• I hope everyone had a satisfactory Thanksgiving Day, complete with food of your choice (and/or political persuasion) and that your team won. Rolling on into December, there are, as usual, a number of interesting things percolating along, some likely to happen soon, others not until next year. The new "downtown entertainment center," a.k.a. the Galleria, appears to be moving ahead after some delay. This reminds me of Mark Twain's famous remark that when the world ends, he wanted to be in Louisville, because everything happens twenty years later here. We're just as much on the cutting edge as we've ever been in that way, in line to get the hundred and something Hard Rock Café, only thirty-one years after the chain opened.
With one of the country's biggest comedy booking agents living right here in Louisville, of course the out-of-town guys developing it are bringing in an Improv comedy club from the "big" cities. Likewise, they're hot to sign McFadden's, a "real" Irish pub chain, since we only have three or four of them here; Harlan's Bayou Blues, a Louisiana-based blues club, `cause everybody knows we don't have one of those downtown, do we? And then there's the Howl at the Moon club, featuring dueling pianists making "witty" remarks to the patrons there to sing along. Gosh, nobody here ever thought of that or tried it around here, did they?
Well, enough sarcasm. It's really that the Oxford guys know how to do business with Lego-style chains, which specialize in creating "unique" (gag!) places, each and every one of them operating exactly like all the others. Makes it easier to sell to conventions: come to Louisville and go to the same places you go to everywhere else. What a pitch.
Then there's the problem of what to do with those places when there aren't any conventions in town. I just know that folks will drive into the city, past the Celtic/blues/karaoke/comedy clubs here on the way to pay to park in the Galleria, just so they can go to a Hard Rock Café.
• If you drive up Frankfort Ave. from Mellwood Ave., you might have noticed the large black cat painted on the side of the building at Pope St., last occupied by the Lighthouse. That's the soon-to-be-opened club called, not surprisingly, the Black Cat. Mike Williams (Tanita Gaines and Grilled Cheez) and his wife have been working on the site since the Lighthouse moved, renovating it into a room for live music. No date has been set for opening, however, but stay tuned: they say "soon."
• Harold Thom of the Cumberlands said the band will be on Grand Ole Opry in January. With a new CD, Bridging the Gap, in hand, they are embarking on an effort to promote the project. The national release of Bridging the Gap is scheduled for the first part of January. After the first of the year, Copper Creek Records will release The Gap, a collection of material from all their earlier recordings.
• Jake Wheat, ramrod behind Expo Five, apparently has had his fill of making no money (or losing it) in the venue business. The kid-oriented club has closed (or will shortly), with only the possibility of the occasional event bringing about a re-opening. He will continue to operate undergroundlou.com, the webradio site he created.
• Traveling around the several clubs involved in the Steve Ferguson benefit on November 17 was a real schmoozefest for music business types (like yours truly), with many musicians per square yard, including some who have been noticeably absent from the scene for a while. The parking lot at Headliners was full at 5:30 p.m., as was the room, with many things for sale to raise money. Mark Smalley, former owner of Uncle Pleasant's, had come up with a number of copies of Ferguson's out-of-print Jack Salmon and Derby Sauce to donate. There may still be some of those for sale, either at ear X-tacy or through organizer chef Chris Sundberg. Other primary organizers were Cindy Lamb, Chet Bell, Jeff Crowder, Charlotte Noell and Brent Atnip. Some photos from that event are posted atwww.louisvillemusicnews.com.
• In the benefit department, take note that the number and frequency of benefits is up, MERF notwithstanding. There's a benefit for Riley White at Jim Porter's on December 8, with a slew of bands set to play.
Program director Todd Kelly for WDJX has Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS). The Phoenix Hill Tavern staff, who are fond of Kelly, have organized a benefit on December 1.
A benefit for Robin Loeffler, who suffered a stroke recently, will be held on December 29, from 2 - 6 p.m. at the Kentucky Theatre on 4th St. Admission will be $15. Currently scheduled to play are Galloglas and the other members of Ten Penny Bit plus other bands to be announced. Organizers are Blue Murphy and Sonny Prentice. Call Murphy at 897-6956 if you would like to help out.
• Elmer E. Kaelin, 75, died in Louisville on November 4. He played accordion with the Kaelin Swiss Band.
• Marguerite K. O'Mahoney, 88, died in Louisville on November 9. She was a musician and the mother of drummer Terry O'Mahoney.