THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 21
Dark Star Orchestra Recently joined by Phil Lesh at a show in San Francisco, beloved Grateful Dead tribute act Dark Star Orchestra returns to enchant both old Deadheads and those fans who may never have gotten to see the band perform. Dark Star reconstructs historic setlists from the Dead’s extensive live catalog of more than 3,000 shows, song for song — though not necessarily note for note — and change their equipment, stage layout and band lineup depending on the era they’re repping. The musicians perform a different setlist each night, revealing the date and location of the original setlist at each show’s end. (Ferguson Hall at Straz Center for Performing Arts, Tampa)
St. Pete Jazz Festival: O Som Do Jazz Night three of the fest is a Side Door Series presentation by Brazilian pop, bossa nova and samba-jazz ensemble O Som Do Jazz. Their music is marked by the rich resonant Portuguese croons of vocalist Andrea Moraes Manson bolstered by the tight and slinky instrumentals of the band — trombone player and husband David Manson, upright bassist Alejandro Arenas, sax player and flutist Austin Vickrey, drummer Mark Feinman, and pianist David Cubillos. (Palladium Theater, St. Petersburg)
Hard Rock Rising A global Battle of the Bands competition that takes place at 95 Hard Rocks around the world. Locally, the nine bands (out of 123) that earned the most votes online moves on to these Thursday night qualifying rounds. Three perform each night — Feb. 21 and 28, and March 7 — and one claims victory at each battle’s end. Then, these three bands compete against each other in the finale on March 14, with one ultimate winner advancing to the regional battles. Full disclosure: I will be one of the judges at this thing, along with a few folks from 97X. Come out and see us. More importantly, come out and support the bands. (Hard Rock Café, Tampa)
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 22
Blues at the Crossroads II: Muddy and The Wolf JJ Grey dropped off this guitar-seared harmonica-blown homage to two fathers of modern Chicago blues — Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. But the lineup remains strong with Atlanta-based axeman Tinsley Ellis assuming six-string duty in his absence. He joins vet Mississippi harp slinger and fellow Alligator Records artist, James Cotton, along with blues rock mainstays The Fabulous Thunderbirds featuring Kim Wilson and guitarists Jody Williams and Bob Margolin. (Palladium Theater, St. Petersburg)
Zac Brown Band After the 55th annual Grammys, Southern fried country-folk rocker Zac Brown Band now boasts three gold trophies (2012’s Uncaged nabbed the Best Country Album award), and its burly bearded namesake can claim in all honesty that he’s played with Elton John and Mavis Staples. The seven-piece — which also encompasses a percussionist, fiddler and multi-instrumentalist who juggles organ, pedal steel, mandolin and guitar — hit the thankfully re-named amphitheatre to play for fans who loved them pre-Grammys. If the nine No. 1 singles on the Billboard Country charts are any indication, the place will be packed. (Live Nation Amphitheatre, Tampa)
Ponderosa w/Sons of Hippies While Ponderosa’s Pool Party didn’t quite make my Best of 2012 list, it sure came close. The album captured me after about five listens with its compelling mix of roots rock, hazy dream pop and melodic, soulful alt-folk music, evocative of acts like My Morning Jacket, Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear in both the instrumentals and vocal harmonies. The sophomore effort from the Atlanta five-piece is apparently a sonic departure from their more Southern-leaning debut, so I’m curious to see how it all translates in a live setting. Sons of Hippies, the Sarasota electro alt-rock outfit recently signed to Cleopatra Records, warms up the stage. (Local 662, St. Petersburg)
Blast Friday w/Dave Mason Last October, Dave Mason took the opening spot in a double-billed show with Joe Cocker at Ruth Eckerd. His lucidly tame set of acoustic numbers worked like a time machine as he strummed through a handful of songs culled from both Traffic’s and Mason’s own solo discography with an accompanying guitarist. “World in Changes” and “Only You Know and I Know” off his 1970 debut sounded worn and distant in the best way possible, and his set was capped off by a hauntingly simple cover of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower.” Mason proved he has no problem carrying his own, or replicating past gusto 40 years down the line, and his performance at Blast Friday’s free street festival is sure to be no different. (Cleveland Street, downtown Clearwater) —Andrew Silverstein
Blair Crimmins & The Hookers w/Poetry N’ Lotion/Dean Johanesen “State Hotel,” the new single from Berklee College of Music-trained Atlanta-based musician Blair Crimmons, is a dark bouncy-rambling ditty that finds its narrator checking into prison amid a colorful New Orleans-imbued blend of gypsy, swing, ragtime and Dixieland jazz. Boozy brass — exotic clarinets, plunge-muted trumpets, blaring trombones — fly loose and free to jumping double bass-bodied rhythms, and the soul-scraping husky vocals of Crimmons soar over top as he skips between piano, banjo, guitar, ukulele and occasionally accordion with a certain vaudevillian flair. (New World Brewery, Ybor City)
Tyler- I can't believe how talented of a writer you are. This article was beautifully…
Great interview! Give the interviewer a full time job! He's great!
The DJ was actually The Castle's very own DJ Tom Gold :)
Fabulous review Gabe! Too bad I missed it.