The Wooks, Kelsey Waldon
Looking for a respite from the dead of winter chill? Then warm up with a double Saturday night shot of Kentucky-bred Americana at The Burl.
Headlining will be The Wooks, the progressive-minded bluegrass outfit that had forged a considerable regional and national reputation before the release of its 2016 debut album, “Little Circles.”
The Lexington-born quintet — guitarist CJ Cain, banjoist Arthur Hancock, fiddler Jesse Wells, bassist Roddy Puckett and mandolinist Galen Green — blend string-band tradition with a sense of modernist songcraft that recalls fiddle and banjo giant John Hartford and a jazz and jam-band sensibility that brings to mind bluegrass pioneer David Grisman.
In a band history that spans a mere two years, The Wooks have found themselves on prestigious bills (several with new-generation North Carolina bluegrass troupe Town Mountain) and in the studio with banjo stylist, Compass Records co-founder and Hancock’s onetime music instructor, Alison Brown, who produced “Little Circles.”
Reception to the record was favorable enough on home turf to earn a nomination for album of the year and song of the year (for “County Girl”) at the Lexington Music Awards, to be held Jan. 29 at the Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center.
Rounding out the Saturday bill will be Kelsey Waldon. The pride of Monkey’s Eyebrow, her rural Ballard County homeland in Western Kentucky, Waldon solidified her status as a staunch country traditionalist with the independent release of her sophomore album, “All By Myself,” in 2016. Her indie profile, in fact, is affirmed on the record’s delicate but dark title tune, a saga that blooms into a proclamation of identity and independence.
Waldon lives and works out of Nashville these days, but she visits Lexington on a semi-regular basis, having performed last fall at the Lyric (for the “WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour”) and Willie’s Locally Known.
Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers
Joe Mullins didn’t call the bluegrass band he has journeyed the country with for more than a decade the Radio Ramblers because he thought the name was a novelty. No, the banjo player has been literally broadcasting the sounds of bluegrass and gospel across the airwaves for more than 30 years. His “Front Porch Fellowship” program airs weekly on over 200 radio stations.
A regular performer at the Ryman Auditorium and the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Mullins is a native of southwestern Ohio. He bought WBZI Radio in Xenia after an extended performance run with The Traditional Grass. Since then, his recordings and banjo work have been honored by the International Bluegrass Music Association, which also named him and the Radio Ramblers as emerging artists of the year in 2012. The newest album by the group — Mullins, mandolin player Mike Terry, fiddler Jason Barie, guitarist Duane Sparks and bassist Randy Barnes — is “Sacred Memories.”
Livingston Taylor, Rebecca Loebe
You know his brother, James Taylor, but what is likely less recognizable is that Livingston Taylor’s career is almost as extensive. One of the first artists signed to the famed Southern label Capricorn Records, Livingston released his self-titled debut album in 1970.
Since then, his career has followed a different trajectory than that of his celebrated sibling. Livingston Taylor has enjoyed periods of high commercial visibility, especially when “I Will Be in Love with You” (a single from 1978’s “Three Way Mirror,” his first post-Capricorn album) became a radio hit. Today, Taylor balances an active music career (his newest album, “Safe Home,” is due for release in March) with professorial duties at the Berklee College of Music, where he teaches courses in voice and stage performance.
Taylor performs on a bill with Atlanta folk stylist Rebecca Loebe for Monday’s taping of the “WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour” at the Lyric.