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YACtoberfest Brings Lucero to Paducah Friday Evening

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Lucero will perform on Friday evening, October 1st, at Carson Park in Paducah.

Lucero is an American country-rock band that has been active since 1998. They headline YACtoberfest in Paducah's Carson Park this Friday evening. Frontman Ben Nichols speaks to Tracy Ross about the band, recording during the pandemic, and Lucero's upcoming performance.

When COVID-19 shut down venues everywhere in March 2020, Lucero had just finished a two-month tour. "Luckily, we had some money in the bank. We were coming to a stopping point, anyways," Nichols says.

What Lucero expected to be a few weeks without shows turned into 14 months with no performances. Compared to over 100 shows a year, the difference was stark. Nichols says that what makes live performance so special is hard to put into words, "but there is something."

"Being in a band is two different parts," he continues. "You've got the isolation and the recording. I love that process. But if you don't take the songs out into the world and get that first-had, immediate reaction from a crowd, it's hard to gauge what kind of life that song's going to have. That interaction is kind of what makes a song what it is and gives it an actual life."

Lucero's most recent album, When You Found Me, was written and produced without that interaction during the pandemic. "We'd all been quarantining with our families and not going out. Then, we decided to book three weeks in the studio. We decided to quarantine together. It was a bit of a risk, but we rolled the dice. It worked out. No one got sick. We were able to produce a record right smack dab in the middle of a pandemic."

The new album incorporates synthesizers, a new sound not heard in past Lucero records. Nichols explains that he was experimenting with music for his brother, Jeff, who is a filmmaker.

"I liked some of the songs [I was making for Jeff's films]. When it came time to work on a new Lucero record, some of that stuff naturally seeped into the Lucero writing process."

Nichols explains that Lucero has a wide range of influences, from 1980's Tom Petty to new wave and punk rock. "There's a bunch of stuff that goes into the Lucero grab bag," he says. "There are some different sounds [on the new record], but at the end of the day, I think it still sounds like us."

The frontman says experimentation and willingness to try new things keep songwriting interesting after 20 years of being in a band. "It all boils down to, as long as the songs are still good, there's something in the song that means something to you, then that's what counts. All the sounds and instrumentation, that's just fun. That's there to be explored and messed around with."

For their upcoming YACtoberfest performance, Lucero will be a five-piece (the original four members and keyboardist, Rick Steff, who joined the band 12 years ago). "We'll be doing stuff from our whole catalogue," Nichols says.

"There might be stuff from The Addict Tapes way back when. There will be a few off the newest album. We're pretty much just a rock and roll band when we're up there playing live. Some of the records go this way and that way, but we distill it down to its core for the live shows. Hopefully, the songs will translate. It's usually a pretty good time.

Lucero will perform in Paducah's Carson Park on Friday, October 1st. For more information on YACtoberfest, including where to get tickets, visit the Yeiser Art Center's website.

Tracy started working for WKMS in 1994 while attending Murray State University. After receiving his Bachelors and Masters degrees from MSU he was hired as Operations/Web/Sports Director in 2000. Tracy hosted All Things Considered from 2004-2012 and has served as host/producer of several music shows including Cafe Jazz, and Jazz Horizons. In 2001, Tracy revived Beyond The Edge, a legacy alternative music program that had been on hiatus for several years. Tracy was named Program Director in 2011 and created the midday music and conversation program Sounds Good in 2012 which he hosts Monday-Thursday. Tracy lives in Murray with his wife, son and daughter.
Melanie Davis-McAfee graduated from Murray State University in 2018 with a BA in Music Business. She has been working for WKMS as a Music and Operations Assistant since 2017. Melanie hosts the late-night alternative show Alien Lanes, Fridays at 11 pm with co-host Tim Peyton. She also produces Rick Nance's Kitchen Sink and Datebook and writes Sounds Good stories for the web.
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