Opening: Brother Smith. 8:30 p.m. Aug. 25 at Burl, 375 Thompson Rd. $10-$12. 859-447-8166. Theburlky.com.
Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver
Also appearing: Old Salt Union. 6:45 p.m. Aug. 28 at the Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center, 300 E. Third St., for “The WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour.” $10. 859-280-2218. Lexingtonlyric.tix.com.
With the Moontower Music Festival taking over Masterson Station Park this weekend (See Pages 12 and 13) and Red, White & Boom commandeering Whitaker Bank Ballpark for a three-night run over the Labor Day break, one might not think that the summer festival season was drawing to a close. But for bluegrass music, which thrives in the great outdoors throughout Central Kentucky during the summer months, the end is essentially here.
That hardly spells the end of live string music, though. Starting this weekend, bluegrass heads indoors with two immensely recommended, bargain-priced performances.
The first is a headlining show on Friday night with Lexington’s own Newtown at The Burl.
Kati Penn, Junior Williams and the rest of Newtown — touring behind its fine 2016 album, “Harlan Road” — play ahead of what is already shaping up to be a full fall touring schedule. In September, the band has several high-profile performances to look forward to, including stops at the Kickin’ It on the Creek Festival in Irvine, the inaugural Bourbon & Beyond Festival in Louisville (where the headliners will include non-bluegrass stars the Steve Miller Band, Eddie Vedder and Stevie Nicks) and a showcase set for the International Bluegrass Music Association in Raleigh, N.C.
The Burl show also will feature the very young Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky country-soul troupe Brother Smith.
Then on Monday, Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver return to “The WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour.” Lawson, 73, has been a longtime veteran of regional bluegrass festivals, including the Sunday morning gospel session for the Festival of the Bluegrass before relinquishing the spot to Dry Branch Fire Squad. Most of the group’s recent appearances in the area have consisted of indoor shows.
That should sit just fine with Lexington audiences. Lawson was a club regular during the very early 1970s with J.D. Crowe as the Kentucky Mountain Boys at the long-defunct Martin’s. But it is with his succession of harmony-rich Quicksilver bands that Lawson has gained his biggest notoriety.
His newest record, “Life is a Story,” continues the Tennessee native’s Kentucky connection. It boasts a version of “Little Girl,” a Harley Allen composition that became a No. 1 country hit for John Michael Montgomery in late 2000. “Life is a Story” has a lot to live up to, though. Lawson’s last two Quicksilver albums, “In Session” and “Burden Bearer,” were both nominated for Grammy Awards.
The Monday bill also will feature Old Salt Union, an ensemble out of Belleville, Ill. The band’s bio offers this intriguing description of its makeup: “Old Salt Union is a string band founded by a horticulturist, cultivated by classically trained musicians, and fueled by a vocalist-bass player who is also a hip-hop producer with a fondness for the Four Freshmen.”
Mule and Smoke
With the opportunities for summer road trips rapidly vanishing, we offer this recommendation as a way to cap the weekend and, perhaps, the season. Take a Sunday (Aug. 27) drive to one of region’s more inviting outdoor concert venues — Iroquois Amphitheater, 1080 Amphitheater Road in Louisville — for a rocking bill featuring Gov’t Mule and Blackberry Smoke (7 p.m. $38-$53). Both have been strong concert draws in Lexington and Louisville for years.
Guitar dynamo Warren Haynes and his Gov’t Mule wrecking crew are on the road supporting their new album, “Revolution Come… Revolution Go,” a record laced with political urgency, all manner of guitar-rock expression and a dash of New Orleans funk. Blackberry Smoke smoked late night television last week by performing the riff-heavy “Waiting for the Thunder,” from its new record, “Like an Arrow,” on the “Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” For tickets, call 502-368-5865 or go to Iroquoisamphitheater.com.