Friday, July 20, 2018
Music News, Concert Reviews

Music Planner: Neil Diamond, Kenny G, Spring Jam, Record Store Day, Ronny Elliott

 

GOLDEN DIAMOND: Neil Diamond

 

It can be easy these days to overlook Neil Diamond's expansive catalog of hits, both his own and written for others. But then you pick up a collection like Neil Diamond 50 — 50th Anniversary Collection, a new 50-song retrospective released to commemorate the golden anniversary of his first hit, Solitary Man. And you're reminded how sharp and snappy Diamond's early songs were, from Cherry, Cherry to I'm a Believer to Thank the Lord for the Night Time. You get lost in the soft-focus sparkle of sappy ballads Be and The Story of My Life. And yeah, you even get sucked up in the schmaltz of Heartlight and Play Me. He's been a pop punch line, and yeah, Sweet Caroline has mutated into a cultural monster no one can control. But the beauty of Diamond's 50th Anniversary Collection, and his 50th anniversary tour, is that he's able to linger in different eras of his career. Don't miss the 76-year-old icon at 7 p.m. Sunday at Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $35.75 and up. (813) 301-2500. amaliearena.com.

 

MASTER OF SAX: Kenny G

 

Coachman Park is about to get smooth with the sexy, saxy sounds of Kenny G, creating an atmosphere a little like the annual Clearwater Jazz Holiday. The springily-coiffed jazzman headlines the first of three spring and summer shows that are designed to show off how Coachman Park might look and feel different if Ruth Eckerd Hall and other parties get their wish for the city to build a new, permanent amphitheater by the water. (The others: John Legend on May 13 and Third Eye Blind on June 10.) So depending on how many people turn out, there might actually be a lot riding on this Kenny G concert, politically speaking, which is a phrase you probably never expected to see. Kenny, for his part, is ready: "Maybe we'll play more uptempo songs," he said in a recent phone interview. "It's not like I'm tailor-making a set that's not going to satisfy us, just to satisfy the audience. We can tailor it any which way, and mostly it does both." Ukulele maestro Jake Shimabukuro opens at 8 p.m. Friday. $24 and up. 301 Drew St., Clearwater. (727) 791-7400. rutheckerdhall.com. For more with Kenny G, see tampabay.com/soundcheck.

 

SWING ON IN: USF Spring Jam

 

When Bruno Mars is cribbing your style, you know you did something right. The singer's flashy, splashy new 24K Magic is total proof of a New Jack Swing revival. That means there's no better time to celebrate one of the sound's architects, Teddy Riley, who brings his smooth R&B combo Guy (Let's Chill) to the Tampa Spring Jam. Break out the silk hankies for slow-jam specialists 112 (Cupid), Silk (Freak Me) and Dru Hill (How Deep Is Your Love), but be prepared to swing back into action when Tony! Toni! Toné! hot-steps into If I Had No Loot or Feels Good. Throw in Doug E. Fresh with some beats, and you can feel that New Jack Swing comin' at you. 8 p.m. Friday. USF Sun Dome, 4202 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. $48.25 and up. (813) 974-3004. sundomearena.com.

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Ronny Elliott

 

Friday is the 70th birthday of one of Tampa Bay's great songsmiths, Ronny Elliott, who has shared stages with icons like Chuck Berry, Pete Seeger and Jimi Hendrix. But the party is Sunday, when Elliott and his band the Nationals (Steve Connelly, Walt Bucklin, Natty Moss Bond, Harry Hayward and Spencer Hinkle) will perform at 6 p.m. at the Hideaway Cafe, 1756 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. "Nothing really new for the birthday," Elliott said, "but the band doesn't play out much these days." Hey, at 70, who does? Rebekah Pulley and the Reluctant Prophets join them. $10. (727) 644-7895. ticketfly.com.

   
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