Gawd, but July is busy.
It starts with some blues — scratch that, a lot of blues — courtesy of the Visual Art Association. The Waterside Festival (July 1, 2 & 3) features top names in the genre, including Steve Ferguson & His Midwest Creole Ensemble and the Roots Rock Society on Friday night, Larry McCray and Tinsley Ellis on Saturday night and The Metro Blues AllStars, Gary Primich and Delbert McClinton on Sunday night. A three-day pass costs $20 and if you get to the Water Tower grounds at River Road and Zom Avenue early in the day, admission for adults is just $3.50. In the evening, the ticket prices rise to $8 on Friday and Saturday and $10 on Sunday. Local musicians scheduled to play the festival include Reid Jahn, Tim Krekel, Shannon Lawson, the Bar King Dawgs and Jim Rosen & John Burgard.
Michelle Malone is described as an edgy rocker, but that mostly just means her lyrics are aggressive and she uses guitars. Tight with the Indigo Girls and respected for her songwriting, Malone brings her show to the resurrected Uncle Pleasant's on Saturday, July 2. Lexington's treasure, Paul K, opens the show.
You have every right to be skeptical. After all, his success with the Stray Cats in 1982 (!) was attributed to novelty by some. But all accounts of The Brian Setzer Orchestra's concert appearances this year have been glowing. More a "rockin' big band" than a true orchestra, the 17-piece band supports guitarist/vocalist Setzer through rockabilly, blues, jazz swing and cool covers (like "Route 66"). See it at The Brewery on Wednesday, July 6.
Good news and bad news: The good news is the Aquarium Rescue Unit is returning to Louisville on Thurs., July 7 for a show at the Phoenix Hill Tavern.
The bad news is Col. Bruce Hampton, lead singer/chazoid player/suspected extraterrestrial, will not be with them. The good Colonel left for health reasons and the ARU are continuing on with new lead singer Paul Henson and keyboardist Kofi Burbridge. They join bass colossus Oteil Burbridge (Kofi's brother), formidable guitarist Jimmy Herring and wonder drummer Apt. Q258. Mandolinist Matt Mundy seemingly has left as well. Curiosity about the new chemistry should bring folks into the Tavern if their reputation doesn't. Ekoostik Hookah opens.
Hey all you oldies fans! Francis Castelluccio is coming to town! Doesn't ring a bell? Perhaps you would recognize his hits — "Ronnie," "Walk Like a Man," "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry," "My Eyes Adored You," and "Grease." He's better known by his stage name, Frankie Valli and he's coming to the Louisville Zoo on Saturday, July 9, with the Four Seasons.
It's part of the ROARchestra series, but the Louisville Orchestra will not be playing.
If you've been enjoying "I Need Love," the single from her album Martinis & Bikinis, you'll want to attend Sam Phillips' show at thePhoenix Hill Tavern on Tuesday, July 12. Phillips wowed critics with her 1988 album The Indescribable Wow, and the sparse, inventive instrumentation on her current release is blowing minds as well.
Fans of the Austin, Texas, blues scene have an embarrassment of riches facing them. On Tuesday, July 12, ex-Fabulous Thunderbird Jimmie Vaughan comes to The Brewery with C.C. Adcock and MR2 Blue. The next night, July 13, Stevie Ray Vaughan runnin' buddy Doyle Bramhall is playing the Cherokee Blues Club with the Beat Daddys.
From slide guitar to the talk box ... Peter Frampton plays the Palace on Weds., July 13 and Carlene Carter comes to Coyote's the next night, July 14.
The promoter is calling it a "rockabilly conference." Bodeco and Southern Culture on the Skids (fresh from their positive review in Rolling Stone) gang up on Butchertown Pub on Friday, July l5. It's only $5 and it starts at ll p.m.
He probably won't get a lot of publicity, but Peter Himmelman is July's dark horse performer. A few years back, he released a masterpiece album of songwriting titled From Strength to Strength. Advance word is that his concerts have all the intensity of a electrical storm. Get plugged in at the Phoenix Hill Tavern on Sunday, July 17.
Our reviewer liked Rust's latest disc and the price is probably right, so check out the iconoclastic, loud band from San Diego when they appear at Uncle Pleasant's on Monday, July 18. Inch opens.
They're calling it E.L.O. Part II, but I don't know how it can even retain that name without Jeff Lynne's contribution. The Lynne-less version of the hitmaking band of the '70s and '80s. The curious might hear E.L.O Part II's versions of "Evil Woman," "Telephone Line," "Don't Bring Me Down," and "Shine a Little Love" at Coyote's on the same night, July 18.
While we're dwelling in nostalgia, consider Ted Nugent. He's become more famous for his right-wing politics than for his hard- rockin' music. See if the Motor City Madman still has it at his Tuesday, July 19, show at the Palace Theatre.
Toni Cole, on the other hand, is a vocalist worth hearing, weaving from R&B to jazz and even to country in her musical travels. The Toni Cole Ensemble plays Founders Square on Muhammad Ali Blvd. on Wednesday aftemoon, July 20. The music starts at 12:40 p.m. and it's free.
Youssou N'Dour has one of the most beautiful voices on the planet. If you haven't heard the Senegalese throat-singer, your chance is Friday, July 22. N'Dour plays a Lonesome Pine Special concert that night at the Kentucky Center for the Arts. That same night, pop/ jazz trumpeter Chuck Mangione will make the crowd feel so good with a show at the Palace Theatre.
Meanwhile, over at The Brewery, Collective Soul plays their amalgam of alternative rock styles with a funky backbone for the public on July 22. Take a chance on those MTV darlings, or roll the dice with some questionable veterans: Foreigner headlines a show with the Doobie Brothers on Saturday, July 23 at the Louisville Gardens.
Foreigner still has considerable zing, judging from their show last summer at the Fair. New songs? Forget it. The Doobie Brothers sure were cool way back when. An unknown on the bill, Gary Hoey, may be the prize of the evening. His guitar work on the soundtrack to the new film "The Endless Summer II" was sweet.
Speaking of talented guitarists, Larry Crane, the man most responsible for John Mellencamp's trademark rootsy sound, plays the Butchertown Pub on July 23 with Nashville's Floating Men. If you still need convincing, The Mudcat Blues Band plays on Butchertown's Old Pub Stage that night as well.
If you're drawn more to "Sunshine on My Shoulders," "Thank God I'm a Country Boy," "Annie's Song," "Rocky Mountain High" and "Take Me Home, Country Roads," check out the pride of Roswell, New Mexico: John Henry Deutschendorf (a.k.a. John Denver). He plays the Palace Theatre on Saturday, July 23 and tickets are a measly $26 (ahem).
Spotlight on a deserving local group: the fusion-tinged Ron Hayden Group plays Zena's Cafe every Tuesday night. Hayden is a hollow-body guitar player who will spin your head around and round. When saxophonist Bennett Higgins and bassist Tyrone Wheeler are part of the sound, it's unbeatable.
It's an inspired pairing. Mojo Nixon, alternative rockabilly/professional wiseacre musician and the kitschy, sordid New Duncan Imperials, together on the same bill on July 28 at the Phoenix Hill Tavern. The New Duncs will open the show with their Jerry Lewis-meets-Jerry Lee Lewis act (confetti cannons, free broccoli, "I'm Schizophrenic (No I'm Not)," "Motel 666," and "(Daddy Ran the) Tilt-A-Whirl." Then they'll act as the backing band for Nixon, whose songs include "Debbie Gibson is Pregnant (With My Two-Headed Love Child)," "Don Henley Must Die," and, of course, "Elvis Is Everywhere." You get the idea.
lt's a battle of the horn-accented groove bands. Johnny Socko, who turns pop music on its pointy little head and gives it a spin and the World (revisited), who gets a bit more serious and revels in tackling only the most difficult hits, convene at the Butchertown Pub on Friday, July 29. Socko is in the Courtyard and the World (revisited) plays the Dance Hall.
End your month with some rock steady reggae from Columbus, courtesy of the Ark Band. They play Dutch's Tavern on Saturday, July 30