Most Improved Venue: The Ritz Ybor

When the former Masquerade got a $2 million makeover and re-opened as The Ritz last June, it didn’t seem like many shows were making it to the marquee and some of us wondered whether the booking folks set the bar too high in their selections or if the 1,000-capacity place had become a bit too fancy for just any show with its new open and airy feel, higher stage, in-house lighting rig, and walls draped in red velour for superior sound quality. But gradually with help from No Clubs Productions, The Ritz began beefing up its events schedule and in a matter of months, went from hosting tribute acts to a range of top notch talents – Lady Gaga, of Montreal, Jesse McCartney, Ben Folds, Gogol Bordello, Ghostface Killah & Raekwon, Three Dog Night, Rabbit in the Moon and many others. The Ritz has also picked up several shows lost by Jannus Landing due to that venue’s pending legal issues. 1503 E. Seventh Ave., Tampa, 813-247-2555,

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