CL previews upcoming shows

Reel Big Fish, Stevie Nicks, the Rev. Billy C. Wirtz

Thursday, Feb. 8

CHICAGO In '67, a gaggle of students at DePaul University started Chicago Transit Authority, a restlessly inventive ensemble known for its heady horn charts. It wasn't long before the band rechristened itself Chicago and became a middle-of-the-road pop hit machine with saccharine singer Peter Cetera as the centerpiece. Chicago scored its first Top 10 with "Make Me Smile" in 1970 and its last in '89 with "What Kind of Man Would I Be?" — with nary a drop-off in between. Cetera left long ago (replaced by a Cetera soundalike). Chicago's very much a nostalgia act now, but they've got a lot of nostalgia to choose from. (Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater) —Eric Snider

REEL BIG FISH These South Cali ska-punkers entered the mainstream in '97 following the success of similar-sounding acts such as No Doubt and Sublime. Reel Big Fish's breakthrough and only legitimate hit single, "Sell Out," is a boisterous party track with punchy horns, speedy reggae rhythms and lyrics about leaving the fast-food gig and inking a lucrative deal with a major label. The band is still jumping around onstage, having recently released the concert document Our Live Album is Better Than Your Jive Album, which of course includes a sing-along version of "Sell Out." This is the kick-off concert for the Florida State Fair. Live music continues on Sun., Feb. 11 with 1964...The Tribute (to The Beatles, of course), and Tues., Feb. 13 with Bennie Anderson & the Drifters. (Florida State Fairgrounds, Tampa)

FOOD WILL WIN THE WAR w/GIDDY-UP HELICOPTER/RED ROOM CINEMA Food Will Win the War is what Big Apple-based singer-songwriter Rob Ward calls his band. It's also what he calls his debut album. The disc is a collection of bleak folk numbers that pair Ward's spooky baritone with plenty of soft guitars, percussion, keys and a lonesome violin. Local favorite and Best of the Bay winner Giddy-Up Helicopter crafts fragile, melancholy tunes tricked-out with lap steel and banjo à la Sufjan Stevens. Tampa's Red Room Cinema issues mood music that's sad, spacey and soaked in synths. (New World Brewery, Ybor City)

FRIDAY, Feb. 9

STEVIE NICKS If Lindsey Buckingham was the artistic conscience of Fleetwood Mac and Christine McVie was the pop confectionist, and Mick Fleetwood and John McVie were the backbone, then Stevie Nicks was the diva, the witch/goddess frontwoman. She also had, and has, a shrill, braying voice whose appeal completely evades me. Nicks can build a setlist from a passel of her Fleetwood Mac songs, as well as a solid book of solo hits. (Ford Amphitheatre, Tampa) —ES

GINUWINE w/CARL THOMAS/JEDIAH Slow-jam crooner Ginuwine shot to stardom in '96 by inviting the world to ride his "Pony." He's been moaning over thumping bass and thick grooves ever since, resulting in varying levels of success. Carl Thomas does pretty much the same thing, while Miami's Jediah is a 2Pac acolyte whose lamely named debut disc Confessionz of a Thug drops in March. (Tampa's Studio Inc., Tampa)

REV. BILLY C. WIRTZ Boogie woogie piano man/R-rated preacher/comedian and Skipperdome fave Billy C. Wirtz returns to his preferred Bay area stomping grounds to delight his faithful followers with politically incorrect musings about adventures in the sack and such pop culture prizes as The Velvet Elvis. (Skipper's Smokehouse, Tampa)

HOT TOPIC PRESENTS THE TAKE ACTION TOUR FEAT. EMERY/THE RED JUMPSUIT APPARATUS/SCARY KIDS/A STATIC LULLABY/KADDISFLY Seattle-based Emery is a popular Christian melodic hardcore unit that spends as much time on record probing relationships as it does extolling the virtues of the Good Book. Red Jumpsuit Apparatus is a Jacksonville-area punk-rock quintet that blew up last year with their gold-certified debut album Don't You Fake It, whose banality pretty much disgusted critics — but their teenage fanbase digs it, you know. Scary Kids arrive from Arizona with a rather bland offering of snot-nosed punk kissed with '80s-style keyboards. Cali screamers A Static Lullaby growl and sing over standard three-chord mayhem. Portland's Kaddisfly peppers its post-millennium rock with prog touches. (Jannus Landing, St. Petersburg)

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC/52nd STREET Sir Elton and the Billy "Piano Man" Joel get the tribute treatment — bring your mom. (Largo Cultural Center)

LAST DAY ALIVE CD RELEASE PARTY w/WOODALE/ARCHERS NEW REVIVAL/ SELECT START The Brandon-based trio Last Day Alive will rock-out in standard screamo, slow-then-fast, sweet-then-abrasive fashion to celebrate its new CD Wear You Like a Curse. Joining in the festivities will be Woodale, from Lakeland, which performs an earnest, occasionally poppy brand of alternative rock that sets the band apart from the other acts in the lineup. Archers New Rival is another sing-then-growl band from Orlando that takes audiences into very familiar terrain. Tampa quartet Select Start should have no trouble making bodies move with their synthy backbeats, power-pop overtones and anguished "to hell with love" lyrics. (Crowbar, Ybor City)

LESS THAN JAKE It's a guaranteed good time when this veteran ska-punk band decides it's time again to drive down from Gainesville and entertain members of its loyal Bay area fanbase. The group's two-night stand continues on Saturday at the same venue. (State Theatre, St. Petersburg)

THIRD SOCIETY/THE SUPERVILLAINS The Sarasota rock quintet has an unapologetic early-'90s grunge sound, complete with big melodies and various quantities of facial hair. I like to poke fun at grunge (flannel just doesn't look good on me), but I can't deny that when the genre's matched with hooks like Third Society's, I don't mind it at all. (The Tavern on Main, Sarasota) —Cooper Levey-Baker

SATURDAY, Feb. 10

NEW EDITION There was a time two decades ago — long before Bobby Brown snorted his first line or bedded Whitney Houston — when posters of New Edition were mandatory wall decorations for any self-respecting seventh-grader. A boy band in the mold of the Jackson 5, the group matured to usher in the New Jack Swing era, with Brown then hitting pay dirt as a solo act with "My Prerogative." The remaining members of New Edition formed Bell Biv Devoe and had a banner year in 1990 with the sexed-up smashes "Poison" and "Do Me!" Fast-forward to 2007, and New Edition (minus bad-boy Brown) is five years into a reunion tour that will find them crooning "Candy Girl" to women who must now be in their 40s if they dug this lightweight radio favorite in 1983. (St. Pete Times Forum)

THE GIPSY KINGS The French band benefited from impeccable timing. In the early '80s, as world music was being marketed intensively to American consumers, the Kings cropped up, offering a decidedly pop take on flamenco music. The band's wildly emotive vocals and relentless acoustic guitars made them international stars, even though they were scorned by flamenco purists. Clearly, Gipsy Kings have stood the test of time. (Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Tampa) —ES

CHUCK OWEN & JAZZ SURGE w/special guest RUSS FERRANTE Part of the USF Jazz Masterworks Series, Chuck Owen conducts his big band Jazz Surge through the music of saxophonist/composer/arranger Bob Mintzer, who leads his own big band and is also a member of the crossover fusion group The Yellowjackets. This program will touch on both aspects of Mintzer's artistry. Ferrante, The Yellowjackets' longtime keyboardist, is on hand for the fun. The same program is repeated at Tampa Theatre on Mon., Feb. 12. (Palladium Theater, St. Petersburg Tampa) —ES

TERRY GARLAND Garland ditched playing the blues with a band after his first solo gig opening for Leon Russell. He realized that most of the blues masters he loved (Robert Johnson et al) didn't need much more than their fingers, their throat and their gut. He plays both acoustic and slide guitar in concert, honoring blues tradition with some covers and throwing in originals as well. (Fogartyville Café, Bradenton) —CLB

SUNDAY, Feb. 11

THE MATCHES/ESCAPE THE FATE/I AM GHOST/THE HIGHER The Matches are an Oakland-based foursome that largely expanded their fanbase last year with their second Epitaph LP Decomposer, a collection of well-executed pop-punk. The band sprinkles its songs with dashes of electronica and gritty rock grooves. The night's roster also includes fellow Epitaph acts Escape the Fate (screamo), I Am Ghost (punk/Goth) and The Higher (emo). (Orpheum, Ybor City)

WINGER Hair metal has-been Winger enjoyed a nice run starting in the late '80s. It lasted until some band called Nirvana came along and made their music seem a bit silly. Will area hipsters attend, offer ironic applause, observe how the other half lives and have some fun in the process? We'll see. (State Theatre, St. Petersburg)

IRA SULLIVAN In the '80s, Sullivan — who plays saxophones, trumpet, flute and (I think) clarinets — led one of jazz's most going concerns with the late trumpeter Red Rodney. A couple of years ago, Sullivan played a Gorilla Theatre matinee and charmed the small crowd with his wit, anecdotes and, of course, playing. For this show, which starts at 3 p.m., he'll be backed by top-rank local players. (Gorilla Theatre) —ES

TUESDAY, Feb. 13

OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW This Nashville folk/bluegrass/country band sounds a lot like Bob Dylan circa The Basement Tapes thanks to the nasally delivery of leader Willie Watson. (Skipper's Smokehouse, Tampa)

PSYCHOSTICK/INDORPHINE Arizona metal band Psychostick plays for laughs with songs about shitty cars ("Two Ton Paperweight") and their love of cheap suds ("Beer!"). Indorphine is a mean-sounding prog-metal act from Orlando. (Bourbon Street Concert Club, New Port Richey)

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