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This week in Tampa: Ben Folds, Lady Gaga, Flight of the Conchords




Some of spring's best concerts are taking place this weekend and early next week: Ben Folds, Flight of the Conchords, Lady Gaga, Ska Fest, Hercules & Love Affair and the long-awaited return of Beanstalk. Let's get to Carole Giambalvo's picks...

Ben Folds
With Jukebox the Ghost
FRIDAY 8:30 p.m. The Ritz Ybor, 1503 Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $32.50. (813) 247-2555.
Ben Folds is a character, to say the least. He‚Äôs got the dry humor of Randy Newman, the chops of Elton John and the unlucky-in-love plague of The Simpsons‚Äô Milhouse.  As concerts go, his sweet and sour piano-pop act is as fulfilling as they get, often culminating with a climb atop his piano. Slice-of-life tunes Brick and Still Fighting It are his best known, though ultra-melodic hooks and memorable falsetto ring throughout Folds‚Äô catalog. His new album, due out later this month, contains university a cappella groups covering his songs. 

Chester French
Opening for Lady Gaga; with the White Tie Affair
TUESDAY 7:45 p.m. The Ritz Ybor, 1503 Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $20-$23. (813) 247-2555.
We were hip to Lady Gaga way back when, so we're definitely on board with her smash singles Just Dance and Poker Face. Harvard buddies turned cheeky pop-rock duo Chester French sparked a bidding war between Kanye West, Jermaine Dupri and Pharrell Williams to sign ’em (Pharrell won). Now their retro-pop single She Loves Everybody (with one killer video) proves these guys were worth fighting for.

Flight of the Conchords
With Kristen Schaal
MONDAY 7:30 p.m. Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $38.50. (813) 229-7827;
Bret? Present. Jemaine? Present. Murray? Okay, fine, Flight of the Conchords‚Äô hapless manager might not be in the house ‚Äî but No. 1 (and only) fan Mel will be. If none of this makes sense, you haven‚Äôt been watching Flight of the Conchords, HBO‚Äôs deliriously twee series about a New Zealand folk-parody duo (Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement) who come to New York City in search of big-city fame, only to wind up with a manager who can only manage to book gigs in libraries and elevators, and a single, obsessed fan (Kristen Schaal). The show‚Äôs blend of absurdist deadpan humor and over-the-top musical fantasy numbers has turned its unassuming actors into Grammy-winning musicians. Monday‚Äôs show is the first on their nationwide tour; you can expect to hear songs from the series‚Äô recently wrapped second season, like Carol Brown, a clever ode to breakups that is ‚Äî no joke ‚Äî genuinely sweet. Schaal opens the show. ‚Äî Jay Cridlin

Music at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
With Kings County, the Soul Power Review on Friday; JoDell and the Mountain Road Band, Michelle Murray on Saturday; Ace Factor on Sunday.
FRIDAY-SUNDAY Adjacent to the Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. (727) 892-5767.
It’s going to take oomph to upstage the rumble and buzz of 650-horsepower engines, but a handful of country, rock, R&B, dance and cover acts will give it a whirl. Unlike years past, where bands like Gym Class Heroes and Yellowcard took the stage, this year’s Grand Prix is bringing in a few local artists, such as JoDell and the Mountain Road Band, who play boogie-fied country, with Jo Dell showing equal love for Loretta Lynn and Gretchen Wilson. On toe tapper How’s It Gonna Be, she says don’t dare tell her how to wear her hair, or what car to drive. Danica Patrick can relate. Country singer Michelle Murray will sing the national anthem on Sunday.

FLA Ska Festival XI
Featuring Magadog, the Duppies, Tribal Style, the Brentford Sound, Johnny Cakes and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypso, the Long Johns
SATURDAY 8 p.m. Crowbar, 1812 17th St. N, Ybor City. $7. (813) 241-8600.
Stay brassy, Tampa Bay. Ska Fest XI boasts third-wave ska in all its offbeat-rhythmic glory. Magadog, one of tbt*‚Äôs 2009 Ultimate Local Band finalists, tells it like it is when discussing the band‚Äôs evolution. ‚ÄúThe early lineup was more infamous for their ganja smoking, sloppy beats and fancy footwork,‚Äù says vocalist Ed Lowery. ‚ÄúThe current lineup features tighter instrumentation.‚Äù Johnny Cakes and the Four Horsemen of Apocalypso, a raucous, metal-tinged ska act, won a contest sponsored by Tijuana Flats. Their song Long Island Iced Tea Island will play on the restaurant‚Äôs Web site this summer. 

William Joseph
SATURDAY 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $30-$40. (727) 441-8868.
Pianist and composer William Joseph is out to revive the instrumental piano genre, just as Michael Buble’s done for the crooners and Josh Groban’s done for classical-crossover. (At the very least, he could power those Bond Jewelers commercials.) Joseph puts his spin on everything from Ave Maria to Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir and Muse’s Butterflies and Hurricanes. He’ll perform at the new Capitol Theatre (formerly Royalty Theatre) in downtown Clearwater.

With Joe Popp, Maggie Council, My Little Trotsky
SUNDAY 5 p.m. Skipper‚Äôs Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road, Tampa. $10. (813) 971-0666.    
Forget the cow. Ten bucks for a little Beanstalk magic is the better deal. The talented Tampa instrumental outfit enjoyed moderate success in the late ’90s with slick and funky jazz jams in the vein of Victor Wooten and Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe. Now the band reunites to play its first show in more than eight years. Bassist Andy Irvine, who adeptly handles his large, orchestral double bass “as if it were a Guitar Hero accessory,” has a feature interview in the current issue of Bass Player magazine, in which he talks about his solo technique. And celebrated singer-songwriter Joe Popp is making the trip from New York to play his punk songs solo and acoustic.

Taste the Best of Tampa Bay
Featuring Stacey Knights Duo, Maxi and Company, the De Lei’ed Parrots, Vodkanauts, Pocket Change.
SATURDAY 7 p.m. Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, 1010 N W.C. MacInnes Place, Tampa. $60-$80, includes food and wine tasting. (813) 229-7827.
The Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center will raise money for its education, outreach and mission-based programs, all important to local arts development. Performers include the jazz and surf-rock act (a.k.a. the “purveyors of power lounge”) the Vodkanauts and Parrotheads’ favorite the De Lei’ed Parrots. Charismatic Pocket Change does Motown, Stax, Philly Soul and classic rock covers. For a list of food vendors, click here.

Riverboat Gamblers
APRIL 9, 7 p.m. Orpheum, 1902 Republica de Cuba Ave., Ybor City. $10. (813) 248-9500.
Guttural five-piece punk act the Riverboat Gamblers haven‚Äôt had trouble upholding their rep as one of the ‚Äú25 Greatest Live Bands Right Now‚Äù (a title given by Spin magazine). And while songs like Pilgrims in a Holy Land quickly recall the Clash, don‚Äôt think you‚Äôve got the band pegged just yet. Sean Daly reviewed new disc Underneath the Owl, saying, ‚ÄúFor all the three-chords-and-a-cloud-of-smoke riffs, you‚Äôll find a glockenspiel here, a lovely harmony there.‚Äù 

Also playing

The Semis: Fri. With the Zou, Bang Bang Boom, the Pauses. 9 p.m. New World Brewery, 1313 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. $7. (813) 248-4969.

Hercules and Love Affair: Fri. With Pat Mahoney. 9 p.m. Hyde Park Cafe, 1806 W Platt St., Tampa. Pre-sale tickets $5. (813) 254-2233.

Not Tonight Josephine: Fri. With A Deeper Down, No Coma, New Violation. 7 p.m. State Theatre, 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $10. (727) 895-3045.

Destruction: Fri. 8 p.m. Garage Bar, 662 Central Ave., St Petersburg. $18. (727) 553-9212.

Crisis in Hollywood: Sat. With Victims of Circumstance. 9 p.m. The Market on 7th, 1816 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $5. (813) 248-2356.

Freddie McGregor: Sat. With Junior Reid, Jahfari. 7 p.m. Jannus Landing, 16 Second St. N, St. Petersburg. $27. (727) 786-2276.

Ray Gurka: Sat. 7 p.m. Datz Deli, 2616 S MacDill Ave., Tampa. 

William Joseph: Sat. 7:30 p.m. Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $30-$40. (727) 441-8868.

Unwed Sailor: Sun. With Pielos. 7 p.m. New World Brewery, 1313 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. (813) 248-4969.

Smokey Joe‚Äôs Caf?©: Sun. 2 p.m. Largo Cultural Center, 105 Central Park Drive, Largo. $20-$25. (727) 587-6793.

Woody Guthrie Tribute: Sun. featuring Sarah Lee Guthrie, Johnny Irion, Jimmy LaFave, Joel Rafael, Kevin Welch, Ray Bonneville, Ronny Elliott. 7:30 p.m. Tampa Theatre, 711 N Franklin Street, Tampa. $26-$36. (813) 274-8981.

The Wedding: Mon. 6:30 p.m. Orpheum, 1902 Republica de Cuba Ave., Ybor City. $12. (813) 248-9500.

Acoustic Blues With Scott Simon: Wed. 2 p.m. South Shore Regional Library, 15816 Beth Shields Way, Ruskin. Free. (813) 273-3652.

The Woodwork: Wed. 7 p.m. Hot Topic at International Plaza, 2223 N West Shore Blvd., Tampa. Free.

[Last modified: Thursday, April 2, 2009 11:20am]


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