burning down the house

ballister 1

ballister: dave rempis, paal nilssen-love, fred lonberg-holm.

At the onset of Smolder, one of the three lengthy improvisations that make up the third Ballister album Mi Casa Es En Fuego, the music begins as three separate entities. Or expressions. Or outbursts.

The saxophone punctuation of Dave Rempis starts with a series of jabs and pops that eventually bounce about with an almost mischievous agitation. Countering that is the cello colors of Fred Lonberg-Holm that sound less like the product of an instrument usually thought of for its chamber-like qualities and more like the scratchy, electric disturbances of guitarist Marc Ribot. Underneath it all is Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love, whose playing can reflect frenzied immediacy one minute, brutal deconstruction the next and, in select passages, an icy calm. Throughout Smolder, he reveals all three tendencies to create a mood that lets the tune live up to it name while fanning the flames that inspired the album title.

After all the English translation for Mi Casa Es En Fuego is My House is on Fire.

“On a lot of levels, this band, to me, is kind of like a punk rock, no holds barred kind of thing,” said Rempis, who will perform with Ballister for an WRFL-FM sponsored Outside the Spotlight concert at the University of Kentucky’s John Jacob Niles Gallery. “A lot of it is about energy in many ways. Pall is one of the most propulsive drummers I’ve ever worked with. And Fted just has this great kind of noise thing that he can do with an electronic set up on the cello. So in a lot of ways, it’s just coming from that dive-in-head-first type of energy.”

Though thoroughly improvised – and, at times, quite brutish and fractured – the music of Ballister is far from musical anarchy. There is a noticeable ebb and flow to the playing, an obvious jazz sensibility to the way the three musicians interact and, quite often, a rhythmic undertow that continually changes the tone and temperament of the music.

“There is definitely a lot of rhythmic interaction happening all the time. I’ve described it as ‘the feeling of moving forward while the carpet is being pulled out from under you.’ We’re all moving with these rhythms in a very forward kind of way. But they don’t necessarily all lock in together, so it’s kind of like this overlapping type of thing.”

At the heart of Ballister, which issues its vinyl-only Both Ends album this month, is a strong personal and professional bond. Rempis, Lonberg-Holm and Nilssen-Love have all been regular visitors to Lexington over the past decade for Outside the Spotlight shows by numerous bands that bridge a fruitful Chicago free jazz community with several European factions of like-minded improvisers.

Ballister is hardly the prime performance project for any of the three, either. This spring, Rempis will be balancing a string of Ballister dates with concerts alongside Boston pianist Pandelis Karayorgis, festival dates with three other trios that stretch from San Francisco to Finland as well a Quebec run with Audio One, a new ensemble led by Chicago composer/saxophonist Ken Vandermark (who returns to town for his own Outside the Spotlight concert on April 28). On top of all that, Rempis oversees a music label, Aerophonic Records, that is chronicling the music of his many band projects.

“That’s actually been the most rewarding part of the last year for me – starting this record label. It’s taking up a lot of time, for sure, but it’s been incredibly rewarding.                                                                                   

“I feel like the musicians in this music really need to take responsibility for their careers at this point because there are just not too many people out there, whether it be labels or agents, who are promoting this music anymore. We have the capability to do all this. So far for me, it’s been a huge pleasure to put out music that, artistically, I feel really strong about.”

back home again

scott miller 2

scott miller.

For the better part of a decade, Scott Miller was a performance regular in Lexington clubs. An immensely articulate songsmith, he became an ambassador of sorts for two seemingly unconnected musical camps – a thriving Knoxville musical community and a brand of Americana rock that knew a good time when it saw one, especially when it came to the libations that fueled the fun.

Miller returns to Lexington on Friday after a prolonged absence that has seen separations of sorts from both factions. Three years ago, he departed Knoxville – his home since the days of The V Roys, the rock troupe that introduced Miller to Lexington in 1996 – to his family’s Virginia farm in Staunton. A year before that, he became sober.

While both events happened out of necessity, Miller said he is now seeing the benefits of how they are playing out – personally as well as professionally.

“It’s been weird,” Miller said. “I’ve always thought I could do what I do from anywhere. It’s been a little more difficult than I thought, but I’m finding the balance. Not being near Nashville, because so much of my business is there, is tough. But I’m home. I’m where I belong.

Sobriety, not surprisingly, was no less difficult an adjustment. Up through Miller’s first post-V Roys albums, the boozy charm of his music was fairly innocuous. But during some of his final local shows at Lynagh’s Music Club and The Dame, performance sloppiness ran rampant. Even that wouldn’t have been such a big deal had records like 2003’s Upside Downside and 2006’s Citation not been full of such strong, folk-infused songs.

“Number one, that had to happen,” Miller said of giving up drinking. “If I look back on it through all the years, this was inevitable. Two, it’s always one day at a time. Who knows? I could go out tomorrow and blow everything I’ve just built over almost four years. But, man, I sing better. I play better. I’m much more in tune with what I’m doing. Before, I would just get up there and everything I tried to reach this transcendent state to make my art good…well, it really didn’t work. It just made it bad and out of time.

“The first year that I was sober was really tough. It was different being in front of crowds. It wasn’t stage fright. It was just hard to sort of find a groove. Everybody told me, ‘That will come.’ And it did. It did. I’m back in the pocket now. I enjoy the shows. Everything is better. It doesn’t mean everything is perfect.  But at least I’ve got a fighting shot.”

Adding to Miller’s current state of renewal was the 2013 release of what is arguably his best album, 2013’s Big Big World. The project was a collaborative record with Doug Lancio, long time lieutenant in Patty Griffin’s band who currently doubles as John Hiatt’s chief guitarist. Many of the songs on Big Big World were sculpted out of sound structures and melodies Lancio created that Miller later set lyrics to.

“Doug would start in the mornings and just sort of mess around and lay down different grooves and tracks. Then I would come in and listen to those and see if it inspired something to write about or else I would take some half-finished stuff I had and build to suit. I’d go down the hall and start splicing that stuff together and try to make a three-and-a-half minute song out of this 20 minute stuff we had.

“I didn’t really get to live with these songs before we put them out, so we’ve finally got everything down now. There is just something about going out and playing them every night. You start finding their cracks and stuff like that.”

Scott Miller performs at 7:45 p.m. March 28 at Willie’s Locally Known, 805 N. Broadway. Admission is $10. Call (859) 281-1116 or go to www.willieslex.com.

surf’s up (but in kentucky?)

kentucky surf

riding the bluegrass surf: a scene from the billie joe armstrong/norah jones music video for ‘kentucky.’

We’re all for big imaginations here at The Musical Box, but a new music video referencing our home state is summoning some serious head scratching.

The clip comes to us from the odd couple of Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones and their splendid 2013 Everly Brothers tribute record Foreverly. The song being illustrated is Kentucky, a loving salute that has subsequently been covered by scores of vintage country and bluegrass artists.

Make no mistake, we love Foreverly. Aside from possessing remarkably natural artist chemistry (an attribute underscored by the train wreck performance at the Grammy Awards in February when Armstrong was instead paired for a Phil Everly tribute with a wildly out-of-tune Miranda Lambert), the duo’s treatment is subtle, summery and ultra-respectful of the unforced harmony singing that made the Everlys’ music so distinctive.

So what’s the problem? Well, it’s not a big deal, really. It’s just that the video chose to show a young couple (not Armstrong and Jones, by the way) enjoying an afternoon of outdoor fun that includes – we kid you not – surfing. Yes, indeed. Nothing captures the natural majesty of the Bluegrass like slapping on a wetsuit, grabbing a surfboard and catching a wave. Last time I checked, though, Lake Cumberland was pretty much at permanent low tide.

The video reminded me of a poster that hung in my father’s office. My dad was an ad man for General Electric. The poster was of Leonardo da Vinci pondering an electric toothbrush, as though it were one of his myriad inventions. The caption: “Plug it in where, Leonardo?”

Of course, if the video for Kentucky turns a few more folks on to the exquisite Foreverly, than more power to it. Besides that, it’s sort of refreshing for Kentucky to now be battling a stereotype rooted in the West Coast instead of the rural south.

You can check out the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPgZ0mWMByA.

critic’s pick 330: glenn kotche, ‘adventureland’

glenn kotcheLeave it to a precocious percussive talent like Glenn Kotche to deconstruct and retool two suites into a new hour-long recording titled Adventureland – an album that is, in essence, another suite.

Even by the usual daring but playful standards of the longtime Wilco drummer and University of Kentucky graduate, Adventureland is just that. Though it celebrates Kotche’s compositions for ensembles as much (if not more) than his actual playing, it still beautifully represents one of contemporary music’s most distinctive percussion voices.

Here are the primary inhabitants of Adventureland. First up is a seven movement suite for string quartet and drumkit, Anomaly, which was commissioned by (and presented here as a collaboration with) the famed Kronos Quartet. Then we add The Haunted, a five-movement piece for two pianos and percussionists.

But here is where the scrambling begins. The movements to Anomaly are presented sequentially. The running order of The Haunted is completely reworked (the movements are presented in a sequence of 5-4-1-3-2). Then everything is meshed together with two additional works – one featuring Boston’s Gamelan Galak Tika, the other teaming Kronos with Chicago’s eighth blackbird.

Perhaps such cut-and-paste assembly of the pieces was intended by Kotche as an observational detour so that the music could be appreciated on its own terms rather than as an assemblage of works featuring a variety of musical participants.

But then how would we explain the album-opening Anomaly, Mvt. 1, which takes Kronos out of the equation so electronics can voice the string and percussion parts? Then there is Dance, the finale movement of The Haunted (which, again, is served as the introductory section on Adventureland), which boasts sharp, clipped dialogue between pianists Lisa Kaplan and Yvonne Lam and the mallet-savvy percussion of Matthew Duvall and Doug Perkins. Kotche is listed as playing only “additional percussion,” yet The Haunted’s immensely animated tone is a signature mark of his compositions.

A similar giddiness pervades Gamelan’s gongs and Balinese percussion on the minimalistic The Traveling Turtle. But it’s on Anomaly, Mvt. 4 that Kotche’s instrumental voice is as prominent as his compositional profile. As the Kronos strings build from a playful pizzicato intro into more strident chamber passages, Kotche’s drumming enters and soon works into a rockish lather that wonderfully matches the drama of the strings before reaching a coda of meditative cool.

Don’t let the stylistic variety of the pieces and their shuffled sequencing become a bother. In Adventureland, it’s best to discard the road maps and enjoy the ride.

critic’s picks 329: billy hart quartet, ‘one is the other’ and tord gustavsen quartet, ‘extended circle’

billy hartThree decades and homelands half a world apart separate Billy Hart and Tord Gustavsen. But on two new albums for the ECM label, the two blur the cultural, geographical and even age differences between their visions of modern jazz.

Hart, 73, is a NewJersey/NewYork drummer with a dossier of collaborative credits that range from early fusion with Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock to magnificent post-bop with McCoy Tyner, Wayne Shorter and the all-star quartet Quest.

One is the Other  is the second ECM album (and his third overall recording) with a young, ultra tasteful group featuring pianist Ethan Iverson of The Bad Plus, bassist Ben Street and the resourceful tenor saxophonist Mark Turner.

Hearing the band conjure the gliding melody of Teule’s Redemption from the light rumble of a Hart drum intro and some Coltrane-esque rhythmic assembly is indicative of One is the Other’s unhurried but persuasive music. The ways Turner and Iverson delicately compliment Hart’s brush strokes on a lovingly deconstructed Some Enchanted Evening also fit comfortably within the quartet’ s often impressionistic sound.

The album is perhaps not as atmospheric in texture as Hart’s sublime 2012 ECM debut, All Our Reasons. Still, it stands of an evocative American variation on the trusted subtleties, ambience and mystery that have defined much of the label’s non-classical output since the ‘70s.

tord gustavsenWhere Hart’s music reflects the traditions of multiple American jazz generations, Norwegian pianist Gustavsen, 43, embraces history on his sixth ECM album, Extended Circle. Though the recording relies heavily on spacious, slo-mo soundscapes composed by Gustavsen, there are also bits of group-designed improvs within two variations of Entrance, where the hushed tenor sax of Tore Brunborg sounds initially like a distant cry from the wilderness before serving as a subtle but impassioned conversationalist.

Providing balance to the record’s Nordic solemnity are the traditional Norwegian hymn Eg Veit I Himmerik Ei Borg (A Castle in Heaven), where Brunberg’s entrance over Gustavsen’s stately piano shuffle recalls fellow ECM saxophone stylist Jan Garbarek, and the lovely Gustavsen chorale piece Devotion, which is served as a warm, whispery jazz meditation.

Hart’s record possesses a sound as soulful as it is scholarly while the Gustavsen quartet embraces a sound altogether wondrous and wintry. Such is the global jazz terrain ECM presides over today. This is the music of two cultures that, when listened to side by side, sound downright neighborly.

in performance: pink martini and the von trapps

pink martini

thomas lauderdale and china forbes of pink martini.

If you thought squeezing the 15 cumulative members of Pink Martini and The von Trapps onstage at the Lyric Theatre for last night’s sold out WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour taping (along with multiple percussion kits and an upright piano) was a neat trick, imagine the task of sufficiently covering the full stylistic scope of this globetrotting crew within the span of a 60 minute program.

Not surprisingly, the collaborative teams splintered into several subgroups during the evening to cover as many bases as possible. Vocalist China Forbes started the party by leading Pink Martini through the brassy rhumba party piece Amado Mio that highlighted the groove of five percussionists and the effortless piano strolls of group founder Thomas Lauderdale that revealed a hearty classical bloodline.

Die Dorfmusik, on the other hand, whittled the onstage convention down to Lauderdale and Sofia, Melanie, Amanda and August von Trapp, the great grandchildren of the family immortalized in The Sound of Music. If that sounds like a gimmick, guess again. The quartet possessed remarkable clarity and precision in tone as well as a harmony. The resulting tune, heavy on polka-esque dance hall cheer, operated more like a vocal ballet. Similarly, Storm, a stunning original work by 19 year old August von Trapp, was essentially an acapella display (save for minimal percussion) with echoes of ancient choral singing, again with spotless tone and vocal phrasing.

From there, the show offered a brisk trip through Japan for Zundoko-Bushi that placed co-vocalist Timothy Nishimoto in front of an arrangement that referenced surf and soul grooves. Later, a fun mashup of Get Happy and Happy Days Are Here Again teamed Forbes and Nishimoto over a summery ensemble serenade while a likewise variation of Dream a Little Dream (sung with rich but understated poise by Amanda von Trapp) was bookended by quotes from Clair de Lune from Lauderdale.

Wrapping it all up were songs that could be viewed as signature piece for both groups. The von Trapps faced their collective past with the yodel-centric Lonely Goatherd from The Sound of Music before Forbes concluded the celebration with the carnival sunshine of Brazil.

There was a touch of irony to this global party, too. Though held on St. Patrick’s Day, Ireland wound up as one of the few locales it bypassed.

in performance: pablo ziegler quartet with stefon harris

pablo ziegler 1

pablo ziegler.

Nearly every piece performed last night by the Pablo Ziegler Quartet at the Norton Center for the Arts’ Weisiger Theatre in Danville played out like a suite. A central theme or mood would introduce most tunes. But from then on, the music was like a car chase, bounding around numerous shifts in tempo and temperament – some of which were quite abrupt – before arriving home again. It was then that you appreciated how exhilarating the journey was.

Ziegler is widely seen today as the torchbearer of “nuevo tango,” the jazz-like, small combo variation of tango music formulated decades ago by Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla. Ziegler served as Piazzolla’s pianist for over decade. Such insight manifested last night in a program split evenly between original compositions and works by Piazzolla.

The sharp, clipped but beautifully exact melodies of Piazzolla were echoed in the spare, mischievous playing of Hector del Curto on bandoneon, the Argentine version of the button accordion that was also the composer’s signature instrument. But that was only part of the fun. With the help of American vibraphonist Stefon Harris, a guest for roughly 2/3 of the concert, Ziegler used the bandoneon colors as guideposts for tunes that were in constant emotive motion.

During the Ziegler composition Bajo Caro, the ensemble mood became almost elegiac before left hand piano rolls opened out into a gleeful lyrical stride. The music became more fragmented on Piazzolla’s Chin Chin through band skirmishes that included a brief four mallet run on the vibes from Harris that affirmed the tune’s inherent cool along with sleek, punctuated rhythm by Ziegler, bassist Pedro Giraudo and guitarist Claudio Ragazzi.

At the core of these exchanges was a sense of playfulness that triggered the giddy melodic jabs of La Rayuela. Such instances recalled the animated piano/vibes duets of Chick Corea and Gary Burton as much the great Piazzolla.

There were other stylistic joyrides, as well, including the classically inclined Fuga Y Misterio and the darker, more spacious Blues Porteno. But it was Buenos Aires Report that best displayed the template for all of the genre-jumping – a boldly colored, effortlessly executed piano blast that balanced Piazzolla’s compositional elegance and Ziegler’s boundless musical ingenuity.

the return of nuevo tango

pablo ziegler 2

pablo ziegler.

Pablo Ziegler never thought much of tango at first. As a teenage Argentine pianist, he was far more eager to embrace the possibilities of jazz than the traditions of what he termed “old people” music.

Then he heard Astor Piazzolla.

“I thought he was great,” said Ziegler, 69. “I thought he was a genius for transforming the tango. He changed the entire mood of the music.”

So did the rest of the world. By expanding the music’s inherent mystery and romanticism to allow room for improvisation, Piazzolla founded a sound and movement often referred to as Nuevo Tango. Having served as pianist in Piazzolla’s band for over a decade (from 1978 until the composer’s retirement due to failing health in 1989), Ziegler rediscovered tango’s dark beauty – especially in the way piano interacted with the accordion-like bandoneon.

“When Piazzolla called me. I was like, ‘Really? You want to have me in your group?’ So we met to talk and I became a member of his quintet. Those years were like studying at a university. He put my mind in the music of my country.”

Today, as the unequalled heir to Piazzolla’s Nuevo Tango, Ziegler has been integral to the music’s continued evolution as well as its kinship with jazz. Furthering the latter are occasional collaborative concerts with acclaimed American vibraphonist Stefon Harris. The two perform together Saturday at the Norton Center for the Arts in Danville.

stefon harris

stefon harris.

“I have a strong appetite for challenges,” said Harris, 40.”Tango was a style of music that I wasn’t very familiar with. I had some level of awareness, but to be onstage with musicians who authentically live and play that music was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up at the time. And once we got onstage, we felt there was this amazing chemistry that couldn’t have been predicted.”

For Harris, collaborating with Ziegler falls in line with his working philosophy as a musician even if the music itself is often figuratively, as well as literally, foreign.

“One of my ambitions as a musician is to lead with empathy,” Harris said. “Fundamentally, what we do is about connections and interactions between human beings, so I would like to think I could get onstage with someone for the very first time and if I’m listening and I’m aware and empathetic, I’ll be able to find a connection almost immediately.

“One of the things I enjoy most about playing with Pablo in this setting is that it reminds me a lot of my classical training in terms of the attention to detail, the way you can phrase a melody. Everything is indicated with great specificity excluding, of course, the improvisation.”

Ziegler said he and Harris only team for perhaps five or six concerts a year. They have also released only one album together – 2007’s aptly titled Tango & All That Jazz, which was a live document of a performance given at the Jazz Standard in New York the previous December.

“He has a fantastic memory,” Ziegler said of Harris. “It’s like he has a kind of library in his brain. He knows all the charts and has an incredible feeling for this music.”

“Pablo is very open as a musician, so I don’t feel like I have to completely mimic the style of tango,” Harris added. “I’m allowed to bring my own voice there, as well. But in order for me to contribute something, I have to understand what’s going on first so I can contextualize that which I hope to contribute.

“Pablo is such a brilliant musician and plays such fantastic music. Playing with him has really had a great effect on my ability to grow.”

Pablo Ziegler Quartet with Stefon Harris perform at 8 p.m. March 15 at the Weisiger Theatre of the Norton Center for the Arts, 600 W. Walnut St. in Danville. Tickets are $36. Call (877) 448-7469, (859) 236-4692 or go to www.nortoncenter.com.

beyond treme

rebirth brass band

rebirth brass band: keith frazier, derrick shezbie, stafford agee, phil frazier, vincent broussard, glen andrews, gregory veals and derrick tabb. photo by jeffrey depuis.

When you’re speaking with a New Orleans musician as versed as Stafford Agee on the Thursday after Fat Tuesday, you place a few topics on hold.

His 20-plus year tenure as trombonist with the pioneering Rebirth Brass Band, his contributions to the popular HBO series Treme and his love of mentoring the youth in his native New Orleans – all of that, for a moment, can wait. The inevitable first query dealt with Mardi Gras and the carnival spirit that came with it last week.

“Fat Tuesday went well,” said Agee, 44. “It went well. We had a lot of people come to the city and it was a very successful Mardi Gras.

“It’s a great experience in that you’ve got a lot of people from all over the world that come in and get to see New Orleans and experience bits of music in New Orleans. We just happen to be one of the bands that they come out and see.”

Rebirth Brass Band was formed in 1983 (Agee joined in 1986) and became one of several ensembles to blend Mardi Gras’ celebratory spirit and the street parading brass band traditions of New Orleans with all manner of outside influences ranging from funk to jazz to R&B and more. Agee asserted the band’s inspirations are as varied as its membership.

“We’re an open band,” the trombonist said. “Within an open band, the members weigh all their input in on what we do and everybody puts their own personal influence into the music. I’m more into smooth jazz and old school R&B and a lot of old funk music, like James Brown and Funkadelic, stuff like that.

“So it’s like you have nine people in the band with nine different musical personalities and maybe, say, 20 different genres of music that people like to listen to. All of that is incorporated.. That’s how we get the gumbo of music that we have and create the style of Rebirth.”

Off the bandstand, Agee was one of many Crescent City artists to take an active role in Treme, the series depicting life in post-Katrina New Orleans that recently completed its four season run. Agee served as a sort of conceptual stunt double for actor Wendell Pierce, who portrayed the streetwise trombonist Antoine Batiste.

“Wendell didn’t want to be the trombone player that picks up the horn for the show and didn’t really know what he was doing. He really wanted to learn all the technical aspects of it as a musician. He wanted to have the feel, the emotions, the body language a trombone player has when he is playing. He wanted to know more about the music. He actually learned how to read music. So as a beginning trombone player, he did really well.”

To a degree, the Batiste character mirrors Agee’s own life story as a child of the streets that found not only a career but a lifelong calling in music.

“Me being a lover of music and playing music, I believe, was more spiritual than anything,” Agee said. “I came from a well balanced home life and upbringing. But just seeing stuff in the street and seeing stuff that’s around you, you tend to sometimes be a product of your environment. The more I was around music, the more I started to love being a creator of music. So I started loving all aspects of it.

“I have been volunteering in high schools for about six years mentoring the kids. I know how life on the streets of New Orleans can be because I was once one of those kids coming up in that same lifestyle. I just want to let those kids know that there is a brighter picture than what they may find in everyday life.”

Rebirth Brass Band performs at 7:30 p.m. March 15 at the Grand Theatre, 308 St. Clair St. in Frankfort. Tickets are  $25-$45. Call (502) 352-7469 or go to www.grandtheatrefrankfort.org

bob’s back

sammy shelor

sammy shelor will perform a BOB concert with the lonesome river band at natasha’s on june 9.

Your best local concert festival buddy is returning for a second year. Yes indeed, BOB is back.

Short for Best of Bluegrass, the weeklong series of predominantly free concerts debuted in 2013 as a celebratory prelude to the 40th annual Festival of the Bluegrass. BOB proved an immediate hit in bringing patrons downtown to a variety of venues before passing the ball to the Festival of the Bluegrass over the weekend.

This year, BOB is bigger in scope with a broader performance schedule that will include free shows by such established national bluegrass acts as Steep Canyon Rangers, Town Mountain and the Lonesome River Band.

At a press conference yesterday at Natasha’s that announced in the initial BOB lineup, Mayor Jim Gray said the event helps preserve and fortify one of Lexington’s most enduring cultural traditions.

“We use the words potential and possibility when we think about our rich legacy and history,” Gray said. “We’re one year short of 240 years of being a city and this music is so much a part of it. Continuing and embracing that legacy and strengthening that fabric is a very good deal.”

While several of the performers at BOB are still to be announced, one the biggest confirmed concerts will kick off the festival on June 9 – a double-bill featuring the traditionally inclined North Carolina troupe Town Mountain and the veteran Lonesome River Band, still with multi-award winning banjoist Sammy Shelor, at Natasha’s. A bluegrass themed program for the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour will precede the show at the Lyric Theatre.

Another heavyweight act, the Grammy-winning Steep Canyon Ranges (which just released a concert recording with Steve Martin and Edie Brickell) brings BOB to Pauley’s Toasted Barrel on June 11 following a Red Barn Radio program at ArtsPlace with the Misty Mountain String Band. Three-time reigning International Bluegrass Music Association Female Vocalist of the Year, takes BOB to the heart of downtown with a Thursday Night Live performance on June 12.

All of the shows, save for the WoodSongs and Red Barn Radio tapings, will be free. Still to be announced will be BOB shows on June 10 at Southland Jamboree, Willie’s Locally Known and Al’s Bar.

This year’s roster at the ticketed Festival of the Bluegrass at the Kentucky Horse Park, which runs from June 12-15, includes The Grascals, Seldom Scene, Mountain Heart and the current IBMA Vocal Group and Entertainer of the Year Gibson Brothers.

A joint venture between the Lexington Area Music Alliance and numerous local sponsors and organizers, BOB is welcoming the involvement of LexTran this year, which will help transport patrons from the Horse Park (especially campers arriving earlier in the week) to downtown.

“What we are about to present is some of the best bluegrass music in America, if not the world, for free,” said LAMA president Tom Martin.

For more information on BOB, go to www.bluegrasslex.com. For the Festival of the Bluegrass, go to www.festivalofthebluegrass.com.

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