Make us your home page

Music planner: Tampa Bay Blues Festival, Pearl Jam and the Wilson Van

BRIGHT BLUES: Tampa Bay Blues Festival

In 2011, the Blues Foundation in Memphis gave the Tampa Bay Blues Festival a prestigious "Keeping the Blues Alive" award as the best blues festival in America.

"For us, it's like a Grammy or an Emmy — you can't get any better," festival founder and president Charles Ross said. "It's a recognition that the Tampa Bay Blues Festival has reached the upper echelon of music events that include blues music."

That legacy continues in the 22nd year, which runs Thursday through Sunday in St. Petersburg. This year's headliners include Kenny Wayne Shepherd on Friday, Aaron Neville and J.J. Grey and Mofro on Saturday, and Walter Trout on Sunday. If the weather's good, some 30,000 fans might pack the park.

Surprised by that number? Ross understands. Unlike Ribfest or the Clearwater Jazz Holiday, Blues Fest tends to fly under the radar on Tampa Bay's festival scene, partly because it's a niche genre, partly because many locals simply don't realize what they have here.

"It's become a destination event for blues aficionados from around the world," Ross said. "Our ticket presales are probably 70 percent from outside the state of Florida. This year we've mailed tickets to Brazil, Netherlands, Italy, Canada, Virgin Islands, Sweden, England … tell me when to stop."

The event opens with a $20 pre-party at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Palladium, 253 Fifth Ave. N; Victor Wainwright will perform. Gates open at 12:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday in Vinoy Park. Tickets are $30-$40 per day ($150-$200 VIP), or $95 for the weekend ($450 VIP), with late-night after-parties ($20 apiece) at the Palladium on Friday and Saturday.

'TEN' TO FIVE: Pearl Jam

For 25 years, Pearl Jam has mostly refused to play the same set more than once. They have a vast catalog and try to make each show an electric, unpredictable affair. In honor of their nearly sold-out concert at 8 p.m. Monday at Amalie Arena, here are some setlist suggestions — my five all-time favorite Pearl Jam tracks.

5. Immortality (Vitalogy, 1994): I could fill this whole list with songs from Vitalogy (Better Man, Whipping, Not For You). But this rusty blues number always hooks me, particularly Mike McCready's gnarly, barbed-wire solo at 2:17. (It's also the only song on this list I've never seen live. C'mon, Ed, help me out!)

4. Daughter (Vs., 1993): The biggest single from my favorite Pearl Jam album, I won't turn it off anytime it comes on, tapping my feet until the outro.

3. Do the Evolution (Yield, 1998): A vocal and lyrical weirdball, this one's all about those psychedelic garage-punk guitars. If Jack White covered this song Thursday, you wouldn't bat an eye.

2. Rearviewmirror (Vs., 1993): A five-minute crescendo of guitars and seething rage. If you have to get a speeding ticket, get it while blaring this song.

1. Alive (Ten, 1991): The most anthemic song in Pearl Jam's catalog. McCready's solo might be the best from a hit rock song in the past 25 years.

For a closer look at the power of Pearl Jam, and the reasons the band should make it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this fall, see Sunday's Latitudes section.


So, the name: Sunn O))). It's pronounced "sun," like the amplifier brand Sunn; the "O)))" represents the soundwaves in Sunn's company logo. If you find that deliberately confusing, just wait until you hear Sunn O)))'s music. For nearly 20 years, the experimental drone metal pioneers have been one of the loudest, weirdest, hardest-to-parse bands on the planet, with the guitars of cloaked core members Stephen O'Malley and Greg Anderson decimating all who stand in their path. It's arguably more jazz than metal, an opaque wall of tones with plenty of dissonance and very little melody — it's almost better felt than heard. Come get some, if you dare, at 8 p.m. Friday at the Orpheum, 1915 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $25 at (813) 248-9500.


If you dig Levi's and Laurel Canyon, you'll love Dawes, who return to St. Petersburg on Sunday for a night of dusty California rock in the vein of the Eagles, Jackson Browne and Buffalo Springfield. Swim into their catalog and get lost in comforting gold like Fire Away, Time Spent in Los Angeles or Most People; or admire Taylor Goldsmith's biting lyrics on Things Happen, from 2015's All Your Favorite Bands. Sweetening this show's pitcher of tea are openers Hiss Golden Messenger, whose sunny backwoods folk-rock — part Parsons, part Petty — charmed fans at the 2015 Gasparilla Music Festival. $25-$30 at 7 p.m. State Theatre, 687 Central Ave. (727) 895-3045.

REVVING UP: The Wilson Van

After wiping up the Sioux Falls Massacre on Season 2 of Fargo, Golden Globe-nominated actor Patrick Wilson is back in St. Petersburg, ready to revive the Wilson Van with brothers Mark and Paul. For their latest hometown gig, benefitting their new Wilson Family Foundation, the bros will mix Van Halen and classic rock covers in with a few originals, with Paul and Patrick sharing lead vocals and WTVT-Ch. 13 anchor Mark on lead guitar. The Ries Brothers will open at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the State Theatre, 687 Central Ave. $20 and up at

Music planner: Tampa Bay Blues Festival, Pearl Jam and the Wilson Van 04/06/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 6, 2016 10:23am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 28


    The Art of the Brick: An elaborate display of more than 100 pieces of Lego artwork including the life sized sculpture of a man ripping open his chest, a 20-foot-long T-Rex skeleton, a giant skull and replicas of famous works including Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night and Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona …

    This artwork called "Swimmer" by artist Nathan Sawaya is part of The Art of the Brick exhibition coming to Tampa June 23- Sept. 4. It will be open for free.
  2. Review: Dan Auerbach, Benjamin Booker plumb the past for inspiration on new albums

    Music & Concerts

    It didn't take Benjamin Booker long to get lumped in with the greats. The Tampa-raised singer-songwriter's 2014 self-titled blues-punk debut brought widespread acclaim, not to mention an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, a tour with Jack White and sessions with Mavis Staples.

    The cover of Benjamin Booker's new album "Witness." Credit: ATO Records
  3. Fourth of July in Tampa Bay: parades, hot dog parties, concerts and more things to do


    Looking for things to do on the Fourth of July in Tampa Bay? There is no shortage of patriotic events, from the Hot Dog Party concerts and eating contest in Tampa, to the parades in Land O' Lakes and Safety Harbor, to the swinging dance party at St. Petersburg's Museum of Fine arts, there's an abundance of things to do …

    The annual Independence Day parade in Brandon kicks off at 10 a.m. on July 4 at 101 E Lumsden Road. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times (2015)]
  4. Too hot to bake? Grill your desserts this summer


    It's dinnertime in the heat of the summer. The last thing you want to do is turn on the oven.

    With a good grill, you can get a nice brown top on peach cobbler biscuits.
  5. Where to see Fourth of July fireworks across Tampa Bay


    Looking for Independence Day fireworks shows in the Tampa Bay area? There are plenty of options, including the massive shows in Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, and New Port Richey, as well as smaller shows across Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Sarasota counties.

    Fireworks explode with color over the Nature Coast Freedom Festival in Hernando County. There will be a variety of fireworks displays across the Tampa Bay area for the Fourth of July in 2017. [WILL VRAGOVIC | Times (2009)]