Spring Arts Preview 2017: Here are 10 essential Tampa Bay concerts to add to your calendar

...and a few you probably shouldn't skip if you can help it.

Parker Millsap plays Skipper’s Smokehouse in Tampa, Florida on September 30, 2016. - Tracy May
Tracy May
Parker Millsap plays Skipper’s Smokehouse in Tampa, Florida on September 30, 2016.

Itzhak Perlman w/The Florida Orchestra Musical superstardom isn’t limited to the Beyonces of the world. The classical music world has its own indisputable stars, and Itzhak Perlman is one of them. The 71-year-old multiple Grammy-winner has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and played the 2009 inauguration of former president Barack Obama, but he joins TFO’s Michael Francis at this fundraising concert to perform his favorite music from films like like Casablanca and Schindler’s List. Feb. 4, Mahaffey Theater, St. Petersburg. 727-892-5767 floridaorchestra.org.

Parker Millsap This 23-year-old from Oklahoma with the otherworldly voice has already stopped in the area once since his September 2016 show at Skipper’s, but we’re chomping at the bit to see him again at the relatively new Safety Harbor Art and Music Center. His March 2016 release, The Very Last Day, grows spicier with every spin, and it’ll be interesting to see how his band has fleshed it out after playing it on the road for almost a year. This show is sold out, but a second appearance is in the works. Read our interview with Millsap hereFeb. 18, Safety Harbor Art and Music Center, Safety Harbor. 727-725-4018. safetyharborartandmusiccenter.com.

Steve Martin & Martin Short w/Steep Canyon Rangers The Martins (Short and Steve) in a show that’ll feature a lot of banjo-pluckin’, some stand-up, plus conversation about the boys’ lives in show biz (their other amigo, Chevy Chase, is not scheduled to join them on the tour). At press time, there were still tickets available for this show with Steve Martin’s longtime collaborators, bluegrass band Steep Canyon Rangers, but don’t expect that to be the case come showtime. Feb. 11, Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, 727-791-7400, rutheckerdhall.com

Florida Strawberry Festival There’s at least one Trump inauguration artist on the slate of headlining entertainment at this year’s Strawberry Festival (3 Doors Down, who play on March 4), but don’t hold that against organizers who’ve booked a nice collection of artists whose work spans several generations (Willie Nelson, Jennifer Nettles, Elle King and Patti LaBelle, to name a few) for fans who’ll migrate to Plant City all in celebration of that juicy red fruit that so many of our migrant workers faithfully harvest for us year in and year out. March 2-12, Plant City, Florida. 813-752-9194. flstrawberryfestival.com

Big Freedia. New Orleans’ queen of bounce (a Crescent City strain of hypersexual, ultra-lit hip-hop littered with hi-hats, claps and synth) brought the genre mainstream, and this could be the last time you see her for a while. In March, the 38-year-old legally known as Freddie Ross Jr. pled guilty to lying about income in order to benefit from government-subsidized housing and was sentenced to three years in prison. Still, she is a pioneer, and this show is not to be missed. March 3, Crowbar, Ybor City. 813-241-8600. ticketfly.com

Dinosaur Jr. J. Mascis’s noisy, searing guitar tone was the soundtrack to thousands of ’90s kids' lives, and now that they’ve grown up, you can expect Dinosaur Jr. disciples to pile into State Theatre (with earplugs in, we’re getting old) for this tour in support of a new album, Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not, where the godfathers of grunge will show off their weirdness, ability to fire off mind-boggling guitar solos and penchant for writing oddly poignant lyrics. March 28, State Theatre. 727-895-3045. statetheatreconcerts.com

Gasparilla Music Festival Festival organizers say there are still about 18 bands left to announce in the time between you read this and gates open, but the recent additions of revered songwriter Ryan Adams, Wu-Tang Clan’s Ghostface Killah and budding Jamaican roots-reggae star Chronixx are a sign that Tampa’s own homegrown, non-profit music fest is still going full speed ahead in its mission to bring the Bay area a diverse and carefully curated musical experience that is virtually unrivaled as far as talent and fan experience go. [Full disclosure: This editor worked on social media for GMF until August 2016.] Consider the fact that Cage The Elephant (known for notoriously raucous, crowd-pleasing sets) is headlining Saturday, and what you have is a recipe for a sellout. March 11-12, Curtis Hixon Park, Tampa. 813-708-8423, gasparillamusic.com

Norah Jones Fourteen years after her debut LP Come Away With Me earned eight Grammy awards, Norah Jones still possesses one of the most haunting voices in all the land. The multi-instrumentalist never rested on the album’s jazzy laurels, however, and has collaborated with the likes of Danger Mouse and even Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong in the years since. A new one, last year’s Day Breaks, is both a nod to the past and an evolution, and finds Jones & co. utilizing mostly live takes en route to making one of 2016’s most underrated albums. This show is sold out. March 7, Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater. 727-791-7400. rutheckerdhall.com

The Weeknd Many of Abel Tesfaye’s fans have already begun to abandon him after his latest move toward pop centrism on last year’s Starboy, but the 26-year-old sexed-up crooner better known as The Weeknd shouldn’t apologize. He’s still one of the most unique artists on the Billboard charts, and his recent collaborations with Daft Punk are proof that his noir & B is catching on with the rest of the world. May 12, Amalie Arena, Tampa. 813-301-6500, amaliearena.com

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers w/Joe Walsh There are certain songs (“American Girl,” “Freefallin’”) that Tom Petty admits he’s gotta play live, and while fans probably won’t hear anything off Wildflowers (his 1994 solo LP), they probably shouldn’t take this show — which will pull from every corner of his 40-year-old discography — for granted. Despite being prone to boredom when he’s off the road, Petty, 66, has expressed a desire to spend more time with his grandchildren, and he’s unsure how much more touring the Heartbreakers can actually take. May 6, Amalie Arena, Tampa. 813-301-6500, amaliearena.com


Bon Jovi, Feb.14,Amalie Arena, Tampa. 813-301-6500, amaliearena.com

Loretta Lynn, Feb.17, Mahaffey Theater, St. Petersburg. 727-892-5767. themahaffey.com

Amos Lee, March 3, Tampa Theatre, Tampa. 813-274-8286. tampatheatre.org

Dwight Yoakam, March 5,Mahaffey Theater, St. Petersburg.727-892-5767. themahaffey.com

Life On Venus: Bjork and Bowie w/Florida Bjorkestra, March 19, Palladium Theatre, St. Petersburg. 727-822-3590. mypalladium.org

Don’t Stop St. Pete, March 25, Morean Center For Clay, St. Petersburg. 727-821-7162. dontstopstpete.com

Shovels & Rope w/John Moreland/Matt Vasquez, April 4, State Theatre, St. Petersburg. 727-895-3045. statetheatreconcerts.com

Big Sean, April 19, The Ritz, Ybor City. 813-248-4050. theritzybor.com

The Damned, May 13, State Theatre, St. Petersburg. 727-895-3045statetheatreconcerts.com

About The Author

Ray Roa

Read his 2016 intro letter and disclosures from 2022 and 2021. Ray Roa started freelancing for Creative Loafing Tampa in January 2011 and was hired as music editor in August 2016. He became Editor-In-Chief in August 2019. Past work can be seen at Suburban Apologist, Tampa Bay Times, Consequence of Sound and The...
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