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Upcoming Live Music In February

The pickings are slim in February, although a few national acts and a couple of tribute bands spike the schedule. A few artists need no introduction, such as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (February 27 at the Louisville Gardens) and the Spin Doctors (February 25 at the Palace Theatre).

But consider the opening act for the Doctors: Rusted Root. Mining the same organic field of improvised groove-rock, the Root gets the neo-hippies hyper. If this vibe is your vibe, catch Rusted Root, a rising star in the Deadhead scene. As for the Spin Doctors, well, their last album was more of the same only less weaker medicine, but it'll do in a pinch.

Pantera

Tribute bands attract two different crowds: those that wish to relive their past and are willing to settle for a near approximation and those that simply think tribute bands are funny.

Firmly on the funny side of the fence is Strutter, a KISS tribute band. Musician magazine once said that Strutter sounds more like KISS than KISS did in their prime. While the Toy Tiger is the ideal venue for this cheese-fest, Strutter is instead visiting the Phoenix Hill Tavern on February 3. The other tribute band hitting town in February is the Back Doors, a group that their press release says leaves the audience "with a genuine feeling of deja vu." Sounds funny already. The Back Doors will appear at the Phoenix Hill Tavern on Feb. 3.

A February 3 show at the Brewery's Thunderdome is a twofer. Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown is tagged as a bluesman, but the multi-instrumentalist (Brown plays the guitar, violin, harmonica, piano, mandolin, viola and drums) mixes many genres when making his music. Brown's appearance is sweetened considerably by the rough-singing guitar whiz Kelly Richey, who opens the show.

Nick Lowe is better known as the producer for Elvis Costello, the Damned, the Pretenders and Graham Parker than for performing. But Lowe has roots in pub-rock and his band Rockpile made some noise in the late 1970s. Remember the 1979 hit "Cruel to Be Kind"? Taste Lowe's sardonic wit at the Palace Theatre's Stage Door Johnnies on February 4.

A conversation about Randy Travis's voice could sound like talk at a wine tasting: oaky ... full-bodied but unpretentious ... strong from start to finish. Of course, most Travis fans might simply say, "He's goooood."

And he is. Check out Mr. Travis on February 10 at Freedom Hall. Sammy Kershaw will be covering his back with an undoubtedly entertaining opening set.

Webb Wilder

Consider these accomplishments: five Grammy Awards, 32 Dove Awards (given by the Gospel Music Association), three platinum albums and four gold albums. Those are the credentials of vocalist Sandi Patty, who will perform with the Louisville Orchestra at the Louisville Gardens. If you're looking for inspiration, Muhammad Ali & 6th Street is the spot on February 11.

My enthusiasm for the Dirty Dozen Brass Band is vast. I'll limit my description of the group (appearing at a Lonesome Pine Special concert in the Bomhard Theatre on February 17) to one word: NewOrleansfunkyjazzysecond linerhythmdanceableTUBA. Okay, so I cheated.

Webb Wilder seems to be inching slowly into the national limelight, bolstered by a series of solid albums (including his re-released album, It Came from Nashville) and his continued adventures in film. See what "the last of the full-grown men" is currently up to at his Phoenix Hill Tavern show on February 17.

Loud sludge was never so precise as it is in the hands of Pantera, a young quartet with albums under the belt like Far Beyond Driven, Vulgar Display of Power and Cowboys from Hell. The chainsaw guitar work has an almost mathematical crunch to it. Imagine the sound of a Kray supercomputer magnified and distorted. Better yet, imagine the sound of the MRI machine scanning your slam-danced body after the show. Opening act Type O Negative will get the moshers into Louisville Gardens early for that February 22 show.

Lay off a week, nurse your wounds and get ready for March.

PHOTO CAPTION

The last of the full-grown men, Webb Wilder, brings his music to the Phoenix Hill Tavern on February 17.

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