Music News & Reviews

Walter Tunis: Travis Tritt is a familiar face in a new venue

Travis Tritt continues to record as an independent artist.
Travis Tritt continues to record as an independent artist.

Travis Tritt

8 p.m. Jan. 9 at Lexington Opera House, 401 W. Short. $44.50-$54.50. (859) 233-3535.

Outside of that fellow they call Garth, few performers defined the state of country music during the 1990s like Travis Tritt. Fewer still used the decade's convergence of pop accessibility, country tradition and 1970s Southern rock to trigger such vast commercial appeal.

During the first half of the '90s alone, Tritt's blend of honky tonk and contemporary country scored a string of high-charting songs that included Country Club (his first single), Help Me Hold On (his first No. 1 country hit) and The Whiskey Ain't Workin' (his Grammy winning 1992 duet with Marty Stuart) along with the radio staples Here's a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares) (1991), T-R-O-U-B-L-E (1992) and Ten Feet Tall and Bulletproof (1994).

Tritt continues to record, although he has spent much of the past decade as an independent. His 2007 album The Storm quickly faded from commercial view following the demise of his label, Category 5 Records. But he revisited the record's songs through his own Post Oak label with the aptly titled The Calm After..., a 2013 follow-up recording.

Unlike the many headlining concerts Tritt performed at Rupp Arena throughout the '90s, his return to Lexington moves the singer over to the Opera House. Similarly, where the Rupp outings were highly electric, full band performances with a brief acoustic set that acted as an interlude, Friday's Opera House show will be strictly an unaccompanied solo acoustic affair.

Ralph Stanley and Nathan Stanley with The Clinch Mountain Boys

7 p.m. Jan. 10 at Leeds Center for the Arts, 37 North Main Street, Winchester. $20 advance, $25 day of show. (859) 744-6437.

We honestly thought Ralph Stanley's touring days were over. A supposed farewell concert made the rounds a few years back suggesting, after 60-plus years on the road, the iconic roots/bluegrass artist was retiring. But look who is playing the Leeds in Winchester on Saturday.

Here's the deal, though. The singer's grandson, Nathan Stanley, will be the primary star of the evening. Having sat in with his grandfather's Clinch Mountain Boys band for more than 15 years, young Nathan is out promoting a gospel-savvy solo record called Every Mile. But the elder Stanley, who turns 88 in February, has definitely not given up recording. He will release a new collection of bluegrass duets Jan. 19 named after one of his signature tunes, Man of Constant Sorrow. Among the celebs helping out on the album are Robert Plant, Elvis Costello, Old Crow Medicine Show, Del McCoury, Ricky Skaggs and Lee Ann Womack.

Back to work

Winter break is over for two of the region's top weekly performance events.

Actually, the autumn-to-spring series of Saturday night bluegrass shows at Meadowgreen Park Music Hall, 303 Bluegrass Lane, Clay City, returned last weekend. But this Saturday, the venue lights up with the retro bluegrass gospel of Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers (7 p.m., $12). For info, call (606) 663-9008.

Then on Monday, WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour returns to active duty with its first performance taping of 2015. On hand will be guitarist, folk-blues stylist and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Jorma Kaukonen. He will be previewing music from his new Ain't in No Hurry album, which is scheduled for release Feb. 17. Also on the bill will be Lowell "Banana" Levinger, co-founder of the popular 1960s folk-rock troupe The Youngbloods. His newest album is titled Get Together, after the peace anthem of the same name that came to define his former band (7 p.m., $10). For reservations, call (859) 252-8888.