Music News & Reviews

Texans Guy Clark, Steve Earle headline Master Musicians Festival

Steve Earle performs Saturday in Somerset and July 26 at Lexington Opera House.
Steve Earle performs Saturday in Somerset and July 26 at Lexington Opera House.

Master Musicians Festival

6 p.m. July 15, noon July 16 at Somerset Community College Festival Field, 808 Monticello St., Somerset. $25 July 15, $30 July 16, $45 both days. (606) 677-6000.

The theme for this year's Master Musicians Festival is "The Year of the Songwriter." But it might well be called "The Year of the Texas Songwriter" because Guy Clark and Steve Earle will be featured at the annual Somerset roots-music celebration Friday and Saturday, respectively.

Admittedly, both artists have been geographically removed from Lone Star country for a while. Clark long ago moved to Nashville, and Earle is a comparatively recent New York transplant (via Nashville). But the roots each artist share with Texas and one of its most heralded songsmiths, Townes Van Zandt, are extensive.

The well-traveled Clark, who will turn 70 this fall, was a longtime friend of Van Zandt onstage and off. Van Zandt even lived with Clark and his wife, Susanna, for some time. Clark continues to recognize the songwriting inspirations of Van Zandt, who died in 1997. One of the latter's most familiar songs, If I Needed You, was featured on Clark's two newest albums, the fine 2009 studio set Sometimes the Song Writes You and the live Songs and Stories, to be released in August.

Earle is one of Van Zandt's most famed disciples. The two shared a longstanding friendship, even during the height of Earle's well-chronicled drug addictions during the early '90s. Earle paid hearty tribute to Van Zandt by recording a full album of his tunes for the Grammy-winning 2009 release Townes.

Earle's current album, the more hoedown-oriented I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive, places him back on the road this summer with a new version of his long-running band the Dukes, which will include his wife, the celebrated country and Americana song stylist Allison Moorer. Hence the official billing of Earle's current touring troupe: "Steve Earle and the Dukes (and Duchesses) featuring Allison Moorer."

Earle also will perform July 26 at the Lexington Opera House.

Here is the full schedule for this year's Master Musicians Festival:

Friday: The Sooners, 6 p.m.; Velveeta Jones, 7 p.m.; Guy Clark, 8:30 p.m.; Mountain Heart, 9:45 p.m.

Saturday: One Way, noon; Southern Kentucky Songwriters Guild, 12:45 p.m.; Lost in Liberty, 1:40 p.m.; The Mountain Connection, 2:40 p.m.; Club Dub, 3:40 p.m.; Faubush Hill, 4:45 p.m.; Holy Ghost Tent Revival, 6 p.m.; The David Mayfield Parade, 7:30 p.m.; Chris Knight, 8:45 p.m.; Steve Earle and the Dukes (and Duchesses) featuring Allison Moorer, 10:15 p.m.

Halfway to Forecastle

6 p.m. July 15 at Waterfront Park, 129 E. River Rd., Louisville. $45-$80. 1-800-514-3849.

Halfway to Forecastle began four years ago as a performance teaser for the full-blown Forecastle Festival, which lights up downtown Louisville every July.

So why is this year's Halfway to Forecastle now a summer happening? In part, it's because there is no multiday Forecastle this year. The event is taking the summer off and is already looking ahead to July 2012, when it will celebrate its 10th anniversary. Forecastle also will team with Knoxville-based AC Entertainment, the merchandising mind behind Bonnaroo, among other events.

Such planning now moves Halfway to Forecastle, which usually is in January, to summer — specifically Friday night.

Headlining a bill dominated by dance, hip-hop and electronica acts will be Big Boi, half of the Grammy-winning Outkast; BoomBox, a guitar/DJ duo that includes Zion Godchaux, son of onetime Grateful Dead vocalist Donna Jean Godchaux; RJD2, the renown DJ/groove-music stylist; and Twin Shadow, a Caribbean-bred indie-pop artist.

Tickets to Halfway to Forecastle and its famed after-party event ($25 each) are available through


9 p.m. July 15 at Cosmic Charlie's, 388 Woodland Ave. $10. (859) 309-9499.

We've already had two Lexington outings of techno-charged soul-funk courtesy of the Los Angeles band Orgone. The first was an opening set at Buster's Billiards & Backroom last fall for soul diva Sharon Jones. The second was a subsequent headlining performance at the Lyric Theatre.

Raised on the music of esteemed funk units The Meters, Booker T and the MGs, and Funkadelic, Orgone strikes a balance between retro and modern appeal. You hear it in original tunes including Who Knows Who and Said and Done, and in the recorded cover of the 1971 funk hit Funky Nassau, which largely introduced Orgone to the world.

Orgone will bring its combustible groove to Cosmic Charlie's on Friday night.

Two trips to Natasha's

Anyone with even a passing interest in regional blues or country blues music knows the name Nick Stump. Throughout the '80s and much of the '90s, he was one of the chieftains of the mighty Metropolitan Blues All-Stars. As a guitarist, vocalist and writer, Stump's music with the band became a welcome staple in the local club scene.

Today, Stump heads his own group with Metropolitan Blues bassist Ricky Baldwin that has forged a solid local following through regular outings at Natasha's Bistro & Bar, 112 Esplanade. Stump and company perform there again Friday night. (8:30 p.m. $9. (859) 259-2754.

When we last saw Kentucky folk stylist Daniel Martin Moore, he was part of a carnival line that weaved its way in and out of the audience at Cincinnati's Aronoff Center for the Arts. The occasion was an unannounced appearance as guest of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band at its stellar summit concert with The Del McCoury Band. Moore was invited to sing Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, which the PHJB featured on its extraordinary 2010 album Preservation. On July 21, Moore brings his own folk voice back to Natasha's Bistro & Bar. (9 p.m. $8.)