Unlike most previous years, the expected familiar faces aren’t dotting the 2019-2020 South Florida pop concert season landscape. One’s impressions of the results depend on whether they see that situation as glass half-full or half-empty.
Elvis Costello and Sting make rare appearances only days apart; soul icons the Isley Brothers stop in 65 years after the group’s formation, and more modern names include the Black Keys, Incubus, Jonas Brothers, Chainsmokers, and Ariana Grande.
Then there’s ZZ Top, Ozzy Osbourne, and other veteran names more familiar with previously popular lineups like John Oates (from Hall & Oates) and Martin Barre (Jethro Tull).
Bridging the wide gap between classic and modern country music, the Zac Brown Band has amassed a huge following since forming in Atlanta in 2002. Namesake vocalist/guitarist Brown has infused his eight-piece band with instruments more associated with bluegrass (violin, mandolin, banjo), Latin (percussion) and Hawaiian music (ukulele) while collaborating with rock stars from Chris Cornell to Dave Grohl to Kid Rock. The three-time Grammy-winning group also features Jimmy Martini (violin, vocals), John Driskell Hopkins (guitar, bass, ukulele, banjo, vocals), Coy Bowles (guitar, keyboards), Clay Cook (guitar, keyboards, mandolin, steel guitar, vocals), Matt Mangano (bass), Chris Fryar (drums), and Daniel de los Reyes (percussion). Currently on The Owl Tour, the octet will perform a healthy portion of its 2019 recording, The Owl. See the Zac Brown Band at 7 p.m. Oct. 18-19 at Coral Sky Ampitheatre, 601-7 Sansburys Way, West Palm Beach (833-215-5121, $39-$521).
The “sacred steel” sound of pedal steel guitar in churches, primarily southern African-American Pentecostal institutions, has ironically found its leading voice in New Jersey-born Robert Randolph. The 42-year-old virtuoso did, however, gain notoriety while touring playing sacred music in Florida before teaming with Medeski, Martin & Wood keyboardist John Medeski in the group The Word in 2001. Further exposure came during a tour as the opening act for jam-blues favorites the North Mississippi Allstars, which led to opening slots along Eric Clapton’s 2004 tour and an appearance in his Crossroads Guitar Festival. Randolph’s rise merited inclusion in Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” His Family Band includes vocalist/guitarist Marcus Randolph, vocalist Lenesha Randolph, and keyboardist Brett Haas. See Robert Randolph & the Family Band at 8 p.m. Oct. 19 at the Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Highway, Ste. 70, Fort Lauderdale (954-564-1074, $32.50-$65).
Texas trio ZZ Top became American roots-rock icons during the 1970s after forming in Houston in 1969. Jimi Hendrix was a fan of guitarist/vocalist Billy Gibbons, and bassist/vocalist Dusty Hill and drummer Frank Beard remained rock-solid on gems from ZZ Top’s First Album (1971) through Tres Hombres (1973), Fandango! (1975) and Deguello (1979). Then came the 1980s and music video, the speed bump that tripped up many a formidable 1970s rock act. By the 2000s, the trio had basically become a touring caricature of itself. Openers Cheap Trick, fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members, conversely transitioned from the 1970s into the 1980s by sticking to their Illinois-based audio roots rather than to try to become small-screen stars. Vocalist and guitarist Robin Zander still has one of rock’s best voices; bassist Tom Petersson and lead guitarist Rick Nielsen are aces, and son Daxx Nielsen mans the drums. See ZZ Top and Cheap Trick at 7 p.m. Oct. 20 at Coral Sky Ampitheatre ($37-$338).
You can thank Moby, or blame him, for deejays starting to release albums rather than just play them in the 1990s. A current result is the Chainsmokers, the popular, New York City-launched turntable duo of Alexander Pall and Andrew Taggart. Since launching five years ago with the single “Selfie” and debut EP Boquet, the young electronic dance music darlings (Taggart is now 29; Pall 34) have earned a Grammy Award and headlined 2019 editions of the Ultra Music Festival (in both Australia and Miami) and Lollapalooza in Chicago. The duo’s latest release is this year’s World War Joy. Opening act 5 Seconds of Summer is an actual four-piece pop band (vocalist/guitarists Luke Hemmings and Michael Clifford, bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Calum Hood, drummer/vocalist Ashton Irwin) from Australia that has previous collaborations with the duo. See the Chainsmokers and 5 Seconds of Summer at 7 p.m. Oct. 24 at American Airlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami (786-777-1000, $20-$325).
When Jack and Meg White formed the White Stripes in Detroit in 1997, they set a template for duos recording and effectively functioning as full bands. Akron, Ohio-based childhood friends Dan Auerbach (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards) and Patrick Carney (drums) took notice, forming the Black Keys in 2001 after dropping out of college. Near-immediate indie-rock sensations, the duo’s mix of blues and rock influences resulted in it signing with blues-based recording labels while becoming popular on the international jam band touring circuit. Stardom was fully achieved by the early 2010s, with a fistful of Grammy Awards. Auerbach and Carney now tour with guitarists Andy Gabbard and Delicate Steve and bassist Zach Gabbard. Openers Modest Mouse also became indie-rock sensations after forming in Washington state in 1992. See the Black Keys and Modest Mouse at 7 p.m. Nov. 5 at the BB&T Center, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise (954-835-7000, $22-$1,261).
As chameleonic a pop star as any in recent memory, 65-year-old British vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Elvis Costello first emerged as part of the mid-to-late-1970s New Wave movement with notable albums like My Aim Is True, This Year’s Model and Armed Forces. But starting with his 1981 release of vintage country music covers, Almost Blue, Costello has refused to be typecast. Starting in 1987, he released a decade-long string of collaborative pop tunes with the iconic Paul McCartney, and Costello’s love of jazz includes collaborations with pianist Allen Toussaint, guitarist Bill Frisell, and his marriage to star vocalist/pianist Diane Krall. His latest release is last year’s Look Now with the Imposters, including keyboardist Steve Nieve, bassist/vocalist Davey Faragher, and drummer/percussionist Pete Thomas. See Elvis Costello & the Imposters at 8 p.m. Nov. 7 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 S.W. Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale (954-462-0222, $88-$613).
Contrary to what many think, perhaps even including himself, Sting was not the entirety of The Police, the most original pop act since The Beatles between 1977 and 1984. Hyper-kinetic, world music-influenced drummer Stewart Copeland and creative, minimalist, effects-wizardly guitarist Andy Summers were vital ingredients in helping the artist formerly known as Gordon Sumner fly. For evidence, check out the group’s 1993 collection Message in a Box: The Complete Recordings. Yet Sting’s unparalleled, upper-register voice, songwriting prowess and underrated bass playing have also fueled a long and successful solo career since. The 68-year-old Brit is likely to play Police material, plus cuts from gems like his 1985 solo debut The Dream of the Blue Turtles and 1993’s Ten Summoner’s Tales through his most recent effort, this year’s My Songs. See Sting at 8 p.m. Nov. 9 at Hard Rock Live, 5747 Seminole Way, Hollywood (866-502-7529, $84-$2,438).
The very definition of a modern boy band, the Jonas Brothers became the omnipresent male equivalent of the Kardashians after forming in New Jersey in 2005. Consisting of Joe Jonas (vocals), Nick Jonas (vocals, guitar) and Kevin Jonas (guitar, vocals), the trio first achieved a sizable following of younger fans through appearances on the Disney Channel. Multimedia TV and film stars since, the brothers roared out of the gate with annual releases It’s About Time (2006), Jonas Brothers (2007), A Little Bit Longer (2008) and Lines, Vines and Trying Times (2009) before hiatuses, sibling rivalries, creative differences and breakups hastened a 10-year run for each to focus on solo projects. But just when you thought it was safe to assume that you would only see the Jonases on screens and teen magazine covers, the sibling trio reunited for its 2019 release Happiness Begins. See the Jonas Brothers at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15 at the BB&T Center ($40-$1,777).
By nature of being the non-lead singing second name within Hall & Oates, the best-selling duo in music history, guitarist/vocalist John Oates has remained on the back burner since forming the duo with 73-year-old vocalist/keyboardist/guitarist Daryl Hall in Philadelphia in 1970. Yet while the 71-year-old Oates wasn’t the lead singer on Top 40 hits like “Sara Smile,” “She’s Gone,” or “Rich Girl,” he co-wrote most of the duo’s 34 Billboard Hot 100 hits, and has dozens of lead vocal credits on album cuts within its extensive catalog. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014, Hall & Oates has primarily become a touring nostalgia act since the turn of the century. Hall’s guest star-studded Live From Daryl’s House webcast has been his primary vehicle since, while Oates has both a recent memoir (Change of Seasons, 2017) and recording (Arkansas, 2018). See John Oates at 7 p.m. Nov. 23 at the Lyric Theatre, 59 S.W. Flagler Ave., Stuart (772-286-7827, $180-$203).
A true 21st-century pop star, 26-year-old, Boca Raton-born Ariana Grande is alternately praised as a four-octave soprano singer and lambasted as a marginal talent who producers only make sound like one. The Florida native first gained fame by appearing on the Nickelodeon TV series Victorious from 2010-2013. YouTube videos of her singing cover songs attracted Republic Records executives, allowing Grande to record on the 2012 Victorious soundtrack. She’s since had all five of her full-length recordings (including this year’s Thank U, Next) certified platinum; gained more than 25 million streams on sites like YouTube, Spotify and Apple Music, and won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album for her 2018 release Sweetener. Along the way, Grande also showed her age by getting caught licking unpurchased doughnuts in public, and insulting Americans, in a restaurant video. See Ariana Grande at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 27 at the American Airlines Arena ($63-$645).
Sixty-eight-year-old Newark, N.J., native Max Weinberg is essentially the American version of iconic Beatles drummer Ringo Starr. Like the Brit in the Fab Four, Weinberg is revered by enthusiasts for his decades of work within Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, yet viewed by some as a limited, overrated drummer who was in the right place at the right time — namely the Asbury Park area of the Garden State in 1973, where and when Springsteen launched his recording career. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of the E Street Band in 2014, Weinberg’s Jukebox band will live up (or down) to its name in this general admission, standing room-only show at the Arts Garage by taking requests from the audience from more than 200 cover songs listed on video monitors (by the likes of The Beatles, Rolling Stones and, of course, Springsteen). See Max Weinberg’s Jukebox at 8 p.m. Nov. 29-30 at the Arts Garage, 94 N.E. 2nd Ave., Delray Beach (561-450-6357, $50-$200).
South Florida’s pop music season always includes expected bookings, but California rock/funk quintet Incubus at the Kravis Center was not one of this year’s. Formed in 1991 while its members were in high school, the lineup still includes original vocalist Brandon Boyd, guitarist Mike Einziger, and drummer Jose Pasillas, and is rounded out by newer members Ben Kenney (bass) and Chris Kilmore (turntables). Early major-label recordings like Enjoy Incubus (1997) and S.C.I.E.N.C.E. (1998) featured a combination of rock, funk and rap a la predecessors the Red Hot Chili Peppers, 311, and Korn before Incubus started a trend of more mainstream singles like the ballad “Drive” from its third recording, Make Yourself (1999). The trend has continued over the past 20 years, and the hard-touring outfit released its eighth full-length recording, 8, in 2017. See Incubus at 8 p.m. Dec. 1 at Dreyfoos Hall in the Kravis Center, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach (833-215-5121, $153-$925).
Who else but Madonna could book a five-night run in Miami where ticket prices top out at the amount of a used car? Born Madonna Louise Ciccone in Bay City, Mich., the 61-year-old pop icon has proven savvy at promotion and mixed media since the 1980s, She initially moved to New York City in 1978 to become a dancer, but instead signed with Sire Records in 1982; became a star with her 1984 sophomore album Like a Virgin, and started a Hollywood acting career opposite Rosanna Arquette in the 1985 film Desperately Seeking Susan. Madonna has since become the highest-grossing solo touring artist and best-selling female artist of of all-time, and a seven-time Grammy Award winner. And she’s no stranger to Miami, where she was photographed hitchhiking naked in her 1992 coffee table book Sex. See Madonna at 8:30 p.m. Dec. 14, 15, 17, 18 & 19 at the Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami (305-673-7300, $225-$5,620).
Most bands don’t even last six years, but 60 or more? Cincinnati-launched funk act the Isley Brothers first formed as the vocal doo-wop trio of O’Kelly, Rudolph and Ronald Isley in 1954, but moved to New York City and hit the charts with “Shout” in 1959. The song’s inclusion in the 1978 comedy film National Lampoon’s Animal House brought new notoriety, and it was ranked No. 118 on Rolling Stone’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time” and inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. Jimi Hendrix recorded with the band in the mid-1960s before the singers’ Hendrix-influenced younger brother Ernie joined on guitar, bass, and drums. The hits “It’s Your Thing” and “That Lady” followed, leading to the protest anthem “Fight the Power,” a 1975 tune that sounds relevant today. The disco and music video eras rendered the Isley Brothers a nostalgia act, but Ronald and Ernie remain the core of this seminal family soul band. See the Isley Brothers at 8 p.m. Dec. 20 at Dreyfoos Hall ($125-$310).
British band New Order has been an on-again, off-again act since 1980, when it formed out of the ashes of the group Joy Division, which collapsed after the suicide of tortured lead singer Ian Curtis at age 23. Remaining band members Bernard Sumner (vocals, guitar), Peter Hook (bass) Stephen Morris (drums) carried on, eventually incorporating electronica and dance styles into the previous group’s post-punk and New Wave nucleus. By 1983, New Order had largely shed the shadow of Joy Division via the popular 12-inch vinyl single “Blue Monday” and heralded album Power, Corruption & Lies. Hook departed in 2007 during one of the band’s intermittent breaks, and the current lineup consists of Sumner, Morris, longtime keyboardist/guitarists Gillian Gilbert and Phil Cunningham, and bassist/keyboardist Tom Chapman. Its latest release is Music Complete (2015). See New Order at 8 p.m. Jan. 14, 15, 17 and 18 at the Fillmore Miami Beach ($101-$183).
Possessing one of the greatest natural singing voices in popular music history, 75-year-old vocalist and Atlanta native Gladys Knight earned the first two of her seven career Grammy Awards with her family group, Gladys Knight & the Pips. Also featuring her brother, Merald “Bubba” Knight, and cousins Edward Patten and William Guest, the quartet’s 1973 Grammys were for the singles “Midnight Train To Georgia” and “Neither One of Us (Wants To Be the First to Say Goodbye).” The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. Other Knight Grammy wins occurred between 1986 and 2005, most for collaborations with fellow stars like Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles. Knight also has an extensive film and television acting career between 1976 and 2019, and a solo recording career from 1978 through her latest release, Where My Heart Belongs (2014). See Gladys Knight at 8 p.m. Feb. 29 at Hard Rock Live ($88-$863).
Bluegrass sextet the Steep Canyon Rangers formed in 2000 when its members were students at the University of North Carolina, and rose to greater acclaim by starting a collaboration with famed comedian and ace banjoist Steve Martin in 2009. But while its 2011 debut recording with Martin, Rare Bird Alert, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album, it was the subsequent release, Nobody Knows You, that won in the same category without him. The core lineup of vocalist/guitarist Woody Platt, banjoist/vocalist Graham Sharp, mandolinist/vocalist Mike Guggino, violinist/vocalist Nicky Sanders, bassist Barrett Smith, and percussionist/vocalist Mike Ashworth has since released records with and without its acclaimed accompanist, the latest being last year’s Out in the Open without. Preceding efforts include a live 2014 release with both Martin and vocalist Edie Brickell. See the Steep Canyon Rangers at 7 p.m. Feb. 29 at the Lyric Theatre ($165-$354).
Guitarist Martin Barre shifted the scope of the band Jethro Tull as much as any musician has ever has with a notable rock act. By replacing original guitarist Mick Abrahams in 1968, the 72-year-old Barre’s signature, stinging solos and prowess within complex time signatures turned vocalist/leader Ian Anderson’s bluesy outfit (then in the vein of Cream and Led Zeppelin) into one of the great all-time progressive rock bands. Through the 1970s, Barre’s inimitable playing highlighted classics like “Aqualung,” “Cross-Eyed Mary,” “Locomotive Breath,” “Thick As a Brick,” and “Minstrel in the Gallery,” all included on the standout 1978 double-live document Bursting Out. Barre’s band includes vocalist/guitarist Dan Crisp, bassist Alan Thomson and drummer Darby Todd, and will also play selections from its latest album, Roads Less Travelled. See Martin Barre at 9 p.m. April 10 and 8 p.m. April 11 at the Funky Biscuit, 303 S.E. Mizner Blvd., Boca Raton (561-395-2929, $55-$75).
Seventy-year-old vocalist Ozzy Osbourne rose to fame with Black Sabbath, voted “greatest metal band” of all-time by MTV, primarily because of the original lineup of Osbourne, guitarist Tommy Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward from 1968-1978. The British singer then embarked on a successful solo career with the top-selling releases Blizzard of Ozz (1980) and Diary of a Madman (1981), furthering his celebrity by starting the popular festival Ozzfest in the mid-1990s and starring in the MTV reality series The Osbournes in the early 2000s. As a result, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee with Black Sabbath became a true 21st-century cult of personality figure; one more renowned for his bumbling, mumbling, cartoon-ish nature than his vocal prowess. So much for his “No More Tours” road show of 1992 (borrowed from his 1991 release No More Tears) and its 2018 sequel. See Ozzy Osbourne at 7:30 p.m. May 29 at the BB&T Center ($75-$1,238).