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The Year in Music Around the Suncoast 2022

| Vicky Sullivan |

After the past two years, 2022 brought live music back bigger and better than ever! Venues around Tampa Bay were booking local and National Acts in droves. Since I can’t be everywhere at every show, although I wish I could, I am bringing you the shows I was approved to photo and review for The Suncoast Post. The year started with festivals kicking things off. In Tampa, there was the “Gasparilla Music Festival” which had headlining acts such as Mavis Staples, Trombone Shorty and The Allman Betts Band. 

In Sarasota, “Thunder By The Bay” Motorcycle and Music Festival celebrated its 25th year! There was plenty of great local music with country band “Scarlet Drive”, a tribute band of Tom Petty music with “Free Fallin”, that included Dana Lawrence and Greg Poulos. A crowd favorite “Diary of An Ozzman” playing the hard rock tunes of Ozzy Osbourne and Sabbath.  Capping off Saturday night was the headliner, “Firefall”! Closing out Sunday was the awesome and fun “Bobby Friss Band” who will be back in 2023, along with headliner “38 Special”. Another don’t miss event for the new year! The Cortez Stone Crab and Music Festival celebrated its 10th year with lots of great music from Damon Fowler Band, Blues guitarist Steve Arvey and Twinkle & Rock Soul Radio. Keyboardist Mike Kach and Friends. Mike played with “Dickey Betts & Great Southern” and keeps the Allman Brothers sound alive! The Stone Crab was plentiful and delicious. See ya next year!

On a sad note, Sarasota lost a very talented guitarist in Greg Poulos in 2022. Greg toured with blues great Freddie King and played with local band Kettle of Fish among others. There was a celebration of life at Stottlemyer’s Smokehouse with many musicians from all around Tampa Bay playing all day long. Greg will be missed in the musical community.


Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall had a slew of shows in 2022! Bret Michaels headlined a charity event “Concert with a Purpose” for the “50 Legs Foundation”, he had rockers “Warrant” open the show and he brought along his friend and hometown celeb, Hulk Hogan. A Tribute to The Beatles, Rubber Soul and Revolver had musicians Todd Rundgren, Jason Scheff, Christopher Cross, Denny Laine and Joey Molland playing the Beatles music in an amazing show! The Ruthie brought in Slash with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators to rock the roof off the house! Myles has one of the best rock voices in the business along with Slash’s guitar makes for a great show! Men At Work’s Colin Hay brought his tour to Clearwater and proved that he and his band are great musicians and still have a big fan base for the tunes from Down Under. My favorite show of the year at Ruth Eckerd Hall was hands down, Ringo and his All-Star Band! Being a Beatles fan (Beatles Channel programmed in my car, lol), it was a thrill to photograph and watch Ringo at work. He always assembles the best of the best musicians. Steve Lukather on guitar, Colin Hay, Warren Ham, Greg Bissonette, Hamish Stuart and the incomparable Edgar Winter who shook the house with the iconic “Frankenstein”. Ringo performs a mix of tunes including his solo hits like “Photograph” and of course Beatles songs. Just a joy to be there in the presence of music royalty!  Clearwater will see the opening of the new 5,000-seat Coachman Park Amphitheatre in July 2023 which will be run by Ruth Eckerd Hall.

Billy Joel plays Florida every year and this year was no exception. He moved his usual arena show to Camping World Stadium in Orlando. A big show that brought along some unseasonably cold weather. Billy and the band were troopers and brought a great show to the crowd. Over at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Michael Bublé performed his “Higher” tour to a sold-out arena complete with orchestra and the ladies swooning. Bublé has a satin smooth voice and is a top entertainer of his genre in the world.  Sir Rod Stewart played the Amalie Arena in the fall of 2022. America’s best garage band, Cheap Trick opened the show. A treat for the hometown crowd was to see Tampa Bay’s own Robin Zander on lead vocals.  Rod brought us all hits with a sit-down acoustic set mid-show.  It was one big sing-along in Tampa Bay Lightning’s home arena with Sir Rod. For this writer, John Mayer was my fav show at Amalie. His SOB Rock tour brought new music along with Mayer’s hits.  Mayer is one of the best guitarists and songwriters of his generation.


Tampa’s Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino have a surefire hit with their 1500 seat Event Center! A great intimate room that offers a way to see artists up close and personal. Tickets can be pricey depending on the artist, but you are getting a great experience. Sting played to a sold-out crowd, to see an artist like Sting in a small venue is pretty amazing. I also reviewed the Steve Miller Band, who I had not seen in all these years and people were dancing in the aisles, a really fun show. Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening was another great experience. Alicia Keys performed and was sold out. Look forward to seeing who is coming to Hard Rock Tampa next year.

Sarasota’s Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall saw many shows on its stage. Broadway tour shows are a hot ticket and “Beautiful – The Carol King Musical brought us a history of pop music for last 50 years! Loved it! Saxophonist Kenny G came to Sarasota for our renowned SFF film festival and also performed a show at Van Wezel. Kenny gave me a great interview for The Suncoast Post! I can still hear his iconic saxophone. SRQ’s historic purple cow still rocks out and had the crowd on their feet when “Foreigner” came to town. Hit after hit, the audience didn’t want it to end.  Looking forward to a new season and the rescheduled shows due to Hurricane Ian of comedian Jerry Seinfeld in January 2023.


So many venues big and small, I hope to cover many more shows in 2023! The Capitol Theatre in Clearwater, Busch Gardens Music Series, Raymond James Stadium concerts, The Mahaffey, Skipper’s Smokehouse,  Straz Center Tampa, there are so many choices! Be sure and support your local live music, we are so lucky to have so much of it here on the Suncoast!  Here’s to the live music of 2023!

Vicky Sullivan Photos

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