Supersuckers, The Spittin' Cobras
10 p.m. Feb. 12 at Cosmic Charlie's, 388 Woodland Ave. $12, $15. (859) 309-9499. Cosmic-charlies.com.
It's a story that's difficult not to revisit every time the Supersuckers come to town.
The year was 1995, and Farm Aid had picked Louisville's Cardinal Stadium for its annual all-star benefit. The lineup was full of the usual suspects (Neil Young, Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp), then-up-and-comers (The Dave Matthews Band, Hootie and the Blowfish), a surprise (Steve Earle, who was just starting to piece together a career shattered by drug addiction and incarceration) and a Kentucky-born country favorite (John Conlee). Broadcasting the entire event was cable network CMT, which was then the strongest television outlet for country music.
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CMT didn't seem to think there was anything that would detract from a perfectly safe broadcast schedule. But the network didn't factor in the Supersuckers, an Arizona rock troupe with an ear- crunching cowpunk-and-more sound, a set list that included such lovingly indiscreet songs as Born With a Tail and a loud-and-proud frontman by the name of Eddie Spaghetti.
The Supersuckers' set came in the early afternoon on a brilliant fall day and boasted a cameo appearance by Nelson. The band was clearly elated at playing the event and offered a solid, TV-friendly performance. But the band's hefty guitar crunch, which sounded something like Molly Hatchett crossed with Motorhead, clearly befuddled the CMT broadcast team. One stunned commentator used only one word after the set and before the network cut to a commercial: "Wow."
Little has changed for the Supersuckers since then. Members have come and gone, with Spaghetti the only mainstay member (although guitarist Dan "Thunder" Bolton has been along for nearly the entire ride). Recent albums including 2008's Get It Together still pack the charge and swagger of such earlier gems as 1995's The Sacrilicious Sounds of the Supersuckers.
Nearly 25 years since the band stormed out of Tucson, there still is an ample "wow" factor to a Supersuckers show.
It will be something of a reunion when Dale Ann Bradley and Steve Gulley play at Natasha's Bistro & Bar, 112 Esplanade, on Saturday. Both artists were mainstays at Renfro Valley before becoming big names in the world of bluegrass.
Bradley is the International Bluegrass Music Association's reigning female vocalist of the year (an honor she has won four times) and is touring behind her fine 2011 album, Somewhere South of Crazy, a record that boasts complementary harmony help from celebrated young mandolinist Sierra Hull.
Gulley has enjoyed stints with Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver; Mountain Heart, which he co-founded, and Grasstowne. But he has maintained an arguably bigger profile as a songwriter. Don't be surprised if you hear a few of his songs at Friday night's Blue Highway concert at Cosmic Charlie's (see Page 11). He co-wrote the title tune to the band's 2008 album Through the Window of a Train.
Tickets are $10. Call (859) 259-2754 or go to Beetnik.com.
Dark Star Valentine
Favor something a little dark and Dead-ly for Valentine's Day? Then try a Tuesday evening at The Kentucky Theatre, 214 East Main Street, with Dark Star Orchestra, one of the country's foremost Grateful Dead cover bands.
Formed more than 15 years ago, DSO maintains a distinctive game plan when performing the legendary jam band's music. Instead of covering its songs randomly, it re-creates entire performance set lists, right down to the drum solos — which will be a treat for local fans given that Lexingtonian Dino English handles percussion duties — and improvisational sections. So, what they say must be true — romance really is Dead. (7 p.m. $22, $25. And, yes, there is a Valentine's ticket special: two for $20. (859) 231-7924. Cosmic-charlies.com)
Instead of Hump Day, consider Wednesday to be Umph Day. That's when another famed Chicago (by way of South Bend, Ind.) jam band, Umphrey's McGee, returns to Buster's Billiards & Backroom, 899 Manchester Street.
The performance comes a year to the month after the sextet's initial Buster's visit, which was a weeknight sellout. At the time, Umphrey's McGee was wrapping up recording sessions for a new album that surfaced in September as Death by Stereo. Consisting largely of concisely composed tunes that touch on everything from prog to funk to fusion, Death by Stereo also offers studio versions of songs that the band has been playing live for years. Among them is Hajimemashite, which the band has been performing since its formation in 1997. (9 p.m. $20, $25. (859) 368-8871. Bustersbb.com.)