Friday, June 28, 2013

Bob Dylan's Tampa concert was a disgrace

   It was hard to know whether to pity Bob Dylan or to be angry with him. Either he has started to lose his faculties, including his sense of hearing, or he has stopped caring about himself, his legacy and his audience.
Bob Dylan
   Either way, on Thursday at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, the legendary musician and songwriter, arguably America's finest poet, the man who reshaped popular music, put on one of the worst concerts any major artist has ever performed.
  After a ferocious set by My Morning Jacket, and a solid but unexceptional one by Wilco, both of whom are joining him on this bizarrely titled "Americanarama Festival," Dylan and his five-piece band took the stage. The lighting was subdued. Dylan, in a white hat and jacket and black pants, stood at the microphone, sans guitar -- he never touched one the whole evening -- and produced an indescribable sound from his throat. His singing has always been an acquired taste, but this wasn't singing. It was a guttural growl, something unrelated to music. Someone said he sounded like Scooby-Doo, but it was worse than that. Melodies were all but unrecognizable and lyrics were incomprehensible.
   After a few songs, Dylan moved across the stage to a keyboard, where he stood in total darkness. During the next song a spotlight lit his torso, but his face remained invisible.
   He sometimes played in a different key than the rest of the band and he would often lose his place in the songs. The band, which was great, just stayed on a root chord until they could figure out what Dylan was doing. A couple of times when a song got out of hand the band tried to end it, but Dylan just kept playing. Or Dylan would catch the band off-guard by ending a song abruptly.
   About five songs in, my friend commented that Dylan had not done even one song she knew. "Don't you know this one?" I asked. "It's called 'Tangled up in Blue.'" "Oh," she said. "I love that song. That's not what he's playing, is it?"
   After almost every song, Dylan leafed through a binder from which he apparently picked out the next number.  He did 16 songs, including "Duquesne Whistle" (the closest thing to a highlight the show had), "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" and "All Along the Watchtower." The single encore was "Ballad of a Thin Man." He never said a single word, not even a "thank you" for the applause that he didn't deserve. He barely showed his face.
   There were a lot of empty seats in the amphitheater when Dylan started his set. There were a lot more before he finished.
   Nothing can excuse such a disgraceful exhibition. Even if Dylan is suffering from some kind of infirmity that keeps him from recognizing how bad his singing and playing are, someone who cares about him should have stopped him.
   But it really didn't seem like that. It appeared that Dylan just didn't care that he was delivering a performance that bordered on audience abuse.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Eagles add Tampa to "History" tour

   Laid-back '70s rockers the Eagles are coming to Tampa.
Frey, Henley and Walsh
   The band, which now consists of original members Glenn Frey and Don Henley and long-timers Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Shmit, will stop at the Tampa Bay Times Forum Nov. 20.
   Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. June 29. They'll set you back $28 to $177.
   The blurb on the Forum's website says the band will perform their "classics... including some that have never been performed live." Hard to imagine what those might be, but we'll find out in November.
   Call 813-301-2500 or go to for information.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

David Nail concert highlights Bradenton Marauders celebration

  The Bradenton Marauders will celebrate Independence Day -- a bit early -- with fireworks, prizes and a concert by country star David Nail.
  Nail, who topped the country charts with "Let It Rain" and had top-20 hits with "Red Light" and "Turning Home" will headline a full evening of activities July 2 at McKechnie Field. He'll perform after the Marauders game against the Fort Myers Miracle, which starts at 6:30.
   Also on tap for the evening are post-game fireworks -- the biggest fireworks display yet at the renovated McKechnie Field - and a pre-game ceremony honoring World War II veterans who were or will be part of Honor Flight of West Central Florida, a program that sends vets on a day trip to Washington, D.C.
  The first 1,000 fans who walk in the gates will receive commemorative baseballs, and the Marauders' red, white and blue jerseys will be auctioned during the game.
  Gates open at 5:30 p.m. Group tickets can be purchased by calling 941-747-3031 or by visiting the McKechnie Field ticket office. Single game tickets are available now at the McKechnie Field ticket office or online at Fans can save $2 per ticket by purchasing tickets in advance.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Fogerty schedules Tampa show for Oct. 27

   John Fogerty, who after  40 years of solo work is still known as the frontman and songwriter for Creedence Clearwater Revival, is coming to Tampa. He'll play in Morsani Hall at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts at 8 p.m. Oct. 27.
John Fogerty
   With CCR, Fogerty wrote and sang some of the best-known songs in rock music history, including "Proud Mary," "Bad Moon Rising" and "Down on the Corner." His solo career hasn't been as powerful, although it has produced some respectable hits, including "Centerfield," "Rockin' All Over the World" and "The Old Man Down the Road."
   His latest album, "Wrote a Song for Everyone," released last month on his 68th birthday, comprises reworkings of CCR hits, with Fogerty joined by the Foo Fighters, Jennifer Hudson, My Morning Jacket and slew of others.
   Tickets for the Tampa show go on sale at noon Friday, June 21. They start at $59 plus service charge. Call 813-229-7827 or go to

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Have Gun celebrates single release in Bradenton

Have Gun, Will Travel
   A few weeks back, a Tampa brewer unveiled High Road Ale, a tribute to nationally acclaimed Bradenton band Have Gun, Will Travel and named after one of the songs from their upcoming album. 
   The album, "Mergers & Acquisitions," won't be out until September, but Have Gun, Will Travel is releasing a seven-inch single of "High Road." The band will celebrate with fans at a release party at Ace's Live starting at 9 p.m. June 21.
   Tickets are $7 in advance and $10 at the door. Ace;s live is at 4343 Palma Sola Blvd. Bradenton. Call 941-795-3886 or visit
   By the way, some details about this event posted earlier on this blog, based on information from the Ace's Live website, were incorrect.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sarasota Orchestra names Anu Tali music director

   After an 18-month search, the Sarasota Orchestra has named Anu Tali as its new music director.
She's the fifth music director in the orchestra's history, and the first woman to hold that position.
   Tali's 40 years old. She was born in Estonia, and trained at the St. Petersburg State Conservatory. In 1997, she co-founded the Nordic Symphony Orchestra (NSO) with her twin sister Kadri. Tali earned her first international recognition in 2003 with the NSO’s debut album, "Swan Flight." That same year she was presented with The Cultural Award of Estonia.
   Local audiences may recall her two appearances as guest conductor with the Sarasota
Anu Tali
Orchestra. The first was in 2011, and the second this past January, when she led the orchestra in Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet."
   Orchestra president and CEO Joseph McKenna said Tali's concerts were among the best-attended and best-received in the history of the Sarasota Orchestra.
   As music director, she'll set the tone, literally and figuratively, for the orchestra. Among other duties, she'll oversee everything from the selections of seasons to the addition of new musicians. and will be the primary conductor of the orchestra's masterworks season.
McKenna praised Tali for her "energy and charisma."
   “We are confident Anu will enhance and invigorate the way people perceive live classical music in our region, build on our past successes and attract new audiences to our great Orchestra,” McKenna said.
   Tali’s first concerts as music director will be November 8 – 10,  when the orchestra opens the masterworks season. She will also conduct the Masterworks Feb. 20 – 23. Carlos Prieto, who was originally scheduled for that slot, will be a guest conductor in a future season

Monday, June 10, 2013

Russell Brand comes to Tampa's Straz Center

   People who think Russell Brand is funny will be excited to learn that he's coming to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa Sept. 20.
Russell Brand
   Brand is heading out on a stand-up tour he's calling the "Messiah Complex World Tour." According to the publicity material, it "will be a dissection of various social and religious figures and the reality of their lives through comparisons of each other."
   Tickets go on sale at noon Friday, June 15. They start at $35 plus service charge. Call 813-229-7827 visit

Meet Nik Wallenda at Selmon's in Sarasota

Nik Wallenda
   Tightrope walker Nik Wallenda will be at Lee Roy Selmon's restaurant in Sarasota on Monday, June 17 for a "meet and greet" event. He'll sign autographs and let you take his picture, just six days before his planned quarter-mile walk 1,500 feet above the Grand Canyon on June 23.
   He's scheduled to be at the restaurant starting at 7 p.m. Lee Roy Selmon's is at 8253 Cooper Creek Blvd., Sarasota. For information, call 941-360-3287 or visit


Sigur Ros performs in Tampa Oct. 7

   Sigur Ros, the phenomenal Icelandic ambient art-rock band, has scheduled its first-ever concert in this area.  They'll be at the University of South Florida Sun Dome Oct. 7.
Jonsi Birgisson of Sigur Ros
   Tickets aren't on sale yet, and there's no word on either the Sigur Ros website or on the Sun Dome website about when they will be, nor about how much they'll cost. And the Sun Dome box office is closed on Monday. But you can sign up to get pre-sale ticket information here.
  The Sun Dome is located on the USF campus at 4202 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa. Call 813-974-3004 or go to

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Showtime airs documentary "Thespians," filmed in Tampa

   If you subscribe to Showtime, you might want to check out "Thespians," a great little documentary airing many times this month. It follows a group of high school students from Jacksonville as they go through their regional competition and make it to the Florida State Thespians Festival in Tampa, the world's largest theater competition. It's a very encouraging and uplifting film, especially for anyone who cares about theater. The kids in "Thespians" are a revelation and an inspiration.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Sarasota's Nick Wallenda guests on "Wait Wait"

   Sarasota tightrope walker Nik Wallenda is the guest contestant on NPR's "Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me" this week. He's on the "Not My Job" segment playing a game called "Whoops."
   The episode featuring Wallenda aired Saturday morning, but it repeats at 10 a.m. Sunday, June 9, on WUSF-FM, 89.7. You can also hear it by downloading the podcast here. (The "Wait Wait" podcast usually becomes available late Sunday or early Monday.) Or you can listen online here.
   Wallenda is preparing to cross the Grand Canyon June 23. He'll walk about 1,500 across the canyon, about 1.500 feet above the ground.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Long-time Straz Center official resigns unexpectedly

   Michael Kilgore, who for more than 11 years has been the vice president of marketing and customer experiences at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, resigned Friday.
   He announced his resignation to the public through a Facebook post Friday afternoon. He praised the center, its staff and leadership and gave no reason for his resignation. A Straz official said Kilgore had resigned without notice, but that he had left his job amicably.
   Kilgore has not yet replied to a request for more information.

Itzhak Perlman performs in Sarasota Nov. 6

   Itzhak Perlman, one of the world's greatest and best-known violinists, will perform in concert at Sarasota's Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall on Nov. 6.
Itzhak Perlman
   He'll perform a chamber concert with alumni from the Perlman Music Program, a seven-week summer program in Shelter Island, NY. The summer program is augmented by a two-week intensive winter residency  in Sarasota, called the Perlman Music Program/Suncoast, in partnership with University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee.
    Tickets fro the concert are $30-$120. There's a "Meet the Artists" reception following the concert; Tickets for that are $50. Call 941-953-3368 or visit
   For more information about the Perlman Music Program/Suncoast, call 941-955-4942 or visit

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The 1975 plays St. Peterburg's State Theatre

The 1975
   "Esquire" called the 1975 one of the 15 bands to watch in 2013. Listen to the band's new EP, "IV," and its relentlessly catchy first US single, "Sex," and you're likely to agree.
   The quartet from Manchester, England will be at the State Theatre in St. Petersburg Wednesday, June 12. They're opening for the Neighbourhood, a solid but much more conventional-sounding pop band that you may know from its song "Sweater Weather."
   The 1975 has great hooks and (at least on their EPs) a phenomenal drum sound. Matthew Healy's passionate vocals elevate the music from power pop into something that feels more substantial. Lots of people on both sides of the Atlantic think this band is going to be huge.
   The State Theatre is at 662 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg. Tickets are $12 in advance and $14 day of show. Doors open at 7 p.m. 727-895-3945 or

Tappers perform at Sarasota Farmers Market Saturday

   If you go to the Sarasota Farmers Market this weekend, you can get some free entertainment, and maybe some dance instruction, to go along with your fresh produce.
   Asolo Repertory Theatre is sponsoring a series of tap workshops for local high school students this week and next, led by two members of the cast of "Pulse," Asolo's current tap-based show.
Russo (far left) and Erk (far right) in "Pulse."
   Christopher Erk and Anthony J. Russo are conducting the workshops. The workshops culminate in a group performance by participants immediately following the Saturday, June 15 matinee of "Pulse" in the Mertz Theatre.
   But you don't have to wait until then to see the student dancers. One of the workshop sessions will take place at the Sarasota Farmers Market 10-11 a.m. Saturday, June 8. Participants will give demonstrations and hold a group tap jam session by the fountain near the intersection of Lemon Ave. and State streets.
   "Pulse" runs through June 16. It's really fun. For tickets or information, call 941-351-8000 or visit

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Miranda July speaks at University of Tampa

Miranda July
   The University of Tampa has a week of readings by a bunch of great authors and poets  starting June 13. There's one clear standout, and that's the phenomenal author/actor/screenwriter/director/performance artist Miranda July. She'll be doing a reading next Saturday, June 15.
   July is probably most widely known for writing, directing and starring in the films "Me and You and Everyone We Know" and "The Future." But she works in a variety of media. Her work is hard to categorize or describe, but if you know who she is, you're probably already jazzed about getting to experience her doing a reading.
   Her appearance, like all the others in UT's series of summer readings, is free and open to the public. They're all on or around the UT campus in downtown Tampa and they all start at 7 p.m.
   Here's the rundown. for the whole series. Except for the first reading, they're all at venues on the UT campus, at 401 W. Kennedy Blvd. For information, go to

   Thursday, June 13 -- Novelists Brock Clarke and Tibor Fischer, Oxford Exchange, 420 W. Kennedy Blvd.
   Friday, June 14, Fiction writers Corinna Vallianatos and Kevin Moffett, and journalist and nonfiction writer John Capouya, Falk Theatre.
   Saturday, June 15 -- Author, filmmaker and artist Miranda July, Vaughn Center, Ninth Floor.
   Monday, June 17 -- Man Booker International Prize finalist Josip Novakovich and poet Barbara Ras, Falk Theatre.
   Tuesday, June 18 -- Poets and nonfiction writers Steve Kistulentz, Donald Morrill and Heather Sellers, Falk Theatre.
   Wednesday, June 19 -- National Book Award winner Denis Johnson, Falk Theatre.
   Thursday, June 20 --Novelists Jessica Anthony, Stefan Kiesbye and Jeff Parker, Vaughn Center, Ninth Floor.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

American Stage's "Mammoths" disappoints in St. Petersburg

   Despite an intriguing title and direction by the supremely talented Karla Hartley, the current show at American Stage is a mess. Even worse, it's a bore.
   "7 Homeless Mammoths Wander New England" is billed as "an academic sex comedy," but it's painfully unfunny. It's also at least an hour too long and three of its six characters are extraneous.
   The basic story has to do with a lesbian couple, a middle-aged college dean and a student -- who invite the dean's former lover to live with them while she deals with cancer.
   That part's not too bad, but it's interrupted by long stupid monologues from two cave people in a diorama, and puzzling, endless segments in which a man reads aloud wedding announcements and city council minutes out of a newspaper.
   The titular mammoths are fossils on display at a museum at the college. They're obviously a metaphor for something, but for what is never made clear.
   It runs through June 30 at American Stage, 163 Third St. N., St. Petersburg. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday. $29-$49. (727) 823-7529,