Music News & Reviews

10 concert picks to warm up this chilly winter

JJ Grey & Mofro play Manchester Music Hall on Jan. 24.
JJ Grey & Mofro play Manchester Music Hall on Jan. 24.

Ah, the dead of winter. Hibernation time. A chance to curl up on the couch with the cat, The Cats or Netflix. Or maybe not.

Sure, the weather in a very young 2018 hasn’t exactly been inviting in terms of getting out of the house, but pretty much every major Lexington music venue is making it worth your while to brave inclement conditions with an unusually active January/February roster of recommended concert attractions.

Here are 10 picks at seven different local performance halls over the next two months. So shake off the winter blues. A ton of musical warmth is headed our way.

Jan. 18: Cedric Burnside Project/Raleigh Dailey at Willie’s Locally Known, 286 Southland Dr. (8:30 p.m., $10).,

The Cedric Burnside Project is the ongoing performance and recording band led by blues drummer Cedric Burnside, the torchbearer of a Mississippi Hill Country blues family that extends back to grandfather R.L. Burnside. That explains the title of the Project’s most recent album, “Descendants of Hill Country.”

Jan. 19: Alan Jackson/Lauren Alaina at Rupp Arena. (7:30 p.m.; $52.50- $74.50).,

With the touring retirement of George Strait, Georgia native Jackson is now country music’s top-selling traditionalist. His old school sound has changed little since songs like “Don’t Rock the Jukebox” and “Dallas” topped country charts over 25 years ago, which just happens to be when Jackson began headlining shows at Rupp.

Jan. 24: JJ Grey and Mofro/The Commonheart at Manchester Music Hall, 899 Manchester St. (7 p.m.; $25-$30).,

Grey has been bringing his distinctly Floridian brand of R&B and funk to Lexington ever since the first Mofro album, “Blackwater,” was released in 2001. Though inspirations have broadened since then, most notably in the Muscle Shoals influence on 2013’s “This River,” Grey and Mofro still relish in swampy soul.

Jan. 25: Pokey LaFarge/Divino Nino at Cosmic Charlie’s, 723 National Ave. (8 p.m.; $17-$20).,

The ghosts of Americana past have long lingered through the music of St. Louis pop/blues/jazz revivalist LaFarge, from the vocal slant of Jimmy Rodgers to the ragged romanticism of Leadbelly. LaFarge’s new “Manic Revelations” album modernizes that vintage feel, but only modestly.

Neko Case plays Manchester Music Hall on Jan. 26.

Jan. 26: Neko Case/Mt. Joy at Manchester Music Hall, 899 Manchester St. (7 p.m.; $30-$35).,

It seems like ages since Case’s alt-country turned alt-pop singing, a siren call of reverb-soaked wonder, commanded a Lexington stage. She has played surrounding cities numerous times, visited the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour for an abbreviated set and even sang backup for Jakob Dylan. This time, though, Case will be the star of the show.

Feb. 2: Marco Benevento at Cosmic Charlie’s, 723 National Ave. (9 p.m., $12-$15).,

Extracurricular activities alone — which have included making music with Phil Lesh, Trey Anastasio and duo work with Joe Russo — have made Marco Benevento a hero in jam band circles. But this winter, the keyboardist is touring behind two albums, the 2016 studio set “The Story of Fred Short” and 2017’s live “Woodstock Sessions.”

Feb. 10: The Kentucky HeadHunters/Those Guyz/Dustin Collins at Manchester Music Hall, 899 Manchester St. (7 p.m., $20-$60).,

It’s been just shy of three decades since the HeadHunters hit the charts with their Metcalfe County-bred brand of barnyard boogie music. With four of its five founding members still on board, the band still carries on with blues-fortified electric country albums like 2016’s “On Safari.”

Earls of Leicester plays the Opera House on Feb. 22. Anthony Scarlati

Feb. 22: The Earls of Leicester at the Opera House, 401 W. Short. (7:30 p.m.; $35.50-$45.50).,

One time Lexingtonian, longtime Alison Krauss sidekick and celebrated dobro stylist Jerry Douglas has ventured far into the field of progressive string music over the decades. The Earls of Leicester, however, is a scholarly, Grammy winning tribute to the Lester Flatt/Earl Scruggs school of traditional bluegrass, hence the band name.

Feb. 27: Jessica Lea Mayfield/Mal Blum and the Blums at The Burl, 375 Thompson Rd. (8 p.m.; $12-$15).,

Though still in her 20s, Mayfield has released four stunningly different Americana-leaning albums over the last decade. The newest, “Sorry is Gone,” is a harrowing journey out of the darkness of domestic abuse. Chiming guitars, reverb-soaked vocals and assorted electric squalls color storylines of very real, country-tinged drama.

Feb. 28: Galactic at the Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center, 300 E. Third. (8 p.m., $40).,

It’s nice to have Galactic as semi-regulars in Lexington again. While the New Orleans funk troupe hasn’t released a new album since a visit to the Lyric two years ago, its band members have been moonlighting in numerous projects, including drummer Stanton Moore’s guest-filled Allen Toussaint tribute record, “With You in Mind.”

Read Walter Tunis’ blog, The Musical Box, at