One of the more challenging Saturday themelesses in a while, and surprisingly so, considering that no answer is longer than eight letters! I actually thought things would move along swiftly at first, because I flashed through the NW. I incorrectly put in "audience" at 5D: They're often standing when the curtains are lowered (OVATIONS). I clearly understood the point of the clue; it's much on my mind because this weekend I'm playing in the band for Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
Anyway, I fixed it when I saw 12A: Farm-to-table advocate (LOCAVORE). After that, the remainder of the corner went quickly. 1A: Colorful carnival offerings (SNOCONES) gets a B- from me. I like the idea, but on googling it, I don't really come up with that spelling except in a commercial context. So, downgrade.
I then hit the middle section. No purchase. I must have put SNOOZED in and taken it out five times. I just couldn't see 20D: Setting of "The Sun Also Rises" and "Some Like It Hot" (JAZZAGE). I was racking my brain for any way the two works overlapped. Did Jake somehow make it to Miami? Did Tony Curtis take Marilyn Monroe on a date to see a bullfight in Pamplona? Obviously not.
Then, even though I finished the NE corner fairly easily also (JOETORRE was a big gimme, as was its partner baseball answer, UNEARNED), the middle was still opaque. The T at the start of TOILED was another erase and replace adventure. I just couldn't believe that 16D: Lures with music (TWEEDLES) could start with TWE____. Turns out this is a correct if archaic definition. The Pied Piper is a prime example of a tweedler, and I presume there is an etymologic connection with Tweedledee and Tweedledum.
In the SE, I had etruscaN in for OLDLATIN (just wrong), but when I got CELLMATE, the corner finally made sense. This broke the center finally (NBATEAM as an answer for the generic clue "Bucks, e.g." helped). I've never heard of the very appropriately named COWBANE, but good to know if I ever go into the cattle business.
The SW is my favorite corner of the four. 33A: Tightener of locks (PERM) and 37A: Golf takeback, maybe (REPO) are two examples of great clues that did without question marks. 44A: Piano bar? (MEASURE) didn't take me in for a second (see above, with respect to my weekend activities). And the best of all? 29D: Shelled shill (MRPEANUT). Hah!
In the end, I enjoyed the corners, but didn't love the center.