Michael Franti and Spearhead >>
Details: Wednesday 7 p.m. Ritz Ybor, 1503 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $24-$27. (813) 247-2555.
"All the freaky people make the beauty of the world," declares Michael Franti on Stay Human. Tall and shoeless with tie-dye ideals, Franti — shown here goofing with a fan on stage — has always been desperate to change the world via a free-floating mix of rock, reggae, funk and jam. But on dancehall-ish rocker Say Hey (I Love You), Franti just wants to toast love in a world gone haywire. Following his opening set for John Mayer, a Times reviewer said, "If the Black Eyed Peas played instruments, they would be Michael Franti and Spearhead. That's how lively, energetic and fun this group is."
Country Throwdown Tour
Featuring Montgomery Gentry, Eric Church, Ryan Bingham, Jamey Johnson, Little Big Town, Jack Ingram, more
Details: Friday 2 p.m. Ford Amphitheatre, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. $15-$35. (813) 740-2446.
Alternative rock fans have Warped Tour. Metal fans have Mayhem Fest, and independent ladies have Lilith Fair. Now country music devotees can get down at their very own multistage touring festival, the Country Throwdown (the first of its kind for the genre). This daylong event goes heavy on can't-be-tamed troubadours like Jamey Johnson, Eric Church and the hard-livin' Ryan Bingham. Bingham is about as croaky as a mountain lion, but as sexy as a Texas rodeo star (which was actually his day job before he joined the songwriting elite on the Lost Highway label). This year, Bingham won an Oscar for his contributions to the Crazy Heart soundtrack.
With CLRH20, Jaybee
Details: Sunday 10 p.m. Hyde Park Cafe, 1806 W Platt St., Tampa. (813) 254-2233.
Orlando's AK1200 is a founding father of the drum and bass genre and its dub-style offshoot, jungle. Most songs clock in around 180 beats per minute and contain some of the chunkiest bass lines on the planet. And that usually means one of two things to people: time to dance like no one's watching, or time to scramble for aspirin.
m Cage the Elephant
Details: Friday 9 p.m. State Theatre, 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $15. (727) 895-3045.
Cage's dusty, rap-ish garage sound suggests a cross between Beck and Jack White, perfect for sweaty, down South days. But they had to travel from their Bowling Green, Ky., home to the U.K. to get any attention. (Kings of Leon drummer Nathan Followill once told me that the Brits always seem quicker to embrace rock from the South.) Back in the states, hit Ain't No Rest for the Wicked had critics hailing it the best survival song of the year.
Steve Connelly and the Lesser Gods
With Ella Jet, the Ditchflowers
Details: Friday 8 p.m. The Palladium, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $10. (727) 822-3590.
Steve Connelly steps out from behind the boards of his Pinellas Park recording studio to perform live with his band the Lesser Gods. Most local fans know Connelly, former sideman to ex-Byrds' Roger McGuinn, as a free-spirited player with delightfully droopy tunes reminiscent of Tom Petty. Connelly will debut songs from soon-to-be-released Every Monster.
Times staff writer Jay Cridlin contributed to this report. Times correspondent Carole Liparoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.