9 p.m. Aug 21 at Natasha's Bistro, 112 Esplanade. $6. (859) 259-2754.
Were you were lucky enough to land a ticket for Studio Players' recent production of Always ... Patsy Cline? If so, you were part of a wonderful summertime rocket ride back to the days when country music possessed an unshakable, soul-stirring charm altogether different from today's Nashville pop confections.
The actress and singer who so vividly portrayed Cline, along with much of the band that ignited her finest songs, will be showcasing what they do on an entirely different stage Friday at Natasha's Bistro.
The band is June July, with vocalist Heather Parrish (Miss Patsy herself) and guitarist Billy Mason at the helm.
Learning Cline's repertoire for an extended run of the production last month encompassed far more than mimicking the singer's unending appeal. It meant mastering songs by Hank Cochran; Hank Williams; Cole Porter; Willie Nelson, composer of the landmark Cline hit Crazy; and Bill Monroe, whose Blue Moon of Kentucky was one of the show's many highlights. Their material kept Cline's career, more or less, on a roll.
But expect June July to supplement such vintage country charm with material of its own. The band has posted a few songs on its MySpace page that shift from the near bossa nova flair of I'll Meet You in Your Dreams to the torchier twang of Sweeter Dreams.
Put all of that onstage for an evening, and it's a good bet that June July will light up August just fine.
Another Natasha's note: Cincinnati's ever-popular folk-pop ensemble Over the Rhine, which usually packs The Kentucky Theatre every year or so, performs Sunday at the bistro. That performance is sold out.
No Dukes, just Earles
Steve Earle's July 2008 performance at The Kentucky Theatre, with an onstage DJ and wife Allison Moorer as his only accompanists, seemed like the Texas-turned-Tennessee-turned-New York songwriter's first Lexington outing in ages. The wait time was, in fact, four years. Not an eternity, perhaps, but quite a spell considering that Earle has an extensive local performance history.
He played at the long-since-defunct Breeding's on New Circle Road when Guitar Town broke his career open in 1986. A three-hour marathon show at the equally long-gone Rhinestone's on Athens-Boonsboro Road followed in 1987 after the release of the sublime follow-up album Exit 0. A year later, Earle was back again to play the big house — an opening set at Rupp Arena for Hank Williams Jr. — when Copperhead Road was all over the radio.
Those early shows were collaborations with his longtime band The Dukes. When Earle returns to town to play the Opera House on Wednesday (this time, after just 13 months away from us), there will be no Dukes. Instead, Earle will handle the show — as he so often has at numerous concerts during the years at The Kentucky — on his own.
Moorer, an extraordinary songstress in her own right, will open next week's performance and no doubt will make a cameo appearance or two during her husband's set. But there will no Dukes this time, just Earles.
In Sunday's Arts and Life section, we will examine the thrust of Earle's current solo acoustic tour, which is promoting music from his recent Townes album, a tribute to the vanguard Texas songsmith — and Earle's artistic mentor — Townes Van Zandt.
Tickets for Wednesday's 7 p.m. concert are $29.50 and $36.50. Call (859) 233-3535 or TicketMaster at 1-800-745-3000.
With a sunny new single, I Know Where Heaven Is, ready to reignite their career, Eastern Kentucky natives Chad Warrix and David Tolliver, better known as Halfway to Hazard, will be back in Lexington on Friday to perform at Cadillac Ranch, 2320 Palumbo Drive. (10 p.m., $10). Call (859) 335-8800.