Lyle Lovett and his Large Band
7 p.m. Aug. 2, Whitney Hall, Kentucky Center for the Arts, 502 West Main Street, Louisville. $35-$65. 1-800-775-7777. Kentuckycenter.org.
Nearly three decades ago, Texas songsmith Lyle Lovett made his regional debut with a concert at the Kentucky Center for the Arts for its Lonesome Pine Series.
The then-volcanic haired Lovett was an unknown, playing with a small combo instead of his famed Large Band. A clip of him and cellist John Hagen performing You Can't Resist It from that show can still be found on You Tube.
Lovett has been a regular at Louisville and Lexington venues ever since. But on Sunday, he and the Large Band return to where his Bluegrass roots began with another outing at the Kentucky Center.
8 p.m. Aug. 5 at Willie's Locally Known, 805 N.Broadway. $10 (859) 281-1116. Willieslex.com.
The David Mayfield Parade
Also appearing: Coralee. 8 p.m. Aug. 6 at Willie's Locally Known. $10.
The biggest fun on tap at Willie's Locally Known will commence at mid-week with a two-evening run of prime Americana music.
Chuck Mead returns to the venue on Wednesday. Best known as co-founder of the popular country-roots troupe BR549, the guitarist, singer and song stylist has performed locally in the last few years with the help of a similarly minded band called the Grassy Knoll Boys and their ace pedal steel guitarist Carco Clave.
While a few BR5 gems found their way into those shows (She's Talking to Someone and Lifetime to Prove), the bulk of the repertoire was devoted to the three solo records Mead has cut since 2009 along with covers of traditional country fare by Johnny Paycheck, Marty Robbins, Red Foley, Ray Price, Buck Owens and Del Reeves.
Mead's Summer 2014 visit to Willie's also coincided with the release of the newest of those albums, Free State Serenade, a record of predominantly original material rich in themes and inspirations born in the singer's homeland of Kansas.
Highlighting those songs was the UFO parable Ten Light Years Away. Mead prefaced the tune with a story detailing the flatness of his home state ("There would be about six trees between you and Canada") before outlining the prospect of an actual extraterrestrial landing there ("That ain't no Chevrolet").
Thursday marks the return of The David Mayfield Parade. The Ohio folk-rock stylist with a prestigious family tree (his sister and frequent performance mate is Jessica Lea Mayfield) has played here many times combining stark lyrical narratives, roots-hearty instrumentation presented in decidedly non-retro settings and a stage demeanor that owes a nod and a wink to vaudeville.
Mayfield's third and newest album, Stranger, stays the stylistic course with the jangly Band-like drive of Caution, the brittle banjo contemplation of The Man I'm Trying to Be, the haunting confessional The One I Hate (which, along with My First Big Lie and How I Got Out of It, recalls the early 1970s music of James Taylor) and a minor epic of spiritual renewal laced with a hint of emotional desolation called Ring Out the Old ("been down so long the low feels high").
For those fascinated by musical stats, there is a curious link between Mead and Mayfield. Both cut their next-to-last albums at the famed 1960s-era Nashville studio known as the Quonset Hut — Mayfield's 2013 recording Good Man Down (which also boasted sessions from Nashville's famed RCA Studio B) and Mead's aptly titled 2012 covers album Back at the Quonset Hut.
Local honky tonk empress Coralee will open the Mayfield performance with a solo set. Coralee fans should also note that the singer regularly hosts a Monday night open mike session at Willie's.