The end of classic rock as we knew it continues in the 2012-2013 South Florida concert season, since few of the usual suspects like the Eagles, Allman Brothers Band, Tom Petty, U2, Bruce Springsteen or Crosby, Stills and Nash will be present. Sure, there’s a specialty show by The Who (a Quadrophenia run-through) and an appearance by retro-rock singer Chris Robinson, although with his Brotherhood band, not the Black Crowes.
Perhaps it’s the dawning of a new classic soul era in South Florida concerts. Here’s hoping, anyway, but the seasonal area dates by the likes of War, The Family Stone, Parliament/Funkadelic patriarch George Clinton, and former James Brown saxophonist Maceo Parker (even if he is now playing soul-based jazz) at least point out that some among us indeed want the funk.
Maybe the artists who launched before 1980 should now be referred to as “ancient rock,” since forthcoming South Florida appearances by the more recent likes of Weezer, Madonna, Primus, Sheryl Crow, Queen Latifah and Ani DiFranco are now looking practically classic. That being said, the season does offer plenty of boom for discerning aging baby boomers, plus all the younger branches of their family trees. Here’s a look at some notable shows:
Former Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir and bassist Phil Lesh have both led successful groups since guru Jerry Garcia’s death in 1995, but the most creative post-Dead work has been by drummer/percussionist Mickey Hart. The 69-year-old Brooklyn native joined Bill Kreutzmann in the band’s percussion section in 1967, but often ventured into other projects, like his 1972 debut album Rolling Thunder. His work since includes music for Francis Ford Coppola’s epic 1979 war film Apocalypse Now; authoring the 1990-1991 books Drumming At the Edge of Magic and Planet Drum (each of which inspired stellar albums), the 2007 world music CD Global Drum Project, and his 2012 release Mysterium Tremendum. That CD, and this show, feature current bandmates Crystal Monee Hall (vocals), Widespread Panic bassist Dave Schools, guitarist Gawain Mathews, keyboardist Ben Yonas, talking drummer Sikiru Adepoju (the extraordinary Nigerian percussionist who’s wowed American audiences since Hart’s Planet Drum band), and drummer Ian “Inkx” Herman. See the Mickey Hart Band on Oct. 17 at Revolution Live in Fort Lauderdale (8 p.m., $26).
Like the J. Geils Band, venerable live powerhouse Little Feat was always challenged in trying to create studio recordings that matched its concert intensity (which explains why both bands’ best efforts were live, like Little Feat’s sublime Waiting for Columbus from 1978). When founding singer, guitarist and songwriter Lowell George died in 1979, the Feat stayed grounded for nearly a decade before releasing the surprisingly strong 1988 comeback album Let It Roll. And two of the primary holdover components in making that happen were songwriting vocalist/guitarist Paul Barrere and versatile composer, guitarist, mandolinist and trumpeter Fred Tackett. Performing together since the band’s 1973 release Dixie Chicken, the two veterans now tour as an acoustic duo, playing new originals and Feat classics. The double bill also features the New Orleans Suspects, a Crescent City quintet with members of the Neville Brothers, the Radiators, and the Dirty Dozen Brass band. Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett perform with the New Orleans Suspects on Oct. 19 at the Bamboo Room in Lake Worth (8 p.m., $35).
Singer/songwriter Ani DiFranco is nothing if not ahead of her time. The 42-year-old native of Buffalo, N.Y., seemingly knew that the music industry’s major label recording system would collapse, since she rejected its myriad offers to start her own Righteous Babe imprint in 1990 ― and moved back to Buffalo from New York City to do so, no less. She’s since released 24 CDs, including her self-titled debut; Little Plastic Castle (1998), Knuckle Down (2005) and her 2012 effort Which Side Are You On?, not to mention two discs with the venerable, since-deceased folk artist Utah Phillips, The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere (1996) and Fellow Workers (1999). Now a mother, DiFranco’s South Florida appearances have been scarce since her memorable 1998 show at SunFest in West Palm Beach, so one at the intimate Culture Room by the self-described “little folksinger” ― who has fans including Pete Seeger, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, and Public Enemy’s Chuck D ― qualifies as a rare treat. Ani DiFranco performs on Oct. 20 at the Culture Room in Fort Lauderdale (8 p.m., $25 plus fees).
Can Bonnie Raitt really be 62 years old? The ageless California native set out to be more than just another female singer, and her slide guitar playing alone proves that she accomplished that and more. Commercial success proved fleeting despite critical acclaim during the ’70s and ’80s, as Raitt’s mix of blues, pop and soul proved to be a substantial yet niche attraction. But the aptly titled 1989 Capitol Records release Nick of Time was a catharsis after she’d been dropped from her lengthy Warner Bros. contract, plus years of drug and alcohol self-abuse. A multi-Grammy winner, the album put Raitt on the crest of a wave that she’s deservedly surfed ever since. Her new CD Slipstream ― the debut on her new Redwing Records label ― also comes on the heels of suffering through the passing of both parents, a brother, and a best friend. And it’s the latest example of the woman who might just be the greatest living practitioner of the bottleneck slide. See Bonnie Raitt on Oct. 21 at Mizner Park Ampitheater in Boca Raton (8 p.m., $61.65-92.35).
Georgia is an overlooked state for producing creative music, from late R&B great Ray Charles, Southern rock godfathers the Allman Brothers Band and pop groups R.E.M. and The B-52s to the funk of Mother’s Finest and fusion of Aquarium Rescue Unit. Blues-rockers the Black Crowes extended that tradition after forming in Atlanta in 1989, exploding out of the gate with a hit cover of Otis Redding’s Hard to Handle on their 1990 debut Shake Your Money Maker. For the next decade, the band’s sibling creative warheads, Chris Robinson (vocals) and Rich Robinson (guitar), were often simultaneously being creative and at war. The singer’s wide vocal range, and powerfully soulful delivery, have also fueled Black Crowes reunions since 2002. Yet his new band, the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, signals another hiatus. Its debut CD, Big Moon Ritual, was released this summer and continues the singer’s bluesy Southern tradition ― but contrary to the group’s moniker, it does not feature Rich Robinson. See the Chris Robinson Brotherhood on Oct. 21 at the Culture Room (8 p.m., $20 plus fees).
Vocalist and keyboardist George Clinton turned 71 years old this summer, but he’s never acted his age. As the architect of Parliament/Funkadelic through the 1970s, he guided musicians like keyboardist Bernie Worrell, guitarist Eddie Hazel, bassist Bootsy Collins and drummer Dennis Chambers through psychedelic funk/rock live spectacles that included the hits Flash Light, Do That Stuff and Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker). Clinton started his solo career off with a bang 30 years ago, as his debut album Computer Games yielded the number-one R&B smash Atomic Dog, which is certain to bring down the house during his area appearance. He’s since turned toward producing (helming the mixing board for the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ 1985 release Freaky Styley), acting (notably aside the rap duo Kid ‘n’ Play in the 1990 film House Party), tribute recordings (singing Mind Games on the 1995 John Lennon ode Working Class Hero), and getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. George Clinton performs on Oct. 25 at Revolution Live (8 p.m., $38).
Talk about being typecast ― vocalist Maria Muldaur’s self-titled 1974 debut album featured the seductive, chart-topping pop hit Midnight at the Oasis, even though nearly every other aspect of her career was based in blues, folk, and jug band music. Yet the 69-year-old native New Yorker has certainly had ample opportunities to change perceptions while continuing to record and tour in the 39 years afterward. Muldaur’s output since the turn of the century has been particularly roots music-conscious, beginning with the Grammy-nominated 2001 release Richland Woman Blues. Her 2008 CD Yes We Can! featured covers of Bob Dylan, Marvin Gaye and Allen Toussaint (as well as her Women’s Voices for Peace Choir, which included Bonnie Raitt, Joan Baez, Odetta, Phoebe Snow and Jane Fonda); Maria Muldaur and Her Garden of Joy (2009) featured all-star interaction with John Sebastian, David Grisman and Dan Hicks, and her 2011 disc Steady Love is a gumbo of blues, funk and R&B that was recorded in New Orleans. Maria Muldaur plays at the Funky Biscuit in Boca Raton on Oct. 27 (8 p.m., $15-20).
Lost among Tommy, Live at Leeds and Who’s Next in the standout albums by iconic British rock band The Who is Quadrophenia, arguably the band’s final masterpiece. Released in 1973, guitarist Pete Townshend’s second rock opera was comparable to Tommy from an audio standpoint (even if its subsequent film version didn’t add up as much). The band’s late bassist John Entwistle roared on The Real Me and late drummer Keith Moon on The Punk Meets the Godfather; Townshend sang unheralded classics like I’m One, and vocalist Roger Daltrey flexed his golden pipes on the epic Love Reign O’er Me. The singer and Townshend (who contributed so much to the album that he was credited with “Remainder” after the other three members) turn the clock back 30 years with the ace rhythm section of bassist Pino Palladino and drummer Zak Starkey (Ringo Starr’s son), plus other backing vocalists and players for orchestration, as The Who performs Quadrophenia and more on Nov. 1 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise (7:30 p.m., $53.75-148.75).
California has produced more American rock bands with staying power than any other state, with Los Angeles alone outdistancing bottom-dwellers from Idaho to, yes, Florida. Comparatively lost among the likes of The Doors, Van Halen, Jane’s Addiction and the Red Hot Chili Peppers is the 20-year-old Weezer, but that’s partly by design. More influenced by Cheap Trick and the Pixies than L.A. contemporaries Guns N’ Roses and Stone Temple Pilots, the decidedly more underground quartet still features original lead singer and guitarist Rivers Cuomo and drummer/vocalist Patrick Wilson. Along with current singing guitarist/keyboardist Brian Bell and bassist/keyboardist Scott Shriner, they’re likely to perform crowd-pleasers like Buddy Holly, Say It Ain’t So, and the hilarious rocker Hash Pipe. Some of Weezer’s most popular CDs are color-coded (its 1994 self-titled blue debut, and the 2001 self-titled green album) and were produced by Ric Ocasek, leader of Boston pop group The Cars. See Weezer on Nov. 8 at the Hard Rock Live (7:30 p.m., $44-74).
San Francisco is known for outside-the-box thinking, musically and otherwise, but alt-rock trio Primus has broken the mold since the mid-1980s. Led by vocalist/bassist Les Claypool, whose songwriting, nasal, barking voice, and tap-and-slap bass playing style most define it, the trio performed for five years before releasing its independent 1989 live debut Suck On This. A strong string of 1990-1993 studio efforts followed (Frizzle Fry, Sailing the Seas of Cheese, Pork Soda) before Primus’ absurdist blend of funk and atonality ran aground. Drummer Brian “Brain” Mantia replaced Tim Alexander for a 1999 comeback CD, Antipop, and Claypool then ventured into supergroups (Oysterhead, with Phish guitarist Trey Ansatasio and former Police drummer Stewart Copeland) and hit-and-miss solo efforts. But Claypool, longtime guitarist Larry LaLonde and original drummer Jay Lane (back since 2010) appear on the throwback 2011 release Green Naugahyde. See the Primus 3D Tour on Nov. 10 at the Fillmore at the Jackie Gleason Theater in Miami Beach (8 p.m., $50-65).
The forthcoming seasonal appearances by multimedia stars like Justin Bieber and Queen Latifah owe a debt, in part, to the blueprint set in motion by Madonna nearly 20 years ago. And though the singer, guitarist and drummer isn’t the all-around musician that Bieber is, and doesn’t have Latifah’s acting chops (despite solid performances in the films Desperately Seeking Susan and Evita), the 54-year-old Madonna Louise Ciccone has proven a marketing genius through her additional use of video, concert spectacle, and shock value. Born in Michigan, Madonna moved to New York City as a teenager to become a dancer. Her self-titled 1983 debut and 1984 follow-up, Like a Virgin, collectively featured the hit singles Lucky Star, Borderline, Material Girl and Into the Groove, which, along with her capitalization on the fledgling music video industry, launched the future top-selling female recording artist in history. She’s likely to perform those hits, along with material from her 2012 release, MDNA. Madonna performs on Nov. 19 and 20 at American Airlines Arena in Miami (8 p.m., $62.05-$195.35).
Pearl Jam was seen by some in the exploding 1990s Seattle grunge scene as an outsider, since vocalist Eddie Vedder had moved there from San Diego and was originally from Illinois. But with Kurt Cobain’s death derailing Nirvana prematurely, Pearl Jam’s five hit CDs through the grunge decade outdistanced other Seattle faves like Soundgarden and Alice in Chains to arguably make it the most popular overall band of the 1990s. Pearl Jam has continued to release CDs through its 2009 effort Backspacer, but Vedder started a side solo career with his soundtrack to Sean Penn’s 2007 film Into the Wild. The 47-year-old singing multi-instrumentalist’s guitar-based score provided the perfect isolationist backdrop to the tragic back-to-nature tale, while providing few surprises, although the same can’t be said of his latest CD. Last year’s Ukulele Songs indeed featured Vedder singing original odes and standards while playing the traditional four-stringed Hawaiian instrument. See Eddie Vedder on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at the Au-Rene Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale (7:30 p.m., $75.50-96).
With five Grammy Awards before her 30th birthday, singing guitarist and pianist Carrie Underwood used a 2005 win on American Idol to jump-start a modern contemporary country music success story. The Oklahoma native has only released four CDs, but the first was the 2005 debut Some Hearts, recorded to capitalize on her TV fame. Considering that the album went platinum and won multiple Grammys, the formula worked, setting Underwood off on a dizzying tour schedule that included multiple guest re-appearances on American Idol. The aptly-titled follow-up, Carnival Ride, continued the Grammy parade before the pop-influenced singer/songwriter emphasized her own compositional prowess on the 2009 CD Play On and then the dark themes of her upbringing on her latest release, this year’s Blown Away. While Underwood isn’t a traditional country artist ― those no longer exist ― she certainly ranks among the likes of Faith Hill, Taylor Swift and Shania Twain in country music’s 21st-century crossover era. See Carrie Underwood on Dec. 22 at the BankAtlantic Center (7:30 p.m., $57-78.25).
Portland, Ore.-based ensemble Pink Martini is an unclassifiable blend of styles. With hints of the music of Brazil, France, Argentina, Italy and Asia, plus the strong presence of Hollywood musicals, the sizable act is akin to a worldly pop orchestra. Founding pianist and composer Thomas Lauderdale initially formed it as a quartet in 1994 while he was working in politics, and has since expanded it into a 10-to-12-piece band that’s often requested for political functions. His main co-conspirator since 1997 is vocalist China Forbes, and the ensemble is rounded out by stellar players whose collective resume includes work with entities from Diana Krall to the Oregon Symphony. The genre-defiant band often performs with symphonies, and its latest release is 1969, a collection of cover tunes from that year (from Puff, the Magic Dragon to Mas Que Nada) with guest Japanese pop star Saori Yuki on vocals. Pink Martini performs on Jan. 19 at the Fillmore (8 p.m., $25-95) and on Jan. 21 at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts’ Dreyfoos Concert Hall in West Palm Beach (7 p.m., $25 and up).
It seems surreal how far, and how fast, Justin Bieber has risen through the celebrity ranks to become one of the world’s biggest stars at age 18. Born in Stratford, Ontario, the native Canadian started out impressing in singing competitions at age 12, a by-product of also being a self-taught guitarist, trumpeter, pianist and drummer. In a sign of the times, Bieber’s first worldwide exposure came through the 10 million views he got through the YouTube videos of him, covering tunes by artists from Usher to Stevie Wonder, in 2007. Two years later, he released his debut CD My World ― and it’s truly been his world ever since. Chart-topping audio releases like the 2012 disc Believe are the norm; his 2011 DVD Never Say Never showcased a beyond-his-years performer and impressive all-around musician, and Bieber’s marketing campaign is off the charts. At the store on his website, you’ll find not only CDs, MP3s and videos ― but also his singing toothbrushes, backpacks, and back-to-school folders and notebooks. See Justin Bieber on Jan. 26 and 27 at American Airlines Arena (7 p.m., $53.35-106.05).
The groups Sly and the Family Stone and War owned a significant portion of the Top 10 singles chart between the late ’60s and mid-’70s. Vocalist, keyboardist and songwriter Sly Stone’s personal troubles were already evident when Sly and the Family Stone put on a thunderous performance at Woodstock in 1969, playing hits like Dance to the Music and I Want to Take You Higher. Other singles included Hot Fun in the Summertime, Stand!, You Can Make It if You Try and Everyday People, all of which are likely to be performed by The Family Stone, with original members Cynthia Robinson (vocals, trumpet), Jerry Martini (saxophone) and Greg Errico (drums). War is still led by keyboardist/vocalist and founding member Lonnie Jordan, who’s sure to call out chestnuts like Cisco Kid, Slippin’ Into Darkness, The World Is a Ghetto, Me and Baby Brother, Why Can’t We Be Friends and Low Rider as both California bands showcase their unique blend of funk, rock and psychedelia. See War and The Family Stone on Feb. 4 at Dreyfoos Hall (8 p.m., $25 and up).
Fifty-year-old singer/songwriter Sheryl Crow first rose through the musical ranks as a backing vocalist to stars from Michael Jackson to Don Henley. But when the novelty song All I Wanna Do became the breakout hit from her 1993 debut Tuesday Night Music Club, cynics could be forgiven for thinking Crow was yet another flash-in-the-pan singing hairdo. Twenty years and nine Grammy Awards later, the Missouri-born artist actually set the tone for her career with her self-titled 1996 sophomore CD. In-between poppy hits If It Makes You Happy, Everyday Is a Winding Road and A Change Would Do You Good was its bedrock blend of Rolling Stones-inspired grit and Beastie Boys-approved experimentation that resulted in multiple Grammys. Crow has only had to look back since by choice, as she does on her latest release, 100 Miles From Memphis. Recalling both her upbringing and early musical influences like Stevie Wonder and Al Green, the soulful CD even features a cameo by Stones guitar godfather Keith Richards. See Sheryl Crow on Feb. 18 at Dreyfoos Hall (8 p.m., $28 and up).
Without a surplus of high-profile shows by hip-hop artists this season, Matisyahu’s acoustic performance particularly stands out. Pennsylvania-born vocalist Matthew Paul Miller used the Hebrew stage name Matisyahu (which means “happy merchant”) to release his 2004 debut CD Shake Off the Dust … Arise on the independent JDub Records label. With his traditional Hasidic attire and full beard, and raps about traditional Judaism amid Jamaican dancehall rhythmic cadences, the fledgling artist’s fusion of styles was initially considered a novelty by some. But the album featured a breakout cut, King Without a Crown, that helped to lure fusion bassist and engineer Bill Laswell to produce its 2006 major-label follow-up, Youth (which also featured King Without a Crown). Matisyahu has been a star ever since, having played a sold-out show at the Kravis Center last year. With the acoustic setting putting particular emphasis on his songwriting, he’ll breathe new life into material up through his new release, Spark Seeker. See Matisyahu on Feb. 24 at Dreyfoos Hall (8 p.m., $25 and up).
There were few initial signs that Newark, N.J.-born Dana Owens would release her first album as Queen Latifah while still a teenager, and become hip-hop’s biggest female star within the following decade. She’s arguably since become the genre’s biggest celebrity after adding the tags of actress, recording label president, author and entrepreneur. Latifah’s third CD, Black Reign (1993), yielded the single U.N.I.T.Y., which earned her a Grammy for Best Solo Rap Performance and propelled her to initial stardom. Appearances in films (Jungle Fever, House Party 2, Juice, Set It Off) and on TV (The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Living Single) brought her more name and facial recognition, and an emphasis on R&B singing over rapping on the 1998 CD Order In the Court landed the vocalist on the Lilith Fair tour. Her own self-titled daytime talk show then led to roles in hit films like Hairspray and Chicago as she released the best-selling CDs Trav’lin Light and Persona. Queen Latifah takes the stage on March 24 at Dreyfoos Hall (8 p.m., $25 and up).
John Legend was born John Roger Stephens in Springfield, Ohio, but the 33-year-old vocalist, keyboardist and songwriter’s stage name is no idle boast. More singer than rapper; musician than standard frontman, Legend appeared as a pianist on recordings by vocalist Lauryn Hill while still in his teens (and as a session musician and composer for artists like Kanye West, Alicia Keys and Janet Jackson shortly thereafter). His 2004 debut CD, Get Lifted, earned Legend Grammy Awards for Best R&B Album, Best R&B Male Vocal Performance, and Best New Artist. A 2010 release called Wake Up! was a collaboration between Legend and the flexible hip-hop/R&B band The Roots, and it covered socially-conscious, underground African-American anthems like Curtis Mayfield’s Hard Times and Eugene McDaniels’ Compared to What. Legend hits the road to preview tracks from a brand-new release called Love in the Future, co-produced by West ― yet another artist who once hired this rare talent as a backing vocalist on his road toward legend status. See John Legend on April 10 at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood (8 p.m., $45-105).