The Year in Live Music Across the Suncoast

Slowly but surely live music made a comeback in 2021!  There was still some rescheduling for 2022, but for those who needed their music fix, by Spring there was plenty to choose from. These are shows I covered for The Suncoast Post for this year’s music roundup. There were plenty of shows of both local and national acts. Hopefully next year will bring a full tour schedule for all the bands, musicians and venues.

Kicking things off in February in the SRQ was Suncoast Charities annual music and motorcycle festival, “Thunder By The Bay”! This year’s national headliners were southern rock giants Molly Hatchet. Regional acts included Maiden Cane, The Lost Boys, Sarasota’s Twinkle & Rock Soul Radio and The Greg Billings Band. The fest had their biggest year yet raising money for the kids! Looking forward to 2022, the headliner will be the band Firehouse!

The Ruth Eckerd Hall Experience started having small cabaret shows in 2020.  Their season started in February with bluesman and 5-time Grammy winner Keb’Mo’.  Foreigner did a two-night greatest hits show.  The Ruthie supported the “On the Road” series by bringing rocker and lead singer Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge to the newly renovated Floridian Social Club in St. Pete, in support of his solo album “Ides of March”.  Todd Rundgren was inducted into the 2021 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame class and was touring with his 2-night show The Individualist which was at The Capitol Theatre in Clearwater. An interesting and excellent history of Todd’s work, he is truly The Wizard.  Styx also rocked the Ruthie with a sold-out show and new music from their “Crash of the Crown” album. They celebrated their 50th anniversary with classic hits like “Too Much Time on My Hands and “Renegade”.

Over at the Mid-Florida Amphitheatre, they had a summer through fall line-up of shows.  The Black Crowes came to Tampa. Those Robinson brothers finally kissed and made up to tour in 2021.  Celebrating 30 years of the classic “Shake Your Money Maker” and they played it in its entirety along with hits and covers including the Stones. Chris Robinson, always a great front man, even took on the rain.  The Black Crowes is something we didn’t know we needed and was one of the BEST tours of the year, just pure rock and roll! Daryl Hall & John Oates tour came along with the British band Squeeze for their opening act.  H&O is another product of the 70’s, who are now into their 50th anniversary.  The brought all hits along for audience to sing along to, they have one of the best bands around and it’s always a fun show.  


 KISS brought their last show in Tampa to the Amp.  The “End of the Road” World Tour is their last (haven’t they said that before?) tour.  Gene, Paul, Tommy and Eric gave everything KISS fans wanted to see.  There was lots of pyro, the flying Starchild, blood, theatrics, great sound and lighting.  Another band that has 50 year longevity, KISS has stood the test of time and makeup!  The Monkees, Micky Dolenz and Mike Nesmith brought their final tour to Ruth Eckerd Hall. It was such a show full of nostalgic music and for many of us, childhood memories. Iconic songs like “I’m A Believer” and “I’m Not Your Steppin’ Stone” have stood the test of time. As of this writing. Michael Nesmith has passed away.  We are losing so many of our music heroes too soon.  Thanks for the memories and the music Mike, say hi to Davy and Peter.

The biggest show of the year was at Raymond James Stadium.  You know who I’m talking about, The Rolling Stones! A bittersweet opening homage to drummer Charlie Watts.  Mick, Keith, Ronnie and the band did Charlie proud in Tampa. Jagger at 78, moves like a young Jagger! Lights, sound and graphics are stellar of course, but it’s really all about the music and the Stones.  Tampa had one of the best setlists of the tour, “Faraway Eyes” was the fan vote song, and “Midnight Rambler” was an amazing jam with Mick on harmonica.  Steve Jordan did a great job in a difficult situation and the Stones showed why they are still the World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band.

Van Wezel Performing Arts in Sarasota hosted the Allman Family Revival, an annual event.  A show honoring the life and music of Gregg Allman with an amazing array of artists put together by Devon Allman of the Allman Betts Band and son of Gregg. This was one of the best shows of 2021!  Of course, we are talking about hometown guys Duane Betts, son of Dickey and Berry Duane Oakley, son of Berry Oakley and Julia Negron.  The Allman Betts band hosted and also played house band to a slew of great musicians who played Allman tunes and their own music.   A 3-hour show, it was classy, diverse and well -constructed.   Look forward to what they do for next year’s show! 

Honorable Mention:  The Dead Daisies played a rockin’ show at Jannus Live! How can you go wrong having one of the greatest voices in rock, Glenn Hughes and Doug Aldrich on guitar, you can’t!

Farewell to Tampa’s favorite sons, The Greg Billings Band.  In a sold-out show at Ruth Eckerd and an introduction by AC DC’s Brian Johnson, the band said its goodbyes playing all their beloved tunes like “Okeechobee Whiskey” and “Swamp Woman”. I have photographed Greg many times over the years. I saw the Stranger band at Crown Lounge and Astro Lounge way back in the day.  Thanks to Greg and the band for all the good times over the years.  Tampa Bay music fans will miss The Greg Billings Band!

Vicky Sullivan Photos 

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Black Crowes, Forienger, Guitarist, KISS, Legends, live music, Maiden Cane, Monkees, Musicians, Myles Kenndy, Performances, photography, Shows, Suncoast Charities for Children, The Greg Billings Band, Twinkle Rock Soul Radio, Van Wezel, Vicky Sullivan, Vocals

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