,Sunshine Blues Festival
Featuring Tedeschi Trucks Band, at left, Dr. John and the Lower 911, Walter Trout, Sonny Landreth, Joe Louis Walker, the Wood Brothers, Matt Schofield, Sean Chambers, more
Details: Sunday 11 a.m. Vinoy Park, 501 Fifth Ave. NE, St. Petersburg. $49.50 and up. (727) 823-8534.
You can almost feel the ghost of Duane Allman in the room when Florida native Derek Trucks slides across his guitar. Sunday, Trucks and wife Susan Tedeschi headline the inaugural Sunshine Blues Festival. Trucks is the revered guitar player with slow-cooked slide moves and Tedeschi is the Grammy-winning artist whose vocal range — from tender coos to show-stopping gospel yowls — is first rate. Also noteworthy is a showing by New Orleans legend Dr. John, a man whose 1974 album helped provide mega music festival Bonnaroo its name.
Natalie Merchant .
Details: Friday 8 p.m. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $35-$75. (727) 791-7400.
The last time Natalie Merchant was here, she played the role of smart, scary songstress. The former 10,000 Maniacs leader and recent fracking critic is never afraid to speak her mind. Merchant, 49, will bring with her a full symphony and a set list ranging from Maniac hits (These Are Days, Verdi Cries) to songs from 2010's Leave Your Sleep. Leave room for a few jabs and wisecracks, too.
Yonder Mountain String Band
With Grandpa's Cough Medicine
Details: Saturday 7:30 p.m. Jannus Live, 16 Second St. N, St. Petersburg. $20-$25. (727) 565-0551.
Yonder Mountain String Band turns an old school Appalachian lineup of banjo, mandolin, guitar and standup bass into something wild, winding and arena-ready. A hoedown with better lighting, you might say. Like the Widespread Panic of bluegrass, the Nederland Co. act plays music that's as much Bill Monroe as it is Grateful Dead. YMSB will play material from a forthcoming studio album, as well as songs from their latest The Show.
Details: Saturday 8 p.m. The Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. $25-$45. (727) 892-5767.
"When I take you there, I take everybody," Mavis Staples exclaimed during a festival set in 2011. Before launching into feel-good, Stax-era hit I'll Take You There, the soul-gospel diva with the crackling wail wanted to ensure she'd have full crowd participation. She got it. I'd expect the same when she hits the Mahaffey. Last year, Staples earned a long-overdue Grammy for Americana album You Are Not Alone, an effort produced by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy.
Details: Sunday 7 p.m. Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. $52 and up. (727) 892-5767.
In 1991, after Hank Williams Sr. and Jr., but before Diddy and Notorious B.I.G. landed "back-from-the-dead" hits, Natalie Cole's "virtual duet" Unforgettable with her late father Nat King Cole became an instant classic. You may find cuts from Still Unforgettable, her 2008 Grammy-winning disc, equally as warm and graceful. Cole has a history of selling out shows in Tampa Bay, so prep accordingly.
Details: Monday 7 p.m. Ybor Amphitheatre, 1609 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $45 and up. (813) 873-8368.
There are certain things we've come to expect from "trap" rappers like Young Jeezy, Waka Flocka Flame and Gucci Mane. They'll rhyme about jewelry. They'll repeatedly chant their own names. And they'll dish about their drug-dealing pasts. But we hope Jeezy dreams a bit bigger on MLK Day. The Hotlanta rapper who rhymes in a husky groan at a dial-up-Internet pace has new Hold On (Shut Up) with MGK.
With Jillette Johnson
Details: Tuesday 7 p.m. State Theatre, 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $15 and up. (727) 895-3045.
"The show must go on," says Kris Allen. The eighth season American Idol winner suffered a broken arm and other injuries during a car accident this month, but says his appropriately titled "Out Alive Tour" is still on. Allen's latest, Thank You Camellia, whose title is inspired by supportive friends he stays with on a street called Camellia in Los Angeles, is a pop delight with more shimmering hooks than a tackle shop. Check out The Vision of Love, Allen's lead single about paying it forward.
Times correspondent Carole Liparoto can be reached at [email protected]