Joel Timothy at the Rudyard Kipling

By Les Reynolds

When Joel Timothy sings, people listen – intently.

It’s not just because of the large voice emanating from the small body onstage, although that makes not listening a bit difficult.

It’s hard to pin down to one thing, really, but the intimate crowd at the Rudyard Kipling’s simple setting April 13 was perfectly fitting for a man who loves simple things. And throughout the 70-minute show (which brought him back for an encore) everyone – every single person – was all ears. Appreciative ears, too.

Timothy’s raspy vocals are becoming increasingly familiar to Louisvillians of late, but the end results of his day job are perhaps more familiar – although ironically many people don’t even know it’s his work, since he labors in the commercial world of scoring music for movies and commercials. His true passion is in writing songs and performing them onstage.

Although a veteran performer from way back and all over the country, the 48-year-old Timothy hasn’t done much live performing since moving to Louisville five years ago – until recently. The Rudyard gig showed that the folk troubadour hasn’t lost the fire.

Timothy, true to character and dressed totally in simple black, sat on a stool that was a bit too tall for him (which he continually joked about – “by the time this show is over, I’ll get situated on this stool.”) and simply sang his way through his debut CD, Joel Timothy Live at Bunbury Theatre.

Since the CD is an autobiographical timeline, he went through it start to finish. Beginning with “Bondage of Logic,” he exhibited vocal strength and solid acoustic guitar, although he seems to often leave one wondering if he’s not holding back some on the instrumental end of things (evidenced on a later tune, “Que Suenes Con Los Angelitos” where the intro was mean-sounding classical/Spanish-style.)

Following “Ashes” (dedicated to his late brother) and “Turn to Me,” he quipped that “Now, we’ll move from songs of death to ones of love – and heartbreak.”  And that’s just what he did.

However, not all his tunes were sad or poignant. Timothy’s humor was never far away and it proved that even when he just talks, people listen, too. There was always a funny story, a funny line or two. “Driving Away With Your Kiss,” a song about his first date with his wife Karen was prefaced with “Well, I must enunciate this title carefully because if I don’t, it sounds like I’m ‘driving away with your kids’.” The audience laughed heartily.

Generally, Timothy‘s performance exhibited simplicity, strength, intensity, sincerity and humor with good crowd rapport, and to show his versatility, he even treated the room to a few of his commercials, which drew knowing nods and smiles. Apparently people do know his work, just not the author behind it.

Timothy ended the show with “Too Much Smoke and Not Enough Fire” a folk/blues style song, then wound it all up on his encore with a request: “Let the Bridges Burn” to show his true appreciation for the community he has chosen to call home.

“Let the bridges burn behind us

We don’t need them anyway

When we cross that border into Kentucky

That’s where we’re gonna stay –

Louisville Kentucky USA.”