Four shows over four nights in only two venues — that's the game plan as The Green Lantern and Natasha's Bistro dominate this weekend's concert menu.
500 Miles to Memphis
10 p.m. Nov. 20 at The Green Lantern, 497 Third St. $5. (859) 252-9539. www.myspace.com/greenlanternbar.
The Deadstring Brothers
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10 p.m. Nov. 21 at The Green Lantern. $5.
The Green Lantern kicks things off Friday night with the return of the Cincinnati cowpunk brigade 500 Miles to Memphis. The band rocks heartily with guitar crunch, country commiseration and hook-happy tunes from its 2007 album, Sunshine in a Shot Glass.
This supposedly is 500 Miles' last show of the year. But then, the band's Web site also claimed that the bash last Friday at the Southgate House in Newport was going to close out road work for 2009. Regardless, you won't have 500 Miles to kick around after this weekend. The band plans to get busy this winter on a new album with eyes toward a February release.
The fine West Virginia string band The Fox Hunt will open Friday's show.
The club follows up Saturday with The Deadstring Brothers, a band that poses this intriguing rock 'n' roll query: What if the Rolling Stones, especially as they existed in their honky-tonk glory of the early '70s, hailed from Detroit instead of England?
Certainly there is a passing shade of Mick Jagger in the singing of Kurt Marschke — although it is mostly a reflection of Jagger during the roots- rebellion days of Exile on Main St. Those accents, and an occasional nod to Faces-style looseness, fuel the 2007 Deadstring album Silver Mountain.
But expect boozy country blues on tunes that the Brothers are bound to play Saturday from their next record, Sao Paulo, due out in February on Chicago's famed Bloodshot label.
Opening Saturday will be fellow Motor City country stylists Whitey Morgan and the 78s. Morgan's crew, however, seems to steer closer to the traditional. Its cover of Bruce Springsteen's I'm on Fire sounds like pre-outlaw-era Waylon Jennings in a heady Western mood.
8 p.m. Nov. 22 at Natasha's Bistro, 112 Esplanade. $15. (859) 259-2754. www.beetnik.com.
■ 6:45 p.m. Nov. 23 for WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour at The Kentucky Theatre. $10. (859) 252-8888. www.woodsongs.com.■ 9:30 p.m. Nov. 23 at Natasha's Bistro. $17.50.
On Sunday, Natasha's Bistro, which has stepped up this fall to become one of Lexington's prime performance rooms, brings in Texas pop/folk guitarist Monte Montgomery. A mainstay of an ever-fruitful Austin, Texas, scene, Montgomery also has been a Lexington favorite for more than a decade. A guitarist with often-astonishing technique, he has sometimes allowed the pop slickness of several well-intentioned albums get the better of his playing.
A self-titled 2008 recording doesn't fully remedy the problem, although it operates from wider stylistic terrain thanks to the Chris Whitley-flavored River, a lushly updated version of Let's Go and a reading of the Jimi Hendrix staple Little Wing that digs deep into a full bag of echo effects.
The most prominent performer visits after the weekend officially wraps up. Never one to play things safe, folk baroness Michelle Shocked returns for a Monday night doubleheader. She will be a featured guest on WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour, as will the Canadian folk duo Dala. Then Shocked ventures across the street for a full evening show at Natasha's.
Getting to see Shocked in such an intimate environment should be a thrill. But it will be interesting to see how the more rockish jabs from her new album, Soul of My Soul, will work with a sit-down crowd.