Music calendars, such as the one published regularly in these pages, are organized around strong blurbs—quick snapshot statements about artists you’ve not yet heard about. If you’re looking for one about Morgan O’Kane, it’s this, from Woodsong’s Michael Jonathan the last time O’Kane tore through Lexington with his banjo, kickbox suitcase, and cast of cellists, dobro and fiddle players: “If Uncle Dave Macon married Bruce Springsteen their love child would be Morgan O’Kane.”
Too much home cooking? Fair enough. Here’s another comparison blurb, this one coming from San Jose, California: “If Jimi Hendrix played the banjo, he might resemble O’Kane.”
Want a blurb with a more global reach? OK. “He is a one man festival waiting to happen… during his three days at our festival he was omnipresent–playing at car crash speed and singing like his life depended on it, at any time of the day or night, with any musician who could keep up with him, from German ska bands to Irish trad outfits, and creating an instant party wherever he went. We’d have him back anytime.” That’s Kieran Gilmore from Northern Ireland’s Open House Festival.
The common thread here is energy and movement, and lots of both. Drop on by Al’s, push yourself up to the front of the stage and experience some of that energy up close. O’Kane will be playing cuts from his current release, the driving Nine Lives, and from a forthcoming second album to be released later this year. Expect to end the night sweaty, tired and, like Jon Landau after seeing a 24-year old Springsteen, reinvigorated with the power and promise of music.
And when you’re done throwing down at Al’s on Thursday night, consider making the trip over to Friendship, Indiana (across the river a ways from Rabbit Hash, Kentucky) on Friday, where O’Kane will precede Hayes Carll onstage at the Whispering Beard Folk Festival. If you’re still standing after those two finish playing, you’ve earned whatever drinks you got coming.