Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Music News, Concert Reviews

SoundCheck: Toni Braxton among top live music picks

Toni Braxton

Details: Wednesday 7:30 p.m., Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. $45.50-$99.50. (727) 893-7832 or mahaffeytheater.com.

We could crack plenty of jokes about Toni Braxton, but instead we'll remind everyone that before the bankruptcy, before Braxton Family Values, before Dancing With the Stars, before the Las Vegas fiasco, before the lupus, Braxton was one of the top R&B divas of the '90s, a sex symbol and six-time Grammy winner whose breathy Un-Break My Heart was one of the decade's most indelible singles. No, kids, it's true! She really was a big deal back then! Braxton hasn't exactly stopped performing in recent years, but she hasn't toured frequently around these parts (unless you count her 2009 Dancing With the Stars tour stop at the Tampa Bay Times Forum). In addition to the Grammy awards, the singer-songwriter has won seven American Music Awards and nine Billboard Music Awards.

Jay Cridlin, Times staff writer

Chick Corea and Béla Fleck

Details: Friday 8 p.m., Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $45-$62. (727) 791-7400.

Béla Fleck was just 17 years old when a live performance by jazz pianist Chick Corea inspired him to explore the limits of his own instrument. "I remember having a magic moment when I realized that the notes that were playing were all on my banjo too," he once said. "I had to go find them." Now the jazz and bluegrass virtuosos will pepper cuts from a 2007 collaborative album, Enchantment, with experimental, ground-breaking, improvised jams at a joint concert at Ruth Eckerd Hall.

Chico Mann

With the Pass

Details: Saturday 9 p.m., Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St., Ybor City. $11-$14. (813) 241-8600.

The last time Tampa saw him was for an outdoor, late-night Cuban Club bandshell set in front of a thin crowd during the waning hours of Tropical Heatwave 2011 (we blame alternative rock favorites Cracker, who were playing the same time slot). Chico Mann, a.k.a. Marcos Garcia of genre-bending outfits Antibalas and Daktaris, should play to a much more packed room for this tour stop. The Jersey City producer takes the afrobeat and Latin influence of his other endeavors and blends in sensibilities of disco, electro, soul, hip-hop and funk to create songs like Estan Llamando, His Favourite Thing and Power (Baby, You Got It) that possess a dank, sultry sound that's almost impossible not to get sweaty and dance to.

Mickey Avalon

Details: Saturday 7 p.m., Orpheum, 1915 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $16-$40. (813) 248-9500 or theorpheum.com.

Depending on whom you ask, Avalon is either the worst or most real thing to ever happen to hip-hop. The oddball Los Angeles MC says he's a convert to Orthodox Judaism and spent time prostituting himself for drugs. He even claims to have dealt pot alongside Mom when he was a child. That rough life should make for pretty poignant artistic output, but Avalon's most well-known songs contain similes about his private parts, lines about fornication set to '80s glam-rock riffs (Stroke Me) and stories about bulimic girls obsessed with nice cars and designer clothes (So Rich, So Pretty). A few cuts (Rock Bottom, Waiting To Die) do explore the darker side of addiction and excess. Avalon has a pretty loyal following, so rolling the dice and making it out to this show might actually be a good idea.

Jars of Clay

With the Last Bison, A Friendly Reminder

Details: Sunday 7 p.m., State Theatre, 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $18. (727) 895-3045.

Ever since their genesis at Greenville College in Illinois way back in the early '90s, Christian rock outfit Jars of Clay has spent time amassing a following of devotees addicted to the band's uplifting sound, which marries the anthemic, moving qualities of modern praise and worship music with the listener-friendly ideals of the best alternative rock on the radio. Jars' 16 LPs, live discs and compilations hold enough hits (Love Song for a Savior, Eyes Wide Open and Two Hands, to name a few) to make them mainstays at Christian rock festivals like Disney World's Night of Joy, but they'll stuff as many bodies as possible into St. Petersburg's State Theatre for this relatively intimate performance.

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

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