The highlights of the summer concert season

Dozens and dozens of acts will make it onto Tampa Bay area concert stages this summer. Here's our best bets, in a wide range of genres:

Stanton Moore The bespectacled founder of NOLA funk purveyors Galactic is widely regarded as one of the best drummers currently drawing air. This show has him in a trio setting with a guitarist and keyboardist. The small ensemble allows room for Moore to strut his Crescent City-honed skills. Expect expansive jamming and finely honed interplay. (May 28, Crowbar, Ybor City)

WMNF Jazz Jam feat. Sam Rivers/PBS/Guisando Caliente/Infinite Groove Orchestra/Impromptu/Trio Vibe/others Tampa Bay's community radio station has been putting together more jazz events of late, this being among the more ambitious. Saxophonist Sam Rivers, 83, was once a front-rank player on the New York (and thus international) avant-garde scene. He's settled into legendhood well, living in Orlando and taking gigs as he pleases. (May 31, Skipper's Smokehouse, Tampa)

Matisyahu/Les Claypool Brooklyn's dub reggae hip-hop artist Matisyahu revels in his Hasidic Jewishness and has a faction of diehard fans who proudly wear their yamulkes to concerts in cultural solidarity. He's impressive on disc, but not so much in a live setting. Claypool knows how to bring the fire on disc and on stage as well. He's an engaging showman with all kinds of bass-playing tricks up his sleeve. (June 1, Jannus Landing, St. Petersburg)

No Doubt w/Paramore/The Sounds Pop princess Gwen Stefani has enjoyed a rather successful solo career, but she can't seem to stay away from the ska-pop band that made her famous. No new album yet, but one is supposed to be in the works during this tour. (June 2, Ford Amphitheatre, Tampa)

Wanee Festival 2009 Last year, the annual Allmans-hosted fest suffered from a weak bill and the absence of founding father Gregg Allman, who bowed out to battle hepatitis C. Gregg's back. Expect sets by the usual Allman family players (Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, Warren Haynes and Gov't Mule, Oteil, Honeytribe), some returnees (The Wailers, Keller Williams, Dumpstafunk), and several welcome newbies (The Doobie Brothers, Buddy Guy, Umphrey's McGee, Drive-By Truckers). (June 6-7, Spirit of Suwannee Music Park, Live Oak)

Animal Collective The band's latest, Merriweather Post Pavilion, is a well-crafted album that'll likely land many year-end Top 10s. The music is experimental pop noise, colorfully chaotic, and marked by ecstatic whoops and squeals, layers of sound and samples, and much repetition. (June 8, State Theatre, St. Petersburg)

New York Dolls Anyone of a certain (semi-advanced) age from anywhere near New York calls them, bluntly, the Dolls (heavy on the D). The proto-glam-punk band formed in '71, busted up four years later, and then reunited in '04. Flamboyant frontman David Johansen and guitarist Sylvain Sylvain are the two original members in a group that just released a new album of good-time garage-punk (with a few slow tunes and a bit of R&B mixed in) titled Cause I Sez So. (June 9, State Theatre, St. Petersburg)

Bon Iver The acoustic neo-folk project of Wisconsin singer/songwriter Justin Vernon made waves with a stunning debut, For Emma Forever Ago. Vernon's delicate, soulful falsetto is sometimes multi-tracked to elegant effect and so expressive it brings a tear to the eye. (June 10, State Theatre, St. Petersburg)

Aerosmith w/ZZ Top According to legend, a certain CL staffer once wrote an essay titled, "Dream On: the Penultimate Classic Rock Song." Whether the paper ever really existed or not, "Dream On" is a goddamn great song, perhaps great enough to wipe out all the garbage Aerosmith has put out over the past dozen years. But I've always loved the band — I mean, how can you not, with Stephen Tyler jumping around like an elastic-mouthed monkey dressed in drag? Same goes for ZZ Top — dinosaurs, but more than capable of delivering heavy-hitting, cock-struttin' rock 'n' roll. (July 11 Ford Amphitheatre, Tampa)

Steely Dan Since reuniting in 1993, Steely Dan hasn't achieved much on the recording front, but has become a tireless, well-drilled and captivating live act. Donald Fagen and Walter Becker surround themselves with crackshot of musicians, most of them with jazz chops, and play a compendium of their storied material. (June 12, Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater)

The Avett Brothers Concord, N.C.'s Avett Brothers make beguiling, unvarnished acoustic rock brimming with the kind of emotion that sounds cribbed from punk-rock. While the music has a distinctive DIY raggedness, there's no denying the melodic substance of the songs. (July 18, The Cuban Club, Ybor City)

Vans Warped Tour 2009 feat. Bad Religion/Bouncing Souls/Flogging Molly/Less than Jake/NOFX/Scary Kids Scaring Kids/Anti-Flag/The Ataris/many others Hey, it's a summer tour, so like it or not, Tampa Bay hosts Warped in the summer. The height of summer. That doesn't stop hail-and-hearty youngsters from donning band-logo'd black T-shirts, getting wasted to varying degrees and soaking up hour after hour of punk and alternative music. (July 26, Vinoy Park, St. Petersburg)

Gogol Bordello The multi-ethnic, gypsy punk ensemble from Brooklyn sold out last summer's State Theatre show and has moved to bigger digs for their return. Gogol visionary Eugene Hütz served as ringmaster, leading the group through a supercharged set of ska, punk-metal, rap and funk marked by accordion, fast-and-furious fiddle and exotic lady entertainers, who alternately sang, danced, and played marching band percussion throughout. (July 27, Jannus Landing, St. Petersburg)

Blazed and Confused Tour feat. Snoop Dogg/Slightly Stoopid w/Stephen Marley Didn't Snoop drop the pot references in his music for a while because he had young children? That didn't last. It seems a sober Snoop just wasn't marketable. His first album, Doggystyle (1993) was a genuine classic, but since the turn of the century he's been more or less a cartoon character, his flow getting lazier and lazier. The California heads in Slightly Stoopid do a kind of surf-reggae mixed with R&B and hip-hop thing. (July 31, Vinoy Park, St. Petersburg) —ES

Green Day In 1994, Green Day raised the question: Can you sell 10-million units of your major label debut and still be considered punk? So to accommodate, a new genre was born: pop-punk. Fifteen years later (22 since forming in Berkeley, Calif.), the band still does it best, able to grow within and expand upon the genre they pioneered. The band is touring to support the freshly minted 21st Century Breakdown. (Aug. 3, St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa)

Coldplay I saw the Brit alt-rock foursome at Hard Rock Live when they were on the verge of international mega-stardom. That was back '03, during the band's A Rush of Blood to the Head tour, when singer/multi-instrumentalist/frontman Chris Martin was courting Gwenyth Paltrow and all his balladry seemed directed at her. The band now plays arenas, is currently on the road in support of their Grammy-winning fourth album, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends. (Aug. 9, Ford Amphitheatre, Tampa)

The Jonas Brothers When will time run out on these guys? They've had a nice run as teen heartthrobs — more power to 'em — but some high-profile appearances this year (SNL, the Grammys) have laid bare the bro's deficiencies, especially in the vocal department. But hey, the young girls aren't too concerned if the Jonas' sing out of tune — they'd just better not look too much like real adults. (Aug. 18, St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa)

Depeche Mode w/Peter Bjorn & John One of Britain's longest-lived, most successful and significant bands, Depeche Mode has put out one chart-topper after another since 1981's Speak & Spell. Their brooding sound and pioneering use of sampling has influenced everyone from Franz Ferdinand to Radiohead to Marilyn Manson. (Sept. 4, Ford Aphitheatre, Tampa)

About The Authors

Eric Snider

Eric Snider is the dean of Bay area music critics. He started in the early 1980s as one of the founding members of Music magazine, a free bi-monthly. He was the pop music critic for the then-St. Petersburg Times from ‘87-’93. Snider was the music critic, arts editor and senior editor of Weekly Planet/Creative...
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