Sneak Peek: Sushi-grade rock this weekend

Sons of Hippies’ Katherine Kelly puts down the electric for an acoustic this weekend.

Fresh meat at In the Raw
By Julie Garisto

Get an earful of sushi-grade rock this Saturday at the State Theatre, when In the Raw returns in all its uncooked glory for one night only.

In the Raw, Tampa Bay’s version of MTV’s “Unplugged,” showcased acoustic music and art in a series presented by Southeast Music Alliance. Popular lead singers and members of local bands played to crowds seated at candle-lit tables.

Out-of-town headliners included Michael Glabicki of Rusted Root and Joe Popp.

The event enjoyed its heyday from 2003 to ’06. Hosted by SMA honcho Joran Slane Oppelt, the pleasantly intimate showcase won best-of awards from local magazines.

Logistical problems, such as venues going out of business or changing management, kept the series from starting up again.

This week’s revival, we’re happy to say, picks things up right where they left off with an impressive lineup of local performers.

Shawn Kyle, of Tampa rockers the Beauvilles, will perform tunes from his band’s eagerly anticipated new album, Whispering Sin.

Also performing will be Mikey Bostinto of Tres Bien – a 2007 tbt* Ultimate Band winner and top-10 Fox reality show contestant.

It’s tough to pick a favorite in this impressive roster, but be sure to catch up-and-comer Katherine Kelly, a tough-and-pretty-voiced brunette who’s wowing crowds north and south of the Skyway Bridge. She used to play in Bradenton’s Nous Rapport and has a new act called Sons of Hippies.

“I’ll be playing four songs,” Kelly says. “They’re about these things, in this order: accidental death, roadkill and hookers, false belief and forced joy.”

Swoony, atmospheric folk diva Geri X returns from her yearly hiatus in Wisconsin, and hard-rock prodigies Hat Trick Heroes tune down and turn on with their youth-belying talent.

Along with all the “raw” musical talent, photography will be on display, too. Past in the Raw photos by concert photographers Carrie Waite and Stacy Mathis can be viewed in the lobby and on screen projections in the theater.

Perhaps the success of Saturday’s show will catch on and be revived again at the State Theatre?

If not, one consolation is that music writer and musician Scott Harrell hosts a monthly acoustic event called Kinder, Gentler Sundays. His shows have the same feel-good vibe and unplugged awesomeness, just on the opposite side of the bay in Crowbar’s outside patio.

Acoustic shows are not only fun and a great way to see a favorite local act. The process of getting musicians together on an even-playing field, without the electricity, engenders a warmth and camaraderie you don’t get at typical rock shows.

Nobody expresses this better than the artists themselves.

“I’m honored to share the stage with Tampa and St. Pete’s song-writing elite,” shares Kelly, “as well as blessed to have made a friend who believes in me as much as Joran Slane.”

In the Raw, the premiere event in Creative Loafing’s upcoming concert series, begins at 9 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 23, at the State Theatre in downtown St. Pete, 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $8 at the door; $5 with voter ID; all ages.

Scott Harrell’s next Kinder, Gentler Sunday, is on Sunday, Aug. 24, at 6 p.m. at Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St., Ybor City. Features Will Quinlan, Geri X, J. Schultz of Military Junior and Beachy Joe. $3. Following events will be Sept. 14 and 28.

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