• Falling down the year into what isn't much of a winter as of this writing, I can barely drag myself inside to work on this issue. As a properly raised Southern child, however, I cannot escape the nagging concern that somehow, we will all pay for this pleasant weather with some really vile weather later this winter. Since it's certain to be cold and nasty at some point, that's a nagging concern that will no doubt come true, though the connection between the nice weather and later cold and snow is, at best, dubious.
What is not at all dubious is the connection between declining audiences and the loss of places for bands to play around town, a problem that is not specific to Louisville. A friend of mine was recent surprised when I pointed out that the reason there are so many more mid-level and up national touring acts coming through town is that nobody's is making much money, so it's necessary to work much harder and for musicians, this means touring more. It's all good for the music fan, assuming the fan wants to go out a lot: the choices are great and getting greater.
There are a number of efforts underway to address various aspects of this problem, including the resurrection and renaming of MERF, now known as the Musicians Emergency Resource Foundation and the Louisville Music Industry Alliance's various educational seminars. The difficulty lies in determining the nature of the problem and hence the possible solutions. While players simply want more places to play, venue owners understand that the audiences are not coming out. Why that is, is the second part of the problem: do we blame the Internet, video games, cable TV, DVDs, consolidation of radio, consolidation of record companies or the artists themselves? What makes you want to go out to a club or arts center and listen to a performance? What keeps you from doing that?
None of us who spend and have spent many hours discussing it have much in the way of realistic answers. "All of the Above" is overwhelming; picking one or two reasons risks missing a significant factor. The health of the Louisville music scene depends on finding an answer, regardless of the style of music you favor. I am very interested in your opinions, thoughts and suggestions about this. Feel free to email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Bill Ede and Nat Thumas are calling on all Townesheads for a celebration of the life and songs of Townes Van Zandt at the Air Devils Inn on January 1 (the seventh anniversary of his untimely death) and into the wee hours of January 2. Contact Thumas at 418-2672 to `reserve' a song.
• The Louisville Youth Orchestra will hold audition on Sunday, December 14, 6-9 p.m. These auditions are for orchestral musicians through age twenty-one play one of the following: violin, viola, cello, bass, oboe, trombone or tuba. For more information or to schedule an audition, contact Melody Welsh-Buchholz at 502-582-0135,
• The group formerly known as the Fabulous Leopard Percussionists has moved and been renamed the Louisville Leopard Percussionists. Their teacher, Diane Downs, has moved from Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School to the University of Louisville School of Music, courtesy of funding from various community sources. Your next opportunity to see these young folks will be at 4 p.m., December 7 at Memorial Auditorium. Several Louisville jazz players will also perform. <
• Edwin Allan Donaldson, 63, died Tuesday, November 11 in St. Croix. Donaldson was the longtime owner of the old nightclub at 100 West Washington, which also was known under the name of "Eddie Donaldson's."
• Robert Wesley "Wes" McAfee, 55, of New York, NY, passed away Saturday, November 8. A native of Taylorsville, KY, McAfee worked as a music director and was an accompanist/arranger for many singers of classic and popular music. He was the musical director for several off-Broadway shows and performed at major clubs, music halls and major churches in New York. He was king of the 1964 WHAS Crusade for Children. As a teenager, he traveled extensively with the USO entertainers.
• Fred L. Murphy, 84, died on November 6 in Louisville. He was a longtime Louisville blues musician. (More on this in the "I've Got A Mind To Ramble" column on page 10.)
• Faith Pillow O'Brien, 49, of Louisville, died on November 6 in Louisville. She was a singer/songwriter who toured the world with her own band and released several CDs. She was a member of the Recording Academy and the old Louisville Area Songwriters Cooperative Survivors include her husband, Paul L. O'Brien.
• Aaron David Todovich, 25, died in Louisville on November 14. He was a composer and musician.