Oct. 8 at Al's Bar, 601 N. Limestone. $5. (859) 252-9104. Myspace.com/alsbarlexington.
There is an odd irony surrounding the current state of Tim Easton's career. He recently issued two new albums that he produced and recorded on his own, even though he will be spending less time than ever on the road promoting them.
An extraordinarily versed folk/ Americana songsmith, Easton has long been a road warrior who made Lexington and Louisville frequent concert stops. But since the birth of his daughter, Ellington, last year, Easton has scaled back his touring considerably. During a phone interview last week from his home in Joshua Tree, Calif, a happily audible Ellington was proving a spirited background vocalist.
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"I think she wants to answer the questions herself," Easton said, trying to literally balance professional obligations with parenthood. "I've been on the road maybe four or five weeks in the last year. That might seem like very little time. But when you have a young daughter, it's actually quite a lot."
Easton's devotion to family might make getting the word out on two simultaneous new releases a little more challenging than planned.
The first, Since 1966 — Volume 1, is a collection of predominantly solo acoustic songs.
"Mostly, that record was made in my front yard here in Joshua Tree. I feel like there are so many opportunities to layer and overproduce songs. I wanted to deliver some that were songs without echoes, reverbs and loops pasted onto them. I wanted to deliver a volume of tunes that were conveyed simply by being one person and one instrument."
The second, Beat the Band, is a (slightly) more produced set of rock quartet songs highlighted by the title tune, a spacious alt-country-flavored lament.
"I named the record after that song because I was so happy with the way the band played that take live. We made that album in roughly five days. That particular take was so complete. All the dynamics are there. The band just nailed it."
Christ the King Okotoberfest
4 p.m. Oct. 7, 11 a.m. Oct. 8 at Cathedral of Christ the King, 299 Colony Blvd. Free. (859) 268-2861. Ctkoktoberfest.com.
The music lineup remains scaled back from its mammoth Americana runs of years past (schedules, incidentally, that regularly included Tim Easton). But the annual Christ the King Oktoberfest does have a couple of major musical treats to offer for free this weekend.
Capping Friday night's bill will be the longstanding Central Kentucky country-pop troupe Exile, along with a preceding set by singer Jessie Rose Pennington, daughter of longtime Exile songwriter and guitarist J.P. Pennington.
Saturday brings us the return of the Steep Canyon Rangers, the bluegrass ensemble that distinguished itself with two performances in June. The first was at the Festival of the Bluegrass, and the second was as a backup unit for Steve Martin at a sold-out show at Lexington Opera House.
Exile and the Steep Canyon Rangers are tentatively scheduled to perform at 9 p.m. on their respective evenings. For a complete schedule of all Oktoberfest-related music and events, go to Ctkoktoberfest.com.
Also this weekend
Imelda May (see Page 4), Tim Easton and Oktoberfest not enough for you? Then dig into this trio of bonus selections heading to the region this weekend.
■ Back again to spread a little Gypsy jazz fire at Natasha's Bistro & Bar, 112 Esplanade, on Friday night will be The Faux Frenchmen. The splendid Cincinnati quartet specializes in the light but soulful Gypsy jazz popularized ages ago by Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli. In terms of repertoire and arrangements, the Frenchmen give such vintage sounds a profoundly distinctive touch. (8 p.m. $8. (859) 259-2754. Beetnik.com.)
■ As songwriters go, you will find few finer than the great John Hiatt. A consistently strong recording artist, Hiatt has created one of his best albums in years with the new Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns, a mix of domestic contentment (Don't Wanna Leave You Now) and savage unrest (Down Around My Place). Hiatt performs on a double bill with Big Head Todd and the Monsters on Friday night at the Taft Theatre, 317 East Fifth Street, Cincinnati. (8 p.m. $27-$42.50. Ticketmaster, 1-800-745-3000 or Ticketmaster.com.)
■ The Matt Flinner Trio plays Kentucky Coffeetree Café, 235 West Broadway in Frankfort, on Sunday. The mandolin/guitar/bass group continues the kind of bluegrass-rooted, jazz-motivated instrumental music pioneered by the likes of Darol Anger, Tony Rice and Mike Marshall. Mandolinist Flinner and his group will showcase the fine contemporary string music of their 2009 album, Music du Jour, and more at Sunday's performance. (7 p.m. $15. (502) 875-3009. Kentuckycoffeetree.com.)