A Happy New Year to all of LMN's readers, past and present. Twenty-sixteen dawns with the promise of an extra day of the misery of a presidential election, which will mean we have to listen to endless ads advising us that the other person is terrible, awful and a potential disaster for the country. Some of the those ads might be true, but mostly, no.
My advice is to listen to some music, particularly Louisville music, which also promises to be very interesting in the upcoming year. The over-all quality of music being made in the Derby City is about as high as I have ever seen it; the recording quality is excellent; the variety of genres splendid. Will the ever-eccentric Bonnie "Prince" Billy record a classic? (He will certainly record something) How about the new album from My Morning Jacket – will it be of the quality of Circuital and become the one to earn some serious awards and, of course, money? Rachel Grimes will continue to travel the world with her fabulous neo-classical compositions. Can Scott Carney and Wax Fang climb back up the path that "Majestic" laid out with American Dad?
The Americana/acoustic scene cannot be ignored, either, with Joan Shelley and Nathan Salsbury poised to pop up in the national markets. Shelley's Over and Even (with help from Will Oldham, Glen Dentinger and Salsburg) has gotten the attention of the mothership of acoustic radio, NPR. Shelley's band mates in Maiden Radio, Cheyenne Mize and Julia Purcell, have careers in Music Therapy, but Mize, of course, also enchanted NPR listeners with Before Lately and Among The Grey and are no doubt expecting something from her this year.
The ubiquitous Ben Sollee, who is really claimed by Lexington, will continue challenging his fans to follow him in his various ventures in all manner of neo-, retro- and other subgenres of whatever "classical" music means these days.
The rappers in town have also demonstrated that they can drop a rhyme with the best: Jalin Rose and 1200 at the top of the list but there are more than this old man is familiar with. (One of the real hazards of age is losing track of the different genres.)
The festivals will continue to develop right along, with Forecastle Fest at the top of the list. The Louder Than Life Festival seems to have found a real niche was well. The many other, smaller, quirkier festivals add an interest and particular flavor to the Louisville scene: Poorcastle Fest has found a happy home at the Apocalypse Brew Works. The Leibowski Fest will, hopefully, survive Will Russell's highly public crash-and-burn. The Seven Sense Festival and whatever other events the folks at Zanzabar and The New Vintage cook up will interest the younger audiences. Mike Suttles has detailed the several Blues Festivals in his January column. And on and on it goes...
When I started this column, I didn't really mean to get quite so deep into the weeds, or, if you prefer, the high cotton of Louisville music, as it's really impossible to mention – even casually – all of the music that is available to Louisville music fans in a single writing, so I won't try. I will just remind readers of something that I have known about Louisville since moving here in 1972 – this is a town that spawns music; a veritable garden of new music, where everybody seems to play something or, at least, is connected to someone who plays. Of course, it goes up and down, but right now, it's definitely on a "up" phase, so get out there and enjoy the music.