Switch hitters, Suck-A-free, blues hound, Funeral songs

Gypsy Switch formed in 2004 when singer Daphne Luster, who used to live above the Atomic Saucer coffee shop next door to Lisa’s Oak St. Lounge, met Chet Surgener, a Harlan, Ky. native reared on AM radio. Surgener was playing drums in Gillespie’s band then, and Gillespie had invited Luster to sing at the open jam.

“She was the voice I was hearing in my head when I wrote, as opposed to the annoying one that came out of my mouth when I would record the tunes myself!” Surgener said.

In three months, they cranked out 19 songs. It was Luster’s first “official” band, she said. Before then, the U of L graduate with a cultural anthropology degree worked in a rural village in Ghana for an organization called Operation Crossroads Africa.

“Our intent was to develop a micro-enterprise for the women in a small rural village called Ekumfi Atwia. Once we arrived and began our project, it turned into an entirely different regimen,” she said. “We ended up doing a wide variety of projects ranging from pineapple and soybean farming to refurbishing a day nursery school. My favorite part of being there was going to the weekly gathering in the village, which included dancing, singing and drumming. Ghanians are extremely immersed in music and celebrate it almost everywhere. When I returned home … I realized that it was important that I make my life passion my career.”

Luster and the group’s passion is evident on their new album, Sister Moon, which is receiving airplay on 91.9 WFPK-FM. Gypsy Switch celebrates its release Saturday at Pour Haus (1481 S. Shelby St., 367-9611). Doors open at 9 p.m., admission is $5.

Uncle Pleasant’s (2126 S. Preston St., 634-4147) becomes punk rock and ska central on Sunday when Suck-A-Palooza invades the club. The festival sprouted from conversations that Gord-O Jones, of Django Entertainment, had with a few like-minded buddies. The festival promises to be unpredictable.
“Punk kids don’t take themselves seriously,” Jones said. “It could be the shittiest show on earth and we don’t care.”

The lineup: Stoner Moms, Schitzo and The Wholigans (Louisville); ska punks Stuck Lucky (Nashville); Bolth (Indianapolis), Detonate (Texas); Cryptorchid Chipmunk (West Virginia); and Paducah’s Teenage Rehab and The Wish You Were’s, who are about to head across the pond to promote its new album, Left 4 Dead. Doors open at 5 p.m.; $6 (over 21), $8 (under 21). The first 10 people who show up receive free Warped Tour compilation CDs.

“I’m hoping it gets bigger and bigger and bigger — it gets so big we have to rent out a park or Louisville Gardens,” Jones said.

On film he might play himself, but in the studio, Tim Seely is a one-man wrecking crew of lyrics, sounds and ideas. Formerly of Capitol Records alt-pop group Actual Tigers, Seely put out a sleeper hit of a solo album, 2005’s Funeral Music, on Light in the Attic Records (Betty Davis, Black Angels).

The record, shepherded by Dennis Herring (Modest Mouse), sparkles with imagination, detailed sonic diversity and Seely’s straight-shooting voice. “I sort of arrange by making a mess,” he told LEO. “The cool thing about Dennis is he has a good grasp on the whole pop thing. He believes there’s a common good in a pop song.”

Seely, an NPR fan whose mother handles musical accompaniment at funerals and weddings, says most of the songs come across with a hint of uncertainty and denouement. “I noticed as a I was writing, there were recurring themes of death or the end of something. When I was writing a lot of these songs, my band was breaking up. It was an uncertain time. I was, maybe, scared that the world was gonna end.”

Seely plays Monday on the roof of the Glassworks Building (815 W. Market St.). The show is a fundraiser for Ohio Valley Creative Energy, an organization that promotes sustainable living. Showtime is 8 p.m. Seattle’s Spanish for 100 joins the fray. Cost is $6. E-mail [email protected] for more information.

The accolades keep piling up for John Nemeth, who has drawn press comparisons to B.B. King, Ray Charles and Junior Parker. His chops have earned him slots opening for Robert Cray, Keb Mo’ and Earl Thomas.
Nemeth, who as a boy sung in a Catholic Church, is all grown up now, and he plays Stevie Ray’s Blues Bar (230 E. Main St., 582-9945) next Wednesday. Showtime is 9 p.m., and at $5, you’re practically seeing him for free.

Contact the writer at [email protected]