sonic weirdness of the Flaming Lips. Each song is a little mystery waiting to be discovered, but never solved.

Here is what she has to say on a windy St. Pete afternoon.

How long have you been playing music?

Since fourth grade. I started taking drum lessons.

So the drums were your first instrument?

Yeah, the only one I took lessons for.

I thought you might have had some formal training. Your chord structures and choral abilities are interesting and intriguing.

I honestly don’t know what I’m doing half the time. It’s all repetition. Sitting on my couch over and over again, figuring out what part needs to be played.

Your recordings’ sonic landscapes are very stereophonic. What’s the impetus behind it all? …

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Ticket Window: Journey, Jackson Browne, Ingrid Michaelson, Wale and more

We've been so flooded with new concert announcements this week that it's getting hard to keep track. Three new shows were announced today, in fact: Ingrid Michaelson (above) at the Capitol Theatre, golf commentator David Feherty at Ruth Eckerd Hall and Hundred Waters at the State Theatre. Moreover, it was just announced that Yellowcard, who had to back out of their recent concert at the Ritz Ybor, have rescheduled that gig for April 26 at the Orpheum. Tickets to the original show will be honored, but a limited number of new tickets will also go on sale Friday. Click here for details on that.

Other Tampa Bay concerts and events with tickets going on sale this week: Andrae Crouch with Cece Winans, Marvin Winans and more (Dec. 16, USF Sun Dome), Raury (Jan. 11, Local 662), Jim Jefferies (Jan. 16, Straz Center), David Feherty (Jan. 21, Ruth Eckerd Hall), Wale (Feb. 10, Ritz Ybor), Ingrid Michaelson (Feb. 11, Capitol Theatre), Yonder Mountain String Band (Feb. 13, Jannus Live), Harry Connick Jr. (Feb. 13, Ruth Eckerd Hall), Juan Gabriel (Feb. 15, Amway Center), Jackson Browne (Feb. 21, Ruth Eckerd Hall), Lucero and Ryan Bingham (Feb. 22, Ritz Ybor), Tampa Bay Comedy Festival with Sommore, Earthquake and more (Feb. 26, USF Sun Dome), Shpongle (March 1, State Theatre), Hundred Waters (March 11, State Theatre), Journey and the Steve Miller Band (March 14, MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre), Clean Bandit (March 26, State Theatre), Y&T (April 16, Largo Cultural Center), Walk the Moon (April 26, State Theatre) and Yellowcard (April 26, Orpheum).

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

Instruments of Change throwing Play It Forward concert at the Straz Center

Singer Caroline Kole signs autographs for Clair Mel Elementary students. Kole will perform at Instruments of Change’s concert.

Courtesy of Instruments of Change

Singer Caroline Kole signs autographs for Clair Mel Elementary students. Kole will perform at Instruments of Change’s concert.

On Christmas morning, when Caroline Kole was 8 years old, she unwrapped a present from her parents. Her first guitar.

When Sarah Zimmerman and Justin Davis were enrolled in a guitar program at Belmont University, their professor paired them at random.

Today, Kole tours with Reba McEntire. Zimmerman and Davis became the country duo known as Striking Matches.

All these musicians found success through their own hard work as well as the help of others. For aspiring musicians who aren't as fortunate, there is Instruments of Change, a local organization that provides instruments to at-risk youth.

The group will host its second benefit concert, Play It Forward, which also celebrates the organization's five-year anniversary, on Saturday. Kole will perform for the second year in a row.

"You can expect new music and a party atmosphere," Kole said.

Click here for Arielle Waldman's full story on Instruments of Change.Full Story

Garfunkel and Oates talk bingo, bad dates, Flight of the Conchords comparisons and more

It's hard to talk about the music of Garfunkel and Oates without going a little blue. The comedy folk duo -- actresses Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci -- sing a lot about sex, as you know if you've heard their albums All Over Your Face and Slippery When Moist.

"We've definitely had guys that we were dating, not seriously, but they'd come to a show and they're kind of scared off," Micucci said during a recent phone interview. "They don't go out on another date. That's happened to both of us, so we put that in the TV show. Maybe it's partly the fear of, gosh, I don't want to be written about. It's hard to know because usually these guys don't explain."

"I also think guys secretly love getting written about," Lindhome added. "As long as it's not too terrible, people kind of like it."

Garfunkel and Oates perform at the Straz Center in Tampa on Friday. Tickets are $29.50. Click here for details.

For more of Steve Persall's interview with Garfunkel and Oates, click here.Full Story

SoundBytes: Walk the Moon, Lucero, Clean Bandit, Andrae Crouch and more

Jay Cridlin

-- Energetic Ohio alt-pop quartet Walk The Moon has played so many local opening slots (Grouplove, Fitz and the Tantrums) and festivals (Big Guava, the Jingle Ball) that we're thrilled to see them actually, finally score their own headlining concert in Tampa Bay. They'll play alongside the Griswolds on April 26 at the State Theatre. Tickets are $22 and they go on sale Friday. Click here for details.

-- Speaking of danceable alt-pop outfits: Clean Bandit, who have a huge hit in Rather Be, will perform at the State Theatre on March 26. Click here.

-- If you love twangy alt-country with a little bit of rock 'n' roll, here's a killer co-headlining tour: Lucero and Ryan Bingham on Feb. 22 at the Ritz Ybor, with Twin Forks opening. Tickets are $22. Click here.

-- Skate-punk outfit Arctic will headline the Skatepark of Tampa's annual after party on Dec. 6 at the park. Click here for the full Tampa Am schedule. …

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SoundBytes: Wale, Aesop Rock, Jacob Whitesides, Yonder Mountain String Band and more

-- Yonder Mountain String Band seem to come to Jannus Live every February, and next year will be no different. The bluegrassy jam band will perform in the courtyard on Feb. 13. Tickets are $25 and they'll go on sale Friday. Click here.

-- Seinfeld-loving rapper Wale is coming to the Ritz Ybor on Feb. 10. Tickets are $25 and they go on sale Friday. Click here.

-- Rapper Aesop Rock is coming to the State Theatre on March 7. Tickest are $20. Click here.

-- Teen-pop sensation Jacob Whitesides is playing the decidedly unusual venue of the Orpheum on Dec. 17, alongside Dylan Holland and Zach Matari. Tickets are $25 and up. Click here.

-- A slew of top EDM talent from Tampa Bay and beyond will hit the Ritz Ybor for the Hallucination Before Christmas, including Tommie Sunshine, Rabbit in the Moon's Bunny, Nerd Rage, Subpirate, Monk, AK1200, Three, Brian Busto and more. Tickets start at $10. Click here for details.

-- Reggae rockers Passafire will play a free show at Jannus Live on Jan. 30. Click here for details.

-- Raury is coming to the Local 662 on Jan. 11. Tickets are $15.75. Click here.

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*

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Journey, Steve Miller Band coming to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa

Journey

Journey

Go ahead and put those Steve Perry-Journey reunion rumors to rest for another year. The Don't Stop Believin' rockers are embarking on another tour in 2015, and it looks like Perry will be nowhere to be found.

The good news? That tour will bring them to Tampa.

Journey and the Steve Miller Band will perform at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on March 14, Live Nation announced Monday. Tower of Power will open the show. Tickets are $31-$135 and they go on sale Friday. Click here for details.

No matter who's singing for Journey (for the record, it'll still be uncanny Perry sound-alike Arnel Pineda), it's sure to be an evening full of hits. Don't Stop Believin' will bring the house down as always, as will Faithfully, Any Way You Want It, Open Arms and Wheel In The Sky. Having Miller (The Joker, Abracadabra, Fly Like An Eagle, Jet Airliner, Take the Money and Run) along for the classic-rock ride only sweetens the deal.

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*

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Strawberry Festival lineup: Reba McEntire, Alabama, Loretta Lynn, John Legend, Kevin Costner, more coming to Plant City in 2015

Reba McEntire

Daniel Wallace (2012)

Reba McEntire

Eighty is a mighty big number, and so the Florida Strawberry Festival is pulling out all the stops to make its 2015 lineup one of its most memorable yet.

Country legends Reba McEntire, Alabama and Loretta Lynn are among the biggest names on the 2015 Strawberry Festival lineup, which was released Monday. They'll be joined by some prime young country talent, including Hunter Hayes, Scotty McCreery and CMA New Artist of the Year winner Brett Eldredge. And adding some Hollywood glitz to the Plant City proceedings will be soul singer John Legend and actor Kevin Costner with his band Modern West.

Other artists coming to the festival, Feb. 26-March 8 in Plant City: Sara Evans, Boyz II Men, Craig Morgan, the Oak Ridge Boys, Dan + Shay, Parmalee, Ricky Skaggs, Ronnie Milsap, Mel Tillis, Bobby Vinton, Sawyer Brown and Christian stars Newsboys and MercyMe. The 2015 installment of the Happy Together Tour, with the Turtles, Chuck Negron, Flo & Eddie and more, will also stop there.

Tickets to the 2015 Florida Strawberry Festival range from $15 to $50 depending on the show, and they'll go on sale at 8 a.m. Dec. 4. As always, some 3,000 free seats will be available for each show on a first come, first served basis. And Strawberry Festival admission is required on top of each concert ticket.

Here's the lineup by day, along with ticket prices. Headliners perform at 7:30 p.m., secondary acts at 3:30:Full Story

Review: Juicy J packs in hits like a pro at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg

Juicy J performs at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg on Nov. 15, 2014.

Luis Santana

Juicy J performs at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg on Nov. 15, 2014.

Juicy J is a machine. His SUV arrived at Jannus Live at 10:40 p.m. Saturday, and nine minutes later he was on stage, full blast, performing his newest single Low in front of a backing band.

You can probably attribute it to the professionalism acquired in the nearly 20 years since his debut album with Memphis, Tenn.’s Three 6 Mafia. The Twerk or Die 2 Tour was a freight train of dirty bass that started rolling when Juicy J hit the stage and didn’t stop until he threw his hands up to bid the crowd goodnight one hour later.

The flaws in a Juicy J show are the ones any person could expect if they were more than casually familiar with his catalog. As a producer/performer that started in a rap group with a stable of rotating performers that strove to rival New York’s massive Wu-Tang Clan, very few of his past and present works are truly solo Juicy J tracks. Low features verses from Nicki Minaj and Lil Bibby with a hook performed by Young Thug. His collaborators are numerous and massive, especially since Three 6 Mafia’s 2005 Academy Award win for Best Original Song, Hustle & Flow’s It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp. Hearing a full Juicy J track would require millions in tour budgeting and an extraordinary feat of coordination on the parts of dozens of the most famous and in-demand acts of our time.

So each time the first beats of a song cued up, the crowd braced itself to hear Juicy’s verse alone, a taste of what they blast in their cars. Still, with only pieces, he delivered to great effect.Full Story

Review: Ribfest, Lynyrd Skynyrd pack Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg with sweet, Southern hits (and ribs)

Lynyrd Skynyrd headlined Day 2 of Ribfest on Nov. 15, 2014 at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg.

Jay Cridlin

Lynyrd Skynyrd headlined Day 2 of Ribfest on Nov. 15, 2014 at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg.

Swiss scientists could sequester themselves in a lab deep beneath the Arctic tundra and not come up with a bigger, better band to headline Ribfest than Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Skynyrd at Ribfest is Florida’s version of Dylan in the Village, Bruce at the Meadowlands. Just think of it: How many Ribfest patrons over the past quarter-century have probably yelled “FREE BIRD!” at whichever jukebox hero is manning that year’s Vinoy Park main stage? For once, those fans would actually get the response they desired.

Ribfest officials estimated some 20,000 barbecue lovers showed up for Skynyrd on Saturday, and by the time the receipts are all counted, that number may be on the low side. The sea of blankets and lawn chairs seemed endless, stretching more than 100 yards to the back, where dozens of fans camped out in spots where they literally could not see the stage -- they were staring at a live feed on a massive second screen. And hey, who can blame them? At least those lucky souls had legroom.

In its 25th year (and 26th event overall), Ribfest broke the bank to book Skynyrd, their costliest act to date, on the biggest stage they’ve ever brought in. They’ve been a long-coveted act not merely because of their endless catalog of Southern rock hits, not merely because they’re native Floridians, but because, well, what song goes better with a plate of smoked ribs than That Smell?

“Ain’t nothing like being home in the great state of Florida,” said Lynyrd Skynyrd singer Johnny Van Zandt, younger bro to the band’s founder Ronnie. “God bless ya.”Full Story

DMX a no-show for concert at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg

Police waited outside Jannus Live as fans filed out upon learning that DMX would not be performing there as planned Friday night.

Luis Santana

Police waited outside Jannus Live as fans filed out upon learning that DMX would not be performing there as planned Friday night.

Just after 10:30 p.m. Friday, the line at the Jannus Live ticket booth started to get long.

Fans waited, with fury in their eyes, for a refund for the DMX concert that was cancelled 90 minutes after it began.

"We have some bad news for you all," the DJ said just after St. Petersburg rapper Rival left the stage.

Promoter Dino Pinto said the New York rap legend had a disagreement with his management shortly before boarding began for his 8:30 p.m. flight from Hartsfield-Jakson Airport in Atlanta. DMX didn't board the plane.

Pinto gave refunds to those who requested it and had purchased physical tickets from Jannus. Those who bought e-tickets from Ticketfly were instructed to receive their refunds straight from the website.

For those determined to see the Dark Man, Pinto promised they would be able to use their tickets from Friday night's show at the rescheduled date.

"I'm going to stack him with another artist for the next show to sweeten the deal," Pinto said. "The next show is going to be even better."

The DJ said DMX promised to bring more members of the Ruff Ryders with him for the next scheduled performance. …

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REVIEW: James Taylor showers Tampa with sonic hugs, soft hits

TAMPA -- James Taylor shambled onstage Friday as if he were looking for lost car keys. He rubbed his bald head, gave a sheepish look at the 8,992 in the Amalie Arena crowd. Then he grabbed a beat-up acoustic guitar, took a careful seat on a stool and started cooing Something in the Way She Moves. Thus concluded the night's most gripping action sequence.

Oh, I'm just joshing all you touchy-feelies out there. No one came to JT expecting pyro; this was all about a big warm folk-pop group hug, the 66-year-old sensitive one still in fine soft voice and pastoral demeanor. The best place to hear the somber Bostonian sing is somewhere cozy, intimate -- like, say, your bathroom. But such is his soothing widespread appeal -- when he uttered the word "hippies" the place went crazy (well, politely so) -- the dude can still pack a large venue. …

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Countdown to Ribfest: The biggest lineups ever, and three bands still on the festival's wishlist

Florida Georgia Line has been on Ribfest organizers' wishlist ever since they instituted a "country day" in 2009.

Luis Santana

Florida Georgia Line has been on Ribfest organizers' wishlist ever since they instituted a "country day" in 2009.

Ribfest kicks off Friday in St. Petersburg with Daughtry, then leads into Lynyrd Skynyrd on Saturday and Thomas Rhett with Cole Swindell on Sunday. Click here for our full Ribfest 2014 coverage, including the lineup, set times, interviews and more.

As we prepare for the onslaught of ribs and more, we decided to look to the past -- and the future -- of one of Tampa Bay's biggest musical events. Here's a look at the biggest Ribfests ever -- and three acts organizers have always dreamed of booking.

The biggest Ribfests ever

Funny thing about Ribfest: While it is indisputably one of Tampa Bay’s biggest musical events, organizers don’t seem to care much about an official head count. Start asking about attendance, and you’ll hear figures ranging from 6,000 to 30,000 per day. Vinoy Park can safely hold 20,000 to 25,000, depending on the event configuration, but Ribfest’s ticket situation is generally open-ended — even when 20,000 people crowd in, there’s never been such a thing as a sellout. Although there was that Sunday in 2009, when the crowd got so big that police decided ... eh, we’ll get to that in a minute. First, let’s run through a few of Ribfest’s highest highs, day by day. …

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