Thursday, July 29, 2010

HullabaLOU: The Acts that Got Away

Taddy Porter on the Media Center balcony
The inevitable bummer of a music festival is that you have to make hard choices sometimes.  Acts you like may overlap.  Some acts may start too early for your particular fest-ing experience.  And sometimes you just get plain ol' too tucked out to drag yourself out into the heat to catch an act that you really want to see.  There is a handful of people I wish I'd seen, and even more that I wish I'd seen more of.  Here are some notable highlights:

Friday:  My parking headaches killed my chance of seeing the estimable Sam Bush on the Budweiser Stage.  Luckily, the banjo god put in a guest appearance with Dierks Bentley, so all was not completely lost.  I've seen Bush several times-- usually at festivals.  He's really the hardest working man in Bluegrass, except for maybe Bela Fleck.  I only caught a wee bit of the B-52s show, not enough to hear any of their big hits.  I wish I'd stayed long enough to hear "Rock Lobster" just to see if the crowd got down on the ground and did the, uh, "Rock Lobster."  Funny story:  When Kate Pierson and Keith Strickland came up to the Media Center, some interviewer asked them what it was like to be together so long (since the 70's) before having a hit like "Love Shack" in 1989.  And immediately I thought, "Who is this guy?  Um, 'Rock Lobster,' dude?"  And Kate responded, "Well, 'Rock Lobster' was pretty huge...." And interview responded: "Oh, it was?"  Sheesh, can just anyone get a press pass these days?  (That's a joke, kids.  Just a joke.)

Saturday:  I hate, hate, hate that I was too exhausted from my Friday adventures to get out to HullabaLOU in time to see local Brigid Kaelin.  Sure, I've seen her show a half dozen times, but (a) she's wonderful and (b) it's super important to give the very few local acts some love.  But I heard her show was excellent, as always.  Otherwise, I feel like I had a pretty solid Saturday.  No regrets about missing the ever-revolving roster of Blood, Sweat, & Tears (although watching them on the jumbotron elicited this tweet from me:  "Wait a minute, Blood, Sweat & Tears are WHITE guys? #imnotTHATold").  I've heard good things about the local VilleBillies, and I heard that they were really nice guys in the Media Center.  But I don't know enough about them to regret hitting Ben Sollee instead.

Sunday:  Local Andrea Davidson opened up for Charlie Mars when I saw him a few months at Zanzabar, and she was pretty wonderful.  I also bumped into an acquaintance at the festival who just gushed about seeing her show and grilled me about her Zanzabar show.  But Sunday's big bummer miss was a band I'd never heard of-- and for good reason: their debut album just came out at the end of June.  The guys from Taddy Porter came up to see the good folks of the press in the Media Center and gave such a charming interview that I kicked myself for the rest of the day for having missed them.  They were unabashedly star struck about the acts they were sharing the bill with and simply thrilled to have been asked to be a part of HullabaLOU.  I went home and checked out a few songs on their website, and they're good old fashioned rock from Stillwater, OK.  Next time they're in town, I'll be there.  They could be the next big thing-- and that's one of the lovely things about music festivals:  you never know.  (That's a picture of the charming ragamuffins from Taddy Porter above).

Overall, HullabaLOU did a pretty good job creating a schedule where you could map out a complex timetable and catch at least a couple of songs by just about everyone you wanted to see (Although the Loretta Lynn-- Avett Brothers-- Dwight Yoakam overlap was a little hairy).  

HullabaLOU: Gladys Knight

video

One of my HullabaLOU highlights occurred just thirty minutes after I'd finally entered the event on Day One.  After a parking hassle that had me so frazzled that I almost turned ye olde jalopy around and went home, an angel took mercy on me and let me park in the VIP lot.  I hustled my buns as fast as I could to make it to the Gladys Knight show at the Budweiser stage.

Thankfully, the divine Ms. K was late to come on.  Her 11-piece band, including four dynamic back-up singers, vamped for the audience until she made her appearance, looking gorgeous and supernaturally cool in a white pants suit worthy of the mother-of-the-bride at a really classy wedding.

Two songs into her set, she offered up praise for Kentucky and Kentucky music, explaining that the songwriter of her most famous works-- "Midnight Train to Georgia," "Neither One of Us Wants to Be The First One To Say Goodbye," and "Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me"--  is country music writer, Jim Weatherly.  And then she launched into the latter song (see the video above).

So, highlight?  Frankly, the whole Gladys Knight set ranks up there in the "best moments of HullabaLOU."  But somehow I'd managed to sidle myself up to the stage-- just a person or two back.  And I was so close and so happy to be there, I was beaming like a halogen light.  And when she came to the second chorus, the amazing Ms. Knight looked me dead in the eye and sang straight to me.  And yeah, I know, I'm not the best thing that ever happened to her, but for just a second-- shorter than Rick Pitino's alleged sexual encounter at Porcini's but longer than just a quick howdoyoudo-- she made me feel that way.  

Isn't it-- shouldn't it be-- everyone's goal to touch someone-- even just one person-- so much that they'll want to play that song at your funeral?  (Was that in a movie?  I feel like it was.)  Anyway, the moment was transcendant and will stick with me for a long time.

Music icons owned HullabaLOU this year.  Whether it was the 66 year-old Empress of Soul, Ms. Knight or the 76 year-old Coal Miner's Daughter, Ms. Loretta Lynn, these oldsters showed some of the younger, less experienced acts (ahem, Jason Aldean) how it's done.  Connect with the crowd, look-- and sound-- fantastic, surround yourself with an awesome band, appear thrilled to be there, and most of all, put on a show.  Thank you Ms. Knight.  

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Awesome Louisvillager: Courtney Paris

Welcome to the first installment of Loueyville's newest periodic feature: Awesome Louisvillagers.  It's no secret that my favorite thing about our fine, fine city is the people.  And one of my favorite things about Louisvillagers is that they always seem to be doing nifty, innovative, and/or kind things.  Wouldn't it be great to get to know these Awesome Louisvillagers a little better?  

Today's Awesome Louisvillager is a New Albany photographer who specializes in boudoir photography.  Meet Courtney Paris!  


LOU:  I know you're a traditional photographer who shoots weddings and engagement photos and senior pictures, but some of my favorite work of yours has been your boudoir pictures.  How did you decide to do boudoir photography, and what do you like most about boudoir sessions? 

Actually, I don't shoot weddings anymore (unless they're family or close friends). After I shot my first 5 or 6 weddings, I decided it was just too stressful. I've already been married and had to go through the wedding stress, I certainly didn't want to do it over and over again! My studio partner, Tracy Dupaquier, does the weddings and she loves and it shows in her work!

The boudoir and pinup photography are my favorite types to shoot, by far, and right now, it's about 70-80% of my business, and I couldn't be happier. I did my first boudoir session for a friend who wanted something different for her husband's birthday; she called to see if this would be something I was interested in doing for her. I said absolutely! That first session was in my home, in our master bedroom. She loved, he loved, and I was smitten. She referred a friend to me whose husband was deployed with the military. The rest, as they say, was history.

I was in love with these types of sessions. Not only are they fun (who doesn't like to play dress up?), but I could see what it was doing for women and how they saw themselves. My most popular package includes a photo album with 20 images. So many times I have a girl walk in at the beginning of her session and say something about how she's so nervous and she's sorry if we don't get many good pictures, and she doesn't think we'll get anywhere close to the 20 images for the book. It never fails, once their photos are up on their password-protected gallery, I'll get an email saying they just can't choose, there are so many that she likes. To me, that's flippin' awesome. As a female, I know what it's like to be totally self-conscious about our bodies and NEVER EVER feel like we look good enough, let alone sexy. So to know that I'm able to take this gift of photography that I've been blessed with, and use it to help a woman feel good about herself, and strengthen the relationship she's in, well, that's just awesome!!!

LOU:  Looking at the boudoir samples on your website, it seems that most of your clients are young fiancees wanting pictures for their soon-to-be husbands.  Do you have a marketing pitch for older women?  Single women with no immediate prospects?  Do you shoot boudoir photos of men? 

The clients on my website actually only represent about 10-20 % of my client base. I never post anyone's picture without their permission, and the ones that give permission, are all usually younger. They're typically more confident about their bodies and more comfortable with people seeing them.

I would say that I have about 30-40% of my clients are over the age of 35! A lot of them are doing them for their (or their husband's/boyfriend's) milestone birthdays (40, 50) or anniversaries (25, 30). And I do have a good number of women who do these sessions just for themselves! In fact, I have a couple clients who have a session once a year!

LOU: I follow you on Twitter, and I am in love with how sweetly you talk about your kids, your husband, and your extended family.  How does your family life inspire your photography? 

Thanks! My family has been HUGELY supportive of me and my photography, in so many ways. My kids are my inspiration for everything I do; I work to provide for them, and now I'm working for myself so I can rearrange my schedule and spend more time with them. They love coming down to the studio and 'helping mommy work.' My husband has encouraged me from day one, as cliche' as it sounds, we've always supported the other in doing what they truly enjoy and are passionate about. My parents and my husband's parents have always been there to help me with watching the kiddos if I have pictures, and my husband is out of town with his job or the military. Plus, they're (almost) always ready to lend a face for some new ideas!

LOU:  You recently opened a studio in New Albany.  Tell us about it and how it has changed your business. 

Yes I did. I opened a studio in Historic Downtown New Albany with Tracy Dupaquier. It's a great feeling being able to tell people that I'll just meet them at the studio. We have a separate office and shooting space. I think people see me as 'more legit' having a studio, and my husband is happy to have all my photo stuff out of the house! ha!

LOU:  Finally, tell us what you love most about living in the Louisville area.

I live over in downtown New Albany so the kids can be close to their grandparents but at the same time we love the proximity to the Louisville area, especially Old Louisville. We used to live in an apartment down there and were married at the Conrad-Caldwell House; the architecture there is amazing. The Waterfront gets a lot of use by my family too;  the Waterfront Wednesdays is always a blast and the kids love the park. I think that we've got some of if not the best public radio in the country!

Thanks, Courtney, for being the first Awesome Louisvillager!

Contact Courtney:

Courtney@CourtneyParisPhotography.com
www.CourtneyParisPhotography.com
www.LouisvilleBoudoir.com
812.987.6199
Twitter is Ceece and Lou_boudoir

The HullabaLOU Elephant: Ticket Prices

When you live in New Orleans, and New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival time rolls around, the question you hear in coffeeshop queues all around town isn't "You going to JazzFest?"

It's "What days you going to JazzFest?"

On the one hand, it's patently unfair to compare the brand new HullabaLOU to one of the nation's most important-- probably the most important-- historic, and respected music festivals.  JazzFest just turned 40 years old this year.  It features seven days of music, from 11am - 7pm over the course of two weekends, on twelve music stages or tents.  JazzFest loves the "Heritage" part of its official name, and this is reflected not only in the music and the culture of the festival, but also in the hundreds of local food vendors, and its often museum-worthy collection of juried crafts booths.

In 2001, JazzFest broke all of its own attendance records and clocked more than 650,000 fest-goers for the seven days including one day that busted the 160,000 single-day record.  But even on a mediocre JazzFest day, it still pulls more than the nearly 79,000 bodies who went through the turnstiles at Churchill this entire weekend.

On the other hand, it's really hard for this JazzFest veteran to not draw comparisons.  First of all, there's no shaking the fact that both festivals occur on Churchill Downs properties.  And as I pointed out in an old post when HullabaLOU was first announced:  Churchill is actually two acres larger than the Fair Grounds property that hosts JazzFest.  Secondly, it was impossible to be a JazzFester and not cast your eye around the HullabaLOU layout and offerings and not say, "well, somebody went to JazzFest and got some good ideas."

And finally, and most importantly, JazzFest invented this wheel, HullabaLOU Festival; your learning curve should be really, really short.  Your sister property has been doing this for forty years and kicking ass.  HullabaLOU was a great little festival this year, take a lesson from one of New Orleans's favorite (well, sometimes reviled) transplants, and "kick it up a notch" next year.

Let's talk ticket prices, shall we?  When both Forecastle Festival and HullabaLOU announced their pricing structures for tickets this year, I thought the organizers of both festivals had lost their bloody minds.

I didn't go to Forecastle and don't feel like I missed much (I am long on the record for being allergic to "jam bands"), but I will say this:  $150 for a 3-day pass or $70 day-of one-day passes comes surprisingly close to the cost of attending Bonnaroo-- but with no camping (and all the facilities needed to support three days of 75,000 campers), no seventeen-plus hours of music a day, and not a single act that even touched a "stadium caliber" headliner in the entire three days of Forecastle Festival.

I'm of two minds about HullabaLOU's ticket pricing right now.  General Admission tickets were $75 in advance-- a price that nearly made me choke on my latte when I read it.  And frankly, I still think the ticket price was the single biggest misstep in an otherwise well-conceived and -executed festival.  But I can see the other side of the coin, and it is this:

Let's be realistic, folks.  If Kenny Chesney and his sexy tractor ever come to the KFC Yum Bucket to play a show, you better bet you'll be paying nigh-$75 for the crappy seats.  And if you're a Chesney fan-- and who knew there were SO many rabid Kenny Chesney fans?-- you'll cough up those bucks happily.   And while I was in the Media Center watching Kenny Chesney fans go wild, my 60 year-old aunt and uncle were tailgating before a Bon Jovi concert in Massachusetts-- a show that cost between $67-$335, before TicketMaster surcharges, if you could get tickets.  And for $75 at HullabaLOU, you got a stadium caliber headliner and seven additional hours of music.  So, there's that.

On the other hand, and this is a big Mickey-Mouse-sized hand, if you cast a critical eye over the crowds attending each day of HullabaLOU, you would see that the type of crowd was largely dictated by the headliner that day.  We had Bon Jovi fans Friday, Chesney fans Saturday, and DMB fans Sunday.  And those fans were getting a heck of a deal:  a stadium show plus some really fantastic minor-to-mid-major music in the seven hours before the act they were really there to see.

Charging $75 a day for tickets will, without a doubt, keep HullabaLOU from being a local cultural powerhouse.  Your average Joe & Jane are not going to shell out $75 to "check it out."  They're just not. $75 a day makes HullabaLOU an event that you plan in advance for, an event that makes you weigh the pros and cons of spending that kind of green.  And the purpose of going to a music festival isn't to see one act-- it's to sample from the buffet of offerings, see people you wouldn't normally see, discover new acts you'll come to love.

I am not enough of a Bon Jovi, Chesney, or DMB fan to pay $75 to see them in a stadium.  If I had been left to my own devices, there was no one day of HullabaLOU that would have been worth $75 to me-- even though I adored the Day Three line-up-- and certainly the 66 acts featured weren't worth a three-day pass for me.

People lost their noggins this year when day-of JazzFest ticket prices jumped $10 from $50 to $60.  But you could still get them in advance for $45.  Attendance levels did, indeed, sag-- no one can ever really say why, but I would think $60 is a cut-off for spontaneous JazzFesting for a lot of people.  Those days of drawing 160,000 fans were back in the day of $25 JazzFest tickets.  Back in the day when I would wake up on a JazzFest morning and say to myself, "Well, there's really no one I'm dying to see today, but it's a beautiful day, so I might as well hit the Fest."  (or... "I'm really in the mood for some Crawfish Monica, so I might as well hit the Fest"... or... "I really regret not buying those beautiful earrings yesterday, so I should snag them today before someone else does.")

JazzFest invented the wheel and perfected it.  If they keep inflating the ticket prices, the air is going to come out of them there tires really fast.  If Churchill Downs Entertainment wants the people of Louisville to be asking "What day you hitting HullabaLOU?" come July 2011, they have to cut their prices.  Otherwise the crowds will always be dictated by the pull of the mainstage headliner.

HullabaLOU Hangover: HullabaLOU will return

*Yawn!*  Oh, hello there.  What day is it?  It's Tuesday?  Really?

Right.

So my first HullabaLOU-free day found me sleeping for twelve hours and then spending the rest of the day on the couch catching up on a backlog of "Next Food Network Stars" on my TiVO and eating delivery Cafe Mimosa.  Three days in the 95+ degree heat left me feeling like I had the mother of all hangovers-- even though I was super-careful to hydrate religiously (every day, I clocked at least nine bottles of water).  I'm not going to wax lamentingly about what this means, although I did find myself asking Roommate repeatedly:  "How do we survive Bonnaroo every year?"  (His response: "We just barely do.")

But I'm back.  And so, we're told, will HullabaLOU return, says Churchill Downs Entertainment President Steve Sexton.  When asked yesterday whether there will be another HullabaLOU, his response was essentially a cheery, "Hells yes!"

And good.  I'm glad.  My fear, about halfway through the festival, was that the festival wouldn't be financially as successful as they hoped and that they'd just trash the whole idea.  And, after Day Three of HullabaLOU, I was pretty well-convinced that the festival deserved another go at it-- with some tweaks, of course.

You know, there's some non-attendees on local social media who are giving "mainstream media" a hard time for handing Churchill a lot of really good press for HullabaLOU and not being critical enough.  I know I'm not "mainstream" anything, but I have to say in their defense:  besides the steamroller heat, there was very little not to like about HullabaLOU.

If you chose to attend HullabaLOU, you did so because you felt like the admission price was worth it to see bands that you wanted to see.  And, from what I could tell and from what I heard: no one put on a bad show, there were few technical glitches (Al Green cussed out his sound man, Dwight Yoakam lost power for less than 10 minutes), and everything ran pretty much on time.  And heck, if you were really truly invested in the music, for the most part, you could get closer and more intimate with the performers than just about any other venue I've been to.  I mean, Ms. Gladys Knight smiled at me, I was that close.  Joan Osborne was just one body away from me.  And Ricky Skaggs could have been playing at your cousin's backyard bar mitzvah, the Bluegrass Stage was so cozy.  Yes, there were the mainstage acts and the few smaller stage acts that packed throngs, but the jumbotrons at every stage brought those musicians right into your lap.  And let me tell you, one of the most common compliments I heard in the Media Center were that the camerafolk were the unsung heroes of the event-- nearly every show looked like a concert film on the jumbotrons and on the various tvs throughout the Downs.

Sure, I know there is room for improvement from HullabaLOU-- I have strong feelings about things Churchill Downs Entertainment could do differently for 2011, but I'll save that for another post.  (Doubters, I promise I'll get all these posts up by the end of the week or so.)  But I was pleasantly surprised by my overall great experience at HullabaLOU-- and I'm not alone-- just about every journalist I talked to said something along the lines of: "it seemed like this was going to be a hot mess, but I can't believe how much fun I had."  And looking back over the #hullabalou feed on Twitter, it seems like the fans were pretty much in agreement.  Honestly, the notable bitchy tweets largely came from media who were paid to go, went for free, and just didn't like the line-up and/or crowd.  I'll keep my opinions on that to myself.

In the meantime, I think you can trust the local media when they give HullabaLOU two (tired, sunburned) thumbs up (and it's certainly not like CDE went out of their way to earn great reviews from the press).  Now that some of my giddy HullabaLOU hangover has worn off, I'm still a big fan.

Check out my night-of recaps for Day One, Day Two, and Day Three!

Monday, July 26, 2010

HullabaLOU Day Three: in brief

First off, let me just say that I have the greatest Twitter followers.  Not only did they put up with hundreds of tweets this weekend from HullabaLOU, they laughed with me, they expressed concern for my hydration level, they wondered how many adult beverages I'd consumed (answer: not as many as it may have sounded like).  Thank you so much, kids.  I had a fabulous time, and you people were a big part of it.  Don't know how many people quit my Twitter feed because I "overshared," but I picked up close to fifty new followers.  I hope that translates to new readers for Loueyville.com.  If this is your first time here, welcome!

So, HullabaLOU is done.  And I'm sad.  I always "crash" a little after music festivals-- the post-New Orleans JazzFest blues are the worst, but even though Bonnaroo kicks my little ass every time I go, I'm still so sorry when it's over.  So, I guess this is a good sign right?  I'm going to wake up in the morning and be bummed that I'm not schlepping to Churchill Downs.  If I wake up tomorrow.  Last night I slept eleven hours and woke up feeling like death on a triscuit.  Those 95+ degree days are brutal!

And while today was cooler-- at least according to the numbers-- it didn't feel any less punishing.  But today I was way smarter.  I didn't pull a Joan Osborne show and stay out WAY past my comfort level.

Got to HullabaLOU just in time to see the Black Crowes.  And let me tell you, for the first time at HullabaLOU, I felt like the crowd rivaled NOLA Jazz Fest.  There were people packed shoulder-to-shoulder as far as the eye could see, spilling into the walkways, making it hard to navigate.  And for good reason.  Although they haven't had a hit in a while, the Black Crowes never fail to be completely dynamic and exciting.  Attention Kate Hudson:  You dumped Chris Robinson for an endless parade of asshats?  Really?  Sure, he's kind of funny-looking, but even all brunette-Jesus-y, he is SEXY as all get out!  The man out-Mick Jaggers Mick Jagger.  And the crowd ate them up!  Totally great start to the day for me.  But I nicked out of there as soon as my blood began to boil... I had to save myself for some serious music icons.

Like Loretta Lynn.  Sweet Mother of Gupta, the woman is 76 years old!  You heard me right-- 76!  And she is charming and funny and sings like an angel.  About four songs into her set, they brought out a chair for her, and she delivered the bulk of the rest of the show from her seat, but she smiled radiantly and praised the crowd, her band, and Kentucky the whole time.  Ms. Lynn is twice my age (and then some-- gosh, that's kind of nice to say), and her energy level-- even seated-- bested mind.  The lovely Ms. Lynn can always be counted on for bringing a little fashion crazy to the stage, and she didn't disappoint at HullabaLOU, sporting a red and black vest with floor-length fringe.

I know that there were a lot of hot young things playing at HullabaLOU, but my message to everyone I bumped into was:  "Go see the icons... you never know."  Really, while I enjoyed so many bands at HullabaLOU, my takeaways from the festival will be the shows by Loretta Lynn, Gladys Knight, Al Green... even "younger" dudes like Huey Lewis and...

Dwight Yoakam... Oh boy, I love me some Dwight Yoakam.  And apparently, so do a lot of people.  The Yoakam show was the dancingest crowd I was in, and I swear we were all hypnotized into party-time by his mesmerizing ass.  (sorry, that may be a mojito or two talking)  Around six songs into his set, the power cut out at the Fleur de Lis stage, and the crowd rallied by singing Dwight songs until the power picked up again.  Yoakam played a fantabulous show at the Kentucky State Fair a few years ago, and this show was nearly as good.  Obviously, his band frequents Loretta Lynn's costumers-- while he was in a red jacket, white t-shirt, and jeans, his band all sported spangly matador-style jackets, a couple of them layered above white frilly shirts.

Luckily for us Dwight fans, his set overlapped the planned start time for Dave Matthews, so the crowd thinned considerably for the last few songs.  I was tickled pink and purple to get to sally up closer to the stage and watch the end of the set.  But as soon as Dwight packed it in, I hightailed it back to the Media Center to watch the Dave Matthews Band from on high.  Around an hour and a half into the Dave Matthews set, I declared myself off-duty, stopped tweeting, and just enjoyed it.

And enjoyed it I did.  For the first time for HullabaLOU, when the sun went down, so did the temps, and from the sixth floor balcony, the DMB concert was utterly transcendant.  It was cool, breezy (so much so that if anyone was paying attention, they might have gotten a glimpse of my drawers-- totally had a Marilyn Monroe, sewer grate, moment) and the orange moon was full and huge.

Dave Matthews may indeed be the hardest working man in rock (or whatever you'd call his genre).  I've seen at least 5 DMB shows, and I have NEVER been disappointed.  No me gusta jam bands, but Dave Matthews transcends that appellation.  And his band is nothing short of extraordinary.  Especially his violinist, Boyd Tinsley.  (And, you know, RIP: LeRoi Moore-- you're so missed, dude, but the band is doing you proud).

Gosh, I am going to miss HullabaLOU.  I have so much more to say about the event and individual acts.  So stay tuned to the blog next week.

But you know, it was wicked nice that HullabaLOU recognized this hardworking blogger as official "media."  In an ideal world, I'd get paid for doing what I do.  But I don't.  In fact, I spend a lot of money hosting this website every year.  But getting to do things like HullabaLOU-- and Actors Theater and Broadway Across America and stuff-- is a joy and an honor.

And of course, you, my readers, make me crazy happy.  Thank you!

And now I am going to sleep for three days.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

HullabaLOU Day Two: in brief

Today's  HullabaLOU Festival was brought to you by the Cult of Kenny Chesney.  Last night, for research, Roommate and I pulled up YouTube and played an extended game of "Oh, Kenny Chesney is THAT Guy."  But even after re-familiarizing myself with Chesney's music, I was absolutely unprepared for the onslaught of his fandom.  I recognized it immediately in the massive percentage of straw cowboy hat wearers in the crowd as soon as I walked onsite.  And as the festival day wore on, the population of Chesney fans increased, as did, unfortunately, the stumbling drunkenness of said fans.  Mostly female.  Mostly very young.  Mostly very pretty.  And all of 'em wearing cowboy boots.

Speaking of footwear, that was my first big misstep of the day.  A few paces into the festival, I realized I'd forgotten to change my shoes before leaving the house, and within a few paces more I was stumbling like said drunk fans.  I partially rectified the issue by shuffling my bare feet in the dirt; dirty feet = better traction.  But right now, as Mama Lou used to say, "my dogs are barkin'." "Howlin'" might be more accurate.  

My second misstep of the day was being so enthralled with Joan Osborne's set (she's pictured above, by the way) that I stayed out way after my water bottle was drained.  I think I'm still feeling the woozy from that.

Started the day by heading straight to see Ben Sollee's set at the Fleur de Lis stage.  The man is a treasure, kids.  We're so lucky to be able to call him a Kentucky guy.  An amazing set in the blazing midday sun.  If I didn't respect him before (and I did, y'all know I love him), I tip my hat to him now.  I loved him at NuluFestival last year.  And his show with Abigail Washburn and the Sparrow Quartet was one of the highlights of my Bonnaroo 2008.  But.. ha ha... funny story.  Okay, actually I'll save my funny story for a post dedicated to Ben Sollee later.  He's worth a post of his own.  And so is the story.  UPDATE:  The post is here.  And make sure you read the comments to see Sollee's very nice response.  

When I went to the Media Center after Sollee's show, I got out of the elevator and passed a wee tiny funny-looking man (keep in mind, I'm 5 feet tall so "wee tiny" from me is WEE TINY... and yeah, maybe I'm funny-looking too), and thought "Well, clearly HE isn't a broadcast journalist."  Turned out the wee man was none other than Ben Folds coming in for an interview.  I was tickled that one of the journalists asked Folds about the time he played Bonnaroo and asked the entire crowd to give him the middle finger while he took a crowd photo.  I was in that crowd.  I gave him the middle finger with gusto.

I pooped out around 40 minutes into Fold's set.  It was just too damned hot...

... Oh, have I failed to mention that the highs today pushed 100?  We're not talking "heat indices" here, kids-- we're talking no-cloud-cover temps.  Brutal, but more on that in a sec.

The thing with Folds is, and I remember this from Bonnaroo, he starts out very slow and very mellow and then works himself up into a crowd-pleasing frenzy by the end of his show.  And I didn't quite make it to the "frenzy" part.  I don't know how he does it-- you'd think his energy would be sapped by then.  But when I went back to the Media Center and watched the last of his show on the tvs, he was bounding all over the stage, playing drums, pulling audience members up on stage.  Note to self: if you think you won't make it for an entire Folds set, wait til it's half over.  

After watching a few songs from the astoundingly generic Sara Evans, I headed out to see local vocal titan, Joan Osborne.  I'll do a "real" post on her next week, but I was dumbfounded by the contrast between Evans and Osborne.  How is it that Evans-- whose voice is lovely, but no more so than dozens of karaoke singers I've seen-- could command the main stage, and Osborne's fame peaked 15 years ago? She's charming and precious and gritty and soulful.  Her show rocked me so much that, as I mentioned earlier, I stayed WAY too long and got WAY too hot and have been paying for it ever since.  

So much so, in fact, that when I got back to the Media Center, cooled down, and re-hydrated, I was in such bad shape that I couldn't bring myself to get back out there.  Lucky for me, between the tvs in the Media Center and the balconies, I was able to see enough of both the Reverend Al Green and Huey Lewis and the News that I was mostly satisfied.  

The Rev. Al-- as he did at Bonnaroo two years ago-- took the stage in a three-piece suit and threw roses into the crowd.  The man shimmied and shook-- I'm telling you, between Al and Gladys, these older sorts are showing the younger generations of musicians here at HullabaLOU how it is done!  Amusingly, according to the Twitterverse, the Reverend's sound went all wonky during his performance of "Amazing Grace," and he dropped some f-bombs and cussed out the sound crew!  Wish I'd seen that first-hand.  

I saw quite a bit of Huey Lewis's show, as the Fleur De Lis stage is nearer the Media Center balcony.  And all I can say is... wow.  Wow, Huey Lewis looks fantabulous for however old he is.  Wow, Huey Lewis fills out a pair of jeans even better than Kenny Chesney.  Wow, I forgot how fun his music is.  And wow, I'm really sorry that I kinda used "and they're featuring Huey Lewis" as a rib about the HullabaLOU line-up.  I felt the "Power of Love" during his show.  It was, honestly, great.

(Funny side note:  when I was a wee lass, Mama Lou bought me a Huey Lewis and the News cassette [yes, I'm that old] for Christmas.  And Nana Lou was scandalized-- she thought the band's name was "Huey Lewis in the Nude.")

You know who wasn't great?  Jason Aldean.  Who the eff is this guy, and why was he on the main stage, and why was his crowd so huge?  A dreadfully boring performer who barely moved for the better part of his set.  And, in my humble opinion, the worst kind of country singer dude-- the kind that sings songs about how the rest of the country thinks rednecks are idiots, but the rest of the country is full of pretentious, elite a-holes, so what the eff do they know?  

It was particularly precious that he decided to end the show with an encore of Kid Rock's "I'm a Cowboy."  Here's the thing, Jason and Kid, if you don't fraking rassel some cattle for a living, you AREN'T a cowboy.  You're insulting cowboys by calling yourself a "cowboy."  At the very least, to be a "cowboy" in the metaphorical sense, you need to be a badass.  A REAL badass.  Not a plush tour-bus-riding, pressed t-shirt wearing, VIP lounge going rock star.  At least Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive" is a narrative, and we can assume by the voice of the lyrics that Jon Bon Jovi isn't insinuating that HE is a cowboy.  He's singing in the first person voice of a cowboy-- well not a real cowboy, just a badass.  

Yeah, not a fan.

And I'm not going to say that I'm a Kenny Chesney fan now, but he does put on a hell of a show.  I don't get the truly CULT status that Chesney enjoys.  Roommate says he's this generation's Garth Brooks, but I didn't get the Brooks thing either, really.  Pardon the self-pat-on-the-back, but my favorite Tweet of the night was "Loueyville: I wanna knock his hat off so badly.  You seen his videos? NEVER takes it off.  What does he have under there?  A conjoined twin? #hullabalou"  Hey, if you don't follow my tweets, now is the time to start.  :) (@loueyville)

So, that was my day.  Blistering heat.  Blistered feet.  And some truly great music.  Although Bon Jovi was my big favorite for the fest, tomorrow's line-up is the most consistently wonderful, so I am super psyched.  I'm telling you, I could have two broken legs, a hangover, and a pen in my eye (did you hear about the guy who was arrested at ComicCon today for stabbing a guy in the eye with a pen over seating assignments?) and I STILL wouldn't miss Dwight Yokem and Loretta Lynn.  Royalty, my friends. I'm a-flutter just thinking about it.  Yokem's free show at the Kentucky State Fair a few years back was DI-VINE!  And I've never seen Lynn, so... whoa.

Should be cooler tomorrow.  Thank the baby Breesus.  I have to say, I am going to miss heading out to Churchill every day.  I love me some Summer Music Festivals.  And I love being "media."  Of course, I look over the Media Center every day and think "hey, WTF, all of these people are getting PAID for this??" That ain't right.  Eh, sour grapes, right?   I'm having tons of fun.  And on Monday, I will sleep for days.

Also up tomorrow:  Tonic, the Black Crowes, the Avett Brothers, and, of course, Dave Matthews.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

HullabaLOU Day One: In brief

This is just a brief overview of my first day at HullabaLOU. It's late, and I'm pooped.  But I'll go into more detail soon, I promise.  Mama had a great day.

After a somewhat inauspicious start to the festival (more on that at a later date), I arrived at HullabaLOU just in time to catch the magnificent Gladys Knight.   I was hot, dehydrated, and cranky, and Ms. Knight came on close to twenty minutes late.  But as I tweeted a local, I would have gladly waited days...

Largely due to my affinity for music festivals, I've seen so many of "the greats" in concert:  BB King, Little Richard, Al Green, Isaac Hayes, Fats Domino, Marva Wright, Aretha Franklin... I grew up, somehow, loving Motown/R&B above all other music.  And I've seen Gladys Knight before, at the New Orleans Jazz Fest, but this time I was just two people back from the stage-- two fraking TALL people, unfortunately.  But when Ms. Knight took the stage, my festival experience began.  All the stress of simply getting there dissipated, and I was in the groove.  Ms. Knight was astounding in her energy, her spunk, and her charm.  I want to be Gladys Knight when I grow up.  (Got some great video, and I'll devote a post to her soon.)

Train put on a great show in the grand scheme of things, but I was kind of put off by the frat-boyishness of the lead singer.  Sure, I love "Soul Sister" and "Drops of Jupiter."  But the whole spectacle left me feeling rather empty, like I could have stayed home and listened to their CD and been as nonplussed.

Two things surprised me about the Colbie Caillat show:  (A) This is a woman who sounds as fantastic live as she does on her albums, and (B) The moment she went acoustic and off-album, the crowd fled.  I love it when a young, hot singer lives up to her/his album hype, and Caillat truly did.  Her sound is lovely, and she is gorgeous.  It's less country and more whatever Jason Mraz is (not surprisingly she's recorded a duet with him). So nice to see a young woman with some flesh on her bones and some soul in her voice.  After seeing Gladys Knight, I was less enthralled with Caillat's stage presence than I probably normally would have been, but for the most part her voice alone charmed me and made me want to check out her album on iTunes.

I didn't intentionally check out the Dierks Bentley show, but I did catch a couple of songs with Sam Bush guesting.  And heck, he's pretty good.  And he's pretty good looking too!

I know I've been gushing a bit about Bon Jovi over these past few weeks, but some of that-- I thought-- was kind of tongue-in-cheek.  I mean, I made Bon Jovi a relentless target when I was a teenager.  HATED them.  I was an REM/U2/Smiths/Cure/Pixies-loving kid, and Bon Jovi was the quintessential band that was destroying music.  (Ok, maybe the New Kids on the Block was the true quintessential band killing music back then)  But as an adult, in retrospect, Bon Jovi was the real deal.  And they proved this true tonight.  Motley Crue, Poison, Slayer... none of the big hair bands of the 80s-90s would have drawn the crowd that Bon Jovi did tonight.  And none of those bands, when they took the stage, would have made my heart flutter like Bon Jovi did.  (More on Bon Jovi later, I promise.)

Overall, after multiple headaches and still with tons of questions, I remain a HUGE fan of summer music festivals.  And so far, HullabaLOU is mostly scratching that itch.  I am so tremendously lucky to be "media" for this festival.  More on that... as you can imagine... later.  Can't wait for tomorrow.

Friday, July 23, 2010

HullabaLOU Preview: Colbie Caillat today at 715p

I don't know anything about Colbie Caillat, but tonight I'll go see her show at HullabaLOU.  One of my favorite things about music festivals is having the chance to find new music.  Check out this music video for "I Never Told You."  It's directed by my friend, Roman White, who's also directed award-winning videos by Carrie Underwood (including that awesome one where she takes a Louisville Slugger to her boyfriend's car) and Taylor Swift (remember the whole Kanye-Beyonce-TS-meltdown on the VMA's? Yeah, that was Roman's video).

And remember, HullabaLOU-ers, with a heat index nearing 110 today, it's even more important to HYDRATE!  See you at the Fest!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pre-HullabaLOU Helpful Hints for Fest-ing

Based on my own experiences as a veteran fest-er and the information on the HullabaLOU website, here are a few helpful hints before HullabaLOU even begins:


  • Pay attention to the information that the Festival has released about parking and shuttles.  There's no worse start to a fest-ing day than spending oodles of time looking for a parking space or being surprised at how much the parking costs you or how unavailable it is close by.  When we go to Derby/Oaks, we always park in front of a friend's house located around six blocks south of the Downs.  I am NOT AT ALL SAYING you should invade residential neighborhoods and park willy-nilly, but ask around-- do you have any friends who live comfortable walking distance from the Downs?  It might be way less of a headache than having to park in expensive lots that are, still, far away.
  • If your fest-ing party is large enough, consider that it might actually be cheaper to take a cab rather than pay for three or four shuttles-- and you'll be getting a ride from door-to-door.
  • From prior fest-ing experience (and based on HullabaLOU's "what's allowed and what's not allowed" lists), here are things you absolutely should not leave home without:
    • Sunscreen-- big time, 40+ SPF-- don't be silly, one day of too much sun will eff up the rest of your fest.  Also, sunblock for your lips.
    • Some kind of cap or hat.
    • A blanket and/or a collapsable camping chair
    • 2 SEALED bottles of water
    • A pen to mark up your schedule (if you haven't already downloaded HullabaLOU's iPhone/mobile app)-- actually a pen, just because.
    • (Note: musical instruments are NOT ALLOWED-- I'm LOVING that!  Hippy Dude, leave your frigging tambourine at HOME!!  Sorry... that's a big music fest pet peeve of mine).
  • Given that this event takes place mostly in the infield of the racetrack, it would be only natural to think of it as just Derby infield with music.  It's NOT.  Thinking about HullabaLOU with Derby on the brain is a bad idea.  Here's why:
    • Have you been outside lately?  No seriously, have you been outside??  Now, think back to Derby Day... okay, maybe not this rainsoaked one, but your average Derby Day.  Usually your biggest concern (if you're me) is whether or not it's going to be too chilly for the cute little sundress you bought.  If you're blessed with a 70-something degree day, you go to the Downs feeling like you'll bet on nothing but winners.  But usually, the crush of the crowd is a little comforting because of all the body heat it generates.  In heat like this you have to be really, really smart about taking good care of yourself.  
      • Chiefly: HYDRATE.  Unlike most fests, HullabaLOU is letting you bring TWO sealed bottles of water.  That's pretty awesome of them.  Also, water is being sold for $2, which isn't the major rip-off it usually is at shows.  I bet there will be water fountains where you can refill your bottles, so even the $2 will stretch.  Drink way more water than you think you need.  Buy water-based drinks like lemonade, if you want to switch it up.
      • Know that HullabaLOU is providing WaveNation Chillzones (aka big mist tents) in the infield, and don't forget that the clubhouse areas of the Downs are air conditioned.  
      • If you or one of your fest-ing buddies starts to feel woozy in the heat, don't eff around-- get that person to the First Aid tent pronto.  Seems like at least one person a year dies from overexposure to the heat (and, sure, other stuff) at Bonnaroo.  
    • Along the same lines, when one thinks of Derby infield, one thinks of drunken debauchery. Don't forget, kids, you paid big bucks to come to this MUSIC festival.  Sure, it's tempting to let loose, smuggle in ziplock baggies of vodka and moonshine in your skivvies, and party like a rock star.  But (A) that's ANTI-HYDRATION and (B) don't you want to have clear memories of Huey Lewis busting out "The Power of Love"?  Remember, Mama loves you, and she wants you to have a good time and to be safe.  But even Mama, who loves her adult beverages, learned young that alcohol, sun, crowds, and extreme heat do not mix, and hasn't had a pre-dark drink at a summer music festival in more than a decade.
  • You should always pick up after yourselves at fests, of course, but HullabaLOU and LG&E are encouraging you to pick up after others, as well.  LG&E is sponsoring the Clean Vibes Trading Post-- bring your recyclable/compostable cups, cans, and bottles to three fest locations, and get Clean Vibes points that you can use to "purchase" green health and beauty products, gear, and clothing.  If you're really serious about this, you might want to tuck a small plastic trashbag into your backpack.  I'd bet that a half an hour of serious "trashcan diving" would net you something pretty decent at the Trading Post.
  • Whether you're a local or an out-of-towner, you're going to want to stop by the Kentucky Market Place sponsored by the Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen.  In fact, you're probably going to want to pack a little extra dough to spend at the marketplace, although there will be ATMs all around.
That's about it for now.  I'll post more helpful tips when and if they come to me.  In the meantime, happy fest-ing, y'all.  And good luck, HullabaLOU!

Jazz Fest Girl Goes HullabaLOU-ing

Hey, before you scroll down to the bottom of this post, hit "comment," and start making like a troll about how unfair it is for me to compare the iconic New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival to the brand new HullabaLOU Festival-- STOP!  Take a breath.  That's not where I'm going with this.  Yeesh.

Sure, both festivals are hosted by Churchill properties, but they're run by different production companies.  And yes, looking out over the festival build from the 6th floor media room at Churchill, it's easy to see that HullabaLOU has taken some of their layout inspiration from Jazz Fest (but not much).

I'm just saying, I'm a Jazz Fest girl.  When you live in New Orleans for any significant amount of time, you quickly find yourself identifying with one of two groups:  either you're a Mardi Gras person or a Jazz Fest person.  (side note:  I'd like to believe that Louisville is slowly drawing a similar divide between Derby people and IdeaFestival people).  And I'm a Jazz Fest girl-- Jazz Fest in New Orleans was my favorite time of the year; I'd gladly trade Christmas, New Years, and my birthday for just one weekend of Jazz Fest.

And if you've been reading this blog for any significant amount of time, you'll also know that I'm an avid Bonnaroo-er, who is very, very sad to have missed this year's Roo.

So I love me some outdoor music festivals.  And regardless that I am still a bit up in the air about some  HullabaLOU details (the line-up, the fixed seating for the main stage...), I'm genuinely psyched for the three-day fest.

Today I got my actual media pass, and I plan on attending all three days of the festival.  I'll do a little reporting from the fest itself (the media center has kick-ass wireless), and I'll do a little reporting after the fact.  But if you're really interested in real-time Lou from HullabaLOU, you're best off following me on Twitter ( @loueyville).

Can't make it to the Fest?  Will following me and reading my reports not be enough for you?  Note that the HullabaLOU website will be simulcasting (is that the right word, or am I still thinking racing?) some of the performances.  The website lists all the acts that will be simulcast, but my suggestions for not-to-miss web shows include:

Saturday, 550p-- Ben Sollee
Sunday, 415p-- The Black Crowes
Sunday, 630p-- Avett Brothers
(most of Friday's simulcast is TBA)

And if I'm not enough blog action for you (don't worry, I won't feel bad), the folks at Louisville.com and Backseatsandbar.com are sure to do a great job covering the event as well.

Remember kids, I am just one Lou.  One Lou who is going to rock out this weekend.

Test

Just testing a mobile blogger app for the iTouch. It looks nice on the screen but no landscape keyboard means my thumb will cramp. Think I will probably use email instead.

Have a nice day!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

New series: "Awesome Louisvillagers"

It's no secret that my favorite thing about this fine, fine city is the people.  I recently came home from a two week vacation up north and wanted to hug each and every Louisvillager after spending so much time with stand-offish New Englanders.  

One of my favorite things about Louisvillagers is that they're always doing really nifty, innovative, and/or kind things.  And wouldn't it be great if we could get to know a little more about the people behind these really nifty, innovative, and/or kind things-- these awesome Louisvillagers? 

But it's also no secret that-- in real life-- I'm shy as shit.  Seriously.  Sweaty-palmed, stammering, awkward-smile-that-kinda-looks-like-I-might-bite-or-cry kind of shy.  

Enter the internet. (cue gong)  And the magic of the e-interview.  (cue chorus of angels singing)

So, starting next week, I will be featuring periodic interviews with awesome Louisvillagers-- locals who are doing something cool for the city, for the region, for others, or even just for themselves.  Just five questions (more or less), just enough to let the Louisvillager get to the heart of what he or she does.  

No surprise, my shy ass is starting with people I know or kind of know.  Who do you want to hear from?  What do you want to know about Awesome Louisvillagers?

For the Children: Free at Papalino's on Weds.

A couple months ago, the CJ published an article called "Pizza Wars: Slicing Up the Highlands" (no longer available online, but you can buy it here if you need to have it), covering the heating up of the pizza competition in my immediate neighborhood after the opening of Papalino's pizza.  The article just covered Wicks, Spinelli's, and Papalino's, but when you think about it, the Baxter/Bardstown corridor has more pizza than some similar stretches in NYC.  Just off the top of my head:


  • Spinelli's
  • Wick's
  • Papalino's
  • Bearno's
  • Boom-bozz
  • Pizza Roma
  • Impellizeri's
  • Pizza Hut


And other restaurants that serve pizza including: Dragon King's Daughter (sorta), Le Gallo Rosso, and Flanagan's.  I'm sure I'm missing a few.

I'm a huge fan of Papalino's.  Between their lovely NYC-style crust, their HUGE slices, and the fresh ingredients, it's become my go-to pizza joint (it's also very close to my house).

Today they announced that on Wednesday's from 5pm-9pm, kids will eat free with an "adult purchase" (it's a little unclear what that entails). Kids will get a slice and a drink and free entertainment by a magician starting today and every Wednesday.

Another blow in the Pizza Wars.  And another great reason to take the wee ones out on the town.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

An Open Letter to Groupon from an Addict

Dear Groupon Louisville,

Sweet Mother of Christmas, I can't seem to quit you!  Just when I've told myself "Lou, no more Groupons until you use the ones you've got," you throw LIBA week our way where you feature nothing but independent Louisville businesses.  How could I pass up yesterday's Why Louisville? Groupon?

I know you're newish to the Louisville scene and have existed in other cities for a while, but ever since you came to our fair city, I've been an addict.  I'm not above finding myself awake in the middle of the night and checking my iTouch to see what discounted goodness you've sent to my mailbox in the wee hours.  I've signed up for New Orleans and Cincy, too, because I travel to both places often enough.  Roommate subscribes to Nashville for the same reason.

I currently have more than $300 in Groupon gift certificates waiting to be used.  Of course, I paid less than half that for all those Groupons.  I keep thinking that I should have a Groupon week and do nothing that doesn't use my Groupons.  I could buy books at the Book and Music Exchange and enjoy a good read while at Coco's Chocolate Cafe.  Then I could work off those extra pounds at a Jazzercise class or by buying some hiking gear at the Trail Store.  If I went hiking, I could pack a lunch from Heitzman's deli or Bodega, and celebrate my success at White Oak... you get the picture.

Since you've arrived on the scene, Groupon, we've seen at least two other sites try to replicate your success:  Living Social and Try it Local.  And of course there's the older, sometimes sketchy, Restaurants.com.  So far none of those sites has inspired addiction quite like you have.

As long as I'm going to remain a Groupon addict-- because I can't seem to quit you-- I might as well give you my wish list:

1) More sushi-- I'd love to see Oiishi or Wasabiya on your site.
2) Fewer hair salons-- Just how many heads of hair do you think we have?
3) A week of local gift-y boutiques right before the holidays-- most of my boutique-y Groupons will expire well in advance of gift-giving season.
4) More coffee shops-- Maybe for whole bean coffee?  Don't make us get pastries.
5) Nice seats at Churchill-- could be the only way I ever get to the track for more than General Admission.
6) Baxter Ave Theater-- Maybe a two-for-one deal?
7) Grocery stores-- fun AND practical.
8) Downtown Hotels-- be a tourist in your own city, as long as the Groupon rate is lower than you can normally get on Hotwire or Priceline.
9) More brand new businesses-- what a great way for a new local business to get people in the door!
10) 7 Days a week-- other Groupon cities offer a new Groupon every day!

Thanks for hearing me out Groupon.  A belated welcome to Louisville.  Keep the deals coming!

Best,
Lou

PS: Readers, if you haven't tried Groupon yet, if you click my link, I get some sort of bonus Groupon points.  Just sayin... :)

Oh What a Night Out: Jersey Boys at the Kentucky Center

After totally loving Broadway Across America's production of Legally Blonde: The Musical this summer-- which was absolutely delightful-- I'm just plain ol' looking forward to Jersey Boys, starting July 28 and continuing through August 15.  Before Legally Blonde, I wouldn't have said so.  In fact, I might have even said I'd rather skip Jersey Boys.  But I was proven so wrong about Legally Blonde...

And Jersey Boys is incredibly well-reviewed.  It won the 2006 Tony for Best Musical, and let's face it, even if you're not a huge fan of the Four Seasons' music, the original bands' vocal talents were such that if the musical even adequately replicates them, you're in for a night of musical virtuosity.  And its success has spawned all sorts of band/musician centered musical bios-- imitation, flattery, and so on.

And who doesn't love a night out in downtown Louisville during the summer?  This past weekend, Roommate and I availed ourselves of one of my Groupons for White Oak and had a lovely dinner then headed to Fourth Street Live for the free Peter Searcy/Blues Travelers concert.  It wasn't one of the better nights for White Oak-- service was slow (so much so that we missed Peter Searcy) and they were out of a couple of key items (bacon?).  But the food was excellent, and it was a nice change to have a leisurely meal at a somewhat upscale place, knowing we weren't going to go broke.  (Tip: order the cheese plate-- the Kenny's Farmhouse Horseradish White Cheddar is amazing)

And while I generally avoid Fourth Street Live, I have to admit that the free concerts are a lot of fun.  The sound system sucks unless you're directly in front of the stage-- and if you're on the second floor, often the concert is competing with the bars' cranked-up music (really? Is this necessary?).  But we finagled a clear balcony view of the Blues Travelers and availed ourselves of the pretty generous $3 well-drinks and enjoyed a cheap, fun evening out.

A Broadway show at the Kentucky Center is considerably more expensive.  Tickets start at $40.  But if Jersey Boys is your sort of thing, it'll be money well spent.  Tickets are available at http://www.kentuckycenter.org/.  I'll keep you posted if I spy any discounts or deals.

Friday, July 16, 2010

$6 to Visit Indiana: What's Worth It?

Today the Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridges Authority released a report suggesting a $3 toll-- each way-- on the Ohio River bridges.

I don't really get my politics on in this blog.  So, I don't want to talk about what you think about the proposed tolls (although I hope your answer is [a] bad idea [b] really bad idea or [c] worst idea ever).

What I want to talk about is-- what in Southern Indiana would be worth paying an extra six bucks for?

I've been very forthright since I moved here that I am practically allergic to crossing the bridges into Southern Indiana.  Sure, I have a mild bridge phobia, but it does deeper than that.  It's... it's just a "thing."

And it's NOT an "Indiana" thing-- don't get all "You're a Louisville snob" on me.  When I lived in New Orleans, I knew empirically that the nearest Home Depot/Target/etc was across the bridge on the West Bank, but I persisted in traveling an extra 10 minutes or so to the stores in Metairie (an equally hideous suburb) for the entire nine years I lived there.

Roommate & I cross the river every month or so to visit his family in Columbus, Indiana.  I once crossed the river to go to a rocking holiday party in New Albany.  I'll still make those kinds of trips, of course.

But what else is worth the extra $6 that a bridge crossing may end up costing you?  Comment below,  email me at lou [at] loueyville.com, or tweet me @loueyville, and if I get enough responses, I'll post a list.

I'll start you off:  I think I'd be okay with paying $6 for an occasional seasonal Huber's visit.  Likely in the fall.  For pumpkins and apples.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Hullaba-YOUBETCHA!

Stranger things have happened, sure.  But I have to admit, I'm kind of one big ol' happy dance about the fact that I've been granted Big Girl Media Credentials for the upcoming HullabaLOU Festival.... despite... well, despite having said, ahem, some kind of critical stuff about the plans... and the line-up... and the assigned seating.

I like to think that the fine folks over at HullabaLOU looked past my deep skepticism and saw through to the little girl who loved her Aunt Rose and loved her some Tom Jones.

Anyway, while I've been considered media by Actor's Theater, Broadway Across America, the now defunct Six Flags, and others, this will be my first experience since the days of the Tom Jones interview with being a bonafide journalist (as opposed to a writer with free media tickets or my name on a "list").  And I'm pretty darned excited.

I've already downloaded my free HullabaLOU iPhone (iTouch, really) app.  It's nicely designed.  Like Bonnaroo's app, it lets you customize a schedule.  Unlike Bonnaroo's app, it also has a radio component, which lets you listen to songs from HullabaLOU artists-- just in case you don't know what Dierks Bentley sounds like, for example (which I didn't)-- and then add them to your schedule (which I didn't).

I'm not the least bit embarrassed to admit that this whole shebang would have me excited if it were just a Bon Jovi concert.  When Bon Jovi was really popular, I made relentless fun of them and lumped them in with every other hair band of the 80's.  But I was a moody, mopey teenager.  I liked deep, meaningful music, preferably sung by men with ambiguous sexuality, eyeliner, hairspray, and leather pants.  Oh wait a minute, hold the phone...

Seriously, back in the heyday of Bon Jovi, I was a Cure/Smiths-loving, poetry-writing, mainstream-scoffing teenager.  But now that I'm a thirty-mumblemumble-something, I look back and realize that Bon Jovi was kind of the real deal when it comes to rock bands.  They're no Bruce Springsteen.  But they're, you know, in the same league-ish.  And I... well, I kind of have a little Jon Bon Jovi crush these days.

Anyway, I'll be spending the next few days figuring out the best way to cover HullabaLOU.  I promise, I won't let the affirmation of "media credentials" color my coverage.

Remember kiddos, there is a local blogger who only says nice things about local stuff.
That local blogger ain't me.

Monday, July 12, 2010

All-Star Break Rundown: Bats & Reds

I've been a baseball fan since birth.  True story: when I was three years old, my uncle David recorded me on a reel-to-reel tape singing all kinds of crazy songs.  But the one I kept asking to sing was "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."  So I have in my possession a tape of Baby Lou singing her own version of that song with her tiny baby speech impediment.  The Baby Lou version includes the lyrics:  "Woot woot woot for the hawm team/ if dey don't win it's a shave."  Uncle Dave tried to correct me:  "It's a SHAME."  But I would have none of it.  When Dave asked me why I thought the correct lyrics were "If they don't win it's a SHAVE," I responded:  "Well, if we didn't win, it musta been close.  Like a shave.  The other team musta won by a shave."

Back in my native New England there's a common t-shirt joke:  "I Support Two Baseball Teams:  The Red Sox and Whoever's Playing the Yankees."  But if you live in Louisville Bats country, it only makes sense to support the Cincinnati Reds.  After all, what's the point of supporting a farm team if you don't support the big MLB Ranch in the Sky where our little farm denizens fly when they are called up to pass through our big, er, bricky gates.

The Bats have had better seasons.  As we approach the All-Star break, we're currently 4th in the West (uh, West?) and 11.5 games out of first place.  Tonight we lost a heartbreaker to the Clippers after being up 5-3 in the 7th.

The Reds, on the other hand, are kicking some butt in their division-- leapfrogging back and forth with St. Louis for number one.  Currently they're in first place, one game up, even after a disappointing four game losing streak in Philly.

But All-Star break time means changes, usually.  And the Bats will probably be losing awesomely-named Yonder Alonso to the Reds sometime soon.  On June 30, the Reds called up pitcher Travis Wood from the Bats.  Heard of him?  If you follow baseball, you should have-- on July 10 in his third start with the Reds, he pitched a near perfect game, going eight innings without a hit, surrendering his first hit in the top of the 9th.

Woods and Chris Valaika (Roommate & I call him Chris "Paul Anka" because that's the way the announcer says his name) will be participating in next week's AAA All-Star Games in Allentown, PA (home of the Iron Pigs!).  Two years ago, when Slugger Field hosted the All-Star Games, I attended every event-- alone and recovering from chemo, no less-- and loved every minute.  Wish them both the best of luck.

In other Bats news, Gary Matthews, Jr. has quietly joined the team.  Matthews, who was signed to the Reds at the end of June, has been an MLB-er since June of 1999, playing for nine different teams in his career.  Matthews hit a double tonight and fairly aptly defended center field.  He's a second gen MLB player-- his dad was an outfielder for 16 years and then went on to be an announcer for the Phillies.

Of course, the big story this year was supposed to be Aroldis Chapman, the Cuban pitcher who signed a $30million contract with the Reds and was expected to get a quick call-up from the Reds.  Instead he's 5-6 with the Bats and his call-up is on hold.

My favorite Bat this year is Wladmir Balentien from Curacao, who joined the Bats after two seasons with the Mariners' farm team.  (What, by the way, is with all these great names?)  When Roommate and I go to Bats games, we invariably camp out on the Overlook Deck or, when it's not reserved, the covered picnic area, so I spend half of the game watching Balentien's back (his back, really).  And while some outfielders look like they're mentally compiling their Christmas lists while they're waiting for something to happen, Balentien is always in the game.  He's made some incredible catches this year, and the arm on this guy... awesome.

By virtue of the fact that the Reds are having an amazing season this year, and the fact that Roommate was a Big Red Machine child, I've probably seen more Reds games than Sox games this year.  Sure, I hate to lose our Bats to the big leagues... Yonder, I'll be sorry to see you go... but I just love seeing our former Bats doing great things in the MLB.  Homer Bailey and Chris Heisey... I cheer just a little harder when they're on the mound or up at bad (respectively).

Play ball, y'all-- Bats return on Thursday for a four-game homestand against the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.    Let's hope that if we don't win these games, we'll at least lose by a "shave."

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mark it: Lebowski Fest next weekend!

I know that this may make me terminally uncool, but I was way more into the idea of Lebowski Fest before  it took to the road.  I know we've recently had a similar discussion about the spread of 21c Hotels-- although I find that far easier to take now that the 21c folks are saying that Louisville will still be the HQ-- and I know that I run the risk of being the opposite of a NIMBY person, an OIMBY person (Only In My Back Yard).  But I just kind of feel like when you franchise quirk (and I know, the original Lebowski Fest folks run all the Fests), you kind of dilute the quirkiness.

That being said, Lebowski Fest was one of the things that made me excited to move to Louisville.  I'd been following the Fest for a couple of years but hadn't been able to attend because of summer work schedules.  And when I signed my contract for my Meatspace Workplace here in Louisville, I had a lightbulb moment-- "OMG!  I'm moving to the home of Lebowski Fest-- you've got to be kidding me!!"

I have my doubts that I'll make it this year-- there's a whole slew of stuff going on in town at the same time-- but it starts this Friday, the 16th.  The Movie Night offerings are particularly good with music performances by the Felice Brothers and Thomas A Minor and the Picket line (who totally rocked last year's Nulu Festival before the monsoon).

Rock the Block: Blues Travelers on July 17

Speaking of upcoming music-- color me surprised!  (Oh, that could be twisted into an awful pun.  I shall resist.)  Turns out 4th Street Live is hosting a couple of pretty good non-country free concerts this summer. I've already missed a band called 100% Poly (I'm actually just assuming they're not country) and the Gin Blossoms.  But next weekend-- July 17th-- the glorified airport terminal will host the Blues Travelers for their Rock the Block free concert.  And I will say, without hesitation, I'm pretty psyched.

I genuinely kinda love Blues Travelers.  And not just in that nostalgic "their debut album was the soundtrack for a really great summer in my teens" kind of way (though it was).  John Popper is a harmonica god.  As Bono once said, "You wouldn't think something this small [the harmonica] would be this hard to learn."  And while I haven't heard much from their latest album, it features a guest appearance by Bruce Willis (also a harmonica badass), and my general rule of thumb is that if it includes Bruce Willis, it must be made of awesome.  (Oh come now.  Think hard.  I'm not entirely wrong here.)

Anyway the show is free and 21 and over after 9pm.  Parking is free in the garage.  The next Rock the Block show is Sister Hazel on August 14.  If I'm remembering correctly, they're from somewhere in the neighborhood of Gainesville, FL.  At least I knew some folks who worked at the University of Florida who were dedicated Sister Hazelheads back in the 90's.  Saw them live once in New Orleans, and I could definitely understand the concert-- if not quite the album-- appeal.

Bloggers and Books: Do-Gooding over at Page One Kentucky

I am of an awkward tech generation.  I am young enough that I am not only not afraid of technology, but I truly embrace it and believe that it has enhanced my quality of life.  But I am not so young that I don't remember life without it.  I'm not so young that my smart phone (my phone is dumb, btw) is surgically attached to my ear/thumbs.  I'm not so young that I don't remember how to use the Yellow Pages or an atlas.

That being said, I am young enough-- and enough of a tech cheerleader-- to frequently have to play the role of "Tech Defender" when in conversations with my elders.  It happens way more often than you think.  And as someone who spends a decent amount of time with-- older-- writers, the conversation often goes something like this:

Older writer:  The interwebs is killing our artform!  Now anyone can be published!  Anyone! Why have I worked all these years to hone my craft when a thirteen-year-old from Pine Bluffs can now publish her zombie-smurf mash-up porn on the interwebs after one night of Red Bull-fueled brain-dumping?

Me: Calm down.  It's okay.  People will still seek out and read good books by talented writers.  Always.

Older writer:  Are you crazy?? Haven't you heard?? Everyone is saying that there will be NO MORE BOOKS soon!  NO MORE NEWSPAPERS!  The INTERNET IS KILLING BOOKS!!

I will not further the debate here.  But if you didn't already know that that debate is out there, well there you go.  It is.  There are a whole bunch of people in the world who really truly believe that we will wake up some day in the near future and there will be no. more. books.

So it's kind of funny that the most book-supporting, literacy-loving people I know are the two most popular local bloggers.  Interwebs people!  The very people who are purportedly killing our books!

Michelle at Consuming Louisville had a smashingly successful book drive for the Louisville Free Public Library last year, collecting just around 200 books for their flood-damaged inventory.

Now it looks like Jake at Page One Kentucky/Ville Voice has a little something up his sleeve book-wise.    Sez Jake:  I’ve been working with funders and educators to develop a program that puts 10-12 books in the hands of a few hundred kids in rural areas of Kentucky. Normally don’t speak of things before the dotted line is signed, but I’ll buy the books myself if I have to. ... I want your input on stories about Kentucky or books (fiction or non-fiction) by Kentucky authors to be considered for purchase.... What are your suggestions? Any great, interesting, exciting or essential reads for Kentucky youth? Probably high school sophomore-aged, so not stuff for kids.


Send your comments and suggestions to Jake @ pageonekentucky.com or comment directly on the blog post.  If you want to help financially, drop Jake a note.  Hopefully (??) Jake will set up some way for us to donate to this awesome cause directly online.  I'm not as up on Kentucky authors as I should be.  I bet you high school sophomore kids would be into local author Brett Witter's DEWEY, though.  And it's about libraries... so there you go.

Christmas in July: Sleigh Bells @ Zanzabar

I just bummed myself out a little bit.  For the most part, I've been a-okay with the fact that my pockets just weren't deep enough this year to help myself to a little Forecastle Festival this weekend.  Based on Twitter traffic, it seems like people are having a pretty great time.  But I'm working on catching up with all the blog posts collected by my Google Reader while I was on vacation, and I just sifted through all of Backseat Sandbar's Forecastle coverage... and now I'm kind of sad I didn't go.  Good job, BS guys.  And I hope all of you who are festing on this last day are remembering to hydrate.  It's gonna be another scorcher.

I'll treat my Forecastle envy later this week with another Wednesday night show at Zanzabar: Sleigh Bells.  Sleigh Bells are an electronic duo from Brooklyn who seem to have a really BIG sound for such a small venue.  I'll be honest-- I don't really know Sleigh Bells from a hole in the wall, but a friend whose taste I trust recently Facebooked that their new album, "Treats" was his favorite album of the year.  I had a really great time at Zanzabar's Charlie Mars show last month, and Roommate went to a nice show there last week (the singer's name escapes me now).  So, we'll give it a go.

It's Wednesday, July 14th.  8pm doors, 9pm show with Po Po and Nerve City opening.  The show is $10.  See you there?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Happy to be Home

If you're ever feeling a little less than "yourself" one of these days, I highly recommend a cure of equal parts mountains, frog ponds, old friends, new friends, family, sea breezes, other people's children, blood orange margaritas, and copious consumption of lobster.  Truly, Mama has just come back from spending 10 days living the good life in the region from whence she came.  New England is the site for many of my happiest places on earth, most of which I got to visit while I was there:  Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard, Stonington Borough in Connecticut, Grandma Lou's house outside of Boston, and new favorite Stowe in Vermont.  (Other happiest New England place, Fenway Park, was a no go this year)

I can't remember the last time I was tanned and rested.  I've been tanned in the past few years.  I've been rested.  But never the two at the same time.  It's a rather lovely feeling, kiddos.  I highly recommend it.

But let me tell you something, Louisvillagers...  I had a fantastic time, and I love my New England peeps with all my heart.  And yes, I spent the first 18 years of my life in that neck of the woods.  New England has a lot to offer, and I miss a great deal about the place.  But, simply put:  you people are way nicer.

Really, every time I leave Louisville for points north and/or east, I am reminded of just how lovely and pleasant Louisvillagers are.  I felt the same way about New Orleanians, to be honest.  I don't go west enough to have anything to say about the left coasters, but people up north and down east are, as a whole, pretty damned crabby on a good day and good old fashioned rude on a bad one.  To strangers.  And of course, I am totally generalizing.  (And after this trip in particular, I am quite convinced that the Hellmouth of Rudeness is located directly underneath the airport in Baltimore-- sheesh!)  This is pure conjecture, but maybe people in the northeast are in a bad mood all of the time because the cost of living is so high up in those parts.  But you'd think that the easy access to reasonably-priced lobster would mitigate that...

Anyway, point is, my dears:  thanks for always making it a pleasure to come home.  Sure I could have used a few more days of swimming holes and mountain hikes (and everyone could use a few more blood orange margaritas in their lives), but the moment I hit baggage claim at SDF and was helped out by a smiling stranger, I was already glad to be back in the Ville.

Y'all rock, Louisvillagers.

Back to "work" tomorrow!