Paul Moffett

Down On The Corner
By Paul Moffett

The Louisville Orchestra has canceled six concerts of the new season, from the opening Fanfara on September 10 through the October 29 Pops program. This comes after the national office of the American Federation Of Musicians put the LO on the "Unfair" list, essentially prohibiting the LO's musicians from working for the orchestra, on pain of being fined and losing work elsewhere. The negotiations between the LO and the musicians union remain deadlocked, as both sides have taken strong positions.

Commentary about this situation features much hand wringing on the part of all interested parties, usually offering the arguments that the LO is essential to the Arts in Louisville (from an economic development point of view) and that the LO is an historic and widely recognized organization. What is generally mentioned only in passing in such commentaries is the fact that the actual audiences generally considered the most important measure of the popularity of any musical activity for the LO have been seriously dwindling for some years, although everybody understands that as an economic activity, the LO is completely unsustainable, requiring frequent donations, both public and private, to continue to operate. This is a situation common to large ensemble groups performing orchestral works around the United States, with orchestras failing in city after city, save the very largest.

Hard-nosed business people would assert that orchestral works and concerts are not popular and don't sell in the open market. Further, there is a surplus of musicians available to perform those concerts, which is why the LO has threatened to hire non-union players, as is the usual practice in the open market. But, of course, orchestras do not operate in the open market or, at least, try not to. Therein lies the trouble and the reason why the LO is at the stalemate it's at: the musicians correctly see that if they lose these jobs, finding other comparable positions will be well nigh impossible. The LO Board understands that there aren't enough private donations in Louisville to keep going. It's a fugue on the economic problems of America in 2011. This one may well end al niente.

Will Oldham, a.k.a. Bonnie "Prince" Billy, will play a private benefit for the School of Art at Spalding University on Thursday, September 1. In stories about this event Oldham gets described as a "local music legend," which is a bit of a misnomer, as Oldham is an international music figure, with very little recognition here in town. Indeed, even some musicians in town are unfamiliar with him. Some of this is a direct result of his efforts to remain an unfamiliar figure in town, presumably in order to be able to live a peaceful life here. Still, one might suppose that word would leak out to those in the media business...

The WAVE3 Troubleshooter interviewed Allen Ashbaugh, the promoter of the recent MetalFest3 Cancer Benefit, with the result that Ashbaugh looked like a metalhead jerk meh and the American Cancer Society will likely send him a cease-and-desist letter with regard to using the ACS name and logo. However, one might suppose that the ACS accepted the $900 from the event Ashbaugh said he donated.

The difficulties associated with staging benefits always include arranging for a reliable and trustworthy door person or persons. Finding some who are independent of the promoter staging the event which would help resolve the accountability issue is even more difficult. When such benefits are held at an existing venue, such as the Phoenix Hill Tavern or Headliners, the venue sometimes provides a door person, but requires payment for same. One-off benefits, promoted by groups of individuals, usually don't think about paying someone to tend to the door, relying instead on friends or someone with the group doing the promoting. There could be a lesson here.


Gupton, Robert Waye,63, died in Louisville on August 9. He played with The Fugitives, Lightstone, Majik Jack, Vision and other bands in the area.

Norman, Doug , 48, died in Louisville oln June 29, 2011. He was musician with Thee Flying Carpets.