Thursday, September 30, 2010

Another Reason to Love Louisville: Try to Prioritize This Weekend!

Phew, now that I have that off my chest...

It's time to delve into this crazy, exciting weekend ahead of us.  Seriously kids, it feels a little bit like the Derby build-up weeks, where there's so much going on it's hard to prioritize.  You're not hearing any complaining from me.  Quite the contrary.  I LOVE the fact that the folks who are in town for something like the Idea Festival are confronted with a Louisville that is bursting at the seams with brilliant, exciting, and diverse possibilities.  It's awesome PR for us, Louisvillagers.  So if you find yourself cursing the fact that you have to make hard choices this weekend, remember how good weekends like this are for the future of travel and tourism in Louisville.

  • You know I love me some Idea Festival.  I'm so lucky that I get to go tomorrow all day for work and on the company dime.  I am all a twitter over this, and that's wicked appropriate seeing that one of the speakers tomorrow is Dom Sagolia, a co-founder of Twitter.  The lecture I'm most looking forward to, though, is the 9am "Life Before Life," by Dr. Jim Tucker, a doctor who is studying children who believe that they have vivid past-life, pre-natal, or birth memories.  Check out the Idea Festival schedule here.  And be proud that our city hosts this kind of event, one that celebrates genius and innovation-- especially in a culture that seems to be increasingly anti-intellectual...
  • Speaking of Idea Festival, are you regretting not going to see the Janelle Monae concert last night?  While Waterfront Wednesday with Great Big Sea was fantastic, I'm hearing things about the Monae concert that are making me very sad I missed it.
  • And, you know, speaking of reasons to be proud to live in Louisville, I still believe that Walden Theater is one of Louisville's treasures.  This is the last weekend to catch what I've heard is a great production of Tennessee Williams's rarely produced "Camino Real."  Shows are at 7:30pm Friday and Saturday and 2pm on Saturday.  I'll be there for the Saturday matinee.
  • I'm not a big fan of the St. James Court Art Fair.  Just too crowded and non-local for me.  But it's unfailingly listed on Best Art Fairs in the US lists.  So, I'll tell you this: if you haven't been, you really should go.  In that sense, it's a little bit like Derby-- even if it isn't your thing, you really should go.  Once.  It's hard to call yourself a Louisvillager if you haven't been.  
  • Of course, if you're hankering for LOCAL art, not artisans from all over the country, there's the UNFair in the back of the Mag Bar.  This year there seems to be less hoopla and controversy, which is a good thing. Honestly, the one time I went to the St. James Court Art Fair, the only art I bought was at the UNfair on the way out (a really cool Hunter S. Thompson t-shirt that I don't wear enough).
Are you tired yet?  I am...
  • The music line-up (FOR FREE) at this year's NULU Festival is hot!  Last year I volunteered there (wish I could this year, but I'm all last-minutey this weekend) and had a great time until we were washed away by a freak monsoon.  This year we've got the Fervor, Lucky Pineapple, the Pass (my new favorite local band), the Instruction, and Love Jones.  For free.  And it's being held in conjunction with VolksFest, so we're talking some seriously good beers on tap.  
  • This whole week has been Louisville Craft Beer week, and I've seriously neglected the sundry celebrations.  But I do intend to take advantage of tomorrow's Junk Food Beer Dinner at the Monkey Wrench and Germantown.  A bus crawl of seven bars?  Heck yeah.
If you're at home catching up on the new season of TV shows on (as I might normally be) this weekend, you're batsh*t nuts.  This is going to be a great weekend in Louisville.  Chilly temps, tons to do, the whole city out to play.  

I need a nap.

A Lou PSA: Mamas (& Daddys) Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Useless

Mamas (and Daddies), don't let your babies grow up to be useless...

Apologies to Uncle Willie, of course.

On any given day, I feel like a very capable, strong woman (hear me roar!).  But whenever I'm confronted by anything resembling a "maintenance" issue-- be it with my jalopy or my house, or in this case someone else's house-- I am reduced to a manic pile of quivering stressmeat.

I don't blame being brought up by a single mother; Big Mama Lou has become much more capable than I am over the years.  I blame being brought up being surrounded by so many exceptionally capable men.  My grandfather, Chip, was a plumbing and heating guy, but he was a jack of all trades.  He could woodwork with the best of them, perform car repairs, and fix nigh anything if given the time.  And he raised his four sons (five, if you count my dad, who died when I was a babe) to be equally handy.  I doubt that side of my family has called more than a half dozen repairfolk over the course of the past five decades.

But me, I never learned to change a tire or how to figure out what's wrong with my water heater or how to fix a leaky faucet.  It's all beyond me.  And this lack of basic maintenance skills has (a) caused me grief and (b) cost me a considerable bit of money in my adult life.

So yeah, this tangent is apropos of nothing, really.  I'm just offering a PSA to my readers with kiddos:

If you're not handy, if your partner-- if you have one-- is not handy, and y'all have kids:  apprentice said kids to a handy relative or friend.  Force your babes to learn how to paint a room, how to jump a dead battery, and how to shut off the main waterline to the house.  Find someone who can teach them financial management and how to say "no" to those t-shirt-offering credit card companies on their college campuses.  

And heck, if you're not handy, and you find someone to teach your KIDS to be handy, well maybe then you'll also save yourself a boatload of money on plumbers and painters and mechanics and electricians along the way.

I'm just sayin'... 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Waterfront Wednesday: Great Big Sea

Loyal readers may remember that I spent a good deal of time in Newfoundland & Labrador during the summer of '09, so I'm really excited to hear this Waterfront Wednesday's headliners, Great Big Sea, a 17 year old band from Newfoundland. Newfoundland is jaw-droppingly gorgeous, gets mind-numblingly cold during the winters, and produces some of the best beer and rum I've ever had.  That combination (beauty + adversity + booze) has to bode well for the music.  

Rounding out the line-up are locals The Seedy-Seeds and the Ike Reilly Assassination. We know the Seedy-Seeds are good stuff.  Jury's out on Ike Reilly Assassination... I'm wildly skeptical when I read that he named his album "Hard Luck Stories" and that he's described as penning songs with "gritty realism."  We'll see!

Now that the weather has taken a turn for the beautiful, it's time you head out to the Waterfront to enjoy one of the best free things this city offers!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Saturday Night Randomness!

Just got back from the Jug Band Jubilee-- caught the last three bands.  It was my first time at the Brown Forman Amphitheater, and what a nice venue that is!  It's DARK though, like really dark after dark.  Next time there's a festival-y thing there, I'll do my best to arrive before sunset.  What fun!  Not only is the Jug Band Jubilee free, the beers are cheap ($4), and you're treated to jug bands and folk icons from around the country.  I happened to be lucky enough to meet up with Awesome Louisvillager Gabe Bullard who filled me in on the significance of the headliners:  Jim Kweskin and Geoff Muldaur, pioneers of the American folk music scene.

Thanks to Heather from the Jug Band Jubilee for reminding me about the event.  I'm so glad I went, and it will be on my "must do" calendar from now on.

In other news:
  • Tomorrow is the last day for Art in the Highlands on the campus of the Louisville Collegiate School on Grinstead east of Bardstown.  Get your Christmas shopping done early (!!) or see some great artistans and bands.  The art fair is open from 11am til 5pm on Sunday.
  • I REALLY enjoyed Andrea Davidson when she opened up for Charlie Mars at Zanzabar in the late spring.  But whoa, I got an email from her PR folks saying that she was playing her last show in Louisville for 2010 on September 21 at 10pm at "Dutchess Tavern."  Um, yeah... I googled the heck out of that and finally went to her MySpace page (yuck-- why do people still have MySpace pages?) and figured out that the PR folks meant Dutch's Tavern at 3922 Shelbyville Road.  Don't hold it against her...  she's awesome.  Put on a great show at Hullabalou, too.
  • Craft Beer Week starts on 9/24 here in Louisville.  I defer to Michelle, who already covered it very well on Consuming Louisville.  I absolutely plan on getting in on the "Junk Food Beer Dinner" on Oct 1st.  
Working through my backlog of press releases and such.  Hope you're having a GREAT weekend!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Awesome Louisvillager: Brigid Kaelin

Wow!  This installment of Awesome Louisvillagers?  You decide: one of the best Awesome Louisvillagers interview or THE BEST?  

I know I always hyperbolize about all of my Awesome Louisvillagers, but this is truly an amazingly fun and interesting experiment.  And it's proof positive that MY answer to my usual "Why Louisville?" question is a solid one: it's the people, silly.

Well, I imagine if you haven't heard of Brigid Kaelin, you've been living with Fairdale Bigfoot under a rock in Jefferson Memorial Forest.  We haven't actually met-met, although we HAVE hugged; that's just the kind of person Brigid is, I'm thinking. She's a singer/songwriter of self-described "alt-country cabaret music with Kentucky Roots."  She yodels, she plays the accordion, she's been on "A Prairie Home Companion," she's recorded an album of Chanukah songs, she plays the fricking SAW, folks.  This is a woman with a heavy dose of quirk, and all of my favorite people in the world are quirky people.  If I didn't already dig her for the quirk factor, well she's also a really sweet and interesting interview subject.  I challenge you NOT to want to hug Brigid after you read this!

Another Awesome Louisvillager we're lucky to have: Brigid Kaelin!

LOU: Brigid, I've been a fan of your work ever since I saw the "Dreidel's Day Out" (Note to Readers: if you haven't already seen it, stop now and watch!  Instant smile.  I promise.) video on You Tube a few years ago.  Then you went on to perform on "A Prairie Home Companion," so you're Louisville music royalty in my mind.  I've made two pilgrimages to St. Paul to see Keillor's show and have seen "Prairie Home" in almost every city I've ever lived in (and have met him a couple of times).  What was that experience like for you?  Is Mr. Red Shoes himself worthy of my undying, wish-he-were-my-dad, love?
Aw, thanks!  And yes, being on APHC, being backstage, hanging with the cast, and watching Garrison Keillor rehearse was unbelievable.  When the talent booker first called me, she scheduled me to perform on a regular broadcast in St. Paul at The Fitzgerald.  A few days later, she asked if I could play the newly-announced Louisville show instead.  I was actually kind of bummed (for about two minutes) because I really wanted to play The Fitzgerald.  Then, of course, I smacked myself and thought about how awesome playing in front of hometown crowd would be.  It definitely worked out for the best, and my family was able to be there in the audience. The whole crowd was great that night, and it felt so good to represent Louisville on the show.

As for Garrison Keillor, he was absolutely deserving of your worship. He was gracious and smart and kind and just how you’d think he would be.  My first interaction with him wasn’t until about 30 minutes before broadcast. I was hanging out with Guy’s All-Star Shoe Band before the show, talking about mutual friends, my Chanukah songs, living in NYC, and such.  They didn’t know that I played the saw, so I went and got it out of my car (there’s always a saw in my car).  Rich Dworsky and I were playing around with piano/saw duets when Garrison Keillor floated by, not even really looking at me, and said, “Yes, I think we’ll do that on the show,” and then walked right on past.  That’s how we met.

The next thing I knew, the production manager said I needed to cut my 4 songs down to 3 because the musical saw was now in the script.  It’s funny, I figured he knew I played the saw all along and that was maybe why they booked me, but apparently they just liked my music.  That felt good, so I was happy to provide a little more goofiness to the show with the saw.

It was really a cool night to be in Louisville.  The cast and I all went to the BBC afterwards (well, not Mr. Red Shoes … he went back to his pedestal, I presume!), and Fred Newman the sound effects guy graciously did imitations that my friends threw at him.  My friend Beth said, “Okay, okay, a cat and a pickle jar going through a woodchipper,” and Fred made bizarre sounds that sounded just like what you’d imagine.  It was really surreal. 

LOU: I don't know how old you are, but I imagine we're within a few years of each other, so you graduated from NYU summa cum laude probably around the same-ish time that I was plugging away at Columbia.  What was your college experience in New York like?  What were some of the venues that you loved to play or at which you loved to take in a show?  Any notable musicians you saw in their early years who later went on to make it big?
I keep meeting more and more people who lived in New York around that time.  I had a great time at NYU (and I lived in for two years after graduation, until Fall 2001), but my “college experience” was definitely different than most of my friends who went elsewhere. NYU doesn’t have a campus in the same way that most colleges do, so really, I was on my own to explore and find things to do.  That’s not hard in New York, but it definitely forced me to become an extrovert when I wasn’t really comfortable doing that.  The dorms just don’t have social events the same way that small liberal arts schools do.  At the same time, I remember my very first day at NYU, I walked through Washington Square Park. There was a crowd gathered around a guy at a piano.  It was Herbie Hancock.  That is why living in New York was awesome.

I didn’t get to see as much live music as you’d think, mostly because 1) I was in college with zero money and 2) I was underage most of the time I lived in NYC.

My piano professor (I was a politics major, but a jazz piano minor) would put me on the guest list at his gigs sometimes, which was great because when you’re on the guest list, they don’t check IDs.  He’d play at the Blue Note or the Sweet Basil, these famous clubs I’d read about in liner notes for years.

NYU also had a great program board and brought folks like Liz Phair and Yo La Tengo to school functions. I saw Modest Mouse a lot. That was back before they signed with Geffen.

Once I was old enough and had a real job with some disposable income, I would go to bluegrass jams on Sunday evenings at place in the East Village called 9C.  My Kentucky ID usually got me a free bourbon. I never sat in and jammed though, which is weird to think about now, seeing as my favorite thing in the world is jamming with other musicians.

Oddly, the only performing I did was playing piano in some cabaret clubs in the Village for extra money and accompanying the musical theater students on auditions and in their little Off-Off-Off-Off-Off Broadway shoes.  After college, I played guitar and sang in a traditional Irish ceili band, mostly just playing Irish pubs and Renaissance Faires.  I can’t even remember how I ended up in that band, but I learned a lot of tunes and had a lot of fun. 

And for the record, I turned 32 in July (that’s 27 in Nashville Years, ha) … Atherton Class of 1996, NYU Class of 1999.

LOU: In the years that I've been following your career, you've played at big music festivals, in the Bahamas (it was the Bahamas, right?) , in the British Isles, and of course, locally and on US tour.  Can you compare and contrast the two most different experiences you've had as a performer recently?  I'm sure your show is not the same no matter the venue.  What are the two most different performances you've given over the past year or two?
I’ve made a deal with myself that when I can, I bring the entire show, no matter how lazy I’m feeling.  My keyboard is 90 pounds, my accordions are 20-40lbs, then there’s a guitar, and the musical saw, plus all the cables, stands and merchandise (and that’s just for a solo show), so it’s a lot of work to load-in and out.  My US show is big, fun, and if you’ve seen it, you know I show off a bit.  It’s a “show” after all, right?

Overseas, unfortunately, I can’t bring the whole show out, so I end up playing just accordion or guitar.  That puts me on the spot because, though I’ve played guitar since I was 9, it’s the piano that’s my main instrument.  In some ways, it’s actually kind of refreshing, especially when the audience still responds to my songs.  I know that I get press as a novelty act or isn’t-it-crazy-she-plays-the-accordion, so it’s nice when the audience buys CDs even without the gimmick.  

One of my favorite gigs of the past year was at the Islay Whisky Festival, where I sang at the Laphroaig Scotch Distillery in the remote Hebrides Isles of West Scotland.  It was just me and a guitar for the most part.  My Louisville audience might not even recognize me, but I tell you, I sold more CDs at that venue than any other I’ve ever played.

The audiences in the UK are also unbelievably respectful.  You don’t even realize that American crowds are generally rowdy until you play in the UK, where everyone in a crowded bar just shuts up at the first “check-check-one-two.”  I’m not one of those artists who gets upset when people talk over my songs, and I definitely like performing in the US. But there’s something about the folks in the UK – they treat musicians like royalty. I think maybe it’s the whole history of traveling troubadours and storytelling, but it amazes me every time.

LOU:  I'm kind of a late-comer to your fabulous blog, The Red Accordion Diaries, but for the past few months I've been an avid reader.  Loads of people musicians have blogs, but few update theirs as regularly as you do.  Your blog is so personal and charming that I feel like when I finally meet you in person, I'll want to give you a hug.  Is the blog for you or for promotion? Has the blog furthered your career?  
Thank you so much.   It’s funny, I think more people read my blog now than own my records.  Who would’ve thought?  I kept a blog on my MySpace page, but I only ever posted maybe once a month when I had something music-related to talk about.  I would occasionally post funny stories from the road, and I started getting messages from people asking me to post more.

It was really Rob Carpenter from the now-defunct Louisville band The Muckrakers, who inspired my blogging. He challenged himself to a blog-a-day New Year’s Resolution (his is at, and it was so entertaining and fun that I decided to try it myself.  
I wasn’t 100% successful at blogging daily, but I still managed to get in at least 300 that year. Now I try to blog 4-5 days a week.  I think it started because I needed a routine, and I wasn’t feeling much like songwriting.  A typical artist fear is that you’ll forget how to do your art one day, and being self-employed makes it hard to maintain a creative schedule.  I forced myself to blog everyday so that at least I was writing, even if it wasn’t songwriting.  I honestly had no idea how many people read it, until I’d start running into people in coffee shops who confessed to being daily readers. Then I started getting messages from folks around the world who had no idea I was a musician, but were fans of my blog. 
Once I realized that I didn’t have to write about music – and that my growing audience seemed to prefer my rants and raves and stories from the road more than my thoughts on the new Lucinda album – then it became even more important to me. 

Really, I think I just enjoy storytelling.  And since making a new record is a lot more complex than writing an essay, at least I’ve got this regular outlet.  I do hope that soon I’ll get to blog about a new record, but in the mean time, it’s nice to know I’ve got a support staff when I’m feeling tortured.

LOU: In the immortal words of our fabulous local store/boosters/cheerleaders: Why Louisville, Brigid?  Why not New York or Nashville or Memphis or LA?  What keeps you in this city?  What are your favorite venues to play?
I’ve lived in New York, and I’ve dappled in Nashville, but, yeah, I keep coming back home.  Logistically, I couldn’t afford to be a self-employed musician if I lived in NYC.  In Nashville, where I’d make more money than here, I wouldn’t be able to earn that money doing my own art.  The money I made when I was in Nashville was all because of playing accordion or piano or saw on other people’s records – working as a session player.  Don’t get me wrong, I looooove doing session work, but right now, I’m not ready to give up my own songwriting and performing career.  My show is too quirky for mainstream Nashville, so I’m not going to try to go that route.   Louisville is a great home for all kinds of art that isn’t mainstream enough for commercial routes, but is still good, innovative, and meaningful.  And we’ve got appreciative audiences who are loyal and probably the most important part of all. 

As for venues, now that is something our town is seriously lacking.  Nashville definitely has us beat on that end, in that even the crappiest, tiniest room, has a great sound system.  I do like the Zanzabar in Louisville. It’s got a good sound system and a nice vibe.  The Rudyard Kipling is a nice room, but it’s hard for me to get a crowd in Old Louisville.  I adore the Monkey Wrench, but that’s mostly for location and an arts-lovin’ owner.  Shows are always fun there, and it’s probably my favorite place to play in town.   I do wish that perfect venue would open, but it seems that’s been Louisville’s challenge since long before I first started performing.

Louisville’s been really good to me, and it’s a sensible place to make a home. Its location is central enough that I can tour on weekends and be back home on off-nights.  We’ve got a great radio station in WFPK, that nurtures and supports local artists, and we get a lot of good national touring acts.  Plus, my family is here.  If I truly wanted stardom, I’d probably have to move to Nashville or LA.  But here I’m able to make a living doing what I love. I can tour when I want or need, but I’ve got a great place to call home.

Visit Brigid at:  Brigid Kaelin

Thursday, September 16, 2010

GO! Go go go go: Jug Band Jubilee 2010

After talking to Gabe Bullard, of Awesome Louisvillager fame, tonight about his experience watching Sarah Palin speak at the National Quartet Convention, I was sure I was going to pony up some bucks this Saturday to attend the NQC myself.  I know I wrote a rather... ummm...  less-than-flattering post about the NQC.  But my curiosity was so piqued... I thought I HAD to attend.

I started this blog back in May 2007 because the Creation Museum was opening just outside of Cincy, and I wanted to write about opening day (which, I contend, still ranks as my best blog post to date).  Based on Mr. Bullard's experience, I kind of figured that the NQC would be "Creation Museum Lite." Or not so "lite."

And then I got this email.  And I apologize wholeheartedly to Heather for not asking her permission to reprint it... but it was so good and so timely... I couldn't sit on it long enough to ask her...

She says:

No offense to the lovely people from the National Quartet Convention (especially because some attendees came to the Jug Band Jubilee last year) - HOWEVER - I promise you - in fact I guarantee it, if anyone who attends our fair festival on Saturday doesn't experience something more interesting than an ill-placed, 45 year old sneeze - I will refund every penny you spent on our free event.  :-)

Now you crazy people, she's offering a refund for a FREE event. So don't get your testy knickers in knots.  But wow, how cool?... 

I fully intended on hitting this event last year, but I ended up being sick that weekend.  It's Thursday night, and I feel as fit as a fiddle... So no ironic NQC posts from me.  Instead I will INDEED be attending the Jug Band Jubilee.  

I know Heather is right and that SOMETHING that happens at the Jubilee this year will be more notable than the aforementioned 45 year old sneeze. Go see America's Happiest Music on Saturday!  

Saying I will be there "with jugs on" sounds dirty and totally false in my case.  But GO go go go go!  

Rock On: Ear X-tacy!

Ear X-tacy is #3 on Rolling Stone Magazine's Best Record Stores in the USA list!  (Or at least they're on the third slide). RS lauds the store's selection, prices, and in-store music shows.  They call Louisville a "medium-sized comfortable town."  I'd say we're a really big town, or a medium-sized city.  Is that just semantics?
But yes, we're comfortable. 
Congrats Ear X! 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Quartet Doesn't Mean Four...

... and other things I didn't know about the National Quartet Convention that's going on in Louisville right now.  

So I LOVES me some Gospel music. In all of the year I used to go to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the Gospel tent was the go-to tent.  Don't feel like seeing any of the bands currently playing at the other stages? Go to the Gospel tent.  You'll never, ever regret it.

And here's a little Lou secret for you: I'm not 100% sure that I ever visited the Gospel tent without crying.  Yep.  I may seem like a godless heathen, but I've got a soft heart for folks soulfully singing His praises.  Shhhhh... don't tell anyone.

Gospel.  I love Gospel music. So yeah: about the National Quartet Convention-- "Gospel Music's LARGEST Annual Event"

Uh... huh?

Some silly things I thought... 

Myth #1:  So in years past, I've thought the National Quartet Convention was a convention for Barbershop Quartets.  I thought that was kinda cute... quaint.  Kind of like our collective love of the jug band here in Louisville.  

Truth #1:  The NQC is NOT Barbershop Quartets. 

Myth #2:  When I paid more attention to the signage earlier this summer, I noticed the word "Gospel."  And I got psyched.  Psyched, I tell you.  I don't care how much preachiness I'd have to endure, if this was going to be a convention of GOSPEL quartets, I was going.  You betcha I was.  

Truth #2:  It's not GOSPEL gospel.  Not New Orleans gospel.  Not red-suit wearing, tambourine-banging, dancing like your feets are on fire gospel.  At all. Like, whoa.

So, when I got psyched, I started to pay more attention... and I couldn't quite understand why everyone in the ads was so... white.  Like not all blue-eyed soulful white like Rick Astley or Hall & Oates.  Like Branson white.  Like Sarah Palin white.  Like Miracle Whip White.

What the...?

And then I saw that they'd invited Sarah Palin to come and speak.  And I knew these were couldn't be my peeps.  At all. 

Myth #3: Nothing interesting happens at the National Quartet Convention.

Truth #3:  From the Wikipedia page about the NQC, under "Noteworthy Incidents at the National Quartet Convention."  1965: James Blackwood sneezed into the bass microphone just before JD Sumner and the Stamps took the stage. When JD sang "Blessed Assurance", the audience laughed. I shit you not, people.  There are FOUR Noteworthy Incidents listed.  THAT is one of them.

Myth #4: "Quartet" means a singing group of four.  

Truth #4: No. It doesn't.

Who knew?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Art in the Highlands

Art in the Highlands is kind of cursed.  Last year, the event was plagued by downpours and was scheduled the same weekend as the big UofL-UK game.  This year it falls during the Jewish Holidays.

But this juried art fest is well worth checking out!  You couldn't ask for better weather for an open air art festival.  And it's held on the beautiful campus of the Louisville Collegiate School.  I'll be there for early holiday shopping and to see the local and national artists.  Some really good music lined up too.

From their website:

Louisville Collegiate School is proud to presentArt in the Highlands, a community-wide event featuring juried artists from across the country. The event will take place on September 18 and 19on Collegiate's campus at 2427 Glenmary Avenue from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Art mediums represented will include watercolor, oil painting, photography, jewelry, sculpture, pottery and much more.

Entertainers Schedule:
Saturday, September 18
12 p.m. Augmented Five (Jazz Combo)
1 p.m. Bob Douglas
2 p.m. Will Cary
3 p.m. John Gage
4 p.m. Joel Timothy
Sunday, September 19
11 a.m. Citizen's Arrest (Classic Rock)
1 p.m. Bob Douglas
2 p.m. Will Cary
3 p.m. John Gage
4 p.m. Joel Timothy

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Awesome Louisvillager: Gabe Bullard

Sorry for the lag between Awesome Louisvillagers!  But I promise you, this week's Louisvillager is well worth the wait.  

WFPL's Gabe Bullard is a stand-up guy.  He's smart, funny, a good friend, and has excellent taste in women. He interned with Conan (not the Barbarian, as I originally thought, but the redheaded O'Brien guy) and occasionally gets ragged on by Uncle Mayor Jerry.  But what really makes him awesome is that he loves his job, and he's fantastic at it.  Gabe is a reporter for WFPL and is the host of The Edit, the station's on-line news blog.  Listen for him Monday through Friday on WFPL news.  Sometimes he pops up on "State Of Affairs," too.  Like many Awesome Louisvillagers, Gabe's a fairly recent Louisville transplant, but he's doing our fair city proud.  

Here's WFPL's Gabe Bullard: 

LOU: Who's your favorite panelist for "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me" and why?

It used to be Mo Rocca. He and Paula Poundstone were the only two panelists I knew when I first started listening to WWDTM. I shifted to Paula eventually, because she always seems to be the most willing to be foolish, and I like that. Now, though, Roy Blount Jr. is my favorite. I don't like everything he's written, but some of his work is fantastic, and I like what he brings to the panel. I like Charles Pierce's books, and I used to like old P.J. O'Rourke Rolling Stone articles, but I don't like Pierce or O'Rourke as much as the other panelists. I think it's because P.J. stopped being funny and Charlie is kind of loud sometimes. This was too long of an answer, huh?

LOU:  Everyone knows that NPR-types are also literary types.  Do you have literary ambitions?  A book in the works?  What book would you like to write?  Fiction?  Non-fiction?  (And if the answer is no, you don't have literary ambitions-- humor us and tell us what book you WOULD write if you DID have literary ambitions.)

As strange as it may sound, I enjoy the grind of daily news. I have to produce so many short pieces a day, and I'm also free to work on longer investigative pieces. It's great. I like journalism, and that's up front for me. 

I've done a few live readings of non-news stories I've written. The true ones get the most laughs, but I like telling those unscripted. I haven't had any life-changing experiences, though, so I think it's funny to go read a story about how I threw up in a K-Mart on my 8th birthday. Some personal nonfiction is so heavy, I wanted to do the opposite when I was invited to read stories in venues. No trauma, no learning, just awkward experiences. 

If I were to write a book, I'd want it to be nonfiction. I have this idea for a book that explores drinking in America. Not necessarily a tour of American alcohol, but a look at the ways people enjoy drinks. There are high-end bars and there are little rooms with picnic tables outside. There are people who go out to happy hours with their friends and there are people who have a highball alone before bed. I'm not interested in the characters who drink, but in the characteristics of drinking, and the attitudes that surround it in different locations and classes. 

I'm also interested in pop music criticism. I wrote music and comic book reviews in St. Louis before I moved to Louisville. 

LOU: I know you once got poked by a sword-wielding Ben Folds.  As awesome as that is, that's probably not your favorite story from your journalism career.  What is?  I'm not talking about the most important thing you've ever done as a journalist; I want to know what story left you feeling gobsmacked and thrilled. 

The Ben Folds encounter wasn't in the line of journalism. It happened when I was an intern on Late Night. I was gobsmacked a lot that semester. Conan threw (well-intentioned) insults at me, I went to the bathroom while a shirtless Frank Black brushed his teeth a few feet away and I asked Christopher Walken if he was calling me fat. In my journalism career, I've recorded a lot of phone interviews with exciting people. In 2007 and 2008, I covered every major candidate for President and Vice President. The closest I got to any of them was a brief chat (30 seconds maybe) with Obama in 2007 in St. Louis. I'm sure there are some very exciting stories I'm forgetting, but the most memorable encounters have been with total strangers.

LOU:  Also, because I'm famously shy, I'm wondering how you gather up your courage to ask people questions in the line of duty.  Especially hard questions.  Especially hard questions voiced to people who aren't very nice.  Have you ever had a really bad experience interviewing (or trying to interview) someone?  (In my brief, brief foray into radio journalism, I was cussed at by Alan Ginsberg.  And I gave up radio journalism immediately.)

I'm very neurotic in real life. I usually play interactions over and over in my head to analyze them, and my conclusions are rarely positive. I'm shy about meeting new people, too. Somehow, though, I can turn that off when I'm working. I don't do anything special to psych myself up. I'm just able to stop second-guessing myself about interviews. It may be because I put such a high value on reporting. I realize how useless these neurotic tendencies are when I'm on duty.

As far as asking tough questions or handling hostile subjects, there have been bad reactions, but they've never been a problem. I ask what I want to know and if a person reacts poorly, that's going to come through later. If I'm interviewing someone, there's probably a reason, and I'll stand by that. I'm not trying to make any friends. I'm not trying to make enemies, either. I'm doing my job.

LOU:  Louisville is really lucky to have you, so I refuse to even entertain the notion that a career-minded Gabe Bullard may NOT make Louisville his "forever home."  So let's do a little role playing, shall we?   Let's pretend for a moment that some fictional, honey-tongued local NPR reporter is offered some big-timey NPR job in a larger market and perhaps the opportunity to have his face featured on an NPR tote bag.  Gabe Bullard: convince this misguided young reporter to stay in Louisville. 

I can't convince anyone, but maybe I can help this fictional person decide. "Think," I would say, "why did you come to Louisville, and what have you accomplished? What will this other job and city offer you? If you feel like you can responsibly move on, having left a mark, and if you feel like you'll be happier, then go on...Also, can I move into your apartment if you leave?"

Check out Gabe online at The Edit and at  

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Last Minute Notice: New Orleans Jazz

Dr. Michael White, New Orleans clarinetist and jazz icon, will be playing with his band tonight at "From Bourbon Street to Bourbon Country," a fundraiser at Congregation Adath Jeshurun at 845p. Dr. White visited Louisville while he was evacuated from New Orleans during Katrina and was supported by the congregation.  Five years later, this show is a big "thank you" to the community.

Being recorded for WFPK's Kentucky HomeFront radio show hosted by John Gage, the Selicot show also features local Harry Pickens.

As your favorite relocated New Orleanian, I can promise you that Dr. White is the real deal.  If you love music of any stripe-- especially if you love jazz-- you should absolutely make this your Saturday night.  It's FREE and includes a dessert reception and bourbon tasting.  Look for me... I'll be the toe-tapping, teary-eyed, kind-of-homesick acorn!

Kite Runner at Actors Theater

The tagline for Actors Theater's production of The Kite Runner is: A universal tale of friendship and family.  After you see the play, that line will give you chills.

I've been struggling with what to say about Kite Runner since I saw it on Thursday night.  After the play, Roommate and I grabbed beers at the brand new BBC that opened up on the same block as Actors (more on that in later post), and bleary-eyed, still sniffling, I told him that I thought I might skip blogging about Kite Runner, even though I always blog about every Actors show, whether I liked it or not.

Because my reaction to Kite Runner was decidedly not a matter of "not liking it."  It was that the play left me in deep, profound despair.  Even after the teaspoon of redemption at the end.

I changed my mind, though, on Friday.  I bumped into a friend who has two kids in their late teens, and I told her about my reaction to the play.  She'd read the book, so she understood where I was coming from.  But she said, "I'm not sure I want to see it.  But I think I want my kids to go."  They need to see it, she said,  because it delivers such an unforgettable message about the power of not "stepping up." And immediately, I knew she was absolutely right.

Serendipitously, this week Rosalind Wiseman was in town giving lectures to teachers, kids, and parents about the ethics of childhood, bullying, and social justice.  If you have a kid older than a toddler and you don't know who Wiseman is, you really should. (You probably know who she is:  She wrote the book Queen Bees and Wanna-Bes,  the non-fiction book that was the inspiration for the film Mean Girls.)  I spent hours on her website this week, reading her columns and watching her videos.  Her perspective and her methods changed me.  

One of Wiseman's messages is that we need to be teaching our children to find "Champion moments."  If you try to teach your kid to be a Champion-- someone who always sticks up for the under-dog, always does the Right Thing, all of the time-- it's too much pressure.  "Champion moments," however, are within the reach of any kid, no matter his or her social situation.  She teaches that the Bystander is as accountable for bullying and mischief as the actual bully.  And it is those moments when kids choose not to be the Bystander that they become Champions.

The Kite Runner is about the tragedy of the Bystander.  And the deeper tragedy of the victim of disloyalty.  It's about one child's decision to not "step up," as my friend says, and the life-changing destruction that it caused.  I hate to keep throwing the word "profound" around here, but it is profoundly disturbing.  Writing about the play now-- two days later-- I still seethe with anger and sadness.

The play is gorgeously staged, the stage to ceiling arabesque lattice backdrop casting shadows that sometimes read as tapestry and sometimes read as prison bars, the handsome cast and beautiful costumes.  The acting is fabulous.  The older Amir, the narrator, Jos Viramontes is immensely sympathetic.  The young actor Matt Pascua, who plays both Hassan and Sohrab, manages to project fragility and courage sometimes in the same instant.

Salar Nader, the internationally renowned tabla player, who sits far stage left for the majority of the show and provides a live soundtrack would have been the highlight of the production if I hadn't been so deeply impacted by the plot.  I was lucky enough to be seated just a handful of seats away from Nader, and until I got swept up in the tragedy, I had a hard time taking my eyes off of him.  His graceful virtuosity almost makes me want to see the play again.  I'm still a bit flabbergasted that Actors managed to land a musician of his caliber and fame.  William Tynon of Time magazine once wrote "From now on, maybe Broadway should be called 'off-Louisville'."  Grabbing Nader for The Kite Runner is just one of the reasons why.

Kite Runner runs through September 25 and is part of the Brown-Foreman series at Actors.  

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Reds Stripping Louisville Bats' Starting Line-Up

In brief: this week, after pitching a game where he threw two-- TWO-- pitches of 105MPH, Aroldis Chapman was called up from the Bats to the Reds.  In his first game pitching for the Reds, he wowed them with a 101MPH pitch.

Today the Reds called up the lovely-named Yonder Alonso.  And rumor has it, they're about to steal my most favoritest player of the summer-- the also lovely-named Vladmir Balentien.

I'm gonna miss those guys.

But this weekend, Roommate and I took in two Reds games at the Great American Ballpark, and while Jay Bruce was the star of the weekend (I even bought my first sports jersey with someone's name on it-- BRUCE!), a close second-- and certainly the most consistent hitter of the weekend-- was our very own Chris "Paul Anka" Valaika**!  I was tickled pink & purple to get to witness Paul Anka's first homerun as a big leaguer.


** Yeah, no one calls him Paul Anka except Roommate & me.  When the announcer at Slugger Field used to introduce him "CHRIS VAL-AIKA" sounds a lot like "IT'S PAUL ANKA!!"