Harvest Showcase

By Cheryl Chastine

This was the Harvest Showcase that almost wasn't.

The Butchertown Pub, where the event has previously been held, closed without warning earlier this year, leaving the showcase's organizers high and dry.

Fortunately for local music and for Kentucky Harvest, though, the newly opened Headliners Music Hall stepped in to offer a venue for the event.

A good thing, too. Safely in its new home, this year's Harvest Showcase shaped up to be the best one ever. Featuring the area's best unsigned original bands, the Harvest Showcase has become the premiere event for local artists hoping to take things to the oft-mentioned "next level." The event, a benefit for Kentucky Harvest, has also collected over 14 tons of food to date, and organizer

Chaz Rough said he expected this year's Showcase to bring the total to 16 to 18 tons. For the first time, the Showcase lasted for three days. The event featured 24 bands from Louisville, Nashville, New York, and Washington, D.C., each of whom played a half-hour set.

This year, the artists were roughly organized into different nights according to genre. Thursday night was unofficially "singer-songwriter night." The acts featured ran mostly along the lines of solo acoustic performers.

Nashville's Moe Loughran kicked off the Harvest Showcase with a set of powerful but restrained songs that showed off her amazing voice.

Singer-songwriter and pianist Lisa Cardinali played her first live performance ever. Butch Rice and Dan Gediman delivered strong sets that displayed their maturation as songwriters.

A highlight of the evening was Union Tree, whose soft full-band approach expressed perfectly the spirit of the night. The set was a treat for the band's fans, as they hadn't played a show in over six months. Vocalist Natalie Robinson admitted that "we just rehearsed these songs for the first time last night." It was lovely anyway.

Kathleen Hoye (frontwoman for Kathleen's Dream) followed Union Tree with an acoustic set with a viola accompanist. Hoye showed us exactly why she's one of Louisville's most talented artists. Nashville-based Peace in the Jones closed out the evening with a jam-driven set of '70s-inflected original rock.

Several hundred people came out Friday night to show their support for local music, and the air was filled with cigarette smoke and rock and roll. The schedule featured eight of the area's best pop-rock bands.

Planet, Dewey and the Navigators, and the Rumors delivered consistently inspired sets of pop songs. Lexington's Swifty played some great loud rock, followed by Cooler, one of Louisville's most fun bands. The Enkindels, who have been grabbing national attention lately, made an exception to their usual rule of playing only all-ages shows and rocked the house. The highlight of Supafuzz's performance came when Edenstreet guitarist Screamin' John Hawkins climbed onstage and played at the end of the set. Four Hundred, from Nashville, closed out Friday night strongly.

A first-time feature of this year's Harvest Showcase has been its increasing representation of bands from different places. Rough said that entries came from all over, but that the local talent kept beating them out. Still, this year featured several bands from outside the Louisville area.

The most heavily represented city was Nashville, TN, which sent four bands up to Louisville: Moe Loughran, Peace in the Jones, Four Hundred, and Dreaming in English. Louisville native La Donna Daniels came down from New York, and Washington, D.C.'s Graverobbers performed on Saturday.

Headliners was crawling with major label scouts, record producers, and other industry big shots. It remains to be seen whether the Next Big Thing out of Louisville will be signed as a result of the Harvest Showcase. Even if that doesn't happen, the bands will have gotten some valuable exposure out of the event. Equally importantly, though, it was just a good time with some great music.

[Performing on Saturday were Gold Tooth Display; Satchel's Pawn Shop; the Pennies; the Graverobbers; Dreaming in English; 100 Acre Wood; the Mertons; and Superface.]