Walter Tunis: Terrapin Hill festival offers usual prime assortment of jam and groove

Contributing Music WriterSeptember 5, 2013 

Dumpstaphunk's (left to right) Ivan Neville, Nikki Glaspie, Ian Neville, Nick Daniels III and Tony Hall revel in psychedelic pop and soul.

  • THE WEEK THAT WAS

    Lyle Lovett and his Large Band at the Lexington Opera House: "You all are so lucky to live here," Lyle Lovett said at the onset of this typically versed and versatile performance. "Of course, this is an assumption on my part."

    Assumptions have always been tricky things with Lovett. Raised on the champion folk and country songwriting inspirations of his native Texas, he long ago made his tunes — which shift dramatically from the wry and acerbic to the dark and reflective — dance to Lone Star honky-tonk, jazz, vintage soul and stark Americana. When he performs with his Large Band, as he did here, all of those elements leap to life.

    The performance was a familiar career retrospective. You knew the gospel strut of Church was coming. You knew the classic murder reverie L.A. County was going to hit. And Lovett wasn't about to leave out Here I Am ("if it's not too late, make it ... a cheeeeeseburger"). As Lovett shows go, it was practically a scripted affair. But why argue when you're presented with a 2¾-hour set (which did not break for intermission) full of Lovett favorites and a 13-member band that was half honky-tonk orchestra and half swing symphony?

    Taking the stage with Black and Blue (after the Large Band's instrumental prelude of The Blues Walk), Lovett adopted the persona of the offhandedly stylish troubadour that remains a comfortable fit for seedy gems like She's No Lady, I Know You Know and What Do You Do. All three tunes had Lovett exhibiting a crooked level of crooning that fell somewhere between cool and creepy. The whole mix was nicely fortified by the hushed, brassy finesse of the Large Band's four-man horn team.

    But that was just one avenue the performance traveled down. The title track to 2003's My Baby Don't Tolerate luxuriated in a massive, almost orchestral blues groove, while I Will Rise Up (from 2007's It's Not Big, It's Large album) became a slow, simmering incantation. Best of all was If I Were the Man You Wanted (from Lovett's 1986's self-titled debut), which de-emphasized the R&B overtones and remained a stately portrait of Lone Star country introspection.

Terrapin Hill Harvest Festival

Through Sept. 8 at Terrapin Hill Farm, 3696 Mackville Rd., Harrodsburg. $50 single-day admission, $90 for entire festival. (859) 734-7207. Terrapinhillfarm.com/festival.

It is harvest time in Harrodsburg. Down around Terrapin Hill Farm, that translates into one of the fall's first great music festivals: the Terrapin Hill Harvest Festival, an annual summit of jam and groove bands.

The four-day event actually got under way Thursday, but will get down (literally) to sustained business Friday and Saturday with performances by Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band, Vessel and Mojoflo on Friday; Hot Buttered Rum, Bawn in the Mash and Stonewheel on Saturday; and Matuto and David Gans on both days. A coda session on Sunday by the Very Garcia Band and The Pranksters will close the festival out.

Every fall, though, one act tends to stand out at Terrapin Hill either by artistic reputation or simply as a marquee name. This year, that band is Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk.

Neville, of course, comes from one of America's most celebrated musical families. He is the son of pop legend Aaron Neville. That makes him nephew of The Neville Brothers, the sibling act that came to define New Orleans soul and carnival funk. Ivan Neville has toured extensively with his uncles, as well as with Keith Richards, Bonnie Raitt and the Spin Doctors and boasts enough recording credentials to fill a phone book.

All of that came before Dumpstafunk became the keyboardist/vocalist's primary focus in 2003. A performance at Buster's during the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games revealed grooves, sometimes fortified by two bassists, that were hardly contained to New Orleans. In fact, the band's most distinguished influence was not the mighty Neville Brothers funk, but the broader, psychedelic pop and soul pioneered by Sly and the Family Stone.

The Families Stone and Neville have plenty of elbow room on Dirty Word, a new Dumpstafunk album that surfaced in late July. The vocal tradeoffs Neville engages in with Ani Difranco during the album-opening title tune are full of Sly Stone-inspired fun. But a full-blown New Orleans house party erupts when uncle Art Neville, the Rebirth Brass Band and Trombone Shorty join in for the album-closing Raise the House.

For a full schedule of the Terrapin Hill festival, visit Terrapinhillfarm/festival.

In other Neville news, papa Aaron will be performing a jazz-pop oriented concert at Frankfort's Grand Theatre on Sept. 30. His quintet will include brother Charles Neville on saxophone. For info, go to Grandtheatrefrankfort.org.

Bluegrass awakes

The fall-to-spring series of Saturday bluegrass shows at the Meadowgreen Park Music Hall in Clay City is weeks away from launch. But the venue's Fall Festival, organized by the Kentucky Friends of Bluegrass Music Club Inc., will get the string sounds rolling this weekend.

The festival at Meadowgreen Park, 303 Bluegrass Lane in Clay City, will present two days of sets by many of the regional artists who play with national touring acts when the Music Hall series get underway.

Performing Friday will be New Balance Bluegrass, Wilderness Trail and Southern Blend. Saturday has The Glen Ritchie Band, Tommy Brown & County Line Grass, Common Ground, The Tommy Webb Band and The Kirby Knob Boys. Both days will feature American Drive.

Admission each day is $20. For a schedule, camping info and more, call (606) 663-9008 or go to Kyfriends.com.

Back so soon?

Roughly six weeks have passed since The David Mayfield Parade lit up a summer Saturday at the Master Musicians Festival in Somerset. On Wednesday, Mayfield parades his Americana-inclined, psychedelic laced bluegrass-country tunes back through Lexington for a performance at Cosmic Charlie's, 388 Woodland Avenue. If you haven't heard it yet, Mayfield's recently released sophomore album, Good Man Down, is a genre-busting set of acerbic songs fueled by folk precision and a carnival-style vision. (10 p.m. $10. (859) 309-9499. Cosmic-charlies.com.)


THE WEEK THAT WAS

Lyle Lovett and his Large Band at the Lexington Opera House: "You all are so lucky to live here," Lyle Lovett said at the onset of this typically versed and versatile performance. "Of course, this is an assumption on my part."

Assumptions have always been tricky things with Lovett. Raised on the champion folk and country songwriting inspirations of his native Texas, he long ago made his tunes — which shift dramatically from the wry and acerbic to the dark and reflective — dance to Lone Star honky-tonk, jazz, vintage soul and stark Americana. When he performs with his Large Band, as he did here, all of those elements leap to life.

The performance was a familiar career retrospective. You knew the gospel strut of Church was coming. You knew the classic murder reverie L.A. County was going to hit. And Lovett wasn't about to leave out Here I Am ("if it's not too late, make it ... a cheeeeeseburger"). As Lovett shows go, it was practically a scripted affair. But why argue when you're presented with a 2¾-hour set (which did not break for intermission) full of Lovett favorites and a 13-member band that was half honky-tonk orchestra and half swing symphony?

Taking the stage with Black and Blue (after the Large Band's instrumental prelude of The Blues Walk), Lovett adopted the persona of the offhandedly stylish troubadour that remains a comfortable fit for seedy gems like She's No Lady, I Know You Know and What Do You Do. All three tunes had Lovett exhibiting a crooked level of crooning that fell somewhere between cool and creepy. The whole mix was nicely fortified by the hushed, brassy finesse of the Large Band's four-man horn team.

But that was just one avenue the performance traveled down. The title track to 2003's My Baby Don't Tolerate luxuriated in a massive, almost orchestral blues groove, while I Will Rise Up (from 2007's It's Not Big, It's Large album) became a slow, simmering incantation. Best of all was If I Were the Man You Wanted (from Lovett's 1986's self-titled debut), which de-emphasized the R&B overtones and remained a stately portrait of Lone Star country introspection.

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