Music News & Reviews

Winter Music Preview 2012: Winter wonder bands

Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra come to EKU.
Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra come to EKU.

Let's get rid of this notion of winter as a purgatory that is as frozen culturally as it is meteorologically. There will be enough extraordinary live music heading our way in January and February to rival the non-stop concert fun of the fall.

From blues to bluegrass, jazz to Americana, a white-hot musical winter awaits. Here is a peek at highlights of the enormous bill of fine popular musical goods already in place for the coming months.


Jan. 7: The Grascals, The Glen Ritchie Band. A frequent fixture of regional bluegrass festivals during the summer, the decidedly country-leaning Grascals head indoors to play one of the region's most inviting and intimate venues. (7 p.m. Meadowgreen Park Music Hall, 303 Bluegrass Ln., Clay City. $15. (606) 663-9008.

Jan. 19: John Cowan. A longtime regional favorite since his days with the New Grass Revival and a onetime latter-day Doobie Brother, Cowan uses his near-operatic vocal abilities to color everything from bluegrass to R&B. (8 p.m. Natasha's Bistro & Bar, 112 Esplanade, Lexington. $15, $18. (859) 259-2754.

Jan. 19: Keb' Mo'. Mo' (born Kevin Moore) remains one of the most popular blues crossover artists of the past two decades. Pop, folk and R&B figure just as prominently in his albums, such as the new one, The Reflection, as do the blues. (7:30 p.m. Kentucky Theatre, 214 E. Main St. $50.75. (859) 231-7924.

Jan. 19: Branford Marsalis Quartet. A tenor and soprano sax talent of often incalculable ingenuity, Marsalis is very much a band man who gives his mates a strong compositional and instrumental presence in his music. (7:30 p.m. Grand Theatre, 308 St. Clair St., Frankfort. $55-$80. (502) 352-7469.

Jan. 20: Miranda Lambert, Chris Young, Jerrod Nieman. You would think local crowds might be growing tired of Lambert after a succession of opening-act performances here in recent years. Hardly. The country star's first headlining performance already is a sellout. (7:30 p.m. Rupp Arena, 430 W. Vine St., Lexington. Although sold out, tickets sometimes become available at the last minute. (859) 233-3535.

Jan. 22: Langhorne Slim. A favorite of indie and Americana audiences, Slim takes his stage name from the Pennsylvania town in which he was born. Having toured with the likes of Drive-By Truckers and Lucero, he now headlines his own alt-country jamboree show. (8 p.m. Cosmic Charlie's, 388 Woodland Ave., Lexington. $13, $15. (859) 309-9499.

Jan. 23: WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour: Imelda May, April Verch. OK, all of you who missed Irish rockabilly/roots-music sensation May's wildfire headlining show at the Singletary Center for the Arts last fall have a second chance. (6:45 p.m. Kentucky Theatre, 214 E. Main St., Lexington. $10. Call for reservations: (859) 252-8888.

Jan. 26: Cheryl Wheeler. A veteran songsmith, Wheeler has been a vibrant yet often overlooked folk voice for more than 25 years. Curiously, her songs have reached plenty of ears thanks to versions recorded by such varied artists as Bette Midler and Garth Brooks. (8 p.m. Natasha's. $20, $24.)

Jan. 28: Jane Monheit. Here's something different: a performance by a heralded, jazz-based cabaret vocalist who has collaborated with stylistic innovator Mark O'Connor and global star Michael Bublé. (8 p.m. EKU Center for the Arts, 521 Lancaster Ave., Richmond. $25-$35. 1-855-358-7469.

Jan. 28: Stanley Jordan. Since his meteoric rise to fame in the mid-'80s, Jordan has been known for a pioneering jazz sound that allows him to play multiple guitar melodies simultaneously and, more recently, unison guitar and piano patterns. (8 p.m. Centre College's Norton Center for the Arts, 600 W. Walnut St., Danville. $30. 1-877-448-7469.

Jan. 28: Erin McKeown, Carrie Rodriguez and Kelly Joe Phelps. This should be a delight: three distinctive — and often, quite scholarly — songwriter-instrumentalists swapping acoustic, folk-directed songs and stories for an evening. (8 p.m. Natasha's. $15, $19.)

Jan. 29: Emmylou Harris. After a succession of Lexington appearances at which she was a collaborator or featured performer, the Americana matriarch gets a concert evening where she is the lone star. This is a not-to-miss event. (7 p.m. Lexington Opera House, 401 W. Short St., Lexington. $45.50-$75.50. (859) 233-3535 or Ticketmaster, 1-800-745-3000 or

Jan. 30: WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour: Judy Collins. One of the most celebrated and commercially recognized folk/pop voices of the past half-century, Collins returns to Central Kentucky for the second time in three months. She must like it here. (6:45 p.m. Kentucky Theatre. $25.)

Feb. 11: The Dazz Band. One of Motown's top acts as the label sailed into the '80s, The Dazz Band charted big with the Grammy-winning funk hit Let It Whip. Hornmen Bobby Harris and Skip Martin remain from the early lineups. (9 p.m. Buster's Billiards & Backroom, 899 Manchester St., Lexington. $20, $25. (859) 368-8871.

Feb. 11: Robinella. The under appreciated Knoxville performer can sing like a young Billie Holiday and phrase a tune to fit swing- or string-band settings. Her two new albums are delights, especially the live Sunday Kind of Love. (8 p.m. Kentucky Coffeetree Café, 235 W. Broadway, Frankfort Price TBA. (502) 875-3009.

Feb. 12: The Supersuckers. A savage cowpunk-and-more outfit still fronted by bassist/vocalist Eddie Spaghetti, the Supersuckers are no strangers to Kentucky, having played at the long-gone Wrocklage and at Louisville's Cardinal Stadium for Farm Aid in the '90s. (10 p.m. Cosmic Charlie's. $12, $15.)

Feb. 14: Dark Star Orchestra. Perhaps the quintessential Grateful Dead cover band, the Chicago-rooted DSO has been re-creating complete Dead set lists in its shows for nearly 15 years. Also, Lexingtonian Dino English has been DSO's drummer since 1999. (7 p.m. Cosmic Charlie's. $22, $25.)

Feb. 15: Umphrey's McGee. Balancing prog-rock invention with jam-band groove, the Chicago-bred Umphrey's McGee returns to Buster's after a sellout date there a year ago. The band's newest album is Death by Stereo. (9 p.m. Buster's. $20, $25.)

Feb. 18: Darrell Scott. A native of London (as in Kentucky), Scott has been one of today's most restless yet resourceful folk-and-more artists. He spent the past 18 months touring the world as a multiinstrumentalist for Robert Plant. Now he is back spinning his own masterful songs. (8 p.m. Natasha's. $20, $24.)

Feb. 18: Mike Doughty. For roughly two-thirds of his two-decade career, Fort Knox native Doughty fronted the alternative rock ensemble Soul Coughing. He's an avid writer, poet and blogger, and his solo tour continues as a promotion for the 2011 album Yes and Also Yes. (10 p.m. Cosmic Charlie's. $15.)

Feb. 22: Drake, A$AP Rocky, Kendrick Lamar. One of the most forward-thinking rap stylists of his generation, Drake just can't get enough of Lexington. A vocal University of Kentucky basketball fan, Drake sold out a show at UK's Memorial Coliseum in 2010. (Time TBA. Rupp Arena. $19.75-$69.75; tickets go on sale Jan. 14. (859) 233-3535 or Ticketmaster.)

Feb. 25: Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Trumpeter Marsalis might be the name people know. But the entire JLCO is among the most schooled jazz ensembles of our day, offering insightful views of Duke Ellington music one minute and glorious Blue Note bop the next. (8 p.m. EKU Center for the Arts, Richmond. $45-$65.)

Feb. 26, 27: California Guitar Trio. The always extraordinary CGT truly knows no stylistic bounds, with a repertoire than runs from classical to surf to prog to fascinating original music. (8 p.m. Feb. 26, Natasha's, $20, $24. 7 p.m. Feb. 27, Kentucky Coffeetree Café, Frankfort, $20.)

Feb. 29: Yonder Mountain String Band. It took YMSB nearly a decade to revisit Lexington when it performed at Buster's last year. The comparatively quick return suggests that a strong local fan base exists for the bluegrass-inspired Colorado jam band. (8 p.m. Buster's. $17.50, $20.)

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