Archive for August, 2008

in performance: the john jorgenson quintet

john jorgenson and his band brought globally minded gypsy jazz to worldfest in louisville last night.

john jorgenson and his band brought globally minded gypsy jazz to worldfest in louisville last night.

Downtown Louisville’s global music, culture and cuisine celebration WorldFest seemed a somewhat unlikely venue for a full length concert performance by the John Jorgenson Quintet. After all, the acoustic ensemble fashions itself after the spirited guitar/violin string swing sound dubbed “gypsy jazz” over 70 years ago by Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. Such music possessed a solid physicality at times. But there were also great subtleties in solo passages and ensemble exchanges within the music’s make up that perhaps weren’t best cultivated in an unavoidably noisy outdoor environment populated by passers-by and idly curious onlookers.

While it obviously would have been preferable to hear Jorgenson’s fine group indoors, some refreshing and unexpectedly honest response surfaced from the scattered audience. A handful of children, for example, simply bopped around at the front of the stage, giddy from the music’s merry stride but unconcerned completely with the hows and whys of its design. And there more than a few adults that seemed game for what seemed to be something new. “I wonder what jazz by gypsies sounds like,” remarked a woman sitting near me as she thumbed through her program. By the end of the ensemble’s 90 minute set last night at Louisville’s Belvedere, she and her sizable entourage were standing and applauding every solo.

Of course, what makes this music work, regardless of the surroundings, is Jorgenson himself. The guitarist boasts heavy credentials in traditional country (as a co-founding member, along with Herb Pederson and ex-Byrd Chris Hillman, of the Desert Rose Band) and arena rock (with a six year stint as touring guitarist for Elton John). And while the band was keenly versed in the brezzy tonality of the Reinhardt/Grappelli swing tradition – from the percussive rhythmic foundation provided by Jorgenson and co-guitarist Kevin Nolan to the interactive lyricism of violinist Jason Anick – the music never felt stylistically pinned down.

Regularly, the compositions encompassed Eastern European (jazz as well as classical), Nordic and Latin (specifically, Argentine) accents. F.A. Swing, for instance, glowed with the bright cosmopolitan feel of Reinhardt in his prime. But on Mediterranean Blues, the music took a harder jazz line with Jorgenson displaying the sort of brittle, acoustic speed in his playing that recalled fusion-bred contemporaries like Al DiMeola. And on Dr. Jazz, where Jorgensen juggled turns on vocals and clarinet, the music was thoroughly Americanized with a sweaty New Orleans flavor that made the humid, outdoor setting suddenly seem a lot less foreign.

Best of all was the show-closing Ultraspontane, a glowing gypsy dance where all the band’s melodic strengths worked as one and moved the tune along like a caravan. The players may have remained onstage, but the music and its infectious string strength strolled right out into the crowd and straight up into the late summer sky.

boone country

luke bryan is one of the featured performers at sunday's lykins park concert in winchester for the daniel boone pioneer festival.

luke bryan is one of the featured performers at sunday's lykins park concert in winchester for the daniel boone pioneer festival.

Kitty Strode was less concerned about the cost of gas as she was the general economic downturn as Winchester’s Daniel Boone Pioneer Festival prepared to turn 30 years old this weekend.

“I was worried this year because I know the economy has affected everything,” said Strode, who has been chairperson for the festival since its late ‘70s inception. “But we’ve actually picked up new money. Winchester is committed to this festival. Many of our non-profit and civic groups set up exhibits that weekend. But those groups are also the work force.

“I use one of the church groups to pick up trash. I use the football boosters to load and unload the sound equipment. The rescue squad helps with parking. We actually have a waiting list of people to come on board and help.”

The Boone Festival kicks off tonight with a 7 p.m. street dance and will continue through Sunday with a 5K run, talent contest and more than 100 vendors and exhibits. The event traditionally culminates in Lykins Park with a Sunday evening concert by a national country artist. The show has drawn as many as 10,000 patrons in past years.

In 2007, the Boone festival hit gold by presenting singer Rodney Atkins right as his These Are My People single hit No. 1. This year, the festival will serve up two newcomers: North Carolina singer Jason Michael Carroll, who hit the country Top 10 twice last year with Alyssa Lies and Livin’ Our Love Song, and Georgia native Luke Bryan of All My Friends Say fame. There will also a homecoming slant to Bryan’s set. His drummer, Kent Slucher, is a Winchester native.

“This is our weekend to shine,” Strode said. “Winchester is not a tourist destination. It’s kind of a pass-by. People are either going to Boonesborough or the Mountain Parkway or further down 64. As far as having a captive audience, this is it for us.”

The Daniel Boone Pioneer Festival begins tonight in Downtown Winchester. Jason Michael Carroll and Luke Bryan conclude the event at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at Lykins Park. The Festival is free, although admission to the Sunday concert is $5. Call (800) 298-9105.

What Tree Growers Want For Christmas: A ‘Tax’

St. Joseph News-Press November 9, 2011 | Laura Batchelor NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Yes, Virginia, there was supposed to be a Christmas tree “tax” — and it’s just what the people who will pay the tax wanted. But its fate is as up in the air as Santa’s sleigh at midnight.

The Obama administration is backing a plan requiring U.S. Christmas tree growers to pay 15 cents per natural tree sold; imported producers will pay 20 cents per tree. The revenue would go exclusively toward a program that will research and promote fresh- cut Christmas trees in the United States.

But an outcry from conservative critics resulted in the Agriculture Department delaying implementation and revisiting the fee.

The Christmas tree farmers sought the levy. They have been hit by the increase in popularity of artificial and plastic trees over the past several decades, and they want to find a way to keep their businesses — mostly small family farms — going.

“I think with this program, it is going to be a positive and build up our business,” said Sherry Severt Taylor, the daughter of the owner of Severt Trees in Elk Creek, Va. Severt has tree farms in Virginia and North Carolina. go to web site christmas tree tax

“Individually, we can’t afford this exposure. But as a collective group, it’s going to help, and we need this help because of the artificial trees,” Taylor added.

But the idea that the administration is behind the 15-cent fee led to an outcry, particularly among politicians and the social media. And, according to media reports, that outcry led to a delay and re-evaluation of the levy.

The outcry was fierce.

“The administration’s new Christmas tree tax and ad campaign is clear evidence of misaligned and misguided priorities in Washington,” said Robert Aderholt, a Republican congressman from Alabama, in a news release.

Jim DeMint, Republican senator from South Carolina, dedicated an entire blog post as a criticism of the fee. The post, which is titled “Crony Capitalism, Christmas Trees, and the Stupidest Tax of All Time,” rips the administration’s plan apart.

The blog ask, “does anyone in America — anyone? — believe that Christmas trees have a bad image that needs taxpayer-subsidized improvement?” Sen. DeMint says the administration’s “scam” has gone too far and “public backlash will force Congress to shut down the Christmas Tree Promotion Board and repeal the single stupidest tax of all time.” The administration defended the idea. go to site christmas tree tax

“I can tell you unequivocally that the Obama administration is not taxing Christmas trees,” said Matt Lehrich, a White House spokesman, in confirming the delay and review. “What’s being talked about here is an industry group deciding to impose fees on itself to fund a promotional campaign, similar to how the dairy producers have created the ‘Got Milk?’ campaign.” There are more than 12,000 farms in the United States that grow and sell Christmas trees. According to the National Christmas Tree Association, the average price for a fresh-cut Christmas tree was $36.12 last year, and the group says customers shouldn’t seen an increase in the price because of the tax.

Since 1966, the nation has had research and promotion boards, the first one being for cotton during the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson. Other products that have research and promotion boards include beef, pork, peanuts, popcorn, Hass avocados, milk, eggs, cotton, watermelon and blueberries.

The Agriculture Department did not return calls to explain what it would do to revisit the plan.

Laura Batchelor

the crowe’s fest

j.d. crowe

j.d. crowe

Now in its eighth year, the initial purpose of the J.D. Crowe Bluegrass Festival in Wilmore was obvious: to honor the enormously influential Grammy winning banjoist and bandleader who lives in nearby Nicholasville.

But festival organizer and veteran bluegrass performer Dean Osborne said that in a time of tight budgets and venue closings, the festival’s role couldn’t help but intensify.

“We plan year to year but realize things happen that we can’t control with the economy and the local music scene,” Osborne said. “Our philosophy is always the same. We try to improve the lineup, improve the event by making positive changes and keep the ticket price down.

“But people are having a tough time. I think they would like to know that the folks promoting events realize it might not be as easy for an audience, with gas prices this year, to spend a lot of money. So if people decide to stay home, or at least closer to home, can we provide a quality event where they feel, basically, like they’ve been on vacation? That’s what we’re charged with.”

The festival kicks off tonight with a 6 p.m. jam session followed at 9 by the premiere of A Kentucky Treasure: The J.D. Crowe Story, a documentary on the festival’s namesake artist by Russell Farmer. The film is likely to make the rounds on KET later this fall. Here’s your chance to see it first, under the stars. The screening and jam session are free.

Crowe himself will take over with sets featuring the newest edition of his New South band on Friday and Saturday. Some heavy hitting festival co-headliners will be adding to the fun, as well.

The Grascals, which took Entertainer of the Year honors at the annual International Bluegrass Music Association Awards for the past two years, will perform tonight while another ultra-tasteful banjoist, Sammy Shelor, leads the current lineup of the Lonesome River Band to Wilmore on Saturday.

The extensive Saturday lineup also includes Bobby Osborne and the Rocky Top X-Press, Richard Bennett and Wyatt Rice, Paul Williams and the Victory Trio and more.

Festival gates open at 9 a.m. Friday and 8 a.m. Saturday. 

The J.D. Crowe Bluegrass Festival runs tonight through Saturday at Ichthus Farm in Wilmore. Tickets are $25 (Friday), $30 (Saturday) and $45 (full weekend). Free for children 12 and under. Call (859) 858-3001.

critic’s pick 34

jerry douglas: "glide"

jerry douglas: "glide"

One of the all-time highlights of the Festival of the Bluegrass occurred on a Friday afternoon roughly 15 summers ago. After a brown out shut down electricity throughout the Kentucky Horse Park in the midst of Jerry Douglas’ set, the dobroist wandered out into the audience, found a large patch of shade and played unaccompanied – and, in the truest meaning of the term, unplugged – for 45 minutes.

But then, the one-time Lexingtonian has been thrilling local crowds for decades, from his groundbreaking ‘70s tenure at the Holiday Inn North with J.D. Crowe and the New South and subsequent sweeps of local lounges and college dorms with Ricky Skaggs in Boone Creek to recent arena concerts as a featured member of Alison Krauss and Union Station.

The fun continues on Glide, a new Douglas solo album that further redefines the repertoire and musical context of the slide-savvy resonator guitar known as the dobro.

The title is apt because there is a lightness of tone and temperament to much of this music, as in the misty Celtic textures that rise like steam around Route Irish and the subtle harmonic mingling with violinist Luke Bulla on the album’s title tune.

Sure, there is a bluegrass foundation within much of Glide, especially in the merry string interplay of the album-opening Bounce. But the music soon embraces a melody both plaintive and playful. That’s an apt turn, given the company Douglas keeps on Bounce. The tune re-teams him with Kentucky-born mandolinist Sam Bush and world class (and classically inclined) bass ace Edgar Meyer. Both have been equally industrious in pushing string music into progressive territory.

But the musical cunning, stylistic depth and pure sense of adventure widen from there. Douglas opens Sway Sur La Rue Royale with a solo serenade on Weissenborn steel guitar that recalls the open, winding melodies of Leo Kottke’s ’70s records. But the tune, a New Orleans funeral march, quickly veers to its homeland with a strut of clarinet, sousaphone and piano as well as the processional snap of Doug Belote’s drums.

Two vocal tunes enlist fine performances from a pair of country stars. A shooting star saga of a drug addled celebrity called Marriage Made in Hollywood is sung with refreshing reserve by Travis Tritt – so much so that one wishes Tritt might adopt similar dramatic modesty in the production and material of his own albums.

Long Hard Road (The Sharecropper’s Dream) later brings in the tune’s composer, Rodney Crowell. Recorded over two decades ago by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, but never by Crowell himself, Long Hard Road benefits from an inviting homespun narrative, a spry country shuffle and some gentle but richly colorful exchanges between Douglas and another Crowe-era mate, guitarist Tony Rice.

Other delights include a Rice and Douglas romp with banjo giant Earl Scruggs on a suitably homey take of Home Sweet Home, the welcome resurrection of sublime ‘80s material (the feisty title tune to Meyer’s 1988 Unfolding album and 1989’s Pushed Too Far) and a one man Scottish medley of Douglas-designed strings titled Trouble on Alum.

Glide is dedicated to a dozen inspirations that have “gone clear” in recent years. Among them is Josh Graves, the veteran Flatt & Scruggs sideman widely viewed as one of the initial innovators of the dobro.

Given the album’s musical finesse and expansive stylistic reach, Uncle Josh can rest easy. Douglas will take things from here.

in performance: chuck leavell/tori sparks

chuck leavell performed in lexington last night for the first time in over 30 years.

chuck leavell performed in lexington last night for the first time in over 30 years.

Chuck Leavell is one of those rare artists that seems to know exactly how blessed he is. Never mind that he has had one of the sweetest gigs on the planet for the last 26 years playing keyboards for the Rolling Stones or that his musical career seems to groove in tandem with his ongoing environmental work. No, it was when Leavell’s fingers dug last night into Don Raye’s Down the Road a Piece, a blast of 1940s boogie woogie cut by the Stones as far back as 1965 (on The Rolling Stones Now!) that a very obvious jubilance all but oozed out of his playing and personality. His left hand kept the rhythm rolling as a steady, tireless stream. The right positively danced, adding percussive bounce to the tune’s juke joint flavor and richly percussive tone.

A similarly buoyant and cheery attitude also marked the other four tunes Leavell served up at the Kentucky Theatre for the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour. There was Professor Longhair’s In the Wee Wee Hours, which also bopped along with a gracious sense of swing. Similarly smoking was Route 66, cut by the Stones on their 1964 debut album but served here with heavy New Orleans spice. A stately, reverential Georgia on My Mind closed the show. But the standout was a Leavell original: the instrumental title tune to his 2005 Southscape album. The tune mixed blues, a tinge of gospel lyricism and subtle melodic grace all played with a jazz-like flexibility. That was all the program had time for. But considering Leavell hasn’t played Lexington since a 1977 Rupp Arena show with his band Sea Level (an opening set for, of all acts, the Electric Light Orchestra), we can consider the WoodSongs outing a welcome, overdue Bluegrass return.

Nashville song stylist Tori Sparks, the program’s other featured guest, stuck to a sampler of folkish vignettes that offered their own sense of surprise. The highlight: Out of the Void, which utilized a Spanish-flavored melody and vocal shades that nicely blended the hush of Over the Rhine with the more exact, almost stabbing articulation of Chrissie Hynde. The encore of Tom Waits’ Jesus Gonna Be Here was a kick, too.

bonus tracks with chuck leavell

chuck leavell

chuck leavell

Yesterday, we presented the bulk of our recent phone interview with Chuck Leavell as a feature story. But Leavell has such an extensive musical history and was up for talking about any corner of it that a lot of insightful comments had to be omitted due to space.

So here we have an extra: Leavell talking about areas of his musical life not touched upon in yesterday’s piece.

The catalyst for nearly all of these comments is a new concert album, Live in Germany. Leavell recorded it immediately after finishing a two-year tour as keyboardist for The Rolling Stones, the iconic band he has played with for over a quarter century.

Q: On Live in Germany, you play with what amounts to a pick-up band – players that had very little rehearsal time for music that effectively covers your entire career. Can you describe the challenge of whipping this much music into performance shape so quickly with musicians that were entirely new to you?

A: All I can say is the enthusiasm was high on everybody’s part. Once I heard these guys play, I just thought, ‘How lucky am I?’ These guys weren’t fooling around. For their part, though, I think they were looking for a break from their normal routine. Some of the guys work for the HR Big Band (the German ensemble that has collaborated with such disparate artists as Jack Bruce and Bill Frisell). So this was a chance for them to break out of their mold and play some different kinds of music. I needed them, they needed me and it all worked out.

Q: You perform a version of Georgia on My Mind on Live in Germany, which might be seen as a tribute to your adopted home state (Leavell is a native of Alabama). But wasn’t Ray Charles also a formative influence?

A: Without a doubt. When I was about 13, I went to a Ray Charles concert with my older sister. We had some Ray Charles records in our house growing up, so I was familiar with him. But I didn’t give all that much of a thought going to the concert. But when they cranked up… man, oh, man, was it was such an incredible band. He had (David) Fathead Newman on the sax. He had the Raelettes singing so well and beautifully. He had Billy Preston on Hammond B3. And then, of course, there was Ray himself. It was such a powerful experience. It just moved me. It moved me more than any music up to that point. That’s when I seriously started pursuing a career and started to look for better musicians to play with

Q: Live in Germany also includes Compared to What, the early ‘70s jazz and R&B hit popularized by Lexington native Les McCann. How influential to you was that song?

A: Listen, I remember so well when that Montreux record came out by Les McCann and Eddie Harris. Swiss Movement it was called. Listening to that whole record but especially Compared to What was huge for me There was a big ‘wow’ factor when I heard that. McCann’s voice, his piano playing and the song itself, a Eugene McDaniel tune… it all affected me heavily. There was such a cool groove to it. I debated a bit playing that because it’s almost sacred ground. But I just love that song so much and was in the company of musicians that I thought could do it justice.

Q: There are two tunes from your days with the Allman Brothers Band on Live in Germany. One is Jessica, the Dickey Betts instrumental from the Brothers and Sisters album. The Allmans cut that in 1973, when you first joined the band. What was it like playing Jessica with a new arrangement and a pack of younger musicians?

A: That’s a matter of attitude, a matter of your own mind. I get questions from people like, ‘How can you play Honky Tonk Women with the Stones so many times and not get tired of it?’ Or, ‘How can you play Satisfaction or Jumping Jack Flash so much?’ To me, it’s just a matter of approach. You go out like it’s the first time you ever played it. With Jessica, as you mentioned, I got to play it from a different angle with these guys using saxophone to play part of the melody line. That provides an opportunity to freshen things up. We also extended the breakdown prior to the piano solo to build the excitement in that part of the song. Look, man, it’s a joy to have worked on records that have stood the test of time. And certainly Jessica has. It’s great to be able to play it 35 years later.

Q: You are also a tree farmer, forestry expert and staunch environmentalist. With your wife Rose Lane, you run Charlene Plantation in Macon. When your life isn’t fully immersed in music, does throwing yourself into one of these jobs help refresh your perspective when it comes time to work on music again?

A: Absolutely. I spent two years on tour with the Rolling Stones, having that be the focus for that period of time. I then immediately followed it up with my own tour, which was a joy to do. But as you can imagine, I was ready for a change. So to get back home and focus on environmental issues and give to them whole heartedly was wonderful. Now, when I sit back down at the piano, it’s not like I just came off a show with the Stones. My mind has been elsewhere. I have a fresh perspective on the music again.

Chuck Leavell performs at 7 tonight for the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour at the Kentucky Theatre. Tori Sparks will be the other featured guest. The taping is sold out.

on the leavell

chuck leavell: pianist, environmentalist and 26-year sideman for the rolling stones.

Sit Chuck Leavell behind a piano and the South, in all its musical richness, comes to life.

You hear jazz that swings with a boppish stride. Then come soul, blues and R&B accents that sound as if they were sweated out in the barrooms of Muscle Shoals. Capping it all are boogie woogie rolls seemingly bound for New Orleans.

“People have asked me to describe, in a couple of words, what my music is and where it comes from,” said Leavell, who performs Monday for the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour. “I just say it’s like a warm Southern night.”

For Leavell, nighttime has been long and sweet indeed. Look over his dossier and you will discover a ridiculously extensive list of names he has toured and/or recorded with over the past four decades. He was there for commercial Southern rock apex of The Allman Brothers Band (beginning with the landmark 1973 album Brothers and Sisters), the early ‘90s renaissance of Eric Clapton (including his multi-Grammy winning 1992 concert recording Unplugged) and one of the only non-Beatles tours by George Harrison (chronicled on 1992’s Live in Japan).

A partial list of others he has pounded the keys for: Aretha Franklin, The Black Crowes, Gov’t Mule, Billy Joe Shaver, Indigo Girls, Brian Setzer, John Hiatt and Kentucky’s own Montgomery Gentry.

Oh yes, there is also that outfit from England that Leavell has toured and recorded with for over a quarter century: The Rolling Stones.

Curiously, it wasn’t until a two year tour with the Stones wound down in Europe last fall that an opportunity surfaced for Leavell’s own music to take the spotlight again. The initial idea was to stay in Europe, where the Stones tour ended, and perform a series of solo piano concerts. Then Leavell met up with an industrious team of German musicians that learned, with very little rehearsal time, a repertoire that covered nearly all of the keyboardist’s musical life – from covers of staples popularized by Ray Charles and Lexington native Les McCann, to Allmans favorites. The repertoire also took in compositions from Sea Level, the fusion-flavored band that teamed Leavell with another great Southern songsmith, Randall Bramblett, in the late ’70s, as well as instrumental works from such recent solo albums as Forever Blue and Southscape. And, yes, some distinctive treatments of Rolling Stones tunes made their way into the set list, too.

“I’ve been with the Stones for 25 years,” Leavell said. “So I think it’s legal now for me to do some of that music on my own.”

A resulting chronicle of that brief tour, Live in Germany, was released earlier this summer. The record is, in essence, a primer on Leavell’s music for patrons that may know little about his playing outside of the major league artists he has been associated with.

“The music on Live in Germany is who I am,” Leavell said. “It’s what I do and what my career has been about. I’ve been so lucky to play in these different settings. So this is just a celebration of that career and some of the things I’ve been fortunate enough to do.”

Born and raised in Alabama, Leavell relocated to Georgia in 1969. Following work with Alex Taylor and Dr. John, he joined the Allmans. Curiously, the buoyant boogie woogie piano so prevalent on Live in Germany wasn’t so much a product of the South as it was the result of a friendship struck up with veteran Rolling Stone pianist/road manager Ian Stewart.

In an apprenticeship of sorts, Leavell joined the Stones in 1981, just as Stewart was playing one his final tours with the band. Stewart died in 1985.

“Stu turned me on to a genre of music that I had not really paid that much attention to, that being the sounds of the boogie woogie masters,” Leavell said. “He had me listening to people like Meade Lux Lewis, James P. Johnson, Montana Taylor… I could go on and on.

“In particular, I learned so much about left hand technique in the boogie woogie idiom from Stu. But I also loved his description of what the right hand needed to do. He always said (affecting a British accent), ‘You want to create diamond tiaras.’ So that’s what I do. I use that powerful, steady left hand and put the diamond tiaras on top. Man, Stu was such a big influence.”

But making the piano sing with one of the foremost rock ‘n’ roll bands in history is only one of the passions driving Leavell’s work life. When not onstage, he can often be found in front of a very different audience speaking on forestry and conservation. A champion environmentalist and tree farmer, Leavell operates Charlene Plantation in Macon, Georgia with his wife Rose Lane. The two were named National Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year in 1999

In short, Leavell is as dedicated as much to the planet as he is to the music he makes on it.

“I think it’s wonderful to see the attitude that people have now about the environment. It’s not only in America. The whole planet is waking up and seeing the seriousness of the challenges we face. And I celebrate that. I think it’s about time.

“But it’s easy, I suppose, to get wrapped in music and the environment, especially when you’re as passionate as I am about both.”  

Chuck Leavell performs at 7 p.m. Aug. 25 at the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour at the Kentucky Theatre, 214 E. Main St. Tori Sparks is also a featured guest. The taping is sold out.

is it rolling, bob?

next time for sure, bob.

next time for sure, bob.

“Is it rolling, Bob?”

Those were the words that ushered in To Be Alone With You on Bob Dylan’s seminal Nashville Skyline album almost four decades ago. Last night, though, nothing was rolling – at least not on I-75 North.

The idea today was to present a snapshot of Dylan in performance at National City Pavilion, the new 4,000 seat ampitheatre at Riverbend in Cincinnati. It looked to be a fun time. There was to be no opening act on this attractive, though balmy Friday evening in late summer. The show would simply be Dylan in all his confounding and fascinating splendor.

Then, about 10 minutes on the north side of Dry Ridge, the red flags went up. Traffic in all three lanes ground to a halt. Even worse, people were outside of their vehicles talking to one another. Not a favorable sign.

Perplexed as much as anyone, I got out of my car and went to the nearest news source I could find: a trucker. The word: two cars had collided roughly five miles ahead. No one had been killed, but two people had to be hospitalized. The anticipated wait time to clean up the wreckage and resume normal traffic flow? Approximately four hours.

Something curious happens in situations like this. Here I was, with 20 minutes to go before showtime – and nearly 40 minutes of driving time ahead of me – staring at the first suggestions of sunset on a hot but comfortable Friday evening while standing, quite literally, in the middle of I-75 north.

Everyone was inconvenienced. Everyone’s evening plans and journeys were now altered in ways far beyond anybody’s control. But no one was mad. No one was even that distraught. Perhaps that’s because two bold realizations had set in.

One: no amount of grumbling, whining or cursing was going to move these hundred or so vehicles any faster up the interstate.

Two: somewhere at the end of the stymied traffic was the accident site itself. And there, one thing there was for certain. Those folks were having an indescribably worse evening than any of us stranded further down I-75 were.

The wait wasn’t as severe as promised. Instead of four hours, it was only two. By the time I cleared the site and caught a glimpse of a white mini-van on its side smashed beyond recognition, it was 8:55. There was still 30 minutes or more of driving time to consider. A cell call to the Riverbend box office revealed the 8 p.m. show had started on time and was scheduled to wind up at approximately 9:40. The mission was now officially aborted.

So to His Bobness, I apologize. We’ll see you again soon, I trust. To any fellow Lexingtonians that attempted the trip and were also ensnared in the traffic backup, I feel your disappointment. As a consolation, here is the Dylan setlist of what we missed last night in Cincinnati, courtesy of www.boblinks.com:

Cat’s in the Well/The Times They Are-A-Changin’/Things Have Changed/I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight/Love Sick/Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again/High Water (For Charlie Patton)/Chimes of Freedom/Rollin’ and Tumblin’/I Believe in You/Honest With Me/Just Like a Woman/‘Til I Fell in Love With You/Nettie Moore/Thunder on the Mountain/Like a Rolling Stone/All Along the Watchtower.

down comes the dame

the final demolition of the dame on monday. photo by herald-leader staff photographer mark cornelison.

the final demolition of the dame on monday. photo by herald-leader staff photographer mark cornelison.

Mark Cornelison’s front page shot earlier this week of the inevitable but horribly drawn out demolition of The Dame spoke far more than the proverbial 1,000 words.

This was where X played, where Alejandro Escovedo rocked, where Kenny Chesney kept people waiting in the snow and where the Sun Ra Arkestra marched into after a downtown Fat Tuesday parade.

This was where dozens of local bands used to call home. It is now, in the march toward the CentrePointe project, rubble.

“Where the heck is everyone playing now that The Dame is gone?” That was the one-line email I received from a understandably miffed Louisville concert promoter last weekend. My replay: for now, nowhere.

sounds of the state fair, pt. 2

miranda lambert will help conclude the kentucky state fair on sunday.

miranda lambert will help conclude the kentucky state fair on sunday.

We offered an opening night snapshot of the State Fair last week with a review of the ZZ Top/Brooks & Dunn bill at Freedom Hall. Now, we are left with only four shows in four nights before the fair closes down for another year.

The first three performances are free and will be held outdoors in Cardinal Stadium – just above where the mules and jacks make their traditional exhibition camp during fair season. Wonder what they will make of the Village People.

The fair’s championship horse show has taken over Freedom Hall all this week, but will conclude Saturday night. That means country stars Trace Adkins and Miranda Lambert will wind things up indoors at the fair on Sunday night.

Prior to the ZZ/B&D show, I took a few hours to wander about the fairgrounds and take in the sort of unspoiled sensory overload that only the State Fair can provide. Some observations:

+ The annual Ugly Lamp Contest lives up to its name. Among this year’s entries were lamps made out of a slot machine and a lawn mower.

+ Dairy cows have a thing for Dire Straits. One was in repose in its stall on opening day as a nearby radio blasted Sultans of Swing. She was digging it.

+ Of all the live poultry on hand, ducks seemed to be the least stressed – that is, unless a border collie happened to be chasing them around an exhibition ring and herding them into a cage.

+ From the other end of a vast exhibition hall, the distant crowing of roosters sounded like the wailing cries of damned souls in a ‘50s horror movie.

+ Maybe there was a sale going on, but on opening day you could purchase a young turkey and two duckings for less than the price of a ZZ Top t-shirt.

+ Outside, a brat booth advertised a volcanic hot dog and chill hybrid called simply “The Heartburn.” I kept my distance.

+ Prior to Brooks & Dunn’s set, fans were invited to send text messages to the duo, which were then flashed on screens around the stage. The winner won a backstage pass. My favorite: “Sign my frog.”

And now, the final four concerts of the 2008 Kentucky State Fair…

Thursday: Leroy Van Dyke and the Auctioneers/Jim Ed Brown/Helen Cornelius/Bobby Bare/ Steve and Rudy Gatlin/T.G. Sheppard at Cardinal Stadium – The country music time machine will spin back to the ‘60s (for Van Dyke’s Walk on By), ‘70s (for hit duets by Brown and Cornelius) and ‘80s (heyday for Sheppard and the Gatlins). Bare, on the other hand, has been making Texas-size music since the late ‘50s (free).

Friday: Village People at Cardinal Stadium – Believe it or not, there are still links between the Village People of today and the lineup that was a costumed hit at the height of the disco era. Felipe Rose (“The Indian”) has been on board since the beginning while vocalist Ray Simpson (“The Policeman”) has performed with the group since 1980 (free).

Saturday: Travis Tritt at Cardinal Stadium – Tritt once gave every sign of being heir apparent to the Southern country rock throne of Hank Williams, Jr. Trouble was, Williams never abdicated. After numerous ‘90s hits and a brief 2000 resurgence, Tritt’s thunder has settled (free).

Sunday: Trace Adkins, Miranda Lambert and Keith Anderson at Freedom Hall – After a season with Donald Trump on The Celebrity Apprentice, Adkins is back to testosterone heavy country hits. But Lambert, whose Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is one of the creepiest country singles in recent memory, will likely stir up a fuss of her own ($41, $46).

For further fair info, call (502) 367-5001 (fair hotline) or (502) 367-5002 (concert hotline).

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