Hugh Laurie and the Copper Bottom Band
7:30 p.m. Aug. 24 at the Singletary Center for the Arts, 4-5 Rose St. $25, $35, $45. (859) 257-4929. Singletarycenter.com.
After eight seasons as America's favorite belligerent, pill-popping, self-loathing diagnostician, we got the picture that Dr. Gregory House had the blues. Now with House a TV memory, Hugh Laurie, the very British actor who brought the very American Dr. House to life, has the time to embrace his inner bluesman.
On Friday, Laurie sings the blues and more for a sold-out crowd at the Singletary Center for the Arts. We're not talking B.B. King-style blues, necessarily. Laurie prefers the more rustic, rootsy blues of Robert Johnson, J.B. Lenoir and Leroy Carr, and the almost symphonic Southern flair of chestnut tunes like St. James Infirmary, Tipitina and Winin' Boy Blues. And for the sake of his debut 2011 album, Let Them Talk, he has taken on a support team that includes producer/songsmith Joe Henry and such New Orleans blues/R&B giants as Dr. John, Allen Toussaint and Irma Thomas.
Those stars won't be with Laurie at the Singletary. But his world-class Copper Bottom Band will. Among its ranks is drummer Jay Bellerose, the wily percussive stylist who graced Lexington shows by, among others, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.
Laurie had a storied career long before House or his renewed passion with the blues. Known for an extensive artistic partnership with fellow Brit Stephen Fry, Laurie also found a means for playing a doctor and addressing his love of music as far back as the '80s. All Laurie fans owe it to themselves to visit Youtube and search for the wild 1986 music video that Kath Bush filmed for Experiment IV. A fresh-faced Laurie plays a clinician who, like House, is forced to confront his demons — at least one especially gruesome demon.
On Friday, though, the order of the evening will center on celebration as an artist from another land known almost exclusively for his work in another artistic world takes to the roots music of a very different shore.
Bob Dylan and Leon Russell
7:30 p.m. Aug. 26 at PNC Pavilion at Riverbend Music Center, 6295 Kellogg Ave. in Cincinnati. $46, $64, $71.50. Ticketmaster, 1-800-745-3000 or Ticketmaster.com.
In August 1971, Bob Dylan and Leon Russell shared the stage at Madison Square Garden in New York for the George Harrison-designed benefit known as The Concert for Bangladesh. More than 41 summers later, they find themselves on the same bill again. But expect their performance Sunday at Cincinnati's PNC Pavilion to offer a different sense of nostalgia.
Dylan, folk icon that he still is, comes to us with his 35th studio album, Tempest, awaiting release. Dylan traditionally keeps new recordings under wraps until the release date (in this case, Sept. 11). Expect him instead to mix well-worn '60s and '70s favorites (Tangled Up in Blue, Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat and Ballad of a Thin Man) with comparatively recent fare from the past two decades (Things Have Changed, Thunder on the Mountain and Love Sick).
Russell, who was in remarkably hearty voice and spirits when he played Buster's in Lexington last spring, will similarly avoid music from The Union, his 2010 comeback album with Elton John, in favor of early '70s classics including Stranger in a Strange Land, Prince of Peace and Back to the Island.