CHIC DUDES: Duran Duran
Coming to Tampa Bay is like coming home for Duran Duran. Well, for singer Simon Le Bon, at least, whose mother has a home in the area.
"Since '84, since the first time we visited Tampa, there's always been that connection," bassist John Taylor said in a recent phone interview. "It's special for Simon, and if it's special for him, it's special for all of us."
Duran Duran's concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday is special for all kinds of reasons — not least because it also features pop up-and-comer Shamir as well as disco-pop legend Nile Rodgers and Chic. It comes in support of their 14th studio album, Paper Gods, produced by the likes of Mr. Hudson, Mark Ronson and, yes, Rodgers, whose credits with the band include smash singles The Reflex and The Wild Boys. Amazingly, though, this is the first time Duran Duran has actually hit the road with Rodgers.
"He's put together an extraordinary band," Taylor said. "All it does is kick us up the a--, and it pushes us into doing what we do, hopefully better than we were doing it last time we came through town."
Tickets to the show at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre are $29.95 and up. (813) 740-2446. livenation.com.
For more with Duran Duran's John Taylor, see tampabay.com/soundcheck. And speaking of Nile Rodgers …
NEXUS OF AXES: Ry Cooder, Ace Frehley
Guitar aficionados have a terrible choice to make on Saturday, as Chic's Nile Rodgers isn't the only guitar god in town.
In Clearwater, there's longtime Kiss axman Ace Frehley, shown right, who's touring in support of a solo covers album featuring takes on Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Steppenwolf and, um, Kiss themselves. The Spaceman even re-teams with Kiss' Paul Stanley on Free's Fire and Water. He'll perform at the Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., with former Queensryche singer Geoff Tate opening at 8 p.m. Sold out, but call (727) 791-7400 for last-minute ticket availability.
At the Straz Center, 1010 N MacInnes Place in Tampa, there's Ry Cooder, shown left, who has worked with everyone from the Rolling Stones to Eric Clapton to Captain Beefheart. He'll join American icons Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White at 7:30 p.m., performing traditional folk and country classics from the '60s and earlier.
"It's not like something you're going to see every year," Cooder said in a phone interview. "You've got to see it while you can."
FOLK MOVEMENT: Safety Harbor Songfest
Here's how big Safety Harbor Songfest has become in just three years: After a 2015 event that drew about 4,000, incoming Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Robin Zander of Cheap Trick asked to be part of the lineup.
"We've had a whole year of chatter, and the word of mouth goes a long way," said the Safety Harbor artist known as Kiaralinda, who with her husband Todd Ramquist runs the Safety Harbor Songfest. "But we don't rest on our laurels."
The indie fest returns at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday at Safety Harbor Waterfront Park, 110 Veterans Memorial Lane. This year's lineup includes Zander, Lullaby songsmith Shawn Mullins, bluesman Otis Taylor, country duo Love and Theft and more.
Songfest's grassroots success is rare among Florida fests, in that it's still on the rise instead of stalling after a year or two. Artists who've performed once want to come back, and are spreading the word to their peers.
"Even now, when the festival is all booked, we get two or three pings a day saying, 'Think of us next year,'" Ramquist said.
It's $25 per day, $40 for the weekend at safetyharborsongfest.com.
LOCALLY PRODUCED: Alexander And the Grapes, Polyenso
Two amazing local bands have album release parties on Friday, and both are worth checking out.
In Tampa, alt-folkies Alexander and the Grapes will drop new album Hyper Self at 8 p.m. at Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St., Ybor City — a month-plus before the LP's official street date on May 6. They'll be joined by Emperor X and Jackson Davis and the Jackettes. $10 at crowbarlive.com.
In St. Pete, alt-rockers Polyenso will mark the release of their remarkably polished album Pure In the Plastic at 8 p.m. at Paper Crane, 910 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $12 at the door. facebook.com/papercranestpete.
SLOW IT DOWN: Spring Jam
You can't always blame Bobby Brown, shown right, for being unreliable. Dude's had a hard life, especially in the past year, following the death of Bobbi Kristina Brown, his daughter with Whitney Houston. He didn't show for Tampa's Funk Fest in 2014, but he's on the bill for the USF Sun Dome's Spring Jam, alongside babymaking deity Keith Sweat, Jagged Edge, Next, H-Town and more. It's a veritable slow-jamapalooza, though it'll be Brown's prerogative to inject a little New Jack Swing into the proceedings. That is, if he shows. $45.50 and up for the 8 p.m. Saturday show at the USF Sun Dome, 4202 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. (813) 974-3004. sundomearena.com.
TAKE A LOAD OFF: The Weight
Levon Helm and Rick Danko are long gone. But a few members of the Band still walk among us, and some of them are touring with legacy act the Weight, which comes to Skipper's Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road in Tampa, at 8 p.m. Thursday. The legacy act features the Band's Jim Welder (vocals/guitars) and Randy Ciarlante (drums/vocals), as well as Helm/Band associates Brian Mitchell (vocals/keys), Albert Rogers (vocals/bass) and Marty Grebb (vocals/etc.). Opening the show are Steve Connelly and the Greater Good. $20-$25. (813) 971-0666. skipperssmokehouse.com.