City Stage Celebrates Louisville's Original Music Talent

By Tim Roberts

Photos By Paul Moffett

"How is everyone tonight in the Mecca," Tim Krekel said, three songs into his set at the first City Stage concert on July 17 on the Belvedere in Downtown Louisville. Krekel received a resounding cheer, most likely because he asked the question to a crowd made up mostly of his fans. He was referring to Louisville's mention on a list of Music Meccas published in the April issue of Playboy, which featured the results of its annual music poll. The City of Louisville and the Office of Mayor Jerry Abramson hope to capitalize further on the aftershock of that mention with City Stage, a series of free concerts featuring local and regional musicians set to take place every Friday night until September 4. Each band gets to perform a hefty hour-and-a-half set, which provides an opportunity for them to show their stuff to a home crowd.

Tim Krekel and the Groovebillies was just one of 24 acts scheduled to perform during the City Stage series. The idea of a slate of concerts featuring all local/regional original-music bands came from brainstorming sessions held by the as-yet unnamed Louisville music advisory consortium, a group of local music and performance professionals that worked closely with the Mayor's Office. The goal behind City Stage, according to Carol Butler, Assistant to the Mayor for Special Events, to "let mainstream people in the city know that these groups are here, and to raise the awareness, visibility, and respect of the bands in Louisville."

Dan Gediman and the Mindreels played the first show on July 17

The bands to scheduled to perform range in style from blues, jazz, folk-rock, punk, rockabilly, rhythm-and-blues, and rap, to L'Woo. Gary Deusner of Triangle Talent, and consortium member, booked the bands for City Stage. "We got all strong acts," he said, "and made it as diverse as possible."

It was quite a feat for Deusner and the city to pull the show together in such a short time. "As soon as we got the green light from Mayor Abramson to put on the show, we had to select and book these acts within a 10- to 14-day time frame." How did they select the bands? Deusner explained: "Each member of the group submitted a 'wish list' of bands they'd like to see perform. We targeted those groups that were common to the lists. Every band was willing to participate. That made it easy."

Steve Ferguson & his Midwest Creole Ensemble offered up some swamp boogie on July 24.

In addition to promoting local music, the folks from the City of Louisville also want to use City Stage as a chance to show off the renovated Belvedere. Now linked to the completed sections of Waterfront Park - including the wharves for the Belle of Louisville and the Star of Louisville and Riverpoints, which had last year's summer concert showcase - the Belvedere may well become the starting or ending point of a long sprawl of music and family activity, according to Carol Butler.

It may come about, especially as more people hear about City Stage. The crowd was noticeably larger for the July 24 show, and each performance may bring in more people.

However, since the talent is so diverse, it may also be hard to retain the crowds if a certain act isn't quite what people come to hear. When the hardcore/punk band The Enkindels (featured on the cover of the June issue of the LMN) closed the July 24 show, lots of patrons made their way quickly down the Belvedere ramp into Main Street two songs into the set. "Thought they'd at least have some Bluegrass music," one man said, walking quickly toward the exit. Meanwhile, younger people clustered tightly around the stage and didn't move for the balance of the show.

Matt and Snake form the Enkindels, the best-dressed, hardest-rocking band at the July 24 show.

Still, the point of City Stage is to showcase all the musical talent within Louisville in every conceivable category and to give the bands a boost. "I hope it makes folks attend some shows and buy [the performers'] records," Gary Deusner said.

A Refrigerator Clipping Bonus

Below is a schedule of bands, dates, and times for the remaining City Stage shows. Clip and save! It will make a fine addition to the front of your refrigerator, right next to the pizza delivery phone number magnets. Remember, you've already met many of these bands in the pages of the Louisville Music News.

Martha Odell joined Steve Ferguson on stage.

July 31 - 5-6:30: The Jive Rockets; 7-8:30: The Pennies; 9-11: 100 Acre Wood

August 7 - 5-6:30: The Java Men; 7-8:30: El Roostars; 9-11: Superface

August 14 - 5-6:30: The Mudcat Blues Band; 7-8:30: L'Woo; 9-11: X-troi-D-naire and Southern Komfort

August 21 - 5-6:30: Splatch; 7-8:30: The Velcro Pygmies; 9-11: Cooler

August 28 - 5-6:30: Crown Electric; 7-8:30: danny flanigan & the rain chorus; 9-11: Big Head

September 4 - 5-6:30: The Galoots; 7-8:30: Edenstreet