Judy Collins and Arlo Guthrie
8 p.m. Dec. 2 at Centre College's Norton Center for the Arts in Danville. $33, $49, $65. 1-877-448-7469. Nortoncenter.com.
Both can be considered folk legends regardless of where they play. But given the ties formed with Central Kentucky audiences over the years, Judy Collins and Arlo Guthrie can practically be considered family.
Collins, of course, is the iconic folk singer whose music and performance skills have lost none of their vitality over the years. We have been fortunate to witness her lasting artistic elegance (and peerless soprano vocals) up close through numerous performances for the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour and the Troubadour Concert Series. In fact, she will return as a Troubador guest in January.
Collins' artistic legacy speaks volumes. This year marked the 50th anniversary of the singer's debut album, Maid of Constant Sorrow. But while her extensive back catalogue of recordings triggers numerous reissues (last year saw new editions of several key works for the Elektra label, including 1965's Fifth Album, 1970's Whales and Nightingales and 1976's Bread and Roses), Collins is hardly shying away from new music.
Last month, she released Bohemian, a new album that features vocal support by such modern Americana stylists as Shawn Colvin and Ollabelle along with classic material by Joni Mitchell (Cactus Tree), Woody Guthrie (Pastures of Plenty) and Jacques Brel (The Desperate Ones).
Guthrie, as well, has been a frequent visitor to Lexington stages — specifically, the Lexington Opera House and the Singletary Center for the Arts. But his ongoing collaborations with University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra director/conductor John Nardolillo maintain a fruitful local alliance. He has performed and recorded with the UK Symphony here but has also brought Nardolillo and his student players to New York for collaborative concerts at Carnegie Hall.
The partnership remained active this year. Guthrie posted on his Web site in July that he and Nardolillo were in Lexington working on new music.
Friday night, though, Collins and Guthrie will be in each other's musical company. The folk giants will share a bill at the Norton Center for the Arts in Danville.
Cops & Kids Concert featuring J.D. Crowe and the New South with Alison Krauss and Dan Tyminski
6 p.m. Dec. 3 at Powell County High School Gymnasium, 700 W. College Ave. in Stanton . $15. (606) 318-5000.
Cops & Kids has the holiday spirit written all over it. A joint venture between the Powell County school system and the Stanton-area Fraternal Order of Police, the program offers the means for needy children to buy holiday gifts — which usually translate into necessities like clothing and blankets — for their families.
The past two holiday seasons, Central Kentucky's foremost bluegrass music ambassadors, J.D. Crowe and the New South, have headlined a benefit concert to help Cops & Kids. This year, in an endeavor to give the program enough funding so it can assist children year-round, the Crowe crew will get boosts from two major bluegrass allies: Alison Krauss and Dan Tyminski.
This has already been quite the holiday season for Krauss and Tyminski. The two were featured on a Thanksgiving Eve broadcast of PBS' In Performance at the White House, where they performed as part of an all-star country/Americana lineup that included Lyle Lovett, James Taylor, Dierks Bentley, Kris Kristofferson and The Band Perry.
But here's the tricky part. Saturday's Cops & Kids concert is nearly sold out. As of early this week, only 150 or so general-admission upper-level bleacher seats remain. Advance sales ended Thursday, so whatever is left, if anything, will be available only at the door. Calling ahead for ticket availability is highly recommended.
For those with tickets, Crowe and the New South will perform their own set as will Krauss and Tyminski before joining forces for the concert finale. The Stanton gospel group Drawing Nigh will open.
8 p.m. Dec. 3 at Buster's Billiards and Backroom, 899 Manchester St. $20. (859) 368-8871. Bustersbb.com.
Folk and bluegrass are fine. But maybe you want something just a little, well, nastier to fuel your Saturday night. If so, look no further than to the return of the Memphis rock troupe Lucero.
A longtime Lexington favorite, Lucero draws upon roots music tradition along with reflections of the soul music that defined its hometown decades ago. That said, this isn't some orderly retro act. Onstage, Lucero lets loose with punkish vigor and an uninhibited performance charge.
When not on the road, singer/frontman Ben Nichols and company have been spending much of 2011 readying Lucero's seventh album.
Get ready for a long, loud night at Buster's if you're going. Futurebirds, Fifth on the Floor and Those Crosstown Rivals make up the full concert bill.