Issue May 30, 2012

Tim Krekel, songs and spirit

By the time Tim Krekel left Nashville for his beloved hometown of Louisville, he had made peace with the star-making machine. He’d experienced actual success, penning several chart-toppers for country artists and performing in a featured role alongside Jimmy Buffett. He’d been let down — “That’s just the way (the music business) is,” says his son, Jason Krekel. And walking away on his own terms freed Tim to do what he really felt.

“I think my father figured it out there in the last 20 years of his life,” Jason says. “When he came back, it was about settling in a place he loved and making music for music’s sake.”

The rest is Louisville music history. Krekel went on to front a handful of bands, release several recordings and engender a cult of fans known as the Krekkies. And then he was gone — three years ago this June, Krekel died after a brief fight with cancer.

Before his diagnosis, Krekel was at work on an album of new material, and most of the recording was finished before he became too ill to work. After he passed, Jason worked with Michael Webb, who’d produced and played on the record in his Nashville studio, to add the finishing touches and get the album to market.

The result, out June 5 on Louisville label SonaBlast, is Sings Up the Sun, a generally mellow but tasty collection that Jason describes as a counterpoint to Tim’s previous record, the punchier Soul Season, with the Tim Krekel Orchestra. Fans can get an early listen on Friday at WFPK’s “Live Lunch,” and Saturday night at the Rudyard Kipling.

The Friday show will be about presenting the album in context — most of the band that recorded it will play at “Live Lunch,” with Jason handling his father’s vocal and guitar parts. Saturday is more like a family reunion with music. Webb and former TKO sidekick John Mann will join Jason and lead the proceedings that will surely turn into a jam session.

Getting the album out was challenging, Jason says, lauding Webb’s production work and extending credit to Tim’s widow, Debbie Krekel, for handling the
business details.

One song, “Yes, Yes, Yes,” was still a rough cut on Tim’s computer. He’d written it for Mad Tea, Jason’s duo with wife Ami Worthen, and hoped to collaborate with them. Webb salvaged it, and on the way to Nashville to lay down his part, Jason wrote more lyrics. “It was really cathartic after the funeral to go down and do this collaborative piece posthumously,” he says.

Krekel may not have realized he was writing capstone material, but the songs are some of his best and reflect the easygoing spiritual space he had come to inhabit. Closer “Walking in a State of Grace” is part field recording, captured as his funeral procession made its way down Frankfort Avenue to the Vernon Club for a memorial jam. There’s a bittersweet quality to the album, which will remind fans of what they’ve lost but also instill a sense of joy. In the end, as always, Tim Krekel will make you smile.

Jason Krekel and friends

Saturday, June 2

The Rudyard Kipling

422 W. Oak St. • 636-1311

sonablast.com

$10 suggested donation; 8 p.m.