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This week in Tampa: Blackberry Smoke, Les Claypool, Neil Sedaka and more



The first week of 2014 has a distinctly southern flavor, with a handful of Dixie-fried acts on the concert slate: Gregg and Devon Allman, Blackberry Smoke (above) and Les Claypool's Duo De Twang, among others. But you can also look out for shows by Neil Sedaka, Victor Wooten, Wesley Stace, Whitegold, Fernando Varela and more. Here to walk you through it all is Ray Roa...

Victor Wooten
With Stu Hamm
FRIDAY 8 p.m. Largo Cultural Center, 105 Central Park Drive, Largo. $29.50-$44.50. (727) 587-6793.
You get pretty good after playing an instrument for 43 years. Just ask Victor Wooten. The 46-year-old is arguably the best bass player the world has ever seen, and if his five Grammys, nine-piece solo discography and work as bassist for Bela Fleck and The Flecktones isn’t proof enough, then head out to Largo for this show. What you’ll find is a room full of music nerds with jaws ajar as Wooten works the low end of the sonic spectrum with the vitality of Hendrix, Vince Gill and Clapton combined. Stu Hamm, who is pushing the boundaries of bass guitar as well, opens the show.

Fernando Varela
FRIDAY-SUNDAY and JAN. 10-12. Desert Grill at Busch Gardens, 10165 N McKinley Drive, Tampa. Free with park admission. 1-888-800-5447.
Popera singer Fernando Varela was not the victor on the eighth season of America’s Got Talent, but his defeat hasn’t stopped him from soldiering on in pursuit of life as a musician. On this first installment of a pair of January three-day stands, Varela will cut his teeth while hungry Busch Gardens parkgoers use their own fangs to dig into whatever culinary offerings BG’s Desert Grill has to offer. His mighty tenor impressed super-producer David Foster (Christina Aguilera, Josh Groban, Beyonce) and millions more on television, but expect him to get a few folks to drop their forks and turn their ears at this gig.

With Michael Parallax, Tetromino, Luuls, DJ Fuego
SATURDAY 9 p.m. New World Brewery, 1313 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. $8. (813) 248-4969.
If obscure, Google-hating band names are your idea of valuable musical currency, then Whitegold is your first 24-karat nugget of the New Year. Formed by three best friends, this Chicago/Atlanta-based outfit arrive in Ybor without any sonic precedence, save for a few songs from some of singer Emily Kempf’s former bands (Iron Jayne, The Back Pockets, Bad Kidz) whose sounds all lean towards electro-pop. Don’t let their sound pigeonhole them, though. The few online videos of Whitegold show nutty DIY lighting and ridiculously danceable tunes presented with the fervor of demonic performance art.

Gregg Allman
TUESDAY 7:30 p.m. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater. $41-$125. (727) 791-7400.

At 66, Gregg Allman is embarking on a new solo tour at a busy time in his life. Last year he released a memoir, My Cross to Bear, detailing his six marriages (most famously to Cher), struggles with drugs and alcohol and the deaths of his bandmates, including guitar-icon brother Duane. Next year the book will be turned into a film starring All-Ameican Rejects singer Tyson Ritter as Gregg and Wyatt Russell — the son of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn — as Duane. And he just popped up on The Colbert Report, singing a Christmas carol alongside (why not?) Colbert and The National. At this show, expect him to dig into the Allman Brothers Band’s bluesy, jammy and hugely influential discography, as well as tracks from 2011’s T-Bone Burnett’s Low Country Blues. You’d best not miss it — three days after this show, Allman will be the subject of a star-studded tribute concert in Atlanta, featuring appearances by Jackson Browne, Eric Church, Vince Gill, Dr. John, Natalie Cole, Widespread Panic and many others. They appreciate his catalog, and you should too. — Jay Cridlin

Devon Allman
With Gravity Zero, Nick Key, John Spinelli
SUNDAY 4 p.m. Screwie Louie’s Porpoise Pub, 8701 Seminole Blvd., Seminole. $10-$12. (727) 393-7616.
You could spend your whole Saturday at Screwie Louie’s if you wanted to, and that might not be such a bad idea. The place opens at 8 a.m. for breakfast, and kicks music off six hours later, but the highlight will be a set from Devon Allman, whose pretty recognizable dad is set to play Ruth Eckerd Hall three days later. Devon’s debut solo album of easygoing Southern rock, Turquoise, is a bit more modern than the brand that father made famous, but hearing the younger Allman’s voice work through cuts like Time Machine and Key Lime Pie is uncanny. His sophomore effort promises to hone in more on raw, dirty, blues, so expect a healthy mix of his repertoire at this one.

Neil Sedaka
SUNDAY 2 p.m. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $39-$100. (727) 791-7400.  

If you’ve ever gleefully attempted (and subsequently failed) to harmonize with a buddy on The Lion Sleeps Tonight, then you’ve got Neil Sedaka to thank for all the sticky-sweet, innocent fun you had. The 74-year-old songsmith and former member of the Tokens helped make that tune famous, along with plus countless other hits (Laughter In The Rain, Love Will Keep Us Alive and Breaking Up Is Hard To Do all have his name in the credits). This early Sunday show is something like a victory lap for Sedaka, who will surely doo-be-doo-wop his way through a set that celebrates the indelible, sometimes underappreciated mark he’s left on pop music as we know it today.

Wesley Stace
With Joe Pernice
MONDAY 7:30 p.m. Falk Theater at University of Tampa, 428 W Kennedy Blvd, Tampa. Free. (813) 253-6243.
Yep Roc is a genre-dodging San Francisco-based record label that has released everything from playful avant-pop, to innovative new wave and punk, to unruly rockabilly. Wesley Stace — the singer-songwriter/author/professor more recognizably known as John Wesley Harding — adds an important literary wrinkle to the imprint’s catalog, and the deeply personal touch that permeates throughout his new solo LP, Self-Titled, will manifest itself at this concert. The show is part of UT’s Lectores Reading Series and also features Joe Pernice, another accomplished songwriter with a few novels under his sleeve. Shows as cerebral and sonically sound as this one are rare, and they shouldn’t be free, so take full advantage.

Les Claypool’s Duo De Twang
With Reformed Whores
WEDNESDAY 7 p.m. State Theatre, 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $25-$27. (727) 895-3045.
Les Claypool told Rolling Stone that his new project is his “f--- off vacation band,” and that freewheeling, pretty-much-anything-goes attitude is all over Duo De Twang’s new album, Four Foot Shack. The 15-track offering finds Claypool — better known as the frontman for prog-rock legends Primus — joining forces with guitarist Bryan Kehoe to spill hard liquor and an unabashed appreciation for hillbilly musical history onto twangy, distorted takes on the Bee Gees (Stayin’ Alive), Alice In Chains (Man in the Box), and, yes, Primus (Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver). Claypool even takes on solo songs like Jerry Was A Race Car Driver, and while this side project wasn’t supposed to play more than one show (the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco), it’ll be interesting to see how the set pans out.

Blackberry Smoke
With The Delta Saints
THURSDAY 7 p.m. Ritz Ybor, 1503 Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $18 and up. (813) 247-2555.
If the Zac Brown Band has gone way too soft for your ears, then you might want to take a whiff of Blackberry Smoke. The Atlanta five-piece has opened for Mr. Brown and company, playing a style of clean, powerful Southern rock that marries Lynyrd Skynyrd with ZZ Top to give birth to songs like Good One Comin’ On and Up In Smoke, which are shimmery enough for pop radio yet tough enough to hold their own in your everyday, no-frills pool hall. Tender moments (Normaltown) are there so you can get your Free Bird on, and more than a few cuts (Everybody Knows She’s Mine, Six Ways To Sunday) boogie harder than a lot of what you’ll hear on the radio, too.

Also playing

WAHH! Fri. With Rajib Karmaker, Shanhk Lahiri, Peter Mongaya, Mike Washinton, Ray Villadonga. 8 p.m. Hideaway Café, 1756 Central Ave., St Petersburg. $15-$20. (727) 644-7895.

Goodnight Neverland Fri. With The Music Box, Dropin Pickup, Let’s Make Forts, Lions After Dark. 7 p.m. The Local 662, 662 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $7.

Wayne Sharp and the Sharpshooter Band Fri. 5 p.m. Skipper’s Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Rd., Tampa. $7-$10. (813) 971-0666.

Fencewalk Fri. 9 p.m. Ringside Café, 16 Second St. N., St. Petersburg. $5. (727) 894-8465.

Suncoast Surfrider Holiday Party Sat. With Reinstated, Tribal Style, Freelow, Mountain Holler, TNA. 6 p.m. Caddy’s, 9000 W Gulf Blvd., Sunset Beach. $10 suggested donation. (727) 360-4993.

Stones Of Madness Sat. With DRVN, The Dood, Dicples of Mayhem, Frostfang. 7 p.m. The Local 662, 662 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $8.

Infinite Skillz album release Sat. With Joe Stu, Simon Roofless, DJ Carl Spinslow, Da Beav. 8 p.m. Fubar, 658 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $10. (727) 424-1809.

Kettle Of Fish CD release Sat. With Joel Tangelo Band. 8 p.m. Skipper’s Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road, Tampa. $7-$10. (813) 971-0666.

10th Concession Sat. With Dropin Pickup, Brendan Ciccone. 6 p.m. Orpheum, 1915 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $8-$10. (813) 248-9500 or

Qristina  and Quinn Bachand Sat. With Side Door Celtic. 7:30 p.m. Palladium, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $20-$25. (727) 822-3590.

Clay Hess Sun. With the Walker Brothers, Mark Kreitzer. 5 p.m. Skipper’s Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road, Tampa. $7-$10 (813) 971-0666.

Barefoot Movement Tues. With Gypsy Wind. 7 p.m. Skipper’s Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road, Tampa. $7-$10 (813) 971-0666.

No Statik Wed. With Asshole Parade, Ex-Friends, Permanent Makeup, Science. 7 p.m. Epic Problem, 4215 E Columbus Drive, Tampa. $8. (813) 382-3477.

Josh Magwood Band Wed. 9 p.m. Ringside Café, 16 Second St. N, St. Petersburg. Free. (727) 894-8465.

Kenny Vance and The Planotones Wed. 7:30 p.m. Palladium, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $45-$75. (727) 822-3590.

-- Ray Roa, tbt*

[Last modified: Thursday, January 2, 2014 3:02pm]


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