Oct 262011

We need your do re mi

NoC Staff Report

On Tuesday, November 1, North of Center is hosting several parties in hopes of raising funds to continue operations into the next year. Yeah, we’re asking for your hard-earned do re mi. In NoC fashion, some of these fundraisers are FREE to attend, while others aren’t even fundraisers at all so much as they are communal sing-alongs sent out over the public wire.

Without further ado, the three-pronged NoC winter fundraiser, a celebration of public transmissions.  Please join us at some or all of these events. Things are so much more fun with crowds. Continue reading »

Oct 262011

By Danny Mayer

Album cover.

John Hartford AereoPlain.

John Hartford is one among a generation of artists—Kentuckians Hunter S. Thompson, Ed McClanahan, and Gurney Norman among them—who came of age during the 1950s, soaked in the cultural and social upheavals of the 1960s in hippy-dippy California as relative (and relatively old) unknowns, and then proceeded, in the early Seventies, to produce some of the most thoroughly saturated “Sixties” works one could ever hope to encounter.

It wasn’t until 1971 that Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas appeared in the iconic ’60s startup Rolling Stone magazine. That same year McClanahan’s “Greatful Dead I Have Known” hit the Playboy stands. Ditto for Norman’s Divine Right’s Trip, subtitled A novel of the counterculture, which began to run serially in the back-to-the-earth publication The Whole Earth Catalog.

For the song and dance man John Hartford, 1971 brought the release of Aereo-Plain, an album best described as a perfect expression of counter-cultural bluegrass music. The sound was a distillation of Hartford’s two different decades as a musician. There was the 1950s teen years spent listening to late night country radio, playing old time fiddle and banjo music, and dreaming about the Mississippi River. And then there was the Sixties, spent as a radio DJ in Nashville, later as a witty but otherwise undistinguished California-type folkie with a banjo, and later still as an accomplished session player for albums like the Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo.

In Aereo-Plain in 1971, Hartford synthesized those two decade pulls. The new and the old matched. Critics cite the record as ground zero for the newgrasss movement with good reason. It fused the more conservative old school bluegrass traditions of Hartford’s youth to the feel-hippy adventure-seeking wit and punch he encountered as a studio musician playing at the height of the 1960s acid rock craze. Even his Aereo-Plain band, new-school long-hairs Norman Blake and Randy Scruggs and old-school short-hairs Vassar Clements and  Tut Taylor, split generationally down the middle. Jim Morrison talked about doors; and here was Hartford, the old hippie with the old-timey goggles, a veritable time and sound portal. Continue reading »

Sep 142011

By Graham Cleary-Budge

The queer community in Kentucky is blossoming with talent and promise, and they’re happily willing to share. Queerslang is a music, film, and learning festival geared towards Lexington’s Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, and Ally community. Conceived, planned, and created by UK radio station WRFL’s grant director, Jack Cofer, upon hearing of the LGBT part of South X Southwest, Gay X Gay Gay.

As a satellite event to the Boomslang music festival, Queerslang will be an all-day extravaganza on Saturday, September 24. The event will feature a choice of four different workshops, and two independent documentary film screenings. Attendance at just one hour-long workshop will slash your ticket to the dance after-party at Cosmic Charlie’s from $15 to $8. (A Boomslang weekend or Saturday day-pass wristband will get you in for no charge.) Continue reading »

Sep 142011

Boomslang weekend and day passes will are available in advance at www.boomslangfest.com, and tickets to individual shows can be purchased at the door as venue capacity allows. All shows are 18+ unless noted otherwise.

Friday, September 23

Those Darlins with Onward Pilgrim and Scott Carney (Wax Fang)
Cosmic Charlie’s; 388 Woodland Ave. 8 P.M.

Boomslang’s weekend of music kicks off with a triple bill of energetic, fun-spirited rock-n-roll that should appeal to mosh-loving hipsters and public radio junkies alike. Starting with local psych-groovesters Onward Pilgrim and headlined by Tennessee garage-punk honky tonk darlings Those Darlins, whom you may have caught playing a set on NPR’s World Cafe last month, the bill will be rounded out by a rare solo set from Wax Fang founder/vocalist/guitarist/Theremin player Scott Carney. This set will rouse your senses and get your blood flowing early, and end by 11 p.m. to make way for the late dance party of the century – don’t sleep on it! Continue reading »

Jul 272011

By Barbara Goldman

Lexingtonians looking to raise their film IQ or perhaps tune into some fresh film chatter need not look any further than their radio dial. For shortly over a year now, WRFL has invited brave listeners everywhere to tune-in between ten and eleven A.M. to Surreelfilm, a local film show put on by local people.

The series began las spolt summer as the brain child of two of the show’s four hosts, Chris Ritter and Sam Burchett .

“We were both very cinematically curious. We found ourselves scouring movie blogs and talking about films constantly,” said Ritter. “We had the notion to share the experience.”

What began on a trial basis between the wee hours of 4-5 A.M. on Thursday nights quickly transformed into a hit show within three months and found its permanent slot on Monday mornings. Two additional hosts were added, and more and more reoccurring guests began to appear. Continue reading »

Aug 252010

By Megan Neff

It is Sunday night, August 22.  I finished my radio show this afternoon and ate the ritual #6 with barbecue chips afterward.  And after four years at UK, I felt out of place again as I walked to Jimmy Johns and back to WRFL alongside so many golden tans and carefree faces.

It made me think about my first semester.  About how I would rather be back there and not another recent college graduate who was unprepared for not being able to find a job in their field of study.  Or just a job that pays above minimum wage and has health benefits.

But on a positive note, it made me think about my introduction to the local music scene that semester.  About my first noise show and how John Wiese’s performance made me think of a painfully slow airplane crash.  The now defunct Icehouse and feeling the slight of the higher cover charge for outsiders.  And my very first show in Lexington, which strangely enough was at UK’s Student Center Spectacular four years ago.

It seems it is that time of the season again.  This year, I am not a freshman intimidated by the hipness of the WRFL crowd.  I’ve done this a hundred times before and know most of the people here.  Some of the magic is lost, but I can sense it in the crowd around me.

Real Numbers begin as the sun starts going down with a brand of straight forward punk-edged rock.  Vicious Guns continues with the trend but adds a dash of black leather, lace and some slightly drunken theatrics.  And Matt Duncan closes out the show with his unfailingly perfect blend of soul and buoyant pop.

So much has faded away in four years, but so much has grown.  And whether apparent to my disillusioned eyes or not, it will continue to grow around me.  Be it in a bug-infested lawn on UK’s campus or in another seedy basement.  And that in itself is some kind of magic.

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.