Music News & Reviews

Roots return to Buster's in 'Pursuit of Nappyness'

Nappy Roots, from left: Big V., B. Stille, Skinny Deville, Fish Scales and Ron Clutch.
Nappy Roots, from left: Big V., B. Stille, Skinny Deville, Fish Scales and Ron Clutch.

Nappy Roots

9 p.m. June 18 at Buster's Billiards and Backroom, 899 Manchester St. $15 advance, $18 day of show. (859) 368-8871.

Amazingly, nearly a decade has passed since Kentucky's Nappy Roots infused conventional hip-hop beats with country-inspired themes to make major hits out of songs like Po' Folks and Awnaw.

Similarly, 2002 was the year that Nappy Roots' debut recording for the Atlantic label became one of hip-hop's top-selling albums of that year.

In its own way, Nappy Roots' brief ascent to major stardom was one of the most culturally groundbreaking musical events of its day. Up to that time, much of rap had been marketed as a metropolitan commodity. It was music of inner-city streets and big-city undergrounds. Thematically, that music was light years removed from the country accents revealed on Nappy Roots' early songs. Of course, having a world-class soul singer like Anthony Hamilton helping out on Po' Folks didn't hurt.

A similar country sentiment fueled follow-up hits including 2008's Good Day and 2010's Ride.

"When you're talking about country rappers, you're talking Nappy Roots," said country/hip hop hitmaker Colt Ford, who performs Friday night at Buster's (see Page 10). Ford enlisted Nappy Roots as collaborators on Waste Some Time, a tune from his new album Every Chance I Get. "It was very cool getting to work with them."

Of late, Nappy Roots' lineup — Skinny DeVille, B. Stille, Big V, Ron Clutch (Kentuckians all) and Fish Scales (a Georgia native) — has shared the Milwaukee Summerfest stage with fellow hip-hop innovators The Roots and released a hearty new album called The Pursuit of Nappyness, which features the silhouette of a Louisville skyline as album cover art.

You can get happy with Nappy on Saturday at Buster's.

Billy Dean

7 p.m. June 19 at Natasha's Bistro, 112 Esplanade. $20. (859) 259-2754.

Scan the commercial directions that country music took during the '90s and you will quickly — and, frequently — come across the name of Billy Dean.

He never chalked up a No. 1 solo hit on the Billboard charts, but he earned numerous top-five singles that included Somewhere in My Broken Heart, If There Hadn't Been You, You Don't Count the Cost and Billy the Kid. All reflected a melodic accessibility that borrowed as generously from folk and pop as they did country. Dean's biggest chart-topper was a 1998 collaboration with Kenny Rogers and Alison Krauss titled Buy Me a Rose.

On Sunday, Dean will present an intimate, acoustic-based program of his music at Natasha's Bistro and Bar. Reservations are strongly recommended.

Marshall Tucker returns

In the mid-'70s, just as The Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd relinquished the Southern rock throne, acts like Charlie Daniels and, especially, The Marshall Tucker Band, ascended to stardom. Tunes like Heard It in a Love Song and albums like Carolina Dreams eased the latter into the pop charts, although the resulting music, by today's standards, would most certainly be marketed as country.

To get a true feel for Marshall Tucker's glory years, go back to the band's first three albums — The Marshall Tucker Band, A New Life and Where We All Belong, which were released in quick succession between 1973 and 1974, and again in 2004, as part of a massive re-issue campaign by the Shout Factory label. Those records stuck to Southern rock principles — meaning they abounded with rock, country, jam-friendly improvisations and generous doses of the blues. Any serious fan of the band needs to get a hold of these recordings.

The Marshall Tucker Band, with vocalist Doug Gray still at the helm, returns to Lexington on Thursday to play Buster's. (9 p.m. $15, $18.)