buyin’ into the mayan

Joe Harbison of Ford Theatre Reunion. Photo by Tamera Paskey.

Should the world end today, as predicted by the Mayan calendar, and the earth becomes a dead orb of ruins floating through the cosmos, there is a good chance the music venue of your choice may experience a disruption of concert and performance activity.

As such, we heartily recommend before attending any music related activity tonight that you call ahead and ask a representative of the club or concert hall in question if they will be open or if there will be a change in their hours of operation due to the obliteration of the planet.

They will appreciate your concern.

Cosmic Charlie’s certainly seems to be buyin’ into the Mayan. Tonight, the club will be hosting an apocalyptic celebration called The First and Last Annual Absolute End of Everything Extravaganza.

Headlining and curating the event will be the Ford Theatre Reunion, the immensely animated carnival/vaudeville troupe that self-describes its songs as “circus freak music for circus freak people.” But the Extravaganza also boasts nearly a dozen other local and out-of-town acts that cover ska, electro-swing, burlesque, acrobatics, juggling, belly dancing, puppeteering and more.

In short, this is not exactly the kind of show one finds in Lexington at any time of year, much less during the weekend before Christmas.

“Well, we figured it’s the end of the world, so we’ve got to go all out,” said Ford Theatre Reunion mainstay accordionist Eric Myers.  “Over the past year or so, we’ve been on the road an awful lot and have met some amazing people from all over the country that are of a like mind when it comes to performance and spectacle and the kinds of shows we like to put on. We found out there were people doing the kind of thing that we’re doing.

“This provided a perfect opportunity to bring in some of our friends from out of town. We’ve got performers coming in from Chicago, North Carolina, Ohio and Indiana. On top of that, we’ve put together a bill that also features some of the local people (including Rakadu Gypsy Dance and The Rough Customers) we’ve been involved with for a long time.”

Tonight’s performance, aside from honoring the end of the earth, also winds up four very fruitful years of performance service for Ford Theatre Reunion. The group came to local prominence after organizing “freak show” carnivals in the Buster’s parking lot during the first two years of the Boomslang festival.

“We actually started doing this at Common Grounds about four years ago. At the time, we never thought we would be able to find enough of an audience for us to take what we do on the road. We’ve gone through a lot of lineup changes and a lot of musical changes since then, but so much of that audience base is still there.”

In recent years, the group has been transferring the fractured bits of folk, ragtime and swing that decorate their songs, along with some of the narrative elements that pepper its live shows (described by Myers as being “along the lines of carnival barkers on a pier announcing puppet shows as you walk by”) into two full length albums. A third is in the works. But therein sits a puzzle. What becomes of a recording project if civilization isn’t around to hear it?

“We’re thrilled about the album. Unfortunately, the world is going to end before we can get it out.”

The First and Last Annual Absolute End of Everything Extravaganza featuring Ford Theatre Reunion and Friends begins at 7 tonight at Cosmic Charlie’s, 388 Woodland Ave. $10. Call (859) 309-9499 or go to www.cosmic-charlies.com.



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