Opener: Aubrie Sellers. 8 p.m. Fri. at Waterfront Park, 300 East River Road, Louisville. $49.50. 800-745-3000. Bit.ly/2chVKKz.
We’re all for batting for the home team, mind you. And to be sure, there are plenty of concert options available in Lexington this weekend, including free performances Friday night and Saturday by Gin Blossoms and Fastball, respectively, at Christ the King Oktoberfest (see Page 4) along with Sunday’s not-to-miss acoustic music summit with Bela Fleck and Chris Thile at the Opera House (see Page 5). But even with that in mind, let us cast our ears up to our neighbors in Louisville and the home-state return of a celebrated native son.
Friday marks the first major headlining performance in the region by Chris Stapleton, the soul music-soaked country traditionalist still riding the accolades of 2015’s double Grammy (and multiple ACM, CMA, CMT and just about every other country music-related award)-winning album, “Traveller.”
It’s been a remarkable year already for the Lexington-born, Paintsville area-raised Stapleton. It began with a typically unassuming but artistically triumphant performance on “Saturday Night Live,” where he performed “Parachute” and “Nobody to Blame”, and it continued in February at the Grammy Awards, where he had already taken home trophies for best country album and best country solo performance before playing B.B. King’s signature tune, “The Thrill is Gone,” alongside Bonnie Raitt and Gary Clark Jr. as a tribute to the late bluesman.
All that and more sets the stage for his Nov. 2 return to the Country Music Association Awards, where last year he won all three awards he was nominated for: best new artist, male vocalist and album of the year. The wins and a duet performance with Justin Timberlake of George Jones’ “Tennessee Whiskey” and Timberlake’s “Drink You Away” launched Stapleton from a critics’ darling to commercial sensation. Stapleton is up for five CMA Awards this year, including honors for entertainer, song, single, male vocalist and music video of the year. He also was nominated with his wife, Morgane Stapleton, for her interpretation of “You Are My Sunshine” from the Dave Cobb-curated concept album “Southern Family.”
Stapleton is no performance stranger to his home state. Beforehis solo career, he was a frequent visitor in Lexington at Cosmic Charlie’s with his more electrically inclined band, The Jompson Brothers. There also was an in-store acoustic set at CD Central just days after the release of “Traveller” in May 2015. Additionally, Louisville managed to snag him for a Forecastle performance that July.
Aubrie Sellers, daughter of veteran country-Americana singer Lee Ann Womack, will open Friday night’s Waterfront Park concert in Louisville. Gates open at 6:30 p.m.
St. Paul and the Broken Bones
Explosions in the Sky
Why not make a weekend of it in Louisville with two more recommended shows at the Iroquois Amphitheater?
Saturday marks the return of St. Paul and the Broken Bones, the Birmingham, Ala., soul music troupe that finally, finally, finally is set to release its follow-up to 2014’s “Half the City” album. The sophomore release (excluding a pair of EPs) is titled “Sea Of Noise” and hits record stores Friday. Last week’s performance of the album’s song “All I Ever Wonder” on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” sent singer Paul Janeway into the audience of the Ed Sullivan Theatre, turning the performance into a cross between a vintage soul revue and a tent revival.
Finally, we have a Sunday outing by rock instrumentalists Explosions in the Sky.
The Austin, Texas, quartet is distinctive is its non-singing stance, neither jam band-oriented nor dance-directed in nature. There is plenty of groove, but also considerable space, texture, melodic variety and, best of all, compositional ingenuity that greatly alters the mood of its music. It can be beat-savvy one moment and then melt into cinematic ambience the next. It’s highly recommended for anyone with a thirst for something different.