HOLIDAY! CELEBRATE! CLEARWATER JAZZ HOLIDAY
It hasn't been the easiest year for the Clearwater Jazz Holiday.
Two of its 2016 headliners, Gregg Allman and Daryl Hall, have been forced to back out of the lineup due to illness — the latter just a week before the event, leaving organizers scrambling for a replacement.
But there's still an array of diverse talent at Clearwater's long-running festival, which once again blends funk, pop, soul and Americana into its formerly jazz-only mix.
Here's the daily rundown:
Thursday: Kool and the Gang (Celebration) and the Commodores (Brick House) lead the way, with pianist Michael Silverman's Back to the Future classical fusion project kicking things off. Doors open at 4 p.m.
Friday: Big Easy superstars Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue and Preservation Hall Jazz Band lead the way, and will hopefully collaborate on stage. They'll be joined by Flow Tribe and Crescent City Dream featuring Dwayne White. Doors open at 4 p.m. And at 10:30 p.m., there will be an after-party at the Capitol Theatre with saxophonist B.K. Jackson and Allon Sams leading a jam session. Tickets to that party are $16 in advance.
Saturday: Replacing Hall at the top of the bill is British reggae-pop act UB40, featuring Mickey Virtue, Astro and original singer Ali Campbell. They'll be joined by Raul Malo and the Mavericks, alongside Brian Bromberg Full Circle Band, Fred Johnson Quartet featuring Cliff Downs and the Show Biz Kids, a Steely Dan tribute act. Doors open at 2 p.m., and there will be fireworks at 10:45.
Sunday: The fest's Americana day closes with Grace Potter, Houndmouth, the Lone Bellow and local acts the Ries Brother and Brian Bromberg accompanying a group of youth players. Gates open at 1:30 p.m.
Tickets start at $16 per day, $26 for Saturday and Sunday and $52 for the weekend. For a full schedule and list of everything you can and can't bring, visit clearwaterjazz.com.
WORDSMITHS: JASON ISBELL, JASON RITTER
When describing his tourmate Jason Isbell (top right), Josh Ritter can't help but name-drop the Boss.
"There's a force of optimism to his music that is, I think, really inspiring," Ritter said by phone before a fall tour with the Alabama singer-songwriter. "At the same time, he's unflinching. It's a kind of honesty that I admire in Springsteen. It's that ability to search for the light in the middle of things that are difficult."
Isbell's rough road, including battles with addiction, has yielded some pretty powerful music, including 2013's Southeastern and 2015's Something More than Free, featuring wrenchingly woven numbers like 24 Frames and Speed Trap Town. When Isbell performs at Ruth Eckerd Hall on Wednesday, it'll be his first local show since selling out the Capitol Theatre in 2015 — though he did sneak in back in January to sit in with John Prine at Ruth Eckerd.
This time around, he'll be joined by Ritter, no songwriting slouch himself. A Dylan acolyte and published novelist, the folk rocker dropped his eighth album, Sermon on the Rocks, a year ago, and has filled his time since writing with the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir and scoring the John Krasinski-directed film The Hollars. It's at 7:30 p.m. 1111 N McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater. $43.25 and up. (727) 791-7400. rutheckerdhall.com.
For more with Josh Ritter, see tampabay.com/soundcheck.
BLUES MAKER: JOHN MAYALL
Ever wonder how an A-list blues collaboration comes to life? Pretty simple, really: One guy just asks the other. It happened recently to John Mayall when the Eagles' Joe Walsh asked to come in and play on the 82-year-old British blues legend's forthcoming album Talk About That.
"I had no idea that he was interested in blues," Mayall said by phone. "I didn't know anything about his blues chops or anything like that. He just came down and he really nailed it. He was wonderful."
Mayall knows a thing or two about good collaborations. Over the decades, his Bluesbreakers band has included everyone from Eric Clapton to Jack Bruce, Peter Green to Mick Taylor. These days he's stripped his band down to a trio for the first time ever; that's how he'll play when he hits the Capitol Theatre at 8 p.m. Thursday. While he never found the same mainstream success as his old bandmates, Mayall's happy he's had a career that's lasted this long, and has allowed him to try new things at his age.
"I've never had massive hit records or anything like that," he said. "It's a big catalog, and it'll be there forever. It's very nice that your music will live on after you're gone."
405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $39 and up. (727) 791-7400. atthecap.com.
For more with John Mayall, see tampabay.com/soundcheck.