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  1. Arts & Entertainment
  2. /
  3. Music

Grandmaster Flash is playing in Largo Friday. Tickets are $12.50. Really.

The Central Park Performing Arts Center is an unconventional venue, but it’s still a chance to see a hip-hop icon in the flesh.
Grandmaster Flash will perform at the Central Park Performing Arts Center in Largo on Feb. 7. [Courtesy of Grandmaster Flash]

Shut it down, people. We have a winner for the oddest concert booking of the year.

That would be hip-hop godfather Grandmaster Flash at the ... Central Park Performing Arts Center in Largo? This Friday? For only $12.50? Huh?

Sometimes, it makes you wonder.

The small theater formerly known as the Largo Cultural Center is about the last place you’d expect to see any rap or DJ show, much less one by a founding father of hip-hop. Recent and upcoming shows there include Jim Stafford, Jethro Tull’s Martin Barre and tributes to Neil Diamond, Linda Ronstadt and ABBA.

But switching things up was exactly the point, said venue spokesman Dino Pinto.

“We’ve noticed that since we’re really pushing the new Central Park Performing Arts brand, we’re starting to get a younger demo,” Pinto said. “When I mean younger, it’s no longer 60 to 80. We’re starting to get the market into the 30s, 40s, even younger.”

Pinto, a promoter himself, worked on a November show by Grandmaster Flash’s old mates the Furious Five at Jannus Live. That show also featured fellow hip-hop forefathers the Sugar Hill Gang.

Flash’s Largo show will be his first in the area in years. It’s unclear whether he’ll have a rapper on stage performing hits like The Message, or whether he’ll just be DJ’ing. But even that would be its own slice of music history. The Grandmaster broke new ground in the DJ world in the late ’70s, pioneering techniques like scratching and backspin. He’s a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer who just last year was awarded Sweden’s Polar Music Prize, one of the industry’s most prestigious honors.

“We’re going to push back the seats, so it’s going to be standing room,” Pinto said. “We will have lights, and obviously a normal DJ setup. We’re trying to make it more of a dance feel, more of a club-style atmosphere.”

The low ticket price was designed as yet another enticement to get new fans in the door, Pinto said. And so far, it’s working.

“Everything that I’m seeing right now, from all of our metrics, we’re getting an entirely new demo,” he said. “Once you’re in there, you fall in love with it. It’s just getting eyes on it first.”

GRANDMASTER FLASH

$12.50 and up. 8 p.m. Friday. 105 Central Park Drive, Largo. (727) 587-6793. largoarts.com.

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