The Dead Kenny Gs
10 p.m. May 27 at Cosmic Charlie's, 388 Woodland Ave. $10. (859) 309-9499. Cosmic-charlies.com.
Local history has taught us that as far as nightlife goes, there are few quieter holiday weekend evenings than the Sunday night before Memorial Day. Travelers are already at their destinations, and the revelers left behind are nursing hangovers from Saturday.
OK, there might be a few exceptions. The Wednesday ahead of Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve might be tougher business nights. But many clubs and venues simply close on those evenings. The nightspots that regularly remain open Sundays, though, often have a roomful of quiet to contend with when the night prefacing Memorial Day rolls around.
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Leave it to Cosmic Charlie's to shatter the silence. Sunday will mark the return of The Dead Kenny Gs, the high-octane avant funk-jazz trio that regularly has a grand time when it comes to throwing sound around.
As the name suggests, a certain popular smooth-jazz star — or more specifically, the disdain for him — plays a sizable role in the trio's brutish music.
Musically, there is nothing smooth about the tunes of The Dead Kenny Gs. Tenor saxophonist Skerik balances scorched brass solos, many of which are expanded by pedal effects to almost metal-level extremes, with coarse Rhodes-style keyboard colors. Similarly, Brad Houser adds bass from two instruments, fuzzed-up electric bass guitar and baritone sax. And Mike Dillon, who played Cosmic Charlie's last month with his own industrious pseudo-jazz combo, fills out the grooves on all manner of percussive devices, from conventional drum kit to tabla to vibraphone.
Then there is the modest costuming touch: All three perform in curlicue wigs that suggest the 'do of the smooth-jazzer himself, Kenny G.
At its March 2011 performance at Cosmic Charlie's, the trio — briefly augmented for the evening by Cincinnati bass star Freakbass — shifted from the Zappa-esque Black Death to the punk-funk drive of I'm Your Manager, I'm Your Pimp.
The band will have a few fresh tunes to show off this weekend from a new EP recording titled Gorelick. The title refers to Kenny G.'s last name, which is curious because the cover art for the project boasts a picture of U.S. House Speaker John Boehner.
Unlike the more fusion-friendly tone of last year's album, Operation Long Leash, Gorelick approximates the trio's vicious live sound. The title track alternates between jagged funk grooves and bursts of punkish anarchy, Kill the Poor sounds like a cross between The Dead Kennedys and The World Saxophone Quartet, Trivial Assault implants a swift, rockish groove beneath free-jazz blowing, and the hysterical Beer tosses a bit of lean, late-'70s Black Sabbath riffs into the frenzy.
It all makes for a performance sound that comes off as a skilled attack. On Gorelick, The Dead Kenny Gs offer music that is abrasive, immediate, confrontational and almost painfully funky.
And to be sure, if the real Kenny G. were to hear it, this music would simply kill him.
Also bringing Sunday alive this weekend, but in a perhaps more tranquil manner, will be the annual Blues Between the Bridges festival at Riptide on the River, 9079 Old Richmond Road.
Headlining a daylong blues music bill will be Larry "Mud" Morganfield. The program also boasts Johnny Rawls, Keith Hubbard and the Hubcaps, Stella Vees, Ronn Crowder and Rakakar.
Morganfield is the oldest son of blues icon Muddy Waters. His family blues pride is abundant on his newest album, right down to the title: Son of the Seventh Son. (2 p.m.-midnight. $15 advance, $20 at the gate. Bluesbetweenthebridges.com.)