What to Watch For: Rock/Pop

Dropkick Murphys, Queen Latifah, Cat Power...

Dave Matthews Band w/The Wailers. The biggest jam band in the land returns to Ford Amphitheatre for what will likely be a sold-out, beer-soaked bash. Solo-intensive epics will be offset by hit-single singalongs and perhaps a few asides from the wisecracking frontman. DMB typically brings an interesting opener (Herbie Hancock, Toots and the Maytals come to mind), and this stop is no exception, with former Bob Marley collaborators The Wailers slated to warm things up. Sept. 12, Ford Amphitheatre, Tampa, 813-740-2446, fordamp.com.

WMNF Birthday Bash. Ranking just a few notches below the radio station's signature Tropical Heatwave shindig, this year's Birthday Bash boasts three stages and 15 bands ranging from zydeco (The Zydepunks) to funk (Soul 2 Earth). Headliner Kim Richey is one of those sweet-voiced, smart singer/songwriters who gets lost in the shuffle between folk, country and pop. It's a shame she's not a household name, but Richey's lack of mass appeal allows us to catch her on the cozy patio outside the Cuban Club. Sept. 15, Cuban Club, Ybor City, 813-238-8001, wmnf.org.

Dropkick Murphys. The Boston-based Celt-punk band hits hard with a relentless barrage of buzzsaw guitars and snarled lead vocals, which are invariably followed by big, sing-a-long choruses. Dropkick Murphys flesh out their sound with tools of the Celtic trade: accordion, bouzouki, tin whistle and, most significantly, bagpipes. Some of their recorded material skews more toward traditional Irish folk but with lots of attitude. Sept. 24, Jannus Landing, St. Petersburg, 727-895-3045, jannuslandingconcerts.com. —Eric Snider

Velvet Revolver w/Alice in Chains/Sparta. Expectations couldn't have been higher when it was announced several years ago that former Gunners Slash (guitar), Duff McKagan (bass) and Matt Sorum (drums) had joined erstwhile Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland to form the supergroup Velvet Revolver. (There's a second guitarist in the band, too, but he's kind of a nobody.) The resulting Revolver albums Contraband (2004) and Libertad (2007) haven't exactly been earth-shattering, but they're about as good as hard rock gets these days. Many longtime fans think it's sacrilege that Jerry Cantrell and company are touring as Alice in Chains sans deceased leader Layne Staley (who was replaced by William Duvall, formerly of some band called Comes with the Fall), but we figure it will still be a serious upgrade from Alice in Chains clones like Godsmack. Oct. 6, Ford Amphitheatre, Tampa, 813-740-2446, fordamp.com.

Papa Grows Funk. A Hammond B3 whiz and capable vocalist, bandleader John Gros follows in the tradition of New Orleans keyboard sensations like Professor Longhair, Art Neville and Dr. John while skewing slightly more toward jazz than funk. Having honed their skills during weekly gigs at the Crescent City's venerable Maple Leaf Bar (formerly home to N.O. piano prince James Booker), Papa Grows Funk does the Big Easy proud at places like Skipper's, where the quintet's danceable blend of funk, jam, jazz and rock — via guitarist June Yamagishi's tsunami-like solos — has made them one of the venue's favorite acts. Oct. 14, Skipper's Smokehouse, Tampa, 813-971-0666, skipperssmokehouse.com.

Clearwater Jazz Holiday. When it comes to programming at major festivals such as this one, there's always going to be ups and downs. Over the last few years, CJH has delivered more downs than ups, with an increasing emphasis on smooth jazz. That said, you can always find highlights — this year's being the expansive jam-jazz trio Medeski, Martin & Wood, which closes the Saturday night portion. The New York outfit's abstract and sometimes rudderless instrumental excursions should have more than a few casual onlookers scratching their heads, which is part of the fun. Also worth checking out at the four-day event are Chuck Owens' Jazz Surge big band, the Michael Ross Quartet and bassist Brian Bromberg's Downright Upright Band featuring trumpeter Randy Brecker. Oct. 18-21, Coachman Park, Clearwater, clearwaterjazz.com. —ES

Cat Power & the Dirty Delta Blues Band. The queen of sad, sad indie soul hits the road on the heels of her commercial breakthrough album from last year, The Greatest, which managed to crack the Top 40 on the Billboard album chart. Judging by a recent post on her MySpace page, Chan Marshall is working on a sequel to her 2000 LP The Covers Record, a disc that kicks off with an interpretation of the Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" that replaces the Glimmer Twins' swagger with beautiful despair. Oct. 21, State Theatre, St. Petersburg, 727-895-3045, statetheatreconcerts.com.

Dr. Dog w/Delta Spirit/Sugar Oaks/Emily Lacy. Philly five-piece Dr. Dog played to a packed house when they brought their amalgamation of rootsy soul (The Band), warm pop (Beach Boys) and indie looseness (Guided By Voices) to Crowbar in June. The buzz around Dr. Dog started in March following the release of their critically acclaimed album We All Belong. Tracks from it were eventually added to playlists at WMNF, which is sponsoring this Halloween show in conjunction with Aestheticized Presents. Oct. 31, Crowbar, Ybor City, 813-241-8600, crowbarlive.com.

Queen Latifah. It'll be ball gowns and splendor when the multitalented Queen debuts at Ruth Eckerd. She started as a rapper and evolved into an actress/chanteuse whose dusky voice shows off real singing talent. She'll showcase material from Trav'lin' Light (due Sept. 25), the follow-up to 2004's Dana Owens disc, which included uptown blues, torch songs, jazz standards and contemporary R&B. Nov. 8, Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, 727-791-7400, rutheckerdhall.com. —ES

Tegan & Sara w/Northern State. Canadian twin sisters duo Tegan and Sara Quin craft literate, emotive folk/synthy pop songs that often manage to rock. (The White Stripes covered the Tegan and Sara song "Walking with a Ghost" and made it the title track of their 2005 EP.) The 26-year-old siblings' fifth and most fully realized album, The Con, came out on Sire in July and has proved a commercial as well as critical success. Nov. 14, Jannus Landing, St. Petersburg, 727-895-3045, jannuslandingconcerts.com.

Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus. Billy Ray Cyrus might have been the butt of every lame redneck joke told in 1993, but now he's mullet-free and having the last laugh (sort of). Mr. Achy Breaky Heart costars with daughter Miley Cyrus on the Disney Channel hit series Hannah Montana. She'll just be turning 15 when she headlines this arena show in front of an expected crowd of 20,000 screaming teens, tweens and their patient chaperones. Nov. 19, St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, 813-301-2500, sptimesforum.com.

Tori Amos. The raven-haired art-rocker's music is not for everyone, but her fans are among the most dedicated in all of pop. With her elliptical chord changes, angular melodies and deeply introspective lyrics, Amos' music is often beguiling, at times befuddling and occasionally impenetrable. But she exudes a sultry charisma on stage. Amos not only knows how to play the piano but use it as a sexy sort of prop. Nov. 20, Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, 727-791-7400, rutheckerdhall.com. —ES

Anita Baker. In the latter half of the '80s, she was a mad-hot diva with several multiplatinum albums to her credit, most notably her exquisite Elektra debut, Rapture. Then, sometime in the mid-'90s, Baker took a long hiatus. Why? To be with her family. It's true. She switched to Blue Note, a legendary jazz label, for 2004's My Everything, but instead of exploring what Baker could do with jazz, the disc was a rather pedestrian slice of adult pop. On stage, the petite singer is a true force, with round, husky pipes that sound as if they're coming at you in layers. Some extra good news: The Eckerd Hall website makes no mention of this being a holiday-themed concert. Dec. 14, Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, 727-791-7400, rutheckerdhall.com. —ES

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. What a great act to preside over community radio station WMNF's New Year's Eve bash. Trombone Shorty is a young, sinewy guy from the Crescent City who can play the living hell out of the trombone but also sing and rap with wild abandon. He and his band brought their hybrid style of New Orleans jazz/funk/hip-hop to the WMNF Tropical Heatwave in May and, in the estimable opinion of CL's music writers, stole the show. Dec. 31, The Coliseum, St. Petersburg, 727-892-5202, wmnf.org. —ES

Fall Arts '07 Main