Decisions, decisions: That's the name of the grueling game when it comes to concerts in the Tampa Bay area this March. Lots of good shows — on the same nights. For instance, this Friday, there's not one but SIX bold-faced gigs in town. So what's it gonna be, rock stars? John Mellencamp at Ruth Eckerd Hall, Fishbone and Slightly Stoopid at Jannus Live, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals at the State Theatre, 38 Special at the Florida Strawberry Festival, comedian Kevin Hart at the St. Pete Times Forum or Tinsley Ellis at Skipper's Smokehouse? While you do some contemplatin', here are five other hot March concerts worth your hard-earned cash:
Old 97's (Skipper's Smokehouse, Wednesday): This Texas band out of Big D is often mentioned with other '90s-born y'alternative acts, but they swing considerably harder than such country navel-gazers as Uncle Tupelo and Whiskeytown. Lead singer-songwriter Rhett Miller makes like a hayseed smartypants with power-pop leanings. Trust me: Boogie and Skoal have never gone together so well. (skipperssmokehouse.com)
Lady Antebellum (Florida Strawberry Festival, March 13): There's not much more to say about this country trio other than that — after winning song and record of the year at the Grammys — the Need You Now champs are well on their way to world domination. Nashville has always been smart about staying cozy with its fans, but let's be real: How much longer will Lady A be playing the Strawberry Festival? Exactly. Buy your tix now. (flstrawberryfestival.com)
Tennis & Dum Dum Girls (The Orpheum, March 13): I reviewed Lady Antebellum last time they were in town — which is the excuse I'll be using when I go to this March 13 show instead. The husband-wife seafaring duo in Tennis is one of my new favorite bands, a blend of Phil Spector sashay, Jesus and Mary Chain grit and Brian Wilson's mermaid fantasies. (statemedia.com)
Kenny Chesney, Zac Brown Band & More (Raymond James Stadium, March 19): Can K.C. beat U2's attendance record at RayJay? The number to top is 72,000. That would take a heck of a lot of country fans, but Tampa Bay is chock full of yeehaw, so it'll be close. (kennychesney.com)
Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings (Ritz Ybor, March 19): The Chesney tractor pull and hootenanny is just too big of a show for me to miss. But if I had my druthers (do the kids still say "druthers?"), I'd be at the other March 19 gig and its piercing retro vibe. Jones is a funk-soul specialist with a searing vocal, and the brassy Dap-Kings wouldn't be out of place backing James Brown. 2010's I Learned the Hard Way has style points to spare and a sweet, urban atmosphere. If you're looking for something new to try, get thee to iTunes and check this out. (ritzybor.com)
Sean Daly can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8467. His Pop Life blog is at tampabay.com/blogs/poplife.