WELCOME BACK: John Sebastian
The name John Sebastian may not ring many bells to music fans in 2016, but his songs sure do. From his hits with the Lovin' Spoonful (Do You Believe In Magic?, Summer In the City) to his solo hit Welcome Back (the theme song to Welcome Back, Kotter), Sebastian's catalog is large and beloved enough that he and the Lovin' Spoonful were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. The Woodstock veteran brings five decades of rock, folk and roots music to the Largo Cultural Center, 105 Central Park Drive, at 2 p.m. Sunday. $24.50 and up. (727) 587-6793. largoarts.com.
JAEB ALERT: Emily Hearn
Kicking off 2016 in the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts' Club Jaeb concert series is Georgia singer-songwriter Emily Hearn, whose bright 'n' shiny pop songcraft will leave you smiling at the end of the night. Her 2015 album Hourglass is full of songs both peppy (Can't Help Myself, Save Me) and wrenching (Please, Don't Take My Love; Worth Fighting For), all steeped in enough of a rootsy sensibility to feel right at home in Club Jaeb's Americana-leaning lineup. The show is at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the Jaeb Theater at the Straz, 1010 N W.C. MacInnes Place, Tampa. $29.50 and up. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.
GARDENS PARTY: Real Music Series
Busch Gardens won't bring out its biggest musical game until March, when its second Food and Wine Festival hits Gwazi Park. Last year's headliners included Kenny Rogers, Pentatonix, Fifth Harmony and Aloe Blacc. In the meantime, you can hop into the wayback machine for the park's long-running Real Music Series, featuring pop, doo-wop, soul and rock from a bygone era. Concerts are 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. several days a week in the Stanleyville Theatre. This year, for the first time, those shows take place on Saturday, too. It kicked off this week with "Ricky Nelson Remembered," a show by twin rockers Matthew and Gunnar Nelson honoring their late father with hits like Poor Little Fool and Travelin' Man. All shows are free with park attendance.
Here's the lineup:
Through Saturday: Ricky Nelson Remembered with Matthew and Gunnar Nelson
Monday through Jan.16: Jay and the Americans
Jan. 18-23: Herman's Hermits starring Peter Noone
Jan. 25-30: The Drifters
Feb. 1-6: Felix Cavaliere's Rascals
Feb. 8-13: The Diamonds
Feb. 15-20: Strawberry Fields
Feb. 22-27: Glenn Miller Orchestra
Feb. 29-March 5: Chubby Checker
THE BIG PLINK: Toy Piano Festival
Toy pianos can be charming or connivingly twee, childlike or avant garde, innocent or nightmarishly creepy. They've been used by everyone from Radiohead and the Beach Boys to experimental composers John Cage and Steve Reich. To celebrate the toy piano's diversity, the nonprofit New Music Conflagration is hosting the first-ever Florida International Toy Piano Festival, with nearly a dozen concerts and lectures across Tampa Bay this weekend. Highlights include a concert by electronic piano duo Toyeurism (8 p.m. Friday at the Space at 2106 Main (2106 West Main St., Tampa); "Deconstructed Disney," a performance of experimental Disney interpretations by Toyeurism and Jamison Williams (8 p.m. Saturday at the Space at 2106 Main); a recital by multi-instrumentalist and half of Toyeurism Robert Fleitz (2 p.m. Sunday, St. Petersburg Main Library, 3745 Ninth Ave. N); and a festival-closing multimedia collaboration between performers and visual artists (8 p.m. Sunday, MF Arts Ybor, 1616 E Second Ave., Ybor City). Some events are free; some require a ticket or donation of $10 or less. For a full schedule and ticket info, see TheNewMusicConflagration.org.
TWO KINGS: Celebrating Elvis and MJ
This weekend brings a fun choice of royal tribute acts to Tampa Bay: Do you prefer the King of Pop, or just the King?
For the former, check out Who's Bad: The Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute at 8 p.m. Friday at the Mahaffey Theater, 200 First Ave. N, St. Petersburg. Co-MJs Taalib York and Joseph Bell trade vocals in what's long been considered one of the top Jacko tributes around.
Friday also would've been the 81st birthday of Elvis Presley, and that means a slew of Elvis parties and performances. It starts at Tampa's Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, where the Hard Rock Cafe has a special Elvis menu (peanut butter, bacon and banana sandwich ... mmm) and a free tribute concert by Brandon Cody Wise at 9 p.m. Friday. seminolehardrocktampa.com.
At 8 p.m. Saturday, check out award-winning Elvis impersonator Dwight Icenhower at the Pinellas Park Performing Arts Center, 4951 78th Ave. N. $15-$20. (727) 369-5746. pinellas-park.org. At 1 p.m. Sunday, the party moves to Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen Both Road in Clearwater, where "Young Elvis" Scot Bruce and "Vegas Elvis" Mike Albert collaborate on a career-spanning show. $18 and up. (727) 791-7400. rutheckerdhall.com.