Tin Can Buddha will perform 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Grand Theatre.
Tin Can Buddha formed in 2008, but its roots date from the early 1970s. It was then that master harmonica player and vocalist Rodney Hatfield met pianist Lee Carroll, a Cave City native, while both were attending the University of Kentucky.
Hatfield studied art at UK, then went on to co-found two popular local groups, The Hatfield Clan and the Metropolitan Blues Allstars.
Meanwhile, Carroll studied jazz composition and arranging at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. He toured with his own group and eventually settled in Nashville, where he was band leader for The Judds and performed with Exile. In the mid-1990s, he left the music business and became a Papa John’s Pizza franchise owner in Harrisburg, Pa.
“I walked away,” Carroll said in a recent telephone interview. “I woke up one day — Exile was getting ready to break up, we were losing our record deal, I wasn’t having fun anymore.”
At about the same time, Hatfield did the same thing. He had studied art at UK, and decided to give up music for a successful career as a painter.
That might have been the end of the story, except for a chance meeting in Harrisburg. Carroll decided on impulse to attend a standing blues jam at a local club.
“There was a Hammond organ there and I decided to play a few songs,” Carroll recalled. “It was like I’d never left music.”
A guitarist also sitting in at the jam, Ivan Ivanoff, had made a lasting impression on Carroll.
“Mitch Ivanoff was the real thing,” Carroll said. “Mitch asked me to do some gigs. I talked to my wife. She was supportive, so I started working (in music) again.”
The joy of returning to music was too much for Carroll to keep to himself.
“I had maintained contact with Rodney,” he said. “I called him and said, ‘I’m having a blast. It’s like I’m 16 years old again.’”
Before long, the three had decided to get together
and play at a small club in Louisville called the Quilt Box. For all three, the first rehearsal was magic.
“We started playing — Mitch knows all the old blues songs, and Rodney takes off and starts singing,” Carroll recalled. “It’s like those two guys had known each other all of their lives.”
Tin Can Buddha enlisted several area sidemen to stage two acclaimed shows at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts in 2010 and 2011. The latter production was the band’s last public appearance. The band decided that the offer to play at the Grand was a good opportunity to get back together.
The audience can expect an evening of diverse musical styles.
“The blues is a big part of what we did (in past concerts),” Carroll said. “Mitch is a master of the blues; Rodney is fantastic at it. There will be some jazz elements, a little country, certainly some reggae and Afro-Cuban jazz.”
The three will be supported by Mark Jones on guitar; Chip Graham, bass; David White, drums; and Tripp Bratton, percussion. Also appearing will be guest vocalists Gail Winters and Coralee Townie.
The Grand concert will be recorded for release as an album. Carroll expects an enjoyable evening.
“We’re going to make sure (the audience) has a great time. This is a real celebration of our friendship,” he said.
Tickets are $10, $15 and $20 and may be purchased online at the Grand Theatre Web site, http://www.grandtheatrefrankfort.org, or by visiting the ticket office, 312 W. Main St., weekdays between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. The phone number is 502-352-7469.