The dead of winter. It’s the time of year almost no one embraces. The holidays are over with spring seemingly light years away. Where does that leave us? In the middle of a dark, frozen void, that’s where.
But there is some warmth to be shared in the months ahead. Four regional venues — Manchester Music Hall, The Burl, the Norton Center for the Arts in Danville, and Rupp Arena — have hefty concert lineups on tap as the season rolls on.
The sounds will be varied. Pop, country, hip-hop, folk, multi-cultural jazz and more are on tap. So grab the ice scraper and get out of the house. There is a load of splendid live music heading our way this winter. Here’s the lineup.
Jan. 18: Gabriel Royal at the Norton Center for the Arts, 600 W. Walnut St. in Danville. (8 p.m.; $29-$39). An Oklahoma born, New York based artist once referred to by the Huffington Post as “Brooklyn’s best busker,” the classically trained Royal utilizes cello to create new mixes of pop, soul and jazz. nortoncenter.com.
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Jan. 24: Rayland Baxter at The Burl, 375 Thompson Rd. (8 p.m.; $15-$18). The son of veteran guitarist Bucky Baxter, this Nashville-based song stylist has established a strong grassroots following for songs with a fervent alt country feel. His new “Wide Awake” album, however, inches the younger Baxter closer to pop territory. theburlky.com.
Jan. 30: The Marcus King Band at Manchester Music Hall, 899 Manchester St. (7 p.m.; $12, $15). At age 22, guitarist/vocalist King is already a pro at creating an infectious blend of blues, soul and Southern-saturated R&B. A major hit with jam band-savvy audiences, he is currently touring behind his band’s third album, “Carolina Confessions.” manchestermusichall.com.
Feb. 2: Steep Canyon Rangers at Manchester Music Hall. (7 p.m.; $21-$36). Known somewhat as Steve Martin’s support band of choice, the Rangers are a bluegrass unit with traditionalist smarts but a stylistically progressive sense of daring. The band will be making its first Lexington appearance, minus Martin, since the World Equestrian Games in 2010. manchestermusichall.com.
Feb. 2: Vince Gill at the Norton Center for the Arts. (8 p.m., $99). The guitarist, vocalist and recently drafted Eagle returns to the road following an illness that derailed his originally scheduled Danville concert from November. That will place Gill in the same venue (the Norton Center’s Newlin Hall) that wife Amy Grant will play on March 3. nortoncenter.com.
Feb. 13: Martin Sexton/Chris Trapper at The Burl 375 Thompson Rd. (8 p.m.; $25-$30). For over 25 years, indie songwriter Sexton has been penning tunes combining folk, pop and blues that have subsequently been featured in television programs like “Scrubs” and “Parenthood.” theburlky.com.
Feb. 19: Tyler Ramsey and Carl Broemel at The Burl. (8 p.m., $15) This has the making of a seriously engaging winter duo program with the former lead guitarist for Band of Horses (he departed the band after a decade long tenure in 2017) teaming with the still-current guitarist for My Morning Jacket. theburlky.com.
Feb. 21: Dierks Bentley, Jon Pardi, Tenille Townes and Hot Country Knights at Rupp Arena (7 p.m.; $34.75-$69.75). Bentley continues a long running string of Lexington appearances that extend back to a date at the long-gone Main St. club The Dame in 2004. Keep an eye out for show opener Hot Country Knights, which may prove to be quite the onstage surprise. rupparena.com.
Feb. 22: The Real Music Festival featuring Ja Rule, Ashanti, Rick Ross, Lil’ Kim, Ma$e, Plies and Mya at Rupp Arena. (TBA; $51-$101). Rupp further tests the levels of local interest in national hip-hop artists with a seven act bill headlined by New York rapper, singer and actor Ja Rule. rupparena.com.
Feb. 24: Alfredo Rodriguez and Pedrito Martinez Duo at the Norton Center for the Arts. (7 p.m.; $29-$39). With a novel duo design of piano and percussion, these two Havana rooted musicians explore new improvisatory voices for jazz-inspired melodies and grooves forged inside, as well as outside, of Cuba. nortoncenter.com.
Feb. 27: James Taylor and his All-Star Band/Bonnie Raitt at Rupp Arena (7:30 p.m.; $69.50-$103.50). Folk-rock patriarch Taylor heads back to Rupp after a mere three years away. But the return will be highlighted the first Lexington performance in recent memory by Raitt, who usually limits her regional appearances to Louisville or Cincinnati. rupparena.com.
Feb. 28: Los Lobos at Manchester Music Hall. (7 p.m.; $30-$65). Los Lobos may look like a pokerfaced pack of rock ‘n’ roll elders. But its mix of roots driven melodies, familial storylines and psychedelic invention is quite combustible onstage. One of the most unassumingly potent live acts on the planet. manchestermusichall.com.