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This week in Tampa: Juicy J, Hopsin, Fang Island and more




Sure, there are a few national acts coming to town this weekend -- the aforementioned rappers Juicy J and Hopsin and alt-rockers Fang Island, above, for example. But less than two weeks before the world descends on Tampa Bay for the Republican National Convention, you've got a great opportunity to catch some of the area's best local bands in action.

At Skipper's, there's Groovefest 3, featuring a ton of great jam bands. At the Carrollwood Cultural Center, it's Have Gun, Will Travel's Blessing and a Curse Folk Music Festival. At the Ritz Ybor, it's the finals of their Ultimate Band Series. And at the Hideaway Cafe, local uber-producer Steve Connelly takes center stage, performing with his band, the Lesser Gods, and others.

Here to walk you through it all is Carole Liparoto...

Groovefest 3
Featuring Glory Road, Christie Lenée, Between Bluffs, Justin and Travis of The Groves, Skull and Bone Band, Rich Whiteley and Fil Pate, The Funky Seeds, Dean Johanesen and Friends, Earth Bombs Mars, Applebutter Express, Bobby Lee Rodgers
SUNDAY 2 p.m. Skipper’s Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road, Tampa. $12-$15. (813) 971-0666.
Celebrate the art of musical meandering at Groovefest, a two-stage, 12-act jam fest where elongated, shoeless soloing and hula hoops are staples. Sadly, many people describe jam bands with a tone of voice normally reserved for indoor cigarette smokers or the homeless. But the acts at Groovefest are the kind that could change some minds. Longtime Skipper’s residents Earth Bombs Mars, fronted by Rich Whiteley, pay homage to the late-great originators of unscripted psychedelic rock, blues and folk sets, The Grateful Dead. The genre-jumping Bobby Lee Rodgers and his rockin’ rhythm section of New Orleans headline with fun and funky riverboat rock and jazz.

Fang Island
With Adebisi Shank
THURSDAY 7 p.m. The Local 662, 662 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $10-$13. 
Perfect for your next workout or motivational mixtape, Fang Island brings a sound once likened to “everyone high-fiving everyone.” The Brooklyn band takes the best elements of Titus Andronicus and The Polyphonic Spree for a chirpy, eager blend of progressive and anthemic rock. “One of our core ideas has always been that our songs would be allof your favorite parts of the song that other bands make you wait eight minutes to get to,” says guitarist and singer Jason Bartell.

Juicy J
With Smoke DZA, Chip Tha Ripper, Chevy Woods, Fat Trel, Corner Boy P, more
SUNDAY 6 p.m. Orpheum, 1915 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $20.
Three 6 Mafia co-founder Juicy J heads up this Sunday show with enough smoke talk to put the local fire department on edge. The Memphis rapper has an Oscar on his mantle (for his soundtrack contribution to the 2005 film Hustle and Flow), beats that make the trunk rattle and lots of cloudy lyricism — hence the tour name, “Smoker’s Club: One Hazy Summer.” Count Wiz Khalifa and Gwyneth Paltrow (we’re not kidding) as big Juicy J fans. Not for the faint of heart, but right for the fond of Southern rap and sizzurp.

With Swizzz, Jarren Benton, DJ Hoppa, Dizzy Right
THURSDAY 7 p.m. State Theatre, 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $20. (727) 895-3045. 
“Welcome to the ill mind of Hopsin, where real life’s an option,” sings this off-kilter rapper upon acceptance of his XXL mag Freshman Award (the same award bestowed upon artists like Kendrick Lamar and Yelawolf). The high-strung, crazy-eyed Hopsin (who wears white contacts, we assume, or is in desperate need of an ophthalmologist ) got his start in a basement with an $8 Wal-Mart microphone, Fruity Loops and the determination to be one of Southern Cali’s premier MCs. Seems like he’s getting his wish. It’s grim, Eminem-honoring stuff, except when his adorable pug Bubbles makes a cameo (which she does in nearly all Hopsin videos). 

Ultimate Band Series Finals
SATURDAY 6 p.m. The Ritz, 1503 Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $5-$10. (813) 247-2555.
At one time A&R or “artist and repertoire” guys combed rock clubs for the next big thing like baseball scouts in the Dominican. These days, it’s up to fans to show that their band is deserving of big time. And that’s exactly what will go down when the Ritz’s Ultimate Band Series concludes Saturday. Audience applause will determine the winning band and the recipient of $5,000 in cash and prizes. Finalists include The Northwest, a swoony rainy-day rock act that recalls Interpol, Joy Division and a little National at times; Khora and Rising Down, acts of the Incubus breed with attention to melody, strong vocals and even stronger fanbases; and Jack Jasper, a likeable quartet with the rootsiness of a Ben Harper and the piano theatrics of Fun.

Blessing and a Curse Folk Music Festival
Featuring Have Gun, Will Travel, The Applebutter Express, Dean Johanesen
SATURDAY 8 p.m. Carrollwood Cultural Center, 4537 Lowell Rd., Tampa. $13-$18. (813) 269-1310.
An antonym for the Juicy J show in this week’s listings might just be the warm and welcoming Blessing and a Curse Folk Music Festival. This Carrollwood event takes its name from Have Gun, Will Travel’s track Blessing and a Curse, possibly the most infectious anthem to ever come out of Bradenton (and one that might just dislodge that 800-588-2300 Empire jingle from your head, finally). The tune has appeared on PBS’s Roadtrip Nation, NPR’s Second Stage, GTE Federal Credit Union commercials and Chevy ads, and is a must on Saturday’s setlist. Fresh from their Bonnaroo performance, The Applebutter Express will bring ukulele funk, and an always-reliable Dean Johanesen will offer up literate rock and Americana, the kind that’s brought bands like the Avett Brothers and Mumford and Sons into the spotlight.

Sunshine Drenchy Records Showcase
Featuring Steve Connelly and the Lesser Gods, Ricky Wilcox and the Moonsnakes
SATURDAY 8 p.m. The Hideaway Café, 1756 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $5. (727) 644-7895.
Preeminent Bay area producer Steve Connelly is best known for his Midas touch on the boards at Zen Recording, lending expertise to locals Ronny Elliott, Rebekah Pulley, Ted Lukas, Rise of Saturn and The Ditchflowers, just to name a few. But his own work has been in frustratingly short supply … until now. You’ll get two doses of Connelly Saturday with his band the Lesser Gods and with pop-rocker Ricky Wilcox and the Moonsnakes, both of whom are on Sunshine Drenchy Records. Fellow local icon Steve Robinson, a singing, strumming powerhouse of power pop, heads up the label.

Also playing

The Local Showcase at Neptunes Fri. featuring The Need Money, Drew Disparte, Thomas Frain, Calico, Mute Speak, Blended Roots, Black and Blues, Malaya, Monkey Head. 7 p.m. The Neptune Lounge, 13 S Safford Ave., Tarpon Springs. $7. (727) 943-5713.

Florida Kilos Sat. With Bambery, Tidal Wave, DJ Blenda, more. 9 p.m. Crowbar, 1812 17th St. N, Ybor City. $5. (813) 241-8600.

Kneel United Sat. featuring Luminate, Beckah Shae. 6 p.m. USF Sun Dome, 4202 East Fowler Ave., Tampa. $15-$20. (813) 974-3002.

The Mud Flappers Sat. With Memphis Train Union. 8 p.m. The Local 662, 662 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $5. 

Thomas Gold Sat. With Jaime Ferreira. 9 p.m. The Kennedy, 2408 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. $15 and up (813) 259-9669.

Baker Bruce Band Sat. 7 p.m. The Blue Parrot, 85 Corey Circle, St. Pete Beach. Free. (727) 368-9619.

Vagabond Swing Sun. 7 p.m. Dunedin Brewery, 937 Douglas Ave., Dunedin. Free. (727) 736-0606. 

Acme Jazz Garage Sun. 4 p.m. Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe, 5119 N Nebraska Ave., Tampa. Free. (813) 234-1000.

The Pass Thurs. With Spies on Bikes, Personal Boy. 8 p.m. New World Brewery, 1313 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. $7. (813) 248-4969.

-- Carole Liparoto, tbt*

[Last modified: Tuesday, August 14, 2012 10:50am]


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