SoundCheck: Il Divo among top live music picks

Published May 7, 2014

, Il Divo

With Lea Seloanga

Details: Friday 8 p.m. Carol Morsani Hall at David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $53-$128.50. (813) 229-7827.

Opera isn't exactly wide open in terms of accessibility, but this Il Divo appearance is definitely a gateway into the genre for people who weren't born with Nessun Dorma or O mio babbino caro built into their DNA. The group is a Simon Cowell creation featuring four multilingual hunks, and their eponymous debut LP is a mixture of pop covers (Toni Braxton's Unbreak My Heart got a makeover) and traditional opera that has sold more than 25 million albums worldwide. The boys go to Broadway for this stop, taking on classics from The Phantom of the Opera, Carousel and West Side Story in a way that will be simultaneously familiar and refreshing. Tony Award winner Lea Selonga, a Filipina singer-actor who was the first Asian to play Eponine in Les Miserables on Broadway, will join Il Divo as a special guest.


With Nerd Rage, Winta, Mr. Saturn, Tommy Rize

Details: Friday 10 p.m. Amphitheatre, 1609 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $10. (813) 873-8368.

GTA had one heck of an April, playing Coachella two weekends in a row, and the Miami duo, who recently remixed Iggy Azalea's Fancy, show no signs of letting up. In November they'll set sail on the first ever Mad Decent Boat Party (an offshoot of the once underground, now infamous block parties), but in the meantime, the boys — Matthew Van Toth and Julio Meija — will embark on their summer "Death To Genres" tour. They'll treat the Amphitheatre to a home-state brand of house music infused with salsa, hip-hop and dubstep.

, Rakim and Slick Rick

With Aych

Details: Saturday 6:30 p.m. Jannus Live, 16 Second St. N, St. Petersburg. $25-$50. (727) 565-0550.

Rakim is coming to St. Pete as part of a two-headliner bill, and while his tourmate isn't named Eric B., the show is still going to be an homage to hip-hop's best days. The 46-year-old emcee will be joined by Slick Rick, who came to fame in the '80s by La Di Da Di-ing his way through tracks like Mona Lisa and Children's Story. Rakim (born William Griffin Jr.) and hip-hop's inimitable, eye-patched storyteller were both part of Radio City Music Hall's "Masters of Ceremony" in January, which inspired a tour that will feature Biz Markie, Naughty By Nature, DMX and more. The 'Burg gets to sample a slice of the megashow before the official tour stop in Orlando on July 12.

. Deer Tick

With Langhorne Slim and the Law; Have Gun, Will Travel

Details: Wednesday 8 p.m. Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St., Ybor City. $20. (813) 241-8600.

Deer Tick's reputation as a rough-and-tumble, heavy-drinking, no-holds barred band that delivers amplified, in-your-face Americana has not come unearned. Frontman John McCauley honed his signature raspy, oddly warm voice on solo tours, often playing unamplified in support of his 2007 debut War Elephant. The project morphed into a full-fledged band on 2009's Born On Flag Day, where the band delivered woodsy country rock that could turn on a dime from tender to ferocious. Subsequent efforts (and endless touring) found the band maturing thematically while still managing to maintain debauchery and recklessness, but 2013's ironically named Negativity LP brings a little light into the fold. Case in point: In Our Time, a country stomp that finds McCauley dueting with wife Vanessa Carlton (Stevie Nicks officiated their December wedding) that might be the most lighthearted thing the band has ever done.

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m Gipsy Kings

Details: Wednesday 7:30 p.m. Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. $52.50-$92.50. (727) 892-5767.

During their almost 30-year-career, the Gipsy Kings have gone from an anonymous backing band at lavish St. Tropez parties to bona fide world music superstars. It's mostly thanks to a pair of 1980s hits, Bamboleo and Djobi Djoba, that found the eight-piece (made up of two sets of brothers — Nicolas, Paul, Canut, Patchai and Andre Reyes along with their cousins Tonio, Paco and Diego Baliardos) welding pop music ideals with traditional flamenco, jazz, Arabic and Latin sonic sensibilities. Their popularity led to 25 million in record sales, and Gipsy Kings boast more world music Grammy nominations than anyone else, taking home golden gramophones in 2013 (Best World Music Album) and a Latin Grammy in 1993 (Best Pop Album). They've played for George H.W. Bush and alongside greats like Eric Clapton and Elton John, and they'll surely impress St. Pete at the Mahaffey date.

Times correspondent Ray Roa can be reached at