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Bette Midler talks classic girl groups, preserving songwriters' legacies and more

Bette Midler's Divine Intervention tour, which comes to Tampa's Amalie Arena on Monday, reflects her latest musical reclamation, It's the Girls. She covers songs from all-female singing groups, from the Boswell Sisters in the 1930s to TLC's 1995 hit Waterfalls. Most spring from the idea's sweetest spot, the heydays of Supremes and Shirelles, of Chordettes and Crystals.

Midler is a devoted caretaker of vocal and songwriting legacies. "I'm kind of a rescue worker," she says. "It pains me to see so much stuff fall by the wayside.

"One thing that's interesting about our country is that it constantly generates so much good music. But they shouldn't forget about the old stuff upon which the new stuff was built. It seems to be my mission in life, at least for this tour."

Midler performs at 8 p.m. Monday at Amalie Arena. Tickets are $42 and up. Click here for details.

For more of Steve Persall's interview with Bette Midler, click here.

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Big Guava Festival preview: Pretty Lights, the Strokes, and the rockers-vs.-DJs debate

Major, multiday music festivals, once largely the exclusive dominion of guitar-based rock acts, have long since been overtaken by DJs, rappers and pop stars.

In 2015 alone, you have Drake closing out Coachella and Austin City Limits, Deadmau5 and Kendrick Lamar toplining Bonnaroo, Sam Smith up high at Lollapalooza and Kanye West astride the granddaddy of them all, Glastonbury. And in Tampa this weekend, you have Colorado electronic artist Pretty Lights, above, co-headlining the 2015 Big Guava Music Festival at the Florida State Fairgrounds.

Guitars have faded into the background of millennial music culture; rock no longer moves the needle like pop, hip-hop and even electronic dance music. When Pretty Lights was added to Big Guava's lineup in February, he immediately shot to the top line of the poster, leapfrogging rockers like Ryan Adams, Hozier and the Pixies.

For more on how more EDM and hip-hop acts are replacing traditional guitar rockers at the tops of festival posters like Big Guava -- as well as a preview of acts to watch, from the Pixies and Hozier to Passion Pit and Awolnation -- click here.

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Live Nation Florida president Neil Jacobsen talks Big Guava, the Tampa Bay concert industry and more

The Strokes will headline Day 2 of the Big Guava Music Festival on Saturday.

The Strokes will headline Day 2 of the Big Guava Music Festival on Saturday.

As always in Florida, it came down to the weather.

Concert promotions giant Live Nation booked an A-list lineup for last year’s rebranded Big Guava Music Festival at the Florida State Fairgrounds — Outkast, Vampire Weekend, Foster the People, Haim — but a windswept downpour on Day one put a severe damper on the party mood, and was a big factor in why Big Guava drew much smaller-than-hoped-for crowds.

“It was sad that that happened last year, because I think we had a great lineup,” Live Nation Florida president Neil Jacobsen said in a phone interview. “We were very pleased with how the talent came into play, and the weather really, really cost us.”

This weekend, however? “It looks right now like the weather’s gonna be lower 90s and sunny,” Jacobsen said. “If the forecast stays like that, we will be extremely happy.” …

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SoundBytes: Smash Mouth, Blues Traveler, Bret Michaels, C+C Music Factory and more

-- Margaritas and Smash Mouth: The connection is totally logical. So it makes perfect sense that the All Star rockers will headline the lineup for the 2015 Tampa Bay Margarita Festival on May 23 at Curtis Hixon Park in Tampa. Mighty Mongo, the Black Honkeys, Supros, Phase 5, Lovestruck Robot and Lions After Dark are also on the bill. The event runs noon to 11 p.m., and tickets start at $17. Click here for details.

-- Remember that Culture Club concert taking place in Madeira Beach on Aug. 14, and how it was billed as some sort of "unity festival?" Thanks to Ticketmaster, we now know the other artists on the bill: Howard Jones, Marc Almond, C+C Music Factory, My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult and Book Of Love. Talk about an eclectic mix of '80s and '90s pop. Tickets are on sale now for $30 and up. Click here.

-- Poison frontman Bret Michaels is performing a "storytellers"-style acoustic show at Tampa's Hard Rock Cafe on June 14. Tickets are $42. Click here.

-- We're not giving you the Run-Around: Blues Traveler really are coming to Jannus Live in St. Pete. The show is Sept. 19, and tickets are $25-$28, and you can Hook them starting Friday. Click here. …

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Parsing Big Guava's fine print: X Ambassadors, Zella Day, Ex Cops and more new bands to know

X Ambassadors

X Ambassadors

There comes a point on the poster for every music festival when even the most plugged-in fan stops recognizing names. Hey, not every band can be Mumford and Sons, and someone has to open the fourth-largest stage at noon, right?

That doesn’t mean these artists, and the third- and fourth-degree stages they inhabit, are not worth watching. Far from it. Today’s unknown might be tomorrow’s Arcade Fire, jumping from a half-hour afternoon set to a headlining slot within years.

Still, how do you know when it’s worth getting to a festival early? Take this weekend’s Big Guava Music Festival in Tampa. You probably know the big names up top (The Strokes, The Pixies, Ryan Adams), and may be familiar with some of the middlers midway down (Death From Above 1979, Action Bronson, Banks). But somewhere around Milky Chance — that group with that Stolen Dance song — things start to get a little fuzzy. Is Lydia a person or a group? Is A Silent Film a band or an actual silent film? How do you pronounce “FMLYBND?” …

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The Pixies' Joey Santiago talks new music, new lineup, visiting the Dali Museum and more

Jay Blakesberg

Joey Santiago doesn’t want to talk about Kim Deal.

The bassist was always a beloved (and at times feather-ruffling) focal point in the Pixies, the hugely influential alt-rock band that shot like a comet from the underground from 1986 to 1993, then again following the band’s reunion in 2004.

But Deal left the band for good in 2013, replaced by Paz Lenchantin (A Perfect Circle, Zwan). And while Santiago, the Pixies’ guitarist, doesn’t want to talk about Deal, he will say that things between him, frontman Charles “Black Francis” Thompson and drummer David Lovering are as “lighthearted” as they’ve ever been. “You could just say, it’s never been as light, ever,” he laughs.

Read between the lines all you like. …

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Review: Neutral Milk Hotel bid farewell with euphoric concert at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater

The beatification of Neutral Milk Hotel would no doubt blow the 1998 mind of its frontman, Jeff Mangum.

How could Mangum, then 27 and now 44, have foreseen thousands of fans wailing his idiosyncratic folk songs at festivals like Coachella or Pitchfork, or shelling out big bucks for tickets to a farewell tour for a band with only two full albums to its name?

Much like Mangum himself, it's a puzzle. But it's funny how these things work out. Mangum spent years eluding the spotlight -- still does, in many ways; he doesn't give interviews or allow photos at his concerts -- and in so doing became an influential, almost accidental folk hero.

Though he's picked up his touring pace in recent years, Mangum's live performances remain incredibly rare. And with fewer than 20 dates currently remaining on Neutral Milk Hotel's "last tour for the foreseeable future" (including Tuesday at the Beacham in Orlando), 1,770 fans who came of age fetishizing 1998's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea gathered for a heartfelt, euphoric farewell on Monday at Ruth Eckerd Hall.Full Story

The Relationship's Brian Bell talks Weezer, band comparisons, returning to clubs and more

Rebel Union Entertainment

Brian Bell has a vested interest in making sure his work with his band The Relationship sounds like no one else. Not only is he that band’s singer and lead songwriter, he’s also the guitarist for dorkishly adored alt-rock heroes Weezer. And when you go from a band that huge to one as relatively unknown as The Relationship, who play Ybor City’s intimate Crowbar Wednesday, it can be a head trip.

“It plays on my ego a little bit,” he said in a recent phone call from Denver, Colo. “I would be lying if I said it didn’t, when you go to a club and say, like, 'Oh my god, this is so small,’ and we’re lucky to fill a quarter of this room. ... But once I’m on stage playing the music, I don’t discredit anyone in that room watching us. I’ll give them the best show I possibly can. It makes no difference how many how many or how few people (are there).”

The Relationship performs with Gringo Star, Zulu Wave and the Infinite Eights at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Crowbar. Tickets are $10-$13. Click here for info.

For more of our interview with Brian Bell, click here.

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Photos: Tropical Heatwave rocks into the night on Day 2 in Ybor City

The Fleshtones performed at WMNF's Tropical Heatwave festival on May 2, 2015.

Brian Mahar

The Fleshtones performed at WMNF's Tropical Heatwave festival on May 2, 2015.

Thousands of fans turned out for Day 2 of WMNF-88.5's Tropical Heatwave festival on Saturday, with artists like the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, the Fleshtones and more filling the Cuban Club and other venues all night long. Brian Mahar was there snapping photos; click the headline of this post for a slideshow.

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Photos: Tropical Heatwave kicks off eclectic party at the Clubn Club in Ybor City

The MarchFourth Marching Band performed at WMNF's Tropical Heatwave festival on May 1, 2015.

Brian Mahar

The MarchFourth Marching Band performed at WMNF's Tropical Heatwave festival on May 1, 2015.

One of Tampa Bay's most beloved annual music festivals returned on Friday, as WMNF-88.5's Tropical Heatwave took over a series of stages in and around the Cuban Club in Ybor City. National acts like MarchFourth Marching Band and Palo! performed alongside popular locals like Alexander and the Grapes, Jensen Serf Company and Sonic Graffiti. Brian Mahar was there all night snapping photos; click the headline of this post.

Tropical Heatwave continues Saturday at venues all over Ybor City. Tickets are $35 at the door. Click here for details.

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The Rolling Stones' 'Satisfaction' at 50: The Clearwater legend behind a legendary song

Fifty years ago this week, on May 6, 1965, the Rolling Stones surfed into Clearwater on a tsunami of hype, fresh off an appearance on Ed Sullivan and ready to take over the world. That also happens to be the night they sired one of the greatest rock songs ever written.

Depending on the legend you believe, it was at Clearwater's old Fort Harrison Hotel, that Keith Richards and Mick Jagger wrote (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction. Richards supposedly composed that one-of-a-kind riff while half asleep in his sixth-floor bed, and Jagger banged out those eyebrow-arching lyrics in 10 minutes by the pool. It's the Rolling Stones' signature song and one of the most enduring rock singles ever recorded.

But did it really go down the way we've always thought? Well, the truth is fuzzier than the distortion on Keef's mighty Gibson Les Paul.

Click here for the full story on how the Rolling Stones wrote Satisfaction in Clearwater.Full Story

Travis Pastrana talks Nitro Circus Live, world-first stunts and more

Nitro Circus Live

Travis Pastrana feels like an old man compared to the up-and-comers revolutionizing the action sports landscape in 2015.

"When I was growing up, we didn't know we could flip," said the action sports icon. "The kids — I call them kids now — the 18-, 19-, 20-years-olds coming up are so air-aware that they're taking that skill and absolutely crushing the older guys. I'm not even close to the best on motorcycles anymore."

After a long, accomplished and bone-breaking career in action sports, Pastrana now helps other extreme athletes re-imagine what's possible on a bike through Nitro Circus Live, his arena-filling stunt spectacular that kicks off a North American tour at Tampa's Amalie Arena on May 5 (click here for details).

Pastrana now helps other extreme athletes re-imagine what's possible on a bike. He's already witnessed several world-first stunts during the tour's first global dates of 2015; this week, Australian freestyle motocross rider Josh Sheehan completed the world's first triple backflip on a motorbike at Pastrana's Maryland complex.

For more of our interview with Travis Pastrana, click here.

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This week in Tampa: Tropical Heatwave, ZZ Top, Jeff Beck, Neutral Milk Hotel and more

Dirty Dozen Brass Band

Dirty Dozen Brass Band

One of the longest-running festivals in Tampa Bay returns this weekend: Tropical Heatwave, with a jam-packed lineup that includes the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, MarchFourth Marching Band, David Mayfield Parade, the Fleshtones and many more. Other acts coming to town this week include ZZ Top, Jeff Beck, Neutral Milk Hotel, Boston, Flogging Molly, KRS-One, Eli Young Band, Joan Armatrading, Thompson Square, Gloriana, The Relationship, 95 South, 69 Boyz and Brillz. Here to walk you through it all is Ray Roa...Full Story

Review: Sammy Hagar and the Circle roar into Clearwater, sell out Ruth Eckerd Hall

Sammy Hagar reaches for a fan's drink during his concert on April 29, 2015 at Ruth Eckerd Hall.

Jay Cridlin

Sammy Hagar reaches for a fan's drink during his concert on April 29, 2015 at Ruth Eckerd Hall.

Underestimate the appeal of the Van Hagar era at your own risk.

While David Lee Roth was Van Halen’s first (and, many would argue, only) true frontman, Sammy Hagar belted out plenty of the group’s biggest hits in the ‘80s and ‘90s, enriching and lengthening his own prolific life in rock ‘n’ roll. And if you don’t think that’s a huge part of why a rowdy and sold-out crowd of nearly 2,200 packed Ruth Eckerd Hall on Wednesday for Hagar’s first local concert in years, maybe you just haven’t been drinking enough Cabo Wabo tequila.

Hagar and his latest supergroup The Circle – which includes ex-Van Halen bandmate Michael Anthony on bass, longtime collaborator Vic Johnson on guitar and Led Zeppelin legacy-bearer Jason Bonham on drums – had the hard-partying crowd on its feet from start to finish, with the shaggy singer howling, strutting, grinning and leaping into the air all night with oozy, schmoozy glee. If he isn’t the CEO of Rock, he’s at least its chief lobbyist, selling each song with the same fervor he sells his own Red Rocker image. Full Story

Ticket Window: Tim McGraw, Fifth Harmony, Shinedown and more

Topping this week's edition of Ticket Window is a brand-new show that hard rock fans will be all over: Shinedown with Nothing More on July 9 at the Mahaffey Theater.

Other concerts and events with tickets going on sale this week: Beerfest (June 20, Tampa Theatre), Shinedown (July 9, Mahaffey Theater), Delta Rae (July 11, Capitol Theatre), Motion City Soundtrack (July 16, State Theatre), Shreya Ghoshal (July 25, USF Sun Dome), Nate Najar (July 29, Palladium), Fifth Harmony (July 30, Ruth Eckerd Hall), Rocky Votolato (July 30, Local 662), Emerson Hart (Aug. 8, Hideaway Cafe), Sinbad (Aug. 8, Capitol Theatre), the Get Up Kids (Aug. 10, Orpheum), Tim McGraw (Aug. 22, MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre), Vic DiBitetto (Sept. 11, Palladium), Kevin Nealon (Oct. 17, Palladium) and Lewis Black (Nov. 14, Ruth Eckerd Hall).

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

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