Dan Baird & Homemade Sin
Dan Baird cut a song a few years back that sums up in two words and three chords everything you need to know about his music.
It’s fearlessly jovial (or jovially fearless, depending which of the two contrasting but never conflicting moods hit you the hardest), proudly electric and packed with enough volume that, given the proper amplification, it could be heard from an adjoining county.
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It’s rock ’n’ roll with a strong Southern sentiment, but it’s most decidedly not Southern Rock. It’s traditionally inclined but is in no way a museum piece, as the music packs relentless vigor and immediacy.
The name of the song is “Get Loud.” It became the title track to a splendid party piece of an album in 2015 with Baird’s road-warrior band Homemade Sin.
Know Baird’s name but have trouble placing it in pantheon of that dreaded radio purgatory known as “classic rock”? Well, flip back the calendar three decades, when Baird was everywhere as the vocalist, frontman and co-guitarist for the Georgia Satellites. Remember “Keep Your Hands to Yourself”? That’s our man Dan.
The world got to know his voice via the airwaves back then, but Lexington got a crash course in the Satellites as the band gained fame. It had the distinction of playing almost every size and type of venue our fair city had to offer at the time, from downtown club gigs at long-extinct haunts including The Bottom Line and Breeding’s to a near-legendary show at the University of Kentucky Student Center Ballroom in 1986 with Jason and the Scorchers that truly defined the concept of “get loud.” There also was a famed but oddly designed Rupp Arena bill with Hank Williams Jr. and Steve Wariner.
But that was the ’80s. Subsequent decades might have seen Baird’s radio presence subside, but not the drive and invention of his music. His 1996 solo album, “Buffalo Nickel,” didn’t so much alter the Satellites sound as widen the highway it roared down. Released at the height of a then-booming alt-country movement, the Brendan O’Brien-produced recording was Americana at heart, but pure scrappy, block-party rock ’n’ roll when it came to delivery. You heard it in originals like the Faces-flavored “Hit Me Like a Train” and a rewiring of the Deep Purple/Joe South hit “Hush” that replaced the original’s pop foundation with a deliciously cranky guitar grind.
Baird eventually found his way back to Lexington as part of the Americana collective The Yayhoos about the time of its way-underrated 2001 record “Fear Not the Obvious.” But Friday night brings us a live celebration of Baird’s decade-long leadership of Homemade Sin, a quartet that sports two longtime pals: drummer Mauro Magellan (from the original Georgia Satellities lineup) and guitarist Warner E. Hodges (the ear-crunching instrumental might behind Jason and the Scorchers, last seen here as a member of Drivin’ N’ Cryin’). Bassist Micke Nilsson, who joined in 2014, completes the current lineup.
The quartet heads to Willie’s Locally Known on the heels of “Rollercoaster,” an album released in late March. Place it alongside a Satellites album like 1989’s “In the Land of Salvation and Sin” and you will quickly hear how little has shifted through the years in Baird’s approach to rock ’n’ roll. The sound is cordial but coarse, with a roadhouse feel that is refreshingly unfashionable.
What’s especially cool is how the setlists at Baird’s recent shows with Homemade Sin are essentially career retrospectives. Expect songs from the Satellites days through early solo hits such as “I Love You Period” to music from “Buffalo Nickel” to “Rollercoaster” rockers like “Licka Sense.”
It’s been a full eight years since saxophonist Najee played the Opera House. That 2008 appearance had his contemporary jazz sound incorporating elements of R&B, Motown pop, R&B, ’80s-flavored fusion, funk and more. Although continually marketed as a “smooth jazz” stylist, he frequently took his strides outside of the genre. The most dramatic detours came with a flute and percussion piece that recalled ’60s-era Herbie Mann and an appropriately rockish take on the Beatles classic “Come Together.”
The double Grammy-winning Najee returns to the Lexington Opera House, 401 West Short Street, on Friday for a youth benefit concert presented by the Frankfort/Lexington Chapter of the Links Inc. (8 p.m.; $40-$100). Call 859-233-3535 or go to Lexingtonoperahouse.com for tickets.
One of country music’s most distinctive songwriter-turned-performers, Brandy Clark, plays twice in the region over the next few evenings in a stripped-down trio format, co-billed with instrumentalist and songwriter Charlie Worsham. The bill offers a full-length show Friday at the 20th Century Theatre, 3021 Madison Road in Cincinnati (8 p.m., $25), before heading to Lexington on Monday (April 10) for a recording of “The WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour” at the Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center, 300 East Third Street (6:45 p.m., $15).
Clark checks in with us to discuss her music, career and her place in the Nashville mainstream in Sunday’s Living section.