Upcoming Live Music

Paul Moffett

If it's August, then most of the biggest shows will be at the Kentucky State Fair, at least with respect to Country, Nostalgic rock and pop plus a couple or three current shows. Fortunately, there are also some other interesting shows in town as well, so read on.

Acoustic / AAA

Josh Rouse gets a curious label: roots pop. Dressed Up Like Nebraska launched his career in a big way in 1998 and he's been rolling on the Americana circuit ever since, which means he gets to Louisville fairly often, this being quite the Americana town. While Rouse was influenced by hanging around with Lampchop, his accompanying act, TheDamnwells sort of sprouted out of Whiskeytown, which as already sent various outriding acts into town last month. They'll be at the Phoenix Hill Tavern on August 1. There's a $10 ticket.

Tix and info: 589-4957

Beth Orton's American career took off with the release of the EP She Cries Your Name, which became a staple of Americana radio. She followed up with Trailer Park in 1996, which demonstrated that she was more than a one-hit wonder. Having started in the business years earlier with collaborations with various players, it was no surprise that her next project was an EP, Best Bit that featured a pair of duets with Terry Callier, a well-respected folk/jazzer. Central Reservation followed in 1999 and in 2002, she released Daybreaker and commenced a tour in support of the CD.

Orton will be at Headliners on August 9, along with Australian Alex Lloyd, whose Black the Sun and 2002 release, Watching Angels Mend have marked him as an up-and-comer. Also on the bill is New York's Hem, whose recently released Rabbit Songs has topped the Amazon music sales chart. All-in-all, this should be quite the cutting edgy Triple A show of the month.

Tix and info: 584-8088

Blues

Smokin' Joe Kubeck w/B'Nois King is one of Stevie Ray's regular touring acts - he comes to town a couple or three times a year, which certainly seems to imply that he pulls in a good audience. Kubeck is yet another hotshot Texas blues guitar slinger. Given that the standards in Texas are pretty high, it says good things about his chops. He also appeared on Double Trouble's latest project, The Axe Man. As for King, he's gotten enough recognition that he now gets co-billing with Joe. At SR's on Monday, August 12.

Sugar Ray Norcia has paid his dues while getting paid his due - he sang and blew harp with Roomful of Blues from 1991 until about 1998, when he formed the Bluetones with guitarist Ronnie Earl, also a Roomful alum. During his tenure with Roomful, he put three of his tunes on the Grammy-nominated CD Turn It On, Turn It Up. Besides his blues act, Norcia also fronts the Sugar Ray Norcia Big Band. For this August 14 show at Stevie Ray's, it's 'just' the Bluetones.

California blues harmonica honker Rod Piazza brings his Mighty Flyers to Stevie Ray's on August 19, providing some blues relief from the unrelenting country flavor of the State Fair. Piazza has been at the blues since the early Seventies, so even if you're not familiar with his work, you can scoot down for the show, confident that these guys know how to deliver the blues, regardless of the weather. They have a number of albums, so a little extra cash would be a good idea.

Kelly Richey and her band will be at Stevie Ray's on Friday and Saturday, August 30 and 31. Lexington's favorite daughter and hotshot guitar slinger has been working very steadily but hasn't yet cracked the major labels. That hasn't stopped her from issuing CDs on her own label, Sweet Lucy. Sending Me Angels, issued in 2001, is her most recent and the one she is still promoting. Take money and dancing shoes.

Tix and info: 502-582-9945

Christian

Jaci Velasquez will be at Cardinal Stadium for a free show on August 19. Velasquez is trying for a double dip - cross-over Latin singer and cross-over Christian singer. Her early CDs were on Myrrh and Word; she has lately released CDs on Sony Records in both Spanish and English. Whether she can pull it off or not remains to be seen. Find out for yourself at this State Fair show.

Country

The paid shows at the Kentucky State Fair kick off with a concert featuring Toby Keith and Rascal Flatts. Keith has been generating press of late with his comments about the need of immigrants to learn English, which follow on the heels of a bit of a hoo-rah involving a lyric in his most recent single, "Courtesy Of The Red, White, And Blue." That one got him banned from an ABC 4th of July show by Peter Jennings. Keith hasn't got a lot to be down in the mouth about, though, given the success of the Bobby Braddock-penned "I Want to Talk About Me," from his Pull My Chain CD. Anyway, all that publicity just sells more CDs.

Opening for Keith will be Rascal Flatts. This trio is only now working their way up the country ladder, so joining a Toby Keith tour is a big leg up. This show is on August 15 at Freedom Hall.

The second big country show of the Fair will be on the 17th, when Brooks & Dunn, Dwight Yoakam and Fisherville native Shannon Lawson will be at Freedom Hall. The Brooks & Dunn Neon Circus has been going so long that they take up a big chunk of the parking with their trucks of stuff. It works, though - they've been at the top of the charts for years and years and have garnered a ton of awards. They are the exemplars of the country rock genre and "Boot Scootin' Boogie" defines the country line dance scene for a lot of people.

Pikeville native Dwight Yoakam is the antithesis of the Neon Circus - his is the "real country" sound that so many fans grew up with. Honky-tonk to the max, Yoakam's Bakersfield sound is straight out of the Buck Owens era. With songs about cheatin' and drinkin' and drivin', he has been the dash of cold water that cools often the fevered country rockers.

Shannon Lawson, on the other hand, might well represent the future of country music. A bluesgrass wailer while in Louisville, he has been turned into a smooth country boy with a blues bite to his music. His major label release, Chase the Sun was released earlier this spring and he is now on tour, learning the national act ropes.

Nicholasville native John Michael Montgomery is the star of the free show for August 21 in Cardinal Stadium. John Michael has had a real gun run through the Nineties; he's still touring in support of Brand New Me, though Warner Bros has released a compilation called Love Songs, perhaps going for an extension of his image as a hunk. Also, a brand new single, "'Til Nothing Comes Between Us," hit the airwaves on July 15, so if it's a hit, it'll bump up the crowd. Watch the crowd on Wednesday and see if he still appeals to the women there; maybe there's a cable TV show in the works a la that other Kentucky country artist, Doc, er, Billy Ray Cyrus.

Merle Haggard's last scheduled appearance in Louisville, at Coyote's, was cancelled when the Hag had a heart attack. Now he's back at Cardinal Stadium for a free show on August 23, and, like the Happy Goodmans from the night before, it's an increasingly rare chance to hear a genuine country legend do his thing. He's talked about retiring off and on but hasn't so far, but it's hard to know. Better not wait to hear "Okie From Muskogee," "Mama Tried" and "I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink" from the original.

Kenny Chesney and Sara Evans are the closeout concert for the Kentucky State Fair on August 25 in Freedom Hall. Chesney is currently getting a great ride with the single "Young," from No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem, his most recent release. Chesney has a voice suited to "real" country music, but his records are much closer to sweet pop with a bit of a twang. "Young" is a mid-tempo rocker that's a fave of the line dance crowd, so perhaps he's searching for the exact cross-over route he'd like to take into pop. Make a note that Chesney has a degree in Marketing, which is the guiding force of country music these days.

Sara Evans took two cracks at Nashville before making a dent, but when she did, she made a big one. Her debut CD, Three Chords and The Truth laid out the main traditional country doctrine according to Pete Anderson, longtime producer for Dwight Yoakam. Her most recent effort, Born To Fly, yielded a CMA Award for the title video.

Randy Travis will offer up a traditional country concert at Caesar's Indiana on August 29. Travis' career has been on a long, slow downward glide since the mid-Nineties, thanks to the upsurge of rockers disguised as country singers. He continues to sell records, though, releasing a religious CD, Inspiration Journey, in 2000. Don't look for a big emphasis on the gospel at Caesar's though.

Tix and info: 1-888-766-2648

Funk

The Festival of Funk on August 3 on the Waterfront will feature three funk bands of the day - the Bar-Kays, Con Funk Shun and the Dazz Band, throwing down the groove from 4 until midnight.

The Bar-Kays date all the way back to the Sixties and Otis Redding; in fact, four of the original group were killed along with Redding in that famous plane crash. The group never was a monster but their 'live-in-the-studio' jams were the source for many a sample in the ensuing decades. Their last recording, 48 Hours, was released in 1994.

The Dazz Band put their stamp on the Eighties funk scene, defining their music as "danceable jazz," shortened to 'Dazz.' They had five big years on Motown before shifting to Geffen, then RCA. A seven-year hiatus ended in 1995, when they resumed their recording career, including a two-CD stint with Intersound. They released Time Traveler in 2001 and are still promoting it.

Con Funk Shun is all about Southern California funk, dating all the way back to the high school days of two of the founders. Their path through the business wasn't straight-forward but they did manage a ten-year run with Mercury, including their 1979 project, Candy, which established them as funk royalty. When Mercury dropped them in 1988, they broke up, then reformed in the mid-Nineties and began touring again, re-energizing their old fan base.

Gospel

The Goodman Family has been synonymous with Southern Gospel for since the early Fifties or so. When Vestal Goodman joined the troupe, they really became successful , picking up a Grammy for Best Gospel Album for The Happy Gospel of the Happy Goodmans and several Dove Awards for the TV show, The Gospel Singing Jubilee. Their current tour is described as their final tour, at least for Howard and Gussie, so if you've never heard them, this is your chance and if you are a fan, this is your last chance. They'll be in Cardinal Stadium for a free show on August 22 as part of the State Fair.

Musical

The musical of the month is the Derby Dinner's presentation of Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, a bit of Broadway fun and romance. The plot is basic but the music is vigorous. The show runs from August 20 through September 29.

Tix and info: 288-8281

Pop

When the State Fair is in town, that's pretty much the only place to find touring acts, as well as a number of Louisville acts fortunate enough to get hooked into Triangle Talent's fair booking schedule. For the first free show of the year, it's the ladies' favorite, Englebert Humperdinck. Humperdinck has built his career on the cabaret circuit, maintaining one of the largest fan club bases in the world. A smooth-voiced ballad singer, he also does impersonations of various other singers, including rival Julio Iglecias. Still, he can sell a ballad like few others, which is way he continues his successful world tours. Humperdinck will be joined for this show by comedian Billy D. Washington. They'll be at Cardinal Stadium on August 15. It's a free show with a ticket to the fair.

Doo-wop, doo-wop, doooo-whhhhop. That's the sound of the men singing at Cardinal Stadium of August 20. The line-up is pure mid-Fifties AM radio pop: The Platters. The Coasters. The Drifters. The possible set lists read like one of those Great Songs of the Fifties CD advertised on cable: "The Great Pretenders"; "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes"; "Twilight Time"; "This Magic Moment"; "Save The Last Dance For Me"; "Charlie Brown"; "Yakkity Yak" and on and on. The real question will be if they can get through all of their hits by the end of the show. Oh, of course, it's not the same guys: there might be one or two in each act, but they go to great length to keep the sound the sound, so unless you're just a doo-wop purist of the first order, it should be entirely satisfying.

R&B

Budding superstar Alicia Keys will make a State Fair appearance on August 16 when she comes to Freedom Hall. Keys made a huge splash in 2001 with her first CD, Songs In A Minor, which launched her directly into the Entertainment Tonight circuit. As it happened, she had been preparing for most of her life for a career in music and had already had credits on a couple of movie soundtracks, including Shaft and Men In Black. Subsequently, she has been omnipresent on Music and Movie Star television shows, including Oprah, ET, Extra and BET. With a fabulous voice, drop-dead looks and musical abilities to spare, Keys should be a part of the American music scene for the next several decades.

Opener Donell Jones has a much longer and perfectly respectable track record, with three CDs under his belt. He, too, had the advantage of early childhood training as the son of a gospel singer. He has a just-released CD, Life Goes On, so this tour should expose him to a whole new audience and, coincidentally, sell a few records.

Rock

WTFX is bringing in former gang members 3rd Strike for a concert at Headliners on August 1. Their bio material says they have escaped the gang life for life on the road as an alt-punk rap metal band, which is rather a case of jumping out of the fire into the frying pan. They're plenty mad and besotted with angst, so go mosh your head off.

Tix and info: 584-8088

WFPK and the Waterfront Development Corp.'s August "Waterfront Wednesday" show on the 28th is a butt-kicker of a show. The first act on the bill is Jason Ringenberg, frontman for Jason & The Scorchers, alt.country's best-known hard country rock band. Ringenberg has a new solo country/singer-songwriter project out, All Over Creation, just released by Yep Rock Records, so he'll be working hard to make you happy.

Then the country rock really ramps up when Drive-By Truckers take the stage, ready to play chunks of their new Lost Highway Records CD, Southern Rock Opera. Praise be to Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allmans for all they have begat. Begatted? Begot? Okay, spawned.

If that's not enough, Amsterdam's favorite Louisville band, My Morning Jacket, close out the show. Jimmy James and the boys made a big noise in certain parts of the music world with the release of Tennessee Fire. Mayhap they'll be offering up some music from the next project.

All that and the show's free, with munchies and a cash bar to boot.

The 33rd Annual Street Rod Nationals will be held in Louisville on August 1-4, which means that Louisville's streets will be a lot more colorful for those few days. During the Nationals, there will also be a concert featuring Sixties' acts Gary Puckett and the Spencer Davis Group. The Spencer Davis Group is best known for having launched the career of Stevie Winwood and had a couple of big hits in "I'm a Man" and "Gimme Some Lovin'." Puckett was the front man for Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, most famous for the Lolita-esque "Young Girl" and "Lady Willpower." Band management resulted in the break-up of the group in 1970 or so. Puckett tried to launch a solo career that went nowhere, left the music business to try his hand at acting, then returned to music business, working in various Sixties nostalgia shows.

Former Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee might be more famous for his marriage to Pamela Lee (and the resultant pornsite staple video) than for his music, but that doesn't keep him for gigging with a variety of acts, including guest appearances with Nine Inch Nails and Rob Zombie. He released a rap metal CD, Never A Dull Moment, in 2002 and assembled a group to back him. He'll be at Jillian's on August 6, along with Canadian modern rock act Headstrong, which just released a eponymous debut CD on RCA Records.

Tix and info: 502-589-9090

If you don't care about the shows at the Fair, perhaps a bit of British Invasion rock is more to your liking: Herman's Hermits starring Peter Noone will put on two shows at Caesar's Indiana on August 15. Since members of the front edge of the baby boomer generation are getting rather long in the tooth, nostalgia shows featuring acts from the Sixties are increasingly popular. Combine that with a gambling boat and you have Las Vegas on the Ohio. You can still get promo photos from those days at the Hermits website at www.hermanshermits.com/and relive their climb to the top of the charts, back their in 1965.

Tix and info: 1-888-766-2648

California rockers The Calling will be the stars of a free show at Cardinal Stadium on August 17. This ready-radio group, often compared to Matchbox 20 and the Wallflowers, is promoting their first RCA CD, Camino Palmero, and the single from it, "Wherever You Will Go." The band is breaking in a new guitarist, having just lost their previous one to the band LifeHouse, so we'll all give them a bit of wiggle room.

The folks at Tek World are seriously into the core scene, to the point that they hold showcases for bands every now and then. On August 17, they'll have another one, called the "Louisville Music Showcase," featuring Born Yesterday, Some Kind Of Peace, Red Saturday, After the Fall and Plan of Man. Tickets are a very reasonable $8.

Tix and info: 962-5440

John is gone and so is George, so there's absolutely no chance that the Beatles will reunite, unless it's in heaven. Therefore, the best you can do is one of the Beatles look-alike bands. For August 24, that would be Beatlemania Live!, who are doing a free show at Cardinal Stadium as part of the State Fair. According to the Wolfman Jack website (obviously the promoter), the group makes four costume changes, has a full bore light show and complete orchestration and sings 35 Beatle songs during their show. It sounds like a compressed time-trip from 1963 to 1970, so if you were there and still remember it, this is the show for you. And your kids, so they'll see their parents acting like fools, just as they always suspected you were.

Punk rockers heaven is upon us, late in the month of August. Think of it as a chance to thrash and mosh and such once more before school really gets going. On August 24, Tek World is staging an eight-band blow-out, featuring The Dead City Rejects, Ants in An Argument, Five Hours, Ghost Buster, 1Point3s, The Shanks, The Sickies and Purple Stain. Showtime is 6 p.m. and the ticket is only $8. How long do you think you can stand up?

Tix and info: 962-5440