St. Petersburg Times: Weekend

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Pop: Hot ticket

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© St. Petersburg Times, published June 7, 2001

Something old, something new

Donny Osmond has been a worldwide teen idol, adored by countless millions who swooned over such songs as Puppy Love. Those screams, however, faded quickly for Mr. Purple Socks, who heard he was a has-been at 20, an age when most people are only starting their careers.

Osmond, 43, told the tale of how he bounced back from the post-teen-pop wasteland in his candid 1999 bio, Life Is Just What You Make It: My Story So Far.

Since then, the guy known for his toothy grin and good nature has been super busy: singing on Broadway, releasing a new album in February and now making an international tour.

He performs Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $30; call (813) 229-7827.

By telephone, Osmond promises he'll sing tunes from the new album, from Broadway musicals and even the favorites from the teen pop years.

Does that mean Puppy Love and One Bad Apple?

Looks like it: "I hated going to a concert," Osmond says, "and not hearing anything that's familiar."

-- GINA VIVINETTO, Times pop music critic

Born to sing the blues

Mem Shannon's story is so "old-tyme" and sentimental, by golly, if Frank Capra were alive today, he'd buy the film rights. When Shannon was 22 his father died. As the oldest son, Shannon put aside his first love, singing and playing the guitar, and helped the family make ends meet by driving a cab in New Orleans.

But by the early 1990s, the blues bug bit again, and Shannon began putting together a concept for his stellar 1995 debut A Cab Driver's Blues, a unique set of stories combining Shannon's swamp blues with recordings of dialogue with passengers in his cab. The album was so well-received, the following year Shannon announced from the stage at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival that he could give up his day job and focus on music.

The brand new Memphis in the Morning is album No. 3 for Shannon, now 41, and it finds the singer again playing the street-smart social commentator when he's not sobbing over some lady who done him wrong, or dishing out a righteous rendition of Why I Sing the Blues by his idol B.B. King.

Mem Shannon & the Membership perform at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Skipper's Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road, Tampa. $5. (813) 977-6474.

-- GINA VIVINETTO, Times pop music critic

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