Sam Hunt, Meghan Trainor, James Bay: Which Best New Artist Grammy nominees will come to Tampa Bay?
It's a Grammy week tradition here on Soundcheck: Predicting which of this year's five nominees for Best New Artist will book a Tampa Bay concert in the next calendar year.
We started doing this in 2010, back when it felt like Tampa Bay was still too often overlooked by hot young artists just breaking into the worldwide spotlight. A Best New Artist winner (or even a nominee) touring in Tampa wasn't always a given in the months following the Grammys. But when it happened, it was big news.
Recent Best New Artist winners Zac Brown Band (2010), Esperanza Spalding (2011), Bon Iver (2012) and Sam Smith (2015) have all played Tampa Bay concerts since taking home a trophy. Fun. (2013) and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (2014), who played Tampa Bay before winning Best New Artist, haven't been back since. Of last year's nominees, Smith and Brandy Clark both ended up booking Tampa Bay shows; Bastille, Iggy Azalea and Haim did not.
This year, one Best New Artist Grammy nominee already has a concert scheduled in Tampa: Pop singer Tori Kelly, our upset pick to take home the trophy, is playing the Ritz Ybor on April 19 (click here for details). So she's off the board.
But how about the other four nominees? Let's break down the field. As always, these odds are for entertainment purposes only.
Meghan Trainor (18-1): The All About That Bass singer currently has no tour dates scheduled -- that's one strike against her. She's suffered from vocal problems that have limited her touring. And finally, if she did come to Tampa, where would she play? Would a theater be too small a venue? Does she have enough hits yet to headline an arena or festival? Add it all up, and she looks like the longest shot -- but a return trip to December's 93.3-FLZ Jingle Ball, which she played in 2014, doesn't seem that farfetched.
James Bay (15-1): The indie-folky English singer-songwriter (Let It Go) feels like a guy who would do well in this market, although he doesn't have a ton of North American dates on the books for 2016. Still, coming from overseas is always a strike against artists who might tour Florida.
Courtney Barnett (10-1): Why is the Australian Barnett a safer bet than Bay to play Florida? She tours tirelessly, for one thing. More importantly, we're looking at her tour schedule, and we see a big window of open space surrounding a May 20 gig at the Hangout Music Fest in Gulf Shores, Ala. Could she swing down to Tampa for a gig at, say, the 97X BBQ? Entirely possible.
Sam Hunt (6-1): Tampa's such a strong market for country music that it's rare a hot artist doesn't pass through the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre over the course of a spring, summer or fall. You could argue that Hunt might be ready to headline his own shows, rather than opening for someone else -- but it just feels inevitable he'll be back here at some point, especially if someone like Kenny Chesney or Luke Bryan books a show at Raymond James Stadium.
What Best New Artist Grammy nominee do you hope comes to Tampa Bay in 2016?
-- Jay Cridlin