in performance: crave lexington (sunday)

Sometimes it takes an event like Crave Lexington to underscore the vitality of Lexington-made music. Presented out of the clubs, under a very tolerable late August sun and within a festival setting not built exclusively around music, the second day of Crave was devoted to a WRFL-FM sponsored (and presumably curated) roster of Central Kentucky performers. Amid an atmosphere rich with the aroma of assorted eateries and an audience that boasted a healthy number of children, including a youth appearing to be 6 or 7 years old wearing a Ramones t-shirt, the locals did their hometown proud.

Letters of Acceptance, which placed the Lexington rhythm section of Scott Whiddon and Tim Welch under the leads of Louisville guitarist/songsmiths Clint Newman and John Harlan Norris (the only real “out-of-towners” on the Sunday Crave bill), opened the festival just after the noon hour with a set of durable power pop. The reference point seemed pinned to the late ‘80s with an accessible but neatly textured ensemble jangle that fueled “Blackberry Winter” and “Weighted Ground.”

The sound expanded somewhat for Bear Medicine, the longstanding Lexington troupe that built neo-psychedelic soundscapes around the folk meditations of vocalist Joshua Wright. Sometimes the results were suitably summery, as in the violin, cello and keyboard colors that fleshed out “Blue Operator.” Other instances, like “Terra Firma,” outlined their lyricism in more quietly pensive terms.

The eight-member Blind Corn Liquor Pickers stuck to its proven menu of bluegrass instrumentation bolstered by a healthy wallop of electric spitfire. The Pickers let the grass grow under the loose, jamboree shuffle of the set-opening “Moonshine” while the more spaciously rugged “Great Unknown” put the acoustics very much in service of rock ‘n’ roll. Especially appealing were covers of David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” and Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” recast with the Pickers’ electric grass ingenuity.

Crave was a homecoming of sorts for Coralee and Townies, especially since its leader now lives and works in Nashville. The music’s no frills honky tonk command was led by Coralee’s still-effortlessly potent singing and the guitar/pedal steel drive of Fred Sexton. That allowed the set, highlighted by the introspective country soul of “When You Don’t Matter Much” and the churchy grind of “Keep to Myself,” to showcase the Townies in still-vital performance form.

Ending the day was Joslyn and the Sweet Compression and a groove rooted in a horn driven, guitar fortified makeup that recalled Tower of Power and the assured soul/funk vocal charge of Joslyn Hampton. What resulted ran from the sleek ‘70s soul groove of “What Did You Think Was Gonna Happen?” and “Love on the Double” to an ultra-fun cover of the Funkadelic staple “Cosmic Slop” that erupted out of a Bo Diddley beat to make the set as functional as it was funky.



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