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'Make Some Shine'
Along in the summer of last year the venue that we selected to host a Kuchipudi Indian classical dance show was Wellness Shine Studios, an Eastern-influenced 'yoga-plus' establishment that offers classes in Nia (dance therapy) as well as massage therapy, located at 72 E Jefferson St. (with parking in a lot enterable from Market Street). Wellness Shine had been setting up their own music concerts on Saturday evenings but found that they were getting trafficked out by the fierce competition of everything that goes on musically in this City on weekend nights. (Not just audience members, but musicians themselves tend to be very busy on those days.)
As a result Wellness Shine has honored me with the opportunity to serve as their booking guy for their musical evenings, which I've moved to Thursday -- a slot when lots of people are both available and up for an evening's music -- and which I am planning out as a regular series, to run from the end of January through June of this year.
The Louisville music scene gives rock musicians a lot of room and opportunity to perform; but there are a lot of professional musicians and performers in the City who do other kinds of music but who tend to get shut out of venues specializing in the more omnipresent musics like rock. The new Shine series will feature immigrant musicians that are equally as good as the rockers, but harder to spot; as well as featuring performers in jazz, blues, classical music, bluegrass, gospel, and hip-hop -- plus an impersonator or two: in other words, acts that are more off-the-beaten-track, and more difficult to locate.
Jazz -- just to take one example -- especially 'antique' jazz, from the '20s and '30s, is really starting to garner a lot of popularity again. The crowds for it are enthused; potential audiences for it are very much out there; but in a lot of cases, the venues for it are lacking. As for the Blues situation in Louisville -- there are lots of Blues musicians in the City (as, intuitively, one might imagine), but they have relatively little place to play. As a result, we have pros in Our Fair who play the Blues for a living -- but have to leave town in order to do so!
To remedy these particular needs, Zazoo's is looking at getting a jazz and blues night on their schedule as a regular thing; and both Decca Restaurant and the Nach Bar are starting to host jazz.
The classical music in town, apart from the Symphony Orchestra, has tended increasingly to become relegated to hotel lobbies, but is now being made available at the Clifton Center. Local gospel talent (which is of course considerable) is represented largely in our black churches; the City's lively hip-hop scene is limited largely to certain black clubs; and impersonation artists, largely to the area's gay nightspots. And, of course, way too many of our immigrant musicians of note are getting stage time only within their individual ethnic communities.
With the new Shine series we're hoping to bring all of these artists more out into the spotlight.
The plan is to have these shows filmed, so that they can then be crafted into a concert-interview series that survives as a local cultural resource. Our Publisher, Paul Moffett, put together a similar show, called the Players Spot and focusing on Louisville musicians, about five years ago. What the new Shine series will add to Paul's approach is spoken narrative: the performers' own stories and perspectives.
Here are highlights that will make up some of the new Shine series:
Series kick-off will be January 31, with Vietnamese electric guitarist Long Thanh (pronounced 'Long Fan') Nguyen and Kentucky Homefront host John Gage. These two celebrities are equally illustrious -- and it is a signal honor that their joint performance will serve as the series' flagship.
Not to say that each week will not also be exciting -- here are some that spring to mind:
Appalatin on April 18 -- three days after their second album release.
Alonzo Pennington, son of Eddie Pennington, the legendary figure in Kentucky Western swing (and whose son is every bit to his credit), will be Shining at Wellness Shine on April 25. Eddie grew up with his luminary kinsman, that Singer about Dark Places, Merle Travis of 'Sixteen Tons' and 'Dark as a Dungeon,' and studied music under the same teacher.
The May 5 show will feature Kathak Indian dance.
On Feburary 14, Valentine's Day, there will be a double concert -- two halves of a heart, if you will: first, a romantic evening of Lebanese music from George Wakim, now decamped to Lexington but before that a Louisville native -- perfect for the occasion.
And, second-up, Serpent Wisdom (Ken Luchese and his partner Jackson Renfo, the latter in a twenty-minute performance of his Southern preacher character, 'DisArmegeddon').
On February 7 the series features singer-songwriter Dan Bowlds (no doubt known to you all).
And, on Feburary 21, CyphrDvn (pronounced 'Cyper Divine'), a husband-and-wife team doing melodic hip-hop (!). This duo, who have been a favorite in the area for twenty years, will hopefully see its feminine half bringing along some of her beauteous Cape Verde ballads. (As you know, Cape Verde is that very intriguing African country found somewhere between Portuguese Europe and Africa, whose culture had become an amalgam of the two long before the Europeanized New World got going.)
On February 28 three young men, natively Somali-Kenyan -- Somali refugees by way of Kenya -- will be starring. They have incorporated S-K dance, as they studied it in their homeland, with hip-hop, to arrive at their own unique style.
This date could shape up to be a double with what could be rock-cum-avant garde artist Lotus Blake's farewell performance -- not to be missed.
The March 7 show is planned as young-singer-songwriters-just-starting-out night, with Alex Boz and others.
On for March 21: Paul Moffett, and friends -- who have been generating heat with jam-&-open-mic nights all around town. Now we'll get to hear some of the fruits of their industry.
Still more: March 28 -- another double bill: first, the Peruvian flute trio Wayra Vento, melding classical with Andean strains. The trio is therefore itself a fusion doublet, whose name very aptly means (as its first word) 'Wind,' in Quechua, the language of Native Americans from the Andres; and then (as its second word) 'Wind' in Spanish.
Second -- another fusion group, the avant garde-plus-classical duo Camera Obscura, consisting of cellist Jon Silpayanant and Roxelle Karr.
(This particular will be a way-mellow evening.)
On April 4, Dixie Burns and her troupe will be performing Belizean dance (who the f else even has a Belizean dance group? We in Louisville are so fortunate!).
Then on April 11 there's gonna be some BLUES, man: specifically, the Jim Masterson Blue Band.
Also, on Appalatin-date, April 18, we'll have some Indian singing by Anupama Sahasrabudhe.
--And the Shine series will continue through May and June.
It will be exciting -- a very intimate series, in the most peaceful place to play in town: so a very relaxing exciting. Everybody barefoot ! on the specialized yoga flooring that gets damaged if you wear shoes. This barefoot circumstance creates a natural sense of connection. It will be a venue where it will be natural, also, to drift over barefooted and talk with the performers afterwards.
And all (even the impersonators) family-friendly (excepting only an over-21 hip-hop show scheduled for May 23). So -- while I cannot speak for what the folks at Shine might (or might not) be serving by way of refreshment -- do not expect that anyone will be making available any drinkable 'shine. Expect healthful alcohol-freedom; expect, maybe, more your pretzels-and-tea-kind-of-a-thing. (Very in-keeping with the experience of this very unique series.)
To: The Citizens of Louisville
Date: Jan. 31 - Feb. 2013
Re: Vietnamese Guitar Legend Long Thanh Nguyen
This month, we are all going to have the rare opportunity to see and hear this world-class master-performer in our midst, on no fewer than three separate occasions -- so avail yourselves of at least one:
First -- Thurs, Jan. 31, as part of the Shine series
Next -- Sun., Feb. 7, at 4pm, as part of a Vietnamese Lunar New Year (how interesting is that!), to be held at Iroquois High School, located just north of Iroquois Park, at 4615 Taylor Blvd. Long Thanh will be appearing with a fellow electric guitarist, from Elizabethtown, along with other Vietnamese performers.
Finally -- Wed., Feb. 27, at 7pm, at the Bardstown Road Presbyterian Church, 1722 Bardstown Road, in conjunction with Keith Clements, ex-Blues columnist for LMN ('I've Got a Mind to Ramble'), and the Louisville Blues Society.