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Published Jan. 27, 2012

They say the quickest way to a man's heart is through his stomach, and that apparently goes for concertgoers with the munchies, too. Atlanta's Zac Brown Band these days is selling music - and meals. The group even has a cookbook for sale: Southern Ground, which includes recipes for Farmer's Fried Green Tomatoes and Perfect Pocketknife Coleslaw.

The 2010 Grammy winners for best new artist should be extra-welcome in Tampa Bay this year, as they cap Gasparilla Saturday with one of their down-home hootenannies. All-day revelers will need something to soothe their head, and soak up some sloshy spirits, at the end of that mighty slog. Fans can go to to find out more about "Eat & Greets" and Chef Gary, ZBB's food ambassador, who works out of "Cookie," the traveling kitchen gussied up like a sexy World War II fighter plane.

Zac Brown Band performs at 7 p.m. Saturday at 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. $31.50-$57. (813) 740-2446.

Sean Daly, Times pop music critic

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Trying to come up with a reason to see Les Miserables yet again when it opens in Tampa on Tuesday? Ah, but this is not the same ol' Les Miz. Our intrepid reporter Michelle Stark checked out the reimagined 25th anniversary production at a recent stop in Orlando:

It's faster: The mostly all-sung musical set in 1830s Paris has been pared down to 3 hours, and it's noticeably quicker-paced.

New look: Gone is the revolving stage - a famous piece of the Broadway show's staging - but no matter. In its place are new stagings shaped by towering set pieces that quickly slide on and off stage and are accompanied by projected backdrops inspired by Victor Hugo paintings. Look for some especially cool effects in the second act, during Javert's final song and the dingy tunnel scenes.

Pitch-perfect cast: The tour is lead by seasoned Les Miserables veteran J. Mark McVey (pictured) as Jean Valjean. He made his Broadway debut in the role decades ago. And goosebumps are guaranteed as the cast marches forward under a red flag in One Day More.

If you go: Les Miserables opens at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Carol Morsani Hall at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa. Tickets start at $38.50. (813) 229-7827. Runs through Feb. 12.

Michelle Stark, Times Staff Writer

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Consider the folksy Kumquat Festival the anti-Gasparilla. You'll find all things devoted to the quirky little fruit - pies, cookies, ice cream, jellies - plus arts and crafts, a car show, farmers market and kids' activities. Quaint. Charming. Not a drunken pirate in site. It's all in downtown Dade City from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Free admission. To get ready here are:

3 ways to look like you know what a kumquat is

Eat the whole thing, peel and all.They are like reverse oranges - sweet on the outside, tart inside. (There are seeds, so decide if you want to spit or swallow.)

Good for you.Eight kumquats have a mere 100 calories, 24g of carbs, 10g of fiber and 2g of protein.

It's Chinese. The little oval fruit is thought to be native to China, and "kumquat" means "orange gold" in Chinese.

Source: and

Kelly Smith, Times staff writer

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In 1978, comedian Steve Martin's novelty song King Tuttaught us that the boy king was a "funky Tut." (Also that he was "born in Arizona, moved to Babylonia," but that's beside the point.) Turns out Tut's fellow ancient Egyptians weren't merely funky; they were a little kinky, too. Hello . . . mummification anyone? Expect a little less comedy - and no Tut - but plenty of historical fact and fancy at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday when St. Petersburg's Museum of Fine Arts hosts"Ancient Amatory Art,"Egyptian inspired erotic couture and a lecture by Robert Steven Bianchi. It's followed by a chocolate fountain with strawberries and champagne. Tut would approve. $25, $15 members. (727) 896-2667.

Steve Spears, Times staff writer

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- THE CIVIL WARS: One of the hottest new alt-country acts hits the Straz Center in Tampa on Feb. 2. (813) 229-7827.

- MEMPHIS: Right on the heels of Les Miserables comes another big Broadway musical. The four-time Tony winner is at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater Feb. 7-12. (727) 791-7400.