Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
Is there a better singer-songwriter working today than Jason Isbell? For my money, I doubt it. His latest album, The Nashville Sound — nominated for Album of the Year at the CMAs, winner of Best Americana Album at the Grammys — turns his focus both inward and outward. He writes about issues as deep as the discomfort of reflecting on race as a Southerner ("I’m a white man looking in a black man’s eyes / wishing I’d never been one of the guys") and the anxiety of losing all he has worked for ("Lying here in silence, wife and child still sleeping deep enough to dream / I know I’m a lucky man today, but so afraid that time will take it all from me"). But he ends on a high note, telling his listeners to follow their "high road" and "find something to love, something to do when you feel like giving up / a song to sing or a tale to tell / something to love, it’ll serve you well." It sure has worked wonders for Isbell, who returns to Ruth Eckerd Hall at 8 p.m. Tuesday with his band the 400 Unit. Richard Thompson opens. 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $32.50 and up. (727) 794-7100. rutheckerdhall.com.
St. Petersburg has seen a killer run of punk legends the last couple of years — X, the Damned, Jello Biafra, Social Distortion. Now here come the Descendents. The SoCal punk legends haven’t performed in Tampa Bay in more than 20 years. Almost every major punk band was influenced by their tight, raucous sound, from Green Day to Blink-182. Don’t miss this rare chance to see them live. Radkey and Rehasher open. 7 p.m., April 12. Jannus Live, 200 First Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $34 and up. (727) 565-0550. jannuslive.com.
For their next trick, the community alt-pop symphony known as the Florida Bjorkestra is getting creative: a concert featuring the songs of Madonna and George Michael, with gender-flipped singers for each artist. Which means you might hear Father Figure performed by Jamie Perlow or Vogue sung by Brian Baez, all backed by the 18-piece Bjorkestra. "We’re not changing lyrics to re-gender the songs," said founder Jeremy Douglass. "Men sing love songs to men. Women sing love songs to women. .?.?. There’s really no lyrical content that prohibits swapping genders of the leads if you approach the whole concept with an open mind." 6 p.m. Sunday. Palladium, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $20 and up. (727) 822-3590. mypalladium.org.
For fans of old-school Florida metal, it doesn’t get much better than Nasty Savage at the Brass Mug. For 35 years, give or take the odd hiatus, the Brandon metal outfit led by Nasty Ronnie Galletti has been crushing chords and smashing faces at clubs like the Mug. Even though they never attained quite the international profile of fellow locals Obituary, Deicide and Morbid Angel, they did cultivate a pretty rabid fan base — at least one Facebook fan said he’s flying in from Honduras for this show. Get there early if you want a slot down front, with a clear view of all the mayhem. 7 p.m. Saturday. Brass Mug, 1450 Skipper Road, Tampa. $15 and up. (813) 972-8152. facebook.com/brassmugtampa.
Black Angels, Black Lips
It’s not Black Sabbath with the Black Crowes, or Black Star featuring Aloe Blacc. But the Black Angels, left, and Black Lips are still a pretty formidable tag team. The former is an influential indie band who have helped curate psych-rock festivals around the world, including Levitation in their hometown of Austin, Texas. The latter is a wild punk- and psych-inspired garage-rock outfit from Atlanta known for their wild live shows. Even if their names weren’t so similar, they’d still make a pretty great pairing. 7 p.m. Wednesday. State Theatre, 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $25.50 and up.
(727) 895-3045. statetheatreconcerts.com.
Bret Michaels, Kool & the Gang, Commodores
The sounds of the ’70s and ’80s come alive at Busch Gardens’ Food and Wine Festival this weekend. At 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Kool & the Gang (Jungle Boogie, Celebration, Ladies’ Night) and the Commodores (Brick House, Easy) bring their respective hit rosters to Gwazi Park. Then at 7 p.m. Sunday, look what the cat dragged in — it’s Poison frontman Bret Michaels, left, talking dirty to you and giving you something to believe in. Both concerts are free with park admission. buschgardens.com.