This week in Tampa: Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Against Me! and more
What a week it is if you're a fan of old-school, against-the-grain country music.
Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard -- both of whom are set to play the Grammys on Sunday -- both have Tampa Bay shows next week, as does '70s troubadour Don Williams. But those are far from the only big shows in town this week.
Let Ray Roa walk you through this week's concert picks, which also include Against Me!, Obituary, Shawn Colvin, Keb' Mo', Falling In Reverse, Amon Amarth, Richard Thompson and PJ Bond...
With The Sidekicks, The Shondes
FRIDAY 7:30 p.m. State Theatre, 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $15. (727) 895-3045.
This week’s release of Against Me!’s new album will go down as the watershed moment of the Gainesville band’s nearly 15-year existence. It’s the first full-length since singer Tom Gabel came out as transgender and changed her name to Laura Jane Grace. While AM!’s reputation as politically charged, socially conscious bearers of speedy punk rock is well established, the 30 minutes of angst on Transgender Dysphoria Blues find Grace completely stripped down, exploring issues of homophobia, religious intolerance and self-doubt with an assured assertiveness that suggests that Against Me!’s best days are only just beginning.
Hardcore Bubblegum: The Rock & Roll Art of Greg 'Stainboy’ Reinel
With Car Bomb Drive, No Loves, Doll Parts
FRIDAY 8 p.m. The Local 662, 662 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $5. Facebook.com/thelocal662.
Good, original poster art can change the feel of an everyday rock 'n’ roll show from “meh” to memorable (just have a look at some of the show posters hanging in the windows of your favorite Bay-area venues and record stores to see what we mean). That idea gets celebrated at this club show, where St. Pete-by-way-of-Chicago artist Greg Reinel will be selling and signing his gallery-worthy, hyper-colored odes to trashy pop art in the very setting that inspires his work in the first place. Three local punk acts just as devoted to — and dirtied by — late nights listening to music at dark bars provide the soundtrack. Fans are welcome to bring previously purchased Stainboy art to the show at no charge.
With Nocturnus A D, Archangel, Nakhiel, Tickle
FRIDAY 7 p.m. Brass Mug, 1450 Skipper Road, Tampa. $15. (813) 972-8152.
Florida death metal owes its existence to Obituary, a band born in Tampa three decades ago. They are forefathers of the genre within state lines, but are also considered international ambassadors of dark, breakneck riffs and guttural growls. It’s nearly impossible to touch the greatness of their 1989 debut Slowly We Rot, but after 25 years the band’s core trio of John and Donald Tardy plus Trevor Peres still have fans banging down the gates for more, as evidenced by a 2013 Kickstarter campaign to crowd-fund a new album, which raised more than $10,000 in the first day alone.
SATURDAY 7:30 p.m. Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $35-$65. (727) 791-7400.
If you’ve ever wondered whether or not Sunny still comes home with a vengeance, then you’re going to want to be in Clearwater on Saturday when the Capitol Theatre welcomes ’90s pop-folk darling Shawn Colvin for an evening of Grammy-winning songwriting and storytelling. Her 1997 hit Sunny Came Home is about a lady who burns a house down to escape the past, so it’s fitting that this show comes just a few weeks after the Cap’s massive renovation. Colvin has released a quartet of new LPs since her heyday and maintains one of the busiest touring schedules out there, so don’t expect any rust or resting on laurels here.
With Marko Casso Lonly Monster, Kyle Chanson, Jeff Brawer
WEDNESDAY 7 p.m. Planet Retro Gallery, 2414 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Free (donations encouraged). (727) 218-7434.
The ’Burg has been getting a lot of positive attention for its cultural resurgence, and behind all of the beer, bars, bands and galleries are locals committed to supporting the artists, brewers and store owners trying to make a St. Pete a better place to live. This show is a happy marriage of those do-it-yourself ideals, as it finds a sometimes overlooked promoter with great taste (Chewy Hemphill) teaming up with the newly relocated Planet Retro Records to welcome a pair of the nation’s most prolific and busy troubadours, PJ Bond and Marko Casso, for an extremely intimate set alongside some of the Sunshine City’s own gifted songsmiths.
Willie Nelson and Family
WEDNESDAY 8 p.m. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $48.50-$150. (727) 791-7400.
Willie Nelson’s last Bay-area stop — a sold-out appearance last May at Ruth Eckerd Hall — led our own Sean Daly to describe the 80-year-old leather-faced legend as an “immortal” whose “voice has been preserved in a sepia-toned fog.” While that show seems like it was just yesterday, we won’t say no to another visit from the (not-so) Red Headed Stranger. The show kicks off a three-date Florida run that bleeds into a 30-date spring and summer tour, which is pretty impressive for the octogenarian, regardless of how many herbal supplements he may or may not take.
THURSDAY 7:30 p.m. Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $45-$55. (727) 791-7400.
He’s got a date with the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival this year, but before all that goes down, Keb’ Mo will kick off his new year with a pair of Florida dates, including one at the Cap, where he’ll blend a contemporary take on old Delta blues with an appreciation for gospel, jazz and rock 'n’ roll and play songs from any one of his dozen LPs. A versatile guitarist who is unafraid to switch between picking, strumming and slide, the Grammy winner’s fretboard dexterity is as enjoyable as his super-clean baritone, which should resonate well in the theater’s revamped acoustics.
WEDNESDAY 8 p.m. at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota ($52.62-$63.32); and THURSDAY 8 p.m. at the Lakeland Center, 710 Lime St., Lakeland ($29.50-$69.50).
It’s not a bad drive from Tampa or St. Petersburg to either Sarasota or Lakeland, meaning this is a great chance to see the Okie From Muskogee. Merle Haggard is one of country music’s biggest badasses, but unlike many country superstars with careers manufactured in the label boardrooms and shimmery studios of Nashville, the 76-year-old Haggard never had to feign authenticity. His parents lived in a converted boxcar during the Great Depression, and Haggard spent his teenage years running away to faraway states while bouncing in and out of jail. He fused everything he learned along the way to his obsession with jazz, blues, and folk, to become one of America’s greatest songwriters. Willie Nelson (who plays in Clearwater on Wednesday) is one of Haggard’s biggest fans, so be ready to get schooled and possibly get a room because you’ll probably want to stay and drink after this one.
Falling In Reverse Fri. With Escape the Fate, Chelsea Grin, Survuve This!. 6 p.m. Jannus Live, 16 Second St. N, St. Petersburg. $20 and up. (727) 565-0550.
Charlie and The Foxtrots Fri. With Gators in the Sawgrass, Kersey Williams, Physical Plant, Selectric. 9 p.m. The Venture Compound, 2621 Fairfield Ave. S., St. Petersburg $5. (901) 619-1519.
McLovins Fri. 9 p.m. Dunedin Brewery, 937 Douglas Ave., Dunedin. Free. (727) 736-0606.
Don Williams Fri. With Colm Kirwan. 7:30 p.m. Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $65-$85. (727) 791-7400.
Chase Rice Fri. 9 p.m. The Round Up, 13918 W Hillsborough Ave., Tampa. $10-$15. (813) 855-1464.
Vox Audio Fri. 7:30 p.m. Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center, 324 Pine St., Tarpon Springs. $28-$30. (727) 942-5605.
Roy Book Binder and His Trio (CD release) Fri. With Acoustic Blues. 8 p.m. Palladium, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $20-$25. (727) 822-3590.
Amon Amarth Sat. With Enslaved, Skeletonwitch. 7 p.m. Ritz Ybor, 1503 Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $22 and up. (813) 247-2555.
Talib Kweli Sat. With DJ SAndman, Dynasty, Jinx, the Villanz, DJ Fader, more. 9 p.m. Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St., Ybor City. $15-$20. (813) 444-6134.
Jun (CD release) Sat. 7 p.m. Mangia Gourmet, 2930 Beach Drive, Gulfport. Free. (727) 321-6264.
Ronny Cox Sat. 6 p.m. Hideaway Café, 1756 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $20. (727) 644-7895.
Parasol Sat. With Night Witch, Madison Turner. 7 p.m. Epic Problem, 4215 E Columbus Drive, Tampa. $5. (813) 382-3477.
New Cathedral Fri. With Triger City Trio, World Stands Aside, The Infinite Eights. 8 p.m. Market on 7th, 1816 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $7. (813) 248-2356.
New Year Gospel Explosion Sat. With Le’Andria Johnson, Tracy Clark, Amanda Webster, GC3, R. Anthony. 6 p.m. Center for Manifestation, 3102 E Lake Ave., Tampa. $15-$25. (813) 400-3906.
Big Something Sun. 5 p.m. Skipper’s Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road, Tampa. Free. (813) 971-0666.
Richard Thompson Electric Trio Mon. 7:30 p.m. Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $34.50-$44.50. (727) 791-7400.
Glenn Miller Orchestra Mon. 1 p.m. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $18-$35. (727) 791-7400.
Ahavah Rabah: Songs Of Love Wed. 7 p.m. Congregation B’nai Israel, 300 58th St. S, St. Petersburg. $18 suggested donation. (727) 381-4900.
Nekromantix Thurs. With The Scurvy, Housebroken, Switchblade Villan. 7:30 p.m. Orpheum, 1915 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $8-$15. (813) 248-9500 or theorpheum.com.
-- Ray Roa, tbt*