Fionn Regan”s History, Richey”s tapestry of sound, back to Earth

Sep 19, 2007 at 2:33 pm

Saturday, Sept. 22
Ideas are like sparrows/they dart down the hall, the chimney, and out of the spout/down a wormhole and back out my mouth.
Maybe that explains Fionn Regan’s artistic process. However he does it, Regan has come out of Ireland with some fantastic, fresh notions for modern folk. His first full-length CD The End of History — out last year in England, recently released in America on Lost Highway — was primarily recorded in an old barn but was nominated for the prestigious Mercury Prize. We’ll get to see him at The Rudyard Kipling (422 W. Oak St., 636-1311) Saturday at 10 p.m. (21 and over; $12).

With arrangements that are little more than one acoustic guitar and a plainspoken voice that slides easily into melody, Regan’s been drawing comparisons to the late, great Nick Drake. The new boy is more worldly, though.
In place of Drake’s Yeats-based moments, Regan flashes literary references to Saul Bellow and Paul Auster. And Drake’s delicacies would probably never allow for such a baldly whimsical piece as “Put a Penny in the Slot,” where it’s shown that kleptomania is no way to win a woman’s heart. After the usual fun with international dialing, and fully prepared to sort out the poetic from the precious, LEO rang up Regan with a few questions.

LEO: Are you sick of the Nick Drake comparisons?
Fionn Regan
: No … comparisons are like signposts from the people with pens. It’s up to the listener to see if the people who put ink to the signpost are blindfolded, or if they’ve got 20-20 vision.

LEO: When you hit the stage in Louisville, will you be playing solo?
For some of the shows, it’s just me. Sometimes there’ll be a drummer.

LEO: How does having a drummer change your arrangements or setlist?
Playing without a drummer is like you’ve got a canvas with two HB pencils. Add a drummer, and you’ve got your canvas, and you’ve got a box of acrylics. You’re adding color.

LEO: The sound that you got out of your first album is unique. Do you think that your next recording will also try for an unusual sound?
Being a songwriter is like carrying the weight of a river on your shoulders … or a lake. But then you step up and document, and be unaware of the recording. Be true to what it is you first thought of.

Regan also appears free of charge at 5 p.m. on Saturday at ear X-tacy (1534 Bardstown Road, 452-1799).

Wednesday, Sept. 26
Kim Richey brings her band to the Sept. 26 Waterfront Wednesday concert (Waterfront Park Harbor Lawn; free; Hoots & Hellmouth is the first act, on about 6 p.m.) following the summer release of Chinese Boxes, an album that strays somewhat from her usual alt-country styles.

The essence of Richey’s songs and performances, though, is blessedly and firmly in place: She’s arguably America’s best purveyor of songs that weave through the nuances of heartbreak and cautiously chart courses for romantic perseverance.

Giles Martin produced the new disc. When he was done putting in harpsichord and whistling choirs (after all, this is son and collaborator to Sir George of Beatles fame), he told Richey “Good luck!” as far as recreating the sound onstage. But, as Richey tells LEO, “We do a pretty good job of it” as she runs down the list of band members’ multi-instrumental skills (e.g., the singer plays tambourine with her foot; keyboardist Neilson Hubbard handles the whistling and, when called for, kazoo).

The album includes a pair of songwriting collaborations with her old friend Tim Krekel, whose Soul Orchestra headlines the Wednesday concert. (“I need to call him. I’m hoping to get him into my set.”) Given her predilection for collaborating with many of her musical friends (Joan Osborne also has a co-writing credit on Boxes), Richey’s body of song amazes with its assured, consistent voice and precise lyrical observation of emotional states.

Giles Martin started the new record’s sessions by introducing some challenges to her current batch of songs. As Richey says, “You can get attached to the way a song is written if you wrote it — but I liked every idea he had.”

Saturday, Sept. 22

Nostalgia poked its mug into the recording sessions for Black Earth Tiger, the new album by screamo masterblasters Emanuel. “Our musical taste came full circle,” singer Matt Breen says en route to Pittsburgh. Which is why the group picked Terry Date to man the boards. “We have a ’90s influence, let’s work with a ’90s producer.”

The group is finishing up a round of U.S. dates before it jumps over to England, but Breen said it’s the hometown crowd that keeps them going. “We do well for ourselves, but we’re not hugely successful or well-known. It’s a big payoff to come home and be in a room full of people singing along and enjoying themselves.”

Emanuel plays Saturday at Headliners (1386 Lexington Road, 584-8088). Local alt-rockers People Noise, as well as Slithering Beast and Creatures kick it off.

Saturday, Sept. 22

St. James Episcopal Church (410 LaGrange Road) is hosting a fair on Saturday (from 1-7 p.m.) that will include a free concert featuring The Rigbys, Mario DaSilva and David Markum, and Mark Ballard. The afternoon’s events have been brought together under the banner of beating world poverty. A performance by DaSilva, who has taught classical guitar at Indiana University Southeast for years, means an opportunity to call out requests for his warm-and-loose interpretations of Led Zep. Just in case you can’t get a ticket for their reunion concert, consider this fair as both the next-best thing and a bargain.

Sunday, Sept. 23

Success for The Samples meant creative freedom, not buckets of cash, so the band left its major label amicably in favor of a career that fit more of its artistic vision. Their latest album, 2005’s Rehearsing For Life, mixes roots rock, pop and even a little reggae as Sean Kelly’s timbre rings clear. Joining them Sunday at Headliners is Alexa Wilkinson, who (and this will make you feel old) says the first tape she ever bought was Nevermind. She’s supporting her new album, Lullaby Appetite. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12.

Music Editor Mat Herron contributed
to this report. Contact the writer at
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