8 p.m. March 11 at Natasha's Bistro, 112 Esplanade. $15 in advance, $19 day of show. (859) 259-2754. .www.beetnik.com.
Deep into the acoustic terrain of their 2011 recording, The Brick Album, The Greencards take a trip. On the instrumental Tale of KangaRio, the ensemble illuminates its already sunny bluegrass instrumentation with a touch of Brazilian choro music. For a band that has always promoted a worldly command of string music styles — including Celtic folk and gypsy-inspired interplay — KangaRio allows The Greencards to sail into yet another aurally exotic port.
But then, anyone familiar with the group's history knows that such globetrotting comes naturally. It even led to the band's name. The Greencards were formed by two Aussies (Kym Warner and Carol Young) and an Englishman born to Irish parents (Eamon McLoughlin, who departed the lineup in late 2009). Versed in bluegrass and country, the three met at an Austin, Texas, recording session and quickly began making friends. They toured with Robert Earl Keen, recorded with New Grass Revival guitarist Pat Flynn and worked their way into a coveted opening act spot on a 2005 summer tour of minor league ball parks headlined by Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson.
The Greencards are a wildly inventive vocal group, but their instrumental works continue to expand an already hearty fan base. Mucky the Duck (from the trio's 2007 album Viridian, produced by longtime Patty Griffin ally Doug Lancio) and The Crystal Merchant (from the 2009 follow-up Fascination) both earned Grammy nominations.
That brings us to The Brick Album, a recording that teams Warner and Young with a pair of new mates (fiddler Tyler Andal and guitarist Carl Miner) and some high profile pals — namely, Vince Gill, who sings on the Spanish-laced Heart Fixer, and Kentucky Music Hall of Fame inductee Sam Bush, who adds mandolin to the album opening Make It Out West.
So what global sounds are bringing The Greencards back to Central Kentucky? To discover that, check out the group's Sunday performance at Natasha's.
Voice of the independent
For more than two decades, Martin Sexton has cultivated an audience for songs of simple but emotive detail. It's folk by design, but elements of pop and soul accent the narratives, resulting in albums that maintain a distance from the slicker fare of many contemporary singer-songwriters. Sexton was a major-label soldier earlier in his career, but his best recordings (2005's Camp Holiday, 2007's Seeds) have been issued as uncompromising independent works. His newest record is a fine five-song EP disc titled Fall Like Rain.
Sexton performs Saturday at Buster's Billiards and Ballroom, 899 Manchester St. (9 p.m.; $20 in advance, $25 day of show). Call (859) 368-8871 or go to Bustersbb.com.
The Lyle and John Show
The road trip recommendation of the weekend is a Sunday night hike to Louisville, where Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt continue their long-running road alliance with a performance at the Brown Theatre, 315 W. Broadway.
Last week, Lovett issued Release Me — possibly the most obvious, pointed and shameless contractual-obligation album by a major artist. The final recording due on a long-running signing to Curb Records, it includes a version of Baby, It's Cold Outside. Leave it to Lovett to release a holiday-themed song at the dawn of spring.
Hiatt has more quietly released one killer album after another over the years. His most recent in a splendid series of records for the Americana-based New West label is Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns.
Sunday's performance presents the two songsmiths on their own, swapping stories and tunes in an all-acoustic setting (7 p.m.; $45-$65). Call (800) 775-7777 or go to Kentuckycenter.org.