By Matt Wickstrom
LEXINGTON, Ky. — At first glance it may seem like a novelty, but once the first note hits you’ll realize that Charlottesville, Virginia, quintet Love Canon is anything but. The band’s tight bluegrass repertoire––comprised of guitarist Jesse Harper, banjo player Adam Larrabee, mandolinist Andy Thacker, bassist Darrell Muller and dobro player Jay Starling––breathes a new life and perspective into songs of yesteryear, making you fall in love with them all over again.
Making their debut in Lexington, the nostalgia packed evening began with a rendition of Paul Simon’s “Graceland” from the band’s most recent compilation––2018’s Cover Story––before hopping on the new wave with Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence.” The group then tore into ZZ Top’s “Legs” and Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” prior to diverting into the theme song portion of the showcase with the Harold Faltermeyer penned Beverly Hills Cop theme “Axel F” and Waylon Jennings’ “Good ‘Ol Boys.” from Dukes of Hazzard.
The group then voyaged to the “Land Down Under” courtesy of Men At Work––which was also performed at The Burl the night before with a southern rock twist by Sean Whiting––ahead of reaching back a little further past the 80s on a performance of Old & In The Way’s 1975 hit “Hobo Song” before returning to their comfort zone on Devo’s 1980 blockbuster “Whip It.”
Love Canon ended the night showcasing it’s multi-faceted harmonic prowess on Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” and Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” before taking a bow and suiting up one last time for an encore performance of Toto’s “Africa” that saw the crowd join the band to belt out the song’s chorus in joyous unison.
Prior to Love Canon turned back time two familiar faces––Arthur Hancock and Chris Shouse––performed a handful of songs in what was the Lexington debut of their new project Hancock & Shouse (aka “Shousecock”), but far from the duo’s first time on The Burl stage. Hancock, formerly of The Wooks, and Shouse, formerly of The 23 String Band and Chris & Jenn Shouse, took an old-school one mic approach to their set that included covers old and new along with a few songs penned by the duo with other projects now being portrayed in a new light.
Those covers included John Hartford’s “Back in the Goodle Days,” Bill Monroe’s “True Life Blues,” and Tyler Childers’ “Born Again.”
The duo later welcomed Love Canon’s Starling to the stage to add a layer of dobro to a handful of songs including a cover of the Carter Family’s “East Virginia Blues No. 1” before finishing with a trio of song’s from Hancock’s recently released Alive at Hillbilly Central EP that included “Out Of Mine”––a song originally recorded with the Wooks now re-done as a slowed down, somber affair––Larry Spark’s “Take Me Back To The Country” and a set closing “Wolfpen Branch,” which documents Hancock’s love affair with the Eastern Kentucky holler home of Byron Roberts that plays host yearly to Kickin’ it on the Creek, the best kept musical secret in Appalachia.