Besides being a prime place to see partygoers dressed like celebrities or paparazzi — watch out for one too many Larry Birkheads this year, and remember, his weapon is loaded — the Unstable Barn Party is an engine of support for visual artists in Louisville. Driven by Laurie Blayney from Spot 5 Art Studio and Johnny Gordon from Gordon Glass Studio, the annual event, now in its third year, has grown from a promotional adventure to a full-fledged charitable undertaking.
Blayney said proceeds will go to a special fund for local artists. “They haven’t hammered out all of the details yet, but it will be an emergency fund benefiting visual artists,” she said.
Makers Mark has signed on as a sponsor for the first time, and Bill Samuels will be a costume judge for those attendees who respond to the call for costumes. LEO is a sponsor, as is WFPK-FM, which will send DJs Woody Chancy and Matt Anthony to spin. Live music will be handled by The Commonwealth and Sativa Gumbo. The Derby City Roller Girls will tend bar, and food is by Kingsley Catering. There’s also a live active art installation and performance.
Sativa Gumbo, who hope to have new record out in late summer, see the event as a chance to support an important cause and try out new material for an audience with Derby on its mind.
“We always play a Derby-related show, but the chance to play at The Water Tower and support the Louisville Visual Arts Association was too cool to pass up,” bassist and songwriter Jared Williamson said.
Louisville sextet The Commonwealth will show off their unique blend of independent, folk and jazz-infused sounds. With clever and thoughtful arrangements maximizing the interplay between strings (double bass, violin, guitar, cello) and winds (alto and tenor sax, clarinet and flute), bound together by drums, other percussion and sincere vocals, the group is a local gem. The Commonwealth recently completed its first album, which has drawn favorable reaction. Listeners respond to the band’s honesty and old-time style, evoking a nostalgic feeling that transports listeners to a more innocent era.
While he hopes the event grows into an annual blockbuster, Gordon admits he isn’t sure what sort of turnout to expect. “In the past we didn’t advertise this thing much until the week before,” he said. “This year we’ve done more promotion. … We’re hoping for a big turnout. A lot will depend on the weather, but we’re hoping for at least 1,000. I’d be thrilled if 2,000 showed up.”
If anything like those numbers materialize, Gordon said it would be a big plus for Louisville’s visual arts community. “We’d like to grow into an event where we can show all of what Louisville has to offer, in one spot. It’s ideal because you have everyone here in town for Derby anyway.”
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The Unstable Barn Party
Thursday, May 3
The Water Tower
3500 River Road
$10 (includes one drink ticket); 7 p.m.-midnight