Weekend concert picks: Gladys Knight, Jerry Lee Lewis, Crash Test Dummies and more

Plus, check out Fastball at Blast Friday, Pete Yorn solo and acoustic, America's 50th anniversary tour and a trio of Safety Harbor Art and Music Center shows.
Published January 23

There’s no replacing Aretha Franklin, but since her death last fall, Gladys Knight has done her best to make her friend proud. The 74-year-old soul legend not only sang at Franklin’s funeral, but led a tribute to the singer at the American Music Awards. Right after Franklin’s death, there were some alarming reports that Knight might also be battling cancer, but she clarified the record and is back out on the road brightening lives. In fact, she’s a little more than a week away from singing the national anthem at Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta. Somewhere, the Queen of Soul will be smiling. 8 p.m. Friday. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $39.25 and up. (727) 791-7400. rutheckerdhall.com.

GOING IT ALONE: Pete Yorn

In the 18 years since Pete Yorn’s debut album Musicforthemorningafter, he has cobbled together an eclectic body of work, from a wide array of covers (most recently the Pixies’ Here Comes Your Man with Liz Phair) and a couple of quite good collaborations with Scarlett Johansson. So here’s hoping a solo acoustic show will allow him to play not only early favorites like Crystal Village, Strange Condition and For Nancy (’Cos It Already Is), but deeper, underappreciated cuts that showcase his songcraft and melody. 8 p.m. Saturday. Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St., Ybor City. $32.50 and up. (813) 241-8600. facebook.com/crowbarlive.

ETERNAL SUMMER SLACKING: Fastball

Ah, the summer of 1998. Kids loved Pokemon, a new Halloween movie had just hit theaters, and the Oval Office was in legal turmoil. Can you imagine such a time? This was also a time when Fastball’s The Way reigned supreme on the charts. The Texas trio has been celebrating the song’s 20th anniversary for the past year, and will do so again when they kick off this spring’s free Blast Friday concert series on Cleveland Street in downtown Clearwater. It may be January, but c’mon, with Fastball, it’s always summer; you’ll never get cold. The Black Honkeys open at 5:30 p.m. Reserved seats $29 and up. Upcoming Blast Friday headliners include the Fixx (Feb. 22), the Rippingtons (March 29), Greg Billings (April 26) and Mark Farner (May 31). downtownclearwater.com.

GET WRECKED: Crash Test Dummies

We’ve all had our fun with Crash Test Dummies and their one mega-’90s-hit Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm, but let’s give the Canadian folk-rockers their due. Not only did they write a memorably strange song that has stood the test of time, they’re sounding pretty good these days thanks to Brad Roberts’ wry humor and deep baritone. On 2018’s Oooh La La!, he even sounds a bit like Leonard Cohen. After a hiatus this decade, they’re back on tour celebrating the 25th anniversary of their album God Shuffled His Feet; their first Florida stop in many years is at 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $25 and up. (727) 791-7400. atthecap.com.

GOLDEN GUYS: America

Their band name may be dreadful SEO, but it hasn’t stopped America from launching a tour honoring their upcoming 50th anniversary. Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell have been chewing on a piece of grass and walking down the road together since 1970, singing hits like Horse With No Name, Ventura Highway and Sister Golden Hair and earning respectable fans like Ryan Adams and My Morning Jacket’s Jim James. 8 p.m. Sunday. Ruth Eckerd Hall. $39 and up.

HEART THE ARTS: Tim Reynolds, Melanie, Magic Giant

It’s a huge week for the colorful, tucked-away lil’ venue known as the Safety Harbor Art and Music Center, 706 Second St. N. At 7:30 Thursday, guitar maestro and Dave Matthews collaborator Tim Reynolds hits the stage with his band TR3; tickets are $30 and up. At 7 p.m. Friday it’s Woodstock veteran and Brand New Key songwriter Melanie; tickets are $40 and up. And on Jan. 30, electric L.A. freak-rockers Magic Giant, old friends of SHAMC’s proprietors, will headline a benefit for the nonprofit venue at 7 p.m. at Ruth Eckerd Hall. $25 and up. Whichever show you’re checking out, dress artfully. (727) 304-5683. safetyharborartandmusiccenter.com.

STILL SHAKIN’: Jerry Lee Lewis

As much of a (pleasant) shock as it was to see octogenarian rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis at the Florida Strawberry Festival last spring, it’s even more surprising to see him come back to this area so soon. At 7 p.m. Sunday, the Killer will bring hits like Great Balls of Fire and Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. He just doesn’t tour like he used to, so it might be worth the drive (and ticket price) to see him. $85 and up. (941) 953-3368. vanwezel.org.

Contact Jay Cridlin at [email protected] or (727) 893-8336. Follow @JayCridlin.

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