■ With Rob Fetters. 8:30 p.m. June 20 at Southgate House Revival, 111 E. Sixth St.. Newport. $25. (859) 431-2201. Southgatehouse.com.
■ For WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour with Sundy Best. 6:45 p.m. June 23 at Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center, 300 E. Third St. $20. Reservations recommended: (859) 252-8888. Woodsongs.com.
The beginnings of NRBQ stem back to January 1966, when a teenage Terry Adams formed the band in Louisville.
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Technically, the initials stood for New Rhythm and Blues Quartet, but Adams and the succession of players who filed in and out of the band during subsequent decades never bothered with such formalities. Onstage and on record, they were always NRBQ.
To die-hard fans, they were simply "The Q." Good thing, too, because at shows, Adams and company were as keen on pulling out roots-informed R&B as they were vintage country, elemental funk, Space Age jazz and, of course, some of the most wicked rock 'n' roll on the planet.
Absent from this part of his home state for nearly a decade, Adams brings to Kentucky a revitalized NRBQ (which now features guitarist/vocalist Scott Ligon, drummer Conrad Choucroun and bassist Casey McDonough) for two different performances in the evenings ahead.
The foursome plays a full concert on Friday at the Southgate House Revival in Newport. Psychodots guitarist Rob Fetters will open with a solo acoustic set. Then on Monday, the new Q will share a WoodSongs bill with another Kentucky-bred star attraction, the country pop duo Sundy Best.
NRBQ will be promoting its third album in four years, Brass Tacks, which was released Tuesday. The record blends songs by Adams, Ligon and McDonough and stylistically shifts, in true Q fashion, from wide-eyed pop (Sit on My Lap, Waitin' on My Sweetie Pie) to Adams' long-standing fascination with the cosmic-themed jazz and funk of Sun Ra (Places Far Away) to a cover of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Getting to Know You done up with the kind of quirky joy and reverence that only NRBQ can provide.
8 p.m. June 26 at UK's Singletary Center for Arts, 405 Rose St. $40-$60. (859) 257-4929. Singletarycenter.com.
For over a half-century, the steadfast folk-rock music of Gordon Lightfoot has inspired generations of fellow artists. Perhaps you know a few of them.
Among the giants who have recorded his songs are Bob Dylan, Barbra Streisand, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, The Replacements, Sarah McLachlan, Sandy Denny, Tony Rice and a few dozen others. This spring, fellow Canadian Neil Young cut two of Lightfoot's cornerstone works, Early Morning Rain and If You Could Read My Mind, for his new album A Letter Home.
But no one covers Lightfoot quite like Lightfoot himself.
At age 75, his singing shows some wear, but his 2012 concert album, All Live, still presents an impressive combination of songs, thinned but still vital vocals and the light orchestration of band members, several of whom have been with Lightfoot for decades.
A top recommendation from the 40-plus years of Lightfoot recordings? Just about any of his early '70s albums for Warner Bros. would work. I'll go with 1971's Summer Side of Life, largely because of the current seasonal appeal. Sundown from 1974 better befits late summer, 1972's Old Dan's Records would get the nod were it autumn and 1970's breakthrough Sit Down Young Stranger (re-titled If You Could Read My Mind after the single broke open Lightfoot's career) remains the unrivaled winter pick.
On Thursday, folk-rock's man for all seasons returns to the University of Kentucky's Singletary Center for the Arts.