• The recent proliferation of music industry education events (showcases, seminars, workshops, conferences, etc.) seems to me to be as clear an indication of the increased difficulty of making upward progress - economic and/or status - in the music business as any thing else I've seen lately. With CD sales heading south with a vengeance, the corporations suing downloaders (while claiming that downloading harms the artists rather than said corporations' bottom lines) and audiences staying away from many events other than heavily promoted major-act concerts, things don't look very good for young artists.
A recent email exchange with some original Louisville artists demonstrated that all the answers in play are old ones that do not directly address the issues at hand. My Magic Eight Ball tells me that the view is cloudy and that I should try again. I suppose I'll just keep putting one foot in front of the other and see where I gets me. If you have any new ideas, I'm interested.
• Getting Murdered Is A Career Move? After re-releasing the Gits debut record, Frenching The Bully, in June, Broken Rekids is re-releasing the band's sophomore effort, Enter: The Conquering Chicken," originally released on C/Z Records in 1993. The project was nearly complete when Louisville native Mia Zapata, the Gits singer, was murdered in Seattle, ending the band's recording career.
Subsequent to Zapata's death, a cult following emerged and Gits' records became rare and collectable. The Gits were recently featured on a national NPR story recently and a feature-length film documentary about Zapata and The Gits will premiere this year at various film festivals.
• Never Follow A Cute Kid On Stage. Singer/songwriter Heidi Howe must have no fear: she's adding a once-a-month feature to her regular Tuesday Night gig, "Heidi Howe's One Night Stand" at Clifton, at which she features a singer-songwriter from around the country. Now she'll have "Emerging Artists" as well: "exceptional young musicians 18 years old or younger." The premiere of that feature will be on October 7, when Whitney Roberts will join Heidi and guest James O'Brien from Boston, Massachusetts.
• Misha Feigin phoned the last month to mention a show that he was helping promote. It was too late to help plug it in the paper but he also mentioned that he has written and published a novel, Searching For Irina, about Moscow (Russia) in the Seventies. It's available on his website, www.mishafeigin.com.
• Melwood Pictures, Hé ladé Productions and the Spirit Bear Youth Coalition have announced the pre-production of "The Spirit Bear," a feature length, computer-generated animated movie with a mission: protecting its namesake - Canada's white Kermode, or spirit bear. The film's original soundtrack and score will be written by Kentucky natives Kevin Richardson of the Backstreet Boys and Keith McGuffey, who recently launched The Music Workshop on Main St. in Louisville, as was noted in this space in September The film is targeted for a Spring 2006 release.
• Not Just "Tiny Bubbles." - The irrepressible Mary Lou Dempler has been working steadily to promote the ukulele, an instrument which she teaches at Bellarmine University. Now she has added country music artist Keith Urban's music to her curriculum. All her ukulele students learn his No. 1 hit, "Somebody Like You." She's even got a press blurb on the Capitol Record site. You can read it here: http://www.capitolnashville.com/index.cfm?method=artist.artistNews&articleid=258&ArtistID=23&CFID=129738&CFTOKEN=49712705
• The Louisville Music Industry Alliance (LMIA) and Blue Sky Kentucky are taking a step away from their event production activities to present a series of eight monthly workshops called "Mu$ician'$ Action Plan" (M.A.P.). The workshops will cover career development, publishing, copyrighting, legal issues and promotion and will be moderated by attorney Scott Keniley. The sessions, which cost a mere $10 each, will take place on Saturdays from 1-3 p.m. at the Comedy Caravan in the Mid-City Mall. For information and registration, logon to www.lmiacentral.com or the Blue Sky Kentucky website at www.blueskykentucky.com; pr call 1-877-307-6418 (toll-free).
• Public radio station WUOL 90.5 FM and the University of Louisville School of Music will present "A Prelude to `From The Top'," on Sunday, November 2 in Comstock Hall. This event is the premiere of UofL's new Young Classical Artists Competition and is in preparation for the first Kentucky appearance of Public Radio International's From The Top series in March 2004 at the school. The competition, which is open to vocal or instrumental, solo or chamber ensembles, is for a spot in the winner's concert in Comstock Concert Hall. It's free and open to the public. For more information, log onto http://www.wuol.org or www.louisville.edu/music or call the School of Music at (502) 852-6907.
• Never Give Up? Marvin Maxwell has finally reached one of his most serious goals: getting the first semi-load of Jammin' Jams, his line of guitar-shaped toilet seats. He's been working for ten years on the project, which involved getting the seats built by a guitar manufacturer and, further, one in Asia to keep costs down. He achieved both. The seats are available at the four Mom's Musician's General Stores.
• Louisville rapper Bukshot scored the cover of the Courier-Journal's Scene magazine on September 20. The former gang member, pot dealer and father of two, born Tim Kalbfleisch, sold some 25,000 copies of his first two CDs, Welcome to the Ville and One More for the Hataz and has sold 70,000 copies of his most recent release, They Still Don't Love Me, according to the article. Now he's shopping - carefully - for a deal with a national label. You can read the whole story on the Courier-Journal's website at http://www.louisvillescene.com/music/features/2003/20030920bukshot.html.
• Henry C. Mayer reports that the Kentucky Opera elected new officers for 2003-2004 recently. Rick Wigginton was named President, with Sharon Hatfield slotted as V-P of Special Events; Eldon Dale Golden, V-P, Education; Stephanie Bradner, Recording Secretary; Carolyn Marlowe, Corresponding Secretary and Roger Hickman, Treasurer.
• Ken Shapero, a principal owner of the Jazz Factory and U of L's Mike Tracy are collaborating to set up a big-band jazz ensemble jam session to be held at the Jazz Factory, according to a story in the September 7 issue of Louisville Courier-Journal The free sessions began on September 16 and will focus on allowing musicians to perform with an organized rehearsal band. The size of the band is expected to be about 16 or 17. Read the Courier-Journal's story at www.louisvillescene.com/music/features/2003/20030907jazz.html .
• Mauriece"Twid" Austin, 78, died on September 3. He was a musician and teacher who player with the Camilla Wild Trio as well as others in the Louisville area.
• Ruth "Ginger" Callahan, 80, died on September 15 in New Albany, Indiana. Callahan was a country-music singer and radio and television personality in the Louisville area during the Sixties and Seventies, appearing on "Hayloft Hoedown" and at Renfro Valley. She was a songwriter and musician who played fiddle, guitar, bass, mandolin and banjo. She also co-owned a club in Chicago.
• John Elmo Kennedy III, 44, died in Louisville on September 8. He was a former member of Kessler's Friends.
• Hernan Moreno Rivera, 59, of Louisville, died in Leavenworth, IN on September 16. A native of Guatemala, he was an artisan guitar maker.