HeadHunters play for the love of vinyl

Contributing Music WriterApril 17, 2014 

The Kentucky Headhunters, from left: Greg Martin, brothers Fred and Richard Young, and Doug Phelps. The band will give a brief, free concert Saturday at CD Central.

©2012 HERALD-LEADER Buy Photo

The Kentucky HeadHunters

1:30 p.m. April 19 at CD Central, 377 S. Limestone, for Record Store Day. Free. (859) 233-3472. CDcentralmusic.com.

6 p.m. April 19 at Frankfort Convention Center, 405 Mero St. in Frankfort with Borrowed Blue. $20. (502) 564-5335. Guardmemorial.com.

How much does Greg Martin buy into the lasting fascination of the vinyl record? Well, when we caught up with the mainstay guitarist of the Kentucky HeadHunters, he was killing time in Bowling Green while an on-the-fritz turntable was being tended to at a repair shop.

"I was playing Jo Jo Gunne on it last night and it froze up on me," he said.

But before heading home to Glasgow, he was contemplating one more stop.

"I've got a friend who runs a used-record store," Martin said. "I'm thinking of stopping by just to see what he picked up today."

Such remarks reveal two traits: a devotion to late 1960s/early '70s guitar-centric rock (Jo Jo Gunne was the '70s spinoff of the great '60s band Spirit), which abounds in the playing that Martin has injected into recordings by the HeadHunters over the past 25 years, and an equal love of the vinyl records, stereos and all things that made rock 'n' roll, literally, go around.

Both elements come into play Saturday with two area HeadHunters performances. The first will be an abbreviated in-store performance at CD Central for Record Store Day, the annual celebration of the vinyl format and the indie retail outlets that honor it. The second will be a full-length, arena-sized headlining concert at Frankfort Convention Center — the second in a series of benefit shows for the Kentucky National Guard Memorial Fund.

"We all grew up with the vinyl record," Martin said of himself and fellow HeadHunters Richard Young, Fred Young and Doug Phelps. "And we all grew up going to various indie record stores in our youth. We know the importance of the indies staying alive.

"I still have a huge CD collection, but I also never got rid my original vinyl. Being a musician back in the day, that was the way I figured out how to play songs and figured out Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton stuff. I bet I've got about 10 receivers and about three turntables hooked up at home."

Word of Martin's vinyl obsession has gotten out at home, too. He said he just acquired an LP copy of Moby Grape's 1968 Wow/Grape Jam album from, of all people, his chiropractor.

"I'm going to listen to all of that tonight when I get home," he said.

"When you get back into listening to vinyl, when you take the record out of the cover carefully, look at all the liner notes ... it's just a great experience. It's about sitting back, listening to music and enjoying it. It's art."

The HeadHunters will be one of five bands performing Saturday at CD Central. The complete lineup features Shawnthony Calypso at 12:30 p.m., The Kentucky HeadHunters at 1:30 p.m., Warren Byrom and the Fabled Canelands at 2:30 p.m., Vegan Death at 3:30 p.m. and Summer Smoke at 4:30 p.m.

As always, with Record Store Day comes the single-day release of dozens of collectible vinyl recordings by all manner of major label and indie artists, including The Animals and Young the Giant.

What Record Store Day release is Martin eyeing especially?

"The vinyl reissue of Little Games by The Yardbirds," he says. "I'm just an addict when it comes to this stuff — just over-the-top crazy."

Chicago Underground Duo

11 p.m. April 18 at Natasha's Bistro. 112 Esplanade. $6 public, free to University of Kentucky students. (859) 259-2754. Beetnik.com.

Fred Lonberg-Holm/Michael Zerang/Christoph Erb

8 p.m. April 22 at the Rasdall Gallery of the UK Student Center. $5 public, free to UK students.

The 12-year-old Outside the Spotlight Series of improvised music performances is in the midst of one of its busiest runs to date — five shows staged at five venues in little more than a month.

The second concert in the streak brings the series back to Natasha's Bistro tonight after a prolonged absence. On tap will be the Chicago Undergroud Duo, a 17-year collective that sometimes morphs into a trio, quartet and full free-jazz orchestra. Tonight, the troupe's mainstay members — cornet and electronics stylist Rob Mazurek and percussionist Chad Taylor — will perform as a duo in honor of their seventh album together, Locus.

Then on Tuesday, OTS shifts over to the UK Student Center's Rasdall Gallery for an improvised trio concert by cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and percussionst Michael Zerang (both fellow Chicago players) along with Swiss reed player Christoph Erb.

Lonberg-Holm was in Lexington last month when the current OTS concert run began with the trio Ballister.

The OTS hot streak concludes with Ken Vandermark's Made to Break at The Bazaar on April 28 and FreeK at UK's Tuska Gallery on April 30..

Walter Tunis is a Lexington-based writer and critic.

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