There is something wonderfully fitting about Town Mountain heading back to Lexington for a Derby Eve show at Cosmic Charlie’s.
No, the robust and heavily rhythmic bluegrass troupe isn’t from the region. It hails from Asheville, N.C., an area that has produced a potent string-music culture of its own through the years. But Town Mountain — guitarist and vocalist Robert Greer, banjo player Jesse Langlias, mandolinist Phil Barker, fiddler Jack Devereux and bassist Zach Smith — has all but grown up in Lexington, with a series of performances in numerous venues that began shortly after the release of the band’s 2012 album “Leave the Bottle.”
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With each successive release came a return visit to Lexington. In summer 2014, Town Mountain’s first performance at Cosmic Charlie’s now-vacated digs in Woodland Plaza coincided with the release of its first concert recording, “Live at the Isis.” The modest but lively Celtic accent of “Four Miles,” one of the record’s most engaging tunes, proved a performance highlight that evening.
In fall 2015, when Town Mountain was part of an outdoor concert bill downtown for the Breeders’ Cup Festival, a two-song EP of Grateful Dead covers, “The Dead Session,” was just weeks away from release.
Then, when its most recent album, “Southern Crescent,” hit stores last summer, Town Mountain returned to town as the Saturday night headliner at the Festival of the Bluegrass. It will do so again June 10 at the Kentucky Horse Park.
On Friday night, though, we have Town Mountain at the new Cosmic Charlie’s on National Avenue. There is no new record to celebrate, but expect its Carolina-bred string-band charge to ignite the most fervent Derby Eve bluegrass show in the Bluegrass.
Okay, maybe you’re just of those renegade spirits who just don’t get into Derby madness and would rather just slip out of town on Saturday. If so, we have a great road-trip performance to recommend: an evening with Little Feat guitarists Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett, performing their long-running acoustic duo side-project show at Live at the Ludlow Garage, 342 Ludlow Avenue in Cincinnati (8 p.m.; $25-$50).
And there is a bonus. The performance will also feature vocalist/guitarist Craig Fuller sitting in. The one time Pure Prairie League frontman shared singing duties with Barrere when Little Feat reformed in 1987. He stayed for three albums, leaving after 1991’s underrated “Shake Me Up.”
Peter Rowan and John Jorgenson Bluegrass Group
6:45 p.m. May 8 at the Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center., 300 E. Third St., for the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour. $20. 859-280-2218. Lexingtonlyric.tix.com.
Two major names versed in — but hardly contained by — bluegrass make up the bill for Monday’s recording of “The WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour” at the Lyric.
The pack will be led by Peter Rowan, a song stylist and performer who adheres to few stylistic bounds. Rowan is perhaps best recognized for a short-lived but well-chronicled progressive bluegrass troupe in the early 1970s called Old and in the Way, with Jerry Garcia, Vassar Clements, David Grisman and John Kahn. That alliance forged a still-devout following among jam-band audiences and explains how of some of the band’s tunes — “Midnight Moonlight” and “Land of the Navajo,” in particular — still make regular appearances in his concerts today.
Rowan’s career is vast, reaching back to a mid-’60s tenure with Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys. After stint with less tradition-minded groups Seatrain and Muleskinner, Rowan established a solo career that highlighted his prowess as a songwriter. Among the many strong recordings released under his own name are 1982’s “The Walls of Time,” 1990’s more folk-directed “Dust Bowl Children” (arguably his finest work), and 2013’s “The Old School.”
Today, at age 74, Rowan performs in myriad ensemble settings highlighting bluegrass, rock, reggae, folk and more.
The co-billed John Jorgensen has performed in the region many times, usually with a quintet devoted to the songs and sounds of pioneering gypsy swing guitarist Django Reinhardt. Long before that, though, Lexington audiences heard him on club stages during the late ’80s with the retro country-inspired Desert Rose Band and in the ’90s at Rupp Arena as co-guitarist for Elton John.
The WoodSongs date, however, highlights the John Jorgenson Bluegrass Group (or J2B2, as the guitarist likes to call it). Fortified by banjo player Herb Pedersen (also a Desert Rose alum and a longstanding member of a fruitful West Coast country/bluegrass community), bassist Mark Fain and guitarist Patrick Sauber, Jorgenson performs primarily on mandolin. The band’s debut album, “From the Crow’s Nest,” was released as part of Jorgenson’s 2015 triple-disc set “Divertuoso.”