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Hot Ticket: Donna Summer drops in

Published March 10, 2005

Donna Summer isn't just the ol' disco diva we remember. Sure, hits such as Last Dance, On the Radio and Bad Girls (beep beep!) were the toast of the Studio 54 crowd, but Summer was nothing short of a musical revolutionary.

Summer and her innovative collaborator, Giorgio Moroder, pretty much invented electronica in the early 1970s with maverick tunes filled with synthesizers and minimal beats, such as the erotic moan-a-thon Love to Love You Baby and 1977's breathless I Feel Love.

Nearly all contemporary electronica whiz kids, including Moby, cite the legendary duo as a major influence.

Now's your chance to catch Summer performing from her extraordinary catalog of feel-good hits. Don't forget MacArthur Park, Hot Stuff, The Wanderer and the eloquent Dim All the Lights.

Donna Summer performs at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $60-$125. (727) 791-7400 or (813) 287-8844 or (727) 898-2100.

- GINA VIVINETTO, Times pop music critic

Folk music and more

The Will McLean Music Festival is back this weekend to honor Florida's premier folk singer, who died in 1990.

The festival gathers musicians, fans and families together in a campground setting with oak trees, orange groves and a beautiful lake. Folks will enjoy music, storytelling, work by Florida artists and crafters, and workshops by teachers in mandolin, banjo, harmonica, dulcimer and fiddle.

Look for former Times columnist Jan Glidewell as one of the festival's colorful emcees. The musicians performing during the weekend include Paul Gerardi, Sue Grooms, Steve Blackwell & friends, Hot Flash, Tom & Linda Ellis, Boomslang, Grant Livingston, Magda Hiller, Bobby Hicks and plenty more.

The Will McLean Music Festival runs from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at the Sertoma Youth Ranch, 83 Myers Road (County Road 41), 11/2 miles east of Interstate 75's Exit 60, Brooksville. Tickets are $20 for weekend advance, $25 for weekend at gate; $15 Saturday only; $12 Sunday only; free for ages 12 and younger. (352) 465-2167.

- GINA VIVINETTO, Times pop music critic

In tune with Toots and the Maytals

Toots and the Maytals are legends in reggae. The natives of Kingston, Jamaica, are said to be the first group to ever use the word "reggae" in a song with Do The Reggay back in the early 1960s.

The band got its start when ska was hot. Toots and his Maytals offered a sound steeped in horns and gospel-style vocals, the best of which were Toots' own. Early hits included Dog War, Daddy, Broadway Jungle and Bam Bam, which pushed the band to real stardom.

After a prison stint for possession of marijuana, Toots (real name: Frederick Hibbert) was released in the late 1960s. Bigger fame followed the hit 54-46 That's My Number, a reference to Toots' prison number. The song explored the idea that the charges against the singer were trumped up because of his Rastafarian background. More socially conscious smashes followed, including the band's biggest hit Pressure Drop, from the soundtrack to the reggae film classic The Harder They Come.

Last year's True Love finds the latest incarnation of Toots and his band collaborating on some of the Maytals' classic tunes. The list of guests is a who's who of the music world: Willie Nelson, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck. But the real star is Toots' still strong voice.

The show's openers are Particle and Inner Circle, the reggae band responsible for Bad Boys, the theme song to Fox television's Cops.

Toots and the Maytals perform with Particle and Inner Circle at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Jannus Landing, 16 Second St. N, St. Petersburg. $20 advance, $25 day of show. (727) 896-2276.

- GINA VIVINETTO, Times pop music critic

Orchestra steels show

The Tampa Bay Steel Orchestra, a seven-piece band, will be featured on the Florida Orchestra's pops program this weekend. The band, formed by the orchestra's principal percussionist, John Shaw, will do some Bob Marley, Mozart, a tribute to Harry Belafonte and orchestral arrangements of Trinidadian calypsos. Vocalist Fred Johnson will be featured. Under conductor Richard Kaufman, the orchestra will also play a suite from Finding Neverland, the Jan A.P. Kaczmarek soundtrack that won the Oscar for best original score, plus other film music. Performances are at 8 p.m. Friday at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Tampa; 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater; and 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Mahaffey Theater, St. Petersburg. $15.50-$50.

Taking a cue from Don Giovanni and Lakme this season at Sarasota Opera, music from each opera will be performed in coffee concerts by the orchestra. Soprano Michelle Giglio will sing the Bell Song fromLakme, and soprano Jennifer Sanchez will sing Non mi dir from Don Giovanni in the program, conducted by Susan Haig. Performances are today at the Mahaffey Theater and Friday at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, both at 11 a.m. $17.50-$28.50. 813 286-2403, toll-free 1-800-662-7286 or

- JOHN FLEMING, Times performing arts critic

[Last modified March 9, 2005, 09:40:04]

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