Music News & Reviews

Walter Tunis: Acts at Natasha's, Parlay Social and Willie's add to already full schedule

Phoebe Hunt, formerly of The Belleville Outfit, returns to Natasha's on Saturday.
Phoebe Hunt, formerly of The Belleville Outfit, returns to Natasha's on Saturday. Courtesy of McGuckin PR

You want more? Seriously? Boomslang, Oktoberfest, Crave Lexington, Mayer Hawthorne and Blake Shelton aren't enough to sustain the most ravenous of musical appetites this weekend? Here are five more shows in three more local venues over the next two nights.

This is getting just a touch ridiculous, don't you think?

Phoebe Hunt, The Happy Maladies

8 p.m. Sept. 21 at Natasha's Bistro, 112 Esplanade. $8. (859) 259-2754.

Phil Lee

8 p.m. Sept. 22 at Natasha's. $10.

Two vastly different Americana stylists who have forged longstanding friendships with Lexington will be at Natashs's.

Violinist/guitarist/ songstress Phoebe Hunt is well known to Natasha's audiences through many appearances at the venue with the Austin, Texas, Americana-and-more troupe The Belleville Outfit. Since the group dissolved, she has performed here alongside Kentucky pop-cello star Ben Sollee.

Her solo return Saturday comes on the heels of a fine new concert recording of pop, folk and occasionally jazz- and swing-leaning tunes, most of them original, recorded at one of Austin's most cherished musical haunts. Live at the Cactus Café 3-2-13 follows a self-titled, Matt Rollings-produced studio EP disc from 2012.

Phil Lee's ties with Lexington go back to shows at the long-defunct Lynagh's Music Club during the mid-'90s. He returns Sunday with an outstanding roots-inspired work called The Fall and Further Decline of the Mighty King of Love that boasts stark folk-blues reflections, voodoo gospel confessions and country meditations that journey into seriously dark corners. Onstage and off, Lee also has a wicked wit.

If you aren't completely spent after all the concerts that will be colliding into one another this weekend, catch this performance. In many ways, Lee is the pick of the whole crop.

The Del-Lords, The Tall Boys

10 p.m. Sept. 20 at Parlay Social, 257 W. Short St. $5. (859) 244-1932.

This is one we didn't see coming.

The New York-based Del-Lords called it quits in 1990 after spending much of the previous decade pioneering a post-punk sound full of efficient melodic hooks and engaging narratives. Their records, including the rock-solid 1984 debut Frontier Days, boasted songs that seemed to run creatively in tandem with a short-lived neo-country movement spearheaded at the time by groups like The Long Ryders and The Del Fuegos. But the Del-Lords always seemed more solidly devoted to rhythm and groove.

Initial Del-Lords reunions began in 2010, shortly after the group's four studio albums were reissued on CD. An EP of new songs, Under Construction, also was released.

This fall, three of the four original Del-Lords — guitarists Scott Kempner and Eric "Roscoe" Ambel and drummer Frank Funaro — are touring behind Elvis Club, the band's first full-length album in 23 years.

The record sounds great. The Del-Lords' elemental but guitar-rich sound is largely intact, even though the sentiments behind songs like When the Drugs Kick In and Me and the Lord Blues remind us it's not 1984 anymore.

The Honeycutters, Roosters Crow

7 p.m. Sept. 20 at Willie's Locally Known, 805 N. Broadway. $10 (covers both shows). (859) 281-1116.

Holy Ghost Tent Revival

10 p.m. Sept. 20 at Willie's Locally Known. $10 (covers both shows).

Finally, we have two North Carolina acts in a single night at Willie's Locally Known.

The Honeycutters are a pleasing Americana troupe from Asheville with a sound built around a variety of country-roots inspirations — the most obvious being Loretta Lynn — designed to highlight the singing of songwriter Amanda Anne Platt.

Taking the late shift at Willie's will be Greensboro's Holy Ghost Tent Revival, whose vintage folk sound, accented by Dixieland and ragtime, gives way on its recent album Sweat Like the Old Days to more electric-friendly adventures.


The Rides and Beth Hart at Lexington Opera House: "Believe me, I'm just as surprised as you are," remarked Stephen Stills after hitting and sustaining a high note at the conclusion of a new song called Don't Want Lies.

No, Stills didn't sound like a teenager. But if you've experienced how poorly his singing has been represented on record (and quite often onstage) during the past two decades, his clearance of the upper octaves of Don't Want Lies — one of the finer tunes by the new blues-rock troupe The Rides he co-led at the Opera House with Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Barry Goldberg — was rock 'n' redemption in action.

But The Rides' nearly two-hour performance was all about guitar, which Stills always has had command of during his 45-year career. Still, sharing the stage with a new-generation guitar buck like Shepherd clearly brought out the best in Stills in terms of performance attitude and instrumental aptitude.

Little by way of innovation was intended — certainly not during the lion's share of the set devoted to all 10 tunes from The Rides' debut album Can't Get Enough. Instead, the show revolved around even-keeled, high-volume jams.

Shepherd possessed a light, fluid tone that sounded like a smoother, more streamlined variation of Texas blues-rock giant Stevie Ray Vaughan. Not coincidentally, the late Vaughan's drummer, Chris Layton, has been a mainstay of Shepherd's band in recent years. He also kept The Rides running like clockwork.

Stills' guitar sound was denser and dirtier. Subsequently, tunes like Roadhouse and even his vintage political rant Word Game sounded less like blues jams and more like guitar grudge matches.

Keyboardist Goldberg kept a safe distance from the string sparring. But when his solos on piano and organ were given room to groove, as on his vintage composition I've Got to Use My Imagination, The Rides' roots-driven vision expanded nicely.

Hart's opening set was a total blast. A vocalist with arena rock gusto one moment, a reflective keyboard balladeer the next and, later, a cabaret stylist who serenaded from the edge of the Opera House stage, Hart proved a deserving star in the making.