Bert Lams and Tom Griesgraber
8 p.m. June 4 at the Kentucky Coffeetree Café, 235 W. Broadway in Frankfort. $10. (502) 875-3009. www.kentuckycoffeetree.com.
The working alliance between guitarist Bert Lams and Chapman stick player Tom Griesgraber can be traced to a 2004 performance at The Dame.
Lams was headlining the evening as one-third of the California Guitar Trio, and Griesgraber opened the show with a solo set that outlined the harmonic and stylistic range of an instrument sometimes called "the stick." During one particularly quiet passage, the lone speaking voice of a bartender — presumably answering a question posed by a curious patron — was heard in the background: "It's a Chapman stick."
Such is the answer to an inevitable question that Lams and Griesgraber probably face regularly.
Lams is classically versed on the acoustic guitar and is equally at home performing Bach preludes (which he offers with beautiful authority on a 2005 solo album, Nascent) or any of the CGT's library of prog, surf or rock-inspired works. Griesgraber, though, reveals equal command on a string-tapped electric instrument that remains a foreign object to many audiences.
On Friday night, you can hear the duo create a bounty of inventive, interactive sounds at the ultra-intimate Kentucky Coffeetree Café in Frankfort. Their current repertoire includes classically flavored Griesgraber works such as Victor's Chase ,CGT faves that include the bittersweet The Marsh, and newer pieces, notably the summery Don't Look Back, which will be featured on an upcoming studio recording.
Mostly, though, hearing Lams and Griesgraber unlock the melodic possibilities of guitar and stick at such a cozy and cordial venue as the Kentucky Coffeetree Café is one of those rare musical outings where I simply have to say, "Trust me on this." Seldom do opportunities for such a superlative listening experience, in terms of execution and environment, present themselves. Jump on this one.
Lexington Jazz Festival
1 p.m. June 6 at Talon Winery and Vineyards, 7086 Tates Creek Rd. $15 (cash only at door), free for children younger than 12. (859) 246-6601. www.talonwine.com.
Detroit has one. Atlanta has one. Montreal has a huge one. As of this weekend, Lexington joins the list of cities boasting its own official jazz festival.
On Sunday afternoon, six esteemed regional ensembles — Mark Gardner and Co., O-Zone, the Jamey Aebersold Quartet, the Jazz Visitors featuring veteran Kentucky vocalist Gail Wynters, the Osland/Dailey Jazztet and the Steve Snyder Trio — will perform in succession at Talon Winery.
Presented jointly by Bluegrass Community and Technical College and the Jazz Arts Foundation, the Lexington Jazz Festival might seem a modest affair compared to most city-named jazz summits. It sports no evening performances and adheres largely to homegrown talent, even though Aebersold and Wynters have forged substantial national reputations. But it's a beginning.
Will the festival grow to the point of becoming a larger, multi-day, corporate-sponsored event with national as well as Kentucky talent? One can only hope. As the saying goes, from small things ... .
Songwriter's Night with Les Taylor
8 p.m. June 5 at the Racquet Club Bar and Grille Ballroom, 3900 Crosby Dr. $5, $10. (859) 230-9915.
Allowing the talents of local and regional songwriters to share stage time with a songsmith of national renown is the impetus of Songwriter's Night, a monthly showcase performance series that begins this weekend at the Racquet Club.
For the series' inaugural show on Saturday, Les Taylor will perform with three Kentucky songwriters, including Bo Allen of The Writer's Voice.
Taylor is well known as one of the cornerstone members of the long-running Central Kentucky country-pop band Exile; his own songs have been covered in the past three decades by Nashville luminaries Travis Tritt, Janie Fricke and Shelby Lynne.