■ 8 p.m. April 22 at the Brown Theatre, 315 W. Broadway in Louisville. $35, $50. 1-800-775-7777. Kentuckycenter.org.
■ 8 p.m. April 23 at the Madison Theater, 730 Madison Ave. in Covington. $25. (859) 491-2444. Madisontheateronline.com.
Like so many songwriting greats with new recordings out this spring (Paul Simon and Robbie Robertson lead the list), Lucinda Williams explores notions of faith and mortality on her fine new album, Blessed.
Not that this is exactly new territory. As long ago as 1992's Sweet Old World, she pondered notions of a life left behind after a suicide. But Blessed, which Williams will celebrate with performances this weekend in Louisville and Covington, reverses the perspective. Sweet Old World looks back at the earthly beauty that was. Blessed views a lesser-defined grace still to come.
"We were blessed by the minister who practiced what he preached," Williams sings in the album's title tune. "We were blessed by the poor man who said heaven is within reach."
Expect Williams' weekend shows to move beyond Blessed. The title song has been popping alongside Joy, the combustible and vengeful classic from 1998's career-defining Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, in recent set lists. That ought to make curious neighbors out of heavenly contemplation and earthly rage.
Williams' recent shows also have spotlighted works from such overlooked post-Car Wheels albums as 2001's Essence (Get Right With God), 2003's World Without Tears (World Without Tears), 2007's West (Everything has Changed) and 2008's Little Honey (Honey Bee).
Beck in the bluegrass
Last summer, Jeff Beck performed in Cincinnati for his first regional concert in ages. Let's take a glance at what has transpired since then.
The veteran guitarist earned five Grammy nominations for his album Emotion and Commotion, teamed with jazz giant Herbie Hancock for his multi-genre The Imagine Project and honored guitar legend Les Paul with a tribute concert recording (Rock 'n' Roll Party) and subsequent tour.
Beck will be in the Bluegrass for the first time in more than a decade for a concert Tuesday at the Louisville Palace. (7:30 p.m. $29.50-$65; available via Ticketmaster, 1-800-745-3000 or Ticketmaster.com) The guitarist gave us a brief, illuminating and rare interview last week to promote the show. Check it out Sunday in Life + Arts.
I'm with Stoopid
Buster's Billiards and Backroom gets into the spring swing of things on Wednesday with the Southern California groove collective known as Slightly Stoopid.
A sextet fronted by childhood pals Miles Doughty and Kyle McDonald, the San Diego-bred group incorporates strong elements of reggae and dub, modern touches of hip-hop, an often-punkish performance persona and a brassy, percussive drive that draws from jam band-style explorations and modern psychedelia. As for the band's attitude, maybe the title to its 2008 album can offer some insight: Slightly Not Stoned Enough to Eat Breakfast Yet Stoopid.
For many, though, the appeal of this performance probably will be the band that will, in fact, be with Stoopid: the veteran indie warhorse troupe known as The Meat Puppets. A forceful trio led by siblings Curt and Cris Kirkwood (on guitar and bass, respectively), The Meat Puppets were part of the '80s roster at the pioneering punk label SST. It released the band's first five albums, including the cowpunk classic Meat Puppets II. Several drummers and a few breakups later, the Kirkwood brothers are back promoting their new album, Lollipop, which hit stores last week.
(8 p.m. $20 in advance, $25 day of show. (859) 368-8871. Bustersbb.com.)