Issue December 12, 2006

Sight Unsound: A new farm-aid, cool vampires and worthwhile swing

Her Secrets are out: Brigid Kaelin.
Her Secrets are out: Brigid Kaelin.

Each year during the holiday season, some folks go out of their way to help those in need. Making sacrifices for the benefit of others is all well and good, of course, but every once in a while the opportunity also includes the chance of having a good time in the process.

Misty Meadows Farm is a locally owned and operated farm that produces free-range meats and eggs and naturally grown produce, then delivers the goods to local farmers’ markets. But their production recently suffered a huge unexpected blow in the form of a burning truck. The farm ultimately lost several thousand pounds of meat and vegetables and much of its equipment (tables, scales, etc.) when the truck transporting goods to a Bardstown Road market suddenly caught fire.

A group of Louisville musicians heard the bad news and set out to help the farmers in the best way a group of musicians knows in such circumstances: They’re putting on a benefit show.

Tomorrow night, Dec. 14, Brigid Kaelin, John Mann, Bootsie Anne, Tenia Sanders and others will combine their musical powers for the good of Misty Meadows Farm. The show at the Pour Haus starts at 9 p.m. and costs a modest $8. And if it’s not obvious by now, the proceeds will go to the good people there at the farm, who have an awful lot of equipment to replace.

“I haven’t played the Pour Haus, and I thought it would be a great benefit show,” said Kaelin, whose album, Keep Your Secrets, is now in its second pressing. She plans to start work on a follow-up after Christmas and says she has about five records’ worth of material.

If you consider yourself a supporter or lover of naturally grown and organic foods, great live local music, helping others or any combination thereof, then tomorrow night you’ll definitely want to make your way to the Pour Haus (1481 S. Shelby St., 637-9611). You’ll get that warm and fuzzy feeling that only comes from helping others. Or hearing really good music. Or having a few drinks. A trifecta.

Vampire Squid, a beautiful, multi-legged creature, plays a barrage of shows this month.
Vampire Squid, a beautiful, multi-legged creature, plays a barrage of shows this month.

The local experimental nu-jazz outfit Vampire Squid are relative newcomers to the Louisville scene, but they’ve been getting a lot of attention this year and maybe even more than usual in the past week or so.
On Dec. 5, the Squids found their way to The Rudyard Kipling, where they planned to preserve their performance for the ages via an audio recording of the show. In spite of several technical difficulties — the kind that come when one too many cables is connected to one too many electric devices — the band pulled together, played the show and did, indeed, manage to record the performance.

“To be honest, that went terrible,” singer Matt Barnett said. “There were a lot of unforeseen things we didn’t really think were going to happen.”

The recording will likely be made available in some form or another sometime in the new year. In the meantime, however, Vampire Squid is making sure fans of their unique music don’t go without. In the coming weeks, they’ll play all over Louisville in an almost constant barrage of live performances.

You can catch them this Saturday, Dec. 16, when they return to The Rudyard Kipling (422 W. Oak St., 636-1311) for another performance, this time with like-minded bands Ut Gret and Litany’s Last Call. They’ll also squeeze in two or three more shows before the end of the year: one on Dec. 21 with Litany’s Last Call at the Pour Haus and another at The Rudyard Kipling on Dec. 30.

Vampire Squid’s itinerary was unintentional, Barnett said. “It was by accident. We started trying to get shows around town, and we were having some trouble. Ever since then, we just get e-mails and calls to play all of these shows. The response has been really amazing.”

Love them or hate them, you’ve surely never heard anything like Vampire Squid. Now is the time to see this musical melting pot with the decidedly strange name in action before everybody knows about them. Don’t be a latecomer, jumping on the bandwagon at the last minute. Be the first on your block to hear Vampire Squid and make up your own mind before the critics make it up for you.

This Friday and Saturday, the Jazz Factory will host four performances by tenor saxophonist Don Braden, whose touring quartet includes guitarist Dan Faehnle, keyboardist Bobby Floyd and local swing drummer Jonathan Higgins.

Expect some swing from Don Braden.
Expect some swing from Don Braden.

Braden was born in Cincinnati, raised in Louisville and now lives in New Jersey. He says swing is exactly what audiences can expect at the shows.

“My latest albums have been a groove kind of concept. It will be high-level music with high-level players.”
Braden recently played a concert for the Queen of Holland, who commissioned Braden and several other composers to come up with new orchestral compositions based on the writings of her late husband. He didn’t get to speak to her afterward — “She had to go catch a plane,” he said — but he heard she was really into it. “Maybe she’s a fan.”

Every member of this all-star quartet has an extensive resume within the jazz community. Together, their combined experience includes live performances and session work with figures like Ray Charles, Diana Krall and Wynton Marsalis, among others. Braden has recorded more than 10 records as a bandleader and has appeared on nearly 50 additional releases as a session man.

He and his friends will perform at 7:30 p.m. and again at 9:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Tickets for each individual performance go for $15 and can be purchased online at the Jazz Factory’s Web site, www.jazzfactory.us, or at the Jazz Factory proper downtown at 815 W. Market St. Call 992-3242 for more info.

Music Editor Mat Herron contributed to this story. Contact the writers at leo@leoweekly.com