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Soundcheck: Country Throwdown Tour and Owl City's Adam Young

Adam Young of Owl City performs on stage in December in Camden, N.J. His electro-pop outfit had a mega-hit Fireflies last year. The Minnesota group’s show at the Ritz Ybor on Wednesday sold out weeks in advance.

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Adam Young of Owl City performs on stage in December in Camden, N.J. His electro-pop outfit had a mega-hit Fireflies last year. The Minnesota group’s show at the Ritz Ybor on Wednesday sold out weeks in advance.

5 questions with Owl City's Adam Young

Surprised, thrilled with success

Owl City struck big in 2009 with mega-hit Fireflies, which is still lurking near the top of the Billboard Hot 100. In fact, the electro-pop outfit's breakout appeal is such that Wednesday's show at the Ritz Ybor sold out weeks in advance.

Frontman Adam Young writes and creates the band's music at home, by himself. Before Wednesday's show, he took time out to answer a few questions from Times about his recent success.

What's your reaction to your music's jump into mainstream over the last year?

Surprised, thankful, thrilled. I wasn't sure what to expect but the response thus far has been breathtaking.

What led to you to pursue music?

Two years ago I sat down and made an electronica album partially on a whim, partially out of boredom. I feel sorta like a teacher because the rest is in the history books.

What is your experience with performing live?

I love it. Five friends of mine play instruments on stage. It makes touring a lot more fun and laughter on the bus a lot more frequent. I wouldn't want to play shows without them.

What music are you currently listening to?

I listen to a lot of ambient music. Stars of the Lid, Belong, Helios, the Field, Peter Broderick, Eluvium, Hammock.

How do you handle critics who say your sound isn't original?

At the end of the day, I try to stay away from reading criticism, no matter how positive or constructive because I think "not knowing" truly preserves my artistic integrity, which is already becoming blurred, for better or for worse.

Arielle Stevenson, Special to the Times

Country music may be popular, but one thing it doesn't have is a touring festival like Warped or Mayhem with multiple stages, tents and fan-friendly experiences.

That may change with the new Country Throwdown Tour.

Organized by 4 FINI Inc. (the same company that does the Warped Tour), the 2010 Country Throwdown Tour will bring several stages of action to amphitheaters across America, with headliners like Montgomery Gentry, Jamey Johnson, Jack Ingram, Little Big Town and Eric Church.

The tour will kick off at Tampa's Ford Amphitheatre on May 14. The daylong show begins at 1 p.m. and features a lineup of nearly a dozen bands, plus several more on a second, smaller "Bluebird Cafe" stage. (One notable name lower down on the bill? Ryan Bingham, who just won a Golden Globe for his song The Weary Kind, co-written with T-Bone Burnett for the Jeff Bridges movie Crazy Heart.)

It's not yet known when tickets will go on sale. But the Country Throwdown tour will apparently be part of Live Nation's annual Country Megaticket package, where you can get ticket deals on a range of country concerts. That package includes Tim McGraw, who is at the Ford Amphitheatre on May 7, and Brooks and Dunn on June 11 (the venue hasn't been announced.)

And the Grammy goes to …

Fans were too busy going goo-goo over Lady Gaga to notice that a couple of bay area musicians also were having a big night at the 52nd annual Grammy Awards on Sunday.

Sadly, Slings and Arrows, the Vince Mendoza number performed by USF's Chuck Owen and the Jazz Surge, did not win in the category of Best Instrumental Arrangement.

But Clearwater resident Chick Corea's Five Peace Band Live did win for Best Jazz Instrumental Album! It's his 16th Grammy overall. That ties him with … Beyonce? Really?

Another rock cruise!

At this point, it seems like it would be easier to list the artists who DON'T have a Tampa-based cruise in the works. The Zac Brown Band, which won the Grammy for Best New Artist on Sunday night, will launch a Sailing Southern Ground cruise from Tampa to Grand Cayman on Labor Day weekend.

Joining the Chicken Fried twangsters on the boat: Michael Franti and Spearhead (who are in Tampa this week, opening for John Mayer), Blackberry Smoke, Nic Cowan, Gaelic Storm, Sonia Leigh, Levi Lowry and more.

The cruise is Sept. 2-6, 2010, aboard the Carnival Inspiration. Package start at $699.

Soundbytes

• The Black Eyed Peas have added Ludacris to open their Feb. 10 show at the St. Pete Times Forum.

• If you can't wait for the Dave Matthews Band to come to town in July, check out Dave Matthews Tribute Band on Feb. 27 at Push Ultra Lounge.

• Sixties songbird Connie Francis (Where the Boys Are, Who's Sorry Now?, Lipstick on Your Collar) will be at the Mahaffey Theater on March 7. Tickets are $47-$102.

Soundcheck: Country Throwdown Tour and Owl City's Adam Young 02/01/10 [Last modified: Monday, February 1, 2010 10:34pm]
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