SoundCheck: Phillip Phillips, David Cook, Heart among top live music picks

Matisyahu will plan Jannus Live in St. Petersburg on Friday. Paradigm Agency
Matisyahu will plan Jannus Live in St. Petersburg on Friday.Paradigm Agency
Published November 4 2014
Updated November 5 2014

Phillip Phillips

Details: Tuesday (Nov. 11) 7:30 p.m. Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. $39.50-$59.50. (727) 893-7832.

Phillip Phillips is a man of extremes. He's a relatively low-key Georgia boy whose musical persona is high-energy and anthemic. He's chill but driven. His two biggest hits, 2012's world-turning Home and the heartwarming Gone Gone Gone, have sold a combined 5 million digital copies. He's confident, and yet following up his debut LP, The World From the Side of the Moon, made him anxious. "Honestly? I was terrified of making the new album," Phillips tells me during a phone chat. "But I'm really happy with [2014's Behind the Light]. It has this real musical feel that you don't hear a lot these days. I recorded it live with my band in the studio. It has a darkness, an honesty. It takes you through the emotions." For more on our interview with Phillips, go to

Sean Daly, Times pop music critic

David Cook

Details: Saturday 7:30 p.m. at the Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $32.75-$78.75. (727) 791-7400.

American Idol will commence its 14th season soon, and this much is very much true about the longstanding reality competition: Winning the whole shebang doesn't guarantee squat. For all the champs who have soared post-show — Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, even Phillip Phillips — many more haven't. Laid-back rocker David Cook, the Season 7 victor, is still a working musician, so that's good. But for all his talents and charms (he's a really nice dude, too), he faded pretty fast as a superstar. Still, he can sing with a raspy howl (love his cover of Chris Isaak's Wicked Game), and he can pick that guitar, and if you could ever go bar-hopping with an Idol champ, he seems like a good choice.

Sean Daly, Times pop music critic

Tampa Pig Jig

With Corey Smith, Edwin McCain, Mark Bryan, Forrest Hoffar, Allen Hunt

Details: Saturday 2 p.m. Curtis Hixon Park, 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa. $15 (813) 274-8677.

Edwin McCain must've really liked the barbecue at last year's Pig Jig. The 44-year-old I'll Be singer was the cookout's headlining act in 2013 and he returns to the event on Saturday. The cookout, which benefits kidney disease research, has graduated to a bigger venue in (downtown Tampa's Curtis Hixon Park) and is adding a handful of artists to the music menu. Local songsmiths Allen Hunt and Forrest Hoffar will spin saucy acoustic numbers while attendees compete in cornhole tournaments and stuff themselves with some of the city's best 'cue, and McCain takes the stage just as the sun starts to go down. Georgia country singer Corey Smith tops the bill and will close out the day with feel-good tunes (If I Could Do It Again), regretful ones (Maybe Next Year) and odes to the bottle (Drinkin' Again).


Details: Tuesday (Nov. 11) 8 p.m. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $49.50-$150. (727) 791-7400.

Being a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee affords you certain luxuries. One is being able to hit a market as many times as you want to in one calendar year. Ann and Nancy Wilson are taking full advantage of that this week when they bring their four-decades-old songwriting project Heart to Ruth Eckerd Hall. The ladies' last show, a massive summertime gig at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, was a hoot, but it's all getting reined in for this more intimate affair. Crazy On You, Barracuda and Magic Man may not sound as bombastic as they would in a huge arena, but fans will probably walk away from this show feeling like they just sat at a songwriting session with the Wilsons.

Primus and the Chocolate Factory

Details: Wednesday 8 p.m. (Nov. 12) Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater. $38.25-$120. (727) 791-7400.

Well, this should be one of the weirdest concerts of the year. But then again, it's Primus, so should we have expected anything else? The cult, bass-slapping alt-funk band is coming to Ruth Eckerd Hall Wednesday (Nov. 12) as "Primus and the Chocolate Factory," part of a tour in which they'll play songs from their reimagining of the soundtrack to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, as well as another set of classic freaky-deaky Primus. What does that mean? Last New Year's Eve, Primus threw a Wonka-themed party in Oakland during which they unveiled a candyland of a stage and distributed Wonka-like chocolates to the crowd. If that sounds too gimmicky for you, there's this: For the first time in nearly 20 years, this tour will bring together the classic mid-'90s Primus lineup (Claypool, guitarist Larry Lalonde and drummer Tim Alexander, who recently had a heart attack but appears to be recovering nicely).

Jay Cridlin, Times staff writer


With Radical Something

Details: Friday 7:30 p.m. Jannus Live, 200 First Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $25-$28. (727) 565-0550.

Matisyahu's last Tampa appearance, a 2013 stop at the Tampa Theatre, included an after party celebrating Purim, a celebratory Jewish holiday. This one at Jannus doesn't have the same post-concert agenda, but it'll still be interesting to see how the 35-year-old born Matthew Miller has adjusted to life since 2011, when he shaved off his unkempt beard and renounced some ideals of the Hasidic Jewish lifestyle that once defined much of his on-stage persona. A new album, this year's Akeda (Hebrew for "binding"), finds Matisyahu enjoying his newfound freedom by employing his band, Dub Trio, to explore familiar themes like religion and retribution. His typical reggae and dancehall sounds permeate the LP's 15 tracks (including beatboxing on Reservoir), but he does delve into more pop-polished tunes (Watch the Walls Melt Down), indicating an openness he's never fully expressed since debuting with his hit King Without a Crown back in 2005.

Contact Times correspondent Ray Roa at