JJ Grey & Mofro brings swampy swagger to The Ritz Ybor + Owen, The Legendary Shack Shakers & more of this week's best upcoming concerts

click to enlarge JJ Grey - John Margaretten
John Margaretten
JJ Grey

Owen w/Fake Problems/John Allen “But I’m killing time in a ghost town / Dim lights and dull sounds / This is what it’s like to be dead and leave behind little more than a stain in the carpet,” Mike Kinsella sings in “Everyone’s Asleep in the House but Me,” his insomniac narrator pondering what to do with his time in a house full of sleepers. Produced by Brian Deck (Iron & Wine) and Neil Strauch (Bonnie 'Prince' Billy), Ghost Town is Kinsella’s sixth release under his solo moniker, Owen. The 2011 LP finds the Chicago-based indie rock multi-instrumentalist examining themes of home as inspired by his role as a stay-at-home dad, and by the passing of his own dad and their strained relationship. You likely know Kinsella from his other projects with brother Tim — Cap'n Jazz, Joan of Arc and Owls. He uses Owen to explore his more melodic, expressive side. (Orpheum, Ybor City)

Messengers w/Modern Pain/XtruthX A multi-prong bill of hardcore from Texas headed up by Messengers, which signed to Strike First Records last year and released a debut EP, Anthems, shortly after. (Transitions Gallery @ Skatepark of Tampa)

Tedeschi Trucks Band Love, family and music drive the union of Susan Techeschi and Derek Trucks. The powerhouse couple played together frequently before they finally formed a band separate from their own respective projects last year and released their first LP, Revelator, in 2011. The musicians are accompanied by an 11-member outfit that includes two drummers, two back-up singers and a horn section that play a rootsy, melodic mix of blues, R&B and rock marked by elements of jazz, gospel and world music. If you missed Eric’s story on Tedeschi Trucks Band last week, click here to read it. (Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater)

The Groves / Josh Clark & The Holdouts w/Folly Dean Tampa’s own Southern gritty rockers, The Groves, debut a new video shot and edited by 3Square Studios for their track, “Weight On.” They’re joined by The Holdouts, the rock side-project of Tea Leaf Green guitarist Josh Clark and drummer Cochrane McMillan. The name comes from a conversation between the two about their readiness “to be the last holdouts of rock and roll … in a world of increasing Ga Ga’s and Beiber’s”; TLG opens for Matisyahu on NYE in Tampa. (Crowbar, Ybor City)

Alexander & The Grapes / Emporer X / Applied Communications / Adam Randall This year found Alexander and the Grapes experiencing a series of notable triumphs. The foursome — which mixes easy drawling alt country, retro catchy folk pop and indie rock drive — successfully completed a Kickstarter.com campaign to raise funds to produce their first full-length, and even exceeded their $3,500 goal; signed to New Granada Records and began recording said album; played warm-up sets for notable singer-songwriters John Vanderslice and David Bazan; and embarked on their first national tour that took them up the East Coast and back with Matt Hires and Rachel Platten. The new LP is due out in early 2012 and you can expect to hear some tracks off it at this year-ending show. Also on the bill: noisy jangly folk rock outfit Emperor X, from Jacksonville and led by singer-songwriter C. R. Matheny. (New World Brewery, Ybor City)


JJ Grey & Mofro Grey is a blue collar storyteller with a social conscience whose personal style of songwriting reflects his Florida backwoods roots and values — his deep respect for the land and unease at its careless treatment, the barbeque and soul food he was raised eating and can’t live without, the people he’s met and the women he’s loved, or tried to love, or encountered in his travels... His husky resounding vocals bring Southern-steeped soul to his mix of downhome roots rock, gospel-tinged R&B, swampy blues and organ-fueled funk. JJ Grey and Mofro issued their fifth studio album, Georgia Warhorse, last year; this year, the band celebrates the release of their first live DVD/CD, Brighter Days. (The Ritz Ybor, Ybor City)

The Spears w/SUMO/Therapeutic Chokehold A showcase of three heavy music acts from the Bay area: drum thrashing riff-raging punk/hardcore four-piece The Spears, which bring fast and furious energy to the table along with street cred via members who also play in notable groups like Pink Lincolns and Down By Law; pounding stoner metal trio SUMO, their sound marked by crunchy riffs and brawny gruff shouts; and Theraputic Chokehold, which brings a ’90s grunge sensibility to their hard-hitting alt rock. (New World Brewery, Ybor City)

Blast Friday: Marty Balin The locally-based Jefferson Airplane/Starship alum has been popping up at gigs all over town in the past several months. This time around, Marty Balin plays a stage right on Cleveland Street outside the Capitol Theatre as part of Blast Friday, downtown Clearwater’s monthly street festival. This New Year’s edition culminates in a fireworks display. (Capitol Theatre, Clearwater)

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