September begins with the blues and ends with a Rant. From guitarists Tinsley Ellis and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown to Rant's INSOMNIACATHON, there's plenty of tunes from which to choose in September's 30 days.
Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown got his start in a spectacular way in 1947 -- by jumping up on stage during a T-Bone Walker show when the legend faltered with sickness. He quickly had the crowd on its feet with his original "Gatemouth Boogie." His career was launched.
T-Bone was reportedly less than amused.
Since that auspicious beginning, Brown has had several hit records (in the 1950s), served as the bandleader of an R&B TV show band, worked as a deputy sheriff, earned a couple of W.C. Handy Awards, represented the U.S. as a musical ambassador to Eastern Africa, and enjoyed a comeback that continues to grow.
Brown is known as a bluesman, but his music is actually a combination of blues with jazz, bluegrass, zydeco, cajun and calypso. See him with Alligator recording artist Tinsley Ellis at Jim Porter's Good Time Emporium on Sept. 1.
The Country Gentlemen wrote classic bluegrass tunes such as "Fox on the Run," "Bringing Mary Home," "Waltz of the Angels" and "The Rebel Soldier." They are considered to be one of the standard-bearers of bluegrass music, but they haven't played Louisville in over 30 years.
Gary Brewer is rectifying the situation by bringing Charlie Waller and the Country Gentlemen to the Horine Conference Center at Jefferson Memorial Forest on Sept. 8. Their appearance is part of the Strictly Bluegrass Festival's preview party, which gets underway at 6 p.m. The festival-proper begins the next day, Sept. 9, at the Iroquois Amphitheater in Iroquois Park, and runs through Sept. 10. The music begins at 5 p.m. on Friday and 11 a.m. on Saturday.
Scheduled to appear at the Iroquois Amphitheater are Brewer's own Kentucky Ramblers, James Monroe (Bill's guitar-playing son) & the Midnite Ramblers, Charlie Cline & the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers, the wonderful gospel/bluegrass Sullivan Family, Robert White & the Candy Mtn. Express, Wendy Smith & Shadetree and many others.
It's free, people, so get out there and have a good, alcohol-free time in the sunshine. Bluegrass music cures cancer and promotes longevity.
In da middle of da month, Groovezilla, that metal/funk/rap thang representin' Lexington, comes to the Butchertown Pub on Sept. 14. Opening the show are Owen's Ashes and Surfing the Coal Dust.
Guaranteed not to steel Groovezilla's crowd is Barry Manilow, playing the Palace Theatre on the same night (Sept. 14). Tickets are $36 (which works out to ruffly a penny per feather).
Homefront, a concert series that ranges from brilliant to boring, is on the brilliant tip this month. To celebrate Homefront's 10th anniversary, the Homefront powers that be have put together a "homegrown" lineup. Tom Flood & the Memphis Four, described as a "country alternative band" in the press and described as "awesome" by many audience members, opens the Sept. 17 event. Yer Girlfriend, an all-female social commentary rock band, gently enlightens minds next, then the Rusty Spoon Blues Band takes the stage. Rusty Spoon, this night graced by the presence of local R&B diva Tanita Gaines, plays blues with a fresh approach, using both standards and originals.
Headliner Bodeco finishes the night in a flurry of hair, spit and hillbilly howling. The concert, held in Bellarmine College's Wyatt Hall, will cost you $7 ($5 for Homefront members and $2 for Bellarmine students).
If you believed the reputation of the Jesus Lizard, playing Sept. 20 upstairs at the Louisville Gardens, you might pass on this show. Mistake. The Chicago quartet plays stripped-down rock 'n' roll with tinges of punk and alternative -- more accessible than their reputation might suggest.
"Jesus Lizard fans caused thousands of pounds worth of damage at the London Highbury Garage last Saturday," reported The Melody Maker. "A reinforced steel crash barrier, designed to keep the audience off the stage, was bent out of shape, monitors were smashed when the crowd subsequently invaded the stage, and the mixing desk was badly damaged.
"A ceiling section immediately above the stage was also damaged when singer David Yow repeatedly kicked it while being held upside down.
"A spokeswoman for the Garage told The Maker: 'It was a brilliant show. We don't have any problems with the damage. Nobody was hurt. We'd definitely have them back again.'"
And if the Jesus Lizard wasn't enough to get you down to the Gardens, consider who is opening the show: Mule. Their sound is dirty, bluesy, and 100% good. Girls Against Boys, another Touch and Go artist, is also on the bill.
Chaz Rough has a question for you. Are you hungry for music?
That's the name of his second compilation CD, and it's the idea behind the Harvest Showcase, an event held Sept. 23 and Sept. 24 at the Brewery's Thunderdome. The Harvest Showcase serves two purposes: it acts as a showcase for some of Louisville's best musical acts, and it helps feed the hungry through canned goods and cash donations to Kentucky Harvest.
At least ten acts will perform 45-minute sets over two nights, and admission is $3. The idea is to bring three canned goods in addition to the admission fee. Gotta have food backstage for the performers, you know.
Just kidding -- it all goes to Kentucky Harvest, after Rough reimburses himself for all the promotion money he spent on this worthy cause.
Last year's event drew an impressive crowd, and the first compilation CD received rave reviews. This year's featured acts include Goodnight Maxine, Cherub Scourge, the Unknown Assailants, (Chaz's own) Speaking in Tongues, Kelly Richey, The Uglies, Big Head and Edenstreet. It's sponsored by ear X-tacy, the Great Escape, LEO, Road Runner Video and the Brewery.
On Sept. 25, Art Garfunkel comes to town for a concert appearance at the Macauley Theatre. Garfunkel's current tour in support of a new album has reportedly taken him from the grandest houses to oldies act packages. Garfunkel seems to take it all in stride, mixing his solo music career with occasional gigs with old partner Paul Simon and occasional acting roles. See what the world's most famous harmony singer is up to on the 25th.
Eleven days after providing Bodeco junkies with their last fix, Bodeco makes everybody well with a boozy show at the Butchertown Pub. More intriguing is the opening act, Doo Rag, who I won't even try to describe. Don't miss this unforgettable duo. It all happens on Sept. 28.
It's worth a road trip to Lexington to see the Seldom Scene, one of the finest bluegrass bands working today. They appear at the Kentucky Theatre as part of the Troubadour Concert Series.
Aside from lining up great acts and creating an innovative festival atmosphere for their shows, the Troubadour series is notable for being music-oriented. If you think other concert series are music-oriented, you're fooling yourself. Check out the Seldom Scene on Sept. 28 or Sept. 29 -- or idiosyncratic guitarist/songwriter Leo Kottke on Sept. 14 -- and you'll see what I mean. Tickets are $14.50 for Kottke, $16.50 for the Seldom Scene.
The Palace Theatre has an interesting double bill on Sept. 29: jazz singer par excellence Nancy Wilson and groove-jazzer Grover Washington. Jazz fans are sure to like one or the other. But both? Find out at the end of the month.
The people at RANT and Moonfrog Productions are staging another INSOMNIACATHON from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2. These events run around the clock for three days, and feature poets, bands, comedians and theatrical companies -- over 100 for the upcoming festival. Proceeds benefit Habitat for Humanity and Kentucky Harvest.
INSOMNIACATHON will be held at Louisville Gardens, but you can park at the Silo Brew Pub or the St. James Art Fair and catch a TARC trolley to the Gardens. (The Silo, on Barrett Ave., will be concurrently hosting their October Fest, and the St. James Art Fair is held at 6th and Magnolia.) Featured acts include Lee Ranaldo (of Sonic Youth), Ray Manzarek and Malcolm McClure, Jim Carroll, Endpoint, King Kong, Monistat 7, Intravenous de Milo, Eleven-11, Common Law Cabin, Enkindel, Serpent Wisdom, Hedge, Truth and Souls and a ton of other performers. CBS-TV will be there with a crew of 30, and food and beverages will be on sale.
It'll cost you $5 for a day pass and $10 for a weekend ticket.
Pick of the Pickin's
Homefront 10th Anniversary Show
featuring Bodeco, Rusty Spoon Blues Band with Tanita Gaines, Yer Girlfriend and Tom Flood & the Memphis Four