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Looking ahead: The month of April in the arts

Bill DeYoung



Guitarist Robert Cray headlines the Tampa Bay Blues Festival. Publicity photo.

Want an example of the peerless power of pop music popularity? Singer Taylor Swift has three dates at Raymond James Stadium, April 13, 14 and 15. All three concerts – 75,000 seats per show – are sold out. Have been for months.

(“Resale” tickets are available if you Google-search; expect to pay in the neighborhood of $500 per, for the cheap seats.)

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s take a look at the highlights of what promises to be a beautiful Spring month in the performing and visual arts. There is a lot to look forward to – and lots of tickets to be had.

(As always, dates are subject to change, and additional events can and will be added as the month goes on.)


Festival of the month

The Tampa Bay Blues Festival, April 14-16 at Vinoy Park, brings Robert Cray, Tower of Power, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Tab Benoit, Ana Popovic, Tommy Castro & The Painkillers, Mr. Sipp, Dirty Dozen Brass Band and lots of others to town.


Richard Thomas in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Photo: Julieta Cervantes.

The curtain rises

Richard “John Boy Walton” Thomas stars as Atticus Finch in the Broadway touring production of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, in residence at the Straz Center (Morsini Hall) April 11-16. Aaron Sorkin wrote the script.

Starring as nutty Ms. DuBose in this production is none other than Mary Badham, who as a child actress played Scout in the 1961 film version with Gregory Peck as Atticus.

On the St. Pete side of the bay, April’s big theatrical event is American Stage’s annual “park” production – on a specially built stage, under the stars in Demens Landing Park (on the bayfront), it’s the musical Ragtime, April 12 through May 14.

Broadway, film and TV actress Danielle Skraastad heads the cast of a staged reading of Howard Barker’s Scenes From an Execution at thestudio@620. Also participating, April 15 and 16, are local thespians Emilia Sargent, Ned Averill-Snell, Jim Sorensen, Christopher Marshall and Jay Hoff.


More concerts

Laura Jane Grace. Photo: Bella Peterson.

Singer/songwriter Laura Jane Grace, from the band Against Me!, has an April 16 date at the Floridian Social Club.

On the same day – April 16 – Americana singer Iris DeMent performs at Central Park Performing Arts Center.

At Amalie Arena April 21: 98 Rockfest, with Breaking Benjamin, Falling in Reverse, The Pretty Reckless and others.

Tommy Prine, the singing, songwriting son of late and legendary John Prine, comes back to the Palladium for a show April 20.

And The Steeldrivers, a beloved Americana band, will be onstage at Central Park April 22.

Highlights of the month at Ruth Eckerd Hall: Postmodern Jukebox (April 15), Styx (April 17), Indigo Girls (April 18), George Benson (April 19), Wilco (April 20), Billy Idol (April 21), Cats (April 23), Natalie Merchant (April 26), Pat Benatar (April 27), Steve Martin and Martin Short (April 28).

At the Capitol Theatre: Jimmy Vaughan (April 7), Jake Shimabukuro (April 14), The Lone Bellow (April 16), Hoodoo Gurus (April 27).


Opera Cowgirls. Publicity photo.

The classics

New York Mezzo-soprano Caitlin McKechney, who’s performed with St. Pete Opera, brings her unique side project to the bay area April 20, 21 and 23. It’s an acoustic quintet called Opera Cowgirls, blending opera voices with country music instrumentation and harmonies. Shows will be at the Tampa Theatre, Opera Central and the Floridian Social Club, respectively.

Opera Tampa goes all Stephen Sondheim at the Straz Center’s Sweeney Todd, April 21-23 in Ferguson Hall. With The Florida Orchestra.

The Florida Orchestra April schedule: Go west, young fan, April 15 and 16 with music from The Big Country, How the West Was Won, Dances with Wolves and others; Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7, April 21 and 22; Vocalist Tony DeSare joins the band for Sinatra and Beyond April 29 and 30.


End of the month

The annual Sunscreen Film Festival, April 27-30, brings dozens of independent films, documentaries and shorts to town, along with workshops, seminars and other moviemaking-type events.

The Travelin’ McCourys, one of the country’s finest bluegrass bands, lands at the Attic at Rock Brothers Brewing April 27.

At the Palladium April 27: A dance concert by the ever-innovative Project Alchemy, followed next day by the annual Beacon Dance concert.

At the Seminole Hard Rock Event Center April 27: Country music’s biggest act of the 1980s, Alabama, now down to two members (including ever-distinctive lead vocalist Randy Owen).

Ice Cube, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Lisa Lisa, 2 Live Crew and others come to the Yuengling Center April 28 for the Tampa Throwback Jam.

The 2023 Gasparilla Music Festival, April 29 and 30 in Tampa’s Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, will feature rap’s Run the Jewels, Big Head Todd & the Monsters, Local Natives, Chromeo and Joe Russo’s Almost Dead.

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You can also submit your events to the Catalyst calendar, by clicking here.


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