Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out
3 and 8 p.m. Jan. 21 at Meadowgreen Park Music Hall, 303 Bluegrass Lane, Clay City. $15. (606) 663-9008. Kyfriends.com.
An especially vivid postcard is served up early on Prime Tyme, the new recording by bluegrass stalwarts Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out. Goodbye Old Missoula is a wintertime meditation of country loss and regret set against one of the West's most famous rodeos.
The song might reflect Big Sky Country, but it has a narrative efficiency that can come only from the Lone Star State. It was written 40 years ago by the great Texas songsmith Willis Alan Ramsey for his self-titled debut and was regally resurrected by singer/song stylist Jimmie Dale Gilmore in 2000.
Never miss a local story.
Moore's version is a worthy successor. It reflects a pronounced country inflection, especially in its vocal harmonies, that has highlighted much of IIIrd Tyme Out's best music during the past two decades. But it's a subtle accent. Moore's crisp tenor lead, along with the spry string support of banjoist Steve Dilling and mandolinist Wayne Benson, keep the tune — and all of Prime Tyme — very much within the parameters of traditional bluegrass.
While Prime Tyme is IIIrd Tyme Out's 13th album overall (excluding compilations), it is just the second since the band changed its name by giving Moore co-billing. With fiddler Justen Haynes and bassist Edgar Loudermilk completing its current lineup, IIIrd Tyme Out remains a regular regional visitor in Central Kentucky during the summer bluegrass festival season. On Saturday, however, the band takes to the great indoors with afternoon and evening performances at the wonderfully intimate Meadowgreen Park Music Hall in Clay City.
It's second-chance time, people. If you missed the outstanding October performance by Irish roots and rockabilly queen Imelda May at the Singletary Center for the Arts, you have another opportunity next week. The singer and her splendid band, highlighted by husband/guitarist Darrel Higham, will perform at Monday's taping of WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour at The Kentucky Theatre, 214 East Main Street.
Well-known to roots music enthusiasts for several years, especially in Europe, May discovered a solid American fan base through recent collaborations with British guitar star Jeff Beck that culminated in 2011 with the release of the Les Paul tribute album Rock 'n' Roll Party. May also performed an ultra-fun swing version of the Les Paul/Mary Ford hit How High the Moon with Beck at the Grammy Awards two years ago.
May's most recent album is 2010's uproarious Mayhem, which features the scalding original Psycho ("Keep on takin' your medication, lock that temper behind those pills"), the lovely pop reflection Kentish Town Waltz and a remix of an earlier big-beat rockabilly concert favorite Johnny Got a Boom Boom.
April Verch completes Monday's WoodSongs bill. (6:45 p.m. $10. For reservations, call (859) 252-8888. Woodsongs.com.)
Wheeler in motion
Singer-songwriter Cheryl Wheeler is one of those great folk artists who never seems to receive ample recognition. Having introduced herself to local audiences about 15 years ago as part of a Kentucky Theatre summit with John Gorka, Patty Larkin and Cliff Eberhardt, Wheeler revealed herself as an artist with an almost journalistic sense of narrative and a stage performer of generous, natural humor.
Numerous mainstream acts have covered her songs, including Bette Midler, Garth Brooks and Kenny Loggins. But on Thursday, Wheeler performs her own remarkable works from such albums as 1995's Mrs. Pinocci's Guitar and 2009's Pointing at the Sun at Natasha's Bistro & Bar, 112 Esplanade. (8 p.m. $20, $24. (859) 259-2754. Beetnik.com.)