Walter Tunis: Decemberists Colin Meloy to perform at Headliners in Louisville

Contributing Music WriterNovember 7, 2013 

Colin Meloy, the frontman for the Decemberists, is to perform Saturday at Headliners in Louisville. The concert will feature a covers EP, Colin Meloy Sings the Kinks.

AUTUMN DE WILDE

Colin Meloy, Eleanor Friedberger

9 p.m. Nov. 9 at Headliners Music Hall, 1386 Lexington Rd., Louisville. 9 p.m.; $25, $28. (502) 584-8088. Headlinerslouisville.com.

Call it a coincidence. On the same Saturday that one of the Louisville area's most noteworthy rock exports returns for a concert in Lexington (Houndmouth's performance at Buster's, see Page 4), I am recommending a road trip to an altogether different kind of show in the River City.

On tap that night at Headliners in Louisville is a rare regional outing in which the leaders of two established pop troupes will perform on their own. Leading the solo charge will be Colin Meloy of The Decemberists.

For more than eight years, the Montana-born Meloy has interspersed the Decemberists' tours and recording projects with low-profile solo runs. To mark each tour, he has released an EP tribute record devoted to the music of a personally cherished artist. The recordings are strictly limited-release affairs and are sold only at Meloy's concerts. They then become extinct and, not surprisingly, sought-after collectibles for Decemberists die-hards.

The first, Colin Meloy Sings Morrissey, was released in 2005. Colin Meloy Sings Shirley Collins, devoted to the music of the famed British folk artist, followed in 2006 (as did the more widely distributed album-length Colin Meloy Sings Live!, which was composed mostly of Decemberists tunes). Colin Meloy Sings Sam Cooke surfaced in 2008.

The past few years have been devoted to touring behind the most recent Decemberists record, 2011's The King Is Dead (and its ensuing concert album, We All Raise Our Voices to the Air), the publication of the first two volumes in Meloy's novel series Under Wildwood (the third is slated for February) and the birth of his second child.

But this fall brings another solo tour and a fourth covers EP. Colin Meloy Sings The Kinks is a five-song tribute to the landmark British pop band. It's a fitting adventure. There is a wistfulness, animation and literary prowess about Meloy as a writer and vocalist that falls naturally in line with the songs and singing that Ray Davies fashioned over the decades with The Kinks. The only thing missing is the unshakeable British flair that was a signature element of Davies' work.

Meloy's current tour got underway last weekend. So far, his set lists have touched on a wealth of vintage Decemberists songs (The Engine Driver, Down by the Water, the three-part The Crane Wife), several new works and a Kinks tune or two.

Opening Saturday's performance will be Eleanor Friedberger. Better known as half of the brother-sister indie duo The Fiery Furnaces, Friedberger is touring behind her sophomore solo album, Personal Record, released in June.

As was the case with her 2011 solo debut, Last Summer, the Illinois native has designed a lean though not at all obvious pop fabric for the tunes on Personal Record.

Striking up the band

To our fine fortune, percussionist Mike Dillon has taken a liking to Lexington and the comfy club confines of Cosmic Charlie's, 388 Woodland Avenue.

Over the past few years, he has played there several times with the punked-up instrumental jazz/funk group The Dead Kenny Gs.

But he has performed more frequently with the Mike Dillon Band, a wonderfully playful quartet that mixes New Orleans second-line rhythms, a broader range of the bandleader's instrumental palette and some suitably brutish interplay. The drumming is left to Adam Gertner, which frees Dillon to focus more on vibraphone and other percussive colors. Trombonist Carly Meyers and bassist Patrick McDevitt round out the band.

The Jag will open Dillon's concert Sunday. (10 p.m. $10. (859) 309-9499. Cosmic-charlies.com.)

The 'Bama Boys

Monday's taping of the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour at the Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center, 300 East Third Street, offers a not-to-miss double bill. The program will feature the local solo debut of Ed Kowalcyzk, the voice behind the popular alt-rock troupe Live. Kowalcyzk discusses his after-Live career and new solo album, The Flood and the Mercy, in this weekend's Living Sunday.

The WoodSongs bill also will include the return of the multi-Grammy-winning Blind Boys of Alabama. The vocal ensemble, whose origins date to the late '30s, has enjoyed a remarkable career renaissance, beginning with the 2001 recording Spirit of the Century, by collaborating with numerous contemporary artists, discovering spiritual subtexts within a variety of non-gospel songs and injecting traditional spirituals with ageless, rootsy vigor.

I'll Find a Way, produced by Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver), is the newest Blind Boys recording. (6:45 p.m. Tickets, $20, are being sold through the Lyric's box office, (859) 280-2218 or Lexingtonlyric.com. Woodsongs.com.)

Walter Tunis is a Lexington-based writer and critic.

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