The Psychedelic Furs
9 p.m. March 29. Buster's Billiards and Backroom, 899 Manchester St. $22, $25. (859) 368-8871. Bustersbb.com.
The first time I heard The Psychedelic Furs? That would be fall 1982, when a personal introduction to the glories of cable television led to an even more fascinating discovery: MTV.
This was when MTV was devoted almost exclusively to round-the-clock music videos that opened up the pop mainstream to an entirely new generation of music. The Psychedelic Furs were a favored fixture on the MTV play list at the time — especially a lusciously eerie clip for a single titled Love My Way, a cornerstone tune from the band's Todd Rundgren-produced third album, Forever Now.
The following spring, the band played the University of Kentucky Student Center Ballroom with its mystique intact. A favored mental snapshot from the performance had vocalist Richard Butler assuming the lotus position on the stage floor with a unsmoked cigarette burning down to the filter clamped in his right hand.
The days of President Gas, Pretty in Pink and Love My Way soon gave way to slicker, synth-savvy MTV hits including The Ghost in You and Heaven, until the band vanished at the onset of the '90s.
The Furs — specifically, the singer and his bassist brother, Tim Butler — resurfaced in 2001 and have toured the world regularly ever since, despite little by way of new music to promote.
Of course, a Kentucky show by the Furs is essentially a homecoming these days: Tim Butler moved to Casey County with his wife, Robyn, in 2006.
The band lineup for Saturday's Furs concert at Buster's will be the same as when it played the club as part of Boomslang in 2011. Along with the Butlers, the roster includes saxophonist Mars Williams (a member, on and off, since 1983), guitarist Rich Good, keyboardist Amanda Kramer and drummer Paul Garisto.
8 p.m. April 2 at Willie's Locally Known, 805 N. Broadway. $10. (859) 281-1116. Willieslex.com.
Christmas was just a few days away when we last checked in with Chuck Mead. Already situated at his parents' farm outside Lawrence, Kan., for the holidays, Mead was discussing his role as music director for Million Dollar Quartet, the roots-rocking musical that roared through town in January. But he couldn't resist a dig, knowing that basketball season was underway.
"We all know where Adolph Rupp went to college," he boasted. "University of Kansas, my friend."
(Please note that as of press time, Kentucky is still in the NCAA tournament — but Kansas is not.)
Mead's Kansas heritage moves front and center on his just-released album, Free State Serenade. On the outside, the record's vintage country, hillbilly and honky-tonk accents have an even rootsier flair than the songs the singer cooked up in the '90s with his celebrated band BR549. Dig in to the new music, though, and you will discover the darker side of the Sunflower State.
The Devil by Their Side, for instance, recalls the 1863 Civil War massacre at Lawrence, and Evil Wind revisits the gruesome Clutter family murders in Holcomb that Truman Capote immortalized in In Cold Blood. Still, it's tough for the weight of these stories to fully deflate you when the rockabilly and pre-bluegrass country grooves Mead employs to color them kick in. Mead's longtime BR549 buddy Donnie Herron and Old Crow Medicine Show's Critter Fuqua help out in that department.
Expect even more of a bloody good time when Mead brings the dark but roots-savvy songs of Free State Serenade to life in Lexington. He performs Wednesday at Willie's Locally Known.