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  1. Music

SoundCheck: Tim McGraw among top music picks


With Brantley Gilbert, Love and Theft

Details: Saturday 7 p.m., Live Nation Amphitheatre, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. $40.75-$84.70. (813) 740-2446.

Tim McGraw's 20-year run of success in popular country music can really only be rivaled by Garth Brooks, but not even Brooks can claim that he had a tour sponsored by a motor oil company. And while the marriage of McGraw and Penzoil is strange to say the least, what can't be disputed is the way staples like Just To See You Smile, I Like It I Love It and Indian Outlaw have dominated charts over the years. Fans will surely be treated to the gamut of McGraw charm, but they'll be in for a treat when young gun — and fellow Big Machine Records signee — Brantley Gilbert makes a case for his own spot in the court of country royalty with songs like Kick It in the Sticks and the anthemic Country Must Be Country Wide.


With Jenny O.

Details: Tonight at 8. Ferguson Hall at David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. Tickets start at $33.50; limited availability. (813) 229-7827.

Only the most directionless consumers of classic American music are still searching for the one known as "Sugar Man." Cult sensation Sixto Rodriguez should've been basking in this kind of praise and unanimous acclaim back when he released a pair of classic LPs in 1970 and 1971, but he's making the most of all the newfound glory being tossed his way thanks to an Oscar-winning documentary about his obscurity and elusiveness, Searching for Sugar Man. His songs — rollicking, often heartbreaking folk gems rife with social commentary surrounding his hometown of Detroit — have been met with adoring applause on his current tour, and another generation of music lovers are finally fully realizing the scope of the 70-year-old tunesmith's stunted, yet splendid, catalog.

Blind Willie James

Details: Friday 8 p.m. Carrollwood Cultural Center, 4537 Lowell Road, Tampa. $19-$25. (813) 269-1310.

Considering he was born blind and orphaned in 1933, William James has done pretty well for himself over the course of his 79 years. The Lake City native ended up being raised by sharecroppers and can say that he's a successful product of the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, where he shared a classroom and affection for tickling the ivories with Ray Charles. That passion for piano led to his mining of the depths of gospel and blues, which earned him a Florida Folk Heritage Award in 1999 and landed him a gig with the Blind Boys of Alabama. He's since parted ways with the famed vocal troupe, but James (who eventually put roots down in Palmetto and St. Petersburg) and his age-old tales about heartbreak and deceit are bona fide Sunshine State treasures.


Details: Saturday after the Rays play the San Diego Padres; game at 6:10 p.m. Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg. Free with game ticket. Toll-free, 1-888-326-7297.

Kenny Loggins is arriving at the Trop to kick off the Tampa Bay Rays' summer concert series (which also includes future shows by Carly Rae Jepsen and OneRepublic) with an evening of 1980s soft-rock classics. The postgame concert is free with a ticket (wristbands for on-field access cost extra) and fans can expect the 65-year-old to keep things Footloose and maybe even go Double Or Nothing on Loggins and Messina hits like Good Friend, Angry Eyes and Your Mama Don't Dance.

State Poison

With Von Dagger, Month Mind

Details: Saturday 8 p.m., Mojo Books & Music, 2540 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. Free. (813) 971-9717.

Wine, pastries, cheese, fashion, even fries. Some things just seem superior when they're French. Such is the case with State Poison, who deliver pounding punk and hardcore en français. The trio hails from St. Étienne (about 300 miles southeast of Paris) and are ending their 16-date U.S. tour with a stop at a little USF-area bookstore. Riffs on songs like Afrique Genocide, Tache Difficile, and Marecage De Mort are predictably dispensed at breakneck speed, but the breadth of the band's discography is also marked by a love of blistering lead and lyrics delivered with so much passion that they don't need to be translated to be understood.

SoundCheck is by Ray Roa, who can be reached at