Walter Tunis: Pomegranates makes way to Lexington from Cincinnati, which plays host to Scott Weiland

Pomegranates makes way to Lexington from Cincy, which plays host to Scott Weiland

Contributing Music WriterMarch 21, 2013 

Pomegranates consists of, from left, Isaac Karns, Joey Cook, Jacob Merritt and Curt Kiser.

COURTESY OF POMEGRANATES

  • THE WEEK THAT WAS

    Grégoire Maret Quartet at Centre College's Norton Center for the Arts in Danville: The initial runs Grégoire Maret played on the harmonica at the Norton Center's Weisiger Theatre shot through the surrounding music like rays of sunshine. Warm in tone, subtle in temperament and largely conversational in construction, Maret's melodies lifted the show-opening Crepuscule Suite out of its synthesized cocoon and set in motion a summery stride that ran largely unabated for 90 minutes.

    Throughout the performance, Maret also established bold parameters for the chromatic scales of the harmonica. He stripped the instrument of its rural stereotypes and made it sound positively European, save for the occasional Brazilian and Caribbean flourishes.

    It was hard not to think of the mentoring inspiration of the iconic Toots Thielemans during the more lyrical passages of Lucilla's Dream or the Americanized pop-soul exuberance of Stevie Wonder in The Secret Life of Plants, a pastoral revision of an unheralded Wonder instrumental. But the guiding influence seemed to the Pat Metheny Group — hardly a surprise given that Maret and his bassist, Ben Williams, were Metheny protégés.

    The Metheny touches surfaced first through the textured instrumentation of Federico Gonzalez Peña, whose often simultaneous balance of electric keyboards and acoustic piano not only recalled the cunning of longtime Metheny sidekick Lyle Mays but the textured orchestration of the Metheny Group's more popular recordings. When Maret stepped into the mix, his quartet's multicultural charm ignited while his instrument sounded less like a harmonica and more like an accordion.

    Everything was polite and tasteful, from engaging dialogues between Maret and Peña to an extended, engaging acoustic bass solo late in the set from Williams (he played clean, Jaco Pastorius-like phrases on electric bass for the rest of the performance). But during the show-closing Manha du Sol, Maret almost literally locked horns with drummer/Yellowjackets alumnus Marcus Baylor, leaning in over and around the drum kit to feed off the tireless drive of his bandmate. It was an exchange full of drama and physicality, but one that was much in keeping with the warm, textural and emotive music Maret conjured out of an instrument no bigger than his fist.

Pomegranates, The Soil and the Sun, Kellen and Me, sol cat

10 p.m. March 23 at Cosmic Charlie's, 388 Woodland Ave, $8 in advance, $10 day of show. (859) 309-9499, Cosmic-charlies.com.

I regularly suggest weekend trips to Cincinnati for concerts. In fact, in a moment I have just such a show to detail for you. But imagine, for once, having a prime pop pick from Cincy making its way to Lexington.

It used to happen with frequency, dating back to the '90s when bands including Afghan Whigs, psychodots and, more recently, Over the Rhine made their way to local clubs. This weekend, the connection is reestablished with a visit by Pomegranates.

A troupe of self-professed "art-pop" purveyors following the paths of such pioneers as Talking Heads and, in his less ambient moments, Brian Eno, the band's four members — founders Jacob Merritt (vocals, drums) and Isaac Karns (guitar, bass), and more recent recruits Joey Cook (vocals, keyboards and guitar) and Curt Kiser (bass) — have garnered favorable press from the likes of Spin magazine for their albums Everything Is Alive, Everybody Come Outside! and One of Us.

What does all that boil down to? Expect a band with a suitably rugged guitar makeup, a playful sense of multigenerational psychedelia (from early '70s Beach Boys to present-day Flaming Lips) and a sense of songcraft that works, despite the sometimes ruptured results, from a purely pop foundation.

Best of all, you can catch that entire sound at Cosmic Charlie's without the road trip north. But if you feel guilty about the loss of drive time, you can always take a stroll along Interstate 75 on Friday for ...

Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts

8:30 p.m. March 22 at Bogart's, 2621 Vine St. in Cincinnati. $25. (513) 872-8801. Bogarts.com.

Here's the flip side of the weekend exchange for those compelled to visit Cincy on the weekend that Cincy visits Lexington.

But let's put our cards on the table with this one. Taking in a Scott Weiland concert, regardless of where it occurs, is like going to a NASCAR race. For many, there is a genuine interest in the artist at hand. And at his best, Weiland is a thoroughly compelling performer and rock stylist. Case in point: a 2002 Derby Week show in Louisville when the singer and the band that took him to stardom, Stone Temple Pilots, meshed '90s grunge with '70s Pink Floyd psychedelia.

But there are always those few who anticipate — and perhaps even hope for — a crash. And if any rock star seemed ripe for an implosion in 2013, it was Weiland.

STP issued a news release in late February stating that the singer had been fired from the band. Weiland came back with this response: "Not sure how I can be 'terminated' from a band that I founded, fronted and co-wrote many of its biggest hits, but that's something for the lawyers to figure out."

Weiland's previously booked Purple at the Core Tour with his side band The Wildabouts began this month. It's been a rocky road thus far. He challenged an audience member to a fight during at show at Irving Plaza in New York and explained a tardy start to a performance at the Sands Bethlehem Event Center in Pennsylvania by saying, "I had to watch The Hobbit." Said one reviewer: "I am still not sure he was kidding."

Truly, anything is possible at a Weiland show. A previous Bogart's concert, which came after an earlier split with STP, boasted the esteemed producer/guitarist Daniel Lanois in his band. So the potential for greatness is there. Then again, there could be wreckage.


THE WEEK THAT WAS

Grégoire Maret Quartet at Centre College's Norton Center for the Arts in Danville: The initial runs Grégoire Maret played on the harmonica at the Norton Center's Weisiger Theatre shot through the surrounding music like rays of sunshine. Warm in tone, subtle in temperament and largely conversational in construction, Maret's melodies lifted the show-opening Crepuscule Suite out of its synthesized cocoon and set in motion a summery stride that ran largely unabated for 90 minutes.

Throughout the performance, Maret also established bold parameters for the chromatic scales of the harmonica. He stripped the instrument of its rural stereotypes and made it sound positively European, save for the occasional Brazilian and Caribbean flourishes.

It was hard not to think of the mentoring inspiration of the iconic Toots Thielemans during the more lyrical passages of Lucilla's Dream or the Americanized pop-soul exuberance of Stevie Wonder in The Secret Life of Plants, a pastoral revision of an unheralded Wonder instrumental. But the guiding influence seemed to the Pat Metheny Group — hardly a surprise given that Maret and his bassist, Ben Williams, were Metheny protégés.

The Metheny touches surfaced first through the textured instrumentation of Federico Gonzalez Peña, whose often simultaneous balance of electric keyboards and acoustic piano not only recalled the cunning of longtime Metheny sidekick Lyle Mays but the textured orchestration of the Metheny Group's more popular recordings. When Maret stepped into the mix, his quartet's multicultural charm ignited while his instrument sounded less like a harmonica and more like an accordion.

Everything was polite and tasteful, from engaging dialogues between Maret and Peña to an extended, engaging acoustic bass solo late in the set from Williams (he played clean, Jaco Pastorius-like phrases on electric bass for the rest of the performance). But during the show-closing Manha du Sol, Maret almost literally locked horns with drummer/Yellowjackets alumnus Marcus Baylor, leaning in over and around the drum kit to feed off the tireless drive of his bandmate. It was an exchange full of drama and physicality, but one that was much in keeping with the warm, textural and emotive music Maret conjured out of an instrument no bigger than his fist.

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