STILL IN 'MOTION': AMY GRANT
Amy Grant couldn't tell whether 23-year-old Tori Kelly was a fan of her work before the two connected for a new cover of Grant's 1991 hit Baby Baby.
"I got the feeling she was having to learn it for the first time," Grant said by phone recently. "She wasn't even born when that song came out. It was very funny being in the studio, because she was like, 'Yeah, I really like this song.' And I said, 'Yeah, that's kind of what happened the first time it came out.' "
That's putting it mildly. The original Baby Baby hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was the biggest hit from Grant's five-times-platinum album Heart in Motion, which launched her from contemporary Christian stardom into the pop stratosphere.
Twenty-five years in, Heart in Motion's sugary songwriting and glossy production feel more and more like inspirational touchstones for Thursday's top pop artists and producers, from Taylor Swift on 1989 to Carly Rae Jepsen on Emotion.
"I totally agree," said Grant, who performs Thursday at the Capitol Theatre. "Everything just cycles around. There's the deeply organic chapter, and then it goes to the really electronic, and right now, I feel like it's somewhere in the middle — really joyful, fun pop. It's a 25-year throwback."
Grant will perform a couple of songs from Heart in Motion, including Baby Baby, on her current tour with Nichole Nordeman and Ellie Holcomb at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $29 and up. (727) 791-7400. rutheckerdhall.com.
For more of our interview with Amy Grant, click here.
MAXIMA OVERDRIVE: CARLOS VIVES
When a sold-out crowd greeted Romeo Santos last summer at Amalie Arena, it suggested that Tampa might finally be ready to compete with Orlando and Miami for some of the world's top Latin pop tours. This summer's Nicky Jam concert at Amalie is an intriguing next step, but first, look for a big crowd at Sunday's 92.5 Fiesta Maxima at the USF Sun Dome, 4202 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. Headlining is Colombian pop superstar Carlos Vives, who has won several Grammys and sold more than 30 million albums worldwide. His 2015 co-headlining trek with Marc Anthony was one of the highest-grossing North American tours of 2015, which should give you an indication of his appeal on this continent. It starts at 7 p.m. $27.75 and up. (813) 974-3004. sundomearena. com.
YOUNG AND RESTLESS: Young Thug
The Ritz Ybor has a stellar track record for booking Next Big Thing rappers while they're on the rise, from Kendrick Lamar to A$AP Rocky to 2 Chainz to Tyga. Go ahead and add to that list Young Thug. The raspy Atlanta eccentric is neck and neck with Future in terms of productivity the last 12 months, dropping at least five mixtapes (including his entire Slime trilogy) with another on the way — all while his major-label debut remains a work in progress. Thugger's staccato, Auto-Tuned delivery, punctuated with whoops and squeals and unintelligible lyrics, is only part of his appeal. His flamboyant fashion sense and space-cadet persona give him an otherworldly aura, which might be why Kanye West recruited him for his latest odyssey, The Life of Pablo. In February, Young Thug performed alongside West on Saturday Night Live — yet another sign the Ritz knew what it was doing when it booked him. 8 p.m. Sunday at the Ritz, 1503 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $29.50 and up. (813) 247-2555. theritzybor.com.
DARK MATTER: GREYMARKET
Gone is the ambitious light display that used to be a hallmark of every GreyMarket concert. "We're going straight ahead," said drummer-programmer Mike Gargiulo. "It became too much to manage with just the two of us, especially on the road." Thankfully, Gargiulo and singer-guitarist Cave McCoy haven't lost their sonic edge on new album The Stress Kills, which they'll release with a show at 9 p.m. Saturday at Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St., Ybor City. Blending the melodic synth-rock of Phoenix or the Killers with the thundering sci-fi ambition of Muse or Awolnation, the album will no doubt provide a fitting soundtrack to the band's always entertaining live shows — with or without the lights. Bangarang and Sun Signs open. $8. (813) 241-8600.
TURNING TABLES: A DASH OF EDM
Three weeks before the fifth annual Sunset Music Festival, the Tampa EDM scene is kind of a mess. Chalk some of that up to last month's fire at Ybor City's Amphitheatre nightclub, which has scrambled to relocate shows by big-name DJs, including Kayzo on Saturday at the Orpheum ($15-$20) and Wiwek on May 20 at the Ritz Ybor ($15). But with the weather warming up, more shows were going to open up outside anyway. Shephard's Beach Resort in Clearwater Beach is ramping up its "Evolution Sundays," featuring acts like Australian DJ TyDi on Sunday ($7) and deep house artist Oliver Heldens on May 14 ($20). And then there's Beach Bar, located in the former home of Hogan's Beach off the Courtney Campbell Causeway, which has been booking shows left and right. Following a family-friendly Mother's Day brunch and carnival Sunday morning, the stage will open up for a day of dance music headlined by Dutch trance artist Dash Berlin, who last year was voted one of the top 15 DJs in the word by DJ Magazine. Tickets are $17 and up if you and mom feel like making a day of it. Music starts at 2 p.m. at Beach Bar, 7700 W Courtney Campbell Causeway, Tampa. (813) 281-8900. beachtampa.com.