Music News & Reviews

A better forecast for bluegrass music

Marty Raybon comes to Meadowgreen Park in Clay City on Saturday.
Marty Raybon comes to Meadowgreen Park in Clay City on Saturday.

Marty Raybon and Full Circle

7 p.m. Feb. 6 at Meadowgreen Park Music Hall, 303 Bluegrass Lane in Clay City. $20. 606-663-9008.

In waxing on about this weekend’s entry in the autumn-to-spring concert series at Meadowgreen Park Music Hall in Clay City, one needs to be cautious. That has nothing to do with headlining performer Marty Raybon, who has been a regional favorite for years. It’s just that when we devoted all of The Musical Box’s available space to a packed weekend of bluegrass shows two weeks ago, the snows arrived and nearly every area concert event in the region, especially those on Friday, were shut down and left out in the cold.

Let’s hope that Mother Nature’s tease of spring last weekend is an indication things will be a little more seasonal for Raybon’s return Saturday.

A Florida native, Raybon came to national prominence in the mid-1980s playing country music as opposed to bluegrass. For 12 years, he piloted the band Shenandoah as it made hits including Two Dozen Roses, The Church on Cumberland Road and the Grammy-winning duet with Alison Krauss, Somewhere in the Vicinity of the Heart.

Shenandoah, along with a simultaneous duo project involving brother Tim Raybon, dissolved in 1997, setting the stage for a solo career that veered into bluegrass. Vocally, little has changed with his music. Raybon remains an assured singer with a confident tone that sits comfortably between soul and gospel. Understandably, country music informs many of Raybon’s bluegrass recordings, including his most recent release, 2013’s The Back Forty.

Original tunes including A Little More Sawdust on the Floor revel in country accessibility. Curiously, though, Raybon’s cover of Webb Pierce’s Slowly (I’m Falling) — a massive 1954 hit that helped define the role of pedal-steel guitar on Nashville records — is presented with a brisk tempo that defies the tune’s title to keep the music very much in step with traditional bluegrass.

Raybon leads something of a double life these days. A re-formed and retooled Shenandoah began touring again in 2014 and has gigs sprinkled among Raybon’s solo dates this winter. Saturday’s show, however, will be all bluegrass — providing, of course, Mother Nature doesn’t feel the itch to interfere again.

Graham Nash

7:30 p.m. Feb. 9 at the Brown Theatre, 315 West Broadway in Louisville. $41, $56. 800- 775-7777. Kentuckycenter.org.

One of the more curious aspects to viewing a veteran act like Crosby, Stills and Nash is how, quite unavoidably, the group tends to be viewed strictly as a trio. That’s kind of the point when promoting an ensemble, but each of the three artists come from storied pop backgrounds and have maintained extensive solo careers even as CSN’s profile grew and, at times, went into hiding. It hasn’t been until the past few years, between group tours, that any serious focus turned back to the members’ individual exploits.

David Crosby released the indie album Croz two winters ago. Stephen Stills played Kentucky as a solo act for the first time in decades last summer. Now Graham Nash performs for the first time in Kentucky as a headliner Tuesday with a performance at the Brown Theatre in Louisville.

Prompting this N-without-C-or-S tour is This Path Tonight, Nash’s first solo recording in 14 years. Curiously, the record won’t be out until April. But expect several of its songs (Golden Days, Myself at Last and Back Home) to be included with more familiar fare from the CSN catalog, his duo work with Crosby, a few older solo tunes and even music from his tenure with The Hollies, which predates all of his other musical endeavors. Nash is a double inductee in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of both The Hollies and CSN.

“I am a complete slave to the music,” Nash wrote in his 2013 autobiography Wild Tales. “I will do anything for good music — anything. That’s my one enduring addiction.”

Keeping it Mummies

It seems as if you can’t swing a sarcophagus around these parts without slamming into a show by Here Come the Mummies. The Nashville funk troupe known for playing, literally, under wraps to hide supposed distinguished commercial profiles has been a hit in Central Kentucky haunts for years. Its local popularity was reinforced last fall with a outdoor performance downtown for the Breeders’ Cup Festival.

On Tuesday, the band brings its groove indoors for a show at the EKU Center for the Arts in Richmond with an opening set by the fine Lexington roots-savvy power trio Johnny Conqueroo (7:30 p.m; $15-$35). Call 859-622-7469 or go to Ekucenter.com.

Walter Tunis has covered music for the Lexington Herald-Leader for 35 years.

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