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This week in Tampa: Wild Splash, Blake Shelton, Gasparilla Music Festival and more



Festivals rule the weekend in Tampa Bay, with at least three major ones -- Wild Splash, the Gasparilla Music Festival and the Florida Strawberry Festival -- running all day on Saturday. Blake Shelton, above, is the biggest dog on any bill, but he's far from the only big name in town.

Here's a guide to this week's concerts, including the aforementioned festivals, plus Hunter Hayes, Scotty McCreery, Meek Mill, Juicy J, Juvenile, The Meter Men with Page McConnell, Brantley Gilbert, Dawes, Best Coast, Dr. Dog, Bret Michaels, Orgy, Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas, Masta Killa of the Wu-Tang Clan, Ned and the Lone Wolf Band, Helen Reddy, Judy Collins, Enter Shikari, Badfish - A Tribute to Sublime, Hed(pe) and much, much more...

Florida Strawberry Festival
THURSDAY-SUNDAY Headline shows at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices vary by performer; about 3,000 free seats available on first-come, first-seated basis for each show. (813) 752-9194 or

Those cagey shortcakers at the Florida Strawberry Festival kept us waiting until the festival’s final weekend for many of this year’s hottest acts:
Thursday: Georgia singer-songwriter Brantley Gilbert ($35) scored a major hit with power ballad You Don’t Know Her Like I Do, but his forte is beefy, power-chord-enhanced singles that straddle the line between outlaw country and rock 'n’ roll. Plant City’s own Mel Tillis ($15-$20) returns to his old stomping grounds at 3:30 p.m.
Friday: Like Randy Travis and Josh Turner, American Idol winner Scotty McCreery ($25-$30) can bellow out a baritone with the best of ’em. Two hitmakers from the ’70s and ’80s, T.G. Sheppard and Janie Fricke ($15-$20), take the stage at 3:30.
Saturday: Need a break from pure country? Check out Bret Michaels ($25-$30), the Poison frontman turned pop culture jack of all trades (Rock of Love, Celebrity Apprentice), and don’t forget your lighter for Every Rose Has Its Thorn. Shout-out to the cheeky bookers who thought it’d be a good idea to pair Michaels with gospel icons Gaither Vocal Band ($20-$25), who perform at 3:30.
Sunday: And here, finally, is the festival’s top dog, Blake Shelton, a man whose outsized personality (The Voice) and industry respect (he was the Country Music Association’s 2012 Entertainer of the Year) have made him one of the most hoNashville’s reigning king of country. He’ll play hits like Honey Bee, Hillbilly Bone and God Gave Me You, but watch out for material from his upcoming album Based on a True Story. This show is sold out, but you can always try for one of those 3,000 or so free seats on the day of the show. As it turns out, Sunday’s early show is also a hot one: Teenyboppin’ country prodigy Hunter Hayes ($15-$20), who scored a Best New Artist nomination at this year’s Grammys.

Wild Splash

With Meek Mill, Juvenile, Juicy J, 69 Boyz, 95 South, Nee Nee from Dis-n-Dat, Kat Dahlia, Mr. Vegas, John Hart, RaVaughn, B.Smyth
SATURDAY 3 p.m. Coachman Park, 301 Drew St., Clearwater. $25 and up.
Phillly rapper Meek Mill, a member of Rick Ross’ Maybach Music family, has a host of hip-hop A-listers lining up to work with him, from Nas to Drake to Mary J. Blige. But is he big enough yet to headline this year’s Wild Splash? Guess we’ll find out on Saturday, when the annual Spring Break hip-hop fest returns to Coachman Park. Rap veterans Juvenile (Back Dat Azz Up ) and Juicy J of Three 6 Mafia (It’s Hard Out There For a Pimp) are this year’s other big names, but don’t sleep on Jamaican dancehall star Mr. Vegas and Miami’s Kat Dahlia, an up-and-coming rapper whose piano-driven Gangsta sounds like Rihanna covering Lana Del Rey. But the highlight of the day might be a Miami bass set by 69 Boyz (Tootsie Roll), Nee Nee from Dis-n-Dat (Party) and 95 South, the orginal performers of Whoot, There It Is (the more famous rendition, Whoomp! There It Is, was recorded by Tag Team). When the bass drops on Saturday, things’ll be backing up all over Coachman Park.

Gasparilla Music Festival
With the Meter Men with Page McConnell, Best Coast, Dawes, Dr. Dog, Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, Ozomatli, Lord Huron, The Iguanas, more
SATURDAY 10 a.m. Curtis Hixon Park, 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa. $25 advance, $30 day of show; children under 12 free before 2 p.m.
To the surprise of many, last year’s inaugural Gasparilla Music Festival was an overwhelming success, with bands from a variety of genres performing in picture-perfect weather. How do organizers plan to top themselves? Easy: Double down on the music. Some 30 local and national bands will take four stages around Curtis Hixon Park. The headliner is the Meter Men with Page McConnell, a sort-of supergroup featuring members of New Orleans funksters the Meters performing with Phish’s famed organist. World-music fusionists Ozomatli will perform an evening set for adults and a morning set, as “Ozokids,” for families. And indie rock fans have a ton of solid acts to choose from, from soul revivalists Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears to California slack-rockers Best Coast to Americana outfit Dawes, who just last week were handpicked to open Bob Dylan’s summer tour.

Ned and the Lone Wolf Band
SATURDAY 8 p.m. Ritz Ybor, The Ritz, 1503 Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $15. (813) 247-2555.

Who’s Ned? According to his official bio, he’s a parody-song artist and contributor to the Bubba the Love Sponge Show. Unofficially, he’s a creation of Bubba sidekick Mike “Manson” Waters, who portrays the cranky redneck on the air. The brainless raunch and insensitivity of Ned parodies like Lesbian Convoy, A-Bomb the Arabs and Afro American Pie should be self-evident. But a live appearance by this mysterious radio character is such a rarity, Bubba’s Army is sure to turn out in droves.

Masta Killa
With Infinite Skillz, Prince Golden
THURSDAY Doors at 8 p.m. Fubar, 658 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $12-$15.
The Wu-Tang Clan is coming back hard in 2013, with gigs at Bonnaroo, Coachella and the Primavera Sound Festival in Spain. Never mind that Masta Killa may be the least famous member of the hip-hop collective (it’s gotta be either him or U-God) — the fact that he’s playing St. Pete’s tiny Fubar is noteworthy. Though Masta Killa’s appearances on the Wu’s best-known hits are minimal, his solo work, including new album Selling My Soul, has attracted praise for its soulfulness and thoughtfulness. Promoters are billing this as “the most personal show with any Wu-Tang Member this city has ever experienced,” and until GZA shows up at the Hideaway Cafe, we’d have to agree.

SUNDAY 1 p.m. Shephard’s Beach Resort, 619 S Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater Beach.
So they didn’t get or Fergie. Shephard’s still has a Black Eyed Pea in the house for Spring Break, which is nothing to sneeze at. Contrary to what Saturday Night Live would have you believe, Taboo was not named after the board game, nor is he from the Matrix, nor is he a Japanese ghost. He does pop up on big Peas hits like Boom Boom Pow and Where Is The Love, though, so perhaps he’ll grab the mic for a verse or two. Shephard’s “Beach Party Sundays” start at 1 p.m., with $1 drinks until 6 and specials on Patron, Grey Goose and Bacardi.

With Vampires Everywhere, Davey Suicide
SUNDAY 6 p.m. State Theatre, 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $16. (727) 895-3045. 
Back in the ’90s, the quickest route to nu-metal dominance was to cover an ’80s pop classic. It worked for Marilyn Manson with Sweet Dreams, Fear Factory with Cars and Limp Bizkit with Faith. And it definitely worked for Orgy, whose synthesizer-driven industrial take on New Order’s Blue Monday became an international smash. The group managed a few more semi-successful singles, including Stitches and Fiction (Dreams In Digital), but it wasn’t long before a rift formed between singer Jay Gordon and guitarists Amir Derakh and Ryan Shuck, who left to form Julien-K. Gordon is the only original member participating in this tour. Tell us, Jay: How does it feel?

Florida Georgia Line
FRIDAY Doors at 7 p.m. Dallas Bull, 3322 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. Sold out. (813) 987-2855.
Big, rock 'n’ roll-style fist-pumpers are big right now in Nashville, and Florida Georgia Line aren’t shy about reaching for the sky. The duo’s debut album, Here’s to the Good Times, landed in Billboard’s top 10 upon its release in December, powered by the No. 1 country hit Cruise, which extols the virtues of SoCo-sipping honeys and lift kit-enhanced Chevys. It’s an album full of big, swaggering hits in the making, which makes sense, considering its producer has also worked with Nickelback and Daughtry. This show’s sold out, but Florida Georgia Line will return to Tampa this fall, opening for Luke Bryan at the Live Nation Amphitheatre.

Also playing

Will McLean Music Festival Fri.-Sun. Featuring more than 70 Florida acoustic musicians. $17-$20 daily, $32-$37 weekend. Sertoma Youth Ranch, 85 Myers Road, Brooksville.

Kopecky Family Band Fri. With Leagues. 9 p.m. New World Brewery, 1313 E. Eighth Ave., Ybor City. $8. (813) 248-4969.

Andre Rieu Fri. 8 p.m. Tampa Bay Times Forum, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $45-$139. (813) 301-2500.

Badfish - A Tribute To Sublime Fri. With The Sheffield Crew,Crazy Carls. 7 p.m. Jannus Live, 16 Second St. N., St. Petersburg. $15. (727) 565-0550. 

Richard Nader’s Doo Wop XIII Fri. With Gene Chandler, Kenny Vance and the Planotones, Tommy Mara and the Crests, The Chiffons, more. 7:30 p.m. 1111 N McMullen-Booth Rd., Clearwater. $45-$90. (727) 791-7400.  

“1964” ... The Tribute Fri. 400 First St. S., St. Petersburg. $35-$45. (727) 892-5767.

Swamp Sista LaLa Fri. With Beth McKee, Betty Fox Band, Audrey Auld, Passerine, Sara Rose Band.7 p.m. Skipper’s Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Rd., Tampa. $10-$15. (813) 971-0666.

Hed(pe) Fri. With A(k)new, The Defiant, Seven Sins. 7 p.m. State Theatre, 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $15. (727) 895-3045. 

Beach Day Fri. With Jensen Serf Company, Archaic Interest. 8 p.m. The Local 662, 662 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $8.

God Module Sat. With Ludovico Technique, Mordacious, Frontal Boundary, DJ Maus, DJ Bryant Griffin. 6 p.m. Orpheum, 1915 E. Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $10. (813) 248-9500.

Judy Collins Sat. 7:30 p.m. Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $45-$65. (727) 791-7400.

Mercies Sat. With Geri X, Sonic Graffiti, The Other Ryan Willis. 9 p.m. New World Brewery, 1313 E. Eighth Ave., Ybor City. $7. (813) 248-4969.

Richard Shindell Sun. 5 p.m. Craftsman House, 2955 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $25. (727) 323-2787.

Enter Shikari Tue. With Architects, Heartist, Crossfaith. 7 p.m. State Theatre, 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $14. (727) 895-3045. 

Today Is the Day Tue. With Black Tusk, KEN mode, Fight Amp. 7 p.m. The Local 662, 662 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $14-$15.

Helen Reddy Thur. 7:30 p.m. Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $52.50-$85. (727) 791-7400.

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*

[Last modified: Friday, March 1, 2013 5:02pm]


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