Music News & Reviews

Nick Stump revives Thanksgiving gig in Lexington that began with his former band

Craig Pfunder, left, and Mark Palgy of VHS or Beta return home to Louisville this weekend.
Craig Pfunder, left, and Mark Palgy of VHS or Beta return home to Louisville this weekend.

The Nick Stump Band

9 p.m. Nov. 25 at Natasha's Bistro & Bar, 112 Esplanade. $9. (859) 259-2754.

A decade or two ago, one of the most welcome performance highlights to hit town on Thanksgiving weekend was a club show by the Metropolitan Blues All-Stars.

One of the most prominent Lexington blues and country-blues institutions of the '80s, the All-Stars began whittling down its concert schedule during the '90s. But Thanksgiving weekend always brought the band together, usually at the long-defunct Lynagh's Music Club, for what All-Stars guitarist/vocalist Nick Stump described as an "escape from the relatives" celebration.

The club would be packed, the blues would be king and the All-Stars would burn brightly for the evening. The All-Stars have been history for a while now, but the band's post-Thanksgiving tradition will continue this weekend, when Stump performs at Natasha's Bistro & Bar.

Fronting a band that bears his name and with All-Stars bassist Rick Baldwin in its ranks, Stump has become a Lexington regular again, thanks to recurring — and well-attended — shows at Natasha's. On Friday night, Stump invites you to embrace the blues and break free from the family once again.

VHS or Beta

10 p.m. Nov. 25 at Headliner's Music Hall, 1386 Lexington Rd. in Louisville. $12. (502) 584-8088.

Louisville also has forged its own Thanksgiving weekend club tradition over the years. That's usually when VHS or Beta, which grew out of the city's booming musical underground during the late '90s to become a nationally acclaimed alternative rock/dance-pop sensation, has presented a concert on its home turf.

Trouble is, Louisville isn't really home for the group anymore.

Roughly two years ago, guitarist/vocalist Craig Pfunder and bassist Mark Palgy moved to Brooklyn, N.Y. Co-guitarist Zeke Buck had left the band in 2006, and drummer Mark Guidry departed last year. That left Pfunder and Palgy to soak up the sound of what they term "backroom discos" and assorted clubs and haunts in New York's West Village. What resulted is a new, primarily electronica-driven album called Diamonds and Death.

So the new VHS or Beta will be back at Headliner's Music Hall in Louisville on Friday night, but the performance will be less of a holiday tradition and more of a homecoming.

Prepare for a late night, though. The Photographic and The OKDeeJays will open.

Sunday Valley on Saturday night

Don't feel like leaving town this weekend but feel the need for a Thanksgiving diversion? Then try a serious slice of local music.

At Cosmic Charlie's, 388 Woodland Avenue, on Saturday, Sunday Valley will showcase its blend of Americana, country and cowpunk with the excellent Fifth on the Floor sharing the bill. (10 p.m. $12. (859) 309-9499.

Go Psycho

Up north, a Cincinnati-bred post-Thanksgiving tradition returns with a performance Friday by Psychodots at Southgate House, 24 East Third Street, Newport.

The longstanding trio of guitarist/vocalist Rob Fetters, bassist Bob Nyswonger and drummer/vocalist Chris Arduser has a lengthy history with the Cincinnati music scene that might not resonate much in Lexington, although Arduser and Nyswonger played at Natasha's recently with their acoustic band, The Graveblankets. But Psychodots' rich, hook-happy pop formula, which is matched by consistently inventive instrumentation, is well worth the road trip. (9 p.m. $15. (859) 431-2201.

Raul Malo sold out

Americana-and-more singer Raul Malo's concert Wednesday at Centre College's Norton Center for the Arts in Danville is sold out. To be placed on a waiting list for tickets, call (859) 236-4692. Malo will discuss his multistylistic music in this weekend's Living Sunday section.