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Weekend arts forecast: An alt-country-palooza

Bill DeYoung

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Wilco plays Ruth Eckerd Hall tonight. Photo: Charles Harris.

Call it Americana, call it alt-country, call it anything you like as long as you get the recipe correct: Equal doses of barroom rock ‘n’ roll, electric hillbilly twang, acoustic flourishes and incisive songwriting.

Tonight, Ruth Eckerd Hall’s got Jeff Tweedy and Wilco, nearly 30 years young and still one of the country’s most adventurous (and commercially successful) bands working in this polymorphous musical genre. Tweedy and the boys are leaning hard into their rootsiest influences with their most recent album, Cruel Country (indeed, Tweedy has just produced a new album for Texas songwriting legend Rodney Crowell). Tickets for tonight are here.

As luck would have it, there’s another top-drawer alt-country band in the area tonight. The pride of Athens, George (well, one its prides), Drive-By Truckers play the Floridian Social Club tonight. We spoke with singing/songwriting bandleader Patterson Hood the last time the Truckers hit town – read that one here. Tickets for tonight’s appearance (with opener Lydia Loveless) are here.

The Steeldrivers are at Central Park Performing Arts Center Saturday. Publicity photo.

But wait, there’s more! The Steeldrivers, another prodigious and popular band that seamlessly blends country, bluegrass and rock ‘n’ roll, has a Saturday date at the Central Park Performing Arts Center in Largo. (Chris Stapleton was the Steeldrivers’ lead singer from 2005 to 2010, and six years later the band won the Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album.) Tickets for the Largo show are here.

Tonight’s Tommy Prine show in the Palladium Theater’s Side Door Café is sold out. Here’s our conversation with John Prine’s son.

Saturday at the Attic at Rock Brothers Brewing (Ybor City), it’s the acclaimed North Carolina string band Mipso. Find tickets here.

Opera Cowgirls is a quintet of classically-trained opera singers who play acoustic Americana instruments and harmonize on opera songs and country music classics. They have three shows – two in St. Pete and one in Tampa – today through Sunday. Read our interview with group leader Caitlyn McKechney here.

Rock ‘n’ roller Billy Idol, still sneering away, performs Friday at Ruth Eckerd Hall. Tickets.

At Amalie Arena Friday, kicking off at 6 p.m.: 98 Rockfest, with Breaking Benjamin, Falling in Reverse, The Pretty Reckless, Beartooth, Bad Wolves and Dorothy. Find tickets here.

Million-selling Dominican singer and musician Juan Luis Guerra has an Amalie Arena show Sunday. Find tickets here.

 

Saluting the Duke

Scotty Wright. Photo: Gary Bridges.

Tampa Bay’s community of jazz musicians is so rich that players can come together in virtually any combination, and it’ll sound so tight, so cool, that you’d swear they’d been making music together for decades.

For another example of this exhilarating phenomenon, look no further than thestudio@620 where, Saturday night longtime Tampa-based vocalist Scotty Wright will front a group and perform songs written and/or made famous by Duke Ellington.

For the event, the Scotty Wright Quintet includes Pablo Arencibia, piano; David Pate, saxophone; Mark Neuenschwander, bass; and Stephen Bucholtz, drums.

They’re calling this 7 p.m. show “a program of vintage Ellingtonia,” with tunes written by the Duke, and the likes of Juan Tizol, Johnny Hodges and of course Ellington’s main partner Billy Strayhorn.

Tickets are available here.

 

Art in the park

The Mainsail Art Festival returns to Vinoy Park Saturday and Sunday, for its 48th year. This is a juried fine arts show – artists are competing for $60,000 in prize money – and if they make a few sales, well, that’s even better. It’s claimed that more than 100,000 people attend this St. Pete-produced event each year (it began in 1976, the year of America’s bicentennial, as the First Annual Saint Petersburg Sidewalk Arts and Colonial Crafts Festival). Hours are 8:30 a.m-6:30 p.m. Saturday, and 9:30 a.m-5:30 p.m. Sunday.

Admission is free, and shuttles (also free) will run between Vinoy Park and the Sundial parking garage, the Al Lang Field parking lot and South Core parking garage.

Here’s a collection of Mainsail FAQs.

 

Timothy Mix and Melissa Misener in the Opera Tampa production of “Sweeney Todd.” Photo: Rob-Harris Productions.

The classics … and then some

Stephen Sondheim’s bizarro-yet-gripping pop opera Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street gets the Opera Tampa/Florida Orchestra treatment this weekend. There are three shows in the Straz Center’s Ferguson Hall between Friday and Sunday; all info is here.

While Andrew Bisantz will conduct TFO for the Opera Tampa performances, the orchestra’s music director and chief conductor Michael Francis is to be at the podium for a concert centered around Anton Bruckner’s seventh symphony, Friday at the Church of the Ascension in Clearwater, and Saturday at the Palladium Theater. Tickets are here.

 

On theater stages

It’s the final weekend for freeFall Theatre’s freewheeling production of Ken Ludwig’s comedic Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery. Tickets have been scarce; find what’s available here.

Steve Solomon’s one-man comedy My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish & I’m in Therapy – a perennial favorite with local audiences – returns to the Capitol Theatre Saturday for two shows; Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus LIVE! has four performances at the Straz Center in Tampa Friday through Sunday. Read all you could possibly want to know about these shows here.

The massive musical Ragtime, produced by American Stage, is onstage nightly in Demens Landing Park, on the downtown bayfront. All deets and tickets are here.

Ninety-nine lives: Believe it or not, the musical Cats is still on the road, and the latest professional production makes a one-night-only stop at Ruth Eckerd Hall Sunday. Find info and tickets here.

The Weekend arts forecast appears every Thursday in the Catalyst

Please add us to your mailing list – send all press releases and event info to bill@stpetecatalyst.com.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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