Music News & Reviews

Hookah should be smoking

ekoostik hookah

8 p.m. May 8 at The Dame, 367 East Main. $12. (859) 231-7263. www.dameky.com.

Saving Jane

8 p.m. May 9 at The Dame. $10 advance, $12 at door.

The Bluegrass is going Buckeye this weekend, or at least The Dame is. Two established but unrelated bands from Columbus, Ohio, will headline there Friday and Saturday.

The first has quite a few longtime fans in Lexington. The jam-happy ekoostik hookah has been hitting regional clubs for ages, going back to the glory days of Lynagh's Music Club. When that venue shut down in 2002, local hoopla over the hookah seemed to dissipate. But that just gave the band more time to heighten the national visibility of its biannual Hookahville festivals in central Ohio.

In its 15-year history, prime national groove merchants Bruce Hornsby, George Clinton, Béla Fleck, Ratdog, Keller Williams and more have found their way to Hookahville. Les Claypool will be among the guests when the festival reconvenes Memorial Day weekend at Frontier Ranch in Pataskala. But Friday at The Dame, ekoostik hookah has the evening to itself.

On Saturday, Saving Jane takes over. If you sense a country sensibility in the quartet's pop profile, you aren't alone. Powered by the radio-friendly vocals of Marti Dodson, Saving Jane's class-culture single Girl Next Door became a modest hit in 2006. The band then fashioned a "country remix" of the song. Not to be outdone, singer Julie Roberts cut her own version.

But much of the '70s-flavored fare that Saving Jane has recorded could easily fit within country radio's pop-heavy parameters. Even the electro-pop-fortified SuperGirl heads to the country once its refrain kicks in.

10,000 Maruniaks, hailing from — where else? — Columbus, will open Saturday.

Mothership connection

It's been more than 30 years since George Clinton landed the mothership at Rupp Arena for a funk carnival seemingly inspired equally by Frank Zappa (in its stylistic precision and a daptability), Sly and the Family Stone (in the sheer force of its funk-driven tunes) and Kiss (in its theatrical components).

Clinton, 67, mostly plays clubs and theaters now but still tours with an ensemble of more than two dozen singers, musicians and, he says, "clowns."

We chat with Clinton about the evolution of funk music in Sunday's Arts + Life. Then, on Monday, Clinton heads to The Kentucky Theatre with his newest Parliament-Funkadelic entourage for his first Lexington performance in nearly a decade. (7 pm. $44.50. (859) 231-7924. www.troubashow.com.)

Simply Sara

At long last, Nickel Creek's Sara Watkins has made a solo album. And it's a beaut. The last member of the band to step out on her own, Watkins just released a beautifully delicate and unspoiled self-titled recording.

It sports a killer guest list, with Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones as producer; Nickel Creek mates Chris Thile and Sean Watkins, her brother, as support players (along with Gillian Welch, David Rawlings, Tim O'Brien and others); and tunes by Tom Waits, John Hartford and Norman Blake interspersed among Watkins' fine originals.

But Watkins' unassuming, conversational singing, as well as the old-world tone of her fiddle playing, quietly drives the album.

Watkins performs Saturday at Southgate House, 23 East Third Street, Newport. (9 p.m., $17. (859) 431-2201. www.southgatehouse.com.)

Watkins also has been confirmed as a performance guest for the June 8 taping of WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour in Lexington.

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