7:30 p.m. Oct. 9 at The Grand Theatre, 308 St. Clair St. in Frankfort. $25, $40. (502) 352-7469. www.grandtheatrefrankfort.org.
We can't let 2009 slip away without at least one Woodstock veteran playing in Central Kentucky. But honestly, when one thinks of the famed music gathering that recently celebrated its 40th anniversary, John Sebastian might not be the first name that springs to mind.
Sebastian? Wasn't he the cheery voice behind The Lovin' Spoonful's hits of the '60s (Summer in the City, Do You Believe in Magic)? Wasn't he the Welcome Back guy in the '70s? Well, yes. He also has a recording and performance career that spans nearly 45 years and that is full of all kinds of overlooked triumphs.
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The delights began almost as soon as The Lovin' Spoonful disbanded in 1968. Woodstock, of course, came a year later, as did collaborations with a host of West Coast celebs. For example, that's Sebastian whaling away on harmonica on The Doors' hit Roadhouse Blues.
The first and finest of his solo recordings, John B. Sebastian, followed in 1970. A new listen to a CD edition of the recording, issued in 2006, reveals a wider stylistic spectrum than even the broad pop palette used by the Spoonful. Soul, folk and surprisingly traditional country yarns dominate the record, although the lightness of Sebastian's singing gives the far-reaching material an appealing and singular sound. A leaner but no less varied sampler surfaced on Sebastian's true underdog album, 1974's Tarzana Kid.
All of that brings us to the past decade, which saw Sebastian inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (as a member of the Spoonful). There also have been further explorations of the jug-band sound that was one of the Spoonful's most formative influences, and collaborations with mandolin great David Grisman.
Sebastian is quite the enterprising artist onstage as well. So expect a big chunk of his expansive pop career to get covered when he performs Friday night at Frankfort's newly renovated Grand Theatre.
Another Crowe show
If you're familiar with the local performance history of Grammy-winning bluegrass banjo great J.D. Crowe, you know his bands were regular fixtures in music clubs in the late '60s and '70s, from his days playing with a young Doyle Lawson at the North Limestone haunt known as Martin's to the famed residency with his first New South band at the Holiday Inn North on Newtown Pike. Crowe remains a highly visible bluegrass presence in the region, even though the majority of his performances tend to be at festivals. Friday night, he heads back indoors with his newest New South lineup for a performance at Cosmic Charlie's. The club opened last month at the former Lynagh's Music Club location, 388 Woodland Avenue. (8 p.m., $20. (859) 309-9499.)
Fellow banjo colossus Béla Fleck also is back in the bluegrass with another traveling musical adventure. Having performed jazz duets with pianist Chick Corea, fusion and funk with The Flecktones and African roots music with Toumani Diabate in the past 20 months, Fleck reteams Friday night with bassist Edgar Meyer, a longtime musical pal, and the extra ordinary tabla artist Zakir Hussain. The trio will play the worldly string and percussion music from their new album, The Melody of Rhythm, at the Brown Theatre, 315 West Broadway in Louisville. (8 p.m.; $25-$60, 1-800-775-7777. www.kentuckycenter.org.)