Doing the Bay Area Proud
Thanks to affordable digital recording programs and sites like MySpace, anyone with a decent computer can make music and post it online for the world to hear. Due to this unprecedented deluge of homemade tunes, separating the worthy from the wretched has never been more difficult. But that's not to say Tampa Bay isn't lacking in talented bands. In fact, we have plenty, and many of those artists are affiliated with the Southeast Music Alliance (SMA). It's a name to be trusted. Over the years, SMA's accomplishments have included issuing two compilation CDs that excellently spotlight the best the Bay has to offer. And anyone even remotely curious about the local music scene would be remiss not to stop by SMAFlorida.com, which offers free monthly podcasts focused on Bay area bands among its many user-friendly features. Saturday's show at the State Theatre commemorates SMA's fifth anniversary and will coincide with the launch of a new, even richer website. The benefit concert features a diverse lineup of local bands ranging from emotive art-rockers Auditorium and indie-rock faves Giddy-Up, Helicopter! to reggae-funksters Tribal Style and hip-hop from Breakdown and DJ Effex. Also on the roster are folk-rockers The Human Condition and Rebekah Pulley with her backing band the Reluctant Prophets. Experimental jazz duo Legato Staccato, which features members of Gravy and Saturn 5, will make its debut.
Southeast Music Alliance 5 Year Anniversary Concert w/Giddy Up, Helicopter!/Auditorium/Tribal Style/The Human Condition/Breakdown (with guest DJ Effex)/Rebekah Pulley and the Reluctant Prophets/Holiday/Legato Staccato, Sat., Aug. 4, State Theatre, St. Petersburg. Doors open at 5 p.m. Tickets are $7, or $5 with your voter I.D. —Wade Tatangelo
All Grown Up
It's been nice watching the lad grow up. In the early 2000s, John Mayer came off as a cute, sensitive purveyor of effete strum-pop, a guy who quickened the heartbeats of certain teenage girls. In other words, he was easy to dismiss. Then came last year's Continuum album, which unleashed Mayer's inner blue-eyed-soul singer and further refined his accomplished electric guitar work introduced in the blues-based John Mayer Trio. He put his new self on charismatic display last summer at the Ford Amp. This time, he'll be joined by singer/songwriter Ben Folds, whose piano-driven alt-rock with his band Ben Folds Five was a hot commodity in '97 (via the album Whatever and Ever Amen and the hit "Brick"). His mainstream popularity faded abruptly with the commercial failure of the confounding follow-up The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner. The band broke up shortly after. Folds soldiers on, though, and the guess here is he'll put on a worthwhile set. James Morrison is a newer vintage singer with a blue-eyed-soul bent.
John Mayer w/Ben Folds/James Morrison, Tues., Aug. 7, Ford Amphitheatre, Tampa. $52.50, $37.50, $29.50 (lawn). Livenation.com. —Eric Snider
Rap With 'Depth'
"Let's put more depth in our verses," Talib Kweli says in his new single "More or Less." It's a message he has been sending to his fellow rhymers for nearly a decade. A leading light in the alternative rap arena, Kweli first became known via Black Star, the duo he formed with Mos Def. Their critically acclaimed 1998 self-titled album finds the rappers espousing the teachings of Marcus Garvey. The beats are sparse, indebted more to jazz than funk and with plenty of sonic surprises. Kweli went solo with his 2000 full-length Reflection Eternal, containing the hit "Move Somethin'," which reached No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Rap Singles chart. Kweli's single "More or Less" will appear on his upcoming album Ear Drum, due out in this month. Blac Soap is Seif and Fly Beads, the Tampa duo responsible for the hilarious single "Thug Hippy" (MySpace.com/blacsoap).
Talib Kweli and DJ Chaps w/Blac Soap, Fri., Aug. 3, State Theatre, St. Petersburg, Doors at 8 p.m. $18/$20 at the door. —WT