Carrie Newcomer/Over the Rhine
The Norton Center for the Arts in Danville offers a chance to relax and exhale this weekend with an evening at its intimate Weisiger Theatre featuring Carrie Newcomer and Over the Rhine, folk acts with longstanding regional followings.
Indiana by way of Michigan songstress Newcomer has been visiting Central Kentucky for years, although her Saturday outing in Danville marks her first visit since 2015. She will release her 16th and newest album, “The Point of Arrival” on March 22. The title tune, available for an advance listen online, is a gentle, immaculately produced affirmation that extends the sense of solace offered on such recent works as “A Permeable Life” (2014) and “The Beautiful Not Yet” (2016). It also sports more of the beautifully fanciful cover art, courtesy of Hugh Syme, that adorned those recordings.
“Every album I record generally has a theme,” Newcomer told me in an interview prior to a 2015 performance in Richmond. “Often a collection of songs will have some kind of question or theme running through it, so you want to create a musical space that really works with those ideas.”
Over the Rhine, the Cincinnati-based husband-and-wife duo of Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist, has been a local/regional favorite for much of its 30 year history. As is the case with Newcomer, though, performances here have become less frequent in recent years.
The band also has a new album ready to roll. “Love & Revelation,” Over the Rhine’s 15th studio recording, will hit stores next week.
“Each record we’ve released is authentic to a particular time in our lives,” Detweiler said in a press release for the new album. “They’re all mile markers on a long road that beckoned to us in our youth.”
The Origins Jazz Series turns to one of Lexington’s own for its March concert. On Saturday, Lexington guitarist Ross Whitaker takes to the stage of Tee Dee’s with a program devoted to the music of another heralded guitarist, John Scofield.
Whitaker has performed with such disparate artists as Bob Mintzer and Lorrie Morgan and opened concerts for a stable of far ranging talents that includes Billy Joe Shaver, Brian Auger, Karl Denson and Snarky Puppy.
After initial studies in Louisville and Cincinnati, Whitaker received his master’s degree from the University of Kentucky with an especially intriguing thesis – an analyzation of versions of the frat rock tune “Louie Louie” recorded by still another guitar giant, Frank Zappa.
A versed jazz artist and educator, Whitaker also knows his way around vintage country music, as well. Proficient on pedal steel guitar as well as electric guitar. He has played Lexington clubs through the years as a member of the roots country ensemble The Kentucky Hoss Cats.
Leading the list of living Kentucky-born artists not currently in the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame is Adrian Belew. Over the past four decades, he has worked extensively with Frank Zappa, David Bowie, Talking Heads and King Crimson while for forging an immensely distinctive (and often quite animated) guitar voice that has unfolded on a series of diversely designed solo recordings.
Covington native Belew is practically on home turf this weekend with his current touring quartet for a show at Cincinnati’s Ludlow Garage. While the performance is sold out, Belew will head back to the region to hit Zanzabar, 2100 S. Preston St. in Louisville, on April 5 (8 p.m., $30).
Might a Lexington might be a possibility for the future? Belew hasn’t played locally since a 2003 show with his Cincinnati-based pals The Bears.
The week that was
▪ Los Lobos at Manchester Music Hall: Now here is an audience cheer you don’t hear at your everyday rock ‘n’ roll show.
That was the invitation of guitarist Cesar Rosas as Los Lobos headed into the home stretch of this jubilant career overview concert. Of course, with Los Lobos, even seemingly foreign sounds as cumbia are no more presented as novelties than they are as purist reflections of musical tradition. As such, the Columbian dance rhythms at the heart of “Chuco’s Cumbia” mingled with accents of rockish psychedelia, courtesy of the myriad guitar voicings from Lobos co-frontman David Hidalgo and the boppish glee of baritone saxophonist Steve Berlin.
Ironically, the 90-minute set began on pretty traditional terms with the same four players that began Los Lobos in 1973 – Rosas, Hidalgo, Louie Perez and Conrad Lozano – taking to the stage alone with a sampler of acoustic tunes that accelerated from the brisk and brittle stride of the show opening “Canto A Veracruz” to the Tex Mex drive of “Mexico Americano” (with Berlin and drummer Bugs González gradually added into the lineup).
From there the cross pollination began as the show turned to rock ‘n’ roll. Rosas piloted the giddy, roots-savvy “Shakin’ Shakin Shakes” while Hildalgo took charge of a majestically orchestral “Angel Dance” and a keenly noir-like “Kiko and the Lavender Moon.”
A few kindred inspirations were also channeled. A set closing cover of the Grateful Dead staple “Bertha” surrendered to jamming instincts revealed more sparingly earlier in the performance while the hit 1987 cover of Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba” (presented as a festive mash-up encore with the vintage Rascals hit “Good Lovin’”) offered the band’s most recognizable and accessible nod to its Latin heritage.
It was all good fun, even though everyone onstage – save for the continually grinning Lozano – appearing like pokerfaced dads as they played. But don’t judge Los Lobos by its stage presence. All you needed to hear was the block party pairing of the Tex Mex romps “Anselma” and “Let’s Say Goodnight” late in the set to understand just how hard at play these rocking patriarchs truly were.