• The original music scene in town has begun to show some real signs of life, despite the constant pronouncements to the contrary.
First of all, that bastion of commerciality, the Phoenix Hill Tavern, is set to institute in the Saloon a night per month of original music only. To be called Original Wednesdays, the first Wednesday of each month is the designated night, according to Bob Bahr of the Rough Diamond Network. Rough Diamond is the promoter of record for the event(s). Mom's Musician's General Store is a co-sponsor.
The first show is set for February 3. Bands already lined up include Goodnight Maxine, Dodge City, Dr. Smith and Karmadogs. The music will run from 9:30 p.m. until 2:30 a.m. There will be a $3 cover charge. Needless to say, audience support will determine whether the event continues. It will also determine how much the bands get paid, so SHOW UP.
• Over at the Butchertown Pub, meanwhile, Original Rock Tuesdays are in their third year and continue to draw well, according to Stuart Neff.
• Speaking of Neff, he finally got his first day off after eight years: he got sick. Not seriously, fortunately.
• Then there is the alternative compilation project being developed by Mark Gordon of Rodnocker. Gordon says that several of the more noteworthy independent labels are interested. He has already lined up a number of familiar names to contribute, including Bodeco, Crab Nebula, Bush League and, of course, Rodnocker. A release is tentatively scheduled for sometime around Derby.
• Finally, there is a one-hour radio program devoted to only local recordings under development. Details have not been released but the word is that all styles of music will be aired. Stay tuned to this column.
• Do You Wanna Pick? Mike Schroeder, founder of the Louisville Mandolin Orchestra, called to say the LMO is looking for mandolinists, bassists and guitarists. You don't have to have classical experience, just a desire to learn and play with others. As my friend Marshall Shelor said after he joined the orchestra, you know there'll be enough people there to practice, you don't have to worry about deciding what to play and the group is large enough that if you aren't absolutely perfect, well, you can get by. Call Mike Schroeder at 451-0045 and get involved. You'll love it.
• On February 7, there will be a benefit at Yogi's for the family of Greg Karcher, former bar manager of Yogi's. Karcher passed away at the age of 32 shortly before the end of the year. Bands scheduled to play that night will be RUOK?, Bad Apples, On Location, Johnny Law and War Hippies. Additional bands may be added, so check with Yogi's at 458-9209. A donation of $5 will be requested at the door.
• Gene King, owner of King's Record Shop and brother of Country Music Hall of Famer Pee Wee King, passed away in Louisville on January 16. King's Record Shop was made famous when it was featured on the cover of Rosanne Cash's album of the same name.
• The rumor mill spun and informed DotC that Steve Ferguson's label, Schoolkids' Records, is interested in a new Ferguson album. Ferguson recently told Louisville Magazine that he already had an album's worth of material worked up, so perhaps the wait won't be so long this time.
•If you're a fan of Doctor Don & the Love Dogs, do note that they are having a 4th Anniversary Show on Feb. 5 at Air Devils Inn.
• While I'm plugging shows, let me mention the Homefront show on Feb 13, at the First Unitarian Church. Featured will be Tricia Walker and the Mudcats from Nashville, and Turley Richards. I happened to be one of the six or so folks who saw Tricia at the Rud last summer and was sufficiently impressed by her vocal capability and songwriting that I'm making this note months later. The Mudcats are not da Mudcats, by the way. Tricia will also be doing a Nashville Songwriters Association, Int'l. mini-seminar earlier that afternoon.
• The recent NAMM show in Los Angeles drew several Louisville-area music store owners. Kenny Deweese of Far-Out Music, Marvin Maxwell of Mom's and Ray Shipp of Music Warehouse made the long flight and came back with tales of new equipment and torrential downpours. All of them invite their friends and customers to come see them about the new stuff.
• Kentuckians fared pretty well in the Grammy nomination department. Bill Ray Cyrus was, of course, the singer on "Achy Breaky Heart," which was nominated for Song of the Year. My songwriter proclivities make it necessary for me to note that Don Von Tress wrote the tune. Cryus was nominated for Country Vocal, male, for the tune. Vince Gill was also nominated for Country Vocal, male, for "I Still Believe in You."
Wynonna Judd picked up a nomination for Country Vocal female, for Wynonna.
Finally, two Kentucky gospel singers are in competition for Pop Gospel album. Steven Curtis Chapman got a nod for The Great Adventure, and Louisville's Larnelle Harris picked up one for I Choose Joy.
• Speaking of Larnelle, he was invited for one last visit to the Bush White House in the middle of January. The visit was to honor state volunteers from the Point of Light foundation.
• Other Louisvillians made the journey to the inner Beltway. The Ballard High School concert choir went to Washington, D. C., to participate in the inauguration ceremonies for Bill Clinton. The choir enjoys a powerful reputation for its singing.
• The last time I won anything, I was about ten years old, and it was a costume contest. I dressed as a hobo. Later, I learned I had won because I looked hungry.
Well, I wasn't hungry at the Imagine Exhibition: the Art of John Lennon, but I did sign up and won a print of a John Lennon self-portrait. The print came courtesy of the Renaissance Art Gallery and WQMF. Thanks, folks.