Just got home from the first Waterfront Wednesday of the year. Made it in time to hear the Holmes Brothers and the Legendary Shack Shakers. It was a clear and warm-ish night. It was one more night that made me proud to live in Louisville.
When I first moved to Louisville in 2006, Waterfront Wednesdays were fabulous, and the small crowds were enthusiastic and in the groove. In the past four years, I've missed maybe three or four Waterfront Wednesdays, but never by choice.
Now, Waterfront Wednesday is no less fabulous, but the crowds have grown... I'd guess it's around four times the size of your average 2006 crowd. And they're no less in the groove.
Back when I lived in New Orleans, I used to say that the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival was like Christmas, my birthday, and summer vacation all rolled into one convergence of transcendent perfection. Seven days of music and food and art over the course of two weeks... utter bliss. There is nothing more "Lou" than great music, outside, with great food and beer (although I never had a sip of alcohol at Jazz Fest after my first Jazz Fest... realized that booze and hot weather kept me from enjoying/remembering my Jazz Fest experience).
When I moved to Louisville, Waterfront Wednesdays were small, teeny tiny, consolation prizes for missing NOLA's Jazz Fest. A sort of case of Rice-o-Roni one night a month for six months. A wee taste of what Jazz Fest offered.
And that's still the case. But it still fulfills.
Gosh, I had such high hopes for HullabaLOU, but if you smash up the collective offering at the six Waterfront Wednesdays this summer--most of the acts are still unannounced-- I'd guess they trump HullabaLOU's festival line-up easily. And Forecastle just doesn't speak to my sensibility at all.
In the end, Waterfront Wednesday remains up there with IdeaFestival and the Humana Festival and Bats games as one of my favorite things about Louisville. I don't love how crowded it's become (port-a-potty lines six deep??), but I still don't understand how it's NOT the most attended event in Louisville.
It's free. Free music. The weather is almost always perfect (who knows why). It's on the river (gorgeous!). And the music is always good, sometimes great.
Tonight I LOVED the Holmes Brothers and just sort of liked the Legendary Shack Shakers.
The legendary director David Lynch once said, "A bad cup of coffee is better than no coffee at all." In regards to Waterfront Wednesdays, I'd say, "A mediocre free outdoor concert on the river is more soul-serving than no concert at all."
My soul is served. And I am slightly less bitter that I am missing the NOLA Jazz Fest once again this year.