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Your weekend arts forecast: James Taylor, 50 years later

Bill DeYoung



Left: James Taylor at his first-ever Tampa Bay appearance, March 7, 1971 at Curtis Hixon Hall (photo by Rick Norcross). Right: Taylor today (publicity photo).

James Taylor is back in our area tonight, with a show at Amalie Arena, with support act Jackson Browne.

How about a little walk down musical memory lane?

Taylor made his very first appearance in Tampa Bay March 7, 1971, at the old 8,000-seat Curtis Hixon Hall. He was, at that precise moment, the poster boy for what Time magazine called, in its March 1 cover story, The New Rock: Bittersweet and Low.

There on the cover was Sweet Baby J himself, in the run-up to issuing his third album, Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon and its lead-off single, Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend.”

Wrote Tampa Times reviewer Rick Norcross: “Curtis Hixon Hall may have barely survived the onslaught last night both from the outside, as more than a thousand Tampa concertgoers had to be turned away at the door, and from the inside as the convention center was staggered under the strain of a capacity audience shaking the floors in one of the most enthusiastic demands for an encore the hall has witnessed in a long, long time.

“And those who lucky enough to have made it inside may never be the same either.”

Norcross snapped the black and white photo of Taylor, above, at that 50-years-gone concert, which included support acts Carole King and the band Jo Mama, which consisted of studio players for both Taylor and King.

To put this into historical perspective, King’s landmark Tapestry album was barely a month old. That sold-out crowd was there to see the lanky balladeer who’d just taken “Fire and Rain,” “Country Road” and “Carolina in My Mind” to the bank.

Tickets for tonight’s Amalie Arena performance are here.


Nearby, in the David A. Straz Center, Jobsite Theater is in the closing weekend of its production of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, in the 300-seat Jaeb Theatre. Jekyll recently became the second-best-selling show in Jobsite’s 20-year history. Go here.

St. Pete’s professional theaters are running on adrenaline, too – this weekend’s offerings are the tappy musical Dames at Sea at freeFall, and the American Stage production of The Odd Couple. Info here and here.

Lab Theatre Project (Ybor City) is doing well with its dark comedy Skin Hungry (details here).

At Spitfire Comedy House (that’s in St. Pete), the weekend brings the first edition of An Improvised Remix of Friends, which combines improv comedy with the characters (and certain situations) from the classic TV series Friends. Check it out here.


Vladimir Kulenovic conducts The Florida Orchestra for this weekend’s Masterworks concert (Saturday at the Mahaffey Theater, Sunday the Straz Center’s Morsani Theatre). It’s the Mussorgsky/Ravel Pictures at an Exhibition, along with Lera Auerbach’s Icarus and soloist Augusti Hadelich stepping out on Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2. Details and tickets here.

And St. Petersburg Opera Company is at home in Opera Central with its annual family production, a musical adaptation of Pinocchio. Using music from Offenbach, Verdi Mozart and Donzinetti (with new lyrics in English) costumed characters tell the story of the wooden puppet who goes through a series of adventures before he can become “real.” The cast includes numerous top-tier singers, and a chamber orchestra conducted by SPO artistic director Mmark Sforzini. Details and tickets here.

At the Palladium: The ‘90s band Gin Blossoms (“Found Out About You,” “Hey Jealousy”) tonight (Nov. 11), and jazz/pop chanteuse Kat Edmondson Sunday. And Tuesday’s concert by folk musician Livingston Taylor (hey! That’s James’ younger bro!) is sold out.

At the Mahaffey: The Mexican rock band Café Tacvba (Friday) and the QYK Guitar Pull (that’s an acoustic country music show) Sunday.

At the Capitol Theatre: Country class act Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives band (Friday). The area’s own Greg Billings Band sold out Ruth Eckerd Hall (the Cap’s parent venue) for its last-ever public show Saturday. Air Supply is onstage at Ruth Sunday.

Fine art

It’s Second Saturday ArtWalk weekend again, and if this cool weather holds out, the walking – between galleries and studios – should be fine indeed. Here’s the November map of participating artists, etc. in the Warehouse Arts, Edge, Grand Central, Central Arts, Uptown Arts and Waterfront Arts districts. It’s 5 to 9 p.m.

Something special at the Imagine Museum: Dutch artist Peter Bremers, whose evocative works in glass are not only coveted the world over, they’re on exhibit right here in St. Pete, is visiting the Imagine Friday for a chat and reception, starting at 6:30 p.m. It’s free for imagine member, $15 for non-members. RSVP here.

The big Creative Pinellas Arts Annual Weekend is Saturday and Sunday, with exhibitions, a full plate of live performances … well, it’s live the first day, and the virtual the second. 

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