When I travel, I try to see if any of my favorite artists are playing in the city I’m visiting. Usually, my luck runs cold, as I miss shows by a day here or two days there. So imagine my surprise when I learned Josh Ritter and Amanda Shires were playing while I was In Louisville, Ky. And even better, the concert was free.
The concluding show of WFPK 91.9’s outdoor concert series, held on Big Four Lawn next to the river, was a fun and enjoyable evening spent listening to two artists who’ve been honing their skills on the road throughout the summer behind strong albums with ties to Jason Isbell.
Shires, Isbell’s spouse and one of the founders of The Highwomen super group, has been working at a fevered pitch since I saw her perform last summer at the kickoff for her acclaimed “To The Sunset” album. And the nonstop touring has done wonders for her presence as the leader of her own group.
Playing with two members of her band, Shires turned in several terrific cuts from “To the Sunset,” including “Break Out the Champagne” and “Parking Lot Pirouette.” But it was her gorgeous, mostly acoustic take on “Leave It Alone” that proved to be a real standout.
Ritter, the headliner, performed only two cuts from the Isbell-produced “Fever Breaks” (“All Some Kind of Dream” and “Losing Battles” during his 13-song set. The rest came from his other five albums, with “Feels Like Lightning,” “Thunderbolt’s Goodnight,” “The Temptation of Adam” and “Getting Ready to Slow Down” being the standouts.
As fall takes over, the opportunities for outdoor shows — especially the free variety — are quickly dimming. But if you’re on the road, especially as much as I am these days, take the time to check out the Bandsintown app. You never know what might turn up.