Walter Tunis: After Thanksgiving, local and regional acts ready to entertain

Contributing Music WriterNovember 21, 2012 

Matt Duncan, who contributed to the 10 in 20 project, plays Cosmic Charlie's on Saturday.



    Chris Isaak at the Singletary Center for the Arts: "Ladies and gentlemen, you are in for some real semi-professional entertainment," remarked Isaak. With that, the veteran West Coast singer and song stylist strolled into the audience to shake a few hands, sit on a few laps and sing the summery '60s-flavored nugget Think of Tomorrow. As semi-pro moments go, it was quite something.

    As he did at the Singletary two years ago, Isaak called on the spirits of pop inspirations past, the drive of a resourceful support quintet, a stage persona draped in glammed-up cool and a hearty sense of wit.

    Isaak's music has long maintained a pronounced retro cast in design and delivery, but nothing in this performance seemed like a museum piece. The show-opening American Boy operated as a sleek pop rumble, San Francisco Days abounded with springlike lyricism, and the more overtly sensual Dancin' worked as a studied groove meditation.

    But the show also was full of mood pieces that neatly utilized the retro accents. A beautiful example came early into the program via the 1986 Isaak gem Blue Hotel. It opened with noir-flavored ambience — much in the same way his signature hit Wicked Game did later in the program — before stretching out into acres of fuzzy twang supplied by guitarist Hershel Yatovitz.

    Isaak addressed the rootsier side of his pop and rock heritage with a segment of vintage Memphis-style covers from his 2011 album Beyond the Sun. While he obviously reveled in the clean, elemental drive of Dixie Fried and Live It Up, the performance was more satisfying when it embraced the expert ways Isaak fashioned such references into his own music. Case in point: the sly, Slim Harpo blues groove that bolstered Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing.

    Lexington's own roots troupe Coralee and the Townies opened with a potent 30-minute set of vintage-flavored honky-tonk fortified with rockbilly-esque guitar harmonies, a vivid country-colored vocal charge and, near its conclusion, an unexpected but complementary reggae groove. It all made for a satisfying prelude to this stylish retro-roots soiree.

By Friday, Thanksgiving will have come and gone. The thanks will have been given, the feast consumed. Now it's time to get out of the house and enjoy some fine locally and regionally grown music. Here are a few of the plentiful holiday weekend sounds at hand:

■ One of Lexington's finest pop stylists, Matt Duncan, performs at Cosmic Charlie's, 388 Woodland Avenue, on Saturday. A veteran of the fine 2010 EP Beacon, Duncan is also featured with a slice of brass-accented pop called All Sails on the new 10 in 20 compilation of local artists. You may view the tune's construction at Shangri-la studios on a video posted at the project's website, Or better yet, watch it unfurl live on Saturday. Street Gnar and Fanged Robot will open. (10 p.m, $5. (859) 309-9499.

■ Natasha's Bistro, 112 Esplanade, has the Kentucky folk bases covered this weekend. On Friday, Appalachian folk stylist, groove merchant and activist Mitch Barrett holds court, with daughter Zoey Barrett as show opener. (9 p.m. $8. (859) 259-2754. On Saturday, Tall, Dark and Handsome, the long-running spinoff of Reel World String Band, performs with help from bassist Ricky Baldwin and mandolinist George Neel. (8 p.m. $8.)

■ I would love to tell you Neil Young is playing in town this weekend. Instead, let's shoot for the next best thing. On Saturday, a full roster of local and regional acts heads to Willie's Locally Known, 805 North Broadway, to perform, hootenanny-style, their favorite of Young's songs. The music will be all Neil all night, but the artists will be Central Kentucky faves Ancient Warfare, Killer Meteor, The Swells, The Blueberries, The Kentucky Hoss Cats and The Other Brothers. (9 p.m. $10. (859) 281-1116.

Jazztet release show

Even more than its stellar instrumental drive, what has remained most striking about the jazz sounds of Lexington's Osland/Dailey Jazztet has been its compositions.

Unlike the more traditionally structured large-ensemble swing that has long been a specialty of saxophonist/flutist Miles Osland, the jazztet is a pared-down quartet boasting a concise, contemporary sound, often reminiscent of bands like Yellowjackets, built around the compositions of pianist/keyboardist Raleigh Dailey.

The group's new album, The Mendoza Line, offers 13 Dailey tunes that shift from Beulah Road, a bright shuffle with a modest gospel feel that places piano and alto sax at the forefront of its sunny mix, to The Linden Walk, a tune with an obvious local reference and a playful melodic bounce, to Jules Verne, on which the warm lyricism is enforced by flute and Rhodes-style keyboards.

Osland, Dailey, bassist Danny Cecil and new drummer Paul Deatherage celebrate the release of The Mendoza Line with a performance Tuesday at Natasha's. (9 p.m. $8.)

Black Friday blues

In all likelihood, the last thing you need this weekend is another endorsement of that black hole of holiday commerce known as Black Friday. But hear us out.

Black Friday also has been utilized in the past few years as a sort as autumn ally of Record Store Day, the spring celebration of limited-edition recordings sold only through independent record stores. It's all part of an effort to boost awareness of the neighborhood record shop, a cornerstone of regional music communities that has become an endangered species in the digital age.

Locally, CD Central and Pops Retail will be participating in Record Store Day's Black Friday offshoot. For sale during the event will be limited-edition vinyl releases from My Morning Jacket, Lucero, John Mayer, The Grateful Dead, Skrillex and more. The complete list is available at

In true Black Friday fashion, Pops will be opening early. Instead of the usual 11 a.m., the store says on its website that it plans to open at 10:57:17.

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