Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Music News, Concert Reviews

SoundCheck: Carolina Chocolate Drops among top live music picks

,Yonder Mountain String Band

With Travelin' McCourys

Details: Friday 8 p.m. Jannus Live, 16 Second St. N, St. Petersburg. $20-$25. (727) 565-0550.

Jannus Live's big week kicks off with this show from Colorado-based, don't-you-dare-call-it-bluegrass outfit Yonder Mountain String Band. While they do employ a whole heck of a lot of banjo, mandolin and dobro, the Yonderers would rather you focus on their ability to fuse the sensibilities of old Americana with the jam-band tendency to improvise for minutes on end. The band will have a different look this time around, since regular mandolin player Jeff Austin is skipping the January leg of the tour to be with his newborn daughter, but roots music fans will be pleased to know that Ronnie McCoury and fiddler Jason Carter — from tourmates the Travelin' McCourys — will round out the lineup.

Steep Canyon Rangers

With Mitch Lind and the Lagerheads

Details: Saturday 8 p.m. Skipper's Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road, Tampa. $15-$18. (813) 971-0666.

Their fabled friendship with comedian (and Grammy-winning bluegrass picker) Steve Martin began on a 2009 broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion, but Steep Canyon Rangers' history goes back much further than that. They self-released their debut, Old Dreams and New Dreams, 13 years ago, and have since used their fusion of old and new bluegrass to stitch together seven LPs of their own. All are rife with award-winning plucking (Nobody Knows won the Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album last year) buoyed by the Rangers' real gift: stellar, sturdy, surefire songwriting. Martin won't be at this gig, but real bluegrass fans will have to find a better reason not to show at this one.

.Carolina Chocolate Drops

Details: Saturday 7:30 p.m. Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $24.50. (813) 229-7827.

In a 2011 interview, Carolina Chocolate Drops singer Rhiannon Giddens told NPR that the audience for the kind of uber-throwback (think 19th century) black folk music her band creates was existent, but "just very small." A bit has changed since then. The group has a new look thanks to the addition of two new members, and producer Buddy Miller helped the Drops modernize their sound on a new LP, Leaving Eden. But the live show — complete with fiddles, kazoos and jugs — is like watching a museum exhibit come to life. There are a lot more people there to see it these days, too.

.Jake Shimabukuro

Details: Friday 7:30 p.m. Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $40-$50. (727) 791-7400.

The trip from Hawaii to Tampa Bay is a bear, but don't tell that to Jake Shimabukuro. The 37-year-old ukulele messiah (who doesn't look two days over 21) played his first bay area shows at Tampa's Skipper's Smokehouse less than 10 years ago, and Shimabukuro's Friday appearance at the Cap marks his third visit to Pinellas County in the past 12 months. It might be the tropical weather that reels him in, but what probably keeps him coming back is the way local audiences receive (in pin-drop silence) and react to (thunderous applause and the tossing of leis) his jaw-dropping, Hendrix-esque domination of a minuscule, two-octave, four-stringed instrument.

Suburban Apologist 3-Year Anniversary Party

With Wolf-Face, X Priest X, Alexander & the Grapes, Sunshine State, Deaf Poets

Details: Saturday 9 p.m. New World Brewery, 1313 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. Free. (813) 248-4969 or suburbanapologist.com.

When he's not writing concert listings for the Tampa Bay Times, Ray Roa runs the blog Suburban Apologist, which for the past three years has covered the ins and outs of the Tampa music scene. This weekend, Suburban Apologist will celebrate its third anniversary by welcoming in some of the bay area's finest — including hirsute songsmith Alexander Charos and his Grapes and lupine-costumed punks Wolf-Face — as well as up-and-coming Florida acts like Sunshine State (a grunge-punk outfit featuring former members of Against Me! and Whiskey and Co.) and indie-electro-popsters X Priest X.

Jay Cridlin, Times staff writer

Times correspondent Ray Roa can be reached at SuburbanApologist.com.

 
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