Monday morning notebook

May 13, 2012

Scott Miller did two things here for the first time Friday night. 

He played Molly Malone’s in Covington and he played with violinist Rayna Gellert. The evening went so well that chances are good there will be a repeat performance.

Miller, who played the Southgate House countless times over the years with the V-Roys, the Commonwealth and solo, was complimentary of the third-floor space and comfortable in a duo.

For her part, Gellert added a wonderful sonic counterpoint to Miller’s acoustic guitar, and spent the night smiling as her partner asked the audience  to show its appreciation for her on numerous occasions.

Although Miller made his bones with bands, the acoustic format is a treat because his lyrics are loud and clear. After some initial hootin’ and hollerin’ from rowdies in the crowd on the opening notes of “Amtrak Crescent” and “Freedom’s a Stranger,” the Virginian’s tales of railroads, teen lust and the power of rock ’n’ roll are just as strong without drums and bass.

In addition, Miller opened with the cautionary tale of “Lo Siento Spanishburg, West Virginia, and closed with the tribute to his father-in-law, “Appalachian Refugee,” two tunes that show the writer of “Cold Beer Hello” and “Drunk All Around This Town” is more than a pretty party boy.

But the party was pretty darn good, too.

Larkin Poe at Canal Street Tavern

It’s an odd feeling to walk into a venue when the show is scheduled to start and realize that you are the only customer in the room. 

That’s the situation I walked into May 3 at the Canal Street Tavern in Dayton. The band was Larkin Poe, a quartet fronted by Rebecca and Megan Lovell whom I had seen on the Cayamo cruise last year.

Luckily, Mark and Ed arrived soon after, so the sisters, plus guitarist Rick Lollar and drummer Chad Melton, had three guys cheering after each song. On a night when it would have been easier to pack the gear and get in the van, each played with the talent and enthusiasm that deserved a sold-out crowd. 

Rebecca, who switched between mandolin and acoustic guitar, was a gracious host, taking time to introduce each song and explain its origins, praising the other members for parts played well, and displaying a wonderful sense of humor. 

Megan, a virtuoso on lap steel, was the quieter sister, but made an interesting point near the end of the 90-minute set.

“We’ll remember this show forever,” she said. “It’s been a special night.”

It was indeed, thanks to the great attitude of special musicians.

Miami regional series

Howard Epstein, the power behind the Miami University Regionals Artists Series, has released a preliminary list of acts and dates for the 2012-13 series at the campuses in Hamilton and Middletown.

Dailey and Vincent, Sept. 22
Arlo Guthrie, Oct. 20
Riders in the Sky, Nov. 3
Mary Black, Nov. 14 
Carolina Chocolate Drops, Nov. 19
Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Feb. 13
Rhonda Vincent, March 9
David Wilcox and Susan Werner, April 13

More shows will be added, but you can buy tickets by mail for these shows now. Information:

Visiting the studio

One of the great things about WNKU is when musicians visit the studio

Here’s the current lineup, but stay tuned for additions.

Today (TBA) -- The Mastersons
May 31, 1 p.m. hour -- The Elders
June 1 (TBA) -- Jon Langford of the Mekons and Waco Brothers
June 6 (TBA) -- Sara Watkins

Album of the week
“Go On Now, You Can’t Stay Here,” the Wandering.

Luther Dickinson doesn’t really need to be involved in more projects, but thank God he thinks otherwise

The guitarist of the North Mississippi Allstars (and member of the Black Crowes and South Memphis String Band among others) has corralled Shannon McNally, Amy LaVere, Valerie June and Sharde Thomas for an album subtitled  “Mississippi Folk Music Volume III.” 

The women provide the voices (and instruments) on a dozen tunes that include the Byrds’ “Mr. Spaceman,” Kris Kristofferson’s “Lovin’ Him Was Easier Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again” and Robert Johnson’s “If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day.” 

Some of the tunes’ ties to Mississippi might be tenuous, but who cares? The songs are full of sweetness and strength, and Dickinson’s reputation helps showcase the underrated talents of the women involved.