Showing posts with label Hullabalou. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hullabalou. Show all posts

Monday, August 2, 2010

HullabaLOU Round-up: Last Post

Okay, it's been a week, and tomorrow I leave for my "real" summer vacation, so this is as good of a time as any to put a period at the end of my HullabaLOU reporting.  Here, in no particular order, are some final thoughts on HullabaLOU:

  • One of my favorite things about music festivals is discovering new bands.  When you go to Bonnaroo, you're given a little pocket-sized booklet as soon as you enter the gates.  This book-- besides having some really great articles and even some coupons for fest vendors-- features bios of all the bands.  This is a brilliant idea.  Helps the new, unknown bands gain an audience (I remember going to see a band my first year just because they were from Knoxville-- where @etammoor & I lived for a summer-- and they were in a tent, and it was hot).  Jazzfest sells their booklet-- well worth it, especially for the coupons.  And the industrious New Orleans monthly music bible, Offbeat Magazine, has vendors outside the gates of Jazzfest every day, giving away their phone-book-sized version.  I would have seen more new bands if I'd been clued into who they were.  And it's genuinely a nice break to go find a shady corner somewhere during the heat of the day and have something to read.
  • I saw exactly four children at HullabaLOU.  Teens galore.  But only four little kids.  I saw lots of oldsters, including a surprising number of people with walkers and/or oxygen tanks.  But music festivals should speak of "community."  And community includes kids.  Bonnaroo and Jazzfest feature kids' activities and even musicians geared towards the kiddos.  HullabaLOU should do something about this.
  • We're a foodie city, but you wouldn't have known that at HullabaLOU.  Sure, there were a number of local vendors.  But the food court was not memorable by any stretch of the imagination.  Again, at Jazzfest I budgeted at least $25 a day for food and was more than happy to spend it to taste food from restaurants that I normally couldn't afford to go to and have food that was only available at Jazzfest.  In the slower hours of HullabaLOU, it seemed like there was a beer/booze vendor for every four fest-ers.  Maybe they should consider giving that real-estate to more food vendors.
  • Anyone know who designed the Dave Matthews Band HullabaLOU poster?  It was gorgeous, and I can't find it online.
  • Ok, he he, my funny Ben Sollee story.  (And understand, I totally am giving the guy the benefit of the doubt here.)  So after his fantastic set in the blazing heat, Sollee came up to the Media Center, and I happened to bump into him at the food buffet.  Reminder:  I am quite possibly the shyest person in the world, so it to herculean effort for me to muster the courage to speak to him.  Which I did.  Complimented him on his show, stammered a bit, and then he engaged me in conversation about first the buffet and then the festival.  I explained to him that that day's fest (Kenny Chesney) was very different than the previous day's fest (Bon Jovi).  And he said, "Which one (Chesney or Bon Jovi) do you prefer?"  I stammered for a moment and then said, "Well, neither is my cup of tea, but I have to say-- Bon Jovi kinda rocked." And he walked away.  No comment, no smile, no nod of understanding.  Just cold walked away, leaving me holding a plate of chicken fingers and my pride.  Was it me (sweaty little awkward mess)?  Was it Bon Jovi?  Or was he just done with the conversation.  Who knows?  But when people ask me why I'm so shy... yeah, this is why, folks. UPDATE:  See the comments for Sollee's very kind response.  All a big ol' miscommunication.  
Again, thanks for tuning into the "All HullabaLOU All the Time" portion of this blog.  I really enjoy covering events in depth-- I've done the same thing with IdeaFestival, Humana Festival, and Bonnaroo before, and it's always been fun.  But back to picking and choosing my topics for now.  And thanks for the Churchill Downs Entertainment folks for making it possible.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming.  

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

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.

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, February 15, 2010

Happy Mardi Gras! Late Monday Night Rant

Just a quickie post to say Happy Mardi Gras to y'all. This is my fourth Mardi Gras away from "home" and, truth be told, it gets easier every year. Although this year with the Saints' win... there were some touch-and-go moments to be sure.

And no, Loueyvillagers, I don't see any disconnect between me being on the cheerleading squad for Louisville and still feeling like NOLA is "home." NOT that I am comparing being a Katrina refugee and being a political refugee, but Salman Rushdie wrote an incredible book about the idea of diaspora, called Imaginary Homelands, and in it he posits that leaving "home" under any sort of duress gives you a very fluid idea of home and belonging-- in both a good and bad way. (Gosh, I need to reread that book. I haven't read it since Katrina. I wrote a pretty intense graduate school paper about it and am just now recalling how much I loved it. Even though I had no frame of reference on "diaspora" at the time.)

And happy snow day to just about everyone else in the education community here in Louisville. There are, at cursory glance, two schools in the city that are not canceled/delayed and I work at one of them. I know I have zero reason to gripe-- we've had more snow days this year than I can ever remember having, even when I was a wee lass in school. But it's awful hard to sit here tonight knowing I have to wake up before the crack o' dawn when most of my education kin are sleeping in. More than anything else, I know the chirren will be pissy tomorrow. And I don't feel like putting up with pissy chirren. Especially because I'm a bit pissy myself.

So, what's new Louisville (whoa-oh-oh-oh!)?
  • On the increasingly baffling Hullabalou front, the festival added Sara Evans and Huey Lewis and the News (or as my grandma used to think they were called "Huey Lewis in the Nude) to the line-up. And somehow, in the Bluegrass State, they're having a tough time filling their Bluegrass stage.

  • And oh, sweet baby king cake Breesus, poor Zach from Louisville.com has been getting his ass KICKED for daring to cast dispersions on Richard Marx. Kicked by the entire Marx fan club. Kicked possibly by Marx himself. Read the comments!

  • If you don't live in a cave then you know what I mean when I say the whole "Save Ear X-tacy" news conference has me a bit... meh... Truth be told, I go there maybe 4 times a year. And I have only bought two cds there-- after I saw the movie "Once" at Baxter, I rushed right over and bought the soundtrack and a cd by the Frames. Let it be known, however, I buy way less music, I'd imagine, than most people my age. I am just not a big music consumer. I have, however, bought two pocketbooks and TONS of Christmas tchotchkes there. I guess I just wish there'd been more ideas bandied about (and granted, maybe lots of ideas have been bandied about and we're just not privy to them). Like how's about charging a little entrance fee for those great in-store appearances? I'd gladly pay $5 to see a band I liked, especially if the entrance fee meant maybe it wouldn't be so crushingly oppressive in there when good bands showed up. I hope they stick around, even if they have to move or downsize.

  • I wasn't here for 4th Street Live's big Mardi Gras bash (I shudder as I type that), but it featured the band EVE 6. It makes me wonder whether someone at Cordish confused "L.A." with "La." Really? There was NO touring Louisiana band you could have gotten for the bash? No Gulf Coast/Swamp Rock/Jazz Funk band you could have tempted to come up here and put on a REAL Mardi Gras experience? Shit (pardon my Cajun), down in NOLA we've even come to accept that KC and the Sunshine Band is honorary Mardi Gras quality due to the sheer number of times they've ridden in Mardi Gras Krewes. EVE 6? Don't think so. Next year, Cordish, please try to get a real New Orleans band-- preferably a brass band like the Soul Rebels. If not, at least a NOLA rock band like Better than Ezra (who have played 4th Street before).
Well, so much for the quickie post. But this Lou has to go to bed because she-- unlike the rest of Louisville's academia-- has to work tomorrow. All day. No delay.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hullaba--what the hell? SEATS?

So I happened to be board-browsing the eBays and noticed that there are a bunch of Hullabaloo tickets on sale. They seemed to be posted by the same seller, but the tickets were different prices. Why? I wondered.

BECAUSE THEY'RE FOR SEATS.

Oh please, please HullabaLOU organizers, please email me and let me know that you're not having a "festival" with seats. Where people sit down. On their butts. To watch a "festival." Your website doesn't offer any glimpse into this. But, friends, "seats" mean ONE stage. One stage means... uhhh... not a festival.

Please tell me that this is a scam artist selling fake tickets for fake seats that don't exist because the idea of SITTING IN AN ASSIGNED SEAT FOR A "FESTIVAL" is OFFICIALLY the Worst Idea Ever!! (I take it back, the NYT thing still is the WORST idea ever.)

UPDATE: For all you doubters out there, New Orleans Jazz Festival is held at the New Orleans Fair Grounds, which is owned by Churchill Downs. Churchill Downs is actually two acres BIGGER than the New Orleans Fair Grounds. And Jazzfest has 12 stages!

UPDATE II: Newsman extraordinaire, WFPL's Gabe Bullard, tells me that HullabaLOU will have 5 stages and 65 bands. So then what's with the seats? You have assigned seats for one main stage but can wander to the other 4? Gah, I hate it when I'm at a play or a sporting event or other seated thing and the people in the middle of the row keep getting up to get beer or pee or something. The other four stages don't appear on the map. And I still say that any "festival" that's encouraging butts-in-seats is encouraging a very laid-back (in a bad way) vibe. Maybe they'll put only "old folks" bands on this stage? For the boomers with knee problems? And mathwise: 65 bands, divided by 3 days, divided by 5 stages= approx 4 acts per stage. Is this a short festival? Are the bands doing 2 hr sets? How many people are truly psyched for 2 hrs of 38 Special? All this being said, I do feel better that there are five stages and not just one. 5 stages indeed a festival makes. But this seats thing may not be the WORST idea ever (that's the NYT going pay-per-view, in case you've forgotten), but it still seems like a might bad idea.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hullabahuh? Maybe your mother's music festival. Or your aunt's.

[spoiler alert: this is seriously going to reveal my age.]

Once upon a time in a land far, far away a very little Lou lived in an apartment attached to the house of her Great Aunt Rose. Great Aunt Rose was everything the name implies. She was a large Portuguese woman, a woman of a seemingly bottomless appetite for sweets and an equally bottomless capacity for love. And although she seemed very old to Lou at the time, she was probably only in her late 50's or early 60's. Each morning, Aunt Rose chose her daily hairstyle from a buffet of nigh-identical glossy black wigs and her wardrobe from a closet full of tropical printed knee-length mu-mus, which she paired with knee socks and black, high heeled, lace-up shoes.

Aunt Rose didn't have grandchildren of her own (yet), so she liked nothing more than to spoil little Lou with peanut butter and fluff sandwiches, hugs and kisses, and cuddles on the couch while watching tv. All Aunt Rose watched were soaps (her "stories") and variety shows.

Aunt Rose loved music. Her favorites included Englebert Humperdink, Liberace, Tony Orlando, and Gordon Lightfoot. But the man of her dreams was Tom Jones. (Several decades later, little Lou, in her twenties, had the opportunity to interview Tom Jones for a newspaper. She got to tell him about Aunt Rose. Tom Jones gave Lou two kisses-- one to share with Aunt Rose. But Aunt Rose never got that kiss; she died shortly thereafter.)

But shortly before Lou left that apartment over Aunt Rose's house to move to a different state, Aunt Rose found herself another love. A love she might love more than Tom Jones. It was that "nice-looking boy from New Jersey. Bruce Springstein." Springstein... like the Jewish pharmacist at the Osco Drug next to Purity Market. When pressed as to why she liked this upstart, she'd say she liked the "Born in the USA" song and that he had "a nice bum."

So the internets are a-buzz about this new HullabaLOU music festival debuting at Churchill Downs July 23-25, 2010. You know how much Mama loves a good outdoor music festival. New Orleans Jazz Fest (held at the Churchill New Orleans Fairgrounds property) used to be my most favoritest time of the year. And this year looks like the first year I'll be missing Bonnaroo since I started going three years ago. So I was all a-dither when I saw the announcement.

And when I saw the line-up? Well, I kind of thought of Great Aunt Rose. Actually, truth be told, I thought of a different aunt. The Aunt Rose heir-apparent Aunt who loves all those classic rock bands from her youth (38 Special, the Steve Miller Band, Kansas, the Doobie Brothers) but can still wax poetic about Dave Matthew's "nice bum" when fully tucked into her wine coolers.

Sure, there's a little something for almost everyone-- a little Gladys and Al for the soulsters, a little Govt Mule and DMB for the jam banders, a little Dwight and Loretta for Mama, a little Richard Marx for... WHO?? WHO the HECK is looking forward to Richard Marx??

But you've gotta wonder who these folks consulted with when planning this festival. My big hope is that, like Jazz Fest, they'll keep adding acts right up til showtime.

C'mon organizers: let's look at festivals like Bonnaroo and Coachella for line-up additions (step away from the casino tour circuit regulars!!). Maybe a little Prince? A little Leonard Cohen, perhaps? MMJ? U2? How 'bout that lovely Jewish pharmacist with the nice bum... that Springstein guy? I'm just saying. Aunt Rose would have been thrilled.