8 p.m. Oct 15 at the EKU Center for the Arts in Richmond. $45-$75. (859) 622-7469. EKUcenter.com.
How fitting that a weekend bursting with major concert activity is topped by a King.
Returning to the region this weekend will be the astonishingly ageless B.B. King, who remains, at age 86, the world's most recognized and heralded voice of the blues. In fact, few artists are so readily identified with a specific genre as King. His famed career now stretches nearly 65 years.
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Need a refresher course in King's remarkable music before his Saturday performance at the EKU Center for the Arts? Then pick up Icon, a new compilation that covers his ABC/MCA recordings — career-defining works such as The Thrill Is Gone, masterful live recordings including Sweet Little Angel, overlooked '70s gems including To Know You Is To Love You, and jazz-flavored tunes such as Never Make a Move Too Soon.
7:30 p.m. Oct. 14 at the Grand Theatre, 308 St. Clair in Frankfort. $30-$55. (502) 352-7469. Grandtheatrefrankfort.org.
What a season to be a Sam Bush fan.
The Kentucky Music Hall of Fame inductee has hosted the annual International Bluegrass Music Association Awards from Nashville. Next month, he will be on the other side of the podium, so to speak, when he competes for musician of the year honors at the Country Music Association Awards.
This weekend, though, we have the Bowling Green-born Bush and his band at Frankfort's Grand Theatre to showcase music from his recent bluegrass-revisited album Circles Around Me, plus tunes that bend to rock, fusion, reggae and jam band-friendly grooves.
7 p.m. Oct. 16 at Cosmic Charlie's, 388 Woodland Ave. $15. (859) 309-9499. Cosmic-charlies.com.
This is when you realize just how deep the concert flow will be this weekend. Over at Cosmic Charlie's on Sunday will be another welcome returnee, James McMurtry.
The Texas songsmith has been, for more than two decades, a teller of dark urban tales with occasional political spins. His last studio album, Just Us Kids, was among his best and, frankly, creepiest works. But the 2009 concert outing Live in Europe reflects just how electric such folk-fortified songs can be in performance.
McMurtry does not pack the name power of King or Bush, but his performances should be considered just as much of a must-see event. His Sunday show comes with a bonus: a 7 p.m. start time. No belly-aching about late club hours this time, folks.
■ Wrapping up a full season at MoonDance at Midnight Pass amphitheater, 1152 Monarch Street, on Saturday will be The Downtown County Band, a quintet of acoustic-based roots and blues "gentlemen" from Frankfort, Owenton and Morning View. (8 p.m. $10, free for ages 12 and younger. (859) 225-0370. Lexarts.tix.com.)
■ The relentless fall schedule at Richmond's EKU Center for the Arts continues Wednesday with Willie Nelson. He might be best known for his outlaw era recordings of the mid- to late '70s, but Nelson seriously returned to his roots last year with the T Bone Burnett-produced album Country Music. It boasted songs by George Jones, Merle Travis and Ernest Tubb, but curiously nothing from Nelson's own epic catalog of music. It's fine work, nonetheless. (8 p.m. $65-$110.)