It's about to get bombastic in Ruth Eckerd Hall, and I'm not just talking about such high-volume acts as Lynyrd Skynyrd, John Legend, Glenn Frey and, um, Regis Philbin, all of whom will rattle the Clearwater venue's rafters in the upcoming months.
As part of its just-announced 2012-13 season, well-traveled AM-radio grunts Kansas (Jan. 19), the Alan Parsons Live Project (Feb. 15) and Supertramp's Roger Hodgson (March 22) will be paired with a "rock symphony," a hot trend previously mastered by pop icons Sting and former Styx frontman Dennis DeYoung.
On Jan. 18, former Maniac Natalie Merchant will also be backed by a symphony orchestra. Last time the pop tigerlily was here she ripped the Columbia restaurant; maybe she'll pack herself a lunch this time and be in a better mood.
Speaking of a mighty roar: Comedian Bill Cosby, 75, is still stomping the showbiz boards, mixing oft-biting social commentary with his standup (To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With is perhaps the funniest standup routine of all time). Cos will be there March 23.
Rest assured, the venue will add acts as the year goes on, and slightly offbeat bookings (think the recent Jane's Addiction appearance) are a staple of REH's consistently eclectic mind-set.
Anyway: In a schedule rife with regular faces — Diana Krall, Frankie Valli, Engelbert Humperdinck — there are a few surprises as of now. Eagles stalwart Frey will make his debut at REH (Nov. 10), as will country belter LeAnn Rimes (Nov. 9) and rapper-turned-jazzbo Queen Latifah (March 26).
REH is always smart to mix classic with contemporary, so booking R&B star John Legend (Oct. 16) and Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder (Dec. 3-4) will make sure the place retains its hip factor. Violinist Joshua Bell has also courted crossover success; the Grammy winner arrives Feb. 22.
Before the Capitol Theatre closes for major renovations next year, they'll sneak a few shows in the intimate joint, including the Black Crowes' Chris Robinson (Oct. 20), prog-poppers Asia (Nov. 20), country-folkie Iris DeMent (Dec. 9) and Arlo Guthrie, who will celebrate his legendary dad, Woody, on Feb. 2.
The Adults at Leisure will feature 15 midday golden-year acts including the Vienna Boys Choir (Feb. 11), Sandy Hackett's Rat Pack Show (Feb. 24) and Celtic Crossroads (March 10). All 15 gigs can be had in a season-ticket swoop for $180. You can also get a box lunch, too! Count me in!
Here's a look at some of the other highlights from Ruth Eckerd Hall's upcoming season. Go to rutheckerdhall.com for a full list of events, including its upcoming slate of Broadway musicals, including Rock of Ages (Oct. 6), Hair (April 4-6) and West Side Story (June 21-23):
Let there be rock (and pop and country)
Joe Cocker & Dave Mason, Oct. 4; Australian Pink Floyd, Oct. 12; John Legend, Oct. 16; Lynyrd Skynyrd, Oct. 24; LeAnn Rimes, Nov. 9; Glenn Frey, Nov. 10; Drumline Live, Nov. 16; Anita Baker, Nov. 17; Eddie Vedder, Dec. 3-4; Natalie Merchant with Symphony Orchestra, Jan. 18; Kansas with Rock Symphony, Jan. 19; Engelbert Humperdinck, Jan. 23; Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Feb. 9; Alan Parsons Live Project with Rock Symphony, Feb. 15; Supertramp's Roger Hodgson with Rock Symphony, March 22; Chris Botti, April 27
Lots o' laughs
Buddy Valastro: The Cake Boss, Jan. 12; Ron "Tater Salad" White, Jan. 26; Regis Philbin & Pat Cooper, March 17; Bill Cosby, March 23; Brady Bunch Live featuring Barry Williams, March 24; Louie Anderson, April 7
Salute to Vienna, Dec. 31; Rossini's The Barber of Seville, Jan. 24; The New Tenors, Jan. 27; Verdi's La Traviata, Feb. 21; Joshua Bell, Feb. 22; Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty, March 1; Kodo Drummers, March 2
Ho ho ho
Dave Koz and Friends, Nov. 24; Simply Sinatra Christmas, Dec. 6; Bowzer's Holiday Rock 'n' Roll Party, Dec. 7; Mindi Abair and Rick Braun, Dec. 11; Holiday Chamber Ensembles; Dec. 14; A Christmas Carol, Dec. 20
At the Cap
Chris Robinson, Oct. 20; Asia, Nov. 20; Richard Marx, Dec. 1; Iris DeMent, Dec. 9; Southside Johnny & the Asbury Dukes, Feb. 1; Arlo Guthrie, Feb. 2; Leon Redbone, Feb. 8; David Wilcox, Feb. 9; Women of Ireland, Feb. 16; Irish Rovers, Feb. 23
At the Palladium
Benise, Nov. 10; Jeff Garlin, Nov. 17; Kathleen Madigan, Feb. 8; Herb Alpert and Michael Franks, March 2
Sean Daly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.