Saturday in Louisville dawned muggy, gray and threatening rain. Having arrived in town the previous night (too late for Nashville favorites How I Became the Bomb and De Novo Dahl) to a torrential (like Noah and shit) downpour, we feared a similar fate might befall the second day of the Forecastle Festival. With such excellent, fun-time bands on the bill, we certainly hoped not. We rolled down to the waterfront in the late afternoon, just in time for the Black Diamond Heavies. After meandering through the “activism area” (a series of information booths) we made our way up to the second stage—a beautiful setting nestled up against the Ohio River. The Heavies’ John Wesley Myers has a new Rhodes piano that produced an earthy, swampy growl—the perfect match for the humidity. In fact, we were impressed with the sound all day—some of the best we’ve ever heard outdoors. After the Heavies, we took a brief respite on a picnic bench in the activism area and enjoyed some corn-on-a-stick and beers out of compostable plastic cups. The humidity (and our hangover) threatened to sap our spirit, but then two young African American boys and a 20-something hipster took the stage to talk about sustainable farming. Nail in the coffin? Oh no! Because by “talk,” we mean rap! About vegetables! Needless to say: awesome. Next up were Ghostfinger, who pulled out a bunch of new songs off their upcoming sophomore release (very, very close to being finished, according to frontman Richie Kirkpatrick). The crowd, which had the occasional small child, balked a bit when they opened with “Give Me Some Money” (so I can get high…), but by the time Kirkpatrick was running through the crowd and slinging his guitar over the head of the park’s statue, they had won ’em over. Wax Fang (who just finished mixing their debut LP in Nashville) were up next on the main stage and the crowd stirred to life—giving the trio a warm hometown welcome. Then it was The Features (who endured massive van meltdown and still managed to make it), who played an all-too-short, but tight, set. The surprise of the evening was Mucca Pazza, a kind of indie-rock marching band playing bizarre, scattered, glorious music—in mismatched band uniforms of course. By this time, the sky had turned blue, the night had grown cool and all was right with the world. After hiding from Particle (sooo jammy), we returned to the main area for mashup king Girl Talk. The second he emerged, the stage was flooded with fans for a massive dance party. After all the excellent bands, it was a bit strange to end with a DJ—but we’re still not even a bit tired of that Biggie/“Tiny Dancer” throwdown. Go to nashvillescene.com for a slide show of photos from Forecastle.To see slide show, click here.
That old-time rock ’n’ roll
The Mercy Lounge was packed like a sardine can for Friday’s Long Players show, and it was a crowd unlike any you’re likely to see again at a rock club anytime soon—we’re putting the average age at 50 or so. We half-expected to see an AARP registration table in the corner. But all we saw were ol’ folks ready to get their rock on as the Long Players—who re-create classic rock albums using a slate of local celebrities as lead vocalists—took on the Holy Grail for Eric Clapton fans, Derek and the Dominos’ Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. The LP boys (guitarists Steve Allen and Bill Lloyd, keyboardist John Deaderick, bassist Gary Tallent and drummer Steve Ebe) took the stage and, like a shot of rock ’n’ roll Viagra, made several hundred middle-agers feel like it was 1972 all over again. One member of our party, a spry 36-year-old and frequent concertgoer, put this on his list of Nashville’s all-time greatest rock shows, and we’d have to agree. The crowd energy was off the hook, free as it was of the aloofness prevalent at your typical Nashville indie rock show. Though we’ve seen several Long Players shows, we’d never seen Steve Allen brandish the slide, and he was nailing the Duane Allman parts like nobody’s business. Among the guest-vocalist highlights: Jimmy Hall on “Bell Bottom Blues,” Gary Nicholson on “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out,” Dave Perkins on “Key to the Highway,” Ashley Cleveland (with hubby Kenny Greenberg on guitar) on “Little Wing” and, of course, Tom Kimmel on “Layla.” (Greenberg, who, despite his Jewish-sounding last name, is a giant in the Christian music industry, played ridiculously well, leading one Jewish guitarist in the audience to consider conversion.) After such a magical performance, during which the band seemed to be channeling the original Dominos, we can only hope the LPers’ futures are brighter than their muses: shortly after Layla’s release, Clapton fell into a years-long heroin addiction and depression, and Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle accident. Oh yeah, and in 1980, bassist Carl Radle died of an alcohol- and drug-related kidney infection. Oops, almost forgot—in 1983, drummer Jim Gordon (who also wrote and played the legendary piano outro on “Layla”), bludgeoned his mother with a hammer, then stabbed her to death, and has spent the intervening years in prison and psych wards. Here’s hoping the Long Players don’t take this re-creation thing too seriously.
I don’t feel tardy
We eased into The Basement on a clear, dry and breezy Saturday night perfect for a set of blithe, droll pop. New York’s The Subjects were just coming onstage, and while we’d heard the foursome’s spiffy debut, With the Ease Grace Precision and Cleverness of Human Beings, and knew the story of how teachers David Sheinkopf and Joseph Smith had formed a band with students Jimmy Carbonetti and Matt Iwanusa at Manhattan’s Churchill School, nothing could have prepared us for the way these guys took us to rock ’n’ roll master class. Bassist and lead singer Sheinkopf, sporting rolled-up jeans and stage presence that was both intense and friendly, led the band through a dizzying succession of ingenious riffs that dovetailed into sections of pure power-pop beauty and sublime melodicism. Guitarists Carbonetti and Smith traded jazzily dissonant licks and mutated Chuck Berry-style solos, while drummer Iwanusa rocked the complex songs with aplomb. The camaraderie suggested The younger Subjects had perfected their craft in some celestial pop classroom and then decided to show their teachers a thing or two. Everyone chimed in with backing vocals and handclaps, and Carbonetti shook a maraca during one number and then kicked it across the stage like any rocker trying to disrupt homeroom and impress the girls. It was a tour de force that managed to be soulful, romantic and catchy—the music was encyclopedic in scope without once sounding academic. Just like our favorite high school Latin teacher, they sounded clear and breezy, and just dry enough to remind us who’s instructing whom.
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