Note to all you hillbillies and punks going to see Hank Williams III this weekend, get to the show early to check out Porter Hall Tennessee, Hank's amazing opening act.
The male-female duo from Porter Hall plays ferociously fun honky tonk. Molly Conley and partner Gary Roadarmel both handle vocals - lead and harmony - as well as guitar on tunes such as the bye bye ballad Halfway There (I'm Gone) and on foot-stomping barn burners such as the seething Golden Chain of Hate.
Think of those fantastic old Dolly Parton-Porter Wagoner duets from the late 1960s and early 1970s and then twist 'em up a bit, add some lyrics about hookers and booze and you get this duo's drift.
Porter Hall Tennessee opens for Hank Williams III at 8 p.m. Sunday at the State Theatre, 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $13 advance, $15 day of show. (727) 895-3045.
Rundgren, the renegade
Sure, Todd Rundgren is the guy who wrote Hello, It's Me on the brilliant 1972 double album Something/Anything and produced a slew of landmark albums (Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell, Patti Smith's Wave, Badfinger's Straight Up). Rundgren, 55, is also the guy Hollywood star Liv Tyler thought was her dad while he was mate to her mom, Babe Buell (until Liv found out that pa was actually Aerosmith's Steven Tyler).
Rundgren is a renegade in the world of music technology. That includes the forum of downloadable tunes.
Last year, the outspoken Rundgren bashed the Recording Industry Association of America for getting the law on folks who downloaded music off the Internet. Rundgren wrote a feisty tirade asserting that musicians and their audiences are on the same side and that the RIAA members are "ignorant thugs" who don't have musicians' interests at heart. They just want money.
Rundgren cited his troubles with labels that lost interest in his "fringe audience" (read: nonmoneymaking) years ago.
"Don't do me any favors," Rundgren sarcastically wrote to the RIAA, comparing today's monolithic, corporate music community to the Berlin Wall. Meanwhile, if eager fans want to hear and appreciate his tunes through whatever means possible and pay to see him perform live, Rundgren said he's all for it.
Todd Rundgren performs at 8 p.m. Friday at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $30. (727) 791-7400.
The Queen of Soul holds court
The Queen of Soul commands R-E-S-P-E-C-T, now more than ever. Seems Aretha Franklin's voice and her live performances just keep getting better with age. Franklin, 62, above, is best known for her string of soul hits in the 1960s - Respect, Chain of Fools, I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You).
Yet, the lady makes every genre her own, be it gospel (where her roots are), pop, rock, even Burt Bacharach. Ever heard Franklin's effervescent I Say A Little Prayer? (Or her version of Simon & Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water?)
So Damn Happy, last year's jubilant album, made critics happy, too. Franklin's in fine form, still, and anyone lucky enough to see her Wednesday knows that with this Queen, the best of her reign isn't necessarily behind her.
Aretha Franklin performs at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $55-$75. (727) 791-7400.