A summer music bargain: 3 shows in 4 days, $10 each

This is one of the summer's best musical bargains in Lexington

Contributing Music WriterAugust 2, 2012 

Singer-songwriter Cheyenne Marie Mize of Louisville returns to Lexington on Saturday at Cosmic Charlie's.

MEAGAN JORDAN

With summer heading into the home stretch, we offer a sampling of shows for those on a budget: three performances, all local events, staged over four nights and each with an admission charge of only $10. But rest assured there is nothing cut-rate about the music at these outings.

Kenny Vaughan and Friends

7 p.m. Aug. 3 at Willie's Locally Known, 805 N. Broadway. $10. (859) 281-1116.

You don't often get second chances like this thrown your way so quickly. Yet, here we are with the second visit by Nashville guitarist Kenny Vaughan this summer.

A remarkably versed country-and-more guitar stylist, Vaughan has played local club shows in the bands of Allison Moorer and Kim Richey, toured in the late '90s with Lucinda Williams behind her landmark album Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, and has remained a member of country star Marty Stuart's band, the Fabulous Superlatives, for the past decade.

Vaughan slipped into town for the first time as a headliner a few months ago at the June Bug Festival, a single evening, multi-act benefit for Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital at Willie's Locally Known. His set shifted from the crisp, traditional fare of his fine solo album V to country staples including Ghost Riders in the Sky.

Vaughan returns to Willie's on Friday night. The show is essentially his this time, but he won't be alone. As with the June Bug benefit, he will perform with his own band and behind Nashville songsmith Sam Lewis. Local favorites Tula (also a holdover of June Bug) and Bluegrass Collective will round out the bill.

Cheyenne Marie Mize and Kelli Scarr

6 p.m. Aug. 4 at Cosmic Charlie's, 388 Woodland Ave. $10. (859) 309-9499. Cosmic-charlies.com.

Among the more arresting works on Louisvillian Cheyenne Marie Mize's recent EP, We Don't Need, is Don't Call Me Beautiful. The song is something of a setup. With a dark, rhythmic dirge as its backdrop, the song sounds inviting but ominous as it warns would-be suitors of the little monsters that can be unleashed when the wrong romantic words are applied.

"Don't call me beautiful," she sings in a subtle, starched voice. "You don't know how ugly I can be."

Not all of Mize's music is that cautionary. We Don't Need's lead tune, Wishing Well, sends the rhythms on a warmer, pop-soul course. But the intimacy of the narratives is seldom as contained as the music. Mize's recordings are invariably emotive and atmospheric. The story lines might have a confessional, folk singer's streak. But everything surrounding them is painted with broader, bolder emotive colors, making the mood and ambience of the music as striking as the lyrics.

A veteran of previous Lexington performances and of concerts by fellow Kentuckians Daniel Martin Moore and Ben Sollee when they toured behind their 2010 album, Dear Companion, Mize returns to showcase the music of We Don't Need and more with an early performance on Saturday at Cosmic Charlie's. Kelli Scarr will open.

'WoodSongs Old-Time Radio': Adam Cohen and Lac La Belle

7 p.m. Aug. 6 at the Kentucky Theatre. $10. Woodsongs.com.

Peruse the bio of Adam Cohen and you discover an artist with three albums of folkish reflection (each using different arrangement and production choices) and one, credited to the band Low Millions, of more overtly rockish fancy.

There is one other little detail. Cohen is the son of fabled folk poet Leonard Cohen. Such family relations can prove almost burdensome when trying to establish one's own sound and direction, so much so that the younger Cohen didn't perform a song written by his father until January 2007. Even then, he chose to sing the tune, Take This Waltz, in Spanish. But given that he was playing in Barcelona at the time, reason probably outweighed reluctance.

Listen to Adam Cohen today, and the family legacy is undeniable. The phrasing throughout his 2011 album, Like a Man, recalls the patient, purposeful intonations of his father. But the singing itself steers clear of the elder Cohen's sleepy, half-spoken moan. Like a Man instead reveals, especially in What Other Guy, a voice with a folkie's sense of narrative and a pop singer's gift of lyricism.

The younger Cohen makes his Lexington debut at Monday's taping of the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour. Also performing will be the Detroit folk duo Lac La Belle, which describes its music as "future-rustic," as it applies the traditional sounds of accordion, ukulele, banjo and dobro to more contemporary forms of songcraft.

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