Archive for July, 2013

In performance: Stick Men

stick men

Stick Men: Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto and Markus Reuter.

“I think it’s time for some Stravinsky,” Tony Levin said as Tuesday night’s prog tour de force program by Stick Men headed into the home stretch at the 20th Century Theatre in Cincinnati.

Well, sure. The trio had already plowed through two thirds of its recent album, Deep. The six tunes performed from the recording placed Levin (a veteran bassist with extensive ties to pop and jazz in addition to prog rock) on Chapman stick (a still-novel instrument that combines bass and guitar strings, but emits sounds by taps rather than plucks) alongside acoustic/electric drummer Pat Mastelotto (Levin’s bandmate in the warhorse prog troupe King Crimson) and touch guitarist Markus Reuter (an Austrian born instrumentalist who played a guitar-like variation of the stick). Interspersed were works from various incarnations of King Crimson that bore strong melodic and textural similarities to the Deep music. So why not toss Stravinsky in with the lot?

What resulted was a merry rampage that explained much of the trio’s animated but immensely informed curiosity. During a pared-down arrangement of the Firebird Suite, Levin found ways to transform some the piece’s most powerful and familiar melodic themes into rubbery bass riffs while Reuter’s playing shaded the music with guitar colors that shifted from metallic to meditative. Under that, Mastellotto, a player of tireless strength and precision, hammered out grooves that made the whole hybrid sound very much like a product of pure rock ’n’ roll ingenuity.

The Deep tunes were exactly that. The compositions usually placed Levin in the bass role and Reuter in the guitar seat, although Cusp reversed that game plan. Regardless, the music was long on sinewy, deep pocket rhythms instigated by Levin’s rumblings on stick. From there, songs like Nude Ascending a Staircase and especially the suite-like Whale Watch navigated all manner of tricky shifts in tempo and temperament. That latter also possessed a sort of nautical ambience between sections that gave the music an often orchestral air.

The Crimson moments for the most part were surprises. Vrooom Vroooom and the power chord-crazy encore of Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Part 2 were greeted like golden pop hits by the crowd, but Industry (a true obscurity from the ‘80s era Crimson) proved a glorious mood piece that had Levin and Mastellotto playing their respective instruments with bows before the music erupted into a bludgeoning, slo-mo groove. Even less expected was Breathless, a forgotten piece from Crimson chieftain Robert Fripp’s 1979 solo album Exposure (it represents one of the first recorded collaborations between Fripp and Levin). Here, Reuter mixed lush, elongated guitar lines with chiming, synth-like backdrops to echo the blurred sonic soundscapes that, even in the ’70s, were a Fripp trademark. From there, Levin and Mastellotto pumped up the power chords for a show of prog strength that was crafty, intuitive and profoundly playful.

J.J. Cale, 1938-2013

jj cale

J.J. Cale

Like so many, I heard J.J. Cale’s songs long before I ever heard his recordings. Eric Clapton saw to that. The star guitarist scored his first solo career hit with Cale’s After Midnight in the fall of 1970.

Few, outside of perhaps Clapton himself, knew much about the Okie born song stylist at the time. Cale had yet to release any of his own albums. But the runaway success of After Midnight changed everything. Roughly 18 months later, Naturally, Cale’s debut recording was issued. Almost immediately, he became songwriting royalty.

Naturally contained Cale’s own version of After Midnight, the homespun ballad Magnolia (a radio hit for the then-popular country-rock troupe Poco) and the ramblers anthem Call Me the Breeze (arguably the third most popular tune cut by Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd). The album even scored a modest hit for Cale himself, Crazy Mama.

While the early ‘70s pop mainstream may have flocked to Cale’s songs, what clearly established his legacy was the sound he draped them in. Cale’s tunes were often set to dark blues shuffles. Some were lean and homey (like Crazy Mama). Others worked off of efficient power chords (as in Cocaine, which became another huge hit for Clapton in 1977). And there was the vocal sound – a sleepy, whispery mumble that completed the mystery that defined Cale’s music. Collectively, those sounds became the calling card of the anti-star role Cale relished throughout his career.

Despite shunning his own celebrity status, Cale was a prolific recording artist who toured regularly. Even as the mainstream shifted its attention elsewhere beginning in the ’80s, Cale’s ghostly but soulful music stood resolute. While fans still celebrate early albums like Naturally and 1976’s Troubadour, Cale’s latter career years yielded all kinds of great underdog records. The best of them include 1980’s Shades (which allowed Cale his own turn as a cover artist with a regal but reserved take on Mama Don’t) and 1994’s Closer To You (which led off with one of Cale’s mightiest shuffles, Long Way Home).

Cale performed in Lexington several times at the long defunct Breeding’s and, most recently at the Kentucky Theatre. But my favorite was a stop at the University of Kentucky Student Center Ballroom when I was a college freshman.

Cale looked like something out of Deliverance at the show, dressed in what looked like long johns and overalls with a 5 o’clock shadow so pronounced that it could have been tattooed on his face. The entire back of his guitar had been ripped away, exposing a network of circuitry one feared might electrocute the guy at any moment. But the sound that came forth was the same distinctive Okie blues cool that distinguished his records.

Cale died last Friday at age 74 from a heart attack.  He’s a settled blues soul, now.  But slip on any of his sublime recordings and you will find yourself deep within a subtle groove. That still happens when you call him the breeze.

Critic’s pick 289: Otis Redding, ‘The Complete Stax/Volt Singles Collection’

otis reddingThe next three weeks of Critic’s Picks are being devoted to new boxed set collections: multi-disc packages that usually surface at holiday time. But given the unavoidably seasonal tone of the music that pervades these compilations, releasing them at the height of summer seems quite appropriate.

This week, let’s examine a new three-disc set from Shout! Factory that gathers every A and B side of every 45 rpm single released over the pitifully brief recording career of soul legend Otis Redding. Packaged like a book, The Complete Stax/Volt Singles Collection is made to resemble a dossier with entire pages devoted to replicas of the record labels from each side of each recording. There is minimal annotation beyond that, which is the set’s only fault. Recording locales, dates and personnel – some of it incomplete because exact data on the sessions wasn’t always maintained – is all crammed together on a single page.

But you’ll tend to forget about such specifics once the music begins. This is a collection that starts with 1962’s These Arms of Mine, one of Redding’s most impassioned recordings, and moves on from there.

The 70 songs within this package collectively define what made Redding’s music so absorbing. His voice maintained gospel-esque intensity, a sense of sheer stamina that worked like a pressure cooker under the sleek but powerfully soulful arrangements executed by Booker T and the MGs and the Mar-Keys. Sometimes the steam was let loose in hearty increments, as shown by hits like Sweet Soul Music and Hard to Handle. Mostly, although, the key to Redding’s vocal charm was a;ways control.

There is also the matter of Redding the songwriter. Sure, he enjoyed covers, as shown here by the single version of Sam Cooke’s Shake, which Redding hot-wired into a staple of his live shows. And, yes, perhaps his greatest recording, the almost operatic That’s How Strong My Love Is, was penned by Roosevelt Jamison.  But Redding wrote or co-wrote many of the colossus tunes on The Complete Stax/Volt Singles Collection. Among them were These Arms of Mine, I’ve Been Loving You Too Long, Mr. Pitiful, Respect (yep, Aretha Franklin may have defined the tune, but Redding was the scribe and cut it first), I Can’t Turn You Loose, I’ve Got Dreams to Remember and, of course, (Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay – the mammoth crossover hit Redding cut a mere three days before perishing in a December 1967 plane crash.

The history here is vast. But what remains so powerful about this set is how complimentary forgotten B-sides like Something is Worrying Me and I’m Depending on You sound next to the hits. You also sense how effortless the classic R&B flow is especially throughout discs one and three, as well as in disc two segments dominated by 1967 duets with Carla Thomas. Collectively, this is a sound that can still ignite any summer.

In performance: Ian Anderson

ian andeson 2012

Ian Anderson in 2013

There were several instances Saturday night at Cincinnati’s PNC Pavilion when two generational visions of the same prog rock intellect were at work.

In one corner, we had Ian Anderson, flutist, founder and warload of Jethro Tull conjuring with often astonishing precision two editions of his landmark 1972 album Thick as a Brick – the entire original work along with a more segmented sequel that surfaced last year as part of the former’s 40th anniversary celebration.

ian anderson 1972

Ian Anderson in 1972.

At 65, Anderson bears little resemblance to the robed, hair-infested ruffian that was at the helm of the original Thick as a Brick. While his voice bears the wear of the years – especially in the higher register – his playing, as well as that of his band, has become leaner and more orchestral. There wasn’t an once of fat on this music, especially in segments punctuated by drummer Scott Hammond, keyboardist John O’Hara and the resourceful young German guitarist Florian Opahle that drove the newly resurrected finale segments of the piece (performed on this tour for the first time since 1972). The sound mix was splendid, to boot. You could even hear every bell-like chime bassist David Goodier summoned while moonlighting on glockenspiel.

But the double vision aspect came into play with the addition of actor/singer Ryan O’Donnell. A veteran of, among other troupes, the Royal Shakespeare Company, O’Donnell shared lead vocal duties throughout the program with Anderson. He swapped verses, handled much of the upper ranges and handled the bulk of the singing when Thick as a Brick’s latter passages grew more treacherous and demanded Anderson’s full attention as an instrumentalist. It was also hard not to view O’Donnell as a younger Anderson (minus the volcanic hair frizz), especially during the moments when both artists performed side by side. Two Andersons. Two Thick as a Brick sets. How novel.

If anything, the 17-song sequel – unceremoniously titled TAAB 2 – was the more inviting work. It was certainly more accessible, aided by a series of film clips (including a rather startling time-lapse view of a sunny English countryside slowly overtaken by storm clouds) and a more streamlined and episodic thematic flow (the storyline dealt with Thick as a Brick “composer” Gerald Bostock’s misadventures as a financier, evangelist and middle age miscreant while echoing back to the stifling social and familial intrusions of his youth). While there was a generally lighter compositional tone to the newer works, several selections – particularly Shunt and Shuffle and the Eastern inclined A Change of Horses – rivaled the complexity and instrumental might of any Jethro Tull record from the ‘70s.

It all made for a keenly designed program that was as potently nostalgic as it was refreshingly forward thinking.

mayfield and the masters

david mayfield parade

david mayfield.

There is a certain irony to the fact that David Mayfield has found himself smack dab in the middle of a hearty Saturday bill at this weekend’s Master Musicians Festival in Somerset.

To many, Mayfield is still a new musical presence, even though he has rubbed artistic shoulders with celebrity contemporaries like The Avett Brothers and Mumford and Sons, has performed on bills at The Grand Ole Opry and MerleFest and hails from a musical family well versed in shaping styles and sentiments to fit the needs of its often genre-busting songs.

But the connection to the Master Musicians Festival is as profound as it is completely unintended. The annual Somerset gathering is designed, in part, as a tribute to a musical elder (which, this year, is Willie Nelson) whose inspiration plays into the music of succeeding generations. That pretty much sums up the manner in which Mayfield went about recording his fine new sophomore album, Good Man Down.

The sessions were cut at two historic Nashville studios – RCA Studio B and The Quonset Hut. The former has produced over a thousand hit singles throughout the decades, including some 200 songs by Elvis Presley. The latter boasted a client list that included Patsy Cline, George Jones and Loretta Lynn.

Now that’s what you call mixing it up with the masters.

“I’m kind of a recording nerd,” Mayfield said. “I just really love the old style of doing things and the old equipment that was used. So I’ve been researching how these records that I love were made by coming across the equipment. And the studios.

“You have to realize that some of these studios have been leveled to the ground. They’re gone. But a few of them have been preserved. RCA B and the Quonset Hut are good example of ones that have been completely preserved. The majority of the original equipment is still there – the microphones, the consoles, the piano. The piano that’s on all of the Elvis and Roy Orbison records has never left RCA B. And we used that on my record. It’s like stepping into a time capsule.

“I sang my vocals into the same exact microphone that Patsy Cline sang Crazy into. I couldn’t believe it. I mean, I grew up in the digital age where a lot of the things in the studio are done by staring at a screen. I would hear, ‘Well, this looks wrong right here.’ Well, it’s doesn’t matter how it looks, how does it sound?  That was a really a big thing about getting into these classic studios. It was not just, ‘Oh, I get to stand where Roy Orbison stood or sing where Jim Reeves sang. But I got to go through the process they did and be inspired in that way as opposed to relying on all this technology.”

The resulting music on Good Man Down hardly translates into traditional country, although echoes of it sparkle within the wide-eyed chorus of the album-opening Love (Will Only Break Your Heart). There are also such genre-bending entries as From a Dream (where whispering strings and high, forelorn harmonies sound like a cross between Lindsey Buckingham and The Decemberists), the exquisitely wistful Was It Only Me (where unrelenting isolation bleeds into waves of violin, cello and trumpet, which, in turn, corrode into a fuzzed out electric finale) and Superfluous Instrumental (which appears first as a blast of Bill Monroe-meets-Twin Peaks ambience and again as bluegrass meltdown that seems to fall out of the sky).

“There are different ways you can go about writing a song,” Mayfield said. “You could say, ‘Okay, I love Paul Revere and the Raiders, so I’m going to write a pop song. It’s not going to surprise you. It’s just going to be a solid pop song. I love that, but you don’t have to listen to that kind of stuff. I just like surprises. I like to take people on a journey and maybe throw a twist or a turn in there. But that’s always been the problem for me, too – to find the balance and not overdo it to where the music becomes jarring or unpleasing. I just don’t like making everything so predictable.”

Mayfield’s primary artistic upbringing, not to mention his sense of performance etiquette, came from touring the country as a youth in a bluegrass band led by his parents. That also cemented an intensely close personal and professional relationship with sister Jessica Lea Mayfield. He served as producer and co-writer for her extraordinary 2011 album, Tell Me.

“One of the problems with growing up with home schooling and working in a family band is you don’t get that social interaction a lot of public schoolers get. So Jessica and I were really each other’s best friends. It’s a very special relationship. We’re always very encouraging of each other but also very judgmental when we send each other music. We’re hard on each other in that aspect. But it’s been real exciting to be there as her career was being launched and then go on tour and sort of chaperone my baby sister. Now I feel, in some ways, she is almost mentoring me.”

The Master Musicians Festival will be held July 19 and 20 at Festival Field of Somerset Community College, 808 Monticello St. in Somerset. The David Mayfield Parade performs at 5 p.m. June 20. Tickets are $25-$55. Call (606) 677-6000 or go to www.mastermusiciansfeatival.com.

‘WoodSongs’ in Ireland

Mary Black 2a

Mary Black will be among the guests of the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour‘s live Internet broadcast from Ireland.

Clear your calendars for the rest of the day. We’re all going to Ireland – via cyberspace, that is.

The WoodSongs Old-Time Hour is set to tape two programs today from the Convention Center in Dublin. As with the shows taped in Lexington at the Lyric Theatre, the final results won’t officially air for a month or more. But both programs can viewed as they happen beginning at 2:30 p.m. on Folk-book.com.

Joining host Michael Johnathon in the second hour will be We Banjo Three and Niall Toner, ensembles that will blend elements of Celtic folk music and American bluegrass.

But the first hour enlists two members of Irish music royalty – vocalist Mary Black and singer-songwriter Paul Brady.

A veteran of the great Irish traditional music band De Dannan, Black devoted herself exclusively to a solo career beginning in 1986. Her stark, exact and powerfully emotive vocals have been featured on albums of contemporary as well as traditional songs, the best of which remains 1989’s career defining No Frontiers. She has since collaborated with such disparate American artists as Joan Baez and Steve Martin.

What De Dannan was for Black, the even more traditionally minded Planxty was for Brady a decade earlier. Brady and fellow Planxty member Andy Irvine struck out as a duo after the band’s demise, issuing Andy Irvine and Paul Brady. To this day, the 1976 album remains among the finer works recorded by either artist. Brady’s own albums flirted with commercial aspirations after that, but the greatest attention his songs received came when a variety of celebs – with Tina Turner and Bonnie Raitt leading the pack – covered them.

For more info on the broadcast, go to www.woodsongs.com.

 

Critic’s pick 288: Jimmy Cliff, ‘The KCRW Session’

jimmy cliffJust over a year ago, reggae forefather Jimmy Cliff released Rebirth. The recording, which went on to win a Grammy, was more than just the comeback project its title suggested. It was one of last summer’s most gloriously invigorating albums – a work that encapsulated all of reggae’s boundless optimism, but also kept a wary eye on a world in turmoil. Most of all, though, Rebirth was a testament to a singing voice instilled with a sense of R&B-infused joy and gospel-like fervency that has beautifully ripened over the decades.

As part of the promotional duties surrounding Rebirth’s release, Cliff performed a live acoustic set for the popular Morning Becomes Eclectic radio show out of KCRW in Los Angeles. It’s pretty much standard operating procedure for artists to make such performance visits to radio and television stations, even record stores, to plug new music. But judging by The KCRW Session, a no-nonsense, nine-song 35 minute document of the Los Angeles radio date, Cliff was clearly not holding back even though the arrangements that now draped his majestic songs were stripped off their electric ensemble gloss..

For The KCRW Session, nothing exists but the rhythmic sway of two acoustic guitars (played by Cliff and accompanist Ben Peeler), a catalog of tunes that span some 40-plus years and that effortlessly expressive voice.

The latter, we discover on the opening Trapped is as rapturous as the one that usually takes the stage with the full orchestration of a band and back-up singers.. Just take a listen to the three alarm wail Cliff lets loose with during Trapped’s near-wordless chorus. The studio walls at KCRW had to have been shaking.

There is little if any rhythmic compromise within these acoustic rewrites, as well. A one-two-three punch of World Upside Down, Wonderful World Beautiful People and You Can Get It If You Really Want all exhibit profound groove. Sure, the sway is lighter than the band-generated propulsion of their original versions. But the lyricism and soul shine just as vividly.

Perhaps the defining moment of The KCRW Session is the Cliff classic Many Rivers to Cross, a song that broke ranks with reggae’s appealing but confining rhythmic convention decades ago. Essentially a hymn, the song’s mixture of solace and sadness remains quietly disarming. As Cliff’s voice cracks ever so slightly at the end, what we hear isn’t so much a technical imperfection as an emotional blemish brought on age and experience. Cliff has every right to wear such a blemish as a badge of honor.

If Rebirth was the most unexpected party album of last summer, The KCRW Session is the least obvious afterparty record of this summer. This is what you turn to when the guests are gone and there is just enough the evening to savor and groove to on your own.

t-model ford, 1923(?) – 2013

t-model ford

t-model ford.

He called himself The Chicken Head Man. He even sold t-shirts at his gigs that proudly proclaimed the fact. Such were the rustic eccentricities of the bluesman known as T-Model Ford, who died earlier today. In true blues fashion, his exact age can’t be verified. Most bios claim his birth year to be either 1923 or 1924. None of them are specific enough to whittle that down to a date or even month. Suffice to say, the artist born James Lewis Carter Ford lived to be somewhere around 90.

Ford did not have the kind of career that approximated anything resembling a conventional blues star trajectory. Nonetheless, his life was the blues – not necessarily the music, mind you, but serious real life blues.

His bio claims he killed a man in self defense, spending as much as 10 years in prison – some of it on a chain gang – as a result. He was supposedly married six times. It was his fifth wife, we are told, that gave him a guitar as she exited his life. That paved the way for a blues career that began, in earnest, around age 58.

The blues, as played by Ford, was a fat, greasy meditation. He had little interest in 12 bar compositional forms and opted instead for long, boogie-style grooves that owed equally to the formative music of John Lee Hooker and to the rhythmic traditions of his Mississippi upbringing.

It’s a good bet that Ford would have remained an unknown were it not for the ‘90s renaissance of fellow Mississippi blues elder R.L. Burnside. When Burnside began amassing a cult-like following among college audiences, he took pals like Ford on the road with him.

Eventually, Ford built a modest-size following of his own and began cutting records full of unrelenting, elemental groove. The best were a quintet of albums for Fat Possum – the label that gave rise to, among other stylists, The Black Keys. Of the lot, 2000’s She Ain’t None of Your’n was probably the best. That was also the record that brought Ford to Lexington a few times to perform at the long defunct Lynagh’s Music Club.

Many could never get past the fascination that surrounded Ford as a character. But give Ford’s music an attentive listen and you will experience the lean, unspoiled blues grooves that have long rolled out of rural Mississippi. Such sounds always possessed a special deep fried flavor when they were served up live and hot by The Chicken Head Man.

In performance: Randall Bramblett Band

randall bramblett 1

Randall Bramblett

The fact that it was Sunday was not lost on Randall Bramblett at Natasha’s. Having already served up several slices of Southern style soul that reflected more than a few churchy touches, the veteran Southern songsmith, keyboardist and saxophonist ignited John the Baptist, a portrait of spiritual displacement, with the protagonist mixing things up in some very inappropriate locales (“You might be an angel, but you look like hell”). The tune, one of eight that Bramblett pulled from his new album, The Bright Spots, also was a launch pad for a level of musical spunk that drove the entire two-set, two-hour-plus performance.

In the case of John the Baptist, that meant clean, beefy rhythmic blasts underscored by jazz-like solos from Bramblett on tenor sax and Nick Johnson on guitar. The results simulated the sound that Steely Dan might possess if it had hailed from below the Mason-Dixon line.

On Whatever That Is, another Bright Spots song, the mood turned seriously funky, with a groove, and a series of accompanying solos (included a guitar break from Johnson that brought the bright, fluid phrasing of jazz journeyman John Scofield to mind) that bounced off a rubbery drum loop from Seth Hendershot.

On the less celebratory side was the finest of the new tunes, Detox Bracelet, a story of devastating sadness surrounding the lifestyle crossroads a substance abuser faces while battling his way to recovery. It unfolded not with sentimentality or undue drama, but with a plain-speaking reflection that played directly to Bramblett’s strengths as a vocalist and songwriter.

There was plenty of less sobering fare as well, including a New Orleans revision of King Grand, the huge piano rolls that Bramblett summoned during Everybody Got It in on the Inside, and the Allman-esque slide guitar accents that Johnson added to Driftin’ into a Woman’s Arms. All three tunes turned back the years to the mid-’70s, when they were cut for Bramblett’s first two albums, That Other Mile and Light of the Night.

Topping it all was the sax-powered charge and shuffle of the set one closer, Used to Rule the World, that proved hearty enough to pull this Sunday evening showcase back into the spirit of Saturday night.

All is well

randallbramblett 2

Randall Bramblett

For more than three decades, Randall Bramblett has fashioned stories of great emotive detail and rich Southern imagery into songs infused with generous but unforced accents of R&B, jazz and almost sagely rock and soul.

But he was looking for a shake-up on his new The Bright Spots album, which brings Bramblett back to Lexington for a Sunday concert at Natasha’s. No, he wasn’t looking to change his musical game entirely. The veteran Georgia songsmith simply wanted to keep from repeating himself on record.

The themes and narratives of his songs are continually new. But Bramblett was determined the grooves and orchestrations under his newest writings needed to sound equally fresh.

“I didn’t want anything that sounded like what I’ve done before,” Bramblett said. “Plus, I had these songs that were a little more bluesy sounding. But I certainly didn’t want to make a straight-ahead blues record.

“I don’t go into a recording with a specific idea of how I want my songs to sound. On The Meantime (Bramblett’s piano-dominate 2010 album), I did. I went in with an idea of wanting that to be a really quiet acoustic piano record. But I wanted this one to go where it needed to go and let the whole thing evolve.”

Two songs in particular are striking examples of the songs making up The Bright Spots.

Detox Bracelet tells the story of a recovering alcoholic torn between the possibilities of a new life and the fleeting lure of the old one he is fighting to leave. It is a story filled with detractors, revelers and enablers, and it’s topped with elegant band orchestration that gives the song a beautifully wistful quality.

“I was just thinking about a person who is in treatment, who feels horrible, whose life is falling apart. He hears a train go by and thinks that maybe all his fun and freedom is gone, too. He’s on the edge of wanting to go back out but hasn’t realized there is another life for him if he can just pick up the tools he has been given. It’s a yearning and grieving for your old life and your old fantasy, really. It’s a balancing on the edge of disaster. That knife edge attracted me.”

The other is All is Well, a leaner, darker, noir-style meditation.

“The overall feeling there is just acceptance. Everything is the way it’s supposed to be right now. So it comes across with a blues feeling, too. But there is always that question mark in that kind of feeling for me. I don’t like to write these straight ahead message songs. The singer in this one has to give up all his ideas about what is good and bad within the things that are happening to him. He has to give up all his judgments, his prophecies and predictions. It’s a song about accepting everything the way that it is.”

It’s a stance that could be viewed as being somewhat reflective of Bramblett’s career. Artists like Steve Winwood and Bonnie Raitt have long championed his music. But Bramblett’s own reputation, especially outside the South, continues to establish itself in slow, incremental steps.

“It’s still a little bit frustrating that we can’t get heard in a broader arena. You deal with radio and the reality of the record business. You deal with the reality of our age group and getting people to come out to hear you. So we’re doing as good as we can. All is well.”

Randall Bramblett Band performs at 8 p.m. July 14 at Natasha’s Bistro, 112 Esplanade. $20. Call (859) 259-2754 or go to Beetnik.com.

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