Music News & Reviews

Yes, there is another music festival in town besides Railbird this weekend

Mindi Abair, front and center, will be joined by The Boneshakers, from left, Ben White, Rodney Lee, Sweet Pea Atkinson, Randy Jacobs and Third Richardson at the Kentucky Horse Park Campground for a Saturday show.
Mindi Abair, front and center, will be joined by The Boneshakers, from left, Ben White, Rodney Lee, Sweet Pea Atkinson, Randy Jacobs and Third Richardson at the Kentucky Horse Park Campground for a Saturday show.

Lexus Smooth Jazz Fest featuring Mindi Abair and the Boneshakers, Paul Taylor and Michael Lington

7:30 p.m. Aug. 10 at the Kentucky Horse Park Campground, 4089 Iron Works Parkway. $40, $80. 859-255-2653.

Railbird isn’t the only music festival hitting town this weekend. Over at the Kentucky Horse Park, the Lexus Smooth Jazz Fest will commence with saxophonist Mindi Abair as headliner.

Genre tags may start to get confusing here. First there is the matter of the smooth jazz label, a highly popular musical hybrid that owes as much to instrumental R&B as it does to actual jazz with compositions bearing strong melodic comparisons to pop.

How that tag applies to Abair, a Berklee College of Music graduate and two-time Grammy nominee, is even more curious. With a nearly two decade-long recording career to her credit, Abair has performed onstage and in the studio with such decidedly non-jazz artists as Aerosmith, Gregg Allman, Duran Duran, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and The Backstreet Boys.

Abair’s current performance vehicle is a sturdy electric unit called The Boneshakers that is essentially a rock, blues and soul unit. Famed Lyle Lovett/Was. Not Was vocalist Sweet Pea Atkinson helped enforce the band’s robust sense of soul on initial albums. But on the new “No Good Deed,” Abair handles nearly all of the vocalwork as The Boneshakers dig into a hearty crop of rock and r&b standards ranging from the popular (an update of “You Better Run” that owes more to the hit 1980 Pat Benatar cover than the original version cut by The Young Rascals in 1966) to classic (a take on 1975’s “Baby, Get It On,” the final chart hit for Ike and Tina Turner) to overlooked (a raucous revival of 1993’s “Good Day for the Blues” by the neglected Austin, Tx. blues-soul brigade Storyville).

Smooth? Not exactly. But for a live sound that will bring the Horse Park to life on a Saturday night, Abair and The Boneshakers should deliver nicely.

Santana/The Doobie Brothers

7 p.m. Aug. 10 at Riverbend Music Center, 6295 Kellogg Ave. in Cincinnati. $47-$173. 513-232-5882.

While we’re on the topic of music festivals, can we talk Woodstock for a moment?

The 50th anniversary of the generation-defining summit is upon us. This weekend, one of the key veterans of Woodstock – perhaps the only act from the original festival still commanding a commercial profile big enough to fill arenas and amphitheaters today – will be playing Riverbend in Cincinnati.

The artists is Santana. No other band benefited so strategically from its Woodstock exposure than the percussion driven, Latin fortified rock troupe that bears the name of who remains, in 2019, its sole remaining original member – guitarist Carlos Santana.

The Santana band was an unknown when it played Woodstock. Its self-titled debut album, which would become a massive hit, was still two weeks away from release. But when an extended percussive jam erupted out of the instrumental “Soul Sacrifice” in a performance preserved for posterity in the Oscar winning 1970 documentary on the festival, Santana became an immediate audience sensation.

Perhaps expectedly, Santana has been opening its concerts this summer with three of the songs that were introduced from its debut album at Woodstock – “Soul Sacrifice,” “Jingo” and “Evil Ways.”

Santana isn’t living completely in the past these days. The band released its 25th studio album in June, a critically lauded collaboration with producer Rick Rubin titled “Africa Speaks.”

The Woodstock connection and the popularity won by a new album almost overshadows the fact that Santana will share its Riverbend bill with The Doobie Brothers. Known for a stockpile of 1970s radio hits (“Listen to the Music,” “China Grove” and “Black Water,” among them), the California band continues to tour with three of its mainstay members – guitarists Tom Johnston, Patrick Simmons and John McFee.

Joan Shelley/Nick Moss Band

6:45 p.m. Aug. 12 at the Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center, 300 E. Third for the WoodSongs Old Time Radio Hour. $10. 859-280-2218.

Get set for another cool double bill at the Monday taping of the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour. Up this week is the expert Louisville songstress Joan Shelley, who is becoming a regular here in Lexington. She played The Burl as recently as mid-July and already has a return booking there set for Nov. 2.

Also on tap will be the expert blues troupe The Nick Moss Band, whose Chicago sound (recorded, in the case of its fine new “Lucky Guy!” album, in San Jose, Calif.) is built equally around the vocals and joyous electric guitarwork of chieftain Moss and the sweetly vibrant harmonica colors of Dennis Gruenling.