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April 4, 2006

The Blue Umbrellas will touch you all over

For a readily calculable number of years now, I have been holding on to my copy of the 30th Anniversary Issue of Rolling Stone, dated Nov. 13, 1997, which features the “Women of Rock” as its cover. I have gingerly moved this thing from house to apartment and apartment to house. The postage label is still entirely intact and there is only one small tear on the cover. Granted, being the kind of woman I am, the cover photo bearing Courtney Love’s shoe of choice sent me into a jealous rage. However, I quickly regained focus as I dove in and learned more about this segment of rock ’n’ roll’s history, whose vitality, variance, zest, lure and sheer provocative thrill I find to be the icing on the most delicious cake imaginable. (See, in my world, I think the cake on the back cover of the Stones’ Let It Bleed album surely fell apart, because there weren’t any little plastic women on top … ha!)As for the Blue Umbrellas, Louisville’s Ladies of Rock, their viewpoint is something along the lines of “damn the gender and just dig the music.” And that’s cool. This group of women describe themselves and their music as “trendy and chic,” and they dare us, the almighty listening audience, to categorize them into a genre. Contest begins now.The third release from the band, With Release, enters with penetration, finishes long and has distinctive layers through the mid-palate as well. Opener “Hold Me High” lays the groundwork for lead singer and songwriter Kelly Shouse’s theme of the simple joys of finding one’s partner in life. The next few tracks are slightly recurrent verse until “Vibrate” has its turn at the mic. Let’s let the lyrics speak for themselves on this one: With the sensation my body is delivering and I’m trying to remain calm and clear but it is hard to do when you touch me there. There you have that. Here is where the ride gets a little bumpy and the map suffers from some wear — “Fields of Green” and “Bloody Games” throw an odd gloom to the buzz you scored off of the prior tunes, but “Take It Easy, Take It Hard” gets you right back on track. The unbridled nature of Shouse’s style is intriguing and straight from the heart, or, dare I say, straight from those other warm pulsing areas of the female body. This group is testimony to the beauty of simplicity. The songs are catchy, the lyrics quick to stick to memory, and the girls themselves are just having a damn good time.Homelessness is pretty visible on the streets of the larger cities, but in bedroom communities like Jeffersonville or New Albany, it’s harder to spot. But it exists in significant numbers, and so efforts to help those affected and also raise awareness are worthwhile.Homeward Bound is the name given to an Indiana initiative to help fight the problem. During April, several walkathons are planned, including a 5K on Sunday in Jeffersonville. It begins at Warder Park, less than a mile off I-65 in downtown Jeffersonville.This year the organizers added music to the mix. Joyful Noise, a contemporary Christian outfit, plays from 12-12:45, followed by Joe Hanna, whose roots rock is well known, from 1-1:45. A third band (TBD) follows the walk, starting around 2:45.Registration begins at noon Sunday. Individuals or teams can pre-register at www.homelesswalks.org (on the large map of Indiana, click on the Jeffersonville link) or just show up on walk day. For more info or to make a pledge, contact Pixie Burkhead at (812) 284-3373 or pixieburkhead@cs.com. —Cary StemleContact the writers at leobeat@leoweekly.com