‘Weird Al’ Yankovic and his country music equivalent are in Tampa Bay this week

Cledus T. Judd plays Straz, while the real Al is in Clearwater.

click to enlarge ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic and his country music equivalent are in Tampa Bay this week
Photo by Robert Trachtenberg

“Weird Al” Yankovic is back on the road, and he’s making things extra strange by employing a full orchestra at every show, including this one at Ruth Eckerd Hall. The show won’t be as head-scratching as a recent tour where the 59-year-old played a bunch of deep cuts, however, since Yankovic has promised the most full-blown, over-the-top version of his show ever.

“We bringing back the costumes and the props and the big video screen,” he wrote on an Instagram post announcing the tour. Longtime fans won’t be surprised to see bandmates Jon “Bermuda” Schwartz, Steve Jay, Jim West and Rubén Valtierra on stage, but they should be floored about seeing backup singers Lisa Popeil, Monique Donnelly and Scottie Haskell on the road since they’ve all sang on records with Yankovic, but never actually toured with the madman. More information on the Wednesday, June 5 gig is available via rutheckerdhall.com.

The real “Weird Al” Yankovic is in town on Wednesday, but the Straz Center is presenting a chance to see the “Weird Al” of country music on Friday, May 31. Barry Poole hits the stage as Cledus T. Judd, a songwriter known for performing parodies and comedic songs that cleverly cash in on country music tropes (Judd’s “I Love NASCAR,” which parodies Toby Keith’s “I Love This Bar,” hit No. 48 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart).

The 54-year-old’s story is uplifting (he was abused and molested as a child and dealt with addiction), which makes us wonder why he doesn’t try to sing about that instead.

If you’re not looking to buy a ticket this week, but still want to see some original country music, then you might want to head to Seminole Heights where Band of Sorrows frontman Jack Sprouse is playing a free show at the Independent on May 31.


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