Music News & Reviews

Fred Eaglesmith, in top form of late, headlines Millville show

Fred Eaglesmith, and David Olney and Sergio Webb

7 p.m. April 24 at Millville Community Center, 6715 McCracken Pike, Woodford County. $17. (859) 873-2222.

During the late '90s glory days of Lynagh's Music Club, Fred Eaglesmith became a regular visitor. Pulling into town in a vintage tour bus with his band, The Flying Squirrels, Eaglesmith had more ragged Texas country soul in his songs than half of the Lone Star troubadours who passed through the Bluegrass.

And that's a pretty nifty trick considering that Eaglesmith is Canadian.

Friday night, Eaglesmith returns to Central Kentucky to play the ultra-intimate Millville Community Center, which last year hosted a Labor Day weekend show with alt-country fave Robbie Fulks, one of the artists featured on a 2003 Eaglesmith tribute album.

A writer with a devout fan following known as "Fredheads," Eaglesmith is in especially sharp form on his past two recordings. On 2007's Dusty, he paints stark and somber Americana vignettes within a one-man-band setting. The mood carries over onto 2008's Tinderbox, a spiritual song cycle with a sparse, often darkly percussive roots-music stride that mildly recalls the '90s music of Tom Waits.

If you've heard the fascinating street-preacher confessional Jerusalem Tomorrow — Emmylou Harris cut a sublime version of it in 1993 — you know there is also a little rural righteousness to the music of David Olney. The veteran songsmith, a native New Englander but a longtime Nashvillian, will round out the Millville bill with help from accompanist/multi- instrumentalist Sergio Webb.

Olney's music also deals with ventriloquists, baseball, outer space comedians and World War I French prostitutes. While the songs' emotive cast shifts from surreal to sobering, their performance possibilities and the complementary instrumentation by Webb are nicely chronicled on the recent indie concert recording Live at Norm's River Road House, Vol. 1.

Jazz crawl

Richmond becomes jazz central Friday night with the EKU/MIO Jazz Crawl. The fun starts with Lexington's Tryptamine creating ambient sound and vision collages at the Gallery on Main, 128 West Main Street, at 8 p.m. After that comes a performance by the crawl's featured artist, New York vocalist Kendra Shank. Her new album, Mosaic, features appealing takes on tunes by such disparate artists as Cedar Walton (the album's title track, which Walton penned for then-boss Art Blakey in 1961) and Carole King (the Tapestry-era classic So Far Away). Shank will team with the Eastern Kentucky University Faculty Jazz Ensemble at the Richmond Area Arts Center, 399 West Water Street, at 9:15 p.m. The evening concludes with a set by the Richmond blues-rock brigade Voodoo Phyllis at Players Club, 212 West Water Street, at 11 p.m. Tickets for the entire evening are $8 in advance and $10 at the door or online. For information, call (606) 622-1428 or go to

Cajun calling

There is no greater Cajun music ambassador today than Michael Doucet, and no better established vehicle for the waltzes, two-steps, polkas and reels that define Cajun music than the band he has led for more than three decades, BeauSoleil. After a lengthy absence from Bluegrass country, Doucet and BeauSoleil will be back Monday as featured guests of WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour. Doucet discusses present-day Cajun culture and the friends and somewhat surprising repertoire that make up BeauSoleil's new album, Alligator Purse, in Sunday's Arts and Life section. (7 p.m. $10. (859) 252-8888.)

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader