Dale Ann Bradley, Ma Crowe and the Lady Slipper
7 p.m. Jan. 4 at Meadowgreen Park Music Hall, 303 Bluegrass Lane in Clay City. $12. (606) 663-9008. Kyfriends.com.
Bluegrass in the dead of winter? It has becomes a specialty of one of the region's most inviting seasonal venues, the Meadowgreen Park Music Hall in Clay City.
The hall is a sublime setting for some of the country's most prestigious bluegrass talent from October to April. And in January, with the holidays done and two months of winter taking hold, it is something of a performance paradise. You will find few finer ways to warm up on a wintertime Saturday night than with a road trip to Meadowgreen Park.
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This weekend, the hall welcomes one of today's finest Kentucky-bred bluegrass voices: five-time International Bluegrass Music Association female vocalist of the year Dale Ann Bradley.
Don't pity Bradley too much for being on the road during the winter. This time next week, she is scheduled to be touring in Florida.
Up Until Now
10 p.m. Jan. 8 at Cosmic Charlie's, 388 Woodland Ave. $8, $10. (859) 309-9499. Cosmic-charlies.com.
Up Until Now seems an awfully vague and generic name for a band project that has proven to be anything but. Then again, if you relied on its website to educate you on the origins and growth of this distinctive electronic troupe, you would feel a little out in the cold.
Here is how the website, Upuntilnowmusic.com, describes band chieftain Jay Murphy and his work: "With this new project, he distills the pure essence in music that has always driven him and channels it into electronic dance music with the sole purpose of making bodies move."
Fair enough. What is not mentioned is that he is the younger brother of Sound Tribe Sector 9 frontman David Murphy, who moonlights as a collaborator and bassist for the leaner instrumental music of Up Until Now.
One would guess the Murphys prefer having their music speak for itself. To that end, they have made the discovery of Up Until Now an easy feat by offering the group's newest EP, the exquisitely wintry Come Too Far, available as a free download on the website. Of course, if you want to be part of Up Until Now's original bodies-in-motion notion, then head to Cosmic Charlie's on Wednesday and watch the beats unfold in a live setting.
Wycliffe and Wynton
Lexington audiences got a crash course in the jazz practices of one of its newest favorite sons, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, through a rapid succession of pre-holiday performances. In mid-December, he was a featured soloist at the Lexington Brass Band's annual yuletide concert, a performance that was sandwiched between unannounced appearances here with Grammy-winning trumpeter Arturo Sandoval and the University of Kentucky Jazz Ensemble.
After all that, you might think Gordon would stick around the Bluegrass to close out the year. Not this season. The trombonist spent the holidays reuniting with the artist largely responsible for introducing him to the jazz world, Wynton Marsalis. Gordon was part of a six-night run (which culminated in a pricey New Year's Eve set) of the famed septet that Marsalis led two decades ago. The septet played at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, part of Jazz at Lincoln Center (the jazz conglomerate for which Marsalis is artistic director).
"What would be welcome is a document of the entire run, along the lines of Live at the Village Vanguard, a 1999 boxed set that also featured the septet," Nate Chinen of the New York Times wrote in a review of the group's opening night at Dizzy's. "The caliber of the music is high enough, and besides, there'll be a need for new gifts this time next year."
Robert Cray returns
Robert Cray's concert at the Lexington Opera House in December 2012 marked the first local performance in more than a decade by the Grammy-winning bluesman. Apparently, he's eager to remain in touch with Lexington.
In the first major concert announcement of 2014, Cray will be coming back. This time, he is scheduled to play at the Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center. As with the Opera House show, the event will be part of the Troubadour Concert Series.
The Robert Cray Band will appear at the Lyric on at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 13. Tickets will be $48.50, $44.50 and will go on sale Jan. 10. For more ticket info, call (859) 280-2218 or go to Lexingtonlyric.com.