Bourbon and Beyond
Midpoint Music Fest
Summer is now officially kaput, but festival season still has a chorus or two left before wrapping up 2017. This weekend, Louisville and Cincinnati do battle again with two of the year’s final festival events. One is a high-profile, inaugural outing. The other a comparatively low key undertaking that takes most of its activity indoors.
Louisville’s offering is called Bourbon and Beyond, a two day undertaking that proclaims “For our love of bourbon, for our love of Kentucky” as its motto. As the name implies, bourbon distillers and food offerings from numerous Louisville restaurants will be out in force at Champions Park along River Road on Saturday and Sunday. But let’s take a look at the ridiculously plentiful live music lineup.
Unlike the predominantly new-generation feel the Forecastle Festival generates downtown every July, Bourbon and Beyond is opting for a slightly older demographic. Hence, the program boasts the Steve Miller Band, Amos Lee, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, ZZ Ward, Shawn James and the Shapeshifters and Dave Cavalier (on the Oak Stage) with Eddie Vedder, Band of Horses, Buddy Guy, the Chris Robinson Brotherhood and Fantastic Negrito (on the Barrel Stage) on Saturday. Stevie Nicks, Paul Rodgers, G. Love and Special Sauce, Nikki Lane and — get this — Keifer Sutherland (Oak Stage) with Joe Bonamassa, Gary Clark Jr., Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, Jonny Lang and Caitlyn Smith (Barrel Stage) take over on Sunday.
The festival will also sport three smaller stages, including one devoted exclusively to bluegrass. The latter will present sets by Town Mountain (on Sunday) and Lexington’s own NewTown (both days). For a full schedule of performers and showtimes, go to bourbonandbeyond.com/schedule.
In the mood for an event that is smaller, more indie rock minded and suitable to the great indoors? Try check out the Midoint Music Fest, which commands a total of four performance stages within the Taft Theatre and the neighboring Masonic Center in downtown Cincinnati.
Saturday’s headliners include Broken Social Scene, Citizen, and Frightened Rabbit at the Taft with The New Pornographers, Valerie June and Filthy Friends at the Masonic Center. Topping the bill on Sunday will be Walk the Moon, Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 and Flint Eastwood at the Taft with Badbadnotgood, Aaron Lee Tasjan and Mandolin Orange at the Masonic Center.
For a full schedule go to MPMF.com/schedule.
The Canadian invasion
▪ At long last, Rufus Wainwright is making his way to Lexington for a Sept. 27 performance at the Lexington Opera House, 401 West Short Street. Over the past two decades, the Montreal-based singer and composer has become one of the more versatile song stylists of his generation by penning numerous albums of original works, collaborating with countless other performers, composing operas and, on his newest album, “Take All My Loves,” devising music for nine Shakespearean sonnets. What are you in for, then, on Wednesday? Most likely a Gershwin tune or two, a nod to Judy Garland and masterful Wainwright originals like “Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk.” (7:30 p.m.; $45.50-$55.50). Call 859-233-3535 or go to Lexingtonoperahouse.com.
▪ Decision time, folks. The same evening Wainwright plays downtown, another champion Canadian songsmith comes to the University of Kentucky campus. Specifically, Gordon Lightfoot returns to the Singletary Center for the Arts, 405 Rose Street. As a vocalist and songwriter, Lightfoot helped define the role of the folk-pop artist in the late ’60s, ’70s and much of the ’80s through a strongly consistent string of albums for the United Artists and Warner Bros. labels as well as the signature hits “Early Morning Rain,” “If You Could Read My Mind and “Sundown.” The Sept. 27 concert coincides with the release this week of his authorized biography, “Lightfoot” by Nicholas Jennings (8 p.m., $45-$65). Call 859-257-4929 or go to Etix.com.
The other Young
For 36 years, Pegi Young helped organize yearly benefit concerts for the Bridge School, the California school that she co-founded that serves children with severe speech and physical conditions (her son Ben was born with cerebral palsy). But Young has also been at the helm of her own music career, which saw the release of four albums over the past decade. Her newest record, ‘Raw,’ takes its cue from the unraveling of emotions that occurred after the 2014 divorce from her husband, Neil Young, after 36 years of marriage. She will bring those songs to life with a Sept, 26 performance at the Green Lantern, 497 West Third Street, backed by her band The Survivors. The group roster boasts several significant names, including veteran keyboardist Spooner Oldham and Drive-By Trucker bass alum Shonna Tucker (9 p.m., $10). Call 859-252-9539.