The ‘Lectric Wooks
Opening: The Other Brothers. 9 p.m. Dec. 31 at Cosmic Charlie’s. $25, $35.
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How appropriate that The Wooks will close out 2017 with not one performance but a pair of very different bashes at Cosmic Charlie’s. Both will cement a period of considerable growth and change for the Lexington string-music troupe.
First, a quick review. With the release of its debut album, “Little Circles,” in 2016, The Wooks built on a national profile that mounted through a regular alliance with established ensembles Town Mountain, based in Asheville, N.C. The Wooks’ visibility grew further this year after winding up a finalist in the Telluride Bluegrass Festival Band Competition and a nomination for the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Momentum Award.
But with the growth came some shifts in personnel. Fiddler Jesse Wells left to join the touring band of fellow Kentucky-bred Americana stylist Tyler Childers, whose own national prominence grew considerably after the release of his sophomore album “Purgatory.” Also leaving was mandolinist Galen Green, who returned to the classroom to pursue business studies.
That left founding members Arthur Hancock, CJ Cain (both on guitar) and bassist Roddy Puckett, along with new Wook Aaron Bibelhauser on banjo and other string things to carry on with auxiliary guests on mandolin and fiddle for the band’s two-night New Year’s engagement.
The first evening lets The Wooks operate from familiar turf, dishing out acoustic bluegrass/new grass music from “Little Circles” and a few subsequently recorded tunes. But on New Year’s Eve, something quite different will be uncorked with the champagne. That’s when The Wooks will plug in, invite a few guests and expand with a sound that runs even further from bluegrass. Joining the band for a one-night-only incarnation as The ’Lectric Wooks will be guitarist Brandon Bowlds, keyboardist Brad Slutskins, drummer J.P. Nowak and harmonica/vocal sidekick Ray Smith.
There are separate cover charges each night, but for the thrifty Wook fan, there is a two-night ticket available for $30, which essentially lets you see Saturday’s show for free. For more Wook doings, go to Wookoutamerica.com.
It was just more than five years ago that the concept for The Binders came to fruition. Everything began with a reference that Mitt Romney made during the second presidential debate in October 2012. The term grew out of a question regarding pay equality. When attempting to underscore the number of female applicants being considering for jobs while he was governor of Massachusetts, Romney said, “They brought us whole binders full of women.” The ridicule began before the debate ended and quickly went viral.
For Lexington, though, The Binders was organized as a band that would honor the music of female artists from multiple rock ’n’ roll generations. The group played only on occasion (New Year’s Eve 2012 among its first outings) and featured a rotating membership.
The lineup on hand to ring out 2017 at The Burl features vocalists Robbie Morgan and Alicia Cox (the only holdovers from the original roster) along with guitarist Lannie Mossing and drummer Sherri McGee. What’s especially notable to the current Binders — aside from opening membership to the guys with the addition of bassist Blake Cox — is the enlistment of Kelly Richey, an astonishing blues guitarist who was a mainstay of Lexington clubs during the late 1980s and ’90s. She has worked out of Cincinnati in recent years.
The repertoire? Expect The Binders to rock, with songs by such generation and style-bending women as Pat Benatar, The Runaways, Sleater-Kinney, Bikini Kill and more.
The Fanged Robot, Robby Cosenza’s pop-infused project, will open.
Sundy Best and Family
The country musings of Sundy Best are back on adopted home turf this weekend. The Lexington-by way of Prestonsburg duo featuring Nicholas Jamerson and Kristopher Bentley will lead New Year’s Eve festivities at Manchester Music Hall.
Having cemented a rabid local following years ago through a performance residency at the now-defunct Redmond’s, the duo’s popularity went nationwide with the 2014 breakout albums “Bring Up the Sun” and “Salvation City.”
The Manchester show follows the release last year of solo recordings from Jamerson and Bentley along with a seasonal stay a few months back at The Burl, where the two hosted a series of showcase performances dubbed “Summer of Sundy.”