This week in Tampa: John Mellencamp, Slightly Stoopid, the Florida Strawberry Festival and more
In many respects, this is the biggest music week of the year in Tampa Bay. It's the week of the Florida Strawberry Festival, and that means some of country music's biggest stars are coming to Plant City: Lady Antebellum, the Judds, Clint Black, Trace Adkins (above) and many more. Click here for the full details on this week's Strawberry Festival festivities.
Beyond that, though, there's some seriously interesting music going on around town, from John Mellencamp to Slightly Stoopid, from Ra Ra Riot to Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, from 2 Live Crew to Kenny G. (Seriously: 2 Live Crew and Kenny G. Think about that for a moment.)
Here to walk you through all these shows and more (Travis Tritt, Charlie Daniels Band, Streetlight Manifesto, Murder By Death, Phil Vassar, Rocky Votolato, Franz Nicolay and many more) is Carole Liparoto...
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
With Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights, Justin Jones
FRIDAY 8 p.m. State Theatre, 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $16-$19. (727) 895-3045.
Grace Potter — stiletto lover, cheddar cheese enthusiast, ’70s rock fanatic — lives on the road. She and the Nocturnals have become regulars on the jam circuit, knocking out bluesy, Southern-influenced rock nightly. Like Joss Stone for the Bonnaroo set, Vermont’s leggy, feisty blonde has a sultry voice and the six-inch heels to match. But hear her on Paris (Ooh La La) and she’s Joan Jett with a Hammond B-3. On ballad Apologies, she’s Sheryl Crow with the scent of patchouli. Rolling Stone dubbed this versatile crew a “best new band of 2010.”
FRIDAY 7 p.m. The Ritz, 1503 Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $16.50 and up. (813) 247-2555.
In 1996, a group of classically trained cellists from Helsinki, Finland released a Metallica tribute album, Apocalyptica plays Metallica By Four Cellos. Then, these “one-trick ponies” did the unthinkable. They stuck around for 15 more years and sold a couple million albums. Symphonic metal sleeper I Don’t Care, with its distorted cello tones and vocal grumblings from Three Days Grace’s Adam Gontier, was one of the biggest surprise hits of ’08-’09.
2 Live Crew
With DJ Coz, A-Nak, Tony Puccio, Gravity
FRIDAY 9 p.m. The Kennedy, 2408 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. $5 and up. (813) 259-9669.
Nothing says spring break like a set by Miami booty bass kings 2 Live Crew. Tracks by these nasty pop innovators may seem tame by today’s rap standards, but the group’s sexually-explicit hits (Me So Horny) live in infamy. Their obscenity battle went all the way to the Supreme Court, where we’d prefer not to picture Sandra Day O’Connor listening to Pop that Coochie.
FRIDAY 7 p.m. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. Sold out. (727) 791-7400.
Ah, John Mellencamp. The six-string slinger rocking for the heartland. The upholder of blue collar, Springsteen-y, Stones-y traditions. The friend to the farmer. The political and social activist with pop appeal. All those distinctions work fine — just don’t call him the Cougar. He hates that. Friday, Mellencamp will navigate his varied catalogue (expect a new twist on Jack and Diane), but not before showing a screening of It’s About You, a documentary about his 2009 tour with Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson.
FRIDAY 8 p.m. Jannus Live, 16 Second St. N, St. Petersburg. Sold Out. (727) 565-0551.
If you’re reading a blurb about Slightly Stoopid, odds are this isn’t your first Ocean Beach rodeo. This Cali reggae-rock band is one of the most successful independent touring acts, according to Pollstar, thanks to the red-eyed, board-shorted masses who come back time after time. The band got its start in high school (which helps explain the name) when it caught the ear of late Sublime singer Brad Nowell. Today, Stoopid’s simplistic, surf-style sound is augmented by sax, trumpet, percussion and keyboards. Summer cometh early when the band plays this sold-out show with Fishbone Friday.
Ra Ra Riot
With The Luyas
WEDNESDAY 8 p.m. Crowbar, 1812 17th St. N, Ybor City. $13-$15. (813) 241-8600.
In spite of its name, Syracuse, New York act Ra Ra Riot plays well-mannered, poetry-quoting chamber pop that moves both mind and feet. The calming keyboard-cello-bass combo recalls fellow brain bands Death Cab for Cutie and Arcade Fire, while the spring in its step resembles that of Vampire Weekend. NME once likened these liberal arts rockers to, “Dexy’s Midnight Runners playing R.E.M.”
MONDAY 8 p.m. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $39.50-$69.50. (727) 791-7400.
Sure, he’s the butt of many a joke. But have you ever experienced the gentle caress of Songbird in a hotel lobby? I have, and you bet I swayed. Kenny G, the reliable hitmaker, smooth jazz king and watered-down descendant of John Coltrane, will deliver his signature silky jams Monday, so iron those dress slacks. “G” was recently featured in an Audi Super Bowl ad, in which a few rich white guys in a mansion jail try to make an escape from “old luxury.” The warden tries to foil them with the paralyzing tones of Kenny G’s sax.
Sonny LaRosa and America’s Youngest Jazz Band reunion
SATURDAY 7 p.m. Bayside Church, 3380 State Road 580, Safety Harbor. (727) 669-7212.
Over the course of 33 years, Safety Harbor’s Sonny LaRosa has taught and conducted more than 500 child musicians, none of them older than 13. Two years ago, a career highlight came when his group performed on the main stage at the Montreal Jazz Festival. Alumni of the orchestra include Blue Note saxophonist Eric Darius and R&B singer Ryan Kendrick. Other former students have gone on to play with Wynton Marsalis and Al Green. Now in his ’80s, the man the Wall Street Journal called a “model educator” hopes he can help keep big band music alive and well for generations to come. He has invited all graduates and their families for a reunion show of sorts Saturday.
The Claire Lynch Band Fri. 7:30 p.m. The Palladium, 253 Fifth Ave. N., St. Petersburg. $20. (727) 822-3590.
The Scene Aesthetic Fri. With Carter Hulsey, Plug In Stereo, He Is We, A Play On Words. 6 p.m. Orpheum, 1902 Republica de Cuba Ave., Ybor City. $10.50. (813) 248-9500.
Tinsley Ellis Fri. 8 p.m. With The Nighthawks. Skipper’s Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road, Tampa. $12-$15. (813) 971-0666.
First Friday With Talk to Mark Fri. 8 p.m. Cafe Alma, 260 First Ave. S., St. Petersburg. Free. (727) 502-5002.
Basshunter Fri. 9 p.m. Green Iguana, 9202 Anderson Rd., Tampa. $15 and up. (813) 288-9076.
Hundredth Fri. With Lower Than Atlantis. 7 p.m. Brass Mug, 1441 E. Fletcher Ave., Tampa. (813) 972-8152.
The Black Honkeys Fri. 9 p.m. The Local 662, 662 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Facebook.com/thelocal662.
Mike Mass Fri. With Rahim Samad. 9 p.m. The Bricks, 1327 E. Seventh Ave., Ybor City. Free. (813) 247-1785.
Musicians for the Paws, Brewers for the Cause Sat. featuring Sunset Bridge, Scotty Lee Rexroat, Rebekah Pulley, Jayne Kelli, Radio-Free Carmella, more. 11 a.m. Pinehurst Pub, 1422 Pinehurst Rd., Dunedin. (727) 734-1796.
Country Mice Sat. With Davy and the Gods, Young Buffalo. 9 p.m. New World Brewery, 1313 E. Eighth Ave., Ybor City. $7. (813) 248-4969.
Phil Vassar Sat. post-game. St. Pete Times Forum, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. Free with game ticket. (813) 301-2500.
The Charlie Daniels Band Sun. With Travis Tritt. 5 p.m. Busch Gardens, 10165 N. McKinley Dr., Tampa. Free with park admission. 1-888-800-5447.
Acoustic Blues Sat. featuring Rory Block, Paul Geremia, Jimmy 'Duck’ Holmes, Roy Book Binder. 8 p.m. The Palladium, 253 Fifth Ave. N., St. Petersburg. $25-$30. (727) 822-3590.
Tribute to Lena Horne Sat. 9:30 p.m. Maestro’s Restaurant at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N. WC MacInnes Place, Tampa. $15-$17.50. (813) 229-7827.
Gordon Voidwell Sun. With Peter Baldwin, Crate Brothers. 8 p.m. Crowbar, 1812 17th St. N, Ybor City. $8. (813) 241-8600.
Franz Nicolay Tues. With David Dondero, Will Quinlan and the Diviners. 9 p.m. New World Brewery, 1313 E. Eighth Ave., Ybor City. $8. (813) 248-4969.
Streetlight Manifesto Tues. 7 p.m. State Theatre, 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $16-$18. (727) 895-3045.
Rocky Votolato Wed. With Matt Pond PA. 9 p.m. New World Brewery, 1313 E. Eighth Ave., Ybor City. $10. (813) 248-4969.
Frank Sinatra Jr. Thurs. With Tim Wilkins. 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Lakeland Center Youkey Theatre, 701 W. Lime Street, Lakeland. $40 and up. (863) 834-8111.
Murder By Death Thurs. With Fake Problems. 7 p.m. Orpheum, 1902 Republica de Cuba Ave., Ybor City. $13.50-$15.50. (813) 248-9500.
-- Carole Liparoto, tbt*. Photo: Getty Images.