This week we have a veteran country star back in town jamming at Blossom and a historically unlikely country star setting records on the pop charts.

First up, Brad Paisley returns to Blossom on Friday. The singer-songwriter-guitarist is the new Toby Keith in the sense that when summer comes, if he’s on tour, Paisley is definitely coming to Blossom.

Paisley is still touring his 2017 album “Love and War,” which topped the country charts and made the Billboard 200 Top 15. I’m no country music aficionado, but dang it if that boy can’t pick the hell out of a guitar.

His 2008 album, “Play,” which is largely instrumental, is a showcase for his fleet fingers. It features a mix of classic country style picking and all the rock and soul he’s absorbed over the years. It's one of those records that makes amateur guitarists shake their heads in shame and curse their dumb, clumsy hands.

“Love and War” has Paisley’s mix of lyrical charm and humor (“Drive of Shame” is cute), catchy radio-ready tunes and, befitting his eclectic tastes, features contributions from Mick Jagger, John Fogerty, producer Timbaland, and Grand Ole Opry mainstay Whisperin’ Bill Anderson.

Opening for Paisley will be Chris Lane, riding his top-10 U.S. Country album “Laps Around the Sun,” and former “Redneck Island” star Riley Green, promoting his album “Get That Man a Beer.”

 

Lil Nas X

Meanwhile, the No. 1 song in the country for the 17th week, per the Billboard Hot 100, is Lil Nas X’s "Old Town Road,” which this week set the record for longest running No. 1 single since the chart’s inception.

The song, dubbed “country trap” for it’s mix of country themes, a Nine Inch Nails sample and the skittering high hats and tuned TR-808 style kicks of “trap music," has been quite the phenomenon. The song shot up the Hot Country charts but was removed by Billboard for not being “country” enough, sparking controversy.

X, a 20-year-old Atlantan whose stage wear resembles a modern take on the Rhinestone Cowboy, has released several remixes of the tune which have all buoyed the song’s staying power.

For the first remix, X adroitly enlisted Billy Ray Cyrus to drop a few bars while the second was done by dance music producer Diplo. Then a third remix featured rapper Young Thug (who is often credited with making country trap mainstream) and country singer/yodeler Mason Ramsey. Most recently there has been remix number four, apparently the final remix, featuring RM of the Korean boy band BTS, playfully renamed “Seoul Town Road.”

In addition to his historic charting hit song, which hit No. 1 in at least seven countries on the final day of Pride month, Lil Nas X came out as gay, which is still a pretty bold move in the hip hop and country worlds and, hell, general society, where homophobia is definitely still a thing.

 

Broken Heart healed

We also have a couple of rock legends and rock hall of famers in town this weekend.

The first is the reunited Heart, coming to Blossom on Sunday. Sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson had put the band on hold for three years following a family spat between Ann’s husband and Nancy’s kid, coupled with general burnout.

They both did solo stuff and are now back together for the “Love Alive” tour, which they say will be unlike any other Heart tour.

How, you ponder? Beats me, dude. You’re going to get the hits, plus some fan favorites as always, but with everyone happier and present now perhaps there will be new sisterly energy emanating from the stage. (Tickets: $29.50-$124.50; www.livenation.com.)

Keeping with classic rockers who ditched their bands and then reunited (only to ditch them again), Ace Frehley comes to the House of Blues on Sunday. Frehley is best known as the lead guitarist for Kiss, whom he left in the '80s, reunited with in the '90s and then left again in the aughts. That’s got to be some sort of record, right?

Anyway, Frehley’s been quite active these past few years releasing three albums, including his latest, the appropriately titled “Spaceman.”

The album is a good old fashioned guitar rock record, featuring Frehley playing all the guitar parts and singing in that unassuming and charming Bronx-accented voice. It also features some guest bass from his old bandmate and longtime media sparring partner Gene Simmons.

I interviewed Frehley years ago and found him to be a relaxed, seemingly well-adjusted and quite funny rock 'n' roll lifer who had been there and smoked and snorted all of that. Frehley’s been clean and sober for about a decade now and he’s still got plenty of good stories, at least the ones he can remember.

 

Living and loving

Longtime gospel star Kirk Franklin will be performing at the Lakewood Civic Auditorium (14100 Franklin Blvd.) on Saturday. Though he’s been around for 20 years, going triple-platinum with his debut album, “God’s Property” in 1997, Franklin was a pioneer in crossover gospel music which, naturally, brought controversy from the genre’s moldy figs who believed that mixing modern, secular grooves and sounds with The Word was a form of heresy.

Franklin forged ahead and paved the way for other artists such as Mary Mary and Yolanda Adams. In the process, he garnered 12 Grammys, 40 Stellar, 18 Dove and a dozen NAACP Image Awards. (Tickets: $37.50-$73; www.ticketmaster.com.)

His latest “Long Live Love” was released in May and once again topped the Gospel charts, made the Top 20 of the Billboard 200 and hit number 12 on the R&B/Hip Hop album charts. Apparently, he’s still got it.

 

Malcolm X Abram can be reached at mabram@thebeaconjournal.com or 330-996-3758. Like him on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/1lNgxml, and follow him on Twitter @malcolmabramABJ.