krekel leaves home

tim krekel orchestra

Thirty years ago this month, Tim Krekel spent a few minutes in a sizeable number of living rooms across the country. The guitarist, songwriter and Louisville native was performing as part of Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band on Saturday Night Live. It was an adventure that took place, as Krekel terms it today, “a number of lives” ago. These days, Krekel is exploring a more modest means to get away from home.

Admittedly, his songs have frequently reached ears well outside the Louisville area. For that, you can thank a lengthy list of country and Americana acts that have recorded and covered his songs. Among them: Alan Jackson, Martina McBride, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Delbert McClinton and another artist with strong Louisville ties, Patty Loveless.

But it wasn’t until the release last year of a brassy and muscular R&B-inspired album called Soul Season that Krekel and his six-member “orchestra” of five years started venturing outside the Derby City comfort zone where the songsmith has long maintained a sizably devout following, especially among public radio audiences.

“We’re just now trying to get out and play the area,” Krekel said. “It’s not that we haven’t wanted to before. But it’s a six-member band. A lot of times it can even be seven or eight people that we have out there. So, financially, it’s tough. Actually, Lexington is becoming one of our first attempts to get out and spread the word a little bit.”

While he took a brief stab at making music in New York and spent the better part of the ‘80s working out of Nashville, Krekel has long been a Louisville performance fixture. He has played everywhere from large outdoor festivals to famed barroom haunts like The Air Devils Inn and still squeezes in solo acoustic shows when his schedule permits.

“A big part of Louisville’s appeal for me is the fact that it’s a river city, not unlike Memphis or New Orleans. I don’t know why it is, but those places always seem to have a rootsy, soulful vibe to them musically.

“Before I moved away, though, I was sort of frustrated by the whole scene in Louisville because, basically, you had to play in cover bands. When I came back in the early ‘90s, I discovered that things were a little more open. I’ve got a nice audience here in town now that has supported me and stayed with me through the years.

“I may just be happier now than I’ve been in my whole life. Maybe that just comes from years of doing this. But my expectations these days are all in the right place. I’m working a lot, but that’s what I love to do.”

The Tim Krekel Orchestra and Slo-Fi perform at 8 p.m. March 21 at The Dame, 156 West Main St. Admission is $5. Call (859) 226-9005.

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