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Don Henley, Marc Anthony, Cedric the Entertainer boost Mahaffey Theater's credentials

By SEAN DALY

Times Pop Music Critic

I'm certainly not one to frown at the idea of too many major music acts stuffing the halls of Tampa Bay, but you have to wonder:

With Big 3 Entertainment impresario Bill Edwards bringing his considerable wooing clout to the Mahaffey Theater — and if the starry promises of his "grand opening" weekend turn out to be true — will we all have enough cash to shell out for the cornucopia of concerts coming our way?

That may seem like a silly question, but things are definitely getting interesting.

When I landed the music critic gig at the Times six years ago, this area was already a decent draw for stars of all sizes. But lately it's been an embarrassment of riches, especially as Jannus Live in St. Petersburg and the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa have also stepped up their own wooing skills. Orlando can tease us all it wants with festivals and such, but for myriad reasons, geographical and otherwise, Tampa Bay remains the state's rock-solid epicenter.

And now the Mahaffey threatens to become a serious player. It won't be that easy, of course. Edwards has to booster his venue's rep, as well as convince locals that his new and improved hall is as good a place to rock as Ruth Eckerd Hall, which already has a sterling local and national reputation.

Of course, the Mahaffey's "grand opening" weekend with Edwards at the helm certainly looks good. Friday night's kickoff is headlined by Don Henley, who will pull from both his considerable Eagles songbook and his solo work (Dirty Laundry is one of my fave songs ever).

Saturday brings in J. Lo's ex, Marc Anthony, whose 11 million albums sold is a testament to his revered presence in the Latin community.

And on Sunday, one of the original "Kings of Comedy," Cedric the Entertainer, will bring his instigational laughs to a venue that could use a lil' loosening up. I like this booking most of all.

As of press time, only the Anthony concert was sold out, although that could change by show times. Regardless, the jockeying for pop talent and your dollar is about to heat up around these parts. It should be fun to watch — and, hopefully, hear.

Sean Daly can be reached at sdaly@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8467. His Pop Life blog is at tampabay.com/blogs/poplife.

IF YOU GO

The Mahaffey Theater is at 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg.

For ticket and information, call (727) 892-5767.

DON HENLEY

8 p.m. Friday. $50-$175.

MARC ANTHONY

8 p.m. Saturday. Sold out.

CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER

8 p.m. Sunday. $55-$90.

CHILLOUNGE

There are two Chillounges this weekend in St. Petersburg.

The plaza between the Mahaffey Theater and the Dalí Museum will be a chic spot for a free, open to the public Chillounge with South Beach-style furniture from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday before the Don Henley show and again after the show from roughly 10 p.m. to midnight. There will be DJs and fireworks; beer, wine and cocktails will be available.

At 6 p.m. Saturday, the Chillounge moves along the waterfront to Straub Park, near the Vinoy Renaissance Resort. The outdoor party features food vendors and cash bars, a Brazilian samba parade, fashion show, Cleopatra parade on daybeds, cigar lounge area, jazz and fireworks. $20 advance, $25 at the gate, $95 VIP. Toll-free 1-888-695-0888.

Don Henley, Marc Anthony, Cedric the Entertainer boost Mahaffey Theater's credentials 11/16/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 16, 2011 3:30am]
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