David Wax Museum
In one of its more notable Lexington visits, the David Wax Museum played downtown in Phoenix Park — a notably metropolitan setting for folk-flavored Americana that regularly skips over to Mexico for inspiration.
Founded by guitarist and vocalist David Wax and completed by violinist and wife Sue Slezak, the band’s music draws on the instrumentation and especially the rhythms of Mexico. Wax went in search of inspiration there while attending Harvard University. The melodic traditions he discovered led to a sound that has regularly been termed Mexo-Americana.
A debut recording, “I Turned Off Thinking About,” was released in 2008 with the sound evolving into an electronically orchestrated ambience for 2015’s Josh Kaufman-produced “Guesthouse.” The band’s 10-year anniversary was celebrated last fall with the release of a b-sides and rarities collection titled “Electric Artifacts.”
Unlike the 2016 show, the David Wax Museum will perform as a pared-down Wax-Slezak duo when it returns to Lexington for a Soulful Space concert at St. Michael the Archangel Episcopal Church on Saturday. You’ll find no more novel of a way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day than to ditch the Irish kitsch for a trip south of the border.
“We’re not doing Top 40 music here,” Wax said prior to the Phoenix Park performance. “We’re doing kind of a weird niche thing to some degree. Our songs have the potential to reach a wider audience, but that’s mostly out of our control. In terms of what we can control, we feel very satisfied with what we’ve been able to do.”
Los Lonely Boys
In the vastness of West Texas sits the city of San Angelo, homebase for the Garza brothers — better known collectively as the roots-driven rock trio Los Lonely Boys.
When the siblings — guitarist/vocalist Henry Garza, bassist/vocalist Jojo Garza and drummer/vocalist Ringo Garza — tore out of San Angelo in the late 1990s, they were hailed as the latest Lone Star contender for modern day Jimi Hendrix status. Until his death in a helicopter crash in 1990, Austin guitarslinger Stevie Ray Vaughan had a lock on the title. But beginning with Los Lonely Boys’ self-titled, double platinum-selling debut album in 2004, the Garzas were poised to be a Chicano rock torchbearer of the Jimi Hendrix Experience.
The band never approached Hendrix’s legendary status, but it didn’t fade from the blues-rock pantheon, either. On one of Los Lonely Boys’ more recent recordings, a 2016 cover of the Creedence Clearwater Revival hit “Born on the Bayou” (from an all-Latino CCR tribute album titled “Quiero Creedence”), the trio serves up a slice of boozy, bluesy guitar trio fury drenched in the same kind of fuzzed out electric psychedelia that made John Fogerty’s original version with CCR so arresting upon its release in 1968.
Los Lonely Boys are back on Lexington soil this weekend for a performance tonight at Manchester Music Hall. Lisa Morales will open.
Another packed performance weekend is heading our way courtesy of The Burl. But this time the focus is on big league names in smaller sounding scenarios.
First up is the pride of the Webster County town of Slaughters, Chris Knight, who has been bringing his rural, roots minded songs to Lexington clubs for more than 15 years. While stylistic similarities to the 1980s and ’90s music of Steve Earle and John Mellencamp abound, a hefty roster of contemporary country artists have recorded his tunes. Among them is Central Kentucky’s own Montgomery Gentry, who turned Knight’s “She Couldn’t Change Me” (which was co-written by Gary Nicholson) into a No. 2 country hit in 2001.
Tonight, Knight will trim the huge, Heartland rock sound of his songs to leaner essentials and perform them an acoustic duo setting.
Then on Saturday, it’s the return of Langhorne Slim, who is currently on the run from the Law. In this case, The Law is Slim’s longtime band, which he is jettisoning for his current solo tour. Performances are also focusing on the pared-down, Americana-friendly sound of “Lost at Last, Vol. 1,” Slim’s newest album. The quieter stride of the new music, if any, brings out the folk, blues and roots-country inspirations always at play in his songs.
Writing last month on Facebook prior to the tour’s start, Slim said, “I’ve proved again this morning that I’m incapable of packing light and will still likely wear the same outfit for the next month.”