ROCK REVIVAL: Gasparilla Music Festival
Capturing Cage the Elephant’s electric live presence on an album can't be easy. But on their latest album, Tell Me I'm Pretty, the alt-rock band and producer Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys gave it a shot.
"One of Dan's main focuses was to try to capture that first spirit of the song without us piling a bunch of stuff on top of it," singer Matt Shultz said in a recent phone interview. "A lot of the songs on the record were one, two, three takes."
A straight shot of rock 'n' roll without a lot of frills — that's what Cage the Elephant captured on that Grammy-winning album. It also sort of describes this year's Gasparilla Music Festival, which Cage the Elephant headlines Saturday.
Booking a mainstream rock act like Cage the Elephant marks a turnaround from last year's GMF, which drew relatively disappointing crowds for headliners Erykah Badu and Stephen Marley. Cage the Elephant and alt-country troubadour Ryan Adams, who headlines Sunday, have enthusiastic enough fan bases to bring the fest close to a sellout all by themselves.
Still, GMF has always embraced a diverse and eclectic lineup, and that's not changing. Saturday's lineup also includes Wu-Tang Clan rapper Ghostface Killah, Latin dance-rockers Los Amigos Invisibles, New Orleans' Dirty Dozen Brass Band and indie rockers Twin Peaks and Moon Taxi. Sunday brings fast-rising reggae crooner Chronixx, jam-banders Karl Denson's Tiny Universe and freewheeling funksters the New Mastersounds. And as always, there's a full slate of local music, kids' activities, local cuisine and even a custom craft beer — Cigar City's Gasparilla Music Festival Pilsner.
Gates open at 11:30 a.m. both days (remember, we set our clocks forward Saturday night). $60 two-day tickets; $40 Saturday, $30 Sunday. Limited VIP tickets ($75) may be available for Sunday. gasparillamusic.com.
For more with Cage the Elephant's Schultz, click here.
KEEP IT OUTSIDE: Festival fun
The Gasparilla Music Festival isn't the only major fest happening this weekend. There's also the Florida Strawberry Festival, which wraps up Sunday. This weekend's highlights include the Blues Brothers (yes, Dan Aykroyd and Jim Belushi themselves) and Oak Ridge Boys Thursday, Elle King and Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers on Friday, Patti LaBelle and Maddie and Tae on Saturday, and Rascal Flatts and Joe Nichols on Sunday. Reserved ticket prices vary by show (Rascal Flatts' are the highest at $50), but some free seats are first-come, first-served. Full schedule at flstrawberryfestival.com.
Also continuing this weekend is Busch Gardens' Food and Wine Festival, featuring free concerts in Gwazi Park. This weekend's headliners are the Goo Goo Dolls on Saturday and Kool and the Gang on Sunday. Both shows start at 7 p.m. and are free with a park ticket, though if you're tuckered out from shoveling in all that buffalo chicken mac and cheese, you can upgrade to reserved seats for $24.99 and up. buschgardenstampa.com.
LOVE SONGS: Rickie Lee Jones and Madeleine Peyroux
Though they came up a generation apart, there are plenty of similarities between Rickie Lee Jones and Madeleine Peyroux. First and foremost: Theirs are the sort of songs you fall in love to. The world went mad for Jones when she first broke big in the '70s, blending jazz, folk, pop and country into a beguiling sound, fresh at the time and utterly timeless Thursday. An artist with a similarly cult-like following is Peyroux, the Georgia-born singer-songwriter who honed her chops as a teenage street performer in Paris. The French influence is strong, particularly on 2004's dreamy Careless Love, but she's also well-versed in American folk, jazz and swing. That the infrequent performers (in Florida, at least) are teaming up for a joint tour is a rare treat. Grab a ticket and fall in love all over again. 8 p.m. Saturday, Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $49.50 and up. (727) 791-7400. atthecap.com.
SLAINTE! The Chieftains
Fire up the bodhran and tin whistle and get a jump on St. Patrick's Day with one of the Emerald Isle's most iconic acts, the Chieftains. Paddy Moloney and company have been playing and reinventing traditional Irish folk music for more than half a century, performing with greats like Paul McCartney, Van Morrison and U2, as well as younger acolytes like Bon Iver and Miranda Lambert's Pistol Annies. Technically their show at the Lakeland Center, 701 W Lime St., takes place at 8 p.m. Wednesday, two nights before St. Patrick's Day. But it's hard to imagine a more authentic way to celebrate. Wear green and make a week of it. $33 and up. (863) 834-8111. thelakelandcenter.com.
PACKAGE SALE: Merchandise
Those shape-shifting cats in Tampa-based indie rockers Merchandise just love to keep their hometown fans guessing. They rarely play conventional venues, and sometimes play them in different configurations. For example: On Thursday, two members will play solo shows at Steelworker Records, 708 W Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Tampa — singer Carson Cox will perform under his electronic moniker, Video Blue, while guitarist David Vassalotti will play some of his intimate, lo-fi solo material. Apoc Siren and Maenads are also on the bill. (813) 666-4933. Then on Friday, Merchandise will play a rare show in St. Petersburg, at the live-in art and music space Paper Crane, 910 Fifth Ave. N. Chain of Flowers and Soapbox Soliloquy will also perform. $10 and up. facebook.com/papercranestpete.