This week in Tampa: Drake, Michael Buble, John Legend, Sleigh Bells, Joan Jett, Harry Connick Jr. and more
This week we have another strong contender for Busiest Music Week of the Year. It’s so big that half the staff helped out with previews of some of the biggest shows, including Drake, Michael Buble, John Legend, Harry Connick Jr., Miguel, Sleigh Bells, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Gwar, JJ Grey and Mofro, Lucero, Titus Andronicus, Reel Big Fish, Goldfinger, Timeflies, Chiddy Bang, Tamar Braxton, Tim Kasher, Blackberry Smoke, Molly Hatchet,Paul Rodgers, David Allen Coe, Chelsea Light Moving, Laura Stevenson, Julie Fowlis, Whitechapel, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, KMFDM, Red Molly, Sonny Landreth, Jacuzzi Boys and much, much more.
Here to walk you through it all — with a little help from the tbt* staff — is Ray Roa ...
FRIDAY 8 p.m. Tampa Bay Times Forum, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $54.50-$115. (813) 301-2500.
Remember the album cover of Frank Sinatra’s 1959 classic Come Dance With Me!, with Ol’ Blue Eyes winking, smirking, wiggling a finger for you to join him in merry mischief? Yeah, well, Michael Buble, a 21st century Frank-o-phile, makes that face all the time. I say the following with awed admiration: The 38-year-old is the smarmiest son of a gun I’ve ever seen. I love him and despise him equally, which basically means I want to be him. The Canadian Haven’t Met You Yet singer is handsome, rich, could sing the Yellow Pages with his whiskey-cured Rat-Pack-ready vocal. But what he’s not is subtle. Buble conducts himself as if his Rolex always reads 2 a.m., as if he’s walking into Caesar’s Palace ready to take the house. He struts around as if there’s always a swingin’ big band following him. It’s easy to dislike Buble. Then you watch him rework Ray Charles’ You Don’t Know Me, or hear his cocktail-classic take on The Way You Look Tonight, and the guy pulls you back in: a wink, a smirk, a song — annoying but irresistible. — Sean Daly
With Tamar Braxton
MONDAY 7:30 p.m. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $50.50-$120.50. (727) 791-7400
We love John Legend because he feels like the reincarnation of the smooth, soulful singers our mothers and grandmothers loved. Can’t you just picture him hanging with Marvin Gaye or testifying at Al Green’s church? That’s how John Roger Stephens got his stage name. The hip-hop poet J. Ivy told him his music sounded old-school. “You sound like one of the legends. As a matter of fact, that’s what I’m going to call you from now on. I’m going to call you John Legend.” The nickname stuck. But it’s not just those buttery vocals. We swoon for him because he’s smart. Super smart. As in he skipped two grades, started high school at 12, graduated at 16 as salutatorian (and prom king!). Since becoming famous he’s championed education and often speaks out about how to improve classrooms. He’s off the market now — recently wed to swimsuit model Chrissy Teigen — but that only makes us love him more. Look what great husband material this guy is: Earlier this year, before a show in London told his audience, “All men should be feminists. If men care about women’s rights the world will be a better place.” — Sharon Kennedy Wynne
Harry Connick Jr.
TUESDAY 7 p.m. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $50-$175. (727) 791-7400.
Harry Connick Jr. could certainly teach the rest of these guys a thing or two about channeling that Ol’ Blue Eyes charisma. Who can resist his effortlessly cool New Orleans charm, that drawl that always makes him sound like he’s about to burst into an intimate version of It Had to Be You? More charm than smarm (I’m smirking at you, Buble), Connick’s been around long enough to prove he’s the real deal. I mean, is there anything the guy can’t do? Record the soundtrack for one of the most beloved romantic comedies of all time (When Harry Met Sally) when he was just 22 — check. Star as a leading man in a movie (anyone remember Hope Floats?!) — check. Become a recurring character on a must-see-TV sitcom (Will and Grace) — check. Marry a former Victoria’s Secret model — check. Dude’s got skills, and that’s what makes the King of Cool so sexy. Though the piercing blue eyes sure don’t hurt, either. — Michelle Stark
With Miguel, Future
WEDNESDAY 7:30 p.m. Tampa Bay Times Forum, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $37-$97. (813) 301-2500.
Drake first dazzled us with his charm on teen drama Degrassi: The Next Generation, still innocently using his given name Aubrey Graham in the credits. When we outgrew the overwrought plight of the high-school set, we thought we’d never hear from Aubrey again. But no, the guy with the animal magnetism of a baby panda re-emerged as a burgeoning rapper with the mononym Drake, accompanied by a hint of a wheeze likely inspired by the man who pulled him back into the limelight: Lil Wayne. Drake’s talent is undeniable; just listen to him rap the opening verse of his track HYFR. He’s also responsible for the popular acronym YOLO (You Only Live Once), single-handedly justifying stupidity for an entire generation. But even surrounded by Young Money, sizzurp and the questionable influence of Nicki Minaj, he still smiles in photos with a wide, toothy grin, making every girl in his vicinity long for him to turn to her and sing, “Just hold on, we’re going home.” — Katie Manfred
JJ Grey and Mofro
With Thomas Wynn and the Believers
FRIDAY 7 p.m. Jannus Live, 200 First Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $25. (727) 565-0550.
Something tells us JJ Grey has had a few drinks named after him over the years. The latest is Nare Sugar Brown, the second music-themed beer brewed by St. Petersburg’s Rock Brothers Brewing. Named for a track from the Jacksonville swamp-rockers’ 2001 debut Blackwater (which, come to think of it, wouldn’t have been a bad name for a stout or porter), the song goes, “If this a big party, then everybody dance.” Get a few Nare Sugar Browns in ’em, and Mofro’s many fans will do just that. — Jay Cridlin
FRIDAY 8 p.m, State Theatre, 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $22-$25. (727) 895-3045.
The last time Sleigh Bells came to town, the buzzy thrash-pop duo played the Ritz and brought along Spin magazine, who shut out pretty much all local photographers. That’s a bummer because frontwoman Alexis Krauss — with her pumps and basketball jerseys — possesses an arresting stage presence trumped only by the bravado of guitarist (and Florida native) Derek Miller. Sleigh Bells are guaranteed to make you rethink that decision to leave the earplugs at home, thanks in part to piercing riffs delivered through a mountain of Marshall amps. The band has a brand new album, Bitter Rivals, and they’ve moved back into smaller digs, so expect a bit more intimacy and intensity at this one.
With Laura Stevenson, Deluxe
FRIDAY 9 p.m., Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St., Ybor City. $10-$12. (813) 241-8600.
Tim Kasher bottled a lot of angst into two of his most famous bands — Cursive and The Good Life — and while those outfits existed on opposite ends of the sonic spectrum (the former being a bit sharp and uncompromising, the latter possessing a more subdued vibe), Kasher, 39, has found a happy medium in his solo work. Songs like A Grown Man and Life and Limbo find him writing with a bookworm’s brain and tackling the perils of marriage, parenthood and growing old with the tact and skill of an accomplished playwright. Arrangements range from alt-pop (Cold Love) to jagged ballads (Where’s Your Heart Lie), but the meat of it all exists in the same contemplative, candid heart that’s always marked any Kasher-fronted project.
Born To Ride Jam
With Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Paul Rodgers, Blackberry Smoke, Foghat, Molly Hatchet, David Allen Coe, Soul Circus Cowboys, Mojo Gurus, The Stone City, Bobby Lee Rodgers and the Sting Police
SATURDAY 11 a.m., England Brothers Park, 510 81st. Ave. N, Pinellas Park. $20 and up. (727) 541-0895.
This new music and motorcycle festival will be fairly family-friendly since it’s effectively banning motorcycle clubs by billing itself as a “no colors event,” but the designation is a bit baffling, considering part of the Born To Ride Jam’s draw is booking cast members from Sons Of Anarchy (FX’s series about a fictitious outlaw motorcycle club). Nevertheless, the musical lineup is more than enough to get engines hot anyway. A rejuvenated Joan Jett and the Blackhearts lead the charge, and old favorites Foghat, David Allen Coe and Paul Rodgers are roaring in right behind them.
Chelsea Light Moving
With Merchandise, Blood Wave, Permanent Makeup
SATURDAY 6 p.m., Orpheum, 1915 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $12-$15. (813) 248-9500.
Sonic Youth fans mourned the inevitable hiatus that would come after founders/bandmates Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore announced a divorce three years ago, but Moore was quick to start a new project and a put a Band-Aid on any boo-boos created by the schism. Chelsea Light Moving — a loud and abrasive sonic art project that pays tribute to mid 20th century avant garde artists while simultaneously addressing social issues of the modern-age — has gained quite the following, but do come early for the local openers. St. Pete neu-punk trio Permanent Makeup are set to make a national splash, and Seminole Heights-based Merchandise,who masterfully marry the worlds of new wave and modern pop, will showcase a live show that has taken them on multiple European tours.
The John Lamb Quintet with Buster Cooper
SUNDAY 3 p.m., HCC Ybor Campus Performing Arts Building, 1304 E 11th Ave., Ybor City. $10-$20. (813) 253-7623.
John Lamb’s tenure with Duke Ellington’s band was so extraordinary that he barely remembers playing a private 1966 show for renowned Spanish surrealist Joan Miró. “We were in the limelight all the time,” Lamb said in a 2012 interview, “it was just another thing.” Now in the eighth decade of his life, Lamb brings his experiences to Hillsborough Community College’s Ybor Campus where he’ll be joined by another Ellington band alum, St. Pete trombone legend Buster Cooper, who is sure to up the nostalgic ante at this special booking. Great jazz is still alive and well today, but it’s very rare that you get to see some of the genre’s original handlers collide for a show like this.
SUNDAY 7:30 p.m., Palladium, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $30. (727) 822-3590.
Thanks to a Disney/Pixar computer animated princess named Merida, folk-singer Julie Fowlis’ most famous song might be Touch The Sky, which is a highlight of the soundtrack for Brave (ask your kids about it if cartoons escape you). Fowlis’ pixelated pedigree shouldn’t be dismissed as child’s play, though, as the 35-year-old is also a BBC Radio 2 Folk Singer Of The Year. She claims to be raised on “peatfire smoke and good music,” and it shows. Her use of somewhat archaic Scottish Gaelic is no joke, so while you might not be able to understand the words coming out of her mouth, Fowlis’ heavenly delivery — often backed by crying bagpipes, sparse percussion and lively fiddle — is spellbinding.
With Whitechapel, Iron Reagan, A Band Of Orcs
TUESDAY 6:30 p.m., The Ritz, 1503 Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $20 and up. (813) 247-2555.
Concert venues aren’t supposed to be draped in plastic sheets before a show starts, but there’s no other option when Gwar comes to town. The heavy metal icons hit the stage dressed as aliens created in the lowest fifth of the universe who apparently arrived with just one objective: to come to earth and sexually enslave and slaughter the human race. If the mission statement isn’t offensive enough, then wrap your senses around the band’s notorious live show, where literally nothing is taboo. Fake blood, saliva and other NSFW fluids get sprayed into the crowd, crude jokes get made at anyone’s expense (Michael Jackson, Monica Lewinsky have been distastefully mocked), and fans eat it up like candy. There is no unseeing a Gwar performance, but the sadistic side of you may never want to look away.
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
WEDNESDAY 7:30 p.m., Palladium, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $35-$45. (727) 822-3590.
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy once brought swing music to the Super Bowl halftime show (Gloria Estefan, Stevie Wonder and MVP John Elway were other SB XXXIII highlights), and while the band’s time in the spotlight has pretty much come and gone, it hasn’t stopped frontman Scotty Morris and his big band from continually recording music. This tour finds the band celebrating 20-years of bringing jump blues, rockabilly and swing to faithful fans who will surely pack the elegant Palladium for the occasion. There might not be a lot of room to get down in the aisles, but you can bet on classics like Go Daddy-O and You & Me & The Bottle Makes 3 coming out, so polish up those wingtips and get ready to move.
Jacuzzi Boys Fri. With Florida Night Heat, Booker & Norton. 9 p.m. New World Brewery, 1313 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. $10. (813) 248-4969.
Hip Abduction Fri. With Hoola Monsters. 8 p.m. St. Petersburg Nights, 6800 Sunset Way, St. Petersburg. $10-$15. (727) 363-3832.
Mike & Ruthy Fri. 7 p.m. Craftsman House Gallery, 2955 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $18-$23. (727) 323-2787.
Folkfest St. Pete Sat.-Sun. With Anne McCue, The Congress, Birds Of Chicago, Freelow, Amandla Tunesmith, Danielle DeCosmo, Rebekah Pulley & The Relctant Prophets, Hiroya Tsukamoto, Dean Johanessen, Talk To Mark, Jeremiah Hutchinson. 10 a.m. Edge District, 1114 Central Ave, St. Petersburg. Free ($50-$75 for VIP passes). (727) 825-0515.
Jessy Terry & Ed Woltil Sat. 7 p.m. Hideaway Café, 1756 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $15. (727) 644-7895.
Lucero Sat. With Titus Andronicus. 7:30 p.m. State Theatre, 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $20-$23. (727) 895-3045.
David Phelps Sat. 7 p.m. First Baptist Church, 1900 Gandy Blvd., St. Petersburg. $18-$25. (727) 576-5508.
Reel Big Fish Sat. With Goldfinger, The Beautiful Bodies, Beebs and Her Money Makers. 7 p.m. Jannus Live, 16 Second St. N., St. Petersburg. $23-$25. (727) 565-0550.
In This Moment Sun. With Motionless In White, All Hail The Yeti, Kyng. 7 p.m. State Theatre, 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $19.75-$25. (813) 248-2954.
Sonny Landreth Sun. With Randy McAllister Band. 5 p.m. Skipper’s Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road, Tampa. $15-$20. (813) 971-0666.
Mad Conductor Sun. With TrainQuill, Freelow. 9 p.m. Fubar, 658 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $8. (727) 424-1809.
Putrid Christ Sun. With Imperial Conquest, Neldreth, Hubris, Shimera. 7:30 p.m. The Brass Mug, 1450 Skipper Road, Tampa. $6-$8. (813) 972-8152.
He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister Mon. With Caught A Ghost, Song Preservation Society. 8 p.m. Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St., Ybor City. $12-$15. (813) 241-8600.
Timeflies Mon. With Chiddy Bang. 7:30 p.m. The Ritz, 1503 Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $25 and up. (813) 247-2555.
Red Molly Mon. 7:30 p.m. David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N W.C. MacInnes Place, Tampa. $28.50 and up. (813) 229-7827.
Streetlight Manifesto Tues. With Mike Park, Dan Pottshat. 7 p.m. State Theatre, 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $17-$20. (727) 895-3045.
KMFDM Wed. With Chant. 7 p.m. Orpheum, 1915 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $13-$55. (813) 248-9500 or theorpheum.com.
Sick/Sea Wed. 7 p.m. Microgroove, 4906 N Florida Ave., Tampa. Free. (813) 667-7089.
Dysrhythmia Wed. With Zevious, Auto! Automatic!!. 8 p.m. Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St., Ybor City. $6-$9. (813) 241-8600.
Warmaster Thurs. With Sacridose, Infernal Onslaught, Primate Research. 8 p.m. Epic Problem, 4215 E Columbus Drive, Tampa. $8. (813) 382-3477.
Nick and the Ovorols Thurs. 8:30 p.m. The Ale and The Witch, 111 Second. Ave. NE, St. Petersburg. Free. (727) 821-2533.
-- Ray Roa, tbt*