Issue October 9, 2007

A Gate reopens, double Black, Jubilee jam, oh Baby

Oct. 12-13
Revivals aren’t easy.
From 1988 until the last chord was struck in 1996, the Garvin Gate Blues Festival had cemented its place in the cultural tapestry of Old Louisville as a celebration of diversity.

To hear co-organizer Howard Rosenberg explain it, the popular festival stopped because of fatigue more than any other factor. “It was a combination of things: I was moving to South Carolina. Some other people who had worked really hard on the festival stepped down, and it was time for other people to step up.”

Bringing the fest back was a case of absence making the heart grow fonder, but it wasn’t until Rosenberg returned to Louisville in 2000 that the proverbial wheels began to turn.

Love is only half the battle, though. “It’s hard to put on a free festival of that caliber and make money,” he says. A grant from Metro Councilman George Unseld, whose district includes Old Louisville, helped tremendously, as did the work of folks from ear X-tacy, BBC and Mike Suttles, who corralled topnotch blues acts from here to Chicago. “There wasn’t a lot of time to coordinate and screw things up,” Rosenberg said, half-jokingly.

This year’s lineup will feature a tribute to the late Jim Rosen by his old band, da Mudcats, plus Nick Stump and Rodney Hatfield of the Metro Blues All-Stars and The Jimmy Burns Band from Chicago.

The 10th Street Blues Band starts the festival at 7 p.m., with Burns closing Saturday at 9:30 p.m. The festival happens at the Garvin Gate at the corner of Oak Street and Garvin Place.

Friday, Oct. 12

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: Photo by TessaAngus
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: Photo by TessaAngus

For Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, it wasn’t TV, it was HBO.
The group’s music appeared during “Made in America,” the final episode of HBO’s mammoth hit “The Sopranos,” which went off the air earlier this year.

“They couldn’t have done it without us,” Robert Levon Been laughs.
The Club has been globetrotting since February to promote its latest album, Baby 81, a return to the bare-knuckled rock ’n’ roll that has become BRMC’s most-lauded milieu. The trip won’t stop until late 2008 and includes a visit to Tel Aviv, Israel, slated for December.

“It’s funny,” Been says of this trek, “because the musicianship gets stronger. At the same time, you play so many shows that everything turns into jelly, and your perception gets wobbly. I just heard it was our 700th show the other day from a fan of ours. It’s good to know, but it spooks you out, too.”

Raw, pounding and quasi-political, Baby 81 sounded nothing like the previous Howl, which found BRMC exploring its folky, country side, a side the group could revisit in the near future.

“We call them ‘back-porch songs,’” Been says. “They’re fun to come up with. You look at everything from a different angle. Rock kind of decides which way you’re going to look at things. (With country) it’s another word for freedom.”

Catch BRMC on Friday at Headliners (1386 Lexington Road, 584-8088). Your Black Star and A Place to Bury Strangers open. Tickets are $15. Showtime is 9 p.m.

Oct. 12-13
Jug music, aka “America’s happiest music,” is the feature attraction at the Iroquois Amphitheater for a two-day celebration of the music that historians believe originated in Louisville in the late 19th century.

Carolina Chocolate Drops, Juggernaut Jug Band, the Jake Leg Stompers and soloist Pokey LaFarge are among the performers, as well as Portland, Ore.’s Delmark Goldfarb.

“If you’ve ever heard it live, chances are you’re always gonna like it for the rest of your life,” says Goldfarb, a musical archivist who appeared in a recent jug band documentary that chronicled his search for the lost grave of jug player Gus Cannon.

“You don’t get too many tearjerkers” in jug music, Goldfarb says. “They’re not there to tell stories to make you feel sad, they’re there to make you feel good.”

Advance tickets for the jubilee are $8 Friday and $10 Saturday, $10 and $12 at the gate respectively. Kids under 12 get in for half price. An encore concert takes place at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Oldham County Schools Arts Center in Crestwood. Go to www.jugbandjubilee.com for more info.

Saturday, Oct. 13

Baby Loc: Photo by Rader Johnson
Baby Loc: Photo by Rader Johnson

Baby Loc’s fortunes are about to take a turn for the better.
The female MC signed with Ice Age Entertainment, an Atlanta-based record label and management company — a first for the label — and she celebrates her new backers with a Saturday concert at Tailgaters (2787 S. Floyd St., 637-1881) across from Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Go to myspace.com/tailgaterslouisville for more info.
Loc has opened for Twista and Lloyd Banks from G-Unit, and has recorded tracks with Big V and B Stille of Nappy Roots.

Started in 1996 by Vincent Irvin, Ice Age has grown steadily, earning accolades and recently opening a regional A&R office in Louisville. Loc’s single, “Real Chic,” out now on Ice Age, is a taste of what’s to come, the rapper says. “It’s stronger and it makes more sense. The lyrics came up four or five notches.”

Thursday, Oct. 11
Leesburg, Ga., native and country songwriter Luke Bryan stops in Thursday at Club E at O’Malley’s Corner (133 W. Liberty St., 589-3866). Billboard magazine named him an artist to watch for 2007, and he has written for Travis Tritt and Billy Currington. Doors at 6 p.m., and tickets are just $8.

Contact the writer at
mherron@leoweekly.com