8 p.m. April 15 at KFC Yum Center in Louisville. $19.50-$139. 1-800-745-3000.
After 40-plus years in the pop arena and a catalogue of recordings that has taken him from ball parks to Broadway, Elton John managed another career milestone recently. He proved himself a good sport.
As guest host two weekends ago of Saturday Night Live, the veteran piano man appeared as himself in a flat-out hilarious sketch (yes, SNL still manages one every so often) about the upcoming royal wedding. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were portrayed by cast members Fred Armisen and Bill Nader as foul-mouthed, Cockney-accented guttersnipes who ridiculed the singer's career.
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"Are you going to change the words to Candle in the Wind again?" the mock Queen asked.
Sir Elton got the best laugh, though, when referring to his baby son Zachary in the show's opening monologue ("10 fingers, 10 toes and $400 million").
As John heads to Kentucky for the first time in nearly a decade, we can add another equally impressive accolade to his mantle of accomplishments. For much of the past year, he has crusaded on behalf of one of his foremost musical heroes, Leon Russell. He cut an album with the longstanding, multigenre pop pianist (The Union), which stands as the finest recording that either artist has released in nearly two decades, gave the induction speech for Russell's entrance into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March and hit the road with his mentoring inspiration for a series of arena shows this year.
There is no word on whether Russell will be part of John's concert Friday night at Louisville's KFC Yum Center. But the two did perform an eight-song segment from The Union at John's March 26 concert in Baltimore.
Even if John goes it alone, there will be no scarcity of familiar material. Now 64, John flaunts the obvious onstage. The most recent items in his set lists of late have been a pair of early-'80s hits (Sad Songs and I Guess That's Why They Call it the Blues). The rest of the repertoire belongs to material composed from 1970 to 1975. Of particular interest is a three song selection (Levon, Tiny Dancer and the title tune) from what stands, from a personal standpoint, as John's greatest album: 1971's Madman Across the Water.
And, yes, Candle in the Wind is in the current repertoire, too — the original 1973 version, that is. No doubt Her Majesty will be pleased. Or vexed.
Typically, bluegrass audiences in Central Kentucky get to listen to Larry Sparks every February at Meadowgreen Park Music Hall in Clay City. So that means we only have 10 months before his next visit, right?
Not exactly. The veteran bluegrass-gospel great is back this weekend as part of the Music for Mission series at First Presbyterian Church, 171 Market Street.
Since his most recent Clay City show, Sparks has issued a new Rounder Records album, Almost Home. Steering away from the exclusively gospel makeup of his most recent recordings, the album features a blues-informed reading of the 1957 Hank Locklin country hit Send Me the Pillow You Dream On.
The album is the latest chapter in a nearly 50-year career that began with Sparks joining the Stanley Brothers and, later, the initial lineup of Ralph Stanley's Clinch Mountain Boys. He has led his own Lonesome Ramblers band since 1969.
Friday night's 8:15 p.m. performance is free, but offerings will be accepted for donation to Burnamwood Appalachian Ministries, the partnering mission organization of this Music for Mission performance.
For more information, go to FPlex.org.