This week in Tampa: Billy Joel, Jamey Johnson, AFI, Sunshine Festival and more
It's not every week that you have a giant, arena-filling concert on one side of the bay and a huge festival on the other -- but it's that sort of weekend here in Tampa Bay, with Billy Joel at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Friday and the Sunshine Music and Blues Festival in St. Petersburg on Sunday.
Those are the biggest events this week, but here to walk you through the rest of this week's concert slate -- including Jamey Johnson, AFI, Chris Botti, Robyn Hitchcock, Tab Benoit, the Soul Rebels, Turbo Fruits, Chubby Checker, Eddie Money, Chris Cagle, 12th Planet, Tony Orlando, Nonpoint and Manhattan Transfer -- is Ray Roa...
FRIDAY 8 p.m. Tampa Bay Times Forum, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $39.50-$119.50. (813) 301-2500.
Is Friday the last time Billy Joel will play Tampa Bay? If this were pretty much any other major pop artist besides the 64-year-old lord of Long Island, we’d say don’t sweat it. After all, our gods go long these days: 81-year-old Loretta Lynn played the Mahaffey in September, and 80-year-old Willie Nelson comes to Ruth Eckerd Hall Jan. 29. But William Martin Joel is different, always has been. He said 1993’s River of Dreams would be his last pop album — and it was. Save for a classical foray, his studio output has been bupkus. He’s a ferocious live performer, and yet he’s been less and less keen to hit the road, the Angry Young Man now a grumpy old man. Yes, he did recently announce a monthly residency at Madison Square Garden, with a focus on his entire repertoire, deep album cuts and all. The first several shows are already sold-out, demand for tickets still feverish. And yet, the MSG shows — a New York kid in the ultimate New York haven — possess an unmistakable air of farewell, too. I may be right, or I may be crazy. Maybe Joel will come back to Tampa Bay. But just in case, when Scenes From an Italian Restaurant rolls around, you best be extra vigorous in waving Brenda and Eddie goodbye. — Sean Daly
Sunshine Music & Blues Festival
With Tedeschi Trucks Band, Galactic, Leon Russell, Hot Tuna (acoustic), Stanley Clarke, J.J. Grey, The Ringers with Jimmy Herring, Bobby Lee Rodgers, Oli Brown
SUNDAY Noon. Vinoy Park, St. Petersburg. $49.50-$99.50. For details, see sunshinemusicandblues.com.
Derek Trucks caught the jam-rock world by surprise last week by announcing that he and fellow guitar hero Warren Haynes would be leaving the Allman Brothers Band at the end of 2014. But maybe it’s not such a shock, considering his own Tedeschi Trucks Band — a project he co-founded with wife Susan Tedeschi in 2010 — keeps getting bigger and bigger. The sultry siren and guitar whiz won a Grammy in 2012 for the fiery, soul and blues music of debut LP Revelator, and “the Tedeschi Trucks Band is where my future and creative energy lies,” Trucks said in a statement. Trucks and Tedeschi worked with concert promotions giant Live Nation to create this Florida mini-festival, featuring like-minded artists like jam-funk collective Galactic and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame sideman/singer/all-around mystic Leon Russell, and if all goes well, they’d like to take it national. Check it out on Sunday, and you can say you knew 'em way back when. — Jay Cridlin
With Chris Hennessee
FRIDAY 8 p.m. Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. $29.50-$49.50. (727) 892-5767.
Country music’s dirty little secret is that its sound has been split in two. There’s the partying, truck-lovin’ kind, perfect for bacchanals at beachside bars; and then there’s the dustier, roots-based brand that works best for storytellers at dark, neighborhood dives. Jamey Johnson stands at the intersection of those worlds. Early songs like 2006’s Redneck Side Of Me tiptoe into country-cliché territory, but Johnson, 38, turned a corner with his 2008 LP That Lonesome Song and a masterful 2010 double LP, The Guitar Song, where he puts on the proverbial hats of Hank Cochran, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson to craft a modernized version of outlaw country that could easily drink the Luke Bryans and Dierks Bentleys of the world under the table.
With Mike Zito and The Wheel
FRIDAY 8 p.m. Skipper’s Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road, Tampa. $20-$25. (813) 971-0666.
Tab Benoit was born near the bayou, and every drip-drop of water the flowing in and out of the Mississippi River Delta seems to have baptized the 46-year-old Louisiana native with an ability to coat the blues he makes with a kind of Red Stick authenticity and mysticism . Songs like Drownin’ On Dry Land and Broke and Lonely clearly come from the swamp, but Benoit’s blues are also the travelling kind, as evidenced by slow-burning, sultry cuts like Darkness, These Arms Of Mine and Medicine, where his voice thunders on life-affirming lyrics and calls on the spirit of Chicago bluesmen to deliver searing leads like a man on fire.
The Soul Rebels
FRIDAY 9 p.m. The Ale and The Witch, 111 Second Ave. NE, St. Petersburg. Free. (727) 821-2533.
Tucked into an office and retail plaza a shell’s throw from Beach Drive, the Ale and The Witch’s amazing beer selection and live music agenda make it an escape for anyone that just wants to kick their feet up or let loose without judgment, and jam-scene favorites the Soul Rebels will prove why. Near legends in their hometown of New Orleans — where it’s hard for brass bands to stand out in a culture saturated with them — the band comes to St. Pete show as part of a short tour that warms them up for international dates in Haiti, Europe and Australia. If horn-driven originals like Rebelosis or covers of Bruno Mars, Jimi Hendrix and even Daft Punk don’t get your blood flowing, then you might want to find a defibrillator.
SATURDAY 7:30 p.m. Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $69-$125. (727) 791-7400.
He’s headlined the Clearwater Jazz Festival and was just at Ruth Eckerd hall last April, so Chris Botti is a friend to the Tampa Bay area. Heck, he even stopped a 2009 show in Ohio to upgrade an elderly Clearwater fan from her seat in the balcony to the front row (“Where’s that beautiful grandma from Florida? What are you doing up there” is the exact quote). The multiple Grammy-winning trumpeter comes back again on Saturday, and while you can certainly hear songs like Indian Summer and When I Fall In Love in Any Elevator, U.S.A., there isn’t a reason to not make it out to the refurbished Capitol Theater to watch the 51-year-old smoothly execute a session of melodic respiratory gymnastics.
TUESDAY through JAN. 24.; 11:30 a.m., 1 and 3:30 p.m. Stanleyville Theater at Busch Gardens, 10165 N McKinley Drive, Tampa. Free with park admission. 1-888-800-5447.
Chubby Checker, whether he knows it or not, has an interesting role in Tampa’s African-American history. It’s all thanks in part to 1950s rock 'n’ roll pioneer Hank Ballard, who was visiting the once-bustling Central Avenue neighborhood of downtown Tampa when the sight of some dancing kids led him to write The Twist. In 1960, Checker — whose real name is Ernest Evans — turned the tune in a worldwide hit that can still get your grandma out of her chair in a heartbeat. Checker has been able to parlay the popularity of the shimmy and his beaming smile (yes, his cheeks are still chubby) into a lifelong career that finds him entertaining park guests as a part of Busch Gardens’ “Real Music Series.”
With Youth Code, Coming
WEDNESDAY 7:30 p.m. Ritz Ybor, 1503 Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $25 and up. (813) 247-2555.
When Coachella released its lineup last week, there were several bands on the bill that will also be making their way to Tampa Bay. Davey Havok and his California glam-goth quartet AFI are on that list, and fans not making a Coachella pilgrimage will get a chance to see the band in a far more intimate setting when they bring their latest LP, 2012’s Burial, to Ybor City. The band’s sound has grown up a lot in the 20 years since its founding, and Havok has been delving into industrial electro-pop for his Blaqk Audio side project, so it’ll be nice to soak it all in at this one.
With Luxury Mane, Empire Cinema
THURSDAY 9 p.m. Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St., Ybor City. $10. (813) 241-8600.
Nashville scuzz-rock outfit Turbo Fruits know Ybor City well. They cut their teeth there in 2010 opening for a still-breaking Surfer Blood, but they’ll finally get their own headlining show when they bring a grimy, jump-off-the-barstool take on rock 'n’ roll to Crowbar. The album they’re supporting, Butter, is two years old, but recent sold-out shows in New York City and an Australian tour sponsored by Vice magazine are proof that the Fruits’ whiskey-fueled live set shows no signs of going rotten anytime soon.
THURSDAY 8 p.m. The Palladium, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $28. (727) 822-3590.
Robyn Hitchcock has been compared to Bob Dylan on more than a few occasions during the course of his 40-year career, and the compliment is no accident. The 60-year-old songwriter cites Dylan as a major inspiration, but where Bob strummed and prophesized on folk (and electric-folk), Hitchcock has chosen to explore a more psychedelic, left-of-normal kind of musical expression. Whether it was his early days as a 1970s pre-punk savant in the Soft Boys or his time spent making uncomfortable thoughts sound serene in solo offerings like Sometimes I Wish I Was A Pretty Girl, Hitchcock has always been ahead of his time, and this intimate Palladium Side Door show is a chance to revisit the journey right in front of your eyes.
Smog City Tour Fri. With 12th Planet, Protohype, Flinch, Son Of Kick, Steady. 9:30 p.m. Amphitheatre, 1609 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $15. (813) 873-8368.
Chris Cagle Fri. 7 p.m. Dallas Bull, 3322 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. $10-$15. (813) 987-2855.
ABBA The Concert Fri. 8 p.m. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $39-$100. (727) 791-7400.
The Hip Abduction Fri. With S.G., The Hobies. 9 p.m. Ace’s Lounge, 4343 Palma Solo Blvd., Bradenton. $7-$10. (941) 795-3886.
The Cold Start Sat. With Stone Clover, Circle of Two. 9 p.m. Pegasus Lounge, 10008 N 30th St., Tampa. $5-$7. (813) 971-1679.
Afroman Sat. With Tranquill, Trayne Tyler, Scott Tanner, Muphin Chuckrs, Lying With Lions, Apollo Focus. 7 p.m. State Theatre, 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $15-$20. (727) 895-3045.
Geri X CD release Sat. With Sugar Ransom, Carlisle, DieAlps!, Empire Cinema, Lushbudget. 7:30 p.m. Local 662, 662 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $7. Facebook.com/thelocal662.
John Swenson Sat. With Michael Nichols. 6 p.m. Hideaway Café, 1756 Central Ave., St Petersburg. $5. (727) 644-7895.
People’s Blues Of Richmond Sun. With Florida Night Heat. 9 p.m. New World Brewery, 1313 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. $8. (813) 248-4969.
Grand Wizard Theodore Sun. With DJs Charlie Chase, Lesage, Casper. 9 p.m. Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St., Ybor City. $5 (free for 21 and over). (813) 241-8600.
Sunday School For Sinners Sun. With Statue Of Liberty. 6:30 p.m. The Independent, 5020 N Florida Ave., Tampa, Free. (813) 341-4883.
Disciples Of Christ Sun. With Sacridose, God Harvest, Crowd Bites Wolf. 8 p.m. Epic Problem, 4215 E Columbus Drive, Tampa. $7. (813) 382-3477.
Tony Orlando Sun. With The Bronx Wanderers. 1 p.m. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $35-$75. (727) 791-7400.
This Or The Apocalypse Tues. With Shai Hulud, Sirens and Sailors, Agerasia, Act of Mercy. 8 p.m. Orpheum, 1915 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $11-$25. (813) 248-9500 or theorpheum.com.
Eddie Money (acoustic) Wed. 7:30 p.m. Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $35-$45. (727) 791-7400.
Mustard Plug Wed. With Askultra, The Apes, Victims of Circumstance. 7 p.m. Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St., Ybor City. $10-$12. (813) 241-8600.
Nonpoint Thurs. With Scorpion Child, Aknew, Malaya. 6 p.m. Orpheum, 1915 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $15-$18. (813) 248-9500 or theorpheum.com.
Manhattan Transfer Thurs. 7:30 p.m. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $48-$78. (727) 791-7400.
-- Ray Roa, tbt*