Kenny Chesney comes to RayJay on Saturday.

Weekend Top 10: Van, Elton, Diana, Kenny & more

The music stars are shining on Tampa Bay this weekend, plus we’ve got Broadway royalty, top dogs — and Earth Day!

1. Big Names

Van Morrison.

I’m cheating with my Top Ten a bit by lumping the weekend’s star-powered concerts into one pick, but here goes: On Thursday, Brown-Eyed Girl guy Van Morrison finishes his two-night stand at Ruth Eckerd, followed Friday by smoky-voiced jazz singer and pianist Diana Krall. On Saturday, country cutie Kenny Chesney rolls into RayJay, and on Sunday the one and only Elton John brings his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour to Amalie Arena. 

2. KNOXVILLE at Asolo Rep

Jason Danieley and company in Knoxville.

This is a very big deal, theater-wise: the world premiere of a new musical by the team that created the Tony-winning Ragtime (lyricist Lynn Ahrens, composer Stephen Flaherty, director Frank Galati) based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A Death in the Family by James Agee, and starring Broadway stars Jason Danieley (The Full Monty) and Paul Alexander Nolan (Slave Play). It’s a coup for Asolo, where Galati, a Tony winner and Oscar nominee, is an Associate Artist. Through May 11, Asolo Repertory Theatre at FSU Center for the Performing Arts, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, asolorep.org.

3. EARTH DAY events

earthday.org

Since 1970, the environmentally conscious among us (which should be everybody, right?) have been using April 22, Earth Day, as a reminder that our precious planet needs all the help it can get. Related events include scavenger hunts at Largo’s Florida Botanical Gardens Friday morning, trash cleanups along the Tampa Riverwalk and Clearwater Beach on Friday evening, the Museum of Science & Industry’s EcoFest in Tampa on Saturday and the Green Thumb Festival in St. Pete’s Walter Fuller Park on Saturday and Sunday. 

4. RAYS vs. RED SOX at the Trop

espn.com

You know the Rays are going to enjoy being home inside the temperate Trop after having spent a cold and rainy week in Chicago, where they lost two out of three to the White Sox but came back strong against the Cubs. And you know that Red Sox fans will be making rude remarks in earshot of Rays fans, but that’s all part of the fun. 4/22, 7:10 p.m.; 4/23, 6:10 p.m.; 4/24, 1:10 p.m., raysbaseball.com.

5. GIANNI SCHICCHI and CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA at Opera Tampa

strazcenter.org

A double bill of intrigue and romance, featuring Puccini’s “comedically sinister” Gianni Schicchi (with the dashing Jean Carlos Rodriguez in the title role) and the love quadrangle of Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana. Florida Orchestra Music Director Michael Francis conducts a cast that includes two singers of local renown, Melissa Misener, a frequent presence on the St. Pete Opera stage and the resident stage director at Opera Tampa, and Sarasota Opera favorite Hanna Brammer. Apr. 22 at 8 p.m. and Apr. 24 at 2 p.m., Ferguson Hall at the Straz Center, strazcenter.org.

6. SHAKESPEARE’S BIRTHDAY BASH at Studio Grand Central

Manchester City Library/Creative Commons

His official b-day isn’t till April 26, but Studio Grand Central and the St. Pete Shakespeare Festival are kicking off the celebration early with The Inaugural William Shakespeare’s Birthday Bash, a day-long street festival on Saturday celebrating the life and works of the Bard. Attractions include abridged performances of Shakespeare’s plays, live music, kids’ activities, and even a “Shakespeare Insult Tent” so you can experience the joy of being called a “Canker Blossom” in front of friends and family ($1 per affront). Food and drinks (like The Taming of the Shrewdriver) available for purchase. Tickets $10 for adults, children 12 and under free. Students with a valid school ID are also free. Apr. 23, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Studio Grand Central, 2260 1st Ave. S., stpeteshakesfest.org.

7. UKULELE FEST in The District

Bohemian made mahogany and cedar ukulele, c. 1929. (Creative Commons)

There’s something about the homespun sound of a ukulele — something so appealing that the Tampa Bay Ukulele Society has 3,000 (!) members, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Which means there should be plenty of interest in the Society’s day-long Ukulele Festival in The District in downtown Clearwater, which will feature introductory courses, group jams, “strums and strolls” and a concert at 6:30 p.m. by Steve and Amanda Boisen of Tarpon Springs and The Birdwatchers of Provo, Utah. Apr. 23, Noon-8 p.m. on the 400 and 500 blocks of Cleveland Street. Concert inside the Peace Memorial Church, 110 S Ft Pierce Av. downtownclearwater.com

8. AKC MEET THE BREEDS at Tampa Convention Center

Photo: leisergu/Creative Commons

From Affenpinschers to Yorkshire Terriers and everything in between, AKC Meet the Breeds® gives dog lovers a unique opportunity to meet, play with and learn about hundreds of dogs. Dog sports, an interactive fun zone, and more. $30, $25 seniors, $20 ages 12 and younger. Apr. 23-24, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Tampa Convention Center, 333 S. Franklin St., Tampa, akc.org.

9. JANE BUNKER & EDELWEIS WALKER at The Chihuly Collection 

moreanartscenter.org

Sunday’s your last chance to immerse yourself in Fiori, a show by two local artists whose works mesh beautifully with each other and with the colorful glass creations of Dale Chihuly: Jane Bunker, who gives all the proceeds from her gorgeous lily paintings to the Woodson Warriors Scholarship Fund, and Edelweis Walker, a glassblowing artist and instructor who got her start in the genre through classes at the Morean Arts Center Hot Shop. Through Apr. 24, Chihuly Collection, 720 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, moreanartscenter.org

10. Jubilation St. Pete

Bending Arc at the St. Pete Pier (City of St. Petersburg photo)

A huge outdoor dance party on St. Pete Pier with music from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s in the tradition of Sunday “tea dances” in P-town and Fire Island? Sounds like a whole lotta fun, but it’s also for a good cause — raising funds for Metro Inclusive Health and for the Tunnels to Towers Foundation, which supports the families of fallen first responders and wounded veterans. Apr. 24, 5-9:45 p.m., Spa Beach Park on the St. Pete Pier. $30 at the door, or purchase online.