Straight No Chaser >>
Details: Tuesday 7:30 p.m. David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 MacInnes Place, Tampa. Tickets start at $26.50. (813) 229-7827.
And A Rockapella Holiday
Details: Wednesday 7:30 p.m. Tampa Theatre, 711 N Franklin St., Tampa. $38. (813) 274-8981.
Owing much to the surging popularity of shows like Glee and The Sing-Off, longtime a cappella groups Rockapella and Straight No Chaser are getting lots of second looks on tour this year. The two vocal troupes perform Christmas classics with a twist this week in Tampa. Led by University of Tampa alumni and high tenor Scott Leonard, Rockapella is best known for its role as the "house band" on PBS's Where in the World is Carmen San Diego. Leonard crafts the arrangements, all of which include vocal percussion or beatboxing. Imagine Silver Bells with "the Mozart of spit" shaping the rhythm and feel, he says. Straight No Chaser is an all-male a cappella act formed at Indiana University. After its peppy, comedic take on the Twelve Days of Christmas (which incorporated the melody from Toto's Africa) went viral, the group moved off of frat row and onto main stages. The Christmas Can-Can, a harmonic ode to holiday chaos and frenzied shopping, conjures up Andy Bernard and "Here Comes Treble."
With Ashleigh Flynn, Will Kimbrough
Details: Saturday 8 p.m. Skipper's Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road, Tampa. $15-$20. (813) 971-0666.
WMNF favorite Todd Snider is a sharp social commentator and rascally comedian who sings about beer runs and baseball players who pitch no-hitters on acid. Snider describes 2009's The Excitement Plan as "JJ Cale meets Jerry Jeff Walker with words that would hopefully impress Shel Silverstein or Kris Kristofferson." We'd put the windswept troubadour somewhere between a John Prine and a Randy Newman.
The Legendary JCs CD Release
With the Lee Boys
Details: Friday 8 p.m. Skipper's Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road, Tampa. $10-$13. (813) 971-0666.
If Booker T. and the M.G.'s stepped out of the instrumental realm and handed Sam Cooke the microphone and a Red Bull, they might resemble Winter Park's the Legendary JCs. Led by charismatic singer Eugene "Denzel" Snowden, the group is a serious and sweaty combo with a heck of a Stax/Volt record collection — we're talking the golden age of soul. New disc Our Time Will Come shows the crew at its Southern soul-funk-R&B-jazz-and-Gospel-blending best. Openers the Lee Boys specialize in "sacred steel," a unique form of gospel music with electric lap steel and pedal steel guitars and hard-driving, blues-based beats worthy of worship.
Juan Formell y Los Van Van
Details: Saturday 8 p.m. Ritz Ybor, 1503 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $75. (813) 247-2555.
Juan Formell y Los Van Van is one of the most popular groups in Cuba. Unfortunately, visa issues and travel restrictions between Cuba and the United States have limited the band's ability to tour here. (Hence the high price tag for this show.) The self-proclaimed Rolling Stones of Salsa re-conceptualized traditional Cuban rhythms and developed the Van Van sound, one now known as songo (based on the son rhythm). There will be a ton of band members on stage (really, it took fewer people to construct the Panama Canal) offering tall tales, double-entendre and percussion galore. The tropical heroes sold out three consecutive nights in NYC last week, so we expect a solid turnout at the Florida shows, too.
Times correspondent Carole Liparoto can be reached at [email protected]