October music with a cinematic sweep

By Bob Bahr

March may come in like a lion and out like a lamb, but it's got nothing on October. The leaf-dropping month is going to come in like a wolf and out like a tuba. From the Mexican pop shine of Los Lobos to the unusual instrumentation of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, this October looks to give more treats than tricks.

So roll the film and wriggle around in the drama, comedy and majesty of October music.

First on the screen are the Los Angelenos in Los Lobos, climbing the stage of the Bomhard Theater on Friday, October 2.

They are a tremendous rock band, but they'll be figuratively donning their sombreros for an evening of authentic, acoustic Mexican songs on this visit. The lucky folks who witnessed their sold-out performance this past summer will want to catch this other side of the band. The rest of us will want to catch any part of them we can. It's part of the Lonesome Pine Special series at the Kentucky Center for the Arts.

To the east of Mexico is an island called Jamaica, where Freedom of Expression gets their inspiration. With glances back at the London ska scene, FOE produces dance music with messages as poignant as the smell of. a sticky bud. They're at Uncle Pleasant's on October 2.

Bigger-than-life Chaz Rough has organized a "Rock the Vote Unplugged" concert at Oxmoor Center in an effort to combat the suffocating apathy present in America's (and Louisville's) youth. In conjunction with League of Women Voters, Rough has organized an acoustic concert to mobilize the young vote. The non-partisan event will feature Rough's own Speaking in Tongues, Poke A Dott, Goodnight Maxine and the rain chorus. Head for the mall on October 3 and enjoy the free music.

Scene-stealer Busker Soundcheck from Lemont, Illinois, is a trio that is both powerful and poppy. Just don't call them a power pop trio. With a hard edge and an alternative bend, they provoke comparisons to Husker Du. Check them out at Tewligan's Tavern on October 7.

They are as good as their word. NRBQ had to cancel last month's show and this is their make-good. Check out NRBQ's unique blend of R&B, blues and rock at Jim Porter's Good Time Emporium on October 8.

Elsewhere on the 8th is the incomparable Count Basie Orchestra, a jazz institution for the chronically swinging that has been playing standards and original compositions since 1935. The 18-piece group will perform at the Macauley Theatre as part of the KCA's Jazz Series. Proceeds from the show will go to the Urban Montessori Schools.

The Garvin Gate Blues Festival, spanning three days and cramming in 14 blues acts, comes to Old Louisville October 9, 10 and 11. The headliners of the show are Sam Myers and Yank Rachel. When people talk about the fire of rock 'n' roll coming from the blues, they are talking about the energy of bluesmen such as Rachel. His aggressive, randy mandolin playing is still invigorating despite Rachel's 83 years.

Myers has one of the best reps in the business, earned by hot sides on the ACE record label and through his captivating play with Anson & the Rockets. The sight of the big man with a bandolier of harmonicas across his chest is one of my favorite pictures; it means there are hot blues to come.

The 5th annual incarnation of the festival also features the rowdy Bodeco, the gifted Curtis Marlatt and the Kicks, the funky Kush Griffith and the Sunstroke Blues Band, the celebrated da Mudcats and a host of other talents.

See the calendar on the preceding page for a full list of performers and their dates.

Dawg music doesn't describe a soundtrack for rowdy Cleveland Browns fans. It's the moniker hung on David Grisman's brand of jazz-infused bluegrass music. Grisman is recognized as one of the best mandolin players in the world, up there with Sam Bush. The Lonesome Pine Special featuring Grisman and his quintet will be held in the Bomhard Theater October 9.

A quite different show will be taking place at Uncle P's on the 9th. Smokin' Dave and the Primo Dopes employ a broad range of sounds to create their Nashville-soaked music. Rootsy and humorous, the band collects raving fans wherever they play. Worth the drive down Preston St.? You bet.

The Pheromones are extremely liberal in their political beliefs. EXTREMELY liberal. But the offbeat folk singers are also extremely funny, so funny even a cowboy/actor/president would have to giggle. They headline a Homefront show with the support of Dr. Joe. It all goes down October 10 at the Stuart Robinson Auditorium.

The next day, the Butchertown Neighborhood Association gives the druid in you a chance to revel in the fall weather with an Autumn Celtic Performance. Cloigeann, Drowsy Maggie and the Louisville Pipe Band will perform at St. Joseph's Cathedral on Washington Street on October 11. Cloigeann is a duo consisting of Roy Livingston and Mark Rosenthal, the Louisville Pipe Band is a bagpipe and drum band with deep roots in the area and Drowsy Maggie is a well-known Celtic band with a traditional sound. The music is free, although donations are encouraged.

Police-style blending of reggae and pop makes the Samples a popular, appealing band. Their show at Phoenix Hill on October 13 is intriguing, mostly due to the acclaimed opening act, Disappear Fear.

None of the characters in Disappear Fear's fine songs approach the level of heartbreak and tragedy endured by the protagonist in Puccini's Madam Butterfly. This is epic opera at its most accessible. Done right, the three-act opera can take your breath away with its emotion and sweep. And who can doubt that the Kentucky Opera Association will do it right? Madama Butterfly runs October 16 through October 20 at Whitney Hall.

The Icemakers of the Revolution play left-leaning sociopolitical rock with an eclectic, offbeat sound. Pretty harmonies and a slightly alternative angle abet the band on their mission. They hail from Purdue's hometown, West Lafayette, Indiana and they're staying at Uncle Pleasant's while they're in town on October 16.

Indiana University's School of Music is one of the biggest in the world, so it's not surprising that musical talent spills over into the Bloomington music scene. Proof of B'town's treasure lode is Gordon Bonham, a blues guitarist who commands considerable respect. He and his Kings of Rhythm play on the Old Pub Stage at Butchertown Pub on October 17. Bonham will not disappoint, I promise.

Folks who get disappointed if they can't see the classic gospel/rock musical Godspell at least every other year can buck, up, because a new group called the Chalice Players are putting on a production of Godspell for their debut. The free performance will be held at the Middletown United Methodist Church on Middletown's Main Street, October 18.

The Christ Church Cathedral keeps the spiritual string unbroken with a concert with Gloriae Dei Cantores, a globe-trotting choir from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Led by director Elizabeth Patterson, the 44-member choir has toured 14 countries, performing works from a variety of composers, including Gregorian chants. Motor down on October 22 to the cathedral, located on South 2nd Street, to hear this acclaimed group.

Do people go to Victor Borge concerts for the humor or the music? They'll get good examples of both when the venerable performer takes the stage at the Kentucky Center for the Arts on October 22. The man is at his best when he blends his two specialties, doling out measures of elegant musical humor, such as playing the William Tell Overture upside down, or wrecking the Moonlight Sonata.

Equally fun is James Galway, a Celtic flutist whose musical selections often run to the whimsical. Christopher O'Riley t joins Galiway for an show at the KCA on October 23

The Center continues, its benign domination of October music with another big show, this one-featuring the alternative diva from Alberta, Canada, k.d. lang. Since bursting on the scene in 1987, she has moved from Patsy Cline-style country to torch songs to Ingenue, her largely indescribable new album. Regardless of her material selection, lang's voice is always brilliant. A k.d. lang concert is not something you'll soon forget. She's in Whitney Hall on October 24 as part of the Lonesome Pine Special series.

The Louisville SuperPops series is almost always a mystifyingly (and sometimes stubborn) collision of musical styles. While lang burns down the house in the KCA, the Louisville Orchestra will welcome Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers a couple blocks away in Louisville Gardens for an evening of classical and country. This is the last time the Gatlin Brothers will tour together. The Gatlin SuperPops show is on October 24, the same night Cincinnati's fme pop band the psychodots visit Uncle Pleasant's.

The greasy, charming Southern Culture on the Skids would probably have a thing or two to say about the Gatlins' farewell tour. Do some investigative reporting when the band brings their original, rocking sound to the Butchertown Pub on October 27.

Phoenix Hill Tavern better check the screws that hold their 6,453 antiques on their walls before Prong invades the stage. Not for the delicate of heart, the hard-rocking Prong will certainly attract a different audience to that bastion of mainstream bacchanalia. Prong comes to town on October 29.

The Dirty Dozen Brass Band is one answer for people who think jazz has stagnated. Intriguing writing using different song forms, expert mixing of musical styles and focused excursions on a few select genres and alternative instrumentation make the Dirty Dozen a treat for weary jazz Their Lonesome Pine Special performance is mandatory listening. They hit the Bomhard on October 30, tuba and trombone in tow.