CL previews upcoming shows

Diana Ross, Area 51, Pocket Full of Rocks

Thursday, April 26

DIANA ROSS As divas go, Diana is certainly in the upper upper echelon. If her new CD, I Love You, is any indication, though, her voice is beginning to fail her. The album is a collection of classic-rock-era pop songs ("More Today than Yesterday," "Take My Breath Away," "The Look of Love") that finds Ross' singing absent that flirty lilt that always compensated for her lack of power. This is not to say that Ross fans won't be thrilled to see her on stage — just know that the Supremes days are long, long gone. The regal mane of hair is still very much in effect, however. (Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater) —Eric Snider

HELLO OPERATOR w/THE LOVE AFFAIR/BLACK IN MIND/TAILGUNNER JOE Anyone who has ever bobbed their head along to The Cars while considering the merits of Bowie's Ziggy Stardust (or is a fan of The Killers) will likely appreciate Toronto-based quartet Hello Operator, an '80s revivalist act with a gift for glam. Lakeland's The Love Affair play acoustic-strum rock augmented by ambient keyboard effects that wrap around the high, pleading (perhaps too high and pleading) vocals of frontman Aaron Rios. (Orpheum, Ybor City)

E-MERGE W/SYFUR/PAYLOAD/ASYLUM 414 Billed as "An Evening of Destruction," the lineup features four area bands that sound willing and able to destroy audience members' eardrums with a bit of the old metal hardcore. (Crowbar, Ybor City)

Friday, April 27

THE CHASE THEORY w/TRADED TO RACINE Although Bradenton's Matt Burke creates more buzz these days with his alt-country project Have Gun, Will Travel, his other band, the nationally recognized emo/punk trio The Chase Theory, still rocks with greater cathartic crunch, skill and passion than most acts in the area. If attendees are lucky, Matt, his brother/bassist Danny Burke and drummer J.P. Beaubien will close the gig with their way-cool rendition of Tom Petty's "American Girl." (Rasher Tierney's Back Room, Bradenton)

JIMMY THACKERY & THE DRIVERS Electric-guitar-wielding, citified bluesman Thackery has recorded for respectable national indie labels Blind Pig and Telarc over the years while building a loyal following in these parts thanks to numerous, well-received performances at the Skipperdome. (Skipper's Smokehouse, Tampa)

AREA 51 w/MUST NOT KILL/PSEUDONYM/EIGHT FINGERED FREDDY The Tampa foursome Area 51 plays a mix of prog-rock and nu-metal that reminds me of Limp Bizkit grappling with Zeppelin's "Achilles Last Stand." (Crowbar, Ybor City)

MUPHIN CHUCKRS/NOUS RAPPORT/BOREALIS A trio of snotty-voiced teenage punk-rockers, Bradenton's Muphin Chuckrs steadfastly refuse to reinvent the wheel, cranking out your basic three-chord ditties that end up lodged in the part of the brain you thought dead from inhaling El Camino fumes in your high school parking lot. Nous Rapport, meanwhile, is a Sarasota foursome that's been gigging around for about a year, with a more dramatic alt-rock sound. Borealis? I don't know nuttin'. (The Clubhouse Tavern, Sarasota) —Cooper Levey-Baker

DAVID JACOBS-STRAIN Jacobs-Strain's voice is just plain mean: weary, dark, deep and gruff. The instrument gives extra weight to his boot-stompin', rustic folk-rock, far removed from anything you're likely to hear in a coffee shop. (Fogartyville Café, Bradenton) —CLB

Saturday, April 28

MYA/CLIPSE/JOVAN DIAS This year's edition of the annual Seagram's Live tour features silky R&B/pop singer Mya ("Case of the Ex," It's All About Me"); rap duo Clipse (one of the more creative acts specializing in the how-to-sell-crack routine); and fresh-on-the-scene neo-soul singer Jovan Dias. (Club Skye, Ybor City)

THE SEMIS w/MILITARY JUNIOR Tampa quartet The Semis play a ragged-but-right brand of boozy power-pop, while St. Pete trio Military Junior makes math-rock with feeling — re-creating their sophisticated studio sounds rather well in concert. (Emerald Bar, St. Petersburg)

NEKROMANTIX w/TIME AGAIN/THE HEART ATTACKS/ORANGE Denmark's Nekromantix headlines this evening of pyschobilly bands presented by L.A.-based Hellcat Records. Led by coffinbassist (his upright bass is shaped like a coffin) Kim Nekromantix, the trio is touring in support of their new CD Life is a Grave & I Dig It!, which features charmingly childish titles like "Horny in a Hearse" and "Panic at the Morgue." (State Theatre, St. Petersburg)

JOE DIFFIE w/LITTLE TEXAS/JAKE OWEN w/JASON MICHAEL CARROLL WQYK-FM 99.5 hosts this freebie headlined by Joe Diffie, the pseudo-country outlaw who had a string of No. 1 hits in the '90s that included "Third Rock From the Sun" and "Pickup Man." Little Texas notched a string of hits ("Big Time," "Kick a Little") in the early '90s that were marked by an accessible, Eagles-ish sound. (Coachman Park, Clearwater)

KENNY WAYNE SHEPHERD One of the young Stevie Ray Vaughan-channeling ax men to enjoy commercial success in the mid-'90s, Shepherd remains a formidable presence on the contemporary blues scene. He's currently touring behind the new album 10 Days Out (Blues from the Backroads), which features him surrounded by legends (Henry Townsend, Pinetop Perkins) and acclaimed veterans (members of SRV's Double Trouble) on chestnuts like "The Thrill is Gone" and "Red Rooster." (Tampa Theatre, Tampa)

AUDITORIUM w/WESZT/5 STORY St. Pete art-rock outfit Auditorium are joined by Orlando's Weszt, an alt-rock four-piece that tends to favor epic tunes with large build-ups and dark themes, while Tampa's 5 Story brings the opera-metal, Incubus vibe. (Crowbar, Ybor City)

POCKET FULL OF ROCKS PFOR is in town to save some souls this weekend, bringing its polished and anthemic, piano-driven Christ-rock to the banks of the Manatee River. (Christian Retreat, Bradenton —CLB

Sunday, April 29

BOGUS POMP LOW-BUDGET ACOUSTIC ORCHESTRA Once upon a time, Bogus Pomp played their last show. And then they played their last show again. And again. And again. Nowadays, guitarist Jerry Outlaw seems to be keeping his trap firmly shut regarding the potential demise of his super-fantastic Zappa tribute outfit. In fact, it seems like he's enjoying a second wind; the past few years have seen Bogus Pomp playing more shows than usual. The new acoustic lineup replaces the brass ensemble with violinist Dan Campbell and cellist Tom Kersey. Everyone — Outlaw included — plays acoustic instruments. (Skipper's Smokehouse, Tampa). —Leilani Polk

ERIC CHURCH This country newbie burst on the scene last year with the hits "Two Pink Lines" and "Guys Like Me" from his debut LP Sinners Like Me. (Dallas Bull, Tampa)

LIMBECK w/HOT ROD CIRCUIT/THE FORECAST/THE HERO THE VILLAIN Orange County's Limbeck is a road-tested, power-pop quartet that summons the spirit of the Beach Boys while mixing things up with an occasional touch of twang. The band recently released its third and career-best self-titled LP on Doghouse Records (see the music feature p. 41). Hot Rod Circuit is a pop-punk foursome from New Haven, Conn., that has flirted with mainstream success for years but has yet to cash in à la the similar-sounding All-American Rejects. (Orpheum, Ybor City)

98ROCKFEST w/HINDER/THREE DAYS GRACE/BUCKCHERRY/PUDDLE OF MUDD/CHEVELLE/SALIVA/DAUGHTRY/PAPA ROACH/FLYLEAF/BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE/DROPPING DAYLIGHT Hinder resurrected the post-grunge sounds of the '90s in rote fashion and became the biggest hard rock band of '06. Amazing. People still pay money to see Papa Roach and Puddle of Mudd — even more amazing. The only band on the lineup worth a damn is Buckcherry, thanks to their recent hit single "Crazy Bitch," which has all the naughty charm of vintage AC/DC. (The Grounds of Raymond James Stadium, Tampa)

Monday, April 30

MELEE w/AMBER PACIFIC/POWERSPACE Well-executed piano-pop albums boasting big hooks from top to bottom never really get old, which is why even though Melee's recently issued major label debut LP Devils & Angels (Warner Bros.) often sounds like something being played in the mall circa 1985, it's still an enjoyable listen — especially on giddy dance-floor cuts like "Frequently Baby (She's a Teenager Maniac)." (Orpheum, Ybor City)

Tuesday, May 1

MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN w/THE OOHLAS New York City disco/funk-rockers Men, Women & Children are following in the footsteps of fellow NYC bands like The Rapture with a hyperkinetic sound that generates sweat on the dancefloor. (Orpheum, Ybor City)

WEDNESDAY, MAY 2

TYPE O NEGATIVE w/BRAND NEW SIN/CELTIC FROST The goth-metal pioneers that deftly reworked "Summer Breeze" as a dirge on their '93 breakthrough Bloody Kisses are touring behind the recently released Dead Again, which once again finds the band bringing a bit of Bela Lugosi black humor to the hard-rock arena with titles like "Halloween in Heaven." (Jannus Landing, St. Petersburg)

ISWHAT?!/X:144 & SPS These avant-garde indie hip-hop groups have a lot to offer. Cincinnati's Iswhat?! hail from the hip-hop school of jazz, emcee Napoleon Maddox laying down beat-box-infused rhymes against funky grooves and delicious freeform playing by saxophonist Jack Walker. X:144 & SPS of Orlando perform a positive but far-from-saccharine brand of intelligent, fuzzy, funked-out hip-hop with two turntables and a microphone, and producer/emcee X:144 delivering observational verses over the mixing/matching and scratching of DJ SPS. (Orpheum, Ybor City) —LP

HEART/TODD RUNDGREN Heart were major players in fomenting acceptance for women in mainstream rock. Ann had the big voice, and Nancy had the sexy guitar moves. Probably still do. Rundgren is one of the most confounding artists of the last four decades. His early '70s work was a sublime balance of post-Beatles pop-rock and blue-eyed soul. But his preoccupation with technology, which really took root in the early '90s, has yielded a number of stiff albums. He's an uneven performer. I've seen him wow the State Theatre with bossa nova versions of his major '70s hits (from the charming album With a Twist), and I've seen him phone-in a solo performance, giggling over his mistakes. No word on whether he's playing with a band. Here's to hoping the good Todd shows up. (Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater) —ES

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