SOUTHERN BELLES: Senora May and Joan Shelley bring intimate performance to The Burl

Story by Matt Wickstrom
Photos by Sarah Cahill

Joan Shelley performing at The Burl in Lexington, Ky., on July 10, 2019. Photo by Sarah Cahill | KY Cahill Photography

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Two of the Commonwealth’s dearest musical sweethearts in Irvine’s Senora May and Louisville’s Joan Shelley teamed up on Wednesday night for an intimate evening of subdued siren songs at The Burl.

The crowd attentively watches on as Senora May performs at The Burl in Lexington, Ky., on July 10, 2019. Photo by Sarah Cahill | KY Cahill Photography
Senora May performs at The Burl in Lexington, Ky., on July 10, 2019. Photo by Sarah Cahill | KY Cahill Photography

The small crowd, following some affectionate coaxing by Senora May, moved up and got comfy in front of the stage following the artist hopping behind the mic shortly after 8 p.m. at what she described as “my favorite place to play in my favorite city to play in.” It hadn’t been long since her last time at the locale, with Senora May’s most recent prior performance at the Distillery District venue occurring May 4 during day two of the On the Rail Roots Festival. On this evening the crowd stayed ever attentive throughout the show, so much so that Senora jokingly commented at one point about hearing the floor on the stage creak below her feet as she danced around whilst playing.

With the setting sun outside shining a magnificent aura through The Burl’s signature stained glass backdrop that cast a glow around Senora May almost like that of a solar eclipse, the artist performed hit tunes such as “Elusive,” “Lainhart,” “Milk and Honey,” “Female,” “By My Lonesome,” “California King” from her debut album and maiden name Lainhart. Additionally, Senora mixed in as-of-now unrecorded tracks such as “Lookin’ for a Fight” and “Dogs of Mexico” along with a stripped down cover of pop icon Beyonce’s “No Angel.”

Sunlight flows through The Burl’s signature stained glass fixture, casting a glow on Senora May as she performs at The Burl in Lexington, Ky., on July 10, 2019. Photo by Sarah Cahill | KY Cahill Photography

Senora presents a unique crossroads that many artists strive to perfect but few actually do, and that’s wielding an arsenal of authentic tales with equal parts southern charm as it is spitfire and sass. The one-two combo of wit and charm captivated the audience, who began singing along and shouting joyous words of affirmation during her songs, setting the stage for one of Senora’s self-proclaimed musical idols in Joan Shelley to follow her up.

Joan Shelley chuckles during a performance at The Burl in Lexington, Ky., on July 10, 2019. Photo by Sarah Cahill | KY Cahill Photography

Following a short intermission Shelley and musical partner Nathan Salsburg took to the stage and began to weave together their airy and melodic old-time country and 60’s folk inspired tunes starting with “Brighter than the Blues” from the artist’s 2015 effort Over and Even. With Salsburg’s acoustic guitar picking matching up swiftly with rhythmic plucks and harmony the duo later jumped around with renditions of “Cost of the Cold,” “If the Storms Never Came” and a cover of Addie Graham’s “Darling Don’t You Know That’s Wrong” before closing the ambient evening with another original in “Where I’ll Find You.”

Nathan Salsburg observantly plays off of Joan Shelley during a performance at The Burl in Lexington, Ky., on July 10, 2019. Photo by Sarah Cahill | KY Cahill Photography

For a full album of Sarah Cahill’s photos from Wednesday night’s show visit her KY Cahill Photography Facebook page.

Stay tuned for more live event coverage on the blog and remember, #AlwaysGoToTheShow.


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