In the world of music festivals, everything changes. Eventually. And Louisville’s annual mammoth-sized music, art and activism mecca, Forecastle Festival, now in its 11th year, is no exception. The festival will once again take place on Louisville’s Waterfront Park, from July 12-14.
What started as a small neighborhood gathering in Louisville’s Tyler Park in 2002 has evolved into one of the Midwest’s largest platforms for musicians, artists and activists alike with tens of thousands flocking to the banks of the Ohio River every summer.
Last year the Forecastle founder JK McKnight, announced a partnership with Bonnaroo producer, AC Entertainment.
“One of the biggest assets AC Entertainment brings to the table is experience, and the relationships that go along with that,” McKnight explains. “In addition, a laser-like focus heavily on festivals, which is different than concerts. Festivals are brands, and have to be approached in a different way.”
That approach has lead to a number of expected changes with the core management shift to AC. The most obvious – perhaps only to the Forecastle-faithful – is the music roster, which is a bit lighter on Louisville area artists as compared to year’s past.
“We’re always going to have a local and regional stage. I think that’s never going to change,” McKnight adds.
“But yes, it’s (Louisville & Kentucky musicians) always been a part of the festival and I imagine it always will be. It’s part of our DNA. I think as the festival grows and expands, we’ll be able to use more real estate, which could open up more opportunity,” says McKnight.
“This year I’ve put together a list of probably 15 to 20 local artists that I thought were really special and deserving of an opportunity like this. These were artists that were really out there, touring constantly, pushing the envelope, building their brand. You can look at numbers and statistics, and see them growing in the market. People are responding, which is what we want to see. We want something that catches our eye. If we see other people responding to it, that’s important. The festival’s not about our personal music tastes. I think that’s a misconception,” McKnight candidly commented.
A few of those carefully selected artists hailing from the Louisville area include; the musically unclassifiable My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James, the up-and-coming folk-jammers Houndmouth, retro-rockers The Pass, the bluegrass-americana sounds of 23 String Band, and the alt-country up-comers A Lion Named Roar.
As for the Forecastle headliners, festival-goers will enjoy Robert Plant and his Sensational Space Shifters (which’ll hopefully turn into a Led Zeppelin affair), The Black Keys, The Avett Brothers, The Flaming Lips, The String Cheese Incident, Outkast’s Big Boi, and Alabama Shakes just to name a few.
Forecastle is also expanding beyond the festival’s official grounds with a number of late night after-party concerts at Louisville Palace and aboard the Belle of Louisville.
“Every year, the late night component of the festival is always something that we think about throughout the whole year,” McKnight explains. “Obviously, this year with String Cheese doing the Saturday night at the Palace, which is the first year of its kind that the Palace has ever done. But yeah, the Belle of Louisville is an iconic venue. I don’t see us ever quitting that tradition of trying to do shows on the Belle. It’s a lot of fun!”
Regions of Light and Sound of God
by Jim James ATO Records Produced by: Jim James wwwJimJames.com
If you’ve ever listened to any My Morning Jacket album you may have wondered where all that diverse musical inspiration originates from. A singular source or more of a collective effort from all band members?
This album- perhaps – suggestively answers that question as MMJ’s bearded-frontman perfectly fuses prodigious sounds of classical, alternative rock, folk, funk, soul and jazz into a singular cohesion of climatic musical joy. Just like many MMJ albums have done.
The piano-lead opener, “State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U)” emanates James’ curiosity of life and his ability to harmonize vowels to a progressive funky bass rhythm.
The album’s first single, “Know Til Now,” is a trippy 6+ minute jam who’s random arrangement reminisces MMJ’s “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream Pt.2” and is equally contagious to all the senses.
There’s also the sensual crooning on “A New Life” which starts one way and ends another way, the smooth and sultry progression of “Actress” and the uplifting instrumental “Exploding” which provides depth.
Any song on this album – to the untrained ear – could easily be mistaken as a new MMJ song. And although that’s not really the case, it was, however, crafted by the one musical wizard behind all of them.
- Jason Ashcraft * This album review will also appear in Performer Magazine’s February 2013 issue and at PerformerMag.com
In this exclusive interview from the historic Old Seelbach Bar inside Louisville’s Seelbach Hotel, cello-rocker Ben Sollee shared “a few honest words” about the making of his new album Half Made Man, those whom he collaborated with to make it, musicians who he’d still like to collaborate with in the future, and his views on the Presidential race and what’s at stake.
It’s a quiet, warm Saturday afternoon in downtown Louisville…
…and the lobby of the city’s most iconic display of Southern grandeur, The Seelbach Hotel, is bustling with road-worn and seemingly infrequent visitors stirring about.
One of those visitors is Lexington-native Ben Sollee, one of Kentucky’s up-and-coming “musical” displays of Southern grandeur. A classically trained cellist, Sollee is a one-man orchestra, who owns his instrument and is known for playing it with a combination of passion and grace. He has managed to breed a whole new style of playing his centuries-old instrument, where the end result is a little rock and roll, a little soulful, a little bluegrassy, a little jazzy, very modern, and all Americana.
In 2007, Sollee was lauded by NPR’s Morning Edition as one of the “Top Ten Unknown Artists of the Year.” After that, he officially began exporting himself nationwide and into the spotlight. He’s played Louisville’s Forecastle Festival, Bonnaroo, the Newport Folk Festival and in 2009, landed one of his tunes on Showtime’s series Weeds.
When Sollee wants to jam onstage, while on tour or while recording a new album, he collaborates with everyone from My Morning Jacket’s Carl Broemel and Jim James, to Daniel Martin Moore to Bella Fleck to Abigail Washburn. Broemel and Washburn joined Sollee on his latest release, Half-Made Man, released through his label, Tin Ear Records. He raised the funds to record it from a public-sourced fan base.
Sitting down in The Old Seelbach Bar, Sollee candidly opens up about his music and life – from the how and why he creates songs and his top picks for collaborations – to his bike tours and political activism.
You’ve just released Half-Made Man, which you’ve said is your most personal album to date. What makes it so personal?
“Well, the goal of the record was to create a collection of self-portraits. So the songs do that in various ways by capturing the pieces of my personality, whether it’s the part that likes to fix things, or the part that’s impatient or the fatherly side of me. And to capture those in a really intimate and raw way, I invited some wonderful musicians to cut it with in the studio.”
Yeah, you had quite a few guest musicians join you. So tell me about the process of choosing them, and how they contributed to the artistic process.
“Many of the musicians are folks that I’ve played music with and that I really respected their distinct character as musicians…”
Carl Broemel from My Morning Jacket? “He came in and did a lot of the guitar work that you hear. Alana Rocklin is a tremendous R&B, jazz and hip-hop bass player [who] just came in and just covered all the bases. And Jordan Ellis, who is a percussionist, and who I’ve been playing with for a while.
Then we had a fiddler come in named Jeremy Kittel, and he’s from a real diverse background, everything from Scottish fiddling to a contemporary classical musical ensemble. So, the thing about the ensemble is that we didn’t have to try very hard to create a unique sound, because there was already a unique collection of people.”
You also had, as I understand it, a guy who is quickly becoming popular in the recording scene here in Louisville, Kevin Ratterman. He’s also worked with My Morning Jacket and Wax Fang, and helped with your production, as well?
“I think ‘becoming popular’ might even be a little bit of an understatement. Kevin Ratterman, for the last decade has had his finger on what the Louisville rock sound has become – a lot of the sounds you hear coming out, whether it be Cheyenne Marie Mize or My Morning Jacket’s new record, or Wax Fang. You know all those things are being put out and recorded by Kevin because he’s got this big heart and unending search for ‘the sound.’”
Yeah, he’s definitely getting to all the musicians that have ‘the sound.’
“That’s because he cares. It’s not necessarily because he has a fancy studio or even because of his rates. It’s because if you want to work with somebody – at this point if we’re going to spend all this time, money and energy recording a record – we want it to be with somebody who gives a damn.”
Speaking of the money, you had a different approach to recording this in terms of how you funded it. Tell us a little bit about that and how that came about.
“Well, the funding for this record was crowd-sourced through a platform called Pledge Music.”
Truly public music?
[laughing] “I guess so. And this project wouldn’t even be possible without that kind of support. So I think it’s fascinating, this relationship that’s developing.”
Your music has historically had an activism aspect to it, such as your bike tours. Is there anything in the future that’s gonna keep that part of you alive and how are you going to do it?
“Well for me, my music always comes from a very personal place, and what I consider a very sincere expression. And in that way, all the things I care about as a person come to the surface. And I try to express them through the songs and through activities around the shows and through organizations I work with and various other projects. And I don’t see that stopping anytime soon. I’m not going to stop caring about those folks. How I can tie in and help those organizations will change as my business grows. And more opportunities, if anything. For the bike tours, we’re really trying to do about a third of our touring each year by bicycle.”
Where are you biking to and from this year?
“We biked from the Newport Folk Festival, where we had a really wonderful bunch of shows. And we rode our bikes up the coast to a bunch of shows in Portland, Maine. It wasn’t a tremendously long tour, but it was a beautiful tour.”
How many miles would you say?
“It was about 300 or so up the coast.”
And you actually had the cello strapped to your back?
“The cello actually goes on the side of the bicycle. It’s a utility bike on the side of the frame.”
So tell me about some of the other artists out there who you’d still like to share a stage or studio with.
“Oh, gosh, there are so many of them. There are folks like Paul Simon who I’d love to work with. There are folks like Ani DiFranco I’d like to work with. There are a tremendous amount of jazz artists I’d like to work with. The list is endless…”
Bowling Green’s Sleeper Agent is coming off a busy 2011-2012, not only releasing their debut album Celabrasion, but also playing many large festivals and tours across the country also.
They’ve also just released a new video for “That’s My Baby” to hold fans over for their next album, which they’re already back in the studio recording as we speak. No release date or name yet announced for album numero dos, but rest assured I’ll be following this as more develops…
Check out my July interview with Sleeper Agent lead singer Alex Kandel and guitarist Tony Smith at Forecastle Festival 2012.
Ben Solllee Half-Made Man Tin Ear Records Produced by Ben Sollee Available: September 25, 2012
Kentucky cellist transforms pop-rock with his jazz, folk, Americana-bluegrass roots
When reviewing an album there is always a tendency – as a writer – to draw comparison to some other artist’s recording. You want to paint a clear picture in the reader’s mind of what he or she should expect before buying the album.
On Sollee’s fourth studio endeavor, that’s a tough task to do. Ben Sollee sounds exactly like – himself — which is to say that Sollee, in an otherwise endlessly diverse indie music-sphere, has truly pioneered his own Alt- Americana style of music.
Which he is now releasing on his own label of Tin Ear Records.
Catapulting from his classically trained cellist roots, Sollee blends elements of pop-rock, jazz, R&B, and bluegrass for a harmoniously groove-a-licious and pop-rockish departure from 2011‘s Inclusions.
Joining him as guests on the album are My Morning Jacket’s Carl Broemel on guitar, Turtle Island Quartet’s Jeremy Kittel on fiddle, Alana Rocklin on bass, Jordan Ellis on percussion and Vocalist Abigail Washburn.
Songs I remember most were the melodic grooves in “DIY,” the heartfelt prowess on “Unfinished” and the candid assertions from “Get Off Your Knees.”
The album peaks on “The Pursuit of Happiness,” a vocally arousing and storytelling, rock-n-roll rhythmic monster of a song whose messaging is just just as commanding as its chord progressions.
Even though this album is named “Half-Made Man,” Sollee proves once again how his self-defined musical mystique is nothing other than “wholly”made.
** This review will also published at Performer Mag.com and Performer Magazine’s October 2012 issue, and, perhaps, another publication.
You wanna know what Forecastle Festival is like? Ok. It’s a little something like this: Music. Art(ists). Ecology. Louisville-lovers. Dirty hippie dudes. Dirty hippie dames. Beardos. Rollie Fingers’ staches. Dreadlocks. Tye-dye. Bassheads. Potheads. River-bathers. Burlesque performances. Tree-huggers. Socialists. Liberals. Journalists. Hacky-sack circles. Sweaty people drinking PBR. Sweaty people making out. Sweaty people drinking PBRs and making out. Teenage make-shift obstacle hurdlers. Pervasive Mary Jane aromas. Muhammad Ali portraits in the head. The Mayor in VIP.
Yep, this is how it went down on the banks of the Ohio River when more than 35,000 people jumbled together to celebrate Louisville, right below its own skyline in Waterfront Park. And, yes, this was a city government-endorsed event as Mayor Fischer was present to once again welcome My Morning Jacket with Forecastle Festival founder JK McKnight. Whereas some city governments shun music festivals like these, Louisville’s embraces it.
Things have really evolved culturally in this town over the last couple decades, and Forecastle just may be one, if not the main, instigator of said evolution. It’s living, breathing, naked proof that people from many different backgrounds, beliefs and races can coexist together in a way that promotes unity, cultural awareness, activism and freedom with music as the unifying stimulus.
With music being one of the biggest aspects of the festival, here is the rundown of the artists ranked from best to worst in my own opinion.
My Morning Jacket
Jim James – Photo by Kate Eldridge (www.KateEldridge.com)
I don’t have a clue where to freaking begin here. Why? Because last May 2011, when the band released Circuital at Louisville’s Palace Theatre I said that MMJ gave the greatest performance they could ever give. Now here I am, again, both eating my words and again saying, “MMJ gave the greatest performance they could ever give at Forecastle.” Not to mention the best performance – by far – of the entire damn festival. Exactly as they planned to.
In a recent interview with MMJ bassist Two-Tone Tommy, he promised that “surprises” were in store, and the first came only two songs in when the big brass backing of Preservation Hall Jazz Band joined them for a crowd-pleasing version of “Holdin’ Onto Black Metal.”
Keeping the set eclectic, they played songs from virtually their entire discography, opening with “The Dark” and busting out mesmerizing versions of “The Bear,” “Anytime,” “Smoking From Shooting,” “Steam Engine,” and crowd favorites, including“Wordless Chorus” and an Andrew Bird-accompanied version of “Gideon.”
They also logged killer covers of Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” George Harrison’s “Isn’t It a Pity,” The Band’s “It Makes No Difference,” and an encore performance of George Michael’s “Careless Whisper” in which Jim delivered a message from George Michael himself, while tossing bananas to the audience and hilariously adjusting the lyrics to suit the occasion.
I wouldn’t be surprised if that cover perpetuated the sale of a few more George Michaels’ albums on iTunes post-show from all those youngins, who were wondering what the hell they just heard. Hey kids, just like Jim mentioned during a mid-song instrumental break, “George Michaels gets a lot of shit, but he is a fucking genius.” Truer words never spoken.
Once the banana tossing concluded, and with Forecastle’s First-mate saluting the audience from side-stage, former MMJ guitarist Johnny Quaid (of Ravenna Colt) emerged from backstage to play a rambunctious version of “One Big Holiday.” With that, the stage came alive as human-propelled animal and fish props became part of the stage show and provided the last of many “holy shit” moments for the evening.
Now here is a band with a lot of charisma and a seemingly bright future ahead of them — that is — if they keep giving performances like they did at Forecastle. Make no mistake folks, lead singer Alex Kandel is the star in this band as she danced, headbanged and pushed her way around stage with fellow bandmates, flipping her hair from one side to the next every five steps.
Sleeper Agent – Photo by Kate Eldridge (www.KateEldridge.com)
I guess Guitarist Tony Smith figured he, too, needed to get a little wicked, electing to jump offstage and crowd-surf till he was dropped. He quickly jumped back to his feet and climbed back onstage to carry on.
The Bowling Green, Kentuckians logged rowdy live performances of “Get Burned,” “Get It Daddy” and “Proper Taste,” all from their debut album Celebrasion. If these little young Kentucky lads are to have some more big shows in their future, then all they gotta do is keep doing what they did at Forecastle. Their crowd was one of the biggest of the smaller two stages. Next time, they should get a bigger stage because I’m betting they will hold their own on a stage of any size.
Ben Sollee – Photo by Kate Eldridge (www.KateEldridge.com)
Kentucky’s cello-rocker Ben Sollee is a one-man orchestra onstage. Offstage, he’s a seemingly passive, small-framed guy, who almost looks like a scientist or a high school math teacher. But don’t be fooled, because he once again shattered that subtle image the moment he took stage and masterfully blended elements of classical and out-right jamming styles of sound from his cello. He adds in some soulful vocals and sometimes plays with vicious intent and a lot of passion.
Not even a 10-minute late start due to a technical glitch slowed him down on his Sunday evening performance, nor did it decrease the size of his audience, which eagerly awaited him to start plucking and strumming that cello with his bow. Once he started, Sollee quickly captured his audience with his passion in both personality and showmanship. His one-hour set flew by, and I found myself having to cut-out about 15 minutes early to see another equally impressive band getting ready to start.
“Hat’s off to My Morning Jacket for their great taste in music!” says Clutch lead singer Neil Fallon, who selfishly joked at mid-set about their invitation to play. But he’s right, especially if you’re fan of good ole’ dirty and stripped-down rock ‘n’ roll, which is a music style that’s not the norm at Forecastle.
Clutch – Photo by Kate Eldridge (www.KateEldridge.com)
Filling the Boom Stage’s lawn with a couple thousand people, Clutch played cuts from their entire catalog. Opening with “Gravel Road” and closing with “One Eye Dollar,” Clutch delivered a set that spanned their 20-year career in music, including high-energy versions of their more popular hits like “50,000 Unstoppable Watts” and “Electric Worry,” yet strangely left out “The Mob Goes Wild.” Damn. Maybe next time.
These Afrobeat and funk pioneers were probably one of the most under-anticipated acts playing in the entire festival. These guys have been playing together for decades but added a hip international flair unlike previous years. Although they’ve been jamming out since the ‘60s, this was only their second trip to the U.S.
Orchestre Poly-Rythmo – Photo by Jason Ashcraft
About an equal amount of time was shared between instrumental play and the soulful French-African vocals of lead singer Amenoudji Joseph Vicky, who spoke to the audience during and in-between songs.
After his performance, I actually had the chance to speak with Vicky on things like the meaning of his music, who some of his musical influences are, and even got a little political, quizzing him on his thoughts on President Obama and our country’s political system.
Speaking in his native French tongue and with a little help from Poly Rythmo’s interpreter and U.S. Manager, Elodie, Vicky was candid and entertaining to listen to. I just wish he had broken out a peace pipe on me. Oh well.
This is one band I hadn’t actually planned on seeing, but that I just happened to stumble upon while waiting to see Cabin at the next stage over. I gotta say I’m definitely glad I did, because the guys were totally balls-out rock ‘n’ roll with enough energy radiating off the stage to keep their audience growing through the set.
Now I didn’t recognize any of their original music, but they belted out one mean cover of The Who’s “Teenage Wasteland,” which stopped a few would-be passerbys dead in their tracks as they made their way to the stage.
Cabin with Ben Sollee – Photo by Kate Eldridge (www.KateEldridge.com)
One of several Louisville-based indie rock acts took the stage on a muggy Sunday evening to a rather shy and undersized crowd. Lead singer Noah Hewett-Ball has a calm, cool and collected demeanor onstage that seems to carry over with most of their music as a band.
One of their more catchy tunes they played, “A Lie Worth Believing,” just happened to bring out cello extraordinaire, Ben Sollee, for a little eclectic addition to an already catchy song. Much to the modest crowd’s appeasement, Keyboard and Violinist Sarah Beth Welder wasn’t shy about admitting that “I got to knock something off my bucket list by playing with Ben Sollee.”
The country punk rockers make their Forecastle return, this time with less bugs up in their grills. Yep, the last time they played Forecastle in 2010 Lucero was swarmed by big river flies that spoiled their performance a little. Not this time, though, instead they were swarmed with a steady fan base.
Frontman Ben Nichols’ gritty and countryfied vocals charmed the couple thousand fans, who weren’t in short supply of being fond for alt-southern sounds that makes Lucero iconic.
Lucero – Photo by Kate Eldridge (www.KateEldridge.com)
Promoting their latest album Women & Work, Nichols and band jammed out the title track to an eager audience. And it wouldn’t be a true Lucero show if they didn’t play “Nights Like These” and “Kiss the Bottle,” which Nichols refers to as his “jaw breaking song.”
Preservation Hall Jazz Band
The pride of New Orlean’s zydeco-jazz music culture stormed into Louisville — almost literally. Staying true to Preservation Hall’s reputation of never hosting a performance in the rain, the day’s storms cleared out of Louisville just in time. Some things never change, I guess.
Preservation Hall Jazz Band with Jim James – Photo by Kate Eldridge (www.KateEldridge.com)
Just as everyone anticipated, Jim James took the stage for a cabaret-like sing-a-long with Bourbon Street’s brass kings. And somehow at the end of that boisterous performance, James was holding a broken mic stand. Figure that one out for me.
Johnny Quaid – Photo by Kate Eldridge (www.KateEldridge.com)
Who would’ve ever known that frontman Johnny Quaid actually had something more exciting in store than his own band’s performance at Forecastle? Not even me. Just a few hours after a bit of a mundane performance with his band Ravenna Colt, Quaid joined his former bandmates in My Morning Jacket onstage for what had to be the highlight of his night.
Ravenna Colt has some decent songs, thanks to Quaid’s obvious ear for sound, but their presentation needs some work. Many of their songs don’t warrant an energetic performance; the band just didn’t seem to be inspired by the music they were playing.
“South of Ohio” is one song they played that warrants a feather in his hat, but a bleak crowd seemed to detract from the performance.
From Bruce Springsteen to Outkast to Black Sabbath, etc., etc. All laced with a steady backbeat. Ok, this guy reminded me of this loud-mouth, yet like-able, drunken club DJ that I used to work with in college in Richmond, Ky.
This dude pressed a damn button every so often on his laptop, yelled through his microphone “How y’all doing?” a few times and then staggered around like a boozed up ADHD patient all night — sometimes being away from his “instrument” for extended periods of time. Sure, he was a fun guy who “breaks out the jams” and entertains the chemically induced masses. But let’s be clear; I never considered this drunken bastard “talented.” Know what I mean?
GirlTalk – Photo by Kate Eldridge (www.KateEldridge.com)
It’s safe to say that this year’s Forecastle Festival topped everyone’s expectations, even my own. I admit that one of my first worries with all the amped up hype was that there would be an equally amped up Police force and security team ready to spoil the fun. As it turned out, however, and much to everyone’s appreciation, that wasn’t the case. They were seemingly respectful of the fans.
Photo by Jason Ashcraft
I mean, let’s face it; you can’t have the police dragging away a bunch of teenage and 20-something potheads for passing around doobies. Not when the Mayor just came off stage from amping them up and hanging out in VIP. That wouldn’t look good, now would it?
In all seriousness, well done LMPD and Axis Security! You see? You guys still brought home the same amount of pay, maintained the safety of all festival-goers and didn’t have to break a sweat or someone’s arm while doing it. Hopefully, you guys now realize that all those pot-smoking, music-junkie hippie kids aren’t really interested in bringing harm to anyone or anything. Nah. All they really want to do is get another polish sausage to suffice their munchies, dance in circles to a My Morning Jacket or Dr. Dog song, and maybe learn how to burn a few less fossil fuels in their daily lives. So, thank you for allowing this to happen. Peacefully.
Leading up to their Forecastle Festival performance on Friday the 13th, founding members of Kentucky’s Sleeper Agent, Alex Kandel (vocals) and Tony Smith (lead guitar) chatted with me on a few things like their influences, what they think of other Kentucky musicians, Alex’s recent nomination into the latest Rolling Stone readers poll, and what their new album holds.
Jason Ashcraft: I’m here with Kentucky’s own Sleeper Agent, Tony and Alex, how are you all doing today?
Tony Smith: Pretty good
Alex Kandel: Yeah, we’re doing good.
Excellent. So here we are at Forecastle Festival 2012, and it’s Friday the 13th. Any superstitions?
Tony: (laughing) No!
Alex: No, we’ll watch a horror movie I guess. We’re big horror movie fans as a band.
Horror movie fans?
Does that have any influence on your music by chance?
Tony:Only on stuff like “Be My Monster”
Alex: Yeah, I guess. Then there is our publishing thing called “Sleep-away Camp” which is named after one of favorite movies.
You guys have been a really up-and-coming band after only being together for just a couple of years, so tell me about your musical influences and your chemical influences?
Tony: Uh, a lot of beer.
Alex: (laughing) Caffeine.
Tony: Musically, if you’d ask me two years ago it’d be totally different….
Alex: Constantly changing. Right now? I mean I will always be influenced by The Ronettes.
And you also have a likeness for Fiona Apple, who I believe was the first concert you ever went to?
Alex: Um, yeah it was THE first concert I ever went to. It was like, I didn’t actually know it till I found a journal entry from that time. (laughing) But, it’s kind of funny how things work out.
So I like to focus on a lot of Kentucky artists. And since you guys are amongst that group now, I’ve got a list here of other Kentucky based artists. I’m gonna call their names out and the first word that comes to mind when I say their name, just tell me what it is.Whatever your first reaction is.
Tony: This could be dangerous.
So let’s start off with My Morning Jacket.
Alex: Epic, yeah that’s the word.
Tony: What happened?
Alex: (laughing) They’re great.
Tony: They’re great guys, but after their second album they kind of disappeared.
Black Stone Cherry.
Alex: I don’t know. I’ve met them a few times. They were really nice.
Cage The Elephant
Tony: Family (laughing).
Tony: Up there.
Days of the New
Tony: Unheard of.
Alex: No idea who that is.
Tony: I was going to say that actually.
Good to know. Welcome to the Kentucky music family so to speak.
So, Alex. Turning the attention to you for a moment. You were recently nominated in Rolling Stone’s latest readers’ poll “Women Who Rock.” So, tell me. Why do you rock?
Alex: (smiling) Because I’m actually in a “rock” band. Which, you know, some of the other contestants aren’t. I got that going for me. And because I live in a van, and just like play shows all the time and there is no smoking mirror. I’m just working my ass off.
Tony: You’ve gotten injured several times.
Alex: Oh, I have scars.
Oh, scars. Scars are good.
Alex: (pointing to a scar on her upper forehead) Can you see it? From a guitar.
Yeah. What happened there?
Alex: (smiling and laughing) I broke Tony’s guitar with my head.
That is totally awesome! If you don’t “rock” for that alone, then I don’t know who does.
In your own words, you know, with a lot of bands it takes them a long time to get where you guys have already gone. Why do you think its happened so quickly for you guys?
Tony: Well, technically it took us nine years to get here. So what this is, is the dregs of all the other projects plus Alex (laughing). So just nine years of non-stop work.
Alex: Yeah, they’re is a lot that goes into it too, and you have to be the right sound, with the right path. Our first record was just good timing and the right people believing in us at the right time. A lot of factors go into what makes us a band. It has nothing to do with what we make alone. It has everything to do with what people hear it, and every fan that bought our record and came to our shows.
Cool. Well looking forward to hearing you play here at Forecastle Festival. And I just caught wind that you guys are writing a new record already. Any thoughts or anything you’d like to share with that?
Tony: I’m really excited.
Alex: Even though I’m just hearing the songs in their very early stages where they’re just infants, it’s really cool to know that I am already proud of this record.
Release date yet? Do you even know?
Alex: I have no idea.
Would you say your music is evolving? Are you experimenting? Or staying with your same root sound?
Tony: Yeah, the first album was more of a sketch. This one is more of a painting.
Two-Tone Tommy Blankenship – Photo by Paul Wellman
There’s a lot going on these days in the life of My Morning Jacket bassist Two-Tone Tommy Blankenship. When you’re a member of one of the music industry’s most popular live alternative rock-n-roll bands, you tend to not have too much time for things other than music and your career.
With MMJ’s focus on curating Louisville’s Forecastle Festival, the boys are looking at music with a different focus; through their Louisville-lenses, so to speak, more so than other shows they play.
It’s hard to believe thatback in 2002 Forecastle Festival started as a small group of local musicians who gathered in Louisville’s Tyler Park for one day of music and community celebration. Now, 10 years later, founder JK McKnight has morphed that little neighborhood gathering into the Midwest’s largest music, art and activism mecca, and now has tapped the area’s biggest musical export in My Morning Jacket not only headlining, but helping plan the event.
Forecastle Festival now boasts more than three stages with a combination of both national and Louisville-area musicians of all music and genre types. Throw in dozens of vendors, sponsors, artists and keynote activism speakers, and all of the sudden you see what I mean when I say “morph.”
Last summer’s “Halfway to Forecastle” event was a show that McKnight conceived on-the-fly to merely hold over the Forecastle faithful while he formed a partnership with AC Entertainment, the company that just happens to produce a little festival in southern Tennessee called Bonnaroo.
“The partnership has been great. AC Entertainment has brought of wealth of knowledge, experience, enthusiasm, and commitment to programming excellence. Everyday is a new adventure, and I’m really glad to be part of the team,” McKnight said.
So with his big guns a blazin’, and a hell of a lot more production power behind him, McKnight has now recruited Louisville’s biggest musical export, and Bonnaroo-four-hour-marathon-set-festival-favorite, My Morning Jacket, to help select the show’s artist roster and a few other details.
Forecastle Festival 2010 – Photo by Willie McLean
I had the chance to talk with My Morning Jacket bassist Two-Tone Tommy Blankenship on this year’s event and how the band has played a role in the show’s “curation.”
So, I’m here with Two-Tone Tommy Blankenship of My Morning Jacket, who is one of the official curators of the Forecastle Festival. Right, Tommy?
So what does that entail doing? What are you doing to building Forecastle to what it’s going to be?
I think the biggest thing was throwing out names of bands, kinda like our dream list of some of the artists we wanted to see this year. As well helping plan a lot of the charities and who was going to be involved with charities. The food vendors, retail vendors. All of it was just kind of just suggestions as you know with the curation.
So does that mean we will see a lot of local Louisville businesses and local Kentucky and Louisville-based bands on the bill?
Exactly. Yeah, we wanted to really focus on – since there are so many national acts that are already coming in – was to have a dedicated local stage that would really shine a spotlight on what makes the city so special. Especially just having both – the festival as a 10-year anniversary and it felt like something we’ve always wanted to do at all of our shows. Like have the local village, you know? Like have the spotlight on the city itself, because there are so many people traveling in from out of town. Just trying to put the spotlight on everything we love about the city.
Of course Forecastle has a reputation for already doing that. That being said though, who are some of the artists you guys hand-picked and are really looking forward to seeing?
Geez, they’re are like so many. Dr. Dog, Washed Out, Andrew Bird, Wilco. I mean literally, everyday, there is somebody…
(And all-of-the-sudden my dogs start barking in the background. Tommy and I laugh it off for about 5 seconds until it quiets down again.)
Who are some of the artists that you guys hand-picked that are like local and independent who are trying to make their way and this show is going to be a big effort for them to do that?
A big one for me is Cabin. I don’t know, do you remember Shane Thomas that we went to school with?
Yeah, I think so. And I’ve seen Cabin before, and they were good!
Yeah, yeah, they’re amazing. Yeah Cabin, Lydia Burrell, John that used to play in the band (MMJ) is in Ravenna Colt now and they’re playing.
Yeah, yeah I know The Ravenna Colt, and they’re good.
Yeah, they’re amazing. Wax Fang. I mean like pretty much everybody that was invited was pretty much on our list. Like, a lot of the local artists that are coming in.
In terms of your guy’s own performance, on that Saturday night is when you’re playing, is that correct?
Yeah, Saturday night.
So, I’m not going to ask you for details or anything, but is there any surprises coming? A simple yes or no will do.
Ahh, yes. For sure.
Awesome. And – without giving it away – what can we expect?
Without giving it away…
Without giving it away?
(laughs, again, because my dog interrupts one more time with the barking)
“Oh, yeah! It will be a different experience over any shows that we’ve done this year or last year.”
Good to know. Something to look forward to. Awesome.
What would you say is your favorite thing about Louisville and our whole Kentucky-music stomping ground is or what is your favorite thing about our city?
I think – and this might seem like a limitation in a way – what I always loved about growing up in the area, and what I still love about it, is that is has an identity all on its own. I think that it really pushes young artists to find their own voice and their own sound, and really make things happen. Because it really isn’t a destination scene. It isn’t like you said, Chicago or any of the big cities that are around. Or even Indy in a way. It just doesn’t have that…like people aren’t moving to Louisville to start bands.
Yeah, you’re saying that we’re a very homegrown music scene.
Yeah, for sure. It’s kind of insular. I think they’re aren’t a lot of opportunities to play outside of the city; it’s not like if you make a name for yourself in Louisville that will carry you through a bunch of other cities or, you know, get you on a bunch of other cities and festivals and stuff.
Right, right. So what’s your advice to young musicians here in town who are trying to get where you guys are going with your own career?
I mean, it’s gonna sound kind of clichéd, but as long you just put the work into it, you know, more than anything else. I mean obviously, it’s just passion. It’s having the passion, putting the work into it and not expecting a whole lot in return. Like work and work and work, and don’t expect a whole lot, and then I think you’ll have the biggest reward that way.
So, circling back to you guys. Jim (James) just recently announced that he was doing a solo project, which is pretty cool, and of course Carl (Broemel) has done his own thing. Do you think that all the side project work that other members do will contribute to a MMJ hiatus?
Yeah, man I feel like this is the main gig for all of us. And being able to have the freedom in the band to go and do these other projects – it’s like when you come back to it – for all of us, we have this deeper appreciation for our dynamic, the way we work, how easy it is. And then you’re learning something when you walk away from the band who is been in these other playgrounds, these other sandboxes. You get to experience things with other people; then you can kind of bring that experience back with you into this familiar family setting.
So it’s definitely something that fuels your diversity because from one album to the next you guys are never the same.
(laughing) Right, right, yeah. Yeah.
That’s good. So it’s turned into a positive and not a negative is what you’re saying?
Awesome. Do you have any side projects or solo things you’re planning on your own?
Ummmm, nothing so far. No, no.
Yeah, that’s cool. Just kind of enjoying life and living the American dream? Living the dream…
(laughing) Exactly, right. Life is good.
So, let me ask you this, closing out here; you guys have been nominated for a Grammy on several occasions. How important is it for you personally or as a band to eventually bring one home?
Ah, for me, you know, just being nominated is mind blowing and it’s unbelievable. It’s such a rewarding feeling, that whether we win or lose, to have that recognition to have the nomination is way more than I could have ever dreamed or hoped for.
That’s good. So, what’s next for My Morning Jacket?
After this tour and after Forecastle Festival, is there a new album in the works?
Nah, you know, we’re just focusing on touring for the rest of the year and then hopefully come next spring we’ll start getting into song-writing and studio work.
Forecastle Festival My Morning Jacket / Bassnectar / Wilco / Girltalk / Clutch / Lucero / Neko Case / plus many more… Friday, July 13 – Sunday, July 15 Louisville’s Waterfront Park $57.50 – $350 All ages www.ForecastleFest.com
How exactly do you sum up a city whose unorthodox culture has bred an equally diverse music scene? Like this: Louisville is named after King Louis XVI, the beheaded French tyrant, whose concrete likeness still graces the city square. It’s a city that manufactures the wooden weapons for America’s greatest pastime. It’s also the host the world’s most decadent and depraved equine sporting event, The Kentucky Derby, which also brings through some of the year’s best live shows.
It’s a city that gave birth to a man simply known as “The Greatest” and another one simply known as “Gonzo.” From Muhammad Ali to My Morning Jacket, Darrell Griffith to Days of the New, Rick Pitino to Nappy Roots or Hunter S. Thompson to, umm, FLAW, this is Louisville.
HEADLINERS MUSIC HALL
1386 Lexington Rd.
Louisville, KY 40206
– The city’s best room sound-wise, it also plays host to many of the nation’s best touring acts that frequent Louisville.
THE MONKEY WRENCH
1025 Barret Ave.
Louisville, KY 40204
– Part tribute to Louisville’s art scene and Hunter S. Thompson, this bar hosts a crazy array of musicians and patrons with a multitude of personalities, just like HST would’ve probably expected.
THE RUDYARD KIPLING
422 West Oak St.
Louisville, KY 40203
– One of the longer established live music joints, “The Rud” as many locals call it, is still frequented by a number of long-time area favorites.
1017 E. Broadway
Louisville, KY 40204
– A small downtown club that hosts one-man bands to five-man bands (comfortably) and has made itself known for supporting the local indie music scene.
2100 South Preston St.
Louisville, KY 40217
– On the northern fringe of Germantown, you’ll find this hip little bar where loud rock and roll and PBR reign supreme. Usually.
*Venues to avoid: Phoenix Hill Tavern, Jim Porter’s, 3rd Street Dive & Wick’s Pizza
2600 West Broadway
Louisville, KY 40211
– Somehow, this little record store stays open with virtually no website or digital storefront for its patrons. Just the brick and mortar on Broadway.
2003 Highland Ave.
Louisville, KY 40204
– Known for hard-to-find vinyl, this low-key landmark has survived the digital age while staying true to its nostalgic business model.
1610 Bardstown Rd.
Louisville, KY 40205
– This specialty shop boasts a wide selection of strings and is frequented by many touring artists who’ve got a gig in the Highlands.
UNCLE SAM’S JAMMS
1209 Durrett Ln.
Louisville, KY 40213
– Owner Jeff Gomez and company provide a full-service repair and support department for musicians in addition to new and used equipment sales.
301 East Main Street, Suite 201
Louisville, KY 40202
– Founded by Congressman John Yarmuth in 1989, this little weekly alternative pub still reigns supreme for music lovers of the weird and other liberal radicals of all sorts.
619 S. Fourth Street
Louisville, KY 40202
– As one of Louisville’s only thriving radio stations, this little public FM station has built a reputation for supporting the independent music scene. It’s a refreshing alternative to what’s traditionally been dominated by the corporate Clear Channel radio market.
To download the digital version of this issue, click the Performer cover below:
VilleBillies Appetite for Dysfunction Island Earth Music Produced by: VilleBillies
If there ever were a need to record an album that glorifies the art of southern-urban-suburban living in good ole’ Louisville, Kentucky coupled with mass consumption of various chemical substances, then this would be that album.
On their 3rd album (the first being Universal Motown Records), the VilleBillies continue perfecting their original sound of recording boozy, beat-laden, twangy, honest hip-hop music straight from their heart and minds. And they definitely didn’t forget to work on elevating their other nostalgic trait: Louisville-celebrity-living-ness. Or something to that effect.
Appetite for Dysfunction’s first single and track No. 4 “Talk to Me,” a dark, yet catchy tune was released on Youtube in November 2010. Yep, 2010.
Other killer tracks is the twangy-wangy guitar rock n’ roll jam “Pure to the Grain,” and the smooth beats and groove laid on “Rear View.” There’s also the eerie piano & guitar playing on “Pride Aside,” which is candidly humble lyrically speaking. The harmonica and banjo makes its first appearance on “O’Death,” a song that has a backwoods, porch-stomping, celtic feel to it. “Just Yesterday” is something that resembles a ballad, something that hasn’t been a VB regularity, but you’d never know it after listening to it.
Closing out in style, they end with a Weird Al-like parody of “Talk To Me,” dubbed “Tuck to Me” where the lyrics are virtually dumb, sometimes redundant and non-fitting to the rhythm. The VilleBillies. Essentially fucking around while still recording their album and making fun of their own antics. Imagine that. Surprising, I know.
1. Midnight 2. Pure to the Grain 3. Worth the Fight 4. Talk to Me 5. Rear View 6. Rocket Queen 7. Alive 8. Side Show 9. Pride Aside 10. The Biz 11. Same Ol’ People 12. O’Death 13. So Goes the Scarecrow 14. Movin On 15. Just Yesterday 16. Tuck to Me
The official lineup for the 10th anniversary of Forecastle Festival – taking place July 13-15, 2012 – has been announced and has plenty of Kentucky bands to boot. Bands from the Bluegrass State are noted in bold below:
My Morning Jacket
The Head and the Heart
Stax! Soul Revue
Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires
Justin Townes Earle
Walk The Moon
Dean Wareham Plays Galaxie 500
Daedelus Ben Sollee
JEFF the Brotherhood
Zion I Sleeper Agent
Wick-It The Instigator
James Vincent McMorrow Wax Fang Daniel Martin Moore King’s Daughters & Sons
Houndmouth Cheyenne Marie Mize The Ravenna Colt Rachel Grimes Nerves Junior Cabin Scarlet Smile Lydia Burrell
Check back here in July for my official preview that will be featured in the July 2012 issue of Performer Magazine.
The Forecastle Festival – Louisville’s nautically-themed summertime celebration of music, art, and environmental activism – has announced that My Morning Jacket will headline and assist in curating the festival’s tenth anniversary. The 3-day event will take place July 13 – 15, 2012, at Louisville’s scenic, award-winning Waterfront Park.
My Morning Jacket, whose original members hail from Louisville and currently reside in the city, will headline Saturday night, as well as collaborate with producers on the sights, sounds and experiences of the entire festival weekend. Celebrating its 10th year, the festival will pay homage to its past, present, and future, highlighting Forecastle’s maritime theme while celebrating the very best of Louisville and Kentucky.
“The stars have aligned in such a way that not only allows My Morning Jacket to headline on Saturday night, but to collaborate on many aspects of the festival as well,” said JK McKnight, Forecastle Founder and Director of National Partnerships for AC Entertainment. “From booking bands and curating late night shows to choosing philanthropic partners and shining a light on Louisville’s special offerings, together we’re sure to craft the best Forecastle experience ever. There’s certainly no group I would rather share this moment with than them.”
Full festival details, including the complete line up of headliners, along with over 75 bands performing on multiple stages, will be announced in the coming weeks. Separately ticketed late-night after-parties will also take place on the historical steamboat, the Belle of Louisville and at the newly renovated Ice House.
“We’re really excited to join forces with the Forecastle Festival,” said Jim James, lead singer of My Morning Jacket. “It has been great to watch them grow over the years- bringing great music, art, education, and activism to Louisville. The festival is a great vehicle for showcasing the abundance of opportunity, talent, and beauty our fair city has to offer.”
Drummer Pat Hallahan added, “Watching Forecastle grow through the years has been a thing of beauty. JK McKnight is a forward-thinking, hardworking visionary. It is an honor to work along side the whole Forecastle and AC Entertainment crew.”
Specially priced weekend passes will go on-sale January 27 at noon (EST). After the initial allotment is depleted, tickets will still be available at regular price. Travel packages will also be available, including accommodations at The Galt House – the festival’s official, waterfront hotel. For those who wish to dock up for the weekend, VIP “Captain’s Club” boat slips will also be available. For ticketing information, visit www.forecastlefest.com.
And stay tuned to this blog as I will have a full preview and review of Forecastle Festival, which will also be published in Performer Magazine’s July 2012 and September 2012 issues. Online too: www.PerformerMag.com
“I love you Chris Cornell!” some random guy yelled out in a sudden and rare instance of crowd silence.
“Thank you buddy!” Cornell quickly replied while trying to eyeball his affectionate fan.
“So, what do you guys want to hear?” Cornell asked.
And somewhere muddled in the flurry of audience requests that ensued, I’m pretty sure Cornell developed most of his setlist at that given moment that he would perform over the next couple hours.
Cornell’s been sporting a Jesus Christ look lately with a fairly long dark beard and stringy shoulder-length dark hair. It’s kind of a different look for him. Regardless, the grammy award winning Soundgarden/Audioslave founder and frontman spent the next two and a half hours treating fans to his hit-filled “Songbook” collection from a wildly successful 25+ year career in music.
I can’t really decide which moment or what song stole the night or was liked by the audience the best. There was just to many solid performances given by Cornell, with each of them rivaling in showmanship and vocal vertex.
From the opening song, which I thought was some sort of tribute to Elvis Costello (but actually was a cover of Nick Lowe’s Peace, Love & Understanding), to a flawless depiction of “Seasons,” or the heart-felt and smooth crooning of “Sunshower,” to when he hit his vocal pinnacle on “Fell On Black Days,” to the unyielding performance of “Hunger Strike” that evoked a standing ovation from the crowd, Cornell’s enthusiasm for playing never once faded.
Believe it or not, a fight that broke out by some good ole’ redneck boys (this is still Kentucky, you know) during a performance of “Like A Stone.” What a bad song to fight to I may add. Must have been over a girl I’m guessing. Even Cornell had to stop playing because of the audience’s noticeable distraction and the security waving flashlights.
“You’re interrupting my song, dudes. Just relax and sit down,” Cornell jokingly, yet seriously requested.
And right after the rest of the audience graciously applauded Cornell for calling out the feuding fans, he picked right back up where the fight stopped the song, and finished gracefully.
A dedication to a performance of “Wide Awake” was extended to Hurricane Katrina victims, which was pretty noble.
Not forgetting this night was the 31st anniversary of John Lennon’s murder – even to the hour – Cornell belted out his acclaimed version of “Imagine,” which evoked an eery silence during the song. I kind of wished he had someone on piano for that song. It was beautiful and well-timed nonetheless.
Cornell closed with a blistering take “Blow Up the Outside World,” (my personal favorite Soundgarden tune) leaving his guitar on the floor as he walked off stage waving. The guitar strings kept emitting a low and wavy hum from his last and final strum which left a sense of euphoria to his exit. Several people were still singing the song’s chorus, including myself, as we all began filing out to the street.
As I walked through the entrance gate of Brooklyn’s Marcy Ave subway station, en-route to Occupy Wall Street, I was barraged from above by soft warm splashes of strategically placed pigeon shit. Yep, my shoulder and chest was splatted. The little bastard was up in the rafters just waiting for me as I stepped out of the entrance carousel.
“Fuck, I hate this place!” I immediately yelled out as I squared off and contemplated throwing my half-full can of sugar free Red Bull at the sniper shitting pigeon that was only 5 feet away. Easy retaliation was imminent but not administered believe it or not.
Maybe this was some sort of sign from beyond hinting that something just wasn’t exactly right about my Saturday night midnight plus excursion to Occupy Wall Street for the first time. In reality it was just another annoying, yet typical bullshit aspect you must accept when going to a slum like New York City. Regardless, with gas mask, photo and video camera in-hand I carry on.
Opting to take a cab from the next subway station, I arrived at Occupy Wall Street near the 12:45 AM hour Sunday morning. The scene was pretty calm (more than I expected, actually) upon arrival except for a few people standing around in small circles outside the entrance to Liberty Square.
NYPD officers were randomly scattered about and there was this big George Orwell 1984’ish watch tower, but other than that, they didn’t have to much of a domineering presence. I’m not really sure what I expected for arriving on a Saturday night past midnight for the first time, but I’m sure as hell this wasn’t it. Yes, my timing wasn’t optimal for a first experience, I acknowledge that, but I got there as soon as I could.
It only took me about 2 hours to figure out that there are a few to many people who are potentially giving the movement a bad wrap in the hearts and minds of random passer-byres like myself.
Take for example a group of young 20-something year-olds shouting “Don’t be that guy, man, don’t be that guy!” as they held a small bucket out asking for monetary donations. Donations for what I wondered? But no explanation ever came. Just redundant requests to “not being that guy.” How the fuck am I (or anyone for that matter) supposed to make sense of that? If you’re going to ask for money at a protest, you damn well better be able to clearly convey what you’re donating your money to and how the monetary contribution is being used to bring the change the protest intends. Someone needs to get these dumb-asses unaffiliated with the movement is all I could conclude.
I guess on some level I expected 100% of those actually “camped out“ in Liberty Square to have, at bare-minimum, a semi-educated and well rounded message to convey about what we all know to be a very legitimate reason for what they’re protesting against in the first place. They just need the right people on the front lines that is able to convince the general public that this is to be taken seriously and everyone should join in.
The problem is that not enough of the right people are involved in the shaping and leading of this movement. Everyone wants it to work, and bring about change, but there is just the wrong kind of people that is giving the occupation a bit of a bad reputation.
Occupy Wall Street isn’t about getting handouts. It’s not just a bunch of hippie kids who are jealous of successful people. They’re not communists or socialists. So don’t buy into what the corporate media tries to brainwash you with. Especially all you Fox News zombies who live in the big Republican-fabricated bubble of misreported propaganda.
Occupy Wall Street is a revolt against a very small number of bankers, politicians, and corporate elitists (aka the 1%) who’ve been in bed together for years now. These powerful few have been systematically fucking-over honest and hard working Americans for decades. All of this NOT in the name of capitalism, but in the name of fulfilling their excessively greedy and gluttonous it’s-never-enough douche-bag mentality. Yes, these people do exist and this is why Occupy Wall Street exists.
Don’t get me wrong. There were a few people scattered about in Liberty Square that had their shit together and who were maintaining a minor amount of organization, cleanliness, and well educated perspectives. Just not enough.
Perhaps my expectations were too high and I didn’t spend enough time at Liberty Square to get the full jest of things. Perhaps.
Occupy Wall Street still has much more evolving and refining to be done, and honing of their message. They need a leader. Someone they can all get behind. It’s only two months old and they’ve only scratched the surface so far of what they’re capable of and what they’ll become.
With the recent eviction of the protesters from Liberty Square by NYPD last Tuesday, and other places around the world, Occupy Wall Street will only gain momentum and more supporters. The general public should realize the Police-State that Mayor Bloomberg has ordered into existence in NYC where the NYPD’s main motivation is to suppress and censor the people’s 1st Constitutional right to assemble and protest. Soon NYPD will back themselves into a corner where they will face a situation where they will have to really decide who they are working for and protecting. Which crowd do they want to join? The 99% or the 1%? Would they rather potentially face the same outcome as what has transpired at Tahir Square in Egypt? Is that situation they are going to force onto the occupy protesters and the general public with their Nazi-like policing tactics?
And do some of our nation’s elected politicians, greedy bankers and corporate titans want to meet the same demise as, say, King Louie XVI of France did in 1789? Or perhaps what the Bolsheviks revolted against and accomplished in 1917? Or virtually any other similar historical circumstance that has duplicated itself over and over again throughout the course of human civilization. It will all end the same. History repeats itself!
So if the Occupy movements are the beginning of America’s next revolution then maybe all that needs to happen – that is if this peaceful attempt to bring about change doesn’t work out – is for a few Vladimir Lenin’s to emerge from the 99%, a few King Louie XVI’s to be identified from the 1%, a few massive human stampedes, and maybe even a few guillotines brought out, and change is well on its way. That is of course if the 1% is not willing to change the system while things are still being “peacefully” requested.
If you think this perspective is barbaric or too extreme, then I ask you to consider the words of wisdom that our founding fathers like Jefferson & Washington said long ago on this situation, and then ask yourself if you’re really a true “patriot” of this country and believer in Democracy.
“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”
- Thomas Jefferson
“The basis of our political system is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government.” - George Washington
“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.”
- Thomas Jefferson
“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
- Thomas Jefferson
To say Hunter S. Thompson was in a league of his own would be a bit of an understatement. Thompson, a Louisville native, and creator of Gonzo Journalism, was known for his many antics. Journalistically speaking; for inserting himself into his own stories and actually becoming part of the assignment. Thompson would thrill seek and risk-take his way through many of his assignments, often times hyped up on his substance of choice in the process. He was a lover of guns, drugs, booze and women. He didn’t trust the government, or hardly anyone else for that matter. He rode with the Hells Angels, followed and insulted Richard Nixon on the campaign trail, and even ran for Sheriff in Aspen, Colorado, almost winning. Thompson was a bit of mad man to say the least. A working rage-a-holic. One whose mission was to redefine the very concept of professional journalism by unseating as many of his readers and editors as he possibly could in the process. Mission accomplished if you ask me.
Hunter Thompson’s legacy will be celebrated this Saturday, Ocotber 15 at the 2nd Annual Gonzofest at The Monkey Wrench in the Highlands. You’ll get a heavy dose of live music from both national recording artists & Louisville artists, along with poets, authors, visual artists and Congressman John Yarmuth. WFPK’s Kyle Meredith will emcee the organized chaos.
Musically speaking, headlining this year’s event is Athens, Georgia-based alt-rockers, The Whigs. Louisville music favorites like The Broken Spurs, Scott Carney from Wax Fang, Cougar Express, and Nerves Junior are also set to take the stage, along with Fresh Millions, David Wax Museum, Tyrone Cotton, Ron Whitehead and The Underground Rats, and Lydia Burrell.
Local artist’s with their work on display will be Andy Cook, Carol McLeod, Evan Lebowitz, and Alexander King – all of whom worked together last year on the “Hunter’s Louisville” mural painted on the sidewall of the Monkey Wrench.
So, if your like me, and feel like partying in the name of one of Louisville’s most exported names, then head on down to the Monkey Wrench Saturday, and together we’ll all say “Thank you Hunter S. Thompson” for giving birth to alternative journalism. “Thanks” for paving the way and laying the foundation for present day nut-jobs like myself to also get published by a real media organization. Now let’s party.
2nd Annual Gonzofest
Saturday, October 15
The Monkey Wrench
1025 Barret Ave.
$20 advance or $25 DOS
Shimmy Shimmy Dang
Produced by: Kevin Ratterman
In Stores: September 6, 2011
Out with the new, in with the old. That’d be the simplest way to sum up the musical approach for pop-rockabilly quintet Ladybirds, as they seek to carry on their original style of music with the addition of two new members (Anthony Fossaluzza, keys/organ & Brett Holsclaw, drums) making their debut on this album.
The opener is the album’s title track which features lead vocalist Sarah Teeple charming you right out the gate with some sassy vocal finessing of the song’s chorus. Teeple aims to get the song’s chorus stuck in your head as she balances the AM radio style of instrumentation and more modern day lyrical notions about romance, relationships and the dating game.
The bubble gum pop-rock is laid on pretty heavy on “Hum De Dum” as Teeple resembles something more like a mid 20th century emcee who is singing at a rockabilly cabaret. She gleefully projects herself as the rest of the band lays in the antique rhythm and melodies. You may just think this song – or any other – was taken straight off the “Stand By Me” soundtrack.
“Shallow Orbit,” an instrumental montage provides a decent change-up at mid album. The song melds soft guitar melodies and slightly spooky keys/organs, and is sure to make some baby boomers swear this song came straight off the dance floor from their high school prom.
The only slightly awkward part of the album comes on “Stay Gone Pt. 1.” when the music and the lyrics don’t seem to marry together very naturally. After listening to “Stay Gone Pt. 2” you’ll hear how the lyrics marry up more naturally with the faster paced rock n’ roll version of the song. More so than its soppy predecessor anyway.
All throughout this album, Tepple’s vocal candor accounts for the band’s most luscious feature. She emulates that wholesome Betty Boop-like playful innocence which defined pop-rock’s golden age of musical culture a half century ago. Simultaneously she also muddles up enough modern-day mischievous jest that can’t go unnoticed either. Metaphorically speaking, like you pulled into a drive-up diner on Friday night in your convertible Corvair, ordered only a cheeseburger and cherry coke, but all the while had your hand up your date’s skirt. Can we get an “Ooh-la-la” for the Ladybirds?
LadyBirds / Those Darlins
Friday, September 9th
Headliners Music Hall
1386 Lexington Rd.
18 and up
Over the years Dwight Yoakam has been known for putting on massively entertaining live performances. After last Friday’s performance at Horseshoe Casino’s Showroom, that reputation is likely to carry on.
Yoakam came onstage just after 8:00 pm, and was decked out in a all denim ensemble with his traditional spandex tight jeans over what I’m sure were suede cowboy boots. He had a diamond pleated ace-spade-club-heart denim jacket, and his typical tan cowboy hat, which kept his eyes tucked away from everyone but his band mates. He’s one mysterious, and somewhat “classy” redneck dude if I may say.
He opened with a few songs that I didn’t recognize by name, but were recognizable by ear. Regardless of trying to figure out the song names, I focused more on the band’s stage antics and performance style of Yoakam and band. Bassist Jonathan Clark, almost immediately after arriving on stage made friends with a pretty little blonde about three rows back as he struck flirtatious poses for her while she snapped away on her camera.
Lead guitarist Eddie Perez (formerly of The Mavericks) also played with a lot of animation. Almost always in a constant state of motion, Perez added in many exclamatory moves that corresponded with instrumental change-ups and the notes he was hitting on his Fender Telecaster. The guy could just flat-out play and was an asset to the ears as much as he was to the eyes.
As for Yoakam, he just pretty much danced and strutted his way around the stage with guitar in-hand and striking as many of his iconic take-a-picture-of-me-now guitar poses as he could.
Five songs into the set came his 2005 hit “Blame The Vain” which finally stimulated the crowd to make some noise and sing along.
But I was still mainly focused on the actual performance style and stage antics that Yoakam and band brought to the stage. Like when Yoakam broke a guitar string at mid-song, his bandmates immediately recognizing it almost as if string breaks are rehearsed situations, and they carry on instrumentally with the song until Yoakam has changed out a new guitar.
And then, contrarily, an out-of-tune guitar was discovered after the start of “Little Sister.” For a brief moment I thought Yoakam was going to erupt into Doyle mode, as his tech took a little grief for handing him the wrong guitar for the song. Keeping his cool, Yoakam immediately got back to business and proceeded with playing the song.
Yoakam also gave a twangy and bluesy performance of “This Time,” a crowd-pleasing version of “Honky Tonk Man,” and an almost unrecognizable take on Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” which I didn’t even realize it was till the end of the song.
High energy versions of “Guitars, Cadillacs” and “Fast As You” came to be the set closers once Yoakam and band kinda half-ass walked off stage after playing the songs. The crowd, not accepting that this was the true end of the show, kept yelling and screaming for more. Of course Yoakam and band knew they were coming back for an encore, and so did the audience. But that’s the formality of a live performance, right? It’s not an actual encore until the band walks offstage and then reemerges again shortly thereafter. And that they did. Anxiously grabbing their instruments again, Yoakam finally introduced his band by name and then played “Since I Started Drinking Again,” which perpetuated me to order one last drink for the night.
Yoakam’s two hour performance would finally conclude with a hard rocking version of “Long White Cadillac,” which he strummed out to perfection on his Epiphone Casino guitar. Some of Yoakam’s stage antics during this song’s performance left you wondering if the song was actually about a car. Hmm. Good ole’ Dwight.
Brigid Kaelin is doing it again. Yep, the little red-headed darling songstress from Louisville’s original music scene is making her annual pilgrimage across the pond to Scotland. But this time for more of an extended stay while her husband attends graduate school in Scotland’s capital of Edinburgh.
She was anxious to sit down and explain the rationale behind the decision and was noticeably excited about the trip which will take her away from Louisville for more than a year.
With much glee, Kaelin wasn’t shy about declaring how much better the pay is for musicians in Europe.
“It’s good that you’re getting paid over there. They pay musicians in Europe. It’s the strangest thing. Imagine that. Artists getting paid.” she says with a cutesy touch of well-placed sarcasm while sitting in a yoga-like position on her basement keyboard bench.
She’s content with her position in music and in life. Her smile never dissipates, even while discussing one of Louisville’s moot points of being a musician and trying to get paid. It’s nice but not necessary with her. She’s a lover of the art of creating music and playing with different variations of expression.
Kaelin will be joined onstage starting at 7:00 pm with a host and variety of different musicians that she’s played with over the years. Expect appearances with Peter Searcy, Steve Cooley, Leigh Ann Yost, Danny Flanigan, the Billy Goat Strut Revue and Katy Krekel (daughter of the late Tim Krekel).
“It should be fun. Lot’s of special guests. It’s all the people I’ve played with over the years.”
Brigid Kaelin & Friends
Friday, August 26th
The Monkey Wrench
1025 Barret Ave.
Here’s another one of my typical un-edited, self-shot, one-take video interview with Brigid on 8/23/11:
Last Saturday’s monsoon-like thunder storm parted ways and went around Fort Knox. At least so it seemed as I made the trek down Gene Snyder Freeway en route to one of the U.S. Army’s most iconic military installations to see Kansas and the Doobie Brothers. With each passing mile the sky became more clear and the wind more calm. The show must go on.
Arriving at Fort Knox’s main gate traffic was quickly directed right into Godman Airfield where you were actually allowed to drive right down the main tarmac some several hundred yards. “What the hell?” I thought to myself as I pushed my gas pedal to the floorboard and took advantage of the desolate airstrip before me.
A massive stage was positioned right next to the air traffic control tower and air hanger #1, which helped give a bit of an authentic vibe for seeing a concert on a military base.
As expected, MP’s were just about everywhere you turned and ushering people along like cattle in between a maze of yellow barriers. Once led into the stage area those yellow barriers then became blockades several hundred feet in front of the stage and was reinforced by a neat row of MP’s behind them. The production staff was still finishing their sound checks. Then, over the PA system, a stage announcer says “All right folks, were gonna open the barriers up here in a second. Please make your way to the stage in an orderly fashion.” Yeah, right. As soon the barriers were removed a mad dash of several thousand people equipped with folding chairs, beers, and hot dogs ensued as everyone vied for a front row seat. Not hardly the “orderly fashion” requested.
Kansas, not Dilana, led off the night to an eager crowd who had just stampeded their way to get an up-close glimpse of the classic rockers.
Kansas – photo by Ross Lister
With a pinkish twilight of the sun setting as their stage backdrop, Kansas took their audience through their somewhat limited, yet popular, handful of hit singles that the original Kansas had written in the late 70’s and 80’s. “Carry On Wayward Son,” “Point Of No Return,” “Fight Fire With Fire,” and of course the song that made Kansas a household name in classic rock “Dust In The Wind” were amongst the songs performed. The best part of Kansas this day and age? Violinist David Ragsdale. He’s one bad mofo on the fiddle.
Kansas – photo by Ross Lister
The crowd was good and “primed” by the time the Doobie Brothers were set to take the stage and had only logged one skirmish that MP’s had to break-up. Once the Doobies appeared onstage the crowd erupted in anticipation as the band opened with “Jesus Is Just Alright.”
The Doobie Brothers – photo by Ross Lister
The Doobies are known for their perfect mix of harmonious vocals and blazing guitar solos by both Tom Johnston and Patrick Simmons, two of the band’s original and founding members who are still the heart and soul of the band. Their performance on this night offered no shortage of the Doobies iconic style as they performed songs from their early days like “Takin’ It To The Streets,” “Black Water,” and “Long Train Runnin”.
The Doobie Brothers – photo by Ross Lister
They also threw in a mix of newer songs from their 2010 album World Gone Crazy with the title track, “Chateau” and “Nobody” which came with an impressive guitar solo by Johnston.
The only regret for the night was the sudden and untimely canceling by Lynyrd Skynyrd due to an ailing Johnny Van Zant. Hopefully they will schedule a make-up show because I’m sure I wasn’t the only person in the crowd that was just dying to have a valid reason to scream out “Play some Skynyrd man!” Maybe that chance will still be in store in the not-so-distant future.
My Morning Jacket has debuted a new eye-popping, euphoric video for “Holdin On To Black Metal.” The guys gave an early preview of the video on Monday night when several members posted it on their Google+ accounts, resulting in one of the first music video premieres shared within Google’s new social network.
Staying true to their animated approach to videography, this video is a trippy blend of both animation and clips of live performances, with bassist Two-Tone Tommy being a central focus.
Recorded at Louisville’s ……….Ok, enough already. Here’s the video:
In what could’ve been a pretty laid back night for all concert-goers this past Sunday at Iroquois Amphitheater, actually turned ugly for a few unlucky fans at the hands of an overtly domineering security staff. More on that later. Onto the music first.
Louisville’s Elephant Room and VilleBillies received the opening nods for Sublime with Rome in one of the biggest summer concerts the city has hosted this year. Iroquois Amphitheater was packed to near capacity and swarming with teenagers to the 40 something year-old crowd. This seemed to be a pretty typical demographic for these artists collectively. Not to mention plenty of Sublime-heads, if you will, with their Sublime T-shirts, and their other random attributes they adorned proudly. Overall, the atmosphere was chilled and relaxed.
Elephant Room – Photo by Jason Ashcraft
Elephant Room, who lead off, gave one stellar stage show in terms of personal performance by each member of the group. Lead vocalists Chase Myers & Josh Bennett marched from one side of the stage to the next and wasn’t shy to keep the crowd involved either. Although no one song they played really stood out, they definitely carried their weight in performance and showmanship. Now all they have to do is craft a few memorable songs and they should be on their way. Keep an eye out on these guys.
VilleBillies – Photo by Staci Core
The VilleBillies. So what can be said about them that’s not already been published before? Nothing. They’re solid. Period. It’s like going and seeing a My Morning Jacket concert. It’s always going to be awesome, and somewhat unlike the one before it. Both their songs and performance are perfect for their style of music.
Justin Reed & Demi Demaree of VilleBillies – Photo by Staci Core
It’s literally a living act of stupidity on behalf of the national recording industry that the VilleBillies don’t have a MMJ-like record deal by now. Actually, I do have one complaint on their stage show. Where the f**k was Big Bird?
So now we have Sublime with Rome coming up and the crowd inside the amphitheater was brewing with anticipation moments before they took the stage.
Sublime with Rome – Photo by Staci Core
Chants of “Sublime, Sublime, Sublime” were screamed in unison by the crowd. About ten seconds later the Long Beach trio appeared from backstage rushing to their instruments. They quickly opened with canny version of “Panic,” the first single off their new album Yours Truly.
They quickly turned to playing old-school Sublime songs like ”Crazy Fool,” “Wrong Way” “Smoke Two Joints” and “Santeria,” amongst others. If your eyes were closed, at times, you could have easily believed that it was Nowell up there playing those authentic Sublime jams, but obviously it’s not. Rome held his own to say the least.
Even newer songs written with Ramirez did not necessarily reinvent Sublime’s signature reggae/ska style of sound that fans have come to both appreciate and anticipate.
Rome Ramirez – Photo by Staci Core
Replacing a lead singer and keeping the band’s name in tact is a hard thing to pull off. Think about it. Gary Cherone for Sammy Hagar for David Lee Roth in Van Halen. John Corabi for Vince Neil in Motley Crue. Brian Johnson for Bon Scott in AC/DC. Both success and failures have came from change-outs like this over the years.
But, Rome Ramirez, although uniquely different from Nowell, was impressive all around. If the measure by which a singer’s replacement is an ability to carry on the signature sound of the replaced singer, Ramirez is hitting the nail on the head with a sledge hammer.
Stop reading here if your only interest was the actual concert review. That part is over. Let’s get back to the “overtly domineering security staff” statement I made earlier. Let me first point out that I am the second person in the local media to mention something about the security and incident which took place onstage with a fan. Thank you Mudd from 93.1 The Fox for opening the door on this subject on your radio show Monday morning.
Now, I will proceed with kicking it in and blowing the whistle on event security.
At mid-set during Sublime’s performance this skinny young guy attempts to dance his way onto the stage. It’s obvious that not just anyone can be permitted to go onstage while a band is performing. I get that. But this 200+ pound security guard elects to get this kid in some type of headlock or choke-hold, and then viciously dragged him offstage like he was in some kind of wrestling match with a wild animal. The kid was dancing. Not fighting. Dancing.
This guy didn’t appear to be charging the band with any type of intent or endangering anyones safety in the course of his actions. He was dancing, having his moment. Yes, in the wrong place at the wrong time, but it’s not an excuse to take him out in the violent manner which the security guard elected to.
Unfortunately, this didn’t seem to be an isolated incident, rather just the tip of an iceberg. There were actually security guards who were overly obsessive about trying to bust pot smoking teenagers (because they are just jeopardizing everyone’s safety). And then there were a couple security guys at the gate who felt it was necessary confiscate a photographer’s camera (who had media credentials) and then copping attitude about the incident instead of apologizing for their mistake.
What is it with concert security guards these days where they feel they are entitled to be raging assholes to everyone they encounter?
To those security guards: Please remember what your real job is to do. To ensure the safety of everyone attending the concert. That’s it. Ensure their “safety.”
Ensuring safety DOES NOT include beating up dancing hippie kids half your weight who are living in the moment and having a good time. It’s NOT preventing the media from doing our job by confiscating our cameras when we have proper media credentials. It’s NOT chasing around high-school pot smokers like they are some kind of terrorist. Nobody’s safety was at stake in these situations. If you want to continue to act like a COP, then quit your security job and go apply with LMPD.
Never forget why all of us have our jobs in the music business to begin with: Because of the fans. Yep, those 150-pound evil teenage pot-smoking dancing kids with funny clothes and long hair are the enablers of all our jobs in this business. If fans didn’t purchase concert tickets or buy albums, then the promoters wouldn’t have a reason to organize the concerts, and bands wouldn’t have a concert to get hired to play at, and us members of the media wouldn’t have a show to write or broadcast about. And, yes, you mister security guard would also be less employed if it weren’t for these fans too. So quit beating up those who enable you to earn an income, okay? It’s not cool and nobody else does that. Capish?
In a world where federal funding for public radio is shrinking, the number of people who support Louisville’s public radio stations (or maybe Ben Sollee) seem to be just the opposite. This past Saturday night hundreds, if not thousands, flocked to Iroquois Amphitheater for the “Rock ‘n‘ Roll Stroll” event that benefited all Louisville public radio.
Kentucky-native Ben Sollee and his band headlined, along with one man band Tennessee-native David Mead were a good enough reason for people to pack in Iroquois Amphitheater on the slightly cool weekend summer night.
Armed with a Gibson 335 guitar, a soft and soothing voice, Mead strummed out his 50‘s style crooner ballad rock to open the night. And although no one song’s performance seemed to trump the other, his melodic tunes were greeted with enough audience ovation to make me second-guess my mundane reaction. I guess when I saw that Gibson I was hoping he was really going to rock it out.
Then came Ben Sollee. And I knew that soon, my craving for wanting to see someone really rock-out their set of strings would be fulfilled with Sollee.
Like some other music writers, I have a slight obsession with needing to classify an artists’ sound down to one or two particular musical genres. With an artist like Sollee, it’s a bit of a difficult task to do. From one song to the next – and sometimes within the same song – you get a multitude of sounds, instruments, tempos and vocal styles. Sollee masterfully blends elements of folk, soul, jazz, bluegrass and even some R&B into orchestra-like rhythmic grooves laden with percussion. His voice was soulful, his cello-strumming compelling, and as his onstage demeanor was calm, cool and collected. He was in his zone and nothing but his music seemed to control his emotions.
Ben Sollee and band
Many things during Sollee’s performance drew boisterous audience applause; the start of a song, the end of a song, or lyrical tidbits like “the hills of Kentucky,” which everyone seemed to appreciate.
Now, I admit. I didn’t know every Sollee song by name once it started or ended. As a matter of fact, the only song I actually recognized by name was “Electrified,” the latest off his album Inclusions (see video below). But, it’s not hard to get deeply drawn into his music, even if the song’s name is unknown.
Sollee’s music is unusually abnormal, yet refreshing and modern. You know, the way a mint julep is on a hot Kentucky summer night.
Last summer, country-rock musician Bryan Fox was looking for a way to boost his annual Halloween benefit party called “Fox Bash,” which benefits The Smile Train. Fox, who is also a Dentist by day, wanted to host one of the city’s biggest bands to play it. He then connected himself with Kentucky hip-hoppers, Nappy Roots, through his musician friends in Louisville. Initially, he thought it may be a bit of a long-shot for them to be available on the exact day he had the party scheduled for. But to his surprise, not only were Nappy Roots happy and able to play his Halloween benefit event, but they also started liking Fox’s music that he wrote. After working together to lay tracks down in May for “Countryfied State of Mind”, today they are releasing the song via iTunes, Amazon, and other digital music outlets.
Officially, those collaborating on this project have been Clutch, Big V, and B.Stille from Nappy Roots, along with Louisville musicians Bryan Fox on vocals/guitar, Ryan Murphy on Drums, Kevin McCreery on guitar, and Chip Adams on Bass. “This song is just different,” Fox comments. “I am a writer that really generally tries to go for the deep meaningful lyrics a lot of times, but this song is pure fun. I would think its one of the most commercial songs I’ve written for sure though.”
From left: Chip Adams, Slick, B.Stille, Bryan Fox, Ryan Murphy, Kevin McCreery, Clutch
As you probably have already anticipated, “Countryfied State of Mind” is a blend of hip-hop and alt-country rock with a modern chorus that aims to get stuck in your head. Fox leads on both vocals and guitar during the chorus, and then the Nappy Roots guys each crafted their own verses to the song. It has kind of a fun and festive feel to it, much like the way that DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince’s “Summertime” had to it, but with a redneck’ish Kentucky-inspired pop-country flair.
Fox & Nappy Roots are also in collaboration on more music, so “Countryfied State of Mind” isn’t a one-and-done release. “We are thinking of doing at least 5 songs together,” Fox states. “Countryfied State of Mind has gotten us all excited to create more music. There is a freshness and an energy to this collaboration that is hard to ignore.”
Speaking on the current release Fox says, “The song speaks for itself. It’s a fun summer song that makes you want to drink a beer and party at the lake. Lets hope a lot of people like to do that!”
Interview with Clutch, B.Stille from Nappy Roots & Bryan Fox on 5-11-11
Two Kentucky musicians, Louisville’s My Morning Jacket and Edmonton’s Black Stone Cherry both debuted their latest albums on May 31. Now, both these Kentucky rockers are realizing some of their highest Billboard 200 chart successes to date.
MMJ’s Circuital checked in at #5, just above two Nashville country puppets (whew!) and just below Eddie Vedder’s Ukulele Songs.
BSC’s Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea clocked in at #29, just above the Foo Fighters’ Wasting Light (at #32), I might add.
MMJ continues to stay in the limelight in virtually every viewable media and every huge music festival. Since they launched Circuital, they’ve also debuted a Vh1 Storytellers episode, and played on the Jimmy Fallon show. Right now they are gearing up for their Bonnaroo performance, and even managing to pitch in and play a benefit concert for the Tuscaloosa tornado victims. Nice Kentucky boys they are, right?
BSC is currently on tour in Europe. They’re headed back to the U.S. in July, and will make a Friday, August 26th Kentucky State Fair gig in Louisville, as part of the Carnival of Madness Tour. I’m anticipating it will be in Cardinal Stadium again, but more to come on exact location in the fair.
So, if you haven’t bought a copy of Circuital or BTD&TDBS yet, then get out there and get your hands on a copy or logon to iTunes. Let’s see how far we can help export these Kentucky boys.
Here are some videos from each of their latest albums:
Videos and album artwork courtesy of Roadrunner Records for BSC, & ATO Records for MMJ.
After nearly a decade and a half, a My Morning Jacket concert is rapidly becoming that of legend in the world of music. Yes, that’s right, legend. Virtually every time they claim the stage, they have something up their sleeve that will soon leave their fans’ heads spinning. Last night’s performance at Louisville’s Palace Theater, the official launching of their new album Circuital, did just that. Multiple times over, I might add, and all of it streamed on the internet live on YouTube and Vevo for anyone willing to logon.
They promised the night would be full of surprises, and the first surprise came with the raising of the stage’s curtain and MMJ, not Erykah Badu, appearing in front of an elaborate giant “Circuital” eye from the album’s cover art as the stage backdrop. The audience erupted into a chaotic frenzy as the first note chimed from Bo Koster’s keyboard, and they went right into the opening track from Circuital, “Victory Dance.” Just like on the album, they followed with a majestic version of the title track “Circuital” and all of a sudden it seemed as though a live run through the entire album was in store. But that quickly dissipated once they followed up with Z’s “Off The Record.”
Certainly more cuts from other albums would follow, and that they did with a heartfelt version of “Gideon” and “Mageetah,” a candid performance of “I’m Amazed,” an aw-inspiring version of “Smokin’ From Shootin,” and both versions of “Touch Me I’m Going To Scream.”
Even Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer couldn’t help but make an appearance, declaring MMJ as “the world’s greatest band” and announcing that through an online poll the song fans most wanted to hear was “Steam Engine.” The performance that followed of the song was mesmerizing to say the least.
A host of other guest musicians joined MMJ onstage throughout the night including Wax Fang’s Kevin Ratterman, who aided in percussion on several songs, Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore who joined in on “Wonderful (The Way I Feel),” and of course, Erykah Badu who added some soul to “Wordless Chorus” and “The Day Is Coming.” MMJ also performed two of Badu’s songs, “Twinkle,” and “Tyrone” which was highlighted by Jim James bowing down before Badu while she stroked his hair, and James simultaneously blistering out one wicked guitar solo. The onstage drama was intense and this proved to be the pinnacle of the night.
Over the years MMJ has given some amazing performances and played some of the world’s most storied venues. From Coachella to Bonaroo, Madison Square Garden to Boston Symphony Hall, and Saturday Night Live to David Letterman, MMJ has done it all. And although I’ve not attended one of those performances I can confidently say that last night’s 3+ hour performance at Louisville’s Palace Theater had to be their most legendary yet. In one night they transformed Louisville’s Palace Theater into their own makeshift commune, played virtually every song off their new album “Circuital” and basically every other hit from their previous discography.
They ignited the crowd to the point where nobody ever really sat in their seats and instead spent the entire night dancing wherever they could muster a move, raising the temperature inside the Palace to something that felt like a sauna. After the concert ended, fans were high-fiving, hugging and cheering all the way out the door and onto 4th Street. At that moment I realized what MMJ had done. They hadn’t just released a new album or just given another legendary performance. Nope. They unified our city of Louisville while the world was watching.
* Photos by Jason Ashcraft & Zach Everson *Videos courtesy of American Express “Unstaged”
by My Morning Jacket
Produced by: Tucker Martine & Jim James
Engineer: Kevin Ratterman
In Stores: May 31, 2011
One thing you can always expect from a new My Morning Jacket album is a redefining of all their previous work’s styles. On their sixth installment, Circuital, they continue to raise their own bar with more Pink Floyd-like experimentation of their sound, and this time opting to record in a Highlands’ church gymnasium instead of a traditional recording studio.
The opener, “Victory Dance,” starts somewhat creepy with the onset of Bo Koster’s gothic-like working of the keys, dare I say Nine-Inch-Nails’ish instrumentally, perhaps an immediate indication of how the Church’s surroundings influenced this album’s creative direction. James’ mellow vocals greets quickly, Two Tone Tommy lays in a dark and steady rhythm section, and Carl Broemel incorporates some fuzzed out guitars. All of the sudden, your lost in their canticle.
Six minutes later the opener fades right into the beginning of the title track “Circuital,” a 7+ minute epic song which shows their more whimsical and melodic side of song writing. Drummer Patrick Hallahan finally is able to turn loose a little on this song. Logging plenty of instrumental showcases for each member, James’ paramount tenor decrees how they are “ending up in the same place that we started out.”
An emotional roller coaster begins to take shape on “The Day is Coming,” another darker, more mysterious melody that Koster’s keyboards instrumentally take the lead on. Two Tone Tommy is impressive again on setting the rhythm.
Circling back once again to their musical past, “Wonderful (The Way I Feel)” is straight out of any album’s past with the slow and subtle sounds of James’ vocals and his acoustic guitar the focus.
“Outta My System” offers candid admissions from James lyrically (“they told me not to smoke drugs, but I wouldn’t listen…”) along with a dominant string section that keeps building on the climatic arc of the album. Your attention still firmly in place.
“Holdin‘ On To Black Metal” offers the album’s wildest climax, with a young female choir joining James during the song’s chorus in a jaunty manner.
The back half of the album carries through, still solid MMJ song-crafting, but not as easy to get lost in like the first half of the album. The album’s closer, “Movin Away,” yet another song that Koster’s keys establishes the melody for, also has some impressive steel guitar work by Broemel, while James’ cardinal aria soothes. Yet again, My Morning Jacket astounds.
Interview with Bo Koster on 5-26-2011
Circuital Track List:
1. Victory Dance
3. The Day Is Coming
4. Wonderful (The Way I Feel)
5. Outta My System
6. Holdin’ On To Black Metal
7. First Light
8. You Wanna Freak Out
9. Slow Slow Tune
10. Movin’ Away
The Deftones are no strangers to Louisville. In fact, they make their way through our city at least once per year, and most recently on Friday, May 27th at Expo 5.
Also performing that night was Dillinger Escape Plan. I never offer any more coherent words on my review than the band has to offer during their set. That being said, I’ve only got 3 words for you: Obnoxious. Incomprehensible. Sketchy.
Now for those of you who’ve never seen a Deftones show before, you missed out on one of the most fervent live performers in metal music today. And, might I add, whose lyrics you can actually comprehend. For those of you who did catch them this past Friday, I’m sure your ears are still ringing from their raucous, nearly 3 hour performance. The sound was as loud as I’ve ever experienced it in Expo 5, and although rather intense, it was balanced almost perfect. The powerful guitar chords that are central to the Deftones sound ignited the jam-packed venue and fueled the audiences‘ intent to crowd surf and sustain what looked like a pretty chaotic slam-dance circle, something virtually every Deftones show never seems to go without.
Hardcore Deftones’ fans couldn’t have been more pleased as the band took their time playing through one hit song after another from a compilation of six albums going back to 1995. They played everything from “Engine #9” to “My Own Summer” to “Digital Bath” to “Change (In the House of Flies)” to “Minerva” – which brought the crowd singing in unison with lead vocalist Chino Moreno to – and “You’ve Seen The Butcher” just to name a few. The encore song came with “7 Words,” one more track from their debut platinum album Adrenaline.
Once the sound went null, the Deftones cleared the stage, and lights came on, the audience was a little reluctant to leave. I think some of them probably thought their was going to be yet another encore song, because believe it or not, their were still a few songs Deftones left on the table like “Around The Fur” and “Back To School.” But, hey, not many bands who perform as intensely as Deftones have the endurance to play 2+ hour sets, so we should cut them some slack, I suppose. Not to worry though, because between the Deftones’ substantial local fan-base, and local concert promoter Terry Harper, a Louisville hiatus is not likely to happen anytime soon. Bet on it.
Interview with Frank Delgado of Deftones on 5-27-2011
The legendary Krazy Fest was rarely heard of in the last ten years, but 2011 brought Louisville’s ultimate punk rock weekend a promising future. In addition to bringing bands like Anti-Flag, Bane and Against Me, Sunday consisted of a differing lineup, from blues rockers Lucero to hardcore heads like Coalesce and rocking in the old school with Bouncing Souls. There was a brief stint of rain in the afternoon, but it wasn’t enough to stifle spirits among festival go-ers.
Ahh, the Kentucky Derby season in Louisville. That time of year where for two weeks most the city’s population negates work, drink the days and nights away all in the name of horse racing’s classiest two-minute affair. As exemplified below by my little drunken buddy who I found all snuggled up in a concrete nook near the corner of 3rd Street and Muhammad Ali at about 11:30 pm.
At least he wasn’t driving, right?
So, I too wandered about my hometown on its most glorious weekend – a little more coherently than the average Joe, I might add – but nonetheless to see a few random Derby party-spots.
Thursday, May 5th: Kroger’s Festaville at Waterfront Park
Waterfront park took on a new meaning to its name as receding flood waters left much of the ground oozing with river-aroma’d black mud. Now add an inability to get your favorite beverage/cocktail of choice in 20 minutes or less, and you get a disgruntled crowd. Although many were patient enough to bear the wait time, I decided standing in a line for 20 minutes or more for a drink was not something I can do if I’m going to properly review the event. Maybe someday these large waterfront concert organizers will figure out the service staff to guest ratio, because this night they clearly hadn’t. If you wanted a beer or cocktail you had better be patient and be willing to watch the concert from the line. Bummer.
The drink ticket line
One of three stage-area watering holes
Luck-fully the entertainment for the night were a pair of Kentucky’s most popular bands, Louisville’s The Pass, and Bowling Green’s Cage The Elephant. Event organizers hit the nail on the head by booking these two rising musical stars from Kentucky, otherwise I’m not sure people would have braved the mud and long lines.
The Pass initiated the first true crowd roar upon walking out on stage and seemed a little surprised at the audiences gesture. They opened with “Treatment of the Sun” and somewhat initiated a dance party that would carry out for the remainder of their 45 minute set. An 80’s style dance party in mud I might add. The only bummer was they didn’t play, what I think is one of their best songs, “Criminal.”
Cage The Elephant almost didn’t go on. At least that is what I started to think when I saw an ambulance with its lights on drive backstage 30 minutes after The Pass had completely vacated the stage. All of the sudden I started thinking about my phone interview with lead-singer Matt Schultz last March, which I thought he was comatose’d during. There is no way this ambulance is here for any CTE member I thought to myself.
Then, finally, at about 9:45, a whole 45 minutes late, the Bowling Green, Kentucky-boys finally emerged from backstage to a shrieking and impatient audience. They quickly grabbed their instruments and belted out one of their hits “In One Ear.” The opening words to this song; “They say we ain’t got the style, we ain’t got the class…” proved to be oh-so-appropriate at this particular moment. But, musically, they do, and those lyrics really hit home for a home-state audience.
All of the sudden the wait seemed worth it as they opened with a bit of a bang, and then treated the audience to songs like “Back Against The Wall,” “Shake Me Down,” and “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” amongst others. The enitre band had quite a rambunctious stage presence the entire night and lead-singer Matt Schultz became reminiscent of how Jim Morrison of The Doors used to drunkenly stagger around stage, dodging his fellow band members. He was crowd surfing by the second song I might add.
One thing was for sure; CTE didn’t have to wait 20 minutes or more for drinks.
Ok, so let’s recap from part 1 of this review. There were zero beers realistically available for me at the Cage The Elephant & The Pass show the night before on Thursday. That being said, Friday night is going to be different. It’s Derby-eve, and I’ve got the VilleBillies penciled in on my schedule for the night’s festivities. And these damn VilleBillies have built a reputation for having plenty of booze flowing at their shows, their rehearsals, their backstage gatherings, and their post-show parties. Pretty much anywhere they go they throw down so to speak. And given that I’m reviewing their show on this night, there is no way they’re going to allow me to not drink with them.
To no surprise, they packed in the Vernon Club to near capacity. And once they to the stage, the VilleBillies seized their audience from the first song, and had the entire room chanting their lyrics during their entire set.
VilleBillies – Photo by Jason Ashcraft
Celebrating nearly 10 years of being together as a band, the VilleBillies continue to prove they haven’t lost their energy, their onstage swagger, or their ability to keep writing heartfelt, Louisville-loving, country-rock-hip-hop anthems that you can’t help to find yourself chanting, even if only in your head.
Most VilleBillie fans are hardcore fans and know the song lyrics as good as the band does, so it’s interesting to hear the constant echo of a nearby fan trying to keep the vicious lyrical pace of the song being performed. Not surprisingly, VilleBillie fans also drink about as much as the band does, so it made for quite a loud and somewhat hectic environment. But not a dramatic one. Everyone behaved on this night and the security staff didn’t even break a sweat.
Post-show a few people headed upstairs to the bowling alley for a few drunken ball tosses down the lanes…including myself. But after managing to only knock down one pin on one try, I called it a night and drank beer with Tuck and some of his cousins. All’s well that ends well.
Photo & videos by Jason Ashcraft
Saturday, May 7th: The Seelbach Bar, MTV’s “Hottest Derby Party” at Frazier Museum.
The Seelbach Bar inside the Seelbach Hotel hosted its house jazz band The Dick Sisto Trio, with of course, Dick Sisto on piano and vibraphone, Tyrone Wheeler on bass and Jason Tiemann on percussion. Jazz is a good music to sit and space out to when, perhaps, you don’t want to hear or listen to anything else. You can get lost in its composure and random bursts of energy, and the Dick Sisto Trio delivers the total live jazz experience.
Dick Sisto. Photo by John Nation
On this particular night, the Seelbach Bar was brimming with seemingly partied-out derby out-of-towners, along with a few locals here and there, most all still in their Derby attire. The mint julep’s were flowing although I settled for an Espresso Martini. And while the Seelbach has a history of attracting a few celebrities during Derby, this time they were no where to be found. I was fine with that. The last thing I want to be thought of is the paparazzi.
MTV’s “Hottest Derby Party” actually rivaled being the “Coldest Derby Party” if you ask me. Either this event was thrown together way to quickly, or it lacked sufficient Derby-caliber entertainment, or Derby party-goers have zero interest in becoming MTV’s next Snooki, or a combination of all three. There was also no sign of MTV’s Tyrus, no indication of a casting call for a reality show taking place, nor did it even look like any live-performance by breakout artist Jim Phebe was in store.
The main ballroom at 11:30 pm. Photo by Jason Ashcraft
But, on the flip side, at least the event service staff had no issues serving the very few guests (or themselves) a drink in less than 20 seconds. That’s because they far outnumbered any party-goers. Given the expensive admission cost of $45+ to get in, an average cost of $15 dollars per drink, and the lack of a high-profile guest list or musician performing, this party never really had a chance. Back to drawing board on how to properly plan a Derby party for MTV I suppose.
To say the eight-member hip-hop-alt-country-rock band the VilleBillies are busy these days would be a drastic understatement, especially for two of the band’s most prolific members, Demi Demaree and Dustin “Tuck” Tucker, who are also in the midst of debuting and promoting their new hip-hop project called BassDrumAliens.
As for their self-proclaimed mothership of all projects, the VilleBillies are heating up once again after a two-year stint with a new album titled Appetite For Dysfunction (due out this summer) along with a few high-profile shows recently announced. The first will come Derby-eve on Friday, May 6th at The Vernon Club , and also the following Friday, May 13th, where they’ll be kicking off the Paddock Concert Series at Churchill Downs. At the Derby, on Saturday, May 7th, the VilleBillies will have a booth in the infield where they’ll be passing out free tickets to the May 13th show in the Paddock inside Churchill Downs. No plans yet confirmed on whether they’ll be hitting the road for a tour to celebrate the release for Appetite for Dysfunction.
VilleBillies on the red carpet at Churchill Downs' opening night
‘Talk To Me’ is the album’s first single, and was debuted during their HullabaLou performance last summer, along with a video that followed shortly thereafter. If you haven’t yet seen the song’s video, it will more than likely leave you scratching your head once you do.
“The song is a dark song. It’s not happy like it sounds,” Tuck commented on the subject of ‘Talk To Me.’
Demi also added, “It goes through the emotions of love, from the most beautiful purest piece of it, to the darker side of it.”
Aside from the VilleBillies, other members of the band are also involved with a number of side projects like BassDrumAliens, Plan of Man, Gentlemen Hounds, Million Dollar Records, and Melted Clock Studios. Melted Clock Studios is a video production company that shoots and produces music videos for artists – including all the VilleBillies’ own music videos – along with a number of comedy skits that both Demi and Tuck are sometimes featured in. Just google “Melted Clock Studios” and let yourself be entertained.
As for what’s next for the VilleBillies, the focus right now is for the band to concentrate on finishing and releasing Appetite for Dysfunction this summer.
“We just have a lot of fun with this stuff, you know? Anyway we can be creative is what we’re going to do. We’re not stuck to one thing,” Demi commented on the band’s various side projects. “There is just so much creativity in us, and so many goals, and so many things we want to accomplish that if we weren’t working on new stuff, then we’d be depressed.
Tuck went on to say, “I’m happy where I’m at right now because I can make, record, and listen to my own music. If I couldn’t do that, then I’d be really depressed. All the other stuff is just bonuses. But I’m not going to lie. I’d really like to take it to that next level.”
**Please note this video was recorded prior to a recent venue change announced for the Derby-eve show on Friday, May 6th.
Churchill Downs Paddock Concert Series
The VilleBillies Friday, May 13th Churchill Downs 700 Central Ave. 8 pm All Ages FREE
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by Black Stone Cherry Roadrunner Records Produced by: Howard Benson In Stores: May 31, 2011
Kentucky-natives Black Stone Cherry has taken their shirts off for their junior release via Roadrunner Records. While extending their traditional heart-felt southern style of rock n’ roll, they’ve finally flexed their lyrical muscle with occasional salaciousness and plenty of blunt statements. After five years of canvassing the U.S., Canada & Europe with bands like Black Label Society, Buckcherry, Nickelback, Def Leppard and Hinder, Black Stone Cherry now shows some of their tour-mates semblance.
On “White Trash Millionaire” you’ll hear some Zakk Wylde-esque guitar chops and bold Buckcherry-ish lyrical decrees like “…Ain’t got much and I don’t care, count your cash and kiss my ass, this whole damn world gonna know I been here, I got two zig-zags and you know I’ll share…”
Their once southern-darling adolescence begins to bolt with songs like “Let Me See You Shake,” and “Blame It On The Boom Boom”, where BSC firmly plants their flag of sexual appreciation for the opposite sex.
They also introduce their first recorded cover song of Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can’t You See,” with plenty of their own influence added, and do manage to stay true to their polite Kentucky-boy roots on “Like I Roll,” where you get heart-felt admissions of “…I roll to the hills of my old Kentucky home, back to the place where my heart belongs…”
Wax Fang’s Kevin Ratterman is a busy man in the music business these days. So busy that he never really got around to pursuing his family’s business of operating funeral homes in the Louisville area. Instead, he picked up on another family trait; music.
From the time he was a child he would aspire to his older brother Blaine, an “excellent drummer” as described by Ratterman, and his father’s band, The Epics’ drummer as well. So, growing up he essentially had ready access to full drum kit in his basement. No surprises that he too would learn to play drums. Led Zeppelin and Mötley Crüe were two bands he cited that he learned to play to growing up.
Today, not only is he Wax Fang’s animated drummer, but he’s started to take on a new endeavor in the world of music; album production. Some of his first two projects: My Morning Jacket’s Circuital and The Broken Spurs’ Natural Disaster, both of whose albums he played an integral role in developing the sound for. Not to shabby for a production-newbie, right?
“I essentially put the studio together,” Ratterman explained when talking about the make-shift studio he built in a church gymnasium to record Circuital, the new My Morning Jacket album due out May 31 on ATO Records.
“We were recording everything live, which means you have to automatically – when you’re doing stuff like that – ‘accept’ a lot of things you wouldn’t normally accept,” he explained about the sound output from the live recording process as compared to a studio. I can’t help but to think, at this point, that he must be a perfectionist, because when you listen to Circuital’s title track (released last week by MMJ) you can barely tell it was recorded live, in my opinion. They’re a few subtle hints, but nothing that the average listener will really notice. Just us music junkies.
Currently Ratterman has no future production plans with MMJ, but he described the experience with recording with the band as “one of my crowning achievements in my life.”
As for his own band, Wax Fang, Ratterman announced that they have recorded a new album and EP, and that they would probably be out later in the fall of 2011 once they have wrapped up the label shopping process. Apparently they have options. For more updates on Wax Fang, check the band’s website at WaxFang.com
Almost three years since their last release of Evil Urges in 2008, My Morning Jacket is giving away the album’s title track Circuital, via the band’s website. Circuital is due out in stores on May 31st, via ATO Records. The band has been gearing it all up by releasing songs from each of their five live shows at NYC’s Terminal 5 this past October.
Circuital was laid down almost entirely live in a Church gymnasium here in Louisville. MMJ’s honest spirit and human spontaneity are felt throughout the song, a seven minute musical epic, and yet another near-reinvention of their sound.
If this song is but a hint of what the rest of the album will be like, we’re in for another musical masterpiece from Louisville’s greatest musical export.
Check back at Louisville.com, or here on my blog at LouisvilleScuttlebutt.com for a complete album review on Circuital as soon as I get my hands on it.
Don’t forget to catch them live next time they’re in your area. There is still no Louisville show yet announced, but I can’t imagine them not debuting the release of Circuital at ear x-tacy or somewhere else in their hometown.
04/17: Lexington, KY @ Memorial Coliseum
05/20: Gulf Shores, AL @ Hangout Festival 05/31: Louisville, KY @ The Palace
06/02-06/05: Ozark, AR @ Wakarusa Festival
06/05: Hunter, NY @ Mountain Jam
06/09-06/12: Manchester, TN @ Bonnaroo Festival
06/17: Chicago, IL @ Auditorium Theatre
06/22: Los Angeles, CA @ Pantages Theatre
06/24: Oakland, CA @ Fox Theatre
06/26: Seattle, WA @ Paramount Theatre
06/28: Portland, OR @ Edgefield
06/29: Vancouver, BC @ Orpheum
06/30-07/03: Quincy, CA @ High Sierra Music Festival
07/11: Toronto, ON @ Kool Haus
07/12: Montreal, QC @ Metropolis
07/16: Southwold @ Latitude Festival
07/17: London @ Somerset House
08/04: Denver, CO @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre
When Bowling Green, Kentucky-native Cage the Elephant released their self-titled debut album in 2009, some referred to them as saviors of the whole funk-punk music genre, thanks to hit singles like “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked,” and “Back Against The Wall,” a pair of songs that has virtually made the band household names after experiencing some moderate billboard chart success coupled with high profile gigs like Bonnaroo, Lallapalooza and an appearance on Late Show with Dave Letterman.
The band is making their return to Kentucky – this Friday April 1st at Headliners Music Hall – in support of their sophomore album Thank You Happy Birthday, which dropped this past January on Jive Records. Debuting at #2 on the Billboard 200 chart, Cage The Elephant launched the new year with a ferocious kick of gut-grabbing rock & roll and an album that lead-singer Matt Schultz described as “bringing him back to life.” Whatever that means.
Schultz, who self-admittedly once struggled with a methadone addiction, also struggled to formulate coherent or somewhat interesting responses in a recent interview leading up to their sold-out Louisville show. And although he hinted at a 3rd album that is apparently already in the works, he stopped short of dropping any other interesting tidbits of information on anything he was asked about. Listen for yourself:
So, needless to say, Schultz and the rest of the Cage The Elephant crew will be looking to bringing themselves and their sound “back to life” by the time they take the stage at Headliner’s this Friday, the 3rd date on a lengthy summer tour which canvases the U.S. (including a return to Louisville on May 5th for the Derby festival) and also takes them to Europe, Canada, and Japan. That is of course as long as they can manage to moderate their substance intake while simultaneously building on their path to rock n‘ roll stardom.
Cage The Elephant / Biffy Clyro / Sleeper Agent
Friday, April 1st
Headliners Music Hall
1386 Lexington Rd.
Kentucky’s Black Stone Cherry is a band who knows how to create timeless rock ‘n roll music while introducing new and innovative sounds, and the Edmonton-natives are at it again, announcing a new record titled “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea,” which is set to hit stores on May 31. This marks their 3rd release on one of rock ‘n roll’s premiere record companies Roadrunner Records.
While the band’s last record, “Folklore and Superstition,” was a compelling tribute to brotherhood and history, the new album is the summation of a year in the life of the band. Every emotion, triumph, loss, romance and everything in between was the inspirational backdrop for “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.”
This marks the first time Black Stone Cherry has not recorded in the South, this time taking up residence in Los Angeles to work with famed producer Howard Benson (Theory of a Deadman, Daughtry, Three Days Grace). The new surroundings allowed them to strengthen their relationships as both band members and friends, ultimately a detail that sets “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” above previous recordings. The raw intensity that pervades the music on this album harkens back to the early days of Black Stone Cherry, when they were a bunch of blue-collar guys just making music together for the hell of it.
The band admits “When we first began writing music, we hadn’t traveled very far out of our home state of Kentucky. Now, ten years later, we’ve traveled the world and experienced things we never imagined we would.”
The album’s first single White Trash Millionaire, set to hit airwaves in April, pairs Robertson’s soulful delivery with the urgent and infectious rhythms of his fellow players. Sure, this is Southern rock at heart; but the concept is universal: just take what the world gives you and make that work. You can preview the song now:
“This album is the culmination of all of the everyday ups and downs life throws at you,” says the band. “Sonically, you’ll hear some of the meanest sounding guitar riffs we’ve ever laid down, and at the same time, you’ll find ballads that will tug on your heartstrings. We wanted the album’s intensity to match that of our live show. We’re very proud of this album and excited for our fans to hear it!”
To celebrate the release of “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea,” Black Stone Cherry is participating in an ongoing partnership with Evan Williams Kentucky Bourbon. The promotion brings 450,000 Black Stone Cherry branded bottles to shelves nationwide through June, including special mp3 offers and a chance to win a trip to meet the band at one of their shows.
Black Stone Cherry is set to have quite the busy spring, with tours with Hinder and Alter Bridge on the horizon:
4/8 @ Lucky Star Casino- Clinton, OK (with Hinder)
4/9 @ St. Mary’s University – San Antonio, TX (Fiesta Oyster Bake w. Hinder, Saving Abel)
4/12 @ Ogden Theatre – Denver, CO (with Hinder)
4/13 @ The Great Salt Air – Salt Lake City, UT (with Hinder)
4/15 @ Showbox SoDo – Seattle, WA (with Hinder)
4/17 @ Knitting Factory Concert House – Spokane, WA (with Hinder)
4/19 @ Knitting Factory Concert House – Boise, ID (with Hinder)
4/21 @ Roseland Theater – Portland, OR (with Alter Bridge)
4/22 @ Knitting Factory – Reno, NV (with Hinder)
4/23 @ House of Blues – Las Vegas, NV (with Alter Bridge)
4/24 @ The Regency Ballroom – San Francisco, CA (with Alter Bridge)
4/26 @ SLO Brewing Company – San Luis Obispo, CA
4/27 @ The Grove – Anaheim, CA (with Alter Bridge)
4/29 @ The Great Salt Air – Magna, UT (with Alter Bridge)
4/30 @ Ogden Theatre – Denver, CO (with Alter Bridge)
5/2 @ House of Blues – Chicago, IL (with Alter Bridge)
5/3 @ House of Blues – Chicago, IL (with Alter Bridge)
5/7 @ Metrolina Expo – Charlotte, NC (AVALANCHE 2011 w. Avenged Sevenfold, Godsmack, Theory of a Deadman)
5/8 @ NorVa – Norfolk, VA (with Alter Bridge)
5/10 @ Valarium – Knoxville, TN (with Alter Bridge)
5/11 @ Cannery Ballroom – Nashville, TN (with Alter Bridge)
5/12 @ Piere’s Entertainment Center – Ft. Wayne, IN (with Alter Bridge)
5/15 @ The Machine Shop – Flint, MI
5/17 @ The Palladium – Worcester, MA (with Alter Bridge)
5/18 @ Northern Lights – Albany, NY (with Alter Bridge)
5/19 @ Best Buy Theatre – New York, NY (with Alter Bridge)
Merle Haggard & Kris Kristofferson’s March 4th gig at Horseshoe Casino was billed as an “acoustic performance.” But, upon first entering The Showroom, the first thing I laid eyes on was a couple of Fender Telecasters sitting in their cradles. Good. Looks like The Hag and The Highwayman are going to sing more then just a few campfire country songs and, instead, give us a little of that Bakersfield sound that Haggard made famous many years ago. Maybe they’re feeling good tonight and waited to start drinking after lunch. Maybe that whole “acoustic performance” billing is the promoter’s insurance policy just incase these boys do decide to start drinking before lunch and don’t feel like standing up all night. Maybe. Who knows. Whatever the case was, it worked. Right off the bat, the feeling was we were going to get more than what we thought we would be getting from these 70-something year old country musicians.
So, after this suited casino employee / stage announcer came out and gave his best Michael Buffer “Are you ready to have fun tonight?” impersonation, the ceiling lights dimmed and the stage lighting took over. Then, moments later, before a raucous audience, Kris Kristofferson calmly walked out into the stage light with guitar in hand. An acoustic guitar I might point out. Also joining Kristofferson onstage were six other band members (whose real names I wish I knew) that consisted of a dobro player who looked like Junior Soprano, a young cat probably not older than 25 on one of two Telecasters, and a silver-haired fiddle player that resembled a young Del McCoury. There was also a keyboarder, an upright bass player, and a drummer to round out the rest of the band. Again, hardly an acoustic performance.
Before Kristofferson could lead into the second song, Haggard would suddenly appear from backstage, quickly making his way to the lone Telecaster still sitting in its cradle. He was dressed in a black pinstripe suit, and seemed eager to play as he waved to the audience and stepped up to his mic.
Even though Haggard’s rowdy and outlaw’ish days are long behind him, he still didn’t hesitate to play the songs that once defined that persona long ago, like “Mama Tried,” “Workin’ Man Blues,” “Daddy Frank,” and “Okie From Muskogee,” a song that was preempted by some candid comments by Haggard on how he misses Mary Jane and how his wife still teases him today with second-hand smoke. He also played a few of his later songs like “Runnaway Mama.” Pretty typical of what you should expect at a Haggard concert I suppose.
After his sixth song, Haggard finally introduced himself along with Kristofferson and the band. Not that anyone in the audience didn’t know otherwise, but it still came with much applause and enthusiasm by the audience.
Over two hours later Haggard and Kristofferson would conclude with a tribute to longtime friend Johnny Cash, with a cover of “Folsom Prison Blues,” with both Haggard and Kristofferson alternating on the verses and chorus. At the songs conclusion, Haggard and Kristofferson left stage almost as quietly as they both came on, even though their band kept playing an instrumental rendition of Cash’s hit for several minutes thereafter. There was no encore song, but I don’t think many people expected one after a two hour plus performance. I guess when you’ve been recording and touring for nearly a half-decade you gotta start cutting out some of the formalities, right?
** This review also posted at Louisville.com
Louisville’s My Morning Jacket is set to release their sixth studio album, “Circuital” on May 31st. In the meantime, in celebration of “Circuital”, My Morning Jacket will giveaway free weekly downloads via their website (www.MyMorningJacket.com) of live songs recorded from their October 2010 performance at NYC’s Terminal 5. This giveaway is said to last for six weeks and will feature one brand new song from the new album on the last week.
The first song released on March 3rd was a live recording of Butch Casidy off their debut album “The Tennessee Fire.”
“Circuital” was recorded here in Louisville and Nashville, and was co-produced by Jim James and Tucker Martine (R.E.M., Sufjan Stevens, The Decemberists). Rumor has it that they have yet again reinvented their sound while remaining close to their roots as musicians.
MMJ will also be launching a busy summer concert season on April 17th at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, KY, and then back in Louisville on May 31st to celebrate the release of Circuital.
But, what is known right now is here:
April 17 Lexington, KY – Memorial Coliseum May 20-22 Gulf Shores, AL – Hangout Festival May 31 Louisville, KY – The Palace June 02-05 Ozark, AR – Wakarusa Festival June 02-05 Hunter, NY – Mountain Jam June 09-12 Manchester, TN – Bonnaroo Festival June 30 – July 03 Quincy, CA – High Sierra Music Festival
Here is a video from Jim James and Patrick Hallahan’s solo performance of One Big Holiday in December 2010 at Headliners.
by The Broken Spurs
Produced by Kevin Ratterman & The Broken Spurs
This album is raw. And when I say raw, I mean it sounds almost as if they plugged all their instruments directly into a tape deck, pressed record, and recorded it all in one take. But this is no discredit to album’s producer, Kevin Ratterman of Wax Fang, who seemingly captured the band’s true essence from the lack of overproduction.
You may just do a double-take on the opening track, Shackles Down, thinking you just came across a never-released Rolling Stones recording. That is as soon as you hear lead singer Adam Kramer’s Jaggerish vocal style. But as you venture through this album, you’ll soon understand that The Broken Spurs have created a truly original sound of their own, primarily defined by a barrage of guitar-fueled-cock-n-ball-straight-up rock-n-roll. No wonder they were asked to open for AC/DC in Freedom Hall with songs like these.
The peak of “Natural Disaster” comes right at the album’s midway point, with Jawbanger, a down-right raw and dirty rock-n-roll song that starts with a banging bass line and then whose vocals and guitars start rivaling one another for supremacy. At the song’s bridge, Kramer belts out an in-your-face riding of his Gretsch Firebird guitar’s “E” chord that may just make your own jaw drop, as you realize what Louisville rock-n-roll sounds like. Not one of the songs really seem to disappoint or stray away from the high-energy, guitar-laden spirit the album carries. Other impressive tracks is Shackles Down, Natural Disaster, Runnin, and Steal Your Thunder.
So, for those out there who try to proclaim that “rock-n-roll is dead,” well, here is recorded proof that maybe you should quit with that bullsh*t. And for all you real rock-n-roll junkies, here your soundtrack for the whole “rock-n-roll ISN’T dead” campaign.
I’ve got one thing I’d like to say upfront about the Jägermeister Music Tour, which brought The Damned Things, All That Remains, Hellyeah, and Buckcherry to Louisville on Wednesday, February 9th: “I’m glad it came, and I’m even more glad it’s over!” And I could careless if I ever see another metal show again, but I’m sure this won’t be the last because I just love observing the debauchery that goes along with these shows, just as much as you love reading about it.
And while the rest of the throngs of fans who packed in Expo 5 to near capacity, I’m sure they were praying to porcelain gods come the next morning. Jägermeister’s biggest contribution to the tour I suppose. Me? I’m just glad to have made it out alive, in one piece, not physically assaulted, with my camera in-hand, memory in-tact, and coherent enough to sum up the experience. No Jägermeister for me. Been there. Done that. No thanks.
One thing about metal shows these days is that you get an overdose of virtually anything you’d expect to get an overdose of. It’s a complete f**king annihilation and assault on all of your sensory preceptors, your liver, and sometimes your patience. There is too much booze, too little free space, too many decibel level breaches, too much visual stimulation (you know what I mean), too much temptation, too many incomprehensible vocal onslaughts, and too many crazy neanderthals running around acting like drunken monkeys. But that’s OK. That’s what makes it a metal show to begin with and that is exactly what everyone came here to engage in on this night. Speaking of which, Chad Gray, lead vocals for Hellyeah, while onstage, declared “This sh*t is f**kin therapy.” My guess is he wasn’t talking about Jägermeister in this instance, but then again you never know.
The Damned Things – Photo by Jason Ashcraft
Leading off the night was The Damned Things, a hard rock super-group consisting of members from Every Time I Die, Fall Out Boy, and Scott Ian from Anthrax. They’ve got an interesting sound, which isn’t as metalish as some might expect, but definitely a summation of who is in the band. While their set wasn’t necessarily aw-inspiring, given the talent within the band, it definitely wasn’t anything to grumble at either, although I think they will continue to get better if time allows it. It’s gotta be hard to keep a band together like this with all the other projects they may or may not be involved with.
All That Remains – Photo by Jason Ashcraft
All That Remains, an intense death metal act was up next. Now, I admit, I missed most of their set. But for good reason. The University of Louisville basketball team was in OT with Notre Dame on the road. And when Louisville Basketball is on TV, nothing else much exists. Sorry folks, I would’ve liked to have caught more of the musical ferocity that ATR demonstrated in their opening song, but the timing was just bad.
Hellyeah – Photo by Jason Ashcraft
Next came, what would turn out to be, the climax of the entire night – another supergroup – Hellyeah. Now for those of you that have lived in a cave the last four or five years, Hellyeah is a masterful concoction of former members from Pantera, Mudvayne, Damage Plan, Rebel Meets Rebel, and Nothingface.
Once Hellyeah took the stage, they owned it. The crowd responded to almost every note and word coming lead vocalist Chad Gray’s voice. Drummer Vinny Paul also took a moment to make a memorial shout-out to former bandmate, the late “Dimebag” Darrell Abbot, much to the audience’s appeasement.
Chad Gray of Hell Yeah – Photo by Jason Ashcraft
Hellyeah electrified the audience – most of which spent the entire time moshing and crowd surfing – with their southern-metal style of rock-n-roll. They only slowed the musical pace down once with their hit single and sing-a-long favorite “Alcohualin Ass.”
Hellyeah, hands-down, no questions asked, gave the best performance of the night. They basically proved that they should be headlining the damn Jägermeister Music Tour if you ask me.
Josh Todd & Jimmy Ashhurst of Buckcherry – Photo by Jason Ashcraft
So, by the time Buckcherry made it to the stage, they had big shoes to fill with what Hellyeah just brought before them. The bar was definitely raised, and I’m not talking about the one that the Jägermeister was coming from. On top of that, Expo 5, for some reason, had a noticeably smaller audience by the time Buckcherry made it to the stage. But, Buckcherry brought out their classic high-energy unique style of hard rock-n-roll to what was still a large crowd that hung around for them, and delivered a much-anticipated and sought-after performance.
Buckcherry – Photo by Jason Ashcraft
Josh Todd and company spent the entire set dancing around on stage and shedding another article of clothing as each song concluded. They took their audience on a ride through most of the music that made them who they are including “Sorry,” “Lit Up,” “All Night Long” and closed out the night with a rendition of “Crazy Bitch” mixed with some sampling of a few cover songs. No encore song though after that once the stage went dark.
Leading up to Buckcherry’s concert on February 9th at Expo 5, lead singer Josh Todd chatted with LouisvilleScuttlebutt.com’s Jason Ashcraft. Check out what he had to say about sex, tattoos, and — of course — Buckcherry’s upcoming trip to the Bluegrass state.
Ok this is Jason Ashcraft with LouisvilleScuttlebutt.com, and I am here with Josh Todd from Buckcherry. How are you doing Josh?
Todd: Whats up man I’m great.
How are things out in L.A.?
It’s a nice day today but it has been raining like crazy here, which is kinda unusual for LA but we definitely needed the water.
Well it’s a frozen tundra here in Louisville so no good news there. But I’ll tell you what. Lets go ahead and get this interview started on a good foot here. Josh, you got a choice here; you’ve got Sarah Palin, Paula Dean Buffet, and Lady Gaga. You gotta f**k one, marry one, and kill one, GO!
Oh wow, umm, let’s see, I’d definitely like to f**k Sarah Palin, so let’s do that. And then uh…marry one and kill one?
Yeah, you gotta kill one and marry one and you got Paula Dean Buffet and Lady Gaga left.
Whose Paula Dean Buffet?
(laughing) She’s a big fat ugly cook actually. I thought you might know her.
(laughing) Alright let’s kill her and I’ll marry Lady Gaga.
(laughing) Ok. So you know you’re coming to Louisville on February 9th, is there anything that stands out in your mind about Louisville, when you think about Louisville, Kentucky?
Anything that stands out in my mind? Umm, nah, you know we haven’t been there for a while I don’t think. You know, it’s all the same for us, you know? When we get on stage it doesn’t really matter where we are at. We just like to give the audience their money’s worth, you know? That’s what Buckcherry is all about its kinda what we base our reputation on is our live shows. So we’re just gonna come and bring it, you know? This is a great rock n’ roll tour. We haven’t headlined for a while so we’re really excited. We’ve got 5 records to pick our song selection from. I spent a lot of time when we got back from Europe, actually it was a year last year, really constructing a cool headlining set and I think everyone’s really gonna be happy.
Anything that stands out in your mind about the state of Kentucky?
The state of Kentucky?
Anything that stands out in my mind? No.
Yeah, we export a lot of things. Some of probably which you have consumed. Any brown liquor that you like from Kentucky?
(laughing) Uh not that I can think of. Like certain kinds of moonshine or something? I dunno know. What are you talking about?
Bourbon, I was trying to get you to pick out your favorite bourbon. But maybe you’re not a bourbon drinker.
I’m not a bourbon drinker.
No? Well were going to have to make you a bourbon drinker when you’re in Kentucky on February 9th.
Ok, well there will be a lot of Jaegermeister there because it is the Jaegermeister music tour and…
That is true.
…and so I think that will be flowing like water.
(laughing) Well, you’ve kinda of already touched a little bit on my next question, but I’ll go ahead and ask it anyway just in case you have some extra things you want to add. Tell me a little bit about what the fans should expect when they come to see you guys on February 9th at Expo 5. Especially if they’ve never seen you before.
High energy. Low IQ. Really.
High energy, low IQ? Good answer. (laughing) Alright.
Next question I’ve got is I was wondering if the song “Crazy Bitch”, which was one of your – I think is your only song you’ve had nominated for a Grammy – was that written about any one person in particular? And if so, who?
It was actually our second song nominated for a Grammy. “Lit Up” got nominated on our first record.
No, “Crazy Bitch” isn’t about anybody in particular. But I can tell you how the whole idea was sparked. I was driving around LA, it was way back when the Paris Hilton sex tape had just came out. And I was just listening to the radio just kinda laughing in my truck thinking, ‘how funny it was that somebody could really launch their entertainment career off of a homemade porno.’ And then I started reminiscing about all the crazy broads I had been with from about 18 to 25. I couldn’t really attract a sane girl, so I just started singing this chorus in my truck and I remember I called Pete because I didn’t wanna forget it. So I sang it on his machine. I sang the chorus to him and I told him how I wanted the music to go and and he came up with the music and it just we wrote that song really fast, and then it just sat around for a few years before it got onto a record.
So you wrote that a long time before 15 actually came out is what you’re saying?
Well the majority of it. It wasn’t complete and ready to be on a record. I mean we still had to finish the ending but the majority of the song was written for a while, yeah.
Ok. Definitely, probably a song – I mean you’ve got quite a few songs obviously out there that made you just really well known – but I think that’s (“Crazy Bitch”) probably one that kinda pushed you over the edge in terms of getting you into the main stream market.
It definitely helped, but then “Sorry” came a long and out did “Crazy Bitch.” Which a lot of people don’t think about. But yeah, it really helped us get back into the lime-light which is something we needed.
So what has been your greatest memory or accomplishment so far with Buckcherry?
You know I think it’s coming back against-all-odds on 15 and selling over a million copies in a climate where you know people weren’t selling rock records like that. And really believing in what we were because everybody had kinda counted us out the industry turned their backs on us nobody would sign us in the states. A lot of things went down during that time and we just had to believe in ourselves. And it all kinda happened organically it was really, the people who loved us then were there, and they made it all happen on the internet and on the radio. I’m just grateful for a second shot but you know having that come back and making it happen the way we did was something, and the best form of revenge.
Alright. Next thing I got here is I’d like to know – you guys have toured with a lot of musicians and bands over the years – tell me, say, your top 2 that have been some of your favorite musicians and bands to tour with?
Wow! Well the number one would be AC/DC. You know, we got to do 6 shows with them and that was a rock-n-roll fantasy come true, you know. They’re so amazing. Those guys are just the kings of rock n roll. It was really just an amazing experience. Those guys were really humble and sweet to us. It couldn’t have been more than….. it was more than I could’ve asked for. I sat on the couch next to Angus and talked to him about his career while his wife made us tea, you know? It was like, it was the coolest thing ever. And let’s see, Aerosmith was a big one we got to do a couple shows with them. One of them was the millennium new year’s show in Osaka, Japan ill never forget that. Meeting James Brown at Woodstock 99′ was a big highlight for us. We played with Iggy Pop at the Detriot state theater. We loved that, ya know? There are just so many the list just goes on and on.
Gotcha. Good response on what you did provide though, so thanks.
Alright. Next one I got here is; your bassist Jimmy Ashherst, was recently featured in a book called “Sex Tips From Rock Stars” what kind of tips can you offer?
About what? Sex?
I don’t know, huh….well, like, what is the question?
Well I was feeding off the fact that your bassist Jimmy Ashherst was featured in a book that was recently published called “Sex Tips From Rock Stars” and I was just trying to see if you had any tips or anything that you could offer.
Always wear a condom.
(laughing) Always wear a condom? Good.
(laughing) Doesn’t matter how hot the chick is; wear a condom, that’s how you ‘keep the power.’
(laughing) Excellent, excellent.
Alright, the next question I got here is; what is going to be your next tattoo and where is it going to go?
My next tattoo? I’m getting tattooed actually in a week. I’m gonna get my legs…..I got some tattoos on my legs, but I’m gonna start sleeving-up my legs. I’m doing ,like, I’m doing background stuff like wind bars and stuff like that, you know? Cherry blossoms and stuff like Japanese art. It’s going on my legs!
Yep, good stuff. You got a tattoo artist you’d like to throw some props out to?
Kevin Quinn, Los Angeles, California. He’s amazing and he’s been tattooing for over 20 years. He’s done the majority of all my work and the majority of a lot of everybody else in Buckcherry. The list goes on and on and he is incredible. He’s very private so you know, you gotta search for him, but he’s out there on the internet. You can find him, I think its KevinQuinn.org and if you wanna get a great tattoo that’s the guy to go see.
Excellent. Alright last thing, well one of the last things I got here. I’ve got 2 more actually. What, if anything, is there left that you want to accomplish as a musician?
I wanna be a worldwide arena-rock band, you know? I wanna be able to play arenas worldwide, headline them, and put the asses in the seats. That’s really the goal, and that’s what were trying to accomplish, you know? It’s very difficult, as you know, in this climate. People aren’t selling records like they used to. You have to really, really work hard out there on the road to make it happen, so that’s what we’re doing.
Has your iTunes sales and your digital sales been comparable to your actual tangible CD sales?
You know, it’s starting to even out more now. But it used to be only like the digital sales used to be only like 10 percent of our sales, but now it’s becoming harder and harder to actually go out and buy a physical CD. There’s only like a few places now like Bestbuy, Wal-Mart, and Target, you know? And some of those, from what I understand, Wal Mart is downsizing their music section and Target as well ,so you know, it’s a big drag.
Yeah. Yeah, the world is a changing for sure.
So you got any last words, anything you wanna just put out there that I can publicize?
Yeah! Come to the Jaegermeister Music Tour, you know? It’s gonna rock and were gonna have a lot of fun. There’s a lot of other great bands on the bill other than us and its gonna be a ‘great bang for your buck!’
Excellent. Josh, I really appreciate the time you’ve spent here. We’re looking forward to seeing you, and I know that I can confidently say – with knowing a lot of Louisville’s music scene – that I think it’s gonna be a great show and we’ll be looking forward to seeing you guys here on February 9th. Thanks a lot and good luck to you.