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Jay Cridlin, Pop Music/Culture Critic

Jay Cridlin

Jay Cridlin is the Pop Music/Culture Critic for the Tampa Bay Times and tbt*, and the editor of Soundcheck, a blog about music and concerts in Tampa Bay. He graduated from Wake Forest University in 2002 and has been with the Times ever since.

Phone: (727) 893-8336

Email: cridlin@tampabay.com

Blog: Soundcheck

Twitter: @JayCridlin and @tbtsoundcheck

Instagram: @cridlin

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  1. Inside Trans-Siberian Orchestra's first Christmas without leader Paul O'Neill

    Music & Concerts

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A half hour to curtain, Al Pitrelli unwinds on a couch in his spartan dressing quarters, fresh off a loading-dock Marlboro.

    He's deep inside an arena, about to play the 29th show in the 18th city of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's 19th winter on the road. Out in the hall, violinists tune and singers apply mascara and crew members pop in and out of catering — fajita night is always a hit. But Pitrelli is all out of pep talks and rituals. ...

  2. This week's best Tampa Bay concerts: Katy Perry, Jingle Ball, Trans-Siberian Orchestra and more

    Music & Concerts

    WHERE'S THE PURPOSE? Katy Perry

    You can pinpoint the exact moment when things started to unravel for Katy Perry's Witness. It was 12:23 a.m. on Feb. 10, when she tweeted of her latest musical direction: "We gonna call this era Purposeful Pop." You kind of got a sense of what she meant two days later, with a performance of Chained to the Rhythm at the Grammys that suggested we were all living in denial about the state of our world, "stumbling around like a wasted zombie," as the preamble to the Constitution splashed behind her. Problem was, the rest of Witness failed to make any grand statements about the world, and often felt just like the cartoonish Katy of old, which made fans and critics wonder: What, exactly, was this album's purpose again? When Perry's eye-popping, mind-melting Witness Tour rolls into Amalie Arena on Friday, whatever message of wokeness she promised in February will be overshadowed by its spectacular costumes, props and stage design. So if you leave Perry's concert on Friday feeling more perked up than purposeful, don't feel too bad. Swish Swish and Bon Appétit may have dropped the ball Perry set rolling with Chained to the Rhythm, but at least it's still comfortable living in her bubble. Just dance, dance, dance to the distortion, and everything will be okay. Purity Ring opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $45.75 and up. (813) 301-2500. amaliearena.com. ...

  3. Before Tampa tour stop, Katy Perry's creative team breaks down her Witness Tour's 'big, bold images'

    Music & Concerts

    In the ever-escalating arms race to be the most eye-popping pop star on the planet, sometimes you have to call in for backup. Even if you're Katy Perry.

    When plotting her lavishly spectacular Witness Tour, which arrives in Tampa on Friday, Perry turned to choreographers Ashley Evans and Antony Ginandjar, a.k.a. the Squared Division, an Australian choreography and creative services agency that has worked with stars like Taylor Swift, Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas. ...

  4. This week's best Tampa Bay concerts: 98 Degrees, David Crosby, Petula Clark

    Music & Concerts

    PACKAGE DELIVERY: 98 Degrees

    Oh, the weather outside is far from frightful — that's one of the perks of December in Florida, you know. But inside the Mahaffey Theater on Friday, it'll be 98 Degrees and steamy. The Brothers Lachey will unwrap This Gift and other holiday hits in a Christmas concert that's been a long time coming. Their new Let It Snow is the boy band's first album in four years, and their first Christmas album since 1999's platinum-selling This Christmas. Nick, Drew, Justin Jeffre and Jeff Timmons are wrapping up their 20th year as a foursome — give or take a nearly decadelong hiatus here or there — and this holiday run will feel like the icing on the fruitcake. 8 p.m. 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. $39.50 and up. (727) 893-7832. themahaffey.com....

  5. Bradenton-raised R.Lum.R talks about hitting it big in indie-alternative R&B, playing Jimmy Kimmel

    Music & Concerts

    R.Lum.R swears he didn't put Jimmy Kimmel up to it.

    When the Bradenton-raised singer-songwriter played Kimmel's late-night show in August, the host surprised him with an unusually personal introduction.

    "Jimmy had also worked at a radio station in Tampa for a number of years, and he was like, 'Oh, I love Bradenton! My cousin went to IMG!' " R.Lum.R, a.k.a. Reggie Williams, said in a recent phone interview. "I literally didn't hear it until he did it. I was in the shot, and if you watch the video again, he holds up my album cover, and he says, 'Shout out to Bradenton!' And you can see me throw up my hands, and I'm like, Yooooo!"...

    Reggie Williams, a.k.a. R.Lum.R., is performing at Crowbar in Tampa on Dec. 8. Photo by Nolan Knight
  6. Review: U2's 'Songs of Experience' a low point for a band capable of so much more

    Music & Concerts

    Songs of Innocence never got a fair shake.

    U2's last album caused an uproar before you could even buy it, as the band brazenly plunked it into every Apple user's inbox for free, without warning. Some howled outrage, others were just confused. But lost in the noise was the fact that, once you gave it a spin, Songs of Innocence was actually a really good album, risky and ferocious and shockingly personal in all the ways a big rock experiment should be. That U2 followed it with two acclaimed tours — including this summer's cinematic celebration of 30 years of The Joshua Tree — was proof they had more left in the tank than all the haters gave them credit for....

    U2 performed at Raymond James Stadium as part of The Joshua Tree Tour 2017. Catch our review this morning. [CHRIS URSO | Times]
  7. Our music critics wonder, how will Sting mesh with the Florida Orchestra?

    Stage

    I was working construction the year Roxanne peaked on the Billboard charts and was playing all the time. With some of the more monotonous jobs, such as grading slabs, the radio is an important part of getting through it. I wasn't into the Police, yet had nothing against them. I preferred Roxanne to Message in a Bottle, which in 1979 was just being released, mainly because of that annoying line in the latter about sending out an S.O.S....

    Sting is no stranger to the Tampa Bay area. Among his stops here: a show at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa in January 1988.
  8. This week's best Tampa Bay concerts: 97X Next Big Thing, Charlie Daniels Band, H.E.R., more

    Music & Concerts

    SUPER-SIZE IT: 97X Next Big Thing

    Pretty soon they'll have to start calling this the Next Ginormous Thing.

    For its 2018 installment of the annual year-end bash known as Next Big Thing, alternative station 97X is going all-out with its first two-night show ever at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, 4802 U.S. 301 N in Tampa. Kicking things off on Saturday are Colorado folk revivalists the Lumineers, who transcended one-hit-wonderdom by following the inescapable Ho Hey with radio hits Ophelia and Cleopatra. They'll be joined by X Ambassadors, Magic Giant, the Arkells and the Aces. ...

    Clutch, performing at Jannus Live on 12/2/17.
  9. Lady Gaga is more than a provocateur. She's the best live performer in pop

    Music & Concerts

    There's a scene in the new documentary Gaga: Five Foot Two where Lady Gaga is surrounded by her team and producers for the NFL, describing her dream Super Bowl halftime show.

    "I want to do the opposite of what everyone thinks that I'm going to do," she says. "Everybody thinks I'm going to come out there on a f- - -ing throne in a meat dress with 90 shirtless men and unicorns, right? And that at the end I'm going to do something shocking, or that's going to freak everybody out?"...

    Gaga can still do the flashy things that grabbed attention, as she dangled from a chandelier on MTV’s 2009 Video Music Awards.
  10. This week's best Tampa Bay concerts: Brian Setzer, Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith, 21 Savage, more

    Music & Concerts

    SWINGIN' AROUND THE CHRISTMAS TREE: Brian Setzer Orchestra

    When you spend 13 straight Thanksgivings on the road, you build some traditions with your crew. "We get a big ballroom," said Brian Setzer. "I don't know how many turkeys we go through, but everybody eats Thanksgiving." The Brian Setzer Orchestra is between gigs in New York and New Jersey for this year's feast, but next week, their annual Christmas Rocks Tour hits Tampa Bay for the first time ever. It's a long time coming for Setzer, the swing and rockabilly hero whose annual holiday tour sells out venues coast to coast. At 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, he'll mix selections from his half dozen-plus holiday albums alongside hits like Stray Cat Strut, Rock This Town and Jump, Jive an' Wail. The Texas Gentlemen open. $52.75 and up. (727) 791-7400. rutheckerdhall.com....

    Lil Pump is performing at the Ritz Ybor on 11/30/17.
  11. Can toy stores create Toys 'R' Us kids in an Amazon world?

    Consumer

    Stefanie Dunlop is pinning high hopes on her Fingerlings.

    Cute, robotic creatures that interact with their owners, they are this year's white-hot Christmas toy, the Furbys and Hatchimals of 2017. On this weekday in Clearwater, Toys 'R' Us and Target had zero in stock.

    But at her Learning Express store at Westfield Countryside mall, Dunlop had about 70, marked up $10 from the suggested retail price of $14.99. A sign warned of a two-per-customer limit, with a smiley face chaser: "We appreciate you shopping local." ...

    Camden Jolly, 5, left, and Gavin Jolly, 7, shop with their mom, Danielle Jolly, for prank candy at Learning Express Toys at Westfield Citrus Park mall on Tuesday. The stores sell specialty toys and mass-market products.
  12. Brian Setzer talks about Tom Petty, 'The Simpsons' and his third act with holiday music

    Music & Concerts

    Brian Setzer knows he's overdue for a trip to Florida.

    For 13 years, the Grammy-winning rockabilly guitarist and big-band frontman has been packing theaters coast to coast for his annual Christmas Rocks Tour. But somehow, he keeps skipping this area. Ruth Eckerd Hall has for years tried to book the blockbuster blowout, but not until this year did they finally succeed on booking a show, on Tuesday....

    Brian Setzer brings his holiday tour to Ruth Eckerd Hall on Tuesday. 
Photo by Suzie Kaplan
  13. Michael W. Smith talks about Texas shooting, Christmas music and Bono

    Music & Concerts

    On the morning after the mass shooting at a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, Michael W. Smith had pain in his voice.

    "It's awful, it's just awful," said the Grammy-winning Christian music superstar. "Everybody's going to have their opinion. Do we need gun control? Yes, we need gun control. Do we need to put a focus on mental illness? Yes, we do. Nobody seems to talk about the God factor, which I think should be addressed. Sometimes you just wonder, when you have a nation that continues to block God out of everything, you wonder if there's any repercussions from that." ...

    Michael W. Smith, 60, has released some 25 albums, including four of Christmas hymns, covers and originals.
  14. Legendary guitarist John McLaughlin talks about his last tour

    Music & Concerts

    As you might imagine, quite a lot of thought goes into planning your final tour ever.

    "It's not a light decision to not tour again, but that really is the situation," said John McLaughlin, the guitarist behind legendary jazz-rock fusion outfit the Mahivishnu Orchestra. "To bring the music of Mahavishnu to life 45 years later, and to play it with a musician such as Jimmy Herring and his band, who have worked so hard to learn so much of that music from the early 1970s, is to my mind the absolute best way I could say goodbye and thank you to my friends in America."...

    Jimmy Herring and John McLaughlin at soundcheck at the Paul Reed Smith 30th Anniversary Celebrations held at Ram's Head Live, Baltimore. Photo via First Edition Arts.
  15. Forget Pizza Rat. Meet St. Petersburg's Pizza Squirrel

    Human Interest

    New York, it seems, doesn't have a monopoly on pizza-chomping rodents.

    Around 2:45 p.m. Friday, the Tampa Bay Times spotted a squirrel digging a nearly entire slice of pizza out of a trash can at 146 Second St. N in St. Petersburg. The squirrel hopped down, slice in jaw, and proceeded to scamper up an adjacent tree. Pizza Squirrel made it a good 25 feet up, which is far better than most of us could do while munching a slice of pizza....