Fall Arts 2006: Music

What to Watch For

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Adrian Belew. Guitarist Belew's resume reads like a Who's Who of musical genius — he's played and/or recorded with Frank Zappa, David Bowie, Talking Heads, Paul Simon and Nine Inch Nails, in addition to his well-known work with King Crimson. Whatever the style, Belew manages to infuse it with his own balance of solidity and quirkiness. Expect this show to lean heavily toward his back catalog of arty, proggy solo material. Aug. 18, State Theatre, St. Petersburg, 727-895-3045.

Summerfest 2006. Every year, the international orchestra/cultural outreach program known as Symphony of the Americas embarks on Summerfest, a series of performances that takes it not only across Florida, but Central and South America as well. This year's itinerary features the I Musici Estensi Italian Chamber Orchestra. Led by veteran symphony conductor James Brooks-Bruzzese, the group will present a program of works from Vivaldi, Mozart, Rutter, Bizet and others. Aug. 19, Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center, Tarpon Springs, 727-942-5605.

The Drams w/The Diviners. An obscure little Texas alt-country/bar-rock band called Slobberbone won the hearts of Bay area fans before splitting a few years ago. Well, three-fourths of the 'bone are back, with a couple of pals from Dallas outfit Budapest One, as The Drams. There's still plenty of twang going on here, but the debut album Jubilee Dive showcases a more ambitious songwriting bent; consider a whiskey-addled Beach Boys with a drawl, and you're close. Serendipitously, Slobberbone's fourth quarter, bassist Brian Lane, now lives in the Bay area, and plays with — you guessed it — The Diviners. Aug. 20, Skipper's Smokehouse, Tampa, 813-971-0666.

Wu-Tang Clan. The group that re-imagined hip-hop as a kung-fu movie with futuristic beats sure must like St. Pete, because it seems the crew makes a Jannus stop at least once a year or so. And while live hip-hop traditionally, uh, sucks, the collective talent and personality of the Clan transcend mere music, and even pop-culture, to become something legendary. Yeah, they'll be good, but bigger than that, you have to be able to say you were there. Aug. 23, Jannus Landing, St. Petersburg, 727-896-2276.

X/Rollins Band/Riverboat Gamblers. Speaking of legends, Los Angeles roots-punk pioneers X and former Black Flag frontman/current IFC show host Henry Rollins — who's rumored to be back with his classic, End of Silence-era band — both more than fit the bill. What's more, these icons have one of the best punk acts to emerge in recent years opening up for 'em; Riverboat Gamblers' latest record To The Confusion of Our Enemies is simply untouchable, and obviously influenced more by these headliners than, say, Taking Back fucking Sunday. Aug. 25, Jannus Landing, St. Petersburg, 727-896-2276.

The Breakthrough Experience Live Starring Mary J. Blige. It's been a pleasure to watch her mature from urban bad girl into the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul. Blige has a sound and presence like no other; as adept at singing as she is at rapping or arranging, she's defined a certain turf where rap, funk and soul overlap, and there she reigns. Joining Mary on this high-profile shed tour are male acolyte Jaheim (who also sings at least as well as he raps), and the original third member of Destiny's Child, LeToya. Aug. 26, Ford Amphitheatre, Tampa, 813-740-2446.

Chris Isaak. So what if he hasn't been high-profile hip for several years? Isaak remains a gifted songwriter and bastion of personal style. Plus, he's a consummate showman who's got a finely honed aw-shucks sort of charm, and his shows are much more dynamic and shamelessly fun than the uninitiated might suspect. Sept. 1, Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, 727-791-7400.

Auto!Autotmatic!! CD Release Party feat. Riddle of Steel/Retisonic. The arrival of a new record by one of the Bay area's most talked-about acts is reason enough to celebrate, and Auto!Automatic!! has a very high profile these days. But this gig comes with a very big bonus, in the form of the return of St. Louis' Riddle of Steel to the New World. The band's smart, compelling Police-meets-Queens of the Stone Age rock has been a favorite with fans of club shows for a year or so now, and every one of the group's appearances is like a party with the best, most muscular soundtrack ever. Sept. 3, Orpheum, Ybor City, 813-248-9500.

Jeff Beck. Over the years, guitar monster Beck has played several large venues in the Bay area, but a place like Ruth Eckerd is really where you want to witness his particular form of sonic magic. He emerged as the jazziest figure from the Yardbirds College of Six-String Mastery (more so than Clapton and Page). Beck produced some of the more credible jazz-rock fusion of the '70s. Word is, he can still leave a crowd slack-jawed. "Before long, heads were shaking throughout the hall," wrote the Hollywood Reporter. "...After four decades, Beck still has the ability to thrill." Sept. 6, Ruth Eckerd Hall, 727-791-7400. —Eric Snider

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