Issue April 29, 2008

Derby music roundup: SHOWTIME!

Wednesday, April 30
Wednesday at Waterfront Park has been dubbed “RiverFest,” no doubt because of the steamboat race at 5 p.m. But there’s plenty to see if you can’t show up until 7.
The Great Stage is the site for a well-selected, three-act bill of young men playing acoustic folk. Starting off is our longtime favorite Scott Miller. Sans The V-Roys and Commonwealth, he’s still got a wealth of things to say with his raw take on Americana.

Mason Jennings and Brett Dennen have both come to town before. Dennen’s especially active, making hay in the wake of being named an “Artist to Watch” by Rolling Stone last year. Jennings, meanwhile, is in the midst of switching patrons. Jennings is preparing a new full-length and tour under the wing of Jack Johnson.
Listen to just a couple of Jennings’ songs, and you’ll know he doesn’t need anyone’s help to put over one thoughtful and affecting song after another. But our times ain’t a “new folk boom,” so go take in their free show and consider buyin’ their records. The free concert starts at 7 p.m. —T.E. Lyons

Thursday, May 1

The so-called “Last of the Full Grown Men,” Hattiesburg, Miss.’s John Webb McMurray, better known as Webb Wilder, makes a swift return to Jim Porter’s Good Time Emporium (2345 Lexington Road, 452-9531) Thursday night. Wilder’s a definite precursor to much of the triple-A flash you’re hearing today (The Raconteurs, to name one). His take on Americana isn’t hemmed in by music: Wilder has directed ’50s noir parodies “Horror Hayride” and “Aunt Hallie,” and the soon-to-be-released “Scattergun.” Showtime at 8 p.m., cost is $12 (advance), $15 (door). —Mat Herron

Thursday, May 1

Dust off your Kangol caps, Jordache and Sassoon jeans, and find the fattest shoelaces you can fit into your adidas — the ’80s are coming back Thursday night.
Club Oasis (1506 Lakeshore Ct., 568-6130) plays host to the Derby Soul Kickoff party featuring hip-hop legends Doug E. Fresh and MC Lyte. The party kicks off with B96’s J.C. White hosting, D.J. Dimepiece spinning hip-hop and R&B, and cash prizes awarded to the best ’80s outfit (there’s a reason you kept that “Beat It” zipper jacket!).The occasion also serves as the CD release party for local rapper D. Mawl’s The Lost 16.

MC Lyte is celebrating the 20th anniversary of her debut album, Lyte As A Rock, with the June release of a new EP by her new group, Almost September. It’s rare that any musician nowadays, especially a female rapper, gets to enjoy two full decades of an active career.

Lyte is nonplussed by the feat. “People who have been fans for years … inspire me to keep making new music.” She formed Almost September at a chance meeting in a Macy Gray studio session. The group will tour later in the year, but for now, Lyte’s enjoying the bonding of group life. “I love the vibe when I collaborate. Everyone is in the room creating for the best possible outcome.”

If the two new songs on her website are any indication, that vibe is just right. This will be her first Derby.
Louisville-by-way-of-Cincinnati rapper D. Mawl has been featured on BET’s “Rap City,” the Russ Parr morning show, and recently won the opportunity to represent Yum! Brands’ KFC Pride 360 promotional campaign in a nationwide contest. He is a member of the Soul LinQ Productions camp, perhaps Louisville’s best soul, gospel and hip-hop collective, including other rising stars like gospel singer Adrianne Archie and R&B singer Carliss P. His debut, The Lost 16, promises to deliver on his earlier hit “All Over The Place,” a song celebrating African-American achievements and innovators.

Doug E. Fresh is coming back right on the heels of last year’s appearance on the Legends tour. His return is not to be missed. Doors open at 8 p.m. Advance tickets are $37-$50. VIP tickets are $75. — Damien McPherson

Friday, May 2

Where does a 30-piece progressive corps/rock act play? Anywhere it wants to. Or in this case, Headliners (1386 Lexington Road, 584-8088).

All due respect to De La Soul, Chicago’s Mucca Pazza stole the show at last year’s Forecastle Festival — flexing, dancing and writhing its collective largesse with impressive coordination. They even left the stage in lockstep.
A fledgling version of the group set up shop playing Monday nights at The Hideout, a well-known indie rock club in Chicago, inviting any musician who wanted to play to come join the fun. “All of a sudden, people came out in droves.”

Describing Mucca Pazza as a “marching” band is tricky and misleading. “When you see a traditional marching band, they’re like little robots,” Thomas says, and while the members have taken suggestions from dancers and choreographers, “there’s never been exact choreography. There’s a subversive element in the band that says, ‘You know, what? I’m not going to do that,’ and pushes the envelope a little bit.”

Plus, how many marching bands have a guitar, mandolin and violin, perform in canoes or on the back of rickshaws? We thought so. Mucca Pazza’s new album is due out in June, but they headline Friday’s 18-and-over show with Wax Fang and Parlour. Doors open at 9 p.m. Tickets are $12. —MH

Friday, May 2
The B-52s, hot on the heels of their first new album in 16 years, are the main attraction for the Fest-a-Ville at Waterfront Park.

A free show by them is worth the price and the time — especially after their commendable comeback release. But you have to face facts: The beehive hair is history, and there won’t be much futurama in view beyond some of Fred Schneider’s wardrobe.

The B-52s were once the musical ambassadors to our inner aliens, but now, Fred and Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson are a considerably energetic cheerleader squad.
They front some good songs — the newer ones owing their bedrock consistency to synth loops. And the vocal exchanges often nail a perfect balance between the blowsy and the electric. Just remember to prime your personal rock ’n’ roll pump, because you have to bring some of the fun to this party yourself. —TEL

Friday, May 2
Interstates, the two-man collaboration between the former Of Asaph lineup Alex O’Nan and Kyle Noltemeyer (also ex-Guilt, Endpoint) kicks off its weeklong Southwest tour Friday at the 930 Listening Room (930 Mary St., 635-7053). The duo’s debut album, Run Run, is complete and scheduled for a June release on The Record Machine, a Kansas City-based label. One track off Run Run, which was recorded at the 930 by Drake Hatfield, is called “Sudan,” and it will be featured in an upcoming documentary by local filmmaker Corey Deeb, who has traveled to the African country to film the genocide and poverty in Darfur. Interstates and fellow instrumentalists Foxhole play at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., and tickets for the all-ages show are $5. —MH

Saturday, May 3
Kentucky Country Day Musical Director James Racine has a new album coming out on July 10 called The Stages of Love. But Racine, aka Maestro J., won’t be waiting until then to show you why violin belongs in R&B and neo-soul.

Born in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, where his father, Julio, conducted the Haitian Philharmonic Orchestra, Racine moved from Haiti to Lexington, where he started playing what he now calls “hip hop violin.” Upon graduating from college in 2004, Racine landed the KCD gig, and set about forming a backing group that stretch out into other genres, namely Latin jazz and neo-soul. The Derby night show marks a recurring gig at River Bend Winery (120 S. 10th St., 540-5650). Showtime is 7 p.m., cost is $5. —MH

Contact the writers at leo@leoweekly.com