Jamey Johnson, James Otto
Sept. 6, as part of the Daniel Boone Pioneer Festival. Gates open at 4 p.m.; music at 6:30 p.m. Lykins Park, Winchester. $5; free for children 8 and younger. 1-800-298-9105.
It's outlaw time at the Daniel Boone Pioneer Festival this weekend. No, the annual Labor Day weekend event, now in its 31st year, has not skidded over to the wrong side of the proverbial tracks. But the festival's headline act, Jamey Johnson, certainly embraces the spirit of electric outlaw music that ushered Nashville into the '70s.
Alabama-born Johnson has been a frequent visitor to the top of the country charts as a writer. He co-penned the Trace Adkins hit Honky Tonk Badonkadonk and George Strait's 41st No. 1 hit, Give It Away.
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Those recordings, however, bear little resemblance to the music that Johnson stirred up on his 2008 album, That Lonesome Song, a record that has regularly and respectfully been compared to the early music of Waylon Jennings.
The literary human detail of Johnson's music is, by contemporary country standards, pretty meaty stuff. Sure, his current single My Way to You is anthemic through and through with a story line that traces a hapless romantic "going down the wrong road, living by the wrong code" to a sweeping, electric chorus. But like the nostalgic contours of In Color and the blue-collar Jennings-style narrative of High Cost of Livin' — the singles that established Johnson on country radio — the emotive impact of My Way to You never sounds coerced. It is as solid as the deeply studied Southern-accented music that stirs underneath his stories.
My Way to You is the first tune from Johnson's as-yet-untitled third album, due in November.
James Otto, who has shared the stage at Rupp Arena with Lynyrd Skynyrd and Hank Williams Jr., will help round out the Sunday bill. A founding member of the renegade Nashville collective MuzikMafia, Otto scored a No. 1 hit in 2007 with Just Got Started Lovin' You.
The Daniel Boone Pioneer Festival, of course, runs all weekend. The fun kicks off with the event's traditional street dance at 6:30 p.m. Friday, continues with art, crafts and food exhibits all day Saturday and Sunday, and will be capped off by fireworks after the Sunday concert. But then, Johnson has a reputation for playing three-hour shows. It might just be Labor Day itself by the time the skies light up in Winchester this weekend.
Time was when he was plain ol' Mark Heidinger, mainstay member of Lexington rock faves The Apparitions. Having moved to Washington, D.C., Heidinger now performs as the neo- psychedelic folk-pop stylist Vandaveer. But starting Monday, you have four chances over four nights to welcome him and the wonderfully moody tunes from his new album Divide and Conquer back to the Bluegrass.
First, Heidinger/Vandaveer performs as part of an afternoon cookout full of free Labor Day music at CD Central. His set is scheduled for about 2 p.m., with fellow local-ites Living With Hermits, J. Marinelli, Sludge Puppies and The Yesterday Trees rounding out the bill. After a show at the Southgate House in Newport on Tuesday (9:30 p.m., $5 and $8), Vandaveer comes back to Lex-town to play The Green Lantern on Wednesday (9 p.m., $5) before heading up to Louisville for a Thursday performance at The 930 Listening Room (7:30 p.m., $5). Now that's what you call a homecoming.