March 13, 2007

Instrumental badges, Star power, the Crabbs call it off

The Crabb Family: After years of performing and a Grammy nomination, The Crabb Family gospel group is calling it quits. Catch them, once and possibly for all, at Believers Church on Friday.For the most part, there are two basic types of instrumental bands: Those that feel bad or inferior about being instrumental and feel a constant need to explain their instrumental status, and those that get a false sense of self-importance from being an instrumental band.You know the type. The we’re-not-a-rock-band-we’re-an-electric-chamber-orchestra. Or whatever. There is a third type, but it’s so rare, I don’t even think of it as a separate type so much as a freak anomaly: the good instrumental band. Ampline falls into this category.Ampline is unafraid of being an instrumental band. In fact, its newest record, Rosary, contains several tracks with vocals, which means the group certainly could have shied away from the instrumental label if it wanted to. And a lesser band would have.No, Ampline proudly wears its instrumental badge, which is the respectable thing to do. “Rosary does mark the first time the band has had words with the music,” guitarist Mike Montgomery says. “I think we all felt when we were making the record that we wanted to steer people’s thoughts in a particular direction as they were hearing the music, and the best way to do that was with lyrics.“In the past, everything has been very ambiguous,” he adds. “The songs themselves are still ridiculously ambiguous, full of twists and turns, but the inclusion of snippets of words this time out will hopefully be the tug which pulls the listeners’ freightliner of thoughts out of the channel into open seas.”Ampline: Future Kentucky Derby contestants Ampline join Kangaroo and The Teeth Saturday for a show at The Rudyard Kipling. The horse farm is another story.At the same time, Ampline is not your indie-rock string quartet. These three guys simply want to make good rock music that is a pleasure to perform and to listen to. They succeed there as well. A band that takes itself too seriously, especially an instrumental band, is a truly frustrating animal, but after speaking with Montgomery, I know that this is a band not taking itself too seriously.Speaking of previous visits to Louisville, Montgomery says, “We usually eat those giant burritos from La Bamba’s and dream of saving up all of the wealth we accumulate from playing in this band and one day buying a horse farm. We will hatch a great steed that will be jockeyed in the 2021 Derby by a sturdy Incan who was raised by tigers.”Come to think of it, that’s kind of what Ampline sounds like.Ampline performs at The Rudyard Kipling (422 W. Oak St., 636-1311) Friday. The $5 show starts at 10 p.m. Rounding out the bill are The Teeth and Kangaroo, which has been popping up all over town lately. Kangaroo’s guitarist and vocalist Andrew Padon says the band will record an EP, and also appear on the Doctors of Dunk compilation from Dunkenstein Records, plus a slew of shows, including one on the roof of Glassworks. Keep an eye out.•••As the song goes, the boys are back in town. And, they’ve brought friends. Your Black Star is on a whirlwind tour that has seen them travel from New York City all the way down the coast and over to Texas for South By Southwest.They’ll make a triumphant return home Tuesday with New York’s Demander in tow. This is Your Black Star’s first show here in, like, four months, and since then, the band has recorded a new album. “For much of December and January,” YBS vocalist/guitarist Jeremy Johnson says, “we really battened down the hatches and got material ready to record.”When the band was ready, it visited Austin, recording an EP with Eric Wofford, who has produced albums by The Black Angels and Explosions in the Sky, among others. The record is called Beasts and will be released in July. “We’re really happy with it,” Johnson says. “We’re really proud of it. It’ll be exciting for it to come out, and it will be exciting to be current just because we were touring on Sound From the Ground for so long.”Johnson says he, drummer Drew Osborn and bassist Brandon Duggins are looking forward to playing a show on their home turf and to bring Demander along for the ride.“They’re our friends from New York City,” Johnson says. “They’re amazing. They are really hard, but really catchy. It’s just great rock music. We’re doing a bunch of dates together, and they took care of us in New York and it will be fun to get them down to Louisville and kind of show them all of our friends.”Your Black Star and Demander perform at The Pour Haus (1481 S. Shelby St., 637-9611) Tuesday at 8 p.m. Cover is $5. Both bands will be joined by People Noise, the new project from Zeke Buck, formerly of VHS or Beta. “It’s his new band, and they’re really great,” Johnson says. “It’s very Smashing Pumpkins-y and very Jesus and Mary Chain-ish. I’m really excited to see them live.” •••The Crabb Family went from a group of kids playing church in their home, which doubled as the local church in their town, to a Grammy-nominated gospel group with more than a dozen No. 1 singles in almost no time.The success hasn’t gone to their heads. They’re still the same pleasant, church-going folk they’ve always been, which is evident from the statements each member has made about their impending break-up.The Crabb Family may make lovely, award-winning gospel music, but no one would accuse them of making an interesting “Behind the Music” episode, and they’re OK with that. The group has been performing together for 10 years and plans to part ways in August with absolutely no controversy.Each member simply says the group felt God’s calling to branch out, and so that’s what they’re doing.“I know it’s probably hard for people to believe and not very interesting,” member Kelly Bowling says, “but there has not been a fight or a conflict in our ministry or our family. We simply feel it is time as individuals to pursue ministries with our immediate families.”So, catch The Crabb Family together for the last few times at Believers Church (7905 Smyrna Parkway, 966-5433) this Friday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15, and once they’re sold, they’ll be held at will call at the church. Contact the writer at