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in performance: forecastle saturday 2017

Greetings from Louisville. We were stationed at Forecastle through the evening hours on Saturday covering all the sounds abounding throughout Waterfront Park on the festival’s second day. Here is what we experienced.

james murphy of lcd soundsystem closes forecastle’s saturday bill.

9:59 p.m.: “You wanted a hit,” sang James Murphy as LCD Soundsystem dug into the evening dance party. “Maybe we don’t do hits.” Well, maybe they don’t. But Forecastle’s Saturday closer still offered a familiar groove sound built around a fascinating mix of programmed beats, analog synths, percussion and the wild range of Murphy’s potent vocals. With Nancy Whang still adding to the synth orchestration from centerstage, tunes like the set-opening “Yr City’s a Sucker” and the quirkily animated “Daft Punk is Playing at My House” emerged as densely arranged electronic rock pieces that heavily recalled the early ‘80s music of Roxy Music, Talking Heads, Devo and, in Murphy’s vocals, The Cure. But hits or no hits, the ensemble’s resulting music sounded proudly modern.

8:46 p.m.: As the temps cooled with the sunset on Forecastle Saturday, so did the music. The electronic drenched works of the New York collective Phantogram colored the twilight with a discreetly lush set of soundscapes. This wasn’t the usual push-button dance party, but a hybrid where founding members Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter added live vocals and guitar, respectively, to the heavily synthesized backdrops of “Destroyer” and “Answer.” Barthel’s singing was employed as a moodpiece device, a breathy though thin addition that worked best during the more overtly pop propulsion of “Cruel World” and the self-described “dance hit” groove of “Calling All.”

sturgill simpson, guitar hero.

7:55 p.m. – Meet Sturgill Simpson, guitar hero. By jettisoning the horn section that backed him onstage following the release of last year’s “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth” album and trimming what remained of his band to a lean quartet, the Kentucky country renegade opened his evening set with a reading of “Brace for Impact (Live a Little)” that roared on for 10 minutes, over half of which was devoted to long, winding guitar jams Simpson played over a thick, deliberate Southern groove. After that, the performance wound its way through psychedelic blues (“It Ain’t All Flowers”), Merle Haggard-level country reflection (“Breakers Roar”), a quietly ambient meditation that ignited into hotwired, churchy soul (“Welcome to Earth”) and a Prince-worthy guitar grind that opened out into a potent cover of the blues/boogie chestnut “Going Down.” All in all, a typically mighty and wonderfully combustible Simpson outing.

nathaniel rateliff convened an early evening soul revival.

5:50 p.m. – “Bow your heads and buckle your knees.” That was the request of Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats as the young rock/soul brigade dedicated “Boil and Fight” to the late Chuck Berry, right down to the tune’s joyous riff that recalled the rock forefather’s classic “Memphis.” What defined this vibrant set wasn’t so much the traditional charm it possessed, but the tired soul revue sentiment it avoided. Buoyed by a guitar sound and vocal lead that were both beautifully ragged, songs like the new “Coolin’ Out” and the comparatively vintage “Howling at Nothing” lavished naturally within honest rock and soul smarts.

5:14 p.m. – The afternoon’s big mash-up came courtesy of K-Flay, the Illinois songstress whose set blended dour pop musings with strong colors of electronica. “It’s Strange,” her 2015 collaboration with Louis the Child, was draped in synths and rhythmic loops while “High Enough” was served as a full blown, dance savvy pop confection. An interesting mix, even though K-Flay’s voice was nowhere near as arresting or distinctive as her onstage attitude.

j.d. mcpherson proved to be an early saturday highlight.

4:10 p.m. – Forecastle officially kicked into high gear with a typically rocking set by J.D. McPherson. The Oklahoma singer/guitarist again operated from a largely traditional playbook of retro-inclined pop, soul, blues and roots rock inspirations kicked off by the swirling guitar riff of “Bossy” before bowing to the merry sax drive of “Northside Gal,” the tremolo-boosted ‘50s flavor of “It Shook Me Up” and the freeflowing vintage pop flow of the new “Desperate Love.” The bar for the day has now been set.

3:21 p.m. – In a fit of performance irony, the Portland based Closner sisters Natalie, Allison and Meegan – collectively known as Joseph – let their opening tune, “Stay Awake,” emerge from a blast of fuzzed out bass. From there, layers of ambient-inclined folk morphed into the indie power pop charge of “Canyon” and “S.O.S. (Overboard).” Appealing harmonies, impressive performance zeal but pretty standardized material.

lucy dacus opening the mast stage saturday afternoon at forecastle. all herald-leader staff photos by rich copley.

2:57 p.m. –Virginia songsmith Lucy Dacus kicked off the music on the Mast Stage, the largest of Forecastle’s four performance areas, with a moody, atmospheric set full of often vulnerably inclined pop (“Map on a Wall”) that often reflected the very inward nature of her singing. Even with such afternoon reserve, it was nice to hear the guitars rev up to match the polite angst of “I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore.”

 

vandaveer to be featured on new ringo starr album

ringo starr’s “give more love,” which features two songs with vandaveer, will be released in september.

Ringo and… Vandaveer?

Believe it. Among the many star guests featured on Ringo Starr’s upcoming “Give More Love” album will be the Lexington/Louisville folk/pop troupe Vandaveer. Mark Charles Heidinger (on vocals, guitar and bass), Rose Guerin (vocals), J. Tom Hnatow (resonator and electric guitars) and Robby Cosenza (drums) are featured on two of the album’s four bonus tracks, which are remakes of two Starr classics – the 1973 solo career-defining hit “Photograph” and 1968’s “Don’t Pass Me By,” originally cut for The Beatles’ self-titled 1968 album (“The White Album”). Lexington studio pro Duane Lundy produced and engineered both songs.

Vandaveer performed the same tunes at Starr’s annual Peace and Love event last year in front of the Capitol Records Tower in Hollywood.

Details of the recording were announced earlier today, Starr’s 77th birthday.

“Exactly one year ago, Rosie, Tom, Robby and I jetted out to LA to help Ringo celebrate his birthday,” Heidinger posted on Facebook this afternoon. “And today, this was just announced. Still can’t quite compute.”

“Give More Love” will be released in CD and digital formats on Sept. 15. A vinyl edition will follow on Sept. 15.

 

u2 adds june 16 date in louisville to ‘joshua tree tour’

u2: larry mullen jr., adam clayton, the edge and bono. photo by anton corbijn.

Just when it looked like U2’s stadium-only Joshua Tree Tour was going to bypass the region completely this summer, word has been confirmed of a Louisville visit. The framed Irish band has just announced a June 16 date at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. OneRepublic will open.

Tickets will go at 10 a.m. Feb. 3 through livenation.com. Prices range from $35 to $280.

The performance marks U2’s first Kentucky performance since a Derby Eve concert at Rupp Arena in 2001. As the tour name suggests, the band’s summer trek will celebrate the 30th anniversary of what remains it best-selling album, “The Joshua Tree.” Over 1.1 million tickets have already been sold for the tour.

“The Joshua Tree” has sold an estimated 25 million copies, yielded several career defining hits including “With or Without You” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” A 1987 tour for the album brought U2 to Rupp for the time that October.

While U2 has seldom played the region outside of its Rupp concerts, the band made its Kentucky debut at Louisville Gardens in 1981 as an opening act for the J. Geils Band.

Showtime for the June 12 stadium show will be 6:30. For more information, go to www.u2.com.

jason isbell to play eku center on april 21

jason isbell.

Need another reason to think spring during the dead of winter? How about the announcement of a concert by Jason Isbell? The Grammy winning Americana celeb will perform on Friday, April 21 at the EKU Center for the Arts in Richmond.

Isbell’s profile as a songwriter, guitarist, vocalist and bandleader has grown steadily over the past decade. It began after the release of 2006’s “A Blessing and a Curse,” his final recording as a member of the celebrated Georgia rock troupe Drive-By Truckers. Isbell’s solo career has largely been played out in front of Lexington audiences since then.

Following the release of his 2007 debut album, “Sirens of the Ditch,” Isbell played an in-store set at CD Central followed by a headlining show at the now-demolished Dame location on Main. That and the now-defunct Buster’s on Manchester would remain near annual touring stops for Isbell up through the release of 2014’s “Southeastern.”

Isbell moved over the Singletary Center for the Arts in June 2015 for a surprise appearance alongside wife and fellow Americana stylist Amanda Shires, who was opening a sold out performance for John Prine. That set the stage for the summer release of Isbell’s Grammy winning “Something More Than Free” in July and a Rupp Arena appearance as show opener for the Avett Brothers that September.

From my review of the Rupp concert: “As his set headed for home, Isbell stepped out on guitar for extended solos during Never Gonna Change and the uproarious snapshot of past life decadence Super 8. The resulting music possessed the swagger and electricity of vintage Tom Petty but ultimately rocked with a confidence Isbell could clearly call his own.”

Pre-sale tickets for the Friends of the EKU Center begin at 11 a.m. Jan. 24. Public sales start at 11 a.m. Jan. 27. Tickets are $30-$65 through Etix at 800-514-3849 and www.ekucenter.com. Showtime for the April 21 performance will be 7:30 p.m.

the first wave of forecastle 2017

james murphy, chieftain of forecastle co-headliner lcd soundsystem.

james murphy, chieftain of forecastle co-headliner lcd soundsystem.

Start thinking summer, people. The 15th Forecastle festival in Louisville has just announced its “first wave” of acts for next year, a roster that includes Brooklyn dance rock/electronica troupe LCD Soundsystem, pop stylists Weezer and the electro pop duo Odesza.

Want more? Then plan on sets by Bowling Green-bred rock renegades Cage the Elephant, British pop-punk experimentalist PJ Harvey, soul/Americana sensations Nathaniel Rateliff and the Nightsweats, roots rock champion JD McPherson, veteran soul/funk brigade Charles Bradley and the Extraordinaires, Christian rockers Needtobreathe, rock/folk/Americana favorite Conor Oberst and Louisville’s own Twin Limb.

Forecastle will run July 14-16, 2017 at downtown Louisville’s 85 acre Waterfront Park. General admission weekend passes are on sale, just in time for holiday shopping needs, at $149.50 excluding ticketing fees. For more ordering information, go to forecastlefest.com.

Further performance bookings, schedules and single day ticket sales will be announced early in 2017.

cosmic charlie’s re-opens

cosmic-charlies-10Strike up the band. Actually, strike up several of them. Cosmic Charlie’s, the self-described “funky music club” has completed its move to a new neighborhood. The venue officially opens for business in its new location at 723 National Ave. on Thursday and will resume its regular schedule of live music this weekend.

“We’re still going to have a lot of the same format, a lot of jam bands, bluegrass on Sundays, things like that,” said co-owner and talent buyer Mark Evans. “I’m more of a rock ‘n’ roll fan, personally. So this time I’m going to try and do more stuff that I’m interested in, as well. I was just selling what was selling before, trying to cater to the neighborhood, because that’s who was coming. But that was never our goal.”

The “neighborhood,” as in the one they vacated earlier this fall, favored the student population of the University of Kentucky. The venue opened in 2009 in University Plaza at the corner Woodland and Euclid in the same space that housed the popular Lynagh’s Music Club during the 1990s.

“We had been open at Woodland Avenue for seven years,” Evans said. “Our lease was coming to a close and we were ready to move on from that location. So at the beginning of the summer we decided to start shopping.”

The move to National Ave. places the new Cosmic Charlie’s the heart of Warehouse Block, one of the more recent Lexington neighborhoods experiencing a retail and residential renaissance.

“Now that we’re in a neighborhood with families and a more mature audience, I hope to present a wider array of genres at the club,” Evans said.

The new Cosmic Charlie’s first live music performance with be a Friday tribute show to the Pixies and Weezer as performed by Halloweezer and Brenda. Saturday brings in Louisville jam band Vessel with Fatbox. A pair of 25th anniversary shows by local Grateful Dead cover band Born Cross Eyed is scheduled for next weekend (Dec. 9-10). For a full schedule of confirmed Cosmic Charlie’s shows, go to cosmic-charlies.com.

 

a new home for the moonshiner’s ball

Summer is a tough time to contemplate before winter even arrives. But the promoters behind The Moonshiner’s Ball have a big between-season announcement to share. When the festival convenes again in May, it will have a new home.

What that means is the Fourth Annual Moonshiner’s Ball will relocate from HomeGrown Hideaways, the “hundred acre holler” in Berea that helped host the event for the past three summers, to the 400 acre Jenkins Farm in the Red Lick Valley of Estill County.

“We have inched closer and closer to capacity for the last two years,” said festival organizer Travis Young. “Last year, I think we probably would have sold it out if it hadn’t been for really bad weather. So we’ve had our eye out for a place that would allow us to grow. This year, we’ll be pushing the lineup to where we’re going to need a little more space.

“It has some other perks, as well. It has a big, wide, flat campground where we can really spread it out and make it very easy for everyone to get in and out. We’ll have a lot of extra space to park cars for people who want to come in on day passes.”

Although a privately owned property, Jenkins Farm is no stranger to music gatherings. It was home to the Red Lick Valley Bluegrass Festival for 37 years.

An initial lineup of performers for next year’s Moonshiner’s Ball will likely be announced in January along with the start of ticket sales. The festival’s mix of national and regional acts in recent years have included The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, Ben Sollee, Vandaveer, The Duhks, Tyler Childers and Daniel Martin Moore.

Performance dates for the 2017 Moonshiner’s Ball are May 19-21. That will again make it one of the first major Central Kentucky music festivals of the summer season.

For more information go to themoonshinersball.com.

 

2016 grammy post mortem

chris stapleton in the press room with awards for best country solo performance and best country album at the 58th annual grammy awards last night. photo by chris pizzello/invision/AP.

chris stapleton in the press room with awards for best country solo performance and best country album at the 58th annual grammy awards last night. photo by chris pizzello/invision/AP.

The good, the bad, the tacky and the sublime. It was all on display through three-and-a-half hours of live TV last night as the 58th Grammy Awards commenced. Here is The Musical Box’s annual Grammy post mortem of what happened as it unfolded

+ Taylor Swift opened the ceremony, full of requisite pomp, with Out of the Woods. Host LL Cool J proclaimed the performance “a new Grammy moment.” Same old pageantry.

+ The Weeknd: Unexpectedly straightforward performance of In the Night that proved there was a solid voice to go along with that Maltese Falcon hairdo.

+ Station break: Channel surfed to Fox during a commercial to watch Mulder line dancing to Achy Breaky Heart on The X Files in front of “some very frightened middle aged Texans.’ Don’t know about the truth, but this was definitely out there.

+ Best country album: Chris Stapleton won for Traveller and thanked Swift for glitter bombing him earlier  in the show. Kentucky rocks the house. Stapleton also won for Best Country Solo Performance.

+ Little Big Town singing Girl Crush: All about the lighting and camera angles. The song wanted to sound empowering, but it was just more Nashville Play-Doh.

+ John Legend: Modern day soul maestro served up a sterling and stirring version of Easy during an otherwise lacking Lionel Richie tribute. Did he die, too? Nope. Richie watched from the audience before joining in for All Night Long.

+ Steve Wonder and Pentatonix: A toast to Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire with an a cappella That’s the Way of the World. Simple, unforced and profoundly emotive.

+ The Eagles: Legendary California band honored Glenn Frey by performing Take It Easy with Jackson Browne, the artist who co-wrote the tune with the late vocalist, singing lead. A solemn, pokerfaced and understandably dour tribute.

+ Tori Kelly and James Bay. Nicely unadorned duet between two Best New Artist nominees, but their medley of Hollow and Let It Go was a generic heart-on-sleeve pop confessional snoozer

+ Hamilton: Live broadcast from Broadway of Alexander Hamilton, the opening number to the smash musical that was as wonderfully original and it was commercially improbable.

+ Kendrick Lamar: Introduced by Don Cheadle. Less hip hop and more like beat poetry until the groove commenced. A fascinating mash up of The Blacker the Berry and Alright that incorporated rock, jazz, worldbeat and a lot of pyrotechnics.

+ Best acceptance speech: Lin-Manuel Miranda, who rapped his entire speech after Hamilton’s win for Best Musical Theater Album. As joyous and refreshing as the musical itself.

+ Alabama Shakes: Best Rock Performance for Don’t Wanna Fight. ‘I promise we’re going to keep going,’ proclaimed lead singer Brittany Howard. The band’s live performance of the tune later in the show, complete with the piercing James Brown squeal, was psychedelic soul heaven.

+ Adele: A disappointing delivery of All I Ask. Brash, noticeably off-key at times and horribly mixed. And what was that noise that sounded like someone pounding on a screen door as she sang?

+ Meghan Trainor: “I’m a mess. I have to cry.” An honest reaction to winning Best New Artist, but a flat choice.

+ Lady Gaga: An overly glammed up but obviously heartfelt tribute to David Bowie that compacted 10 of the latter’s hits into an exhaustive medley, from Space Oddity to Heroes.

+ Performance highlight of the night: Chris Stapleton, Bonnie Raitt and Gary Clark, Jr. paid homage to B.B. King with a patient, elegant and effortlessly reverential version of the latter’s signature song, The Thrill is Gone.

+ Hollywood Vampires: Long in the tooth teaming of Alice Cooper, Joe Perry and Johnny Depp saluted Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister with a loud and proud Ace of Spades.

+ Album of the Year: 1989 by Taylor Swift. Completely expected. No Chris Stapleton upset. No Alabama Shakes upset. Just business as usual.

+ Record of the Year: Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars. Seriously? The Grammys couldn’t find anything better than that to celebrate? It was nice the crew openly acknowledged George Clinton in the audience, but really. This was wallpaper funk.

‘the river’ rises: bruce springsteen to play louisville on feb. 21

Bruce-Tour-EmailThe Boss is heading back in town – okay, a nearby city.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will return to the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville on Feb. 21. Billed as part of a nine-week run dubbed The River Tour, the performance follows today’s release of The Ties That Bind: The River Collection, a multi-disc overview of recordings that yielded the 1980 double-album The River.

Tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. Dec. 11 through livenation.com, ticketmaster.com,

the Yum! Center box office, all TicketMaster outlets or by calling (800) 745-3000.

While exact ticket prices haven’t been announced for the Louisville date, seats for other shows on the tour are going for $65 and $150.

Springsteen last played the Yum! Center in November 2012. His upcoming show coincides, to the month, with the 35 year anniversary of a Rupp Arena concert that promoted the original release of The River. He hasn’t performed at Rupp since 2002.

Fans can get a taste for the February show when Springsteen performs on Saturday Night Live on Dec. 19.

three nights of guitar stars

billy gibbons will perform at the opera house on jan. 22.

billy gibbons will perform at the opera house on jan. 22.

It’s a good season for guitar lovers. The Troubadour Concert Series is seeing to that with a trio of major performances that will run through the winter.

The first comes up this weekend. Grammy winning bluesman Robert Cray returns to the Lyric Theatre on Saturday fronting one of the strongest lineups of his longrunning Robert Cray Band. Cray himself will check in with The Musical Box to discuss his new 4 Nights of 40 Years Live album and more. We’ll post his remarks on Friday (7 p.m., $46.50).

The big news is the just announced Jan. 22 concert at the Opera House by Billy Gibbons and the BFGs. Gibbons, of course, is the guitar voice of the titan Texas trio ZZ Top, but this marks his first regional appearance as a solo artist and his first Lexington show of any kind in over two decades. Expect the music to lean to the Latin and Afro-Cuban sounds of his new Perfectamundo album (7:30 p.m., $65.50).

Finally, we have another returnee – Warren Haynes. Chieftain of Gov’t Mule, alumnus of the Allman Brothers Band and a prolific collaborator with numerous artists in scores of styles, the guitarist will be promoting progressive roots and neo-bluegrass songs of his recent Ashes and Dust album on Feb. 27 at the Opera House (7:30 p.m., $44.50).

Tickets for the Gibbons and Haynes concerts go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. through Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000 and ticketmaster.com as well as through the Lexington Center Ticket Office at (859) 233-3535.

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