KICK-START THE JAMS: FUNK FEST
Funk Fest returns to Raymond James Stadium on Saturday for yet another hot, sweaty night of booty-knocking soul jams. You could be forgiven for missing the news, though — Funk Fest has popped up at various venues across Tampa Bay over the last six years, with varying degrees of success. And it happens to be only one of several old-school R&B and hip-hop festivals coming to town this fall. To help you keep your calendar straight, here's a guide.
Funk Fest: This festival's sixth stop in Tampa is heavy on '90s R&B, with headliners Jodeci, SWV and Dru Hill backed by rappers Trick Daddy, 8Ball and MJG and 2 Live Crew featuring Luther "Uncle Luke" Campbell." Singer-actor Demetria McKinney (Tyler Perry's House of Payne) joins the fun at 4 p.m. Saturday at RayJay, 4201 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. $35 and up. (888) 547-6478. funkfesttour.com.
95.7 Beats By the Bay: Nothing says style like a sexy headliner from the Fast and Furious franchise. Tyrese, whose latest album Black Rose debuted at No. 1, headlines this inaugural fest Oct. 24 at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg, along with Anthony Hamilton, Blackstreet, 112, Whodini and Rob Base. $45.50 and up at Ticketmaster and 957thebeat.com.
Legends of the Old School: This one trades slow jams for swaggy hip-pop flavor, but it's still got that tasty early '90s vibe. Salt-N-Pepa, Vanilla Ice, Naughty By Nature, Color Me Badd, K7 and TKA and, once again, 2 Live Crew hit the USF Sun Dome on Dec. 4. $35 and up. sundomearena.com.
OUTSIDE THE MATCHBOX: ROB THOMAS
Fans were bumming when Rob Thomas postponed his July concert at Ruth Eckerd Hall to be with his wife as she underwent treatment for a brain lesion. But there was one silver lining: The new date, Friday, happens to be the drop date for the Matchbox Twenty frontman's new solo album The Great Unknown, which makes this gig kind of a record release party. Fun, right?
If only the album was up to Thomas' usual standards. He can still pen a pop hook with the best of them, but the LP's confectionery production (from OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder, among others) slathers on way too shiny a gloss. You might think you're listening to Imagine Dragons (One Shot) or Maroon 5 (Absence of Affection), but you won't confuse it for Matchbox Twenty. (Maybe a good thing? Discuss.)
Four-on-the-floor strutter Trust You sounds like a commercial jingle drawn out to three minutes, and Thomas unfortunately dabbles in dancehall on Wind It Up. The twee, handclappy Hold On Forever is hard to hate, but my favorite is the darker, understated title track, which reverberates long after you hear it. That Rob Thomas — still a little unwell, still lonely at 3 a.m. — I like a little better.
He'll pull from all eras of his nearly 20-year career at 8 p.m. Friday at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. Tickets purchased for the July date will still be good here; otherwise, they're $65 and up. Plain White T's open the show. (727) 791-7400. rutheckerdhall.com.
NO QUIT IN YES: YES AND TOTO
When Chris Squire died from leukemia in June, it looked like the end of Yes. Squire was not only the sole founding and constant member of the prog-rock icons, he was a dynamic bassist and songwriter in his own right.
His death threw Yes' late-summer tour into question, but the group has decided to soldier on with a lineup that includes longtime members Steve Howe on guitar and Alan White on drums, relative newbie Jon Davison on lead vocals and former guitarist Billy Sherwood returning to fill Squire's shoes on bass. It'll never again be the same band the world's rock nerds grew up idolizing, but much like their music, the lineup for Yes has always evolved. This is just the next chapter, and probably not the last.
Joining them on this trek are Toto, a deeply underrated band too often relegated to punch line status due to their overplayed hit singles (Africa, Rosanna, Hold the Line). The show is at 7 p.m. Sunday at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $53.75 and up. (727) 791-7400. rutheckerdhall.com.
NOTHING TOO FANCY: UMPHREY'S MCGEE
Not that you needed an extra excuse to check out one of America's best and most innovative jam bands, Umphrey's McGee, on Sunday at Jannus Live. But here's one: Before and after the show, you'll be able to try Nothing Too Fancy Pale Ale, the latest band-beer collaboration between St. Pete's Rock Brothers Brewing and Tampa's Cigar City Brewing.
The brewers will tap Nothing Too Fancy at a release party at 6 p.m. Saturday at Cigar City, 3924 W Spruce St. in Tampa; then, they'll haul the kegs over to Jannus and Mandarin Hide (231 Central Ave.) on Sunday. Umphrey's may not bust out a four-hour-plus set like they have at festivals like Bonnaroo, but that's okay — the opening act, shagadelic soul-rockers J. Roddy Walston and the Business, are pretty great, too. May the suds and good vibes flow all night long. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.; $27.50-$30 at Jannus Live, 200 First St. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 565-0550. jannuslive.com.