9 p.m. Nov. 12 at Buster's Billiards & Backroom, 899 Manchester St. $20. (859) 368-8871. Bustersbb.com.
7 p.m. Nov. 13 at the Louisville Palace, 625 S. Fourth St. in Louisville. $42-$125. (502) 583-4555. Louisvillepalace.com. Ticketmaster, 1-800-745-3000 or Ticketmaster.com.
The similarities in the music of Chris Knight and John Mellencamp have always been plentiful, including their upbringings — the former hails from the Western Kentucky coal town of Slaughters; the latter is one of contemporary music's most celebrated Hoosiers — and the dark, rural story lines that populate their best songs.
But listen to their music side by side, and the musical links coalesce in the slow, gravelly details of their singing and the often rootsy instrumental detail that supports it.
Home Sick Gypsy, the lead tune to Knight's most recent album of new material, 2008's Heart of Stone, could pass as a legitimate relative of Mellencamp's The West End, from 2010's No Better Than This.
Both are underscored with dark acoustics that color the modest country shadings of the singing. Not surprisingly, both songs also enlist some able help. Heart of Stone was produced by underappreciated Americana rock journeyman Dan Baird, and No Better Than This is Mellencamp's second studio album with Grammy-winning roots-music entrepreneur T Bone Burnett.
Of course, Knight and Mellencamp also are versed rock 'n' roll songsmiths and performers with flairs for the anthemic.
For Knight, such tendencies manifest in highly charged shows that have made him a top draw in Lexington clubs for more than a decade. Having devout home-state audiences turning out for his performances doesn't hurt.
Mellencamp's flair for pop and rock extremes goes back nearly three decades. His newer Burnett-produced recordings simply offer a more concentrated dose of the rustic, rural sentiments that date to 1985's album Scarecrow or, in the case of the mighty Pink Houses, even earlier.
This weekend, those Kentucky and Indiana rural rock delegates return to the region to perform in intimate settings. On Saturday, Knight takes to Buster's, a familiar locale, for a show that, given its weekend placement, should ensure the attendance of some Western Kentucky brethren. On Sunday, Mellencamp, still with Lexington native Mike Wanchic on guitar, performs at the Louisville Palace, one of the few theater-level concerts he has ever scheduled in the region.
The Thursday club
Last week, it was on a Wednesday. This week, the big school-night concert blitz falls on Thursday. Here is the lineup:
■ At Buster's, we have the return of Corey Smith, the phenomenally popular songsmith with an Internet- fortified, college-friendly fan base that has turned nearly every performance he has given in Lexington in the past decade into a sell-out. Earning only minimal radio airplay, be it through commercial or indie channels, Smith's frat-friendly themes of celebrating, surviving and reminiscing about college life have translated into swift ticket sales. The more defined country accents of the recent indie album The Broken Record should only see that audience intensify. Florida Georgia Line opens. (9 p.m. $20 in advance, $25 day of show.)
■ At Natasha's Bistro & Bar, 112 Esplanade, Nashville songsmith RB Morris returns. Although he has performed in various Lexington venues during the past two decades, Morris' performances have almost always been limited to opening sets for John Prine. Thursday marks his second outing at Natasha's as a headliner. This time, Morris will be celebrating the release of his new indie recording Rich Mountain Bound, a self-described sampler of "old country songs, love songs, highway songs and songs with a mountain in them." The recording follows the publication earlier this year of his poetry book Keeping the Bees Employed. Tokyo Rosenthal will open. (8 p.m. $10. (859) 259-2754. Beetnik.com.)
■ At the KFC Yum Center in Louisville, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Bob Seger performs with his long-running Silver Bullet Band. With a performance history in the city that goes back to club concerts at such long defunct venues as Beggar's Banquet in the early '70s, Seger spent this year indulging in an almost unheard-of artistic practice: touring without a new album. Still, with set lists fortified by such prime '70s and '80s hits as Fire Down Below, Turn the Page and Hollywood Nights, it's doubtful anyone will be complaining. (7:30 p.m. $43-$69. TicketMaster.)