m Ben Folds (with Jukebox the Ghost)
Details: 8:30 p.m. Friday, the Ritz Ybor, 1503 Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $32.50. (813) 247-2555.
Ben Folds is a character to say the least. He's got the dry humor of Randy Newman, the chops of Elton John and the unlucky-in-love plague of the Simpsons' Millhouse. (Dare we say, he's music's coolest nerd?) As concerts go, his sweet and sour piano-pop act is as fulfilling as they get, often culminating with a climb atop his piano. Slice-of-life tunes Brick and Still Fighting It are best known, though ultra-melodious hooks and memorable falsetto ring throughout Folds' catalog. His new album, due out later this month, contains university a cappella groups covering his songs.
FLA Ska Festival XI
Featuring Magadog, the Duppies, Tribal Style, the Brentford Sound, Johnny Cakes and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypso, the Long Johns
Details: 8 p.m. Saturday, Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St., Ybor City. $7. (813) 241-8600.
Stay brassy, Tampa Bay. Ska Fest XI boasts third wave ska in all its offbeat-rhythmic glory. Magadog tells it like it is when discussing the band's evolution. "The early lineup was more infamous for their ganja smoking, sloppy beats and fancy footwork," says vocalist Ed Lowery. "The current lineup features tighter instrumentation." Johnny Cakes and TFHOTA, a raucous, metal-tinged ska act, won a contest sponsored by Tijuana Flats. Their song Long Island Iced Tea Island will play on the restaurant's Web site this summer.
(The Old School Tampa Reunion Concert) With Joe Popp, Maggie Council, My Little Trotsky
Details: 5 p.m. Sunday, Skipper's Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road, Tampa. $10. (813) 971-0666.
Forget the cow. Ten bucks for a little Beanstalk magic is the better deal. The talented Tampa instrumental outfit enjoyed moderate success in the late '90s with slick and funky jazz jams in the vein of Victor Wooten and Karl Denson's Tiny Universe. Now the band reunites to play its first show in more than eight years. Bassist Andy Irvine, who adeptly handles his large, orchestral double bass "as if it were a Guitar Hero accessory," has a feature interview in the current issue of Bass Player magazine, in which he talks about his solo technique. And celebrated singer-songwriter Joe Popp is making the trip from New York to do his punk songs solo and acoustic.
Details: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $30-$40. (727) 441-8868.
Pianist and composer William Joseph is out to revive the instrumental piano genre, just as Michael Buble's done for the crooners and Josh Groban's done for classical-crossover. (At the very least, he could power those Bond Jewelers commercials.) Joseph puts his spin on everything from Ave Maria to Led Zeppelin's Kashmir and Muse's Butterflies and Hurricanes. He'll perform at the new Capitol Theatre (formerly Royalty Theatre) in downtown Clearwater.
Got a concert tip for Carole? E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.