Ahoy, 2014

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Shovels & Rope, Feb. 13, Jack Rabbits
South Carolina husband-and-wife duo Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent don’t do precious folk-rock like mainstream darlings The Civil Wars. Instead, Hearst and Trent’s ramshackle “sloppy-tonk” sound pulls more from the outsider songbooks of Woody Guthrie, Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn. Traveling the country in a mini-Winnebago with jerry-rigged instrumentation and a dog named Townes in tow, Hearst and Trent have moved on up, playing the “Late Show with David Letterman” last year. But damned if they aren’t still proud of their hardscrabble beginnings, singing on their 2012 single “Birmingham, “Making something out of nothing like a scratch and a hope / Two old guitars like a shovel and a rope.”

Darlene Love, Feb. 13, The Florida Theatre
Darlene Love’s angelic pipes punctuated a number of Phil Spector’s early 1960s hits; the wider world just didn’t know about it for 30 years. Love was cheated out of royalties for decades — her biggest hit, 1963’s “He’s A Rebel,” wasn’t even credited to her until 1997, when she won a landmark legal case against Spector. Then her induction into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2011 and a star turn in the 2013 documentary “20 Feet from Stardom” fully revived Love’s career, thanks in no small part to baby-boomer nostalgia for that carefree musical era – and this proud woman’s continued vocal prowess.

Art Garfunkel, Feb. 28, Ponte Vedra Concert Hall
As half of legendary 1960s folk duo Simon & Garfunkel, Art provided the honeyed, polished tenor and harmony alto backing to Paul’s quirky frontman status. After the duo split in 1970, Garfunkel had trouble finding his solo footing, dabbling in acting and poetry while occasionally scoring cover-song hits. He didn’t even write his own material until 2003 – and his upcoming 2014 dates should be quite special, considering Garfunkel has had to cancel nearly all recently scheduled performances due to health problems.

Mobb Deep, April 2, Underbelly
In the canon of East Coast street rap, Queensbridge duo Mobb Deep stands shoulder-to-shoulder with titans like Notorious B.I.G. and Wu-Tang Clan. Though Prodigy and Havoc have faced their fair share of conflict since the early ’90s – prison time, public feuds, poor financial decisions – their 1995 album “The Infamous” still stands as one of the most seminal of hip-hop’s hardcore Golden Age. No surprise, then, that Mobb Deep has tentatively titled its 2014 reunion record “The Infamous Mobb Deep” – and included 10 previously unreleased tracks from the original album’s now-legendary recording sessions. 

Santana, April 27, St. Augustine Amphitheatre
Santana the band rocketed to fame at Woodstock on the strength of lead guitarist Santana the man’s fantastic fretwork and a then-innovative salsa of Latin fusion flavors. The ’70s were good to the group, which released solid-selling album after album of esoteric prog-rock and blues before dropping off the commercial radar in the 1980s and 1990s. Carlos Santana then revived his career with 1999’s crossover hit “Supernatural,” which sold more than 30 million copies. But longtime fans can rejoice over the fact that Santana the man has announced plans to reunite Santana the band’s classic Woodstock-era lineup for 2014 tour dates and recording sessions. With the right kind of eyes, you can almost see the high-water mark from here. 

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