This week in Tampa: Carly Rae Jepsen, Gary Clark Jr., Hillsong United, Pat Benatar and more
It's Valentine's Day weekend, which means you have plenty of options for musical date-night fun. Along with tonight's Andrea Bocelli concert, you've got shows by Carly Rae Jepsen, Gary Clark Jr., Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, Hillsong United, Todd Rundgren, Kinky Friedman, Patty Griffin, Sara Watkins, Anais Mitchell, Storm Large, Vinyl Theatre, Paul Thorn, Dark Star Orchestra, Robert Cray, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Winger, Firehouse, Excision and more. Here to walk you through it all are Jay Cridlin and Ray Roa...
Carly Rae Jepsen
With Cardiknox, Fairground Saints
WEDNESDAY 8 p.m. Ritz Ybor, 1503 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $24 and up. (813) 390-0397. theritzybor.com.
In a perfect world, Carly Rae Jepsen would be coming to Tampa on Feb. 17 to headline Amalie Arena, fresh off sweeping the Grammys for her magnificent sophomore album Emotion. As it is, she’s playing the much more intimate Ritz Ybor, fresh off her role as Frenchy in Fox’s Grease Live. Which, mind you, is still pretty good! Still, an album like Emotion, one of our favorite of 2015, deserves a wider audience than it has found. Jepsen could have gone safe and simple after penning the simple, inescapable earworm Call Me Maybe in 2011, but instead she tracked down an impressively out-there list of collaborators (Sia, Dev Hynes, Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij, Ariel Rechtshaid) to craft an album that’s just as catchy, but even more ambitious. Songs like Run Away With Me, When I Needed You, Gimme Love and Your Type project Jepsen’s sweetly awkward vulnerability through a prism of color and futuristic pop production, turning her into a lovable underdog alternative to the Taylor Swifts, Katy Perrys and Adeles of the world. Maybe it’s better she’s not lugging an armful of Grammys to massive arenas around the globe — for now, she still belongs to her increasingly adoring fan base. And that’s pretty sweet, too.
SATURDAY and SUNDAY 7 p.m. USF Sun Dome, 4202 E Fowler Ave. $27.50 and up. (813) 974-3004. sundomearena.com.
Year after year, Hillsong United holds down one of the most attended and highest-grossing tours on the planet. Not bad for a group that grew out of an Australian youth ministry nearly 20 years ago. And when you listen to their music, it’s not at all surprising — the group’s sweeping alt-pop anthems have a lot in common with that of other arena-fillers like Coldplay or Imagine Dragons. Their 2015 album Empires even drifts into the atmospheric territory occupied by Brian Eno and U2. Their live shows are highly anticipated events among fans of worship music, which explains why their weekend trip to Tampa was extended from one night to two.
Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo
MONDAY 8 p.m. Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $77 and up. (727) 791-7400. atthecap.com.
Heart and Joan Jett are both in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. When will Pat Benatar get her call to Cleveland? She and omnipresent husband-guitarist Neil Giraldo didn’t write most of their biggest songs, but few acts from the past 35 years have as many rock radio hits — Heartbreaker, We Belong, Hit Me With Your Best Shot, Shadows of the Night, Love Is a Battlefield. Benatar projected toughness and sexiness with the best of them, and she has toured for decades to keep her fan base engaged and enraptured. It’s not often you get to see Benatar and Giraldo in a smaller theater, but they’re playing the Capitol Theatre Monday.
Gary Clark Jr.
THURSDAY 8 p.m. Jannus Live, 200 First Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $30 and up. (727) 565-0550, jannuslive.com.
You don’t toss names like Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan around lightly. But when you’re talking about Gary Clark Jr., you can’t help yourself. The lanky Austin, Texas gunslinger has a reputation for blowing away live audiences with his powerful blues-rock chops and voice. Clark’s latest album, The Story of Sonny Boy Slim, transcends the blues-rock box by roping in elements of Dylanesque folk, old-school soul and even a little gospel. But it remains his dynamic live shows that have made him a top festival draw and tourmate of A-list acts like the Rolling Stones and Foo Fighters. And at Monday’s Grammy Awards, he joined Chris Stapleton and Bonnie Raitt on stage for a tribute to B.B. King. Yeah, there’s Clark again, always finding himself in the company of legends. One of these days, he might be considered one himself.
SATURDAY 6 p.m. Craftsman House Gallery, 2955 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $30. (727) 323-2787.
There isn’t a lot that Kinky Friedman hasn’t dipped his toes into. At 71, the Chicago-born, Texas-fine-tuned songwriter is also an accomplished novelist and columnist who even ran as an independent in the Lone Star State’s 2006 gubernatorial election (he finished fourth in the six-horse race). He released his first studio album in almost four decades last year, and his fans have gone gaga for The Loneliest Man I Ever Met — despite the fact that the 12-track offering is a huge departure from Friedman’s signature scathing style. He appears at this St. Pete folkie stronghold as a part of the week-long Sunshine City Songwriters Festival, and you’re probably going to want to call the Craftsman House before heading out as there’s a good chance this show will be sold out before doors even open.
Dark Star Orchestra
SATURDAY 7 p.m. Jannus Live, 200 First Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $33. (727) 565-0550.
More than five decades after the Grateful Dead’s humble Northern California beginnings, fans of the renowned jam band still clamor for the epic noodling and grand vision of the late Jerry Garcia. So much so that they are flocking to festivals and tour stops in drove in the hopes of seeing the band, now touring as Dead & Company with John Mayer playing the sonic role of Garcia. If you can’t make it out to Bonnaroo or don’t have the scratch to be at one of the band’s 14 summer shows, the Dark Star Orchestra might be your next best bet. The Illinois-based tribute act are widely regarded as the best in the biz when it comes to honoring the Dead, and they faithfully re-create shows found on Garcia & Co.’s vast live archive, often going song for song — even making sure their pedals and amps are calibrated to mimic the specific sounds the Grateful Dead were exploring during specific time periods.
With Jennifer Westwood and The Handsome Devils (Sat.), The Hummingbirds (Sun.)
SATURDAY (8 p.m.) and SUNDAY (5 p.m). Skipper’s Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road, Tampa. (813) 971-0666.
Paul Thorn is no stranger to WMNF-FM 88.5, but the Tupelo, Miss., songwriter who famously boxed Roberto Duran in 1988 is taking his BFF status with the long-running Tampa community radio station to new levels with this pair of shows. The 51-year-old is set to take the stage in the evening on Saturday for a full-on, plugged-in electric set alongside rising Detroit bandleader Jennifer Westwood and her Handsome Devils. Thorn will lay his head down in town afterward and come back to the Skipperdome relatively bright and early for an unplugged acoustic sundown set the next day. His Southern charm and trademark storytelling will likely shine through at both sets, and this one-two punch of down-home songwriting and wit is bound to please.
The Randy & Lahey Show
SUNDAY 8 p.m. Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St., Ybor City. Sold out. (813) 241-8600.
For Valentine’s Day, promoters at the Crowbar in Ybor City want lovers to take to the park — the trailer park. The Randy and Lahey show is largely based on characters from Trailer Park Boys — a Canadian television comedy with a cult following. Actors John Dunsworth (Jim Lahey) and Patrick Roach (Randy “Bo Bandy”) are not expected to break character for this weird mix of comedy and song, and the show is not for the faint of heart. Expect a lot of satirically sexist, homophobic and off-color humor, and don’t be surprised to find audience members dragged onstage for bits. The show sold out more than a week ago.
With Alex the Great, Bangarang, Connor Vance, Denim Blue Music, Glass House Point, Polyenso, The Real Clash, The Western Sons
WEDNESDAY 7 p.m. State Theatre, 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $5-$10. (727) 895-3045.
A battle of the bands that isn’t an over-hyped popularity contest is generally the exception to the rule, but this one feels a little bit different. Destination Okeechobee pits Sunshine State acts against each other, with the winner of a “popular vote” at the show earning $500 and a spot on the bill of the new Okeechobee Music + Arts Festival in South Florida the first weekend of March. Rising St. Pete orchestral indie outfit Polyenso and reggae-fusion six-piece Bangarang feel like the best locals with a chance to rise above the field, but they’ll have plenty of competition from hip-hop collective the Real Clash and Tampa pop-rockers the Western Sons. Connor Vance blows in from Gainesville with polished radio rock that could take the top spot, too. No matter who wins, you’ll probably see most of these bands grinding it out around town in the months to come.
WEDNESDAY 7:30 p.m. Largo Cultural Center, 105 Central Park Drive, Largo. $19.50-$39.50. (727) 587-6793.
Bassist Andy Cichon doesn’t waste a lot of time between local appearances. The Aussie was just at Amalie Arena as part of Billy Joel’s band. Now he brings Shotgun Wedding to an intimate venue. The New York outfit are heavy on twang, and use their expert chops (members have played in the bands of Paul McCartney, Enrique Iglesias, Shania Twain, Hall and Oates and Queen) to craft their ragtime-flavored Big Apple brand of dusty Southern California folk, bluegrass and country. Shotgun Wedding’s debut, South Of Somewhere, is due just days after the Largo Cultural Center appearance, so expect extra joyous hollering and harmonizing at this one.
AMFMS EP Release Show
With Sonic Graffiti, Sun Signs, JT Brown
THURSDAY 9 p.m. New World Brewery, 1313 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. $10. (813) 248-4969.
Much like Everytown, U.S.A., Tampa Bay is littered with road-weary touring musicians and studio aces. It always feels special when bands play hometown shows, however, and this one from the AMFMS certainly fits the bill. The nucleus of the outfit is in the Baltimore area, but frontman Shawn Kyle rests his head in Seminole Heights, where he likely dreams up new arrangements to bring to the group, which specializes in dirty ’70s and ’80s radio rock that swirls with sinister and psychedelic ear-ringing riffs. They bring a who’s-who of local talent to open this show celebrating the release of a new EP, Captives.
Storm Large, Fri. 7 p.m. Tampa Theatre, 711 N. Franklin Street, Tampa. $48.50 and up. (813) 274-8981.
Drake White, Fri. With The Big Fire. 7 p.m. The Dallas Bull, 3322 US Hwy. 301 N., Tampa. $10-$15. (813) 987-2855.
Patty Griffin Fri. With Sara Watkins, Anais Mitchell. 8 p.m. Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S. $39.50 and up.
Robert Cray Band, Fri. 7 p.m. Coca-Cola Stage at Florida State Fairgrounds, 4800 U.S. Hwy. 301 N., Tampa. Free with admission. (813) 621-7821.
The Southern Belles, Fri. 9 p.m. Dunedin Brewery, 937 Douglas Ave., Dunedin. Free. (727) 736-0606.
R5, Sat. With Ryland & Parade Of Lights. 7 p.m. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N. McMullen-Booth Rd., Clearwater. $33.25-$52.35. (727) 791-7400.
Hairapalooza, Sat. 7 p.m. With Winger, Firehouse. England Brothers Park, 510 81st. Ave. N., Pinellas Park. $10.99-$99.99. (727) 541-0895.
Living Decent, Sat. With DieAlps!, Total S***. 7 p.m. Microgroove, 4906 N. Florida Ave., Tampa. $5 Donation. (813) 667-7089.
Perdition Temple, Sat. With Father Befouled, Encoffination, Gnosis, Caveman Cult. 7 p.m. The Brass Mug, 1450 Skipper Rd., Tampa. $12. (813) 972-8152.
Beebs and Her Monkey Makers, Sat. 10 p.m. With Levon White. The Ale and The Witch, 111 2nd. Ave. NE, St. Petersburg. Donations Accepted. (727) 821-2533.
Robert Randolph & Family Band, Sun. 7:30 p.m. The Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $25-$50. (727) 791-7400.
Todd Rundgren Sun. 7 p.m. Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. $37.50 and up.
Excision, Sun. With Figure, Bear Grillz. 10 p.m. Amphitheatre Event Facility, 1609 E. Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $35. (813) 873-8368.
Comrades, Mon. With Tigerwine, Pilgrimage, Big Brother. 8 p.m. Tre Amici at the Bunker, 1907 N. 19th St., Ybor City. $3-$5 Donation. (813) 247-6964.
Enforcer, Tue. With Warbringer, Cauldron, Exmortus. 7 p.m. Orpheum, 1915 E. 7th Ave., Ybor City. $8-$15. (813) 248-9500.
Vinyl Theatre, Wed. With Finish Ticket. 6 p.m. The Local 662, 662 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $15. Facebook.com/thelocal662.
-- Jay Cridlin and Ray Roa