Every musician needs a place to rehearse before going onstage and performing in front of an audience. With as solid of a music scene that Louisville has, practice spaces are located all over the city, in various shapes and sizes. They are tucked away in many unassuming places — many of which are converted into these creative havens after the daytime use of the building is done. Each space has a different sort of character that isn’t always reflective of the band or music being made in it. Here’s a look at seven local practice spaces, including where Rmllw2llz, Bridge 19 and Quiet Hollers rehearse.
Cat Casual and the Final Word
The Cat House
The Cat House is an old, red brick building close to downtown that generally has loud noises leaking from it. Many will know it from the short string of all-ages shows that used to be there, but, these days, it is mostly the practice space for Cat Casual and the Final Word. William Benton (aka Cat Casual) had lived in the apartment upstairs in 2009 to 2010 before moving to New York. When he returned to Louisville five years later, a bit of serendipity happened, and he was able to buy the building. “Practice spaces in New York are too crowded,” Benton said. “Five bands sharing the same space and coordinating that with a bunch of stupid jobs. It wore on me.” He said that it is very important to him to be able to run downstairs from his apartment and be able to start playing music, if inspiration hits him — and the Cat House provides exactly that.
Louisville Leopards Practice Space
Bridge 19 practices surrounded by an arsenal of percussion instruments. Inside an old Masonic home, they use the Louisville Leopards practice space during the Leopards off-time. Percussionist Meg Samples, who teaches for the Leopards, explained that, “It is a beautiful space … an old Masonic home that was bought by Spalding University and is rented out to the Leopards.” The building is tucked away and isolated, giving both bands the ability to make as much noise as they need, without bothering a soul. The high ceilings and vast floorspace provide plenty of area for the sound to move, giving the acoustics a great feel, allowing them to work through the complex harmonies and instrumentation that Bridge 19 employs in their moving brand of folk music.
In a backyard garage in Germantown, there is a fully-functional recording studio, which acts as the homebase for Derrick “DJ DS” Smith — DJ for rapper Romell Weaver, known as Rmllw2llz. It’s been completed for about five months now, and they said that a lot of people pulled together to build the studio — helping to paint, sand and anything else needed to pull the project together so that Weaver’s label, Kr8vn8vs Records, can record there. “Once people start believing you and see what you’re doing – they start to help out,” Smith said. The goal of the new space, Smith and Weaver said, is to help the talent signed to the label not have to pay big chunks of money to record albums. “We got it all right here,” Weaver said. “Everyone has little bedroom rigs, but we have it all in this room that we all made together.”
Curio Key Club
A Carpet Store
Above a carpet store in West Buechel, there is a fairly large room where Curio Key Club practices in the after hours. An office space that now holds spare music equipment, merch and memorabilia from the road is where horn sections squeal as Curio Key Club rehearses. The store is owned by saxophonist Drew Miller’s parents. He said, “I used to work here full-time and would try and come two hours before the workday started so I could practice in the back warehouse. I found this place up here and asked if I could practice up here. It has carpet. It’s warmer, and that was maybe nine years ago now.” Those years of rehearsal, performances and touring are reflected by the various posters and flyers from gigs that Miller and/or the band has played in the last decade.
Gubbey Records HQ
Close to Shelbyville Road, in the basement of a suburban house, lives the Gubbey Records HQ, where the punk band Baby Bones practices. Gubbey Records — a local music label that specializes in cassette tapes — has recorded many of the bands in Louisville over the years. The walls in the basement space are covered in stickers and flyers from shows that either Baby Bones has played in, or the myriad of Gubbey-associated bands have played in. Guitarist/vocalist of Baby Bones and Gubbey owner Dave Rucinski said, “[Baby Bones] doesn’t just practice down here. We recorded our last record down here as well as many of the Gubbey records. We set up here so we didn’t have to keep moving all of our equipment around.” A low-ceilinged basement where the singers are basically screaming into the walls is where a bunch of the music culture that we all know and love have played and recorded.
Logan Street Music Studios
On Logan Street in Smoketown exists a small complex of music studios where a dozen or so bands practice in town. For the last year and a half, Quiet Hollers has shared a space with Wax Fang there. I came into a Quiet Hollers’ practice for their upcoming tour and could hear the sounds of “Flood Song” spilling from the side of the building. The building used to be an adult daycare center that was turned into a music recording studio and practice spaces. Guitarist/vocalist Shadwick Wilde said, “There’s always a lot going on here. It has a good energy. It’s a good community for us. [Violinist] Aaron [West] actually has his own space down the hall here.”
Walking up to the house where rock band Joann+The Dakota are practicing, I could hear just a tiny rumble from the street. Walking down into the basement of this house, I find the band strategically placed by laundry machines and stacks of different musical instruments, with plenty of memorabilia covering the walls. The band said that they used to practice out on a farm where singer Joann Dickson formerly lived, but they have recently moved to guitarist Lyle Edward’s basement for logistical reasons. They could make as much noise as they wanted out on the farm, but that is not so much the case in a neighborhood. Drummer Nick Stinnett explained that, “We put a lot of time into insulating and soundproofing the space as much as possible. We would turn everything up and have somebody play, while the rest went outside to listen. We eventually sealed everything up and balanced the sound so we’re not bothering the people next door.” They are currently working on a batch of new songs that were born out of these basement sessions.