Jun 232010

North of Center needs a new editor for its Music page effective July 15.  After helming the post for 13 months or so, I can tell you that it’s a sweet gig even if the pay is, well, non-existent.  Your responsibilities are to produce roughly 2,000 words of content every two weeks.

There are lots of writers who have expressed interest in contributing to the paper and dozens have already done so.  As North of Center grows, it’s safe to assume more writers will come forth seeking to add to the Music page, making the Music Editor’s position an influential and enviable one.

I’ve cherished being a part of North of Center and will miss it dearly.  My editorial colleagues have become a group of great friends whose company (and content) I’ve enjoyed since day one.

As a note to you, reader: you are an instrumental part of this paper’s future.  Thanks for picking us up, hearing us out, and spreading the word.  I’m confident that the contributors to this publication will continue providing reason to do so.

To apply for the position of Music Editor, contact publisher Danny Mayer at mayer.danny@gmail.com.–Nick Kidd

Jun 232010

CD Central, Morris Book Shop, Void Skateshop, and Buster’s present the 3rd of July Concert @ Phoenix Park

For my money, there’s no better way to spend your Independence Day afternoon than at Phoenix Park. Whether or not you’re amongst those of us who take this opportunity to drink downtown with impunity, the Fourth ‘o July at Phoenix—now in its eighth year—is your chance to check out some great live music smack in the middle of downtown Lexington.  Just like Americans, this music is free.  But, for a few reasons, this year’s festivities will be a little different than in years past.

For starters, the Fourth will actually be celebrated on the Saturday the Third.  Don’t screw this up; 3 is the new 4. Continue reading »

Jun 202010

CD Central, Morris Book Shop, Void Skateshop, and Buster’s present the 3rd of July Concert @ Phoenix Park

For my druthers, there’s no better way to spend your Independence Day afternoon than at Phoenix Park. Whether or not you’re amongst those of us who take this opportunity to drink downtown with impunity, the Fourth ‘o July at Phoenix—now in its eighth year—is your chance to check out some great live music smack in the middle of downtown Lexington.  Just like Americans, this music is free.  But, for a few reasons, this year’s festivities will be a little different than in years past.

For starters, the Fourth will actually be celebrated on the Saturday the Third.  Don’t screw this up; 3 is the new 4.

Second, it will be hotter than ever this year, as the park’s only grassy area, once a popular spot for picnicking and lounging, has been paved over to create a new firefighter’s memorial.  An eternal flame dedicated to firefighters seems ironic and paganistically sanctimonious to me.  But the park is, I’m assuming, dutifully approximating its namesake with the extra-radiant concrete standing in for the burning pyres of the Phoenix myth; We, The People will have risen from the ashes when we peel our smoldering keisters off this concrete parkland—should we dare sit.  A nearby memorial to firefighters burned alive, compounded by the promise of fireworks, is too much to comment upon, so I digress…

Third: there should be a new sidewalk completed on the corner of Main and Limestone by Independence Day Eve.  This offers a sexier, sleeker place to survey the exotic flatland known as The Centrepointe, or to marvel at the simplicity of the fountain before the new courthouse known as “the bum shower.”

Lastly, there are more new bands playing this year, and you’re likely to hear something you’ve never heard before.  Here’s the lineup:

11 a.m.—The Bleats (melodic pop rock)

12 noon—Randy Tuesday & the Two Two Tuesdays (50s/60s pop cover song barrage)

1 p.m.—Ford Theatre Reunion (vaudeville rock)

3:30 p.m.—Rough Customers (ska/punk)

4:30 p.m.—Frank Rocket (punk/surf)

See you there!

Jun 092010

Music venue receiving a number of noise complaints

By Nick Kidd

Cosmic Charlie’s has grown into one of Lexington’s strongest concert venues since opening last September on the corner of Euclid and Woodland Avenues.  It’s a favorite amongst local musicians because of its ample sound system and ideal size: small enough so that concerts are intimate, big enough to fit about 300 people.  Their eclectic booking has given music fans of every ilk reason to visit, making Charlie’s the heir to the original Dame’s legacy more than any other venue in town and a vital place for local musicians to cut their teeth.  But last time I was at Charlie’s, on Sunday May 30, something unusual happened.

In the middle of a set by the band Shemale Fiesta, police entered the building over a noise complaint.  At an officer’s behest, the band’s set ended immediately, followed by a large, voluntary exodus of the crowd.  Charlie’s was issued a citation for a noise ordinance violation, a fine compounded by lost revenue from the fleeing crowd.

In the parking lot outside the venue, members of the band and audience convened and wondered aloud how there was a noise complaint: Shemale Fiesta wasn’t louder than other bands playing Charlie’s on any given night.  That’s when I learned that the same thing had happened only eight days prior, on May 22, and on Christmas Eve 2009, giving Charlie’s three noise violations (and cut-short concerts) since opening last September. Continue reading »

May 202010

By Nick Kidd

Willie Eames plays for free at Sidebar every Wednesday. Did you read that? Read it again. Free. Willie.

You might recognize Eames as the frontman of The Tall Boys (who play free sets at Lynagh’s every Sunday) and Club Dub, but his solo sets are more concerned with delta blues and classic rock covers. These subdued solo gigs are strikingly wonderful, especially if you’re able to a) shut up and b) listen, while c) drinking. Okay, “c” is optional. But if you’re heading to Sidebar just to socialize on a Wednesday, show some respect for the man and pipe down.

Crucial Fun Fest. This is the 5th year of this festival and I have to admit, I’ve never been. In fact, I’ve never heard of any of the bands that are playing this year, just like last year, and the year before, and the year before…Hell, I’ve never spoken with anyone who’s ever been to CFF. It’s quite a mystery to me, which speaks to the diversity of music in this city.

Here’s this year’s lineup (of bands I’ve never heard of):

May 28: Delay, The Sidekicks, Dead Dogs, Timeshares, and Sundials

May 29: Andrew Jackson Jihad, The Two Funerals, Pink Houses, and others.

May 30: The Max Leving Ensemble, The Wild, Mischief Brew, and others.

I tracked down a musician who performed at a past CFF for the scoop. He described CFF bands as folk ‘punk’ (he used air-quotes for punk) and says “Mischief Brew represent the best that wasteland of a genre has to offer.” Okay then!

The City play May 29. Our layout guy, Keith Halladay, is in a band called The City. Wait to hear how much cash the band’s raking in, playing out roughly 7 shows a month…a whopping ZERO DOLLAZ! That’s because The City plays gigs and donates whatever money they make from them to causes like the Humane Society of Lexington, Military Missions (sending care packages to soldiers), Doctors Without Borders, and the Lyric Theater restoration fund. They’re friggin’ Rockin Robin Hoods.

The City will be playing on May 29 AT Natasha’s Bistro for the Lexington Area Music Alliance, LAMA, a “civic-oriented musical arts association” who’s goals include lobbying for the growth and development of local music and entertainment in city-county government activities; creating a communication network of musicians, venues and other live music interests in the area; and focusing efforts of developers, civic leaders and other non-traditional music partners to create a bona fide entertainment district. (This information and more can be found at lexmusic.org.)

The City is doing a very cool thing, something that artists are regularly asked to do—donate—in an organized, purpose-driven way. Kudos to them. If you’d care to help out a cause and experience some live music, keep your eye on The City.

May 202010

NoC interviews Ross Compton

By Nick Kidd

On Saturday, May 22 Matt Duncan’s new seven-song EP “Beacon” will be released on Hop Hop Records. An album release party at Cosmic Charlie’s will mark the occasion, featuring performances by Duncan along with the post-Doo Wop pop of Idiot Glee and a special late-night tag-team tribute to Daft Punk from Brocktologist and Louisville’s DJ Figure.

Dropping just 2 months after Idiot Glee’s 7” self-titled EP, “Beacon” marks Hop Hop Records’ second release to date. While it’s still early in their existence, the label has shown great promise, releasing EPs from two of Lexington’s finest local acts. I caught up with one half of Hop Hop records, Ross Compton, to get a better idea of what’s going on with the label.

NOC: Who’s idea was Hop Hop? Continue reading »

May 072010

April 26 at Cosmic Charlie’s

By Nick Kidd

The crowd that showed up to Cosmic Charlie’s for the Monday night Headtronics show was much more sparse than I’d anticipated. Perhaps the pedigree of Headtronics, formed only last summer and having played collectively just a handful of shows before this Lexington date, failed to draw any particular contingent of fans, or maybe it was just a Monday night and people were staying in because of the stormy late-April weather. Either way, I had no idea what I was in store for, though I hoped for a Monday night diamond in the rough performance from a band hungry to establish itself. Continue reading »

May 072010

Rock & Talk Showcase

Imagine Woodsongs but with rock instead of folk. Sounds like a good idea, huh? That’s what Rock & Talk is poised to become. This new series hit the ground running, filming its pilot episode at the Kentucky Theatre on Thursday, April 29 with local cowboy rockers Sunday Valley and Louisville/Lexington folk rock conglomerate The Revenna Colt.

The music sounded great in the Kentucky and the bands and emcee kept the Talk to a minimum, letting the Rock run the show. Host Gabe Swain says Rock & Talk is hoping to be picked up on PBS and NPR affiliates, like Woodsongs, giving the Kentucky Theater yet another staple music program to share with the world. Continue reading »

May 032010

WRFL is throwing a tower upgrade celebration concert at Gumbo Ya-Ya. The independent radio station’s tower will soon (sometime between May 3rd and 9th) beam at 7,900 watts of power on the 88.1FM frequency, a big upgrade from the current 250 watts. It took the station 7 years to get approval for the upgrade and it cost them almost $200,000 to build a new tower, money raised through University of Kentucky student fees and donations from the public. As a “thank you” to the Lexington community, this tower-upgrade celebration will be free to attend. It features a handful of bands featured on this very Music page in past issues: Latin Heat, Lushlife, The Butchers, Tiny Fights, and Loose Change. Headlining the concert will be No Age. Below is the schedule of performances.

Main Stage:

9:00 – 9:35: Latin Heat

10:00 – 10:35: The Butchers

11:00 – 12:1ish: No Age

Downswtairs @ GumboYa-Ya:

7 pm: WRFL DJs

9:30 – 10:00: Tiny Fights

10-11: RFL DJs

11:00 -11:45: Loose Change

Midnight – 2: Lushlife/Cass

Friday, April 23rd

No Age w/ Lushlife, The Butchers, Tiny Fights, Loose Change, & Latin Heat

Gumbo Ya-Ya/ Bar Lexington (367 East Main Street)

Doors @ 6pm. Free show. 18+

No Age is drummer/vocalist Dean Spunt and guitarist Randy Randall. The duo, from different LA suburbs, moved into downtown LA and formed hardcore/punk/noise band Wives with friend Jeremy Villabos back in 2002. Wives lasted three years, and then Villabos left for Brooklyn while Spunt and Randall stuck in LA. The two kept making music together in the same vein as Wives, sans bass, fomenting tunes at downtown venue The Smell.

The Smell is a volunteer-run, not-for-profit all-ages drug/alcohol free music venue and gallery space where most shows are 5 bucks. Since 1998, it’s been a springboard venue for bands like Mika Miko, Abe Vigoda, The Mae Shi, and HEALTH. Housed in a former Mexican grocery store, The Smell serves vegan snacks and operates as a de facto public library. Musicians who play there, including No Age, frequently volunteer to work the door, run sound, serve food, and clean up the place at the end of the night. (Randall even dug a trench to install a second bathroom there, a project that took over four years to complete.)

By the time Spunt and Randall christened themselves No Age, in late 2005, the downtown LA underground punk scene was thriving and new venues were popping up a la The Smell. A climate of DIY empowerment spread, inspiring new bands, more shows, and a savvy network of self-promoting artists to join forces to churn out everything from t-shirts to screen-printed fliers to shoestring record labels to put out one another’s records. The Smell even started its own record label, Olfactory Records.

In 2007 No Age decided it was time to spread their sound beyond the hometown. They chose an ambitious way to maximize their audience through record distribution: release five EPs on five different labels, all on the same day. Why this approach?

“We did 5 EPs because it’s a concept we thought was interesting and wanted to see it through to the end,” Randall said. “We were able to make more material that way and just get as much out as we could. That was the idea.”

The releases got the attention of a couple influential blogs, including Brooklyvegan.com and thefader.com, soon meriting the attention of UK-based FatCat Records. In June of ’07, FatCat released Weirdo Rippers, No Age’s debut LP. The album features highlights from the five EPs—many tracks combine contrasting ambient and punk songs—distilled into one 30-minute salvo. It’s a unique take on fragmented noise pop, its terrain dense and fascinating, visceral and stark. It’s not the most accessible album, and yet it garnered the band a spot touring with Liars and a heap of critical praise. As homage, Weirdo Rippers’ album cover is a picture of The Smell’s façade with “No Age” and “Weirdo Rippers” painted onto it. (This isn’t a graphic design trick—it was actually painted onto the venue.)

Later in ’07 the band signed a deal with Sub Pop Records and, in 2008, released follow-up LP Nouns. Nouns is a more orderly, clearer-sounding record than Weirdo Rippers. It features brighter ambiance and more poppy punk songs, still peppered with lots of noise. But even Nouns’ most accessible moments are short-lived: like Weirdo Rippers, it’s done in 30 minutes. Almost comically, Nouns was nominated for a Grammy…for best album packaging. Metallica won.

The band has stayed busy since critical acclaim found Nouns, appearing on MTV, touring the UK, and finding themselves at the center of a minor dust-up surrounding Craig Ferguson’s late-night talk show. The latter incident involved Randall wearing an Obama t-shirt for an on-air performance before the ‘08 election. CBS, who broadcasts the program, wouldn’t film Randall wearing the shirt because of the “equal time rule,” which states that for every minute of airtime given to “Candidate A,” candidates B, C, D, etc must be given equal airtime. Randall compromised by flipping his shirt inside out, writing “Free Health Care” on it with a marker, and then playing. It’s a telling parable of how punks with ideas and corporate America make strange bedfellows.

No Age’s ideas aren’t relegated to just music and politics. They’ve dabbled in video production, film scoring, art show curation, clothing and tennis shoe design, as well as running Post Present Medium Records, a label Spunt created back in 2001. They’ve even toured creatively, playing in venues as varied as a vegan grocery store, on a bridge, at a library, at an Ethiopean restaurant, on the Los Angeles river, and on a special mini-tour last summer that brought them to Newport, KY. That Southgate House gig was part of the “No Deachunter” tour, which saw a trio of acts—No Age, Dan Deacon, and Deerhunter—sharing a stage and alternating songs in one lengthy setlist, sometimes joining forces like Voltron to play simultaneously.

Having released another EP in October of last year, the subdued Losing Feeling, and with a new LP coming soon, No Age find themselves indie rock royalty du jour. Yet they’ve not forgotten The Smell scene that helped get them there. Recently, just before heading to Austin for SXSW, they worked the door at a Smell gig, later jumping onstage for an unannounced performance…as openers.