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Music Planner: Barry Manilow bids farewell, Diana Ross returns, Bryson Tiller's on the rise




There's a reason Barry Manilow has released albums on which he covers the biggest hits of the '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s and '80s ... but nothing from the three decades since.

"I didn't think anybody wanted to hear my ballad version of Bootylicious," the 72-year-old singer laughed during a recent phone interview.

That may be, but the truth is Manilow's DNA is all up in the jelly of modern pop songwriting. Just listen to Adele's blockbuster album 25, with its earnest, powerful odes to the Manilovian piano pop of the '70s. (Looking at you, When We Were Young.)

"It's encouraging that there's an audience out there that is looking for a melody and a decent lyric," Manilow said.

When his farewell tour hits Tampa Thursday, Manilow will belt out all the massive, weepy hits — Mandy, Copacabana (At the Copa), I Write the Songs, Looks Like We Made It — that have earned him legions of Fanilows young (yes, they exist) and old.

"America's big, and I really want to say goodbye to a lot of the cities that have been so good to me," he said.

The show is at 7:30 p.m. at Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, with saxophone star Dave Koz opening. Tickets are $19.75 and up. Donate a new or gently used musical instrument at the arena's box office and get two tickets to the show. (813) 301-2500 or

For more of our interview with Barry Manilow, click here.. And check Friday for a review of Thursday's show.




The fact that Bryson Tiller's Feb. 10 concert at the Ritz Ybor sold out long ago should tell you how fast his star is rising. The Kentucky R&B singer has three simmering, sizzling singles from his debut album Trapsoul shooting up the Billboard Hot 100: Don't, Exchange and Sorry Not Sorry. Each has an edge that flirts with the darkened corners of the soul occupied by the likes of the Weeknd, Jeremih and Travis Scott. That helps explain why he has been co-signed by Drake, Timbaland and R. Kelly, and why GQ has called him "the new surprise hero of R&B." "The people, they diggin' me now," he sings on Ten Nine Fourteen. "The cool kids from high school can't sit with me now." Yeah, especially if he keeps selling out venues coast to coast. If you did score a ticket, doors open at 7 p.m. (813) 390-0397 or




Diana Ross is 71, but you'd never know it from her jam-packed datebook. Her concert Feb. 10 at Ruth Eckerd Hall will be her fifth local show since 2010 — and that's not counting her trips to Universal Orlando, where she'll return for the park's Mardi Gras Concert Series on Feb. 13. The Motown diva still delivers the goods each night, from her singles with the Supremes (Baby Love, You Can't Hurry Love, Stop! In the Name of Love) to her solo hits (I'm Coming Out, Ain't No Mountain High Enough) to her stint as Dorothy in The Wiz (Ease on Down the Road). At an age when many singers are hanging it up (or worse), Ross is out there proving she's as timeless as ever. 8 p.m. at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $58.75 and up. (727) 791-7400 or


LET THE SUNSHINE IN: Sunshine City Songwriters Festival


The inaugural Sunshine City Songwriters Festival isn't your everyday music fest.

It's six days and nights of a la carte concerts and workshops across St. Petersburg — bars, theaters, museums, galleries — which means fans better come rested, with plenty of gas in the tank and cash in their wallets. But the payoff should be worth it for anyone eager to get inside the hearts and minds of some of America's best songsmiths.

The fest opens with two free events. First is a folk night led by Pete Gallagher and Pat Barmore at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Old Key West Bar and Grill, 2451 Central Ave. Then at 7 p.m. Feb. 10, there's an unplugged "campfire concert" at the Ale and the Witch, 111 Second Ave. NE.

Then things get even busier:

Feb. 11: Folk-fusion troubadour Zoe Lewis performs at 6:30 p.m. at the Hideaway Cafe, 1756 Central Ave.; tickets are $15-$17. Then at 8:30 p.m., it's New York folk singer Cliff Eberhardt with Louise Mosrie at the Palladium, 253 Fifth Ave. N ($28-$33).

Feb. 12: Eberhardt returns for a three-hour songwriting workshop ($60) at 2 p.m. at the Ale and the Witch, but the main event is a concert by Americana favorites Patty Griffin, above left, Sara Watkins and Anais Mitchell at 8 p.m. at the Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S ($39.50 and up).

Feb. 13: The festival's highlight might be a night of stories and music from iconoclastic Texas singer, author and raconteur Kinky Friedman, bottom left, at Craftsman House Gallery, 2955 Central Ave. A 6 p.m. show sold out quickly, but tickets ($30) may be available for an 8 p.m. show.

Feb. 14: Singer Nerissa Nields, who's also leading a three-day songwriting workshop ($220), performs at 3 p.m. at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, 255 Beach Drive NE ($15).

For details and tickets to the festival, call (727) 323-2787 or see

Music Planner: Barry Manilow bids farewell, Diana Ross returns, Bryson Tiller's on the rise 02/03/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 3, 2016 11:25am]
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