When it comes to presenting a Central Kentucky performing arts event, there is perhaps no greater gamble than the consideration of a weekend booking that falls between mid-March and early April. It's a time when your competition could well become insurmountable.
So it's of little surprise, what with the enormous hope and hype surrounding this year's University of Kentucky men's basketball team, that major concert events will be absent from venues locally and throughout the region on Saturday. That took plenty of pre-emptive planning, all of which has paid off handsomely with the Cats' passage to the NCAA Final Four this weekend in Indianapolis.
In at least one instance, anticipation of a Saturday night win against Wisconsin has also affected booking plans for next week. Specifically, The WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour is skipping its usual Monday taping at the Lyric Theatre in anticipation of the Cats moving on to the nationally televised NCAA championship game that night.
Other events are keenly dodging the aftermath of March Madness. In that pack falls tonight's collaborative performance featuring violinist and classical music megastar Joshua Bell and the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra at the Singletary Center for the Arts (See page 4). It's the show's good fortune to fall on the first Friday in several weeks where college basketball has not been a recreational alternative for concertgoers.
We have a free and ultra fun late week concert to recommend as a sort of make-up for all the absent picks this weekend. We'll get to that in a moment. But what of the Lexington clubs that present live music under any conditions and against any competition? Nothing stops them. Here is a sampling of the local favorites they will offer on Saturday against the zenith of basketball fever.
■ Natasha's Bistro, 112 Esplanade, presents one its frequent flyer acts, Legna Tocado and Yoisel Concepción. A pair of Cuban natives who emigrated to Mexico, the duo has made Lexington their home in recent years with performances of acoustic Cuban and Caribbean music (9 p.m., $10). Call (859) 259-2754 or go to Beetnik.com.
■ Willie's Locally Known, 805 N. Broadway, hosts one of its regulars, Ann Frances Baker, a country-folk stylist who knows well what it's like to play to a basketball crowd. Among her many Youtube clips is a 2012 performance of the national anthem prior to a high school Sweet 16 tournament game at Rupp Arena (8 p.m., $5). Call (859) 281-1116 or go to Willieslex.com.
■ At Cosmic Charlie's, 388 Woodland Ave., the Americana rock troupe C2 and the Brothers Reed holds court to promote its new indie EP Weigh Station Tour: Exit A. The band tags its music as "bourbon flavored rock and soul" (10 p.m.; $5, $10). Call (859) 309-9499 or go to Cosmic-charlies.com.
Tex Mex in Berea
If you caught Texas songsmith Joe Ely's exquisite acoustic performance last November, you will likely recall the flavorful Tex Mex accompaniment his songs received from accordionist Joel Guzman. A tasteful and scholarly player, Guzman will be back in the region on Thursday for a free convocation concert at Berea College's Phelps-Stokes Auditorium with bilingual singer and longtime performance partner Sarah Fox (8 p.m.).
With Fox, Guzman expands upon the inherent conjunto styles in his playing. But within that also sit European (especially German), Panamanian and Colombian accents that mingle with the spirited Texas roots music that led to his collaborations with Ely and a performance appearance in the film Crazy Heart.
The show is part of Berea College's ongoing Stephenson Memorial Concert series.
For more info, call (859) 985-3359 or go to Berea.edu/convocations.