CL's picks for the week's best shows

Gwar, Cheryl Wheeler, Dropping Daylight


GWAR/THE RED CHORD/MUNICIPAL WASTE Get your costumed toilet-metal ya-yas out, 'cause the mighty Gwar is making its umpteenth Bay area appearance. It's art, baby. Along for the ride are rising metalcore unit The Red Chord and killer old-school thrashcore/crossover band Municipal Waste — think DRI, only more frenetic. (Jannus Landing, St. Petersburg)

HAZZAN ALBERTO MIZRAHI Greek-born tenor Mizrahi is among the world's foremost ambassadors and performers of Jewish vocal/choral/opera music. Yes, they call him "the Jewish Pavarotti." He has been featured on PBS, and has made many festival appearances with the Dave Brubeck Quartet. (Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center, Tarpon Springs)

FRIDAY, Dec. 01

TAB BENOIT Benoit is one of those blues guys who managed to make a splash with the Adult Contemporary crowd to some degree. Which isn't to say the Louisianan's swampy, vaguely Texan style is any less credible than more obscure players or that he gets a ton of commercial radio airplay; he's just known to more folks outside the circle of diehards, largely because he spends a hell of a lot of time on the road. (Lakeland Center, Lakeland)

JOHN TESH Tesh is most famous as the guy who used to be that guy on Entertainment Tonight, but the man ditched the rigors of high-stakes celebrity journalism some years back to focus on his bombastic, New Age music, releasing approximately 36 CDs every year. But buying a ticket for this show doesn't just get you a seat in Tesh's audience. Nope, you get the Total Tesh Experience, which includes a wine-slash-cheese reception and a meet 'n' greet with Tesh in the flesh. As for the concert? Well, if the best thing I can say about Tesh's music is that it compares favorably to Yanni's, I should probably just keep my mouth shut. (New College of Florida, Sarasota) —Cooper Levey-Baker

PAPA ROACH/(HED)P.E./STALLING DECEMBER NorCal nu-metal outfit Papa Roach has withstood the fading of its style by being a little lighter and catchier than the rest, which explains why the band continues to get radio airplay despite the fact that it's not very good at all. (HED)p.e. is wackier and crazier and more rap-influenced, but not any better, really. (Jannus Landing, St. Petersburg)

PAPA GROWS FUNK/LOST BAYOU RAMBLERS A favorite with the WMNF roots/jam crowd (the community-funded station is hosting this show), New Orleans' Papa Grows Funk plays an eclectic but still distinctly Crescent City-flavored amalgam of funk, R&B and jam-rock fusion. The Lost Bayou Ramblers have been christened the contemporary keepers of old-school Cajun musical traditions. (Skipper's Smokehouse, Tampa)


ALAN JACKSON/LITTLE BIG TOWN/THE WRECKERS Since 1989, Jackson's less poppy take on contemporary country music has earned itself more than 30 Number One hits, and over 90 awards — Grammys, CMAs, Billboard awards, what have you. His 16th album, Like Red on a Rose, is a collaboration with none other than Alison Krauss. Arkansas' Little Big Town are acclaimed for their vocal/harmony work, and The Wreckers is a surprisingly good country project helmed by pop hitmaker Michelle Branch and her former background singer, Jessica Harp. (Ford Amphitheatre, Tampa)

LOS LOBOS Snider just loves this awesome, eclectic and long-running Los Angeles Latino roots-rock institution. The group has an acclaimed new album out called The Town and the City and can always be counted on to deliver a great, unpretentious live show; check out Eric's story on page 39 for more. (Jannus Landing, St. Petersburg)

SUNCOAST BLUES SOCIETY CHRISTMAS PARTY This year's version of the annual SBS holiday shindig features entertainment by the legendary Bobby Rush. Rush cut his teeth on the southeastern chitlin circuit and had his own inimitable blend of blues, soul and funk down by the time he started to rise through the ranks of Chicago's storied blues scene in the mid-'50s. (Skipper's Smokehouse, Tampa)

CHERYL WHEELER The veteran New England folk singer-songwriter (and poet as well) makes another Bay area stop. Wheeler is known for the simultaneously laid-back and rowdy atmosphere of her shows, which buck the quiet, polite folk-gig trend in favor of something more energetic and fun. (Octagon Arts Center, Clearwater)

THE AUDITION/MADINA LAKE/LORENE DRIVER Chicago's The Audition play better than average emo with a taut, moody rock edge. They're pretty good, but whether or not they're good enough to be named after such a great movie remains to be seen. Fellow Windy City all-ages scenesters Madina Lake are more bombastic and generic, kind of like (shudder) a mix between Hoobastank and, um, a more emo Hoobastank. (Orpheum, Ybor City)

WHITE DOVE JUBILEE FEAT. MEN FROM EARTH Back in the late '80s and early '90s, Pinellas quintet Men from Earth was easily one of the best straight-up rock 'n' roll bands in the Bay area. Time, personality clashes and the pressures of dealing with fickle industry types saw the band splinter into various post-MFE combos (Gunburner, Basic Rock Outfit, Experimental Pilot and a host of others), but it seems the guys have buried the various hatchets in the name of a one-off reunion gig. Expect opening sets from several of the members' current projects, and a really great main-event performance. (The Garage, St. Petersburg)

FOUR STAR RIOT CD RELEASE PARTY Clearwater's Four Star Riot have pretty much perfected their own blend of blue-eyed soul and power pop; they've been one of the scene's best kept secrets for a few years now, mostly because they're not trendy. Tonight they'll release their fifth disc, Burn So Bright, and it's a good 'un. Joran Slane of Auditorium/Creative Loafing/Joran Slane fame will be joining the guys for a tune or two during this one-band multiple-set bill. (Dunedin Brewery, Dunedin)

Sunday, Dec. 03

POWERMAN 5000 Fronted by Rob Zombie's little brother, Powerman 5000 scored some notoriety at the end of the '90s during nu-metal's cyber/slightly electro phase. The band has since divested itself of the whole anime/comic book/multiple-exclamation-points image, and put out a more straightforward effort titled Destroy What You Enjoy this year. (State Theatre, St. Petersburg)

PAUL CEBAR & THE MILWAUKEEANS New College graduate Paul Cebar and his various Milwaukeeans have been plying their own take on rock and R&B for a decade and a half, and have been compared to the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Joe Cocker. (Skipper's Smokehouse, Tampa)

SUE FOLEY AND BAND/SONIA Canadian music might get a bum rap thanks to losers like Rush, but Foley does the Great White North proud with her rough 'n' tumble blues-rock sound. She mixes the heavy crunch of her electric blues chops with saucy and sexy vocals. SONiA kicks the night off with her contemporary folk troubadour show. (Fogartyville Café, Bradenton) —CLB

Monday, Dec. 04

OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN Remember how cute you thought she was in Grease? And then you grew hair in weird places and realized she was sexy around the time of Physical? And then years later you heard a rumor that she was bisexual, and that just made her even hotter? Yeah, me too. Tonight the Australian vocalist takes us on a tour of her singing career — did you know her first five hits all went Top Ten? (Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater)

DECEMBER ELECTRONIC MUSIC SHOWCASE Reax Magazine and Aestheticized Presents bring you an evening of visionary/experimental/noisy and psychotic new electro tuneage featuring French poptronica weirdoes Dat Politics, misleadingly named producer/glitch-hop artist Kevin Blechdom, Orlando-area duo Yip Yip and hometown DJ/producer collective Crate Brothers. (Crowbar, Ybor City)

Tuesday, Dec. 05

EMPTY HATS CD RELEASE PARTY Gulfport ren-fair and Celt-fest staples Empty Hats have a new CD coming out. (So does everybody this week, apparently.) It's called Released, and it's a live album full of the sort of inimitable expressions of Celtic influence and traditional instrumentation that Hats fans have come to expect from this quartet. Also, they sometimes wear funny clothes. (Skipper's Smokehouse, Tampa)

SHEILA KIRSTEN HUGHES BAND CD RELEASE SHOW More local CD-release news. This time around it's the Sheila Kirsten Hughes Band, a husband-and-wife team known for crafting soulful tunes that combine a traditional singer-songwriter vibe with contemporary atmospherics, lush instrumentation and big dynamics. The group's new disc is called Perspectives. Tonight they'll be joined by such friends as singer/guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Chucky Luv and improvisational musician Dave Eichenberger, along with many others. This one's a fancier-than-usual coming-out party; it's at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center's TECO Theatre, and the cover's a whopping $29, but at least you get a copy of the CD along with entry. (Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Tampa)

Wednesday, Dec. 06

DROPPING DAYLIGHT/MONTY ARE I/THE SUMMER/PERMANENT ME Twin Cities outfit Dropping Daylight is nominally an emo act, but incorporates plenty of rhythms, balls and big-ass dynamics that aren't usually associated with the major-key-riff-dominated genre. I'm not saying they're great, just that they're more like a modern-rock combo than, say, The Audition. The same goes for tourmates Monty Are I — these guys have those young emo voices, but the music is muscular and turgid. The bands are collecting Toys for Tots on this particular jaunt, so put a teddy bear or action figure or something in your battered backpack before heading out to the show. (Orpheum, Ybor City)

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