Upcoming May

By Bob BahrF

Do Kentucky Derby crowds make you blue? Are you scornful of the hoopla surrounding staged events such as the Steamboat Race? Does the Chow Wagon just mean corndogs and drunk rednecks to you?

Consider the Derby this way: It brings in a lot of great acts for a solid week.

Nowhere are the riches more embarrassing than at the Kentucky Center for the Arts on May 2. That's when Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, which is one of the most exciting live acts, gets help from several instrumental superstars: mandolinist/fiddler Sam Bush, keyboardist Bruce Hornsby and reed player Paul McCandless. That makes for a dynamite Lonesome Pine Special concert. Lonesome Pine fans take note: this show marks the first one after the series departure from the intimate Bomhard Theater. Subsequent concerts will be held either in Whitney Hall or the Macauley Theatre.

Love Jones will perform at the Toy Tiger on May 4

The next night (May 3), alt-rock guru Eugene Chadbourne plays a show at Butchertown Pub with Jimmy Carl Black and Cage. Of course, 80s rock fans will pass on Chadbourne's irony and rock to the sound of Loverboy; the Canadian quintet returns to the Palace Theatre on May 3.

Derby festivities reach a fever pitch in country music with a concert featuring the red-hot John Michael Montgomery, May 4 at Freedom Hall. The opening act is Archer/Park. See the review of Montgomery's new album on page 12.

Meanwhile, NRBQ leads a jam-packed night of music at Phoenix Hill Tavern on the same night. The Velcro Pygmies, the Kelly Richey Band, Dem Reggae Bon and Tom Cool will fill the other rooms May 4. For the record, NRBQ's bassist spells his name S-P-A-M-P-I-N-A-T-O. As an antidote/other dimension to the Derby craziness, Christian stars 4Him play at Southeast Christian Church on Hikes Lane Derby Thursday. East to West and Greg Long share the bill.

Fine, fine. But Curtis Burch (ex-New Grass Revival) is in town the same night (May 4) over at The Rudyard Kipling. He's playing in a blues band that also includes Michael Gough, Jeff Smith and the Delta Blues. I look forward to hearing his voice again.

Starbilly, a Louisville-based band with connections and supporters in bigger cities than Louisville, landed a sweet gig on May 4: A headline slot at the ultra-decorated Palace Theatre. The $6 show starts early (6:30 p.m.) and also features former Royal Crescent Mobsters in Howlin Maggie and an act called Tuesday Sun. They are billing it as a post-Pegasus Parade concert because the parade will pass a stone's throw away (on Broadway) right before the show.

As if you don't have enough choices that night, Love Jones slides into town for a rill-l-l-l-l-y big shew at the Toy Tiger. Smart money says they'll play the tune "Central Avenue" in honor of the pending debauchery that hits the street on Derby Eve.

Before the late-night Central Avenue mayhem, serious revelers may take in some tunes at Freedom Hall. The Derby Eve Jam used to be a showcase for radio rock, but it now reflects the mainstream popularity of country music. This year's Jam blends the two (and looks back to the '70s in the process) with appearances by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hank Williams, Jr. and Billy Joe Shaver, May 5. Practice your rebel yell, boys.

A show of a decidedly different nature comes to Louisville Gardens on Derby Eve. Gangsta rapper Too $hort brings his brand of filth and boastfulness to the River City; Spice 1 and chart-toppers E-40 watch his back. That's May 5, in case you re marking your calendar.

Perhaps you'd rather twist with the Chubster over at Churchill Downs than wave your hands in the air with a California rapper. Then make plans to attend the May 5 Kentucky Oaks Day events in the Infield. Chubby Checker and his band (plus song-and-dance group Black Widow) will entertain between thoroughbred races from noon until 5 p.m. Admission to the Infield is $6.

Nostalgia of another type will draw pop/punk fans to the annual Babylon Dance Band reunion show, held this year at the Cherokee Club on Derby Eve. Similarly defunct band Bodeco will also resurrect for the bill, along with the live and thriving Blue Lou & the Accusations. Country fans will find refuge with Collin Raye on Derby Eve. He plays the Palace with an opening act to be announced.

For those still alert and energetic, Derby Night music will be everywhere. The finest offering is the pair of offbeat bands infiltrating the Cherokee Club: King Kong and Common Law Cabin. Derby Day is May 6, for those visiting from another galaxy.

After the horses run, Louisville relaxes. May plays out a bit mellower in the month's last three weeks, but a couple of shows spike the soup.

First up, it's the Smithereens, a rock band that plies pop the way Cheap Trick used to do. Remember "Blood and Roses," "A Girl Like You," "Only a Memory" and "Too Much Passion"? The Smithereens, boasting a talented guitar player in Jim Babjak, play the Toy Tiger on May 8. Watershed opens.

The Palace Theatre hosts an interesting concert on May 9 -- The United States Air Force Band's tribute to Glenn Miller, titled "The Airmen of Note." This group recreates the legendary bandleader's swing instrumental and vocal group programs of 1943-1945. Standards such as "In the Mood," "American Patrol," "String of Pearls" and "Moonlight Serenade" are on the songlist. The performers will be wearing costumes reminiscent of the period. The Youth Performing Arts School is presenting the show as a free event.

Diametrically opposite of this concert is the profane and occasionally brilliant Harry Patt Band. Check them out; they play Butchertown Pub on the same night, May 9. Billy Bacon & the Forbidden Pigs open the show. The next night, Southern Culture on the Skids returns to Butchertown Pub for the first time since the national press prostrated themselves in front of SCOTS in a slew of positive reviews and profiles. See if the band members turned hoity-toity ("Where's my mineral water!?") at the May 10 show. Taildragger opens.

Retro-rock fans probably already know about a May 13 show at The Brewery. Matthew Sweet brings his big, catchy, retooled pop to the Thunderdome; the Poster Children will be along for the ride. Check out the man behind the drum kit playing with Sweet. It's Louisville native Stuart Johnson, on parole from his term with Love Jones.

It seems like it's been a lo Derby Night music will be everywhere. The finest offering is the pair of offbeat bands infiltrating the Cherokee Club: King Kong and Common Law Cabin. Derby Day is May 6, for those visiting from another galaxy.

After the horses run, Louisville relaxes. May plays out a bit mellower in the month's last three weeks, but a couple of shows spike the soup.

First up, it's the Smithereens, a rock band that plies pop the way Cheap Trick used to do. Remember "Blood and Roses," "A Girl Like You," "Only a Memory" and "Too Much Passion"? The Smithereens, boasting a talented guitar player in Jim Babjak, play the Toy Tiger on May 8. Watershed opens.

The Palace Theatre hosts an interesting concert on May 9 -- The United States Air Force Band's tribute to Glenn Miller, titled "The Airmen Of Note." This group recreates the legendary bandleader's swing instrumental and vocal group programs of 1943-1945. Standards such as "In The Mood," "American Patrol," "String Of Pearls" and "Moonlight Serenade" are on the songlist. The performers will be wearing costumes reminiscent of the period. The Youth Performing Arts School is presenting the show as a free event.

Diametrically opposite of this concert is the profane and occasionally brilliant Harry Patt Band. Check them out; they play Butchertown Pub on the same night, May 9. Billy Bacon & the Forbidden Pigs open the show. The next night, Southern Culture on the Skids returns to Butchertown Pub for the first time since the national press prostrated themselves in front of SCOTS in a slew of positive reviews and profiles. See if the band members turned hoity-toity ("Where's my mineral water!?") at the May 10 show. Taildragger opens.

Retro-rock fans probably already know about a May 13 show at The Brewery. Matthew Sweet brings his big, catchy, retooled pop to the Thunderdome; the Poster Children will be along for the ride. Check out the man behind the drum kit playing with Sweet. It's Louisville native Stuart Johnson, on parole from his term with Love Jones.

It seems like it's been a long time since Hula Hoop plugged in their amps and delivered the goods. The sweet pop melodies and raucous guitar noise returns on May 23. It's a free Tuesday show at the Butchertown Pub, and the Figgs open the show.

People seem to love the dated sound of Kansas, so the '70s stars keep returning to sold-out shows and smiling crowds. The "Dust in the Wind" folks play Coyote's on the 23rd.

Country legend Merle Haggard — the man responsible for singles such as "Mama Tried," "Okie from Muskogee," "Lonesome Fugitive," "Big City," "Sing Me Back Home," "That's the Way Love Goes" and "If We Make It Through December" — plays the Palace on May 25. Opener Wesley Dennis has a song titled "This Hat Ain't No Act," and his press material stresses Dennis' country authenticity. "He lives and dies for Alabama Crimson Tide football, stock car racing and catfishing by moonlight," it says.

Little Feat has changed quite a bit since the band's hereday with deceased leader George Lowell, but the group still stirs up that peculiar blend of Memphis blues, New Orldeas fund and a certain country rock greasiness of unknown origin. The Feat play the Palace Theatre on May 30.