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SoundCheck: Amos Lee, Branford Marsalis among top music picks

. Amos Lee

With Adrien Reju

Details: Saturday 8 p.m. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $42.75-$52.75. (727) 791-7400.

The lineup at Blue Note Records once pushed the boundaries of avant-garde and hard bop jazz, but nowadays the 75-year-old imprint's roster reads like the playlist from Every Starbucks, USA. Amos Lee, an elementary school teacher turned world-famous singer-songwriter, is an exception to that rule. Any one of the 36-year-old's five Blue Note LPs definitely fit the easy-listening category, but there is something arresting and undeniable in Lee's crystal-clear, flawless croon, which he fully exercises on a new album, Mountains of Sorrow, Rivers Of Song. The 15-track effort picks up where Lee's 2011 chart-topping LP Mission Bell left off, marrying the soul and pop ideals of past efforts with a heart-aching knack for storytelling and love for Americana (there is a lot of twang on Mountains), which suggests that Lee is just beginning to get comfy in his role as an important American songsmith.

. Branford Marsalis Quartet

Details: Tonight at 8. Palladium, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $39-$59. (727) 822-3590.

Branford Marsalis was probably destined to be good at jazz. His father, Ellis Louis Marsalis Jr., is a famed jazz pianist and father to a troupe of jazz musicians that includes Branford's brother Wynton. Branford's mastery of the saxophone has earned him multiple Grammy awards as well as stints touring with Herbie Hancock and Sting and recording sessions with Miles Davis. Marsalis is a workaholic who even spent a couple of years as the musical director for The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. He arrives at the Palladium in support of an excellent 2012 LP, Four MFs Playin' Tunes.

n Mobb Deep

With the Villanz, Queen of Ex

Details: Friday 9 p.m. Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St., Ybor City. $18-$23. (813) 241-8600.

It has been about a year since Mobb Deep's last bay area appearance, but this gig is special for a few reasons. For one, it comes the same week as a double LP release, where Prodigy and Havoc present a new album alongside demos from their breakout 1995 sophomore LP, The Infamous. A pair of new tracks, Taking You Off Here and All a Dream, find Mobb Deep scowling while chronicling NYC street life on top of the familiar, renegade production that made them legitimate hip-hop royalty. Expect a possible sellout, and bank on a room packed with hip-hop heads paying tribute to some of the genre's living legends.

Eliza Gilkyson

Details: Friday 8 p.m. Palladium, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $25. (727) 822-3590.

Thanks to her famous folk-singer father, Eliza Gilkyson didn't have to try too hard to break into the music business (dad Terry Gilkyson had little Eliza sing on his demos). The relatively easy in doesn't mean she has rested on her laurels, though, as evidenced by a career that has seen Eliza put out nearly two dozen releases while sharing stages with Pete Seeger, Jackson Browne and Kris Kristofferson and writing for others, including Joan Baez. Her brand of contemporary singer-songwriter fare is colored with a particularly political tint that sits front and center on her Grammy-nominated 2004 LP, Land of Milk and Honey, on which Eliza attacks the topic of tax dollars (Highway 9), tells the story of a "half-breed" American Indian (Ballad of Yvonne Johnson) and even records an unreleased Woody Guthrie tune (Peace Call).

Safety Harbor Singer Songwriter Festival

With Ben Taylor, Jennifer Knapp, Ryan Montbleau, Meiko, Andrew Belle, Jim Lauderdale, Emily Kopp, more.

Details: Main events Saturday-Sunday beginning at noon. Safety Harbor Waterfront Park, 110 Veterans Memorial Lane. $25-$40 (kids 12 and younger free with paid adult). (727) 724-1545.

Nestled between Tampa and Clearwater, the waterfront town is an ideal setting for this festival, a weekendlong celebration of food trucks, craft beer and the nation's best songwriting. Smoky-voiced Ben Taylor (the son of James Taylor and Carly Simon), Grammy winner Jim Lauderdale, Australian songstress Jennifer Knapp and the spicy and sweet offerings of Ryan Montbleau lead a two-day bill that includes more than 30 acts playing two stages. See for details, including music tonight and Friday.

. Kitty

With E-Breezy, Alec Burnright, Jorge Alvarez, T-Spang, Word Ent, Entha Mob, Indigo, Supra Saint

Details: Saturday 8 p.m. Local 662, 662 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $10-$15.

Redheaded tween rap sensation Kathryn Beckwith, a.k.a. Kitty, began glowing brightly in the Internet-fame ether when sites like Pitchfork caught on to the novelty of a Daytona Beach emcee who humorously raps about being a boy-crushing mall rat in suburbia. Endorsements from fellow hip-hop oddballs like Riff Raff and Danny Brown gave the self-proclaimed "rap game Taylor Swift" a final push into the bright lights (Rolling Stone placed her breakout single Okay Cupid at No. 17 on their Top 50 Songs of 2012 list), and she has wisely used her fame and online presence to stay connected with fans who hang on her every Twitter message and Tumblr post.

Times correspondent Ray Roa can be reached at

Also playing

Currentz Fri. 9 p.m. Orbit 19 Lounge, 1542 U.S. 19 N, Holiday. Free. (727) 937-8330..

Audien Fri. 10 p.m. With Nerd Rage, Mr. Saturn, Winta. Amphitheatre, 1609 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $10. (813) 873-8368.

The Wonder Years Fri. 6 p.m. With Citizen, Real Friends, Modern Baseball, Fireworks. Orpheum, 1915 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $16-$18. (813) 248-9500.

JuBee and the Morning After Sat. 9 p.m. Dunedin Brewery, 937 Douglas Ave. Free. (727) 736-0606.

Mieka Pauley Sat. 8 p.m. With Carl Asch. City of Imagination, 2726 54th St., Gulfport. $10-$15. (727) 321-1786.

The Fox Street All-Stars Sat. 9 p.m. With Future Vintage, Stone City. New World Brewery, 1313 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. $8. (813) 248-4969.

Head Freq Sat. 10:30 p.m. With Dfunkdamager, Justin Grant. The Bends, 919 First Ave. N, St. Petersburg. Free. (727) 202-8931.

Carolyn Wonderland Tues. 7 p.m. With Selwyn Birchwood. Skipper's Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road, Tampa. $10-$13. (813) 971-0666.

Acoustic BBQ series Wed. 7 p.m. With Jefferson Washington. New World Brewery, 1313 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. Free. (813) 248-4969.

SoundCheck: Amos Lee, Branford Marsalis among top music picks 04/01/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 7:10pm]
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