Music News & Reviews

Walter Tunis: Vandaveer's haphazard tour has purpose; busy music week ahead

Vandaveer is making a "haphazard return": J. Tom Hnatow, Mark Charles Heidinger and Rose Guerin.
Vandaveer is making a "haphazard return": J. Tom Hnatow, Mark Charles Heidinger and Rose Guerin.


Coralee and the Townees Trio opens. 10 p.m. Oct. 2. Cosmic Charlie's, 388 Woodland Ave. $10. (859) 309-9499.

The billing on Vandaveer's Facebook page describes the group's five-city fall tour as a "haphazard return."

That's a curious summation because Vandaveer chieftain Mark Charles Heidinger's well-crafted indie folk narratives and meditations over the last decade sound anything but haphazard.

It's also tough to view these shows, especially Friday night's outing at Cosmic Charlie's, as a return. Vandaveer performed at the closing of Shangri-La studio's National Avenue location in April, returned for the Moonshiners Ball in May and performed at Waterfront Park in Louisville this week.

What the billing might reference, though, is the current incarnation of Vandaveer as a six-member troupe. Helping out the regulars — Heidinger, vocalist Rose Guerin and guitarist J. Tom Hnatow — will be local pals Robby Cosenza (The Fanged Robot), Emily Hagihara (Ancient Warfare) and Justin Craig (who spent much of the past two years on Broadway as guitarist and music director for Hedwig and the Angry Inch).

A trio version of Coralee and the Townees opens tonight's show. Don't be surprised to find Ms. Coralee onstage with the Vandaveer crew, as well. She and Guerin helped belt out a high-spirited version of John Prine's Paradise at the April show.

Triple show pileup

We had Luke Bryan, The Avett Brothers with Jason Isbell and a duo outing by Chick Corea and Bela Fleck all playing in the region Thursday night. (Check for reviews of Bryan and the Avetts-Isbell at Now get set for three more shows, smaller in stature but not appeal, heading our way over a two-night run next week.

■ The first brings Irish-American fiddler Eileen Ivers back to Transylvania University's Haggin Auditorium in the Mitchell Fine Arts Building for a 7 p.m. show Oct. 7.

A co-founder of the celebrated Celtic ensemble Cherish the Ladies, Ivers grew up in the Bronx as a child of Irish immigrants. Her newest recording, Beyond the Bog Road, is an aural view of migration, tracing Irish music's growth in North America as well as its undeniable influence on Cajun, Appalachian and especially bluegrass sounds.

Ivers has made a career out of exploring the heritage as well as stylistic extensions of Celtic fiddle music. That explains her collaborations with such forward-thinking traditionalists as The Chieftains as well as her work with established pop and rock acts such as Sting, Patti Smith and Daryl Hall and John Oates. Her playing was also featured in Martin Scorsese's 2002 film Gangs of New York.

But type Ivers' name into Youtube and you will discover one of her newest and most arresting cross-cultural performances: a solo fiddle rendition of The Star Spangled Banner performed as a tribute to the artist who redefined the national anthem for a new generation: Jimi Hendrix.

Here is the best part: Ivers' performance, part of Transylvania's Smith Concert Series, is free. Tickets are still required and available at the William T. Young Campus Center. For more info, call (859) 233-8120.

■ Wednesday also brings folk-popster Ben Rector to the Singletary Center for the Arts (8 p.m.; $25-$35). The 28-year-old Nashville-by-way-of-Tulsa songsmith has amassed considerable sales (over 250,000 records) as a strictly indie artist. His newest album, released in August, is Brand New.

To many, Rector is a new name. To get acquainted, give a listen to the Pandora Radio mixtape of influences (Dawes, John Mayer) that play out on Brand New.

For tickets, call (859) 257-4929 or go to

■ Then on Thursday comes the latest monthly offering in the Jazz: Live at the Library series at the Farish Theater of the downtown Lexington Public Library, 140 E. Main St.

The concert's focus will be on the music of Herbie Hancock. But instead of the fusion and funk works that catapulted the keyboardist to stardom in the 1970s, Thursday's concert will be devoted to the predominantly acoustic recordings Hancock cut for the Blue Note label between 1962 and 1969, a period that largely coincided with his tenure as pianist in the Miles Davis Quintet.

This was the era that established Hancock's name in jazz circles through serenely textured works like Maiden Voyage and more groove-centric compositions that included Cantaloupe Island.

Leading this Hancock revival will be pianist Joshua Espinoza, director of the piano studio at Franklin College in Indiana, former visiting instructor of jazz piano at Morehead State University and summer instructor at the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan. Performing with him will be trumpeter Craig Tweddell and saxophonist Tim Whalen from Louisville with bassist Danny Cecil and drummer Dave McWhorter of Lexington. The 7 p.m. performance is free.