MAN OF MANY VOICES: Josh Groban
Who is Josh Groban, really? Is he the handsome, charming goofball who pops up on talk shows and on TV comedies like The Office and The Muppets? Or is he the solemn voice of the heavens who's one of the most bankable classical-pop crossover stars in history?
Here's what Groban's wondering: Why can't he be both?
"Half my brain is about the seriousness of the music that I make, and the other half of my brain wants to be the absolute opposite of that," he said in a recent phone interview. "It's okay to have a little bit of schizophrenia out there, I think."
Groban's new tour, which hits Ruth Eckerd Hall on Tuesday, is proof that he's trying to embrace both sides of his personality. Playing theaters, instead of the arenas he's used to, makes his show feel more intimate, more personal. It also suits the songs from his Grammy-nominated new album Stages, a collection of his favorite songs from Broadway.
Groban also calls the tour "a great stepping-stone" to his next major career move: a starring role in the musical Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, coming to Broadway this fall. It should showcase yet another new side of Groban's multifaceted skill set.
"You can't do the same thing all the time," he said. "If you're just doing that one giant firework 20 times a night, you're going to get numb."
Groban performs at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. It's sold out, but call (727) 791-7400 with questions.
For more of our interview with Josh Groban, click here.
FULL HOUSE: The Beach Boys
No matter where you come down on the great divide of the Beach Boys — whether you're loyal to Brian Wilson's songwriting and soul or you just enjoy Mike Love's endless-summer hit parade — we can all agree on one thing: STAMOS. As in John Stamos, the perennial pinup who occasionally performs with Love's Beach Boys whenever his busy TV schedule allows. Days after he steps back into Uncle Jesse's shoes in the Netflix Fuller House revival, Stamos will join the Beach Boys in concert at 8 p.m. Monday at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. He'll sing, he'll swivel, he'll make the ladies scream as he assists Love, Bruce Johnston and the rest of their modern-day Boys on classics like Surfin' U.S.A., Surfer Girl, Surfin' Safari and (please, oh pretty please) Forever, delivered in full-on Jesse and the Rippers mode. Tickets are $43.75 and up. (727) 791-7400. rutheckerdhall.com.
THE HALL BECKONS: Steve Miller Band
Some people call him the Space Cowboy. Some people call him the Gangster of Love. Some people call him Maurice. And starting April 8, you can call Steve Miller a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. With enough hits to power a jukebox for days, it's surprising it took the Steve Miller Band so long to get inducted. They've been eligible since 1993, and this was somehow their first year as a finalist. But as all that time kept on slipping into the future, perhaps people began to appreciate the slick, smoky grooves and indelible riffs of Fly Like an Eagle, Jet Airliner, Jungle Love, Rock'n Me and The Joker. Those songs aren't going anywhere anytime soon, and now that he's a Hall of Famer, neither is Miller. Celebrate his enshrinement at 8 p.m. March 2 at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. Tickets are $53.25 and up. (727) 791-7400. rutheckerdhall.com.
AXES TO GRIND: Experience Hendrix Tour
How many guitarists does it take to fill the shoes of the legendary Jimi Hendrix? On this year's Experience Hendrix Tour, the answer is eight — and they happen to be eight of the best guitarists working today. That's the fun of Experience Hendrix, which returns to Ruth Eckerd Hall at 8 p.m. Thursday. This year's axmen include Buddy Guy, Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Black Label Society's Zakk Wylde, Dweezil Zappa, Eric Johnson, Keb' Mo' and Indigenous' Mato Nanji, all swapping solos from Hendrix's biggest hits — Purple Haze, Hey Joe, All Along the Watchtower, The Wind Cries Mary and Voodoo Chile (Slight Return). Backing them are a roster that includes Jimi Hendrix Experience bassist Billy Cox; Chris Layton, the drummer for Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble; and singers Noah Hunt and Henri Brown. Will there be guitar faces? Oh, there will most definitely be guitar faces — and in the crowd, plenty of smiles, too. Tickets are $49.50 and up. (727) 791-7400. rutheckerdhall.com.
BOYS IN THE 'HOOD: Carrollhood
Would you like to see big bands like Underoath, Anberlin and Say Anything play a tiny club like New World Brewery? So would we. Good luck with that. But here's the next-best thing: the live debut of Carrollhood, a long-gestating project of Underoath guitarist Tim McTague, Anberlin drummer Nathan Young and Say Anything drummer Reed Murray, all longtime pals and Tampa residents. There's not much metalcore or emo in the trio's synthed-out space-rock, but that's part of the appeal — Carrollhood is for chilling out, not throwing down. The group hasn't released much new material since 2013 EP Violence, but their musical wheels are still turning, as both Underoath and Say Anything are about to embark on spring tours. That means this first chance to see Carrollhood might also be your last for a while. Brother Cephus opens the show at 9 p.m. Friday at New World Brewery, 1313 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. $10. (813) 248-4969. newworldbrewery.net.