A few months back, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's office sent out a press release saying that the next day the mayor would make a major concert announcement the next day.
Lots of people had guesses about what exalted music legend was coming to town that warranted a mayoral announcement. Nobody guessed that it was Billy Joel.
Joel's one of the biggest pop acts ever, and he's sold something like 150 million albums. But still, the announcement seemed odd. Joel had been in the Tampa Bay area in 2012, with an appearance at the 850-seat Palladium in St. Petersburg. And he played an arena concert in the area in 2006, which isn't that long ago considering that he's been making hit records since the early '70s.
But whether he deserved such hoopla or not, Joel's an immensely popular performer, a great songwriter and by most account a terrific showman.
His area appearance is scheduled for Friday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Joel has won six Grammy Awards and he's been inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
The earlier shows on this tour have gotten stellar reviews, for the song selection, which is packed with hits, for Joel's playing, singing and bantering, and for his backing band.
Joel has recently signed on to be the "fourth franchise" at Madison Square Garden. The other three franchises are all sports teams.
Details: 8 p.m. Jan. 17, Tampa Bay Times Forum, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. Tickets: $39.50, $89.50, $119.50. Information: 813-301-2500, www.tampabaytimesforum.com.
-- Marty Clear