This week in Tampa: Ben Harper, ZZ Top, Funk Fest and more
Forget all that sad-bastard music we usually pump into your system. This weekend is all about celebratin' good times, COME ON!
We've got shiny happy music by Ben Harper, Toots and the Maytals, Eddie Money, TobyMac, ZZ Top, Sister Hazel, Rockapella, Sierra Leone's Refugee All-Stars, Big D and the Kids Table and a little something called Funk Fest. Yeah, baby! Party on, Garth! It's like buttah! I'm as happy as a little girl! And other assorted Mike Myers catchphrases.
On with Carole Liparoto's concert picks for the week ahead, including something all you gold-plated-diaper-wearing babies need: More cowbell!
Toots and the Maytals
With The Supervillains
FRIDAY 7:30 p.m. Bourbon Street, 4331 U.S. 19, New Port Richey. $20. (727) 843-0686.
A showman brimming with soul power, Frederick “Toots” Hibbert could pass as James Brown’s Caribbean cousin (check out Funky Kingston and 54-46 Was My Number). In fact, let’s take a moment to declare Hibbert the hardest working man in reggae. The 64-year-old hotstepper continues to bring vocal fire to chilled-out island tunes. He’s an exorcisor of demons and simultaneously, the life of the party. Last week, Hibbert released the R&B-leaning Flip & Twist, an album that’s as much Kingston, Jamaica as it is ’60s Detroit.
FRIDAY Crossing Church, 10130 Tuscany Ridge Drive, Tampa. $25. (813) 626-0783.
May is a big Christian music month in Tampa, with Busch Gardens’ Glory at the Gardens concert series all month (this Saturday it’s Matthew West, Brandon Heath and Jonny Diaz). But the biggest event is this so-called “private” concert by Christian pop superstar TobyMac, the Grammy-winning former frontman of DC Talk. For $15, there’s also a meet and greet with TobyMac at the church. — Jay Cridlin
Featuring Maze with Frankie Beverly, Babyface, Bell Biv DeVoe, Doug E. Fresh, SWV
SATURDAY 2 p.m. Vinoy Park, 501 Fifth Ave. NE, St. Petersburg. $35-$55. (877) 548-3237, funkfesttampabay.com.
Singer, writer, producer and Billboard chart-ruler Babyface supplied the ’90s with one sonic aphrodisiac after the next. Inescapable slow jams like Every Time I Close My Eyes and When Can I See You also helped resurrect R&B for Discman-toting youths. New Edition spin-off Bell Biv DeVoe was a little less subtle with New Jack tracks like Do Me and Poison, while human beatbox innovator Doug E. Fresh gave street drumming a whole new meaning. Actually, after reviewing this lineup, we’re not sure where the “funk” in this fest is. So, let’s just drop the “k” and call it even.
Ben Harper and Relentless7
SATURDAY 9 p.m. Ritz Ybor, 1503 Seventh Ave., Ybor City. Sold out. (813) 247-2555.
Hard to categorize, but easy to listen to, Ben Harper plays some of the most accessible tunes in all of jamdom. Whether he’s stealing kisses, tidying up the earth or calling for social revolution, the genre-juggler’s mix of blues, rock, folk, reggae and funk feels snuggly and inviting. Harper and Relentless7, a backing group adding a bit more muscle to the mix, just released the CD/DVD Live from the Montreal International Jazz Festival.
Old North East
With Lions After Dark, Friends of Giants, Travis Hunter-Brown, Cody Michael Wilson
FRIDAY 7:30 p.m. Fubar, 658 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $3-$5. myspace.com/fubardowntown.
We’ve seen an influx of young Pinellas bands playing spirited, family-friendly folk. And we likey. Joining ranks with The Grecian Urns, The Sun Society and Alexander and the Grapes, Old North East offers good-natured folk-pop songs with hints of mop-top vintage. The St. Pete quintet’s This City Never Sleeps, with its can’t-wait-to-see-you-again lyrics, is four minutes of piano-driven delight.
TUESDAY 8 p.m. Bourbon Street, 4331 U.S. 19, New Port Richey. $18-$25. (727) 843-0686.
Singer Brett Scallions is back behind the wheel of hard rock act Fuel, reclaiming the vocal duties once offered to American Idol finalist Chris Daughtry. (If you recall, Daughtry’s performance of Fuel’s Hemmorhage (In My Hands) was one of his breakthrough moments on Idol). We’re not ashamed to admit our fondness for Fuel’s 1998 hit Shimmer, possibly the only hard rock song in history to contemplate “champagne dreams” and “pink linens.”
Fun N’ Sun Festival
Featuring Eddie Money, Blue Oyster Cult, Foghat, Invasion, Greg West
SATURDAY 1:30 p.m. Coachman Park, 301 Drew St., Clearwater. Free; $20 reserved. (727) 898-2100.
After SNL’s Don’t Fear the Reaper sketch became a pop-culture phenomenon, is it possible the chant “more cowbell” became the equivalent of “play Freebird” to Blue Oyster Cult? We can’t be certain. We can be sure, however, that Eddie Money’s ultimate bar-closer Take Me Home Tonight will have Fun N’ Sun attendees buddying up and belting out every word.
SATURDAY Following Rays vs. Royals, Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg; first pitch is 6:10 p.m. Free with game ticket. 1-888-326-7297, raysbaseball.com.
Cartoonish grins that spread mischievously across their faces like a Cheshire cat. Pitch black sunglasses that would frighten a Florida Highway Patrol deputy. And those long, gray beards straight out of Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? Let’s face it: ZZ Top might be the creepiest looking act to play the Rays Concert Series to date. And we love it! The chicken-fried boogie-and-blues trio from Texas has been serving up roots-infused rock since 1969, decades before the current lineup of the Tampa Bay Rays was even playing T-ball. Unlike sports franchises, the “Little Ole Band from Texas” has kept its original lineup — guitarist Billy Gibbons, bassist Dusty Hill and drummer Frank Beard — intact from the start. — Steve Spears
Sister Hazel Fri. 6 p.m. The Ritz, 1503 Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $19-$22. (813) 247-2555.
John Hiatt Fri. Jannus Live, 16 Second St. N, St. Petersburg. $27-$32. (727) 565-0551.
Geri X CD release Fri. With Josh Roberts and The Hinges, Marksmen. 9 p.m. New World Brewery, 1313 E. Eighth Ave., Ybor City. $8. (813) 248-4969.
The Mojo Gurus Fri. With Standback. 10 p.m.Gunslingers, 3665 East Bay Drive., Largo. Free. (727) 239-7951.
12 Stones Fri. With Alive Inside. 8 p.m. Gasoline Alley, 14042 66th Street North, Largo. (727) 532-0265.
Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars Fri. 8 p.m. Skipper’s Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road, Tampa. $15-$20. (813) 971-0666.
Have a Heart benefit Fri. featuring Have Gun, Will Travel, Will Quinlan and The Diviners, The Semis, Grey Market, The Interventionists, Brent Rademaker and Friends. 8 p.m. Crowbar, 1812 17th St. N, Ybor City. $10 suggested donation. (813) 241-8600.
Rockapella Sat. 8 p.m. Falk Theatre, 428 West Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. $20-$30. (813) 251-0820.
A City Divided CD release Sat. With We Are Defiance, more. State Theatre, 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $10. (727) 895-3045.
Aaron Gillespie (acoustic) Sat. 8 p.m. Cross Pointe Church, 11225 U.S. 19 N., Clearwater. (727) 546-1196.
Thomas Wynn Sat. With Lauris Vidal, Standback, Andy Zipf. 9 p.m. New World Brewery, 1313 E. Eighth Ave., Ybor City. $7. (813) 248-4969.
Sobriety-X Sat. 10 p.m. Murphy’s, 5915 Memorial Hwy., Tampa. Free. (813) 584-0853
The Christie Lenée Project Sat. With Eric Darius. 6:30 p.m. Winthrop Town Center Stage, S.E. Corner of Bloomingdale Avenue and Providence Road, Riverview.
As Tall As Lions Sun. With Bear Hands, Rachel Goodrich. 7 p.m. State Theatre, 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $12-$15. (727) 895-3045.
David Wilcox Mon. 7:30 p.m. The Hideaway Café, 1756 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Sold Out. (727) 644-7895.
Impending Doom Wed. 6:30 p.m. Orpheum, 1902 Republica de Cuba Ave., Ybor City. $14.50. (813) 248-9500.
Big D and the Kids Table Wed. 7 p.m. State Theatre, 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. . $10. (727) 895-3045.
Cinco de Mayo party Wed. featuring El Trabuko, DJ Eric Velez. 6 p.m. Jannus Live, 16 Second St. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 565-0551.
-- Carole Liparoto, tbt*. Photo: Getty Images.