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Is Kanye West America's biggest rock star?

"I'm the No. 1 rock star on the planet," Kanye West once told Time magazine -- and you know what, he might just be in the discussion.

West, who plays the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Saturday, is beloved and berated for the same reasons, a man who has a filter-sized hole in his filter, inspiring jaw-dropping reactions in the incredulous rest of us. He is unfailingly honest, unvarnished, living a life without a harness — and really, who wouldn't want to strut like that, even for a day? Kanye lives without fear of reprisal.

For more of Sean Daly's analysis of the outsized ego and talent of Kanye West, click here.

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Clear Channel offering Black Friday weekend deals on tickets to Jingle Ball, Acoustic Christmas

Pop music fans, your Black Friday just got a little more exciting.

Clear Channel announced today that from Friday through Monday, Dec. 2, it would be offering tickets to its two year-end festivals, the Mix 100.7 Acoustic Christmas on Dec. 13 at the Mahaffey Theater and the 93.3-FLZ Jingle Ball on Dec. 18 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

For the Acoustic Christmas -- which will feature the Goo Goo Dolls, the Fray, Colbie Caillat, Michael Franti and ZZ Ward -- there will be a limited number of four-packs available for $100.70. Tickets otherwise start at $39, so that should save you about $60. Nothing to sneeze at. Click here for details.

As for the Jingle Ball -- which will bring in Miley Cyrus, Robin Thicke, Enrique Iglesias, Paramore and Flo Rida, among others -- you can buy three tickets and get one free using the passcode FORUM13. Click here for details.

Both deals are good Black Friday through Cyber Monday.

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*

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This week in Tampa: Kanye West, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Mindless Behavior, Yanni and more

It's another eclectic week in Tampa Bay music, with concerts on the books by everyone from Yanni to the Genitorturers (and we guarantee that's the first time those two have been linked in a single sentence). But let's be honest: The week belongs to Kanye West, who will bring his Yeezus tour to the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Saturday.

Other acts with local shows this week include Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Mindless Behavior, Cannibal Corpse, Bonnie Raitt, Dave Koz, A$ap Ferg and more. Here to walk you through it all is Ray Roa...Full Story

Artist of the day: Elias Phoenix

Elias Phoenix appears to be a typical kid until his fingers touch the keys on a piano. Then, orchestral music rises from the piano and the 7-year-old belies his age by playing likea classically trained adult.

Elias, whose family lives in Brandon, recently entered a contest called the American Protege International Music Talent Competition, and finished second -- meaning that on Saturday, he'll get to go to New York to perform at Carnegie Hall.

For more on Elias Phoenix -- who also sings and loves rap music -- click here for Monica Bennett's profile.


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The Spinney Brothers' Rick Spinney talks songwriting, finding a niche in bluegrass and more

Since becoming a full-time act three years ago, Canadian bluegrass group the Spinney Brothers have garnered quite a bit of attention. Their current album, No Borders, occupies the No. 4 position on a national bluegrass chart and has yielded two top 10 songs.

The group, which earned a nomination for the International Bluegrass Music Association's Emerging Artist of the Year, will perform two shows Saturday — at 4 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. — at the 34th annual Thanksgiving Bluegrass Festival at Sertoma Youth Ranch near the Pasco-Hernando line.

"It's a thrill for us," said Rick Spinney, 45, earlier this week. "When you go into the music business, you dream that you'll do well and that people will like you enough to want to come back and see you again and again. We were lucky to find a comfortable niche in a relatively short amount of time."

The festival runs Thursday through Sunday at Sertoma Youth Ranch. Click here for details on the festival.

Click here for more of Logan Neill's interview with Rick Spinney.

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Review: Florida Orchestra's onstage seats offer revealing perspective on classical music

In a bold move to raise funds and seduce younger fans, the Florida Orchestra is offering onstage seating during some of its concerts this season.

How close are you? Let's just say you do not want to sneeze.

Sean Daly gave the onstage seats a test-drive during a recent concert, and he writes:

Slight feelings of intrusion aside — an interloper in the house of Haydn! — I found the on-stage experience to be captivating, the rare visceral chance to witness the inner-workings of such a sublime ensemble (and totally snoop on one of the horn players who kept a crossword puzzle next to his sheet music).

I'm not a rabid classical music fan, but I was nevertheless drawn to the human side, watching extremely serious, intimidating musicians sweat and heave, smile and fret.

Click here for Sean Daly's full review of the Florida Orchestra's onstage seats.


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Cannibal Corpse's Alex Webster talks about the band's 25th anniversary, playing for Cher and Jim Carrey, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and more

Alex Morgan

Does death metal have a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

Alex Webster is here to make his case.

“I think if you listen to Elvis and you listen to Cannibal Corpse or Morbid Angel, it’s a pretty massive distance,” said the bassist and co-founder of Cannibal Corpse. “But the roots are similar. Without rock 'n’ roll, metal wouldn’t have happened, and without traditional heavy metal and hard rock, you wouldn’t have had thrash metal and death metal and stuff like that. I think there’s a place for death metal and other kinds of extreme metal in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — maybe not the official Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but figuratively speaking.”

Sure, it’s a long shot, but if any death metal band has a case, it’s Cannibal Corpse. This year marks their 25th as a band, meaning they’re actually eligible for Rock Hall enshrinement. And though they formed in Buffalo, N.Y., their home since 1994 has been Tampa, long known as the cradle of that grimy, splattery, visceral breed of metal called death. …

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UPDATE: One Direction coming to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa

Photo via

That rip you just heard was the sound of your pre-teen daughter tearing up her Christmast list. Because One Direction is reportedly coming to Tampa, and you know she'll want tickets.

According to various reports around the Internet, the chart-topping British boy band are coming to Raymond James Stadium on Oct. 3, 2014. The information leaked from Live Nation, according to several sites, but was apparently confirmed on 93.3-FLZ's website, which promised more details on the air Monday morning. And then there's the photo you see above, featuring One Direction in Bucs gear, which comes from Apparently, the boys took photos wearing the home garb for every team whose stadium is on their forthcoming tour.

Yes, we know, Oct. 3 is nearly a year in the future. And American stadium tours are serious business -- are One Direction really at the level of Kenny Chesney and U2? Seems like they are. And you know plenty of young girls will be getting tickets for Christmas.

No ticket details have been announced, but we'll keep you posted whenever there's an official announcement. …

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Review: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis energize Tampa's USF Sun Dome with electric hip-hop hits

Talib Kweli opens for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis at the USF Sun Dome on Nov. 23, 2013.

Luis Santana

Talib Kweli opens for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis at the USF Sun Dome on Nov. 23, 2013.

Macklemore ascended to the stage at the USF Sun Dome Saturday night on a hydraulic riser, in a cloud of smoke, in a military jacket laced in gold lamé, his copper top swished into a tidy little swirl. Of course he did, because really, was there any other way for 2013’s breakout rapper to make an entrance?

In the year of Jay-Z and J.T., Yeezus and Cyrus, Blurred Lines and Get Lucky, it was this independent rapper and his wunderkind producer whose arrival was the most shocking. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis went from Seattle nobodies to platinum-selling upstarts overnight – or maybe it just seemed that way – thanks to debut album The Heist, featuring chart-smashing singles Thrift Shop and Can’t Hold Us. Rising up from nowhere is what they do best.

Are Macklemore and Ryan Lewis here for the long haul? Or are they, as some have argued, too much of a pop novelty to succeed in the long run?

I don’t know much about rockin’ a wolf on my noggin, but I do know this: Saturday’s concert was as over-the-top a pop spectacle as any Tampa has seen this year – silly in some spots, serious in others, but ridiculously high-energy at every turn, with the duo’s funky vision and elaborate theatrics thrilling a crowd of at least 5,000.

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Straight No Chaser's Jerome Collins talks viral fame, cutting a movie deal and more

Ten friends at Indiana University formed an a cappella group in 1996. Nothing serious — they named it Straight No Chaser, like any college kids would.

Guys graduated, parted ways and faced the real world. In 2006, one of the original members, Randy Stine, posted a video to YouTube of a performance they did eight years prior of 12 Days, a humorous medley of Christmas carols, with a little bit of Toto's Africa cleverly peppered in.

Millions of viral views later, the group has six major-label albums under their belt, and they're coming to Ruth Eckerd Hall on Sunday. Tickets are $35-$75; click here for details.

"All of this got bigger than any of us would have imagined when we first started this in college," said singer Jerome Collins. "This was just sort of this thing for girls and food. We just liked hanging out and singing together."

For more of Katie Manfred's interview with Collins, click here.

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Artist of the day: Little Sheba and the Shamans

Little Sheba and the Shamans are a ’60s garage/soul throwback act featuring members from a myriad of Bay area bands (Six Volt Rodeo, Hairdresser on Fire, Jump Salty and Twisty Chris and the Puddin’ Packs, to name a few).

The members — Ari Little, vocals; Christian Little, bass; Joe Van Horn, lead guitar; Dennie Carter, drums; and Paul Mallett, rhythm guitar — have been together four months and have performed at the Pasco EcoFest and Copperheads Tap House in Safety Harbor. On Friday night, they will add New World Brewery to the list.

The group, sans Van Horn, phoned us to introduce and tell us a little about themselves.

How did you all end up getting together to form Little Sheba and the Shamans?

Christian Little: We all are and have been in other local bands, so we all know each other from the local music scene and being in each others’ bands in the past. We all just kind of started brainstorming a new focus, bounced it back and forth, and kind of landed on this.

What was that focus? …

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SoundBytes: Tyga, Willie Nelson, Mark McGrath, Drew Carey and more

-- The week of Christmas is usually pretty slow, concert-wise, but not this year, with local shows by the likes of Deadmau5, ZZ Top, Chris Isaak, Chiodos and Kansas on the calendar. Add another hot one to the list: Rapper Tyga on Dec. 21 at Jannus Live. Ticket prices haven't been announced, but they'll go on sale soon via


-- Sugar Ray and Smash Mouth, united at last? Almost! Singers Mark McGrath and Steve Harwell will perform at Tampa's Hard Rock Cafe on Dec. 14, as part of the unveiling party for the Seminole Hard Rock Girls 2014 Calendar. Both singers will perform hits from their respective '90s-rock groups, backed by a full band each. Tickets are $40 and are on sale via Ticketmaster and in the Hard Rock's gift shop. Proceeds go toward the 13 Ugly Men Foundation. Click here for info.

-- The Dallas Bull has unveiled a new slate of country concerts in the coming months: Charlie Daniels (Dec. 7, tickets are $10-$15), Joe Nichols (Dec. 14, $10-$15), Chris Cagle (Jan. 17, $10-$15) and Corey Smith (Feb. 21, $10-$15). Click here. …

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This week in Tampa: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Rick Ross, Hillsong United, Harry Connick Jr. and more

It's a huge weekend for hip-hop, with local shows by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Rick Ross, Talib Kweli, Big K.R.I.T., Joey Bada$$, Ab-Soul and the Underachievers, among others. But the rest of the music world is also well represented in concerts around Tampa Bay -- Hillsong United, Harry Connick Jr., David Dondero, Mat Zo, Diane Schuur, Rusted Root, Eva Simons, Infected Mushroom, Roger McGuinn, Chacal y Yakarta, Straight No Chaser, Black Tide and more. Here to walk you through it all is Ray Roa...

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Review: The Eagles offer familiar hits, harmonies at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa

Even if you hate the f---ing Eagles, man, you know their catalog by heart. Everyone with access to an FM radio does. And that's why a sold-out crowd of 16,113 packed into the Tampa Bay Times Forum to hear the group deliver hit after hit after hit: Hotel California, Heartache Tonight, Life in the Fast Lane, Life's Been Good, Witchy Woman, I Can't Tell You Why... the setlist went on and on and on, for three solid hours.

Sean Daly was there, and he writes:

Who knows? Maybe all that Eagles bashing in The Big Lebowski has sparked the band. The show was carefully, lovingly crafted, History of the Eagles being the tour title; the set list unveiled from the start, way back in 1971, when the young scruffs were backing up Linda Ronstadt. Don Henley, now 66, and Glenn Frey, 65, took to a spare stage at first, just the two of them, one of the most vital, but volatile songwriting duos in rockdom, sharing old acoustic tune Saturday Night. Henley's voice, especially that falsetto, was particularly potent. …

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Ticket Window: Avett Brothers, Queens of the Stone Age, Young the Giant, Jay Leno and more

What a fantastic week we have for you in Ticket Window. Plenty of people in Tampa will be snapping up tickets to the Avett Brothers, above. And if you want to see Jay Leno's encore performance at the Capitol Theatre, you'd better get your tickets early, because his first show, on Feb. 9, sold out almost immediately. As for us? We're incredibly stoked about two rock shows coming to St. Petersburg in February: Young the Giant and Queens of the Stone Age.

Other Tampa Bay concerts with tickets going on sale this week: Richard Thompson (Jan. 27, Capitol Theatre), Yonder Mountain String Band (Jan. 31, Jannus Live), Queens of the Stone Age (Feb. 4, Mahaffey Theater), Bring Me The Horizon (Feb. 5, Jannus Live), Young the Giant (Feb. 18, Jannus Live), Shpongle (Feb. 22, State Theatre), Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes (Feb. 26, Capitol Theatre), Excision (Feb. 27, Amphitheatre), Collective Soul (March 2, Mahaffey Theater), Avett Brothers (March 29, USF Sun Dome) and Jay Leno (March 29, Capitol Theatre).

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

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