Music News & Reviews

From acoustic to rockabilly to folk: the music calendar is overflowing with goodness

Alejandro Escovedo plays Willie’s this weekend with the Italian rockers of Don Antonio, the same troupe that assists Escovedo on his new album “The Crossing.”
Alejandro Escovedo plays Willie’s this weekend with the Italian rockers of Don Antonio, the same troupe that assists Escovedo on his new album “The Crossing.” Shore Fire Media

It’s happens every fall — a live music lineup so packed in a week-long stretch with cool shows that you will need to do some serious picking and choosing. This year, though, everything unfolds during the last full calendar week of summer.

Here is what to look for.

Alejandro Escovedo with Don Antonio

9:30 p.m. Sept. 14 at Willie’s Locally Known, 286 Southland Dr. $27.

Wayne Hancock

9:30p.m. Sept. 15 at Willie.s’ Locally Known. $12.

Peter Case

8:30 p.m. Sept. 17 at Willie’s Locally Known. $12.

We begin with three not-to-miss performances at Willie’s Locally Known over four nights.

Friday night marks the return of Alejandro Escovedo, but in a very different context. The master Texas songsmith will be backed by the Italian rockers of Don Antonio, the same troupe that assists him on a new album called “The Crossing,” which is being released Friday. The record is largely vintage Escovedo with a menu that runs from chamber-colored acoustic fare to rampaging neo-punk, all of which colors a story of two boys from Mexico and Italy and they search, in very Jack Kerouac-ian fashion, for the heart of the American Spirit.

The Texas connection continues on Saturday with Wayne Hancock, the Lone Star juke joint swing stylist who has been playing Lexington haunts as long as Escovedo has (about 22 years). Hancock’s mash-up of honky tonk, rockabilly, roots country and just about any roots style that will kick up a rhythm are on expert display throughout his most recent album, 2016’s “Slingin’ Rhythm.”

Then on Monday, Peter Case is back at Willie’s. With a career that extends to the heyday of ‘70s punk, much of Case’s career has been built on an impressive string of solo albums released over the last three decades built on wildly diverse folk and pop inspirations. The newest, aside from a few archival sets, is 2015’s “Hwy 62.”

It should be noted that one of Case’s most sublime ‘80s tunes, “Two Angels,” has been regularly covered by Escovedo through the years during the latter’s many Lexington outings.

Leo Kottke

7:30 p.m. Sept. 14 at the Grand Theatre, 308 St. Clair St. in Frankfort. $25-$35.

There is, quite simply, no guitar talent like Leo Kottke. For nearly a half-century, he has forged multiple shades of folk, blues and more into distinct voices for six and 12 string guitar. A prime, formative inspiration was the similarly idiosyncratic John Fahey. But Kottke’s music, which has increasingly sought new directions in style, tone and harmony, has long been his own.

Similarly, Kottke’s performance approach is equally unique — a solo, acoustic format that intersperses his guitar exploits with a sense of wry, immediate and often hilariously askew storytelling.

Kottke has been a frequent visitor to Lexington, mostly through appearances in the Troubadour Concert series. Tonight, however, marks his first central Kentucky show in four years.

Fort Harrod Jazz Festival

6 p.m. Sept. 14, 11 a.m. Sept. 15, 12 noon Sept. 16 at Old Fort Harrod State Park, 100 S. College St. in Harrodsburg. Free.

With summer now summoning its final official chorus, the time could not be more splendid for a weekend full of free outdoor jazz. That’s what the Fort Harrod Jazz Festival will have on tap through Sunday with a program covering myriad traditional and contemporary styles.

The featured artist, performing at 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 15, will be Adrian Crutchfield, who served as Prince’s saxophonist during the final stages of the latter’s recording and touring career. With an instrumental profile that owes to soul, funk and hip hop in addition to jazz, Crutchfield has also toured internationally with Lionel Ritchie and Bette Midler, among many others.


7:30 p.m. Sept. 17 at the University of Kentucky John Jacobs Niles Gallery, 160 Patterson Dr. Free.

On another jazz terrain altogether is the Norwegian quartet Cortex, who performs Monday at UK’s Niles Gallery as part of the Outside the Spotlight series.

The band’s first OTS show (held three years ago to the week at Mecca’s former Manchester St. studio) was one of the series’ great surprises. It offered a very audience-friendly blend of groove, free improvisation and fractured boppish intimacy — traits also reflected on its 2017 album, “Avant-Garde Party Music.” Highly recommended.

Josh Rouse/Bendigo Fletcher/Scott Whiddon

8 p.m. Sept. 19 at The Burl, 375 Thompson Rd. $15.

Lera Lynn/Reuben Bidez

8 p.m. Sept. 20 at The Burl. $15.

The Burl gets in on the action next week with a pair of shows from two masterful song stylists. We’re saving our say on Lera Lynn for Sunday’s Living, where she will discuss her fine new duets album, “Plays Well With Others,” in detail.

But also check out the first Lexington outing in many years by Josh Rouse, the ethno-pop scholar responsible for such albums as the gorgeously retro “1972,” the more elegantly Spanish minded “El Turista” and the recent, synth-savvy “Love in the Modern Age.”