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cult of JONATHAN
From his early-'70s role fronting proto-punk minimalists The Modern Lovers through a two-decades-long career as a solo performer (the latter half of which has been spent with equally, er, interesting drummer/sideman Tommy Larkins), Jonathan Richman's eccentric, earnest approach to songwriting has endeared him to an incredibly loyal cult. His reputation as a quirky, childlike guy usually overshadows his passion for tinkering with myriad musical styles. Richman is both a scholar and a sponge (and, it's been said, something of an obsessive perfectionist); his material has been influenced by everything from doo-wop to Latin and Italian styles, and his latest album, Not So Much to be Loved as to Love, includes several tunes sung in foreign languages. But you don't need to sweat the details in order to enjoy him in a live setting, where he's part troubadour, part storyteller, part children's-show host, and wholly entertaining.

Jonathan Richman, Tuesday, June 7 @ Skipper's Smokehouse, Tampa. 8 p.m.; $10 adv./$13 d.o.s.

-Scott Harrell


MELT BANANA w/DAUGHTERS/VAZ/ORPHAN There's a battle of the noisecore superstars going on in the Bay area tonight. In the Tampa corner, you've got cred-intensive Japanese underground phenomenon Melt Banana, whose name is as good an indicator of his shrieky, frenetic sound as any. Filling out the card are the truly frightening Daughters (they recently signed with Hydra Head Records, so you know they're all that), killer Minneapolis fucked-groove outfit The Vaz, and Orphan, who I know nothing about because the link on Jack's page goes to an Armed Forces website. No wait, they're from Los Angeles, and they do a primal, snotty-punk sort of thing. (Orpheum, Ybor City)

BLOOD BROTHERS w/THE PLOT TO BLOW UP THE EIFFEL TOWER/BIG BUSINESS And in the St. Pete corner, we've got Pacific Northwest faves Blood Brothers who, on their latest full-length Crimes, seem to be a little more interested in decipherable songs than the technical, sweaty, full-on noise assault that made them famous. Hard times and hard choices. Sweetening this particular pot is the presence of the highly buzzed, highly controversial Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower (something about Nazi uniforms) and their interesting, rhythmic pummel. (State Theatre, St. Petersburg)


THE ROOTS The Philly jam-hoppers played one of the first shows at the Ford Amphitheatre last year, opening for 311. The Roots show that night was a bit on the sloppy side, but methinks that they'll fare much better in the more loose, intimate environs of Jannus. (Jannus Landing, St. Petersburg) -ERIC SNIDER

SOLACE FOR NOW w/CORE/HARRY DASH Solace for Now is a new modern-rock act formed by former members of two outfits to score notable FM airplay success in recent years - Tennessee rap-rock crew Saliva and Tool-lite combo Earshot. The band's sound is a little less testosterone-fueled than that of its predecessors, offering something a little more moody, if not much more interesting. Solace for Now also features in its ranks Bay area guitarist/vocalist Andy Stafford, who spent several years turning heads in Hudson pop-rock group Harry Dash (also on tonight's bill) before stepping into the frontman role with the heavier Sentdown. (Bourbon Street, New Port Richey)


LOCAL H This Chicago grunge-rock duo fell prey to one-hit-wonderdom back in '96 with "Bound for the Floor." Which is too bad, because Local H has continued to mix indie- and classic-rock elements in eminently listenable ways since; I'm partial to '98's undervalued Pack Up the Cats. (The Tamiami & Jannus Landing, St. Petersburg)

RASCALL FLATTS w/BLAKE SHELTON Comparatively young pop-country vocal group Rascal Flatts rose to fame with the speed of a teen-pop trend, having gone from complete obscurity to fawning notices from the Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music in just a few short years. You probably know them from smash singles "Prayin' for Daylight" and "These Days," or their latest No. 1 album, last year's Feels Like Today. Blake Shelton is another of contemporary country's hooky young turks; a rock-derived roadhouse feel and mandatory "clever" wordplay have kept his profile high since his single "Austin" went to Number One in '01. (Ford Amphitheatre, Tampa)

GIPSY KINGS Gipsy Kings play a slightly pop-oriented take on a particular flamenco style known as Sevillana in their native Spain; they're also one of a scant handful of world-music groups to do as well in the States as they do in other parts of the world. (Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Tampa)

SUNCOAST BLUES SOCIETY EIGHTH ANNIVERSARY BASH Come help 'em celebrate eight years of bringing blues lovers and blues players together. Sting, soul and shuffle come courtesy of Sugar Ray & The Bluetones - whose frontman, harmonica player Sugar Ray Norcia, put in a lot of time with the legendary Ronnie Earl, as well as Roomful of Blues - and Beautiful Bobby Blackmon. (Skipper's Smokehouse, Tampa)

NORMAN BROWN'S SUMMER STORM FEAT. NORMAN BROWN/PEABO BRYSON/BRENDA RUSSELL/EVERETTE HARP Brown is a guitarist who sort of splits the difference between crossover jazz and funk. Harp is a journeyman smooth-jazz saxophonist. The singers on the bill are pretty damned exemplary. Russell has a set of sexy, smoky pipes and a cache of very soulful ballads and midtempo tunes. Peabo Bryson scored several R&B hits in the '70s, '80s and '90s, including "If Ever You're In My Arms Again," and several duets with the likes of Roberta Flack, Celine Dion and Regina Belle. (State Theatre, St. Petersburg) -ES

HOT ACOUSTIC NIGHTS VI FEAT. NORTH 2 SOUTH/LEE TYLER POST/SHANNON CAIN The H.A.N. series gets some out-of-town action this time around, as well as continuing its admirable tradition of showcasing lesser-known Bay area singer-songwriter talent. Tonight's bill features itinerant roots/blues/folk singer-songwriter Lee Tyler Post, who's plied his trade in music-centric communities from Nashville to Austin, as well as country-rock outlaw Shannon "The Texas Rocket" Cain and local duo North 2 South. (Catherine Hickman Theatre, Gulfport) SUNDAY, JUNE 05

THE BISCUIT BURNERS The Asheville, N.C., bluegrass/newgrass/jamgrass ensemble that made its first Tropical Heatwave appearance just last month is back for a return engagement. (Skipper's Smokehouse, Tampa)


DAVID WILCOX Wilcox is a veteran singer-songwriter whose loose assignation as a folkie doesn't do his eclectic, personal style justice. He's able to incorporate subtle jazz, catchy pop and lyrical poetry - a combination that's found him compared often to James Taylor - and his inviting baritone is as keen as his widely hailed guitar skills. (Skipper's Smokehouse, Tampa)

THE FLOWER KINGS Sweden's Flower Kings spent the '90s at the top of a dwindling list of prog-rock masters - the group's multi-hued, Yes-lite sound rode against the darker grain of its contemporaries, endearing it to a much wider global audience. Like most groups associated with prog or the more classic sense of the term art-rock, Flower Kings are largely unknown here in the States beyond an attentive cult following, but that following should definitely make the scene. (Boomerz Boiler Room, Seminole)


THE STRANGE DAYS FESTIVAL FEAT. THE DOORS OF THE 21ST CENTURY/VANILLA FUDGE/YARDBIRDS/PAT TRAVERS When original Doors Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger rolled out their reconstituted band a few years ago, fronted by former Cult lead singer Ian Astbury, the response from critics was decidedly mixed. I missed their first Bay area appearance, so will withhold comment here. Let's just say I would need considerable convincing. Rounding out this classic rock orgy are Vanilla Fudge (with original members Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice), the Yardbirds (with charter players Chris Deja and Jim McCarty) and '70s dirt-rocker Pat Travers. Where's Iron Butterfly when you need 'em? (Ford Amphitheatre, Tampa) -ES

CROSSFADE/SEETHER/NO ADDRESS South Carolina's Crossfade is the latest meat-and-potatoes modern-rock act to work the sort of turgid sound that started with Creed and last got super-heavy airplay from Nickelback, while South Africa's Seether has been doing a slightly more brutal (and often much more plodding and uninspired) version of the same thing for longer. Tallahassee's new No Address mixes a bit of that with a lighter pop edge and more sophisticated approach. (Jannus Landing, St. Petersburg)

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