Louisville Homefront Performances Celebrates Fifth Anniversary

By Jean Metcalfe

John Gage, generally considered to be the father of Louisville Homefront Performances, thanked the March 11 audience for their support of alternative music in "a place where this music can be heard and listened to." Speaking from the stage of the Stuart Robinson Auditorium of the Old Louisville Presbyterian Center, Gage said that he was "ecstatic" that LHP had arrived at its five-year milestone.

"Five years ago I couldn't even spell demographics, and now we are into demographics," he said, asking the audience members to fill out a questionnaire that was provided them. He expressed his thanks for their past support and asked for continued support to ensure LHP's future success.

Folding chairs on the aisles appeared to be the only seats available for the fifth anniversary show when I arrived just as the stage manager was giving the first group a five-minutes-to-go signal. Gone were the supply of programs that would provide free admission to the birthday party at The Rudyard Kipling following the concert.

Accepting the aisle chair that Dallas Embry pointed out to me, I was quickly caught up in the laid-back style of local blues musicians Henry and the Noisemakers. The trio, consisting of Henry Woodruff on vocals and electric guitar, Nathan Bunton on drums, and James Warfield on electric bass, kept the audience constantly entertained, and requests to "do some B.B." were heard when their time had run out. They were allowed to continue, however, to the obvious pleasure of the audience.

"I don't want you to get so clean, baby, you just might wash your life away," Henry sang. The line was from "Laundromat Blues," and the applause for that line was from an appreciative audience. "Having A Party," appropriate to the five-year anniversary, was also very enjoyable. Ditto for "Tequila" and the boogie-woogie beat of "Get Down."

Joining H&N onstage, John Gage and Bruce Krohmer offered a "folksy blues" number called "Forty Hour Working Man," followed by an H&N/Gage/Krohmer rendition of "Spider to A Fly," which Gage said was a Rolling Stones tune they had picked up on at the sound check. Krohmer supplied some fine clarinet and sax instrumental breaks which earned him enthusiastic applause.

Henry Woodruff. Photo by Rick O'Neil

LHP's outgoing Chairman Dave Self received words of appreciation and a thank-you gift during the evening. He was also observing his 40th birthday, as well as proudly showing off a photograph of his son Sam, born to Dave and his wife Ann just 10 days earlier. Cute tyke that Sam.

Catfish Keith performed a nice variety of tunes, switching back and forth between his "regular guitar" and "the old National steel-body guitar" -- "a combination between a guitar and a garbage can." Among the tunes were "Catfish Blues" (Robert Petway) and "Fish Chowder," a ditty about "the best thing I ever had in my whole life," which Keith wrote while crewing on a sailboat in the Virgin Islands.

"Your Biscuits Are Big Enough For Me" was but one of several examples of "hokum" music that Catfish played. "Hokum," he explained, stands for "how come it's so dirty?"

Keith was very entertaining, and I found myself thinking of him as Steve Martin playing the blues. I especially enjoyed "My Fish-Tailed Cadillac," a tribute to his "1962 Cadillac Sedan DeVille with all the trimmings." "It's at home now," Keith said wistfully.

"Nineteen bird dogs and one floppy-headed hound, it takes all them doggies to chase my baby down," he lamented in another fun number.

Keith allowed as how he was heading back to Iowa (his home) the next day, adding, "Don't forget, that's the blues state."

I enjoyed meeting Henry Woodruff and Catfish Keith after the concert, and found them to be very accessible. I purchased a copy of Keith's cassette album Catfish Blues, and I have listened to it many times since.

The strains of "Train Wreck of Emotion" greeted me as I stepped from my car at The Rudyard Kipling for the post-concert birthday party. Dallas and Karen Le Van were collecting a minimal cover at the door, but they let me in free, knowing that -- printed program or not -- I had been at the LHP concert.

The birthday party was an enjoyable time. There were lots of L.A.S.C. and LHP friends to sit and chat with or just say hello to, including current LHP Chair Sara Pratt and several other LHP Board members. L.A.S.C. friends Jerry Burns, Larry Easton, Tom Flood and Krit Stubblefield were also there.

Headlining the entertainment at TRK was Alan Rhody, who had brought along excellent guitarist Steve Cooley to accompany him and provide back-up vocals. (Alan is an early-on Homefronter.) Other performers included Pen Bogert, Hugh Hill, Wally Hill, Becky & Kelly, Jym Dawg, et al.

It was a fun evening, and I hated to leave, but when Hugh Hill (accompanied by Rhody, Cooley and others) finished singing "Paradise," I decided it was an appropriate time to leave, and I forced myself to say my goodbyes and depart.

Thanks, LHP for five years of fine performances. We wish you many more years of providing a unique and much-welcomed brand of entertainment for the Louisville area.

'Twas indeed a swell party.