Displaying items by tag: music

Love in Minor Key – Hum

MADISONVILLE, KY (10/5/13) - Greetings and salutations my dear readers, all four of you—hello! Today’s column is going to be about a '90s band that you probably vaguely remember. It’s Hum! If I say “Do you like Hum?” and your only response is “Stars!” you don’t really know Hum. But that’s Ok. I’m about to enlighten you. This isn’t just another simple review; this one is going to be a soapbox from which I’m going to release unto you a deluge of wonderful music. Music from a band that I’ve always loved and I believe you will too. Didn’t I say before it wouldn’t always be a simple music review, that sometimes it would be my musings on a band I like, hate or love, full of offhand rambling tangents? Didn’t I?

Well, first, we need to set the mood...The 1990s: Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden, Nirvana, Sonic Youth, and so many other great bands roamed the Top 40 radio airwaves. It was a worryingly short period of time when you could be an off-the-wall group of malcontents playing strange and abrasive music and still get a major record deal. Bands took the popular music and culture of the ‘80s and gave both a good smack in the mouth. It was a proverbial flush of the collective toilet of popular music. Bands who had dominated the airwaves in the ‘80s, wearing eyeliner and spandex while a metric ton of cocaine roared thru their system, had been replaced by teenagers in unwashed flannel, Chuck Taylors, and heroin. A glorious time to come of age! Don’t let that last bit of crassness get you all in fits. If you, my dear reader, decide to stick around, you’ll realize I have what many would call a dark sense of humor. If you can’t find a joke in the horrible bits of life, what’s the point of it really? Well, I’d better get back to the topic at hand before I get all sentimental and dye my hair green with kool-aid, again.

Hum! Yes, Hum. To have such an unassuming name, Hum brought something special to the loud-soft dynamic that was a staple of so many rock bands of the decade. Hum was formed in 1989 when Matt Talbot and Andy Switzky met in a coffee shop in Urbana, Illinois. Matt and Andy would go on to form the core of what would become the early version of Hum. A demo (“Kissing Me Is Like Kissing An Angel”) and a record (Fillet Show) soon followed. The songs on Fillet Show were dominated by Andy, their primary songwriter at the time, and feature slightly humorous and often political lyrics with a very indie rock vibe and punk sensibility. There were glimpses of what was to come, but overall the record feels a bit insincere. It sounds like your average high school band’s first EP/demo—a bit immature and simple. It lacks the complexity of songwriting that really defined Hum’s later albums. It’s not a bad album; it’s not really great either. It’s simply a solid effort. Fans of Poster Children, Minor Threat, and Fugazi will gravitate towards this album.

Shortly after the release of Fillet Show, creative differences led Andy to leave the band. This left Matt as the primary songwriter and, in this humble man’s opinion, this is when Hum went from being an above-average indie-rock band into something that will last the test of time. No, I’m not trying to say Hum surpassed the Fifth Symphony. I'm simply saying that, when viewed in the context of the ‘90s alternative-rock music scene, they should be judged to be the peers of the big ‘90s acts like The Smashing Pumpkins or Soundgarden, only to name a few. And I would wager that if they would've received a bit more mainstream airplay, I think they would've been as big as many of those bands. Even in a decade when pop music had been transformed into the antithesis of the shallow glitz and glam of the ‘80s, it still had certain fickle expectations that barred many a band from getting heavy rotation on the mainstream radio shows.

With the bands lineup finally coalescing into Matt Talbot on guitar and vocals, Tim Lash on guitar, Jeff Dimpsey on bass, and Bryan St. Pere on drums, a second release in the form of Electra 2000 soon followed. A more experimental and expansive style began to develop during this album. A sound that, while hinted at on Fillet Show, never got its full deserved attention. Electra 2000 is ephemeral and atmospheric. Intricate instrumental passages open up into soaring choruses dense with feedback and distortion so thick it envelopes you. It’s rough around the edges; low cost production and an unusual mix created a record that is garage rock at its finest. It’s an album filled with heartache, teenage frustration, and alienation. All the cliché Flotsam and Jetsam from the ‘90s music scene is here in full effect. It was a great start to a short but influential career. Standouts on this album are “Iron Clad Lou,” “Pinch and Roll,” “Shovel,” “Pewter”… the whole album is solid. Go listen to it now! Right here!

A heavy dose of science, space, and heartache created a record that will go down as a proverbial diamond in the rough for fans of ‘90s rock: You’d Prefer an Astronaut. If Electra 2000 didn’t really grow on you, there is a good chance this is the album that will grab you and make you a fan. For those of you out there that are already familiar with “Stars” and claim be a fan of Hum, it’s time to put up or shut up. Listen to this album, and if you can’t claim that you like at least half of this album, you aren’t a fan of Hum. That’s okay though, I’ve still got one more record to hook you with! There really is something special about this album. The songs have the same pulsating walls of thick distorted guitars, elaborate riffs, and space-infused lyrical imagery that were found on Electra 2000, but on this outing they are delivered with laser focus and a more polished mix.

The angsty emotional energy of previous albums gave way to a more astute understanding of what it takes to write a great song. Lyrically, the tales of heartache, alienation, and philosophical musings are still present, but they are more mature and subdued in their delivery. Themes are handled tactfully in abstract ways instead of screamed in teenage fury. This album is Hum at its finest. Stand out tracks on the album include the obligatory “Stars,” “I Hate It Too,” “The Pod,” “Why I Like the Robins,” and “I’d Like Your Hair Long.” You can listen to the album for free here.

Hum’s next major release came in the form of Downward is Heavenward, a worthy bookend to a great catalog. Not many things changed with this release; the bulwark of dizzyingly thick suspended chords, half-spoken and screamed lyrical passages glued together by a tight rhythm section, and precision focus on the production, are still present in spades (all the hallmarks of what makes Hum, well… Hum). I’m not going to claim this record changed the equation and did something revolutionary. This record is more of the same, but, in the case of Hum, that’s something to be cherished. Many bands go through many evolutionary fits and starts—that challenge to keep things interesting. I think Hum figured out their voice as a band early in their career. They found their niche in the melodical and oblique. They mined diamond out of that fusion of lyrical imagery and sound. This would turn out to be the last major release for Hum. The band was never dropped and they never broke up. They just felt they were done. I’ve never thought that was really the case. I think they were a band that hung it up in their prime. My favorites on this album include: “Afternoon with the Axolotls,” "The Inuit Promise,” "Isle of the Cheetah,” “Comin’ Home,” and "Green to Me.” Listen to the album here!

I hope your auditory journey through these four albums was enjoyable, and I hope at least a few of you will find a new band to love.

With that, I will sleep contentedly knowing that I spread a little bit of happiness to my fellow man.

Thank you Matt Talbot, Tim Lash, Jeff Dimpsey, and Bryan St. Pere for giving us all these wonderful sounds. If any of you out there end up loving Hum and would like to make the trip to St. Louis or Chicago to catch a reunion show, as they tend to have one every few years, give me a shout. Hum’s major fansite, Mission Control, is the best place to catch up on news with the band and even to chat with other fans. They have answers to any random question about the band you can imagine. 

______________________________________________________

To view past “Love in Minor Key” reviews and/or articles, click here.

Sugg Street Post
Written by Matt and Lindsey Stewart

Read more...
  • Published in Music

Community Collage: Every Chord Counts

EVANSVILLE, IN (10/3/13) – The sound of over 300 guitar and stringed instrument players performing in unison rang out across Evansville, Indiana’s West Franklin Street area this past Saturday, September 28th. 

The event, which was aptly entitled “Every Chord Counts,” was the area’s first annual attempt at breaking the Guinness World Record for “largest guitar ensemble” in history.

While Poland's lofty record of over 6,000 players remains unbroken, as does the US record, the fun-loving crowd of musicians that showed up and played at the gathering helped to set a new guitar ensemble record for the state of Indiana.

And thanks to the affair’s host/organizer, Amy Word, as well as members of the acclaimed Boscoe France Band, Calabash, and Andrea Wirth, the event was a great time for all that attended.

We can’t wait to check it out again next year. 

To read the original Sugg Street Post article about "Every Chord Counts," click here

For now, though, we leave you with a few photos taken by Sugg Street Post photographer, Jessi Smith, during the first annual event.


Sugg Street Post
Written by Luke Short
Photos by Jessi Smith

Read more...
  • Published in Art

Pat Harvey - Madisonville's Organic, Free-Range Artist

MADISONVILLE, KY (10/1/13) – The word that comes to mind when I think of Madisonville artist Pat Harvey is “organic.” The guy, and everything he creates, just seems to come about naturally, even when there’s struggle involved. I don’t really know how else to explain it. And I don’t mean “organic” in the sense of environment-friendly or naturally-grown either, though I guess Pat and his creations could fit into those categories, too. What I really mean is that Pat, his interactions with friends and family, his artwork, and his approach to music seems purely genuine and intrinsic to who he is. He’s real, and he’s arrived where he is today by remaining true to himself through the good times and the bad.

But Pat hasn’t merely survived life untainted; the grasp he has on his internal passions and the affinity he holds for creativity has allowed him to flourish as a person. From nearly 20 years of playing music and his longtime love of bluegrass, to his relatively recent entrance into the art world and the ensuing festival hops he’s been a part of as a vendor, Pat’s reactions to the world around him have resulted in an ongoing stream of positivity and colorful artwork that stand in stark contrast to an oftentimes drab, pessimistic world around us.

Yet, that’s not what he would say. In his own humble words, he says, “For me, it’s kind of like yoga; I feel better when I’m creating and when I’m not I don’t feel balanced. It’s just something that I have to do. It can be painting or playing guitar—I’ve just got to do something or I’m not as happy as I could be. I’ve got to do it whether someone looks at it or not.”

And his modest words ring true when you spend time with Pat, when you visit his home, when you talk about art and music, when you share a few drinks and laughs, and you have a minute to really see what he’s up to “behind the scenes.” 

What you can expect when you pay Pat a few visits…
When you first walk into his open, forest-lined backyard, you may notice a brightly-colored, yet partially rusted and wheel-less, caged-in Volkswagen Beetle that seems to be hovering about three feet off the ground in the far corner of his property. Pat—who dons a respectable beard and long hair, as well as the occasional faded pair of overalls over a Ramones t-shirt—explains that the VW is the lynchpin of his latest masterpiece: a coup for his chickens Darnell, Cabbage, Tiny, and Alize’. The seat-less vehicle is their nightly roost. Next, Pat may take you on a tour of his studio and garage while he points out automotive projects in-progress, jars of fermented hill-gold, old music equipment, and unique pieces of art that have never really seen the light of day. He says they’re part of his “personal stash.” Then, you might meet Pat’s family—his wife Amy and his daughters Lillian and Mandolyn—all of whom seem to be just as “organic” in their own rights. And once they’ve welcomed you inside their inviting home, you’ll notice several stringed instruments propped up in the corner of their living room, as well as several instrument cases and pieces of textile material adorned with Pat’s vibrant designs and his pseudo pop-art takes on iconic musician portraits. At this point, you may start to feel comfortable and relaxed, and while you have to go, they ask you to stay. It’s hard to leave and that’s when you know you’ll be back someday. 
One of the best parts of these experiences, though, is that Pat‘s candid. He’s straightforward and down-to-earth. He’ll tell you like it is from his point-of-view. There will be no high-brows here, but that’s also the beauty of it all. 

Who is Pat Harvey and what is his artwork all about? He’ll tell you right now. But don’t be shocked when it gets real. 

Tell me a little bit about yourself. Were you born here in Madisonville? 
No. I was born in Evansville [Indiana]. 

I didn’t know that. 
Yeah, I lived in Evansville until ’98, which was when [Amy and I] moved to Diamond [Kentucky]. My grandfather owned some property out there and we just wanted to get out of the city, so we moved. After we moved, we had our kids [Lillian and Mandolyn]. I started my business when we were down there, too. We decided to move to Madisonville because most of the work I was doing was here. 

How old were you when you moved from Evansville? 
Golly, man. [laughs] Let’s see - I was born in ’74 and I’m 38 now, and that would have been 14 years ago, so you do the math. [laughs] I guess it was around my mid to late-20s. I was old enough to drink. I know that because I moved to a dry county and I was like, “What the heck?” [laughs]  

What county is Diamond in? 
Webster County. 
You said you started a business there. What business are you talking about? 
My lawn care business [Harvey Lawncare]. I didn’t start that when I first moved down there, though. I worked at a couple different places before that. I ended up working for a guy who had a lawn care business and I thought, “Man, I can do this,” so that’s what I did. 

What was your childhood like? Were your parents pretty cool people?
Yeah. My dad was a cop actually. 

I would not have guessed that. [laughs]
Yeah, you’ve met my dad before, haven’t you? 

Yeah, he was here the other night. 
Well, he’s not a cop anymore, but he sure as hell used to be. 

What’s your dad’s name? 
Tom. Actually, his name is Realous. That’s his real name. That’s my middle name. It’s a family name. 

What does that name mean? 
It means I’m the realest, man. [everyone laughs]

We’re going to have to fit that into the title somehow. “Pat Harvey – The Realous Man You Ever Met.’ [everyone laughs] So, what was your mom like? 
She was cool, you know? Man, I wasn’t even prepared for questions about my childhood, though. Really, it was just normal stuff. My parents stayed together. They weren’t divorced or anything. I had a lot of teenage angst, so I probably would have wished they were divorced to be cooler or something. That’s something I probably would have thought back then. [laughs] But yeah, I had a pretty normal upbringing over in Evansville.

So, how did you and Amy meet? 
I met her at Chuck E. Cheese’s. [laughs] Seriously. I was Chuck E. Cheese. That was my job. I was the character and Amy was doing prep work. That was a really fun job. 

Really? I was thinking that would be a terrible job. 
No, not at all. It was freakin’ awesome. Chuck E. Cheese’s dressing room is right next to the beer tap, so... [laughs] The manager was really cool, too. Plus, you’d put the outfit on and it was like you were unstoppable. I mean, what is anyone going to do to you? You’re Chuck E. Cheese. [laughs] You could flirt with all the cute girls and smack the guys in the head. The guys might get a little angry, but what are they going to do? You can just laugh and say, “I’m Chuck E. Cheese.” [laughs]

So, basically, you had boundless freedom as Chuck E. Cheese? 
Definitely. Amy and I go back to Chuck E. Cheese’s sometimes and it’s really romantic. We’ve even got our own little table and everything. [laughs] Some of the same people work there, too. 
At what point did you really get into music? 
I always liked music, but I guess I was in my 20s when I really got into playing music. A friend of mine gave me a harmonica when I was about 19 and I messed around with that for a while. Then, the same guy gave me a guitar. I’ve been struggling with it ever since. His name was Jeremy Cates. He’s passed away since then. As a matter of fact, the paints I used for the bullfrog piece I have in my living room – the “horny toad” – have crushed flowers from his funeral mixed in them. That’s the first painting I ever hid a bird in. 

Yeah, the birds are like your signature now. I still can’t find all the birds you hid in the John Lennon case. You said there were five, but I can only find three. 
You’ll just have to keep looking, man. No one except Amy and our kids knew about the “bird thing” for a long time. I didn’t tell anybody about them. They were almost always in my paintings, though. Then I started telling people who had bought my paintings about the birds, because they own them. Now, I’m not so secretive about it. I think it’s pretty neat. They’re in every single one of my paintings, but you have to find them. 

Is there a purpose or story behind the birds? They look like a little like crows. 
The reason I put them in there is based around Jeremy – the guy I mentioned earlier who gave me the guitar. He was a painter too, and he always hid scarecrows in his paintings. I always thought that was really cool. 

So, with music, was there something specific that made you want to get into playing?
I just have this thing inside of me that makes me want to play. I’m sure you have it too; you play, so there’s a desire there and you’ve got to do something about it. I’ve never been really good at playing music, but I really enjoy doing it. I have a lot of fun playing. I actually played with a reggae band in Evansville back in the day. They were pretty good. I was the rhythm guitar player. The guy that was the leader of the band was a Jamaican drummer and a professor at the University of Evansville, which was right down the road from where I lived at the time. I’ve always been into bluegrass music, and reggae is actually very similar as far as the off-rhythm guitar parts go. One of the guys in the band found out I was into bluegrass music and asked me to jam with them sometime. At the time, I couldn’t stand reggae music; it made me seasick listening to those bass lines. But once I started playing with those guys more often, I really developed a strong sense of appreciation for reggae. The guy that led the band was on top of it, too. He had all these code words for changes in the songs and he was a drummer. He was like Phil Collins. It was funny in a way, though, because he was the only black guy in the band. The rest of us were white kids, but we sounded like—and were—a real, legitimate reggae band. We got to play a lot of different shows, too.

What was the name of the band? 
Riddem Culture. 

How long did you play with them? 
A year or two, I think. Then Paul, the leader of the band, ending up moving. He went to a different college to teach. We all separated after that. It was a lot of fun, though. That was one of my first real experiences as far as playing with people and having to learn all these different parts. 
You’ve been a fan of bluegrass for a long time. What’s the story behind that attraction? 
I remember being into bluegrass when I so young that people would ask me where my parents or grandparents were at when I’d go to bluegrass music festivals. [laughs] It’s funny, because none of them were ever into bluegrass music, but I was. I had an old Volkswagen van when we lived in Evansville and we’d drive down to Kentucky to Beaver Dam or Rough River where they have the Governor’s Cup Fiddle Championship, or we’d go to these folk competitions in Petersburg [Indiana]. The folk competitions are really cool, because it’s not just fiddles—it’s banjos, guitars, upright bass, harmonicas, and pretty much any acoustic instrument. I was really into, man. It hit me when I was young, listening to all those cats like Bill Monroe, that I really dug it. I always listened to stuff like Jimi Hendrix, and I thought that bluegrass music was just for old people, but I realized that the old players just didn’t have amplifiers and all that stuff. If you listen to that old Bill Monroe stuff or anything that the Osborne Brothers did—or any of those cats from the very beginning—they get after it. It’s just a different deal. It was a totally different era at that point. But once I understood that, I gained a lot of respect and appreciation for what they were doing. Once I realized that, I was hooked. I’ve loved it since a very young age. They used to do a jam thing in Evansville that was based around bluegrass music, and we would go—but, of course, we would be the youngest people there every time. They loved seeing young people like us there, though. We stuck out like sore thumbs. Things have changed a lot since then, too. 

Yeah, it really has. Now, Americana, folk, bluegrass, and roots-style music has become one of the strongest genres for the younger generation here in the US. 
Definitely. It’s totally changed since we first got into it back then. 

Would you say that’s still your favorite genre of music? 
I will always love bluegrass. I think I’d just say that acoustic music is my thing. If you go to a bluegrass festival and you watch some people standing around their tailgate with a banjo, a fiddle, a mandolin, an upright bass, a dobro, and whatever else, and they don’t have amplifiers whatsoever and are straight getting it, you’re going to be hard-pressed to find something better than that. That’s just badass. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the best. I love it. I love it because it is what it is; you can take it anywhere and you don’t have to have a bunch of stuff like microphones, PA systems, digital effects, or auto-tune. You just go for it. It’s very organic. 

It’s interesting to think about how old a lot of the instruments used in bluegrass really are. Some of them have existed in some form for centuries. 
Bluegrass music just has a drive to it that I’ve always been attracted to. When I was a kid, I was really into punk rock and metal music—or anything that was loud, heavy, and energetic for that matter—but, honestly, I think bluegrass is a really similar thing. It was just a different generation that started playing it. Once you can get your head around that, it changes everything. You start hearing these guys like the Osborne Brothers, who had a drummer and an electric lap steel player, and you realize that they’re really tearing it up. It’s just badass. Anything Jimmy Martin did is badass, too. He’s one of my favorites. 

Another cool aspect is the comradery. A lot of the times that I’ve seen a bluegrass type of show or concert, all these different people from different bands will jam together onstage just for fun. The whole scene seems pretty tight. 
That was one of the coolest things about Romp Fest [in Owensboro] this year. There were a lot of great guys there playing. David Grisman was there and he’s one of my favorites. When I think of mandolin players, I hear David Grisman’s sound. The way he plays mandolin is amazing. Part of the reason Mandolyn’s name is Mandolyn is because I think the mandolin is one of the most beautiful sounding instruments in the world. In the right hands, man, you just can’t beat a good mandolin player. David Grisman is definitely in the top three best players in the world. One of my latest paintings was of David Grisman and I got to personally hand it to him at Romp, which was really cool. 
When did you first get into artwork and painting? 
I got into painting about three years ago, but I’ve always kind of had a leaning towards art on some level. I never painted, though. What got me into painting was my decision to start working with these guitar cases. I thought I would make a fortune from painting on them, which I would parlay into a hotel chain or some crap. [laughs] At the time I came up with the idea for painting guitar cases, I was just doing spray paint and stencil work. The “Jolly Randy” logo I have—the skull and crossed banjos—was a spray paint stencil actually. I made a lot of little things like that. Then, one day, I was messing around, and I thought, “Man, I bet I would have a lot more control if I tried using a brush.” So, I did, and it changed everything. I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t tried it sooner after I started. It really did change everything. 

Was there anything in particular that pushed you to take a step into that new, relatively unknown territory? Was there a muse, so to speak? 
Well, I got all these cases from [late Backstreet Music store owner and talented local musician] Randy Herrick. I was just starting in on these guitar cases right before Randy passed away [in 2011] actually, and I had been doing a lot things with [Plowin’ Todd Cowan and] the Sodbusters at the time, which Randy was a part of. I was having a lot of fun. Then, my mom passed away and Randy died right after that. It was about 19 days after my mom passed. So, I didn’t have that outlet anymore. We all stopped playing. I had to do something. All this crap was coming down at once, it was winter time, and I was stuck in the house. So, I sat down in the basement for three months and just painted. My friend Jeremy, who I mentioned earlier, passed away unexpectedly right around that time, too. He passed away in January. He was only 36. October is when Randy passed away. They were two of the closest friends I ever had, so losing them, as well as my mom, all at the same time, was really hard. Plus, like I said, I didn’t have an outlet to play music anymore, so I had to do something. I just painted. 

Yeah, every time I saw the Sodbusters, you guys seemed really close. 
Yeah, we were definitely tight. We did a lot of stuff together and played a lot together. We went a lot further playing together than I could have ever imagined, too. It was always great. We were like brothers. 

And it was you, Randy…
It was me, Randy, Pat [Ballard], and Todd [Cowan]. Brian Hawkins came in a little later, too, but he was definitely right there with us. He played harmonica and washboard. All those guys are really great. 

So, during that time, did it just feel like all this creativity you had brewing inside was about to explode? 
Pretty much. I was working on these cases and everything, and it just went from there. Some of the first cases I wound up painting were for two kids who lived across the street from Randy. Their mom had bought the cases from Randy at Backstreet Music before he passed, and I knew where they were. They were in the shop. She said she still wanted to have them done, so I got them and painted them for her. 

Were those the very first cases you painted? 
No, the “Jolly Randy” was the first case I ever painted and the second one was of Johnny Cash. Then, I did the Bob Dylan case. It was at that point that I realized I might be onto something really cool. So, I got some canvases, and I painted all the people I really wanted to put on a case – Bob Marley, Cash, Zappa, Dylan, and all the people I really love. That’s really how all of it started. Now, though, I paint simply because I love it. I love to paint. I enjoy the crap out of it. There’s no negativity or sadness to it at all. It gets us into festivals, too, so I’m riding this thing as far as I can. The painting has taken me so much further than music as far as getting out there and meeting people. 

It’s funny, because the case that really got me noticed was an old mandolin case that Todd Cowan gave me. I painted Bill Monroe on it – of course – and I took it to the SPBGMA [Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music Association] festival down in Tennessee, walked around with it all day, and nobody wanted to buy it. Then, at the very end of the day, Danny Clark, who was the marketing director for the International Bluegrass Music Museum [in Owensboro, KY] ended up buying it. He said, “I’ll buy this piece from you, but you have to promise that you’ll come to Romp and sell these.” So, I was like, “Of course I will.” Then, when I was at Romp with my new cases, I got to meet this guy named Ed Ward, who founded the Milwaukee Irish Fest. It’s the largest Irish cultural gathering in North America actually. There were 146,000 people there last year. Well, Ed invited us to come up there and he gave me my own tent right up by the bluegrass stage. It was freakin’ awesome. We had a blast. It was the first year they had bluegrass music at the festival actually. They drove us in and out every day and put us in a nice hotel. It really was amazing. 

Did you end up selling a lot of art there? 
Yeah, I did really well actually. I made some decent money and met a lot of really cool people in the process. 

In my humble opinion, your paintings are really phenomenal, man. I really dig the bright colors you use for figures and instruments. When I see one of your pieces, I know it’s yours immediately. As far as I understand, though, you’ve never actually had any formal education or professional training when it comes to art. Is that correct?
Yep. I’ve never really had any education or training. My uncle is a high school art teacher – he actually taught me when I was in high school – and my sister is a poet. I think it just kind of runs in the family, man. But no, I’ve never had any training to speak of. That doesn’t really surprise me all that much either. I mean, sometimes I step back and say, “Wow, I can’t believe that just came out of me,” but it comes naturally I guess. 

You told me before that you’ve come a long way with brushes and techniques through trial and error. Could you talk about that a little bit?  
I never knew much about brushes, and I still don’t. I still look at basic painting books and think, “Wow, that is awesome. I can’t believe I didn’t know that already.” [laughs

So, what’s your process when approach a new painting?
It always starts so minute. That’s what’s cool about it to me; I’m focusing on these little pieces of what will eventually be the whole. It starts coming together and then I kind of have to focus back in on the little things. It’s always about the tiny parts until the very end. Then I can step back and look at it as one thing. All the little pieces make this huge thing at the end and I love it. It does take me a long time to do it, though. It’s just the way I do it. It probably takes way longer than it would for most. But, you know, I just do my thing, and when I get it right, it’s right. I think a lot of my problem is that I just don’t know proper techniques. I think we’ve talked about this, too, but I tried to paint strings on an instrument with a little tiny detail brush that you couldn’t paint much more than a quarter-of-an-inch at a time with one time. If I had just used the right kind of brush, I could’ve painted one straight line for each string and it would have taken me ten seconds. It took me about four hours, though, and it never looked right, so I just got rid of the strings. [laughs] That one ended up being called “No Strings Attached.” [laughs] I tried at least. 

What’s the most frustrating part of finishing a painting? Are there points where you’re throwing stuff at the walls?
Yeah, there are times like that. Painting is very relaxing, but it can also be super frustrating at times. The worst thing is when there’s a deadline or you’re trying to get something done for someone quickly – like that stupid [John] Lennon case, man. [laughs] That was the hardest thing that I’ve ever painted by far. Seriously. 
Really? Well, it looks great, man. I’m honored to own it. I’m not trying to be a suck-up or anything, but it really is amazing. 
Oh, I hated that case. It drove me crazy. I painted on that one for a month straight. I know I put at least 60 hours of work in on that one—at least. I worked on it every single day when I came home and it changed so many times. Really, if there hadn’t been somewhat of a deadline on it, I would probably still be painting on it, and it wouldn’t be what it is now. But, at the same time, if I never had deadlines, I’d probably never get anything done, and I look at that case now and I think, “Ok, that looks pretty cool.” But while I was doing it, I always felt like it was missing something and couldn’t figure out what it was. I would try something different, but I felt like I couldn’t ever find it. I really struggled with that one. In truth, I always struggle when I’m making something for someone else. When I do it for myself, it’s easier. A lot of the times, I’ll have pieces sitting around that I’m not sure I’ve finished yet, and I’ll hang them up and look at them for a while. I won’t be sure what I want to do with it yet. I might decide to change or add something after I’ve looked at it for a while. If I decide it’s a go as it is, I’ll put a bird in it if it doesn’t already have one, I’ll sign it, and I’ll put clear coat on it. Once the clear coat goes on, there’s nothing else I can do. It’s done at that point. 

It’s funny how that works. If you’re creating something for someone else’s enjoyment or pleasure, it’s so much more stressful. The final product is usually fulfilling, but the process leading up to it can be really hard. When we interview a person or group, and we know them personally or we really respect what they’re doing, there’s a lot more pressure there. You want the person or group you’re writing about to think it’s amazing. It’s a lot different than sitting at home and writing a story for yourself. 
You’re exactly right. I worried and I stressed, because I really wanted that Lennon case to be the best thing I’d ever done. Really, though, I always want everything I do to be “the best thing that I’ve ever done,” you know? If I’m doing stuff that I don’t think is the best, I might as well quit. I want everything to be better. I mean, you can see how my work has evolved over time. I consider the stuff I do now to be pretty simple, but, back when I started, the paintings I made were extremely simple. Everything is a learning process; I’ve learned something from every piece I’ve done. I paint in layers, which is cool, and it works well, but it can get muddy if you’re not careful. It starts getting funky. But it’s all good, because you can just put some white paint over the mistakes and start again. That’s another reason I love painting. If I make a mistake, I can fix it. I really don’t think you can mess a painting up so bad that you can’t fix it. You can just paint the whole thing white and start over completely if you do. 

You said the John Lennon case actually has a few paintings under what you see on the surface, too, right? 
Oh, it’s got several underneath. [laughs

I think that’s pretty cool. 
At some point in the future, if you ever have access to one of those machines that allows you to look through layers of a painting, you’ll see all kinds of stuff under there. [laughs] You know where it says, “All You Need is Love”? Well, before that, it said, “If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace,” and it looked awesome. I thought it was perfect, but, when it was all done, the background color just wasn’t right. When the background is off, you pretty much have to start all over again, so I changed it. I wanted to make something John Lennon would think was pretty cool, you know? I wanted something he would appreciate if he was still alive. I’ve been a huge fan of his forever. 

Are well-known musicians and instruments natural subject matter to you? 
Yeah. That’s pretty much all I paint, because music was really my first creative output. It’s what I’ve done for so many years now. I’m almost 40 now and I started playing when I was 20, so it’s been half of my life. Then, recently, I picked up the paintbrush, and that just underlines the music. It’s just where my mind is at. I mean, almost everything I do has to do with music in some way. I can only think of a couple of pieces that aren’t directly related to music. That’s what I like; that’s where I’m at creatively. Plus, it works out really well in relation to the whole music festival scene. That’s a perfect fit for us, because we get to hang out and sell my stuff to people that appreciate it. I mean, most of the people who buy my art have a beer in their hand and a tattoo on their arm somewhere. They’re not like some high-brow cats in a fancy art gallery. So, I do really well at music festivals. I feel like those people get me. If you’re there to see a music festival, you’re going to get what I’m doing, you know? It works out well. My kids love it and so does Amy, so it’s perfect. 
You do a lot of work on something that resembles raw, un-stretched canvas, too. What led you to start using that kind of material for paintings?
Well, I was given a lot of it several years ago. It’s the brown fabric they use to make the Carhartt clothing out of. It’s perfect, too. You can get different effects with it. Some of my paintings are on a raw piece, but I’ve washed pieces before painting them and it frays the edges a little bit. 

That’s really cool, because Carhartt’s a big part of our local community, but people all over the world wear their clothes. 
Yeah, when we were in Wisconsin, people asked me what it was. I asked them if they knew what Carhartt was and they were all like, “Oh yeah, Carhartt is awesome! Carhartt’s the best!” [laughs] I was like, “Well, that’s what this is. You could wear this painting on your foot for three months and not get a hole in it. It’s badass. It’ll protect you from wolverines and everything else.” [laughs] I love painting on it. It’s really heavy, too. You look at this stretched canvas right here—it’s a joke. You could poke your finger right through it, but that Carhartt fabric is the real deal. 

Before I started painting on that fabric, I was painting on stretched canvas. That stuff is way too expensive, though. I started looking around and I realized that there is crap everywhere to paint on. So, I was painting on old pieces of wood, old metal, and anything else I could recycle in some way. In fact, I really don’t paint on stretched canvas anymore at all. I bought most of the canvas I have a while ago. It just seems ridiculous to me to pay 15 or 20 dollars per canvas. It was once I had started painting on wood and stuff like that that I got the Carhartt fabric. When I tried it, I loved it. I’ve had other artists ask me how I can paint on it, because it’s not stretched, and I guess most artists use an easel when they’re painting. I just lay out on the ground, though. I made a huge banner for these folks one time, and it was like eight by three foot, but I just laid it out on the ground. 

Are your paintings oil or acrylic? 
It’s all acrylic. Everything I do is acrylic. I want to mess with oil paints, but I just haven’t done it yet. I’ve only been painting for three years, so I’m really trying to focus in on the acrylics so I can learn how to use them better. 

With the cases and fabric, do you have to prep or prime them before painting? 
Yeah, I use Gesso. It’s basically just a type of primer. It’s awesome, though, because you can put Gesso on pretty much anything and acrylic paint will stick to it. If I didn’t use that on the cases, none of the paint would stick. I’ve tried it before. I use white Gesso, because when you try to paint on something dark it’s really hard to get the colors right. The white makes the colors pop much better. They make clear Gesso, too. At the end of the day, it just gives the paint something to bite into. I really don’t know what I’m doing, though. [laughs

Ultimately, do you have a goal you’d like to reach through painting? Or is it just something you’re having fun with?
I don’t’ really have a goal. I just want to go wherever I can with it. Like I said, I’ve been really surprised by how far I’ve gotten with it so far. It’s taken me a lot farther than I ever got through playing music. It’s fun and I enjoy it, but it would probably be a hassle if it was how I had to make my living. Although, at the same time, I would love to make a living doing it, because it would beat the crap out of what I’m doing now. [laughs] I just like it and I really enjoy it, man. I don’t care if anybody else likes it; I dig it. I would still do it whether anyone liked it or not. That’s not why I ultimately do it. I’ve got all kind of things I’ve made that are just lying around the house.
The name of your art page on Facebook is Bad Apple Paintwerks. Where did that name come from? 
Amy’s always throwing out names and, if it were up to her, she’d call it something like “Apple Blossom Something or Another.” [laughs] Well, I wanted to take that and make it something a little edgier, and that’s where Bad Apple came from. Basically, I was just wanted to find a way to put all my stuff in one spot where people could look at it online. The Facebook page didn’t cost anything, so that was great. It’s worked out pretty well so far, but you’ve got to put a link to my stuff in here. [laughs] I’m sitting just over 100 likes right now and that’s got to change. [laughs] Seriously! It hasn’t always been Bad Apple Paintwerks, though. Before that, it was Buffalo Pick, which was kind of an inside joke.

You definitely deserve more “likes” than that. We’ll put a link in here and try to get more people on your page for sure. 
Man, in all honesty, you’re the only person in all of Madisonville who’s bought one of my pieces. It’s hard to sell art here. It just feels like there’s something holding people back in Madisonville, but I’m not completely sure what it is. 

Well, that actually relates back to something I wanted to ask you about. Why should people appreciate the talent of local artists and musicians? 
That’s somewhat of a personal question. If you don’t appreciate art, then that’s your deal. You can’t make someone appreciate something like art against their will. And, really, art has no face value by itself; it’s not worth anything on its own. Art’s value comes from the personal connection someone might have to it. For me, it’s pretty easy to say why art is important. If you’re sitting around feeling bad because you’re stuck in one place—which can also apply to the creative part of your brain—art can serve as a vehicle to move forward in a sense. For me, it’s kind of like yoga; I feel better when I’m creating and when I’m not I don’t feel balanced. It’s just something that I have to do. It can be painting or playing guitar—I’ve just got to do something or I’m not as happy as I could be. I’ve got to do it whether someone looks at it or not. But I can’t tell somebody else why it’s important. 

Well, in closing, do you want to give any shout-outs? 
I want to thank Flavor Flav and Chuck D. [laughs] I also want to thank the Hopkins County Art League, because they’re trying to do their thing. I think it’s a good deal. Anybody in town that’s into any kind of art should probably check them out. In doing so, they might meet some great, new people. I met a ton of people through the Art League that have helped me out in other areas as well. There aren’t a whole lot of young people that are members, but I think that could change. If more young people were involved, I think it could bring something new to the table at the very least.  

_________________________________________________

To check out Pat Harvey’s artwork, visit his official page, Bad Apple Paintwerks, by clicking here.

To learn more about the Hopkins County Art League (HCAL), click here

Sugg Street Post
Writing/Interview by Luke Short
Photos by Jessi Smith

Read more...

Love in Minor Key - Skeleton Key, 'Gravity is the Enemy'

HOPKINS COUNTY, KY (8/29/13) - New York's Skeleton Key has released their first new album in nearly a decade, and it was worth the wait. Gravity is the Enemy on Arctic Rodeo Records is a rowdy, 53 minutes worth of junk banging joy.

Formed by Lounge Lizard alumni and puppeteer Erik Sanko, Skeleton Key brings the avant-garde to the mainstream. The four-piece band consists of Erik Sanko on bass and vocals, Craig LeBlang on guitar, Bob Vaccarelli on drums, and Benjamin Clapp on junk. Yeah, you heard that right, Clapp plays junk.

Light-hearted weirdness and junk percussion could easily become a gimmick for most rock bands, but Skeleton Key has once again demonstrated just how talented they are at making fine art out of the aural chaos of a factory floor. Imagine a freight train billowing smoke and rumbling down the track full speed, but it's filled with pillows and spitting flowers. That is the dichotomy of Skeleton Key. Great rock riffs and pop hooks abound, but they are punctuated by an array of unusual sounds—the ping of a drum stick hitting a propane tank or mallets beating on the strings of an old bass fiddle.

Even if unusual subject matter like ditties about circus freaks and sea-shanty interludes aren’t your thing, you can’t go wrong with this release. There is enough straight-down-the-middle rock feeling to please even the most fickle of ears. Fans of The Melvins, Tomahawk, and Helmet will feel right at home with Gravity Is The Enemy.

Stand out tracks on the album include “Machine Screw,” “The Mowing Devil,” “Everybody's Crutch,” and the title track, “Gravity is the Enemy." You can find the album for free on Spotify here.

5 Landon Beards out of 5

NOTE: The rating scale for our music reviews is represented by the late Landon Miller's bearded mug—or will be once we get the graphics designed. Originally, Landon had the position of music reviewer. Yet, due to being extremely busy, he had to hand the position off. I had always planned on using his likeness, and his beard especially, as a visual representation of how I felt about an album I reviewed. It really was an epic beard. (It needs it's own awesome adventure comic. I'll work on that idea at some other point, I promise.) But I had intended it as a joke for him. Landon was always a good-natured guy with a quick, heart-warming smile, and I can only hope he would flash that smile again knowing I was going to use his bearded mug as our barometer of whether or not a band was worthy. We used to spend the greater portion of our time together talking about bass, techniques, music, gear, and mostly...bands. We had a mutual love for strange and/or weird bands and genres. We used to burn each other CDs of obscure bands that we thought each other would like. It was during one of those conversations that Landon introduced me to Skeleton Key. That was four or five years ago. It was one of the first times he had heard my bass lines/riffs. He used to always say I played "circus bass," which is a label, I think, that aptly fits to my original compositions. But it was after hearing me play a certain riff, which I''m sure many of you have heard me play ad nausem, that he said, "Dude, that sounds like a Skeleton Key riff!" I said "Who?" A CD was quickly produced and he was right. I ended up loving that band. We had always talked about doing a two-bass band that wrote weird little songs about weird little things, which we wanted to call "Skin and Bones," because, hey, two fat guys playing bass called "Skin and Bones" is humorously ironic. We liked the dichotomy. But anyways, I'm rambling. I have lots of little stories and tidbits about Landon, as I'm sure everyone whose lives he touched does. I'll share some of them over the coming years with you all. I love you Landon. I hope to jam again with you some day.

Sugg Street Post
Written by Matt & Lindsey Stewart

Read more...
  • Published in Music

Fair-Weather Kings – Weathering Bowling Green’s Rolling Musical Seas

HOPKINS COUNTY, KY (8/22/13)—Hearing it from the proverbial “horse’s mouth” makes it official: “energetic” ranks highest among the descriptors fans use to define the sound and feel of Bowling Green, KY’s beloved five-piece band, the Fair-Weather Kings. And it’s a fact that is duly justifiable. Comparison-wise, many say the quintet’s unique style is akin to the vibrant, nationally-acclaimed indie sounds of The Strokes and The Arctic Monkeys.

Yet, once you start trying to dial in their insightful works any further—to do their sound justice through words, so to speak—the process of classification becomes much deeper and, perhaps, more metaphysical. That being said, here’s my personal take: the Fair-Weather Kings strike hard on the head of modernity’s pop-rock stake, while remaining punctual, compositionally edgy, fun, and experimental in a not-too-abstract way. Their lyrical originality, atmospheric grooves, and consistently frantic, multi-layered live performances—which come courtesy of vocalist/guitarist Wesley Stone, guitarist Zach Barton, bassist Jason Williams, keyboard/synth player Craig Brown, and drummer Marcus Long— mix together well, producing a seemingly perfect storm amidst an electric and inspirational musical climate.

While the Fair-Weather Kings have yet to gain a large-scale, national following, they have received a wealth of veneration from all corners of our region and beyond. In fact, the respect the Fair-Weather Kings have deservedly garnered from their peers since forming just under two years ago is evidenced by the fact that they have remained afloat, relevant, and well-loved in the virtual sea of talent found in Bowling Green.

So how do the Fair-Weather Kings maintain their prowess in such a saturated musical market? What’s their origin story and creative process? And what is their ultimate goal with music? To find out the answers to these questions and much more, I recently got the chance to speak with FWK frontman and guitarist, Wesley Stone, who informed me that weathering west Kentucky’s blooming and inspirational entertainment scene isn’t always an easy task to master.

Who are the members of the Fair-Weather Kings, where is each member from, what are your ages, and what instrument(s) do each of you play?

I’m Wesley Stone and I’m on lead vocals and guitar. Zach Barton plays guitar, Jason Williams is our bassist, Craig Brown plays keys/synth, and Marcus Long is our drummer. Zach, Marcus and I grew up in Hopkins County, KY. Craig and Jason grew up in Bowling Green. We all currently live in Bowling Green. We are all in our late 20’s, with the exception of Marcus, who is in his early 30’s.

How and when did the band first form?

We first formed in October of 2011 with Zach and I just sort of jamming around on occasion and presenting songs to each other. After a bit, we tracked down a drummer and bass player to sort of feel out the whole band thing. After a couple months, we had worked out a few songs, but our drummer and bass player at the time weren’t really a good fit with the type of music we were writing, so that’s when Marcus joined, along with another friend of ours, Will Kronenberger, who played bass. Shortly after they joined, we picked up Rory Willis to play keys, who was Will’s roommate at the time and the owner and operator of Greyskull Recordings. We all wrote and worked on the songs that would end up on our debut, self-titled EP and played our first show in January of 2012.

Where did the name of the band originate and how does it fit with the music or “feel” of the band?

The name sort of became a formality at a certain point. We knew we had to call ourselves something, so we just started throwing out a bunch of ideas over the course of a week or so. Ultimately, “The Fair-Weather Kings” came about when we combined two of our favorite names that we had come up with. I can’t really remember what those were, though. Fair-Weather….something and something…Kings. There isn’t really any intended significance as far as the name representing our music or style. I’m sure I could dig up some philosophical meaning to it, but, really, it was just the first name that we all agreed upon that remotely sounded cool.

What influences do you all draw inspiration from both musically and in life?

We have a wide variety of musical influences—too many to even begin listing them—but we all draw from some variety of rock or pop music, and we all have our own favorite singer-songwriters. We also get inspiration from the many great bands we hang out with and play with around Bowling Green. Mainly, our songs are inspired by love, life, and the universe, and revolve around observations within each.

How has the band changed over time?

The biggest change that has occurred for us has been losing and gaining members. Will and Rory got busy with their jobs and other projects, and that is when Jason and Craig stepped in. They both came in with completely different styles than Will and Rory, which ultimately changed our sound. But it was for the better. Each previously written song has since evolved into something that is, in many ways, completely different from what you hear in our recordings, which were all done with Will and Rory. Again, this evolution has been for the better. The songs have gotten tighter and even experimental at times, which make them fun and different every time we play them live. You will very rarely hear the exact same version of a song from show to show.

How do you all define the sound of the Fair-Weather Kings?

That’s always a hard question to answer, and I usually just refer to what others have compared it to or said. The most common word used to describe our music is “energetic,” and we have been compared to The Strokes and The Artic Monkeys.

Like you just said, a good deal of the Fair-Weather Kings’ music is highly energetic and, at times, feverishly frantic, which comes across well during your live shows. By the same token, you all seem to be very tightly-knit as a multi-piece band. That being said, how do you approach the creative process? Do songs come together spontaneously or is it more of an intensive, day-by-day process?

The majority of our songs were songs that I had already written or were nearly complete ideas that I then presented to the entire band. From there, everyone just sort of filled in the gaps with each of us giving the others input and experimenting with various ways to approach them. However, we have also written several songs that blossomed out of a jam session during practice.

While the band’s sound is ultimately rooted in rock, you all also incorporate a variety of electronic, synthesized sounds in your music through guitar effects and keys/synthesized sounds. Do you think it’s important to remain open to different sonic avenues in the modern age for the sake of creativity?

We keep ourselves open to various sounds and even various styles for the sake of creativity. I think if we confined ourselves to a specific sound, or tried to write songs that adhere to a specific style or sound, it would hinder us creatively. We are constantly picking up things from other bands and each other, which steers each new song or idea in a slightly different direction.

You guys hail from one of the region’s most vibrant music scenes—Bowling Green, KY. How much of an effect has that environment had on the band’s approach and creative evolution?

It has its positives and negatives. On one hand, all the bands are learning, supporting, and challenging each other to become better. On the other hand, it’s a constant struggle to keep from getting lost in the mix of all these great bands and musicians in the area. Either way, we are proud to call Bowling Green home and love being associated with its rising music scene.

You all played at the inaugural Mad Flavor Arts & Music Festival in Madisonville this past June. Why did you all decide to play the festival and what was your overall take on the event?

It sounded like a fun time. Again, Zach, Marcus, and I grew up in the area and still have friends and family there, so it seemed like a great opportunity to not only play our music to some different faces, but to also visit with some familiar ones. We had a great time and got some great feedback on our set.

If I’m not mistaken, your self-titled EP and single, “Satellite Galaxies”, were both recorded at Greyskull Recordings in Bowling Green. Tell me a little bit about what it’s like recording there.

During those recording sessions, Rory Willis was still our keyboard player. We recorded all the tracks on the EP in a “live” fashion where everyone was being recorded at the same time, minus the vocals, so, really, it was just like a more structured and professional practice—except we played every song a dozen times. We did “tracking” for Satellite Galaxies, meaning we each recorded our parts individually. That process is slightly boring, but produces a much higher quality end product. It also allows for changes, and gave Rory the ability to piece together the best parts of each take.

Are you guys working on any new music at the moment?

Yes. We have two new songs that we have been playing live for a while that haven’t been recorded, and we are currently working through some ideas for at least three more. We are taking our time with the new material—screening it so to speak. The first album was composed of literally every song that was presented. This time around, we are being a bit pickier and are presenting lots of ideas that will be narrowed down to a few songs at a time.

From your perspective, why is it important for area citizens to get out and support local musicians and artists?

Because most of those local musicians and artists want to be national musicians and artists, and the road to that outcome is paved by every single person’s support.

Over the years, what’s been one of the band’s favorite shows and/or biggest accomplishments?

One of our best shows was a house-show at a place dubbed The Manor. It is right next to Greyskull—which is where we rehearsed at the time—in the basement of this old Civil War hospital that is now a private residence. There were a ton of people all giving us as much energy as we were giving them. Those are the best types of crowds. I’ll take a crowd of 20 people that are all getting into the music over 2,000 motionless bodies any day, and that’s when we put on the best show, too. It’s a give and take relationship when it comes to our performances, and we were getting and giving quite a bit at The Manor that night.

What is the end goal for the Fair-Weather Kings?

Ultimately, we want to reach as many people as possible with our music. So, short answer: major label support.

Where and how can people check you out and purchase your music?

We have a ReverbNation profile, as well as a Bandcamp profile. We don’t really charge for digital downloads, and both places have all of our recorded material for free. We have physical copies of our debut EP, which we have re-released with “Satellite Galaxies” for sale on our Bandcamp page. We have stickers and t-shirts for sale there as well. Of course, you can pick up any of those things at our shows, too.

In closing, feel free to give any shout-outs you want.

All of our fellow BG Sceners…
Canago, Buffalo Rodeo, Morning Teleportation, Schools, Chris Rutledge, Sleeper/Agent, Cage the Elephant, Opossum Holler, The Reneaus, The Beech Benders, Plastic Visions, The Black Shades, Lost River Cavemen, Fat Box, The Hungry Ears, Technology vs Horse, and others…

Also…
D93 WDNS, Revolution 91.7 WWHR, Spencer’s Coffee House, and Greyskull Recordings.


____________________________________________________________________

Want to hear the Fair-Weather Kings right now? Check out the ReverbNation player attached below this article. Want to support the band by downloading some Fair-Weather Kings tracks or purchasing some merchandise? Visit the official FWK BandCamp page by clicking here.

For more information on the Fair-Weather Kings, such as upcoming shows and updated news, visit their official Facebook page by clicking here.

Sugg Street Post
Written by Luke Short
Photos by Jessi Smith

Read more...
  • Published in Music

Technology vs. Horse – The Box Just Imploded

"credit" Jessi SmithHOPKINS COUNTY, KY (8/6/13) – I’ve known Rafe Heltsley, lead guitarist for Technology vs. Horse, since I was 14-years-old. We went to Hopkins County Central High School together. Rafe has always been an insanely talented musician with great musical taste, so, while planning the first year of the Mad Flavor Arts & Music Festival, which went down this past June, Bowling Green-based band Technology vs. Horse was at the top of my list for consideration.

In total, the 2013 Mad Flavor Arts & Music Festival featured 23 different bands from across the great state of Kentucky. It had been a long, exciting day, and after wrapping up the Cinemadic Film Festival, which also took place during the Mad Flavor Fest, I proceeded to soak in all the music I could until we closed the event down. I made my way to the outdoor stage and was fortunate enough to catch Union, Kentucky’s Philosopher’s Stone before their set ended.

Once the music outside had stopped, I began heading towards the Midway building with my boyfriend, Luke Short, because we knew that Technology vs. Horse would be rockin’ out on the inside stage. As we approached the building, we were assaulted with an extraordinary mix of electronic beats and driving, yet funky, rock and roll music. A good friend, Matt Stewart, was standing outside the doors, grabbing a beer and quickly informed the both of us that he was hooked. “Oh my god! Technology vs. Horse is amazing! You guys have got to get in there and check them out. It’s insane!”

"credit" Jessi Smith
We hurriedly entered the building and that was it. I have no idea how much time passed while we were in there. I didn’t know, or care, if anything else was going on around me. All I knew was that this band was incredible, these musicians were exceptional, I couldn’t quit moving to their energetic music, and I couldn’t take my eyes off the stage. The music they were creating literally ran away with me. I was memorized. I had to do a story on these guys.

The end of their set at Mad Flavor Fest was met with uproarious applause and the room was filled with an electric atmosphere. Technology vs. Horse had created an energy that clung to the air long after the music had stopped.

How did these musical geniuses come together? How is their quest for world domination progressing? How did they come across the Mormon stationary that eventually became the cover of their latest album? And why does lead singer Mike Farmer hate the Eagles so much?

To find the answers to these questions and more, the Sugg Street Post made sure to catch their next gig at Tidball’s in Bowling Green. I had the pleasure of interviewing them outside the venue before their show. I don’t think I stopped laughing the entire time. The group is as witty as they are talented—onstage and off. The interview is as follows. Photos of their performance at Tidball’s that night are included as well.

"credit" Jessi Smith
Jessica Dockrey – Let’s get started. What is the name of everyone in the group and what do they contribute to Technology vs. Horse?


Mike Farmer – I’m Mike Farmer. I’m the singer. I’m the lyricist.

Jess – Are you the only one that writes the lyrics?

Mike – Yeah, pretty much—except for random D&D [Dungeons & Dragons] character sheets.

Jess – I’ve played my fair share of D&D.

Mike – That happened one time. I stole one D&D character sheet and turned it into a set of lyrics, and now, all of a sudden, I’m a plagiarist. [everyone laughs]

Rafe Heltsley – I’m Rafe Heltsley. I play guitar.

Jess – Who are the other members of the group?

Rafe – There is Matt Bitner, who is currently waiting to take a leak and then coming out here. Then there is Josh Hines, right there. [pointing as Josh walks past]

Jess – So Mark is the drummer and…

Rafe – No. Josh is the drummer and Matt is the bass player.

"credit" Jessi Smith
Jess – Oh, OK.

Rafe – Yeah. Mark is the invisible man.

Mike – Yeah.

Rafe – He’s our invisible stage dancer.

Jess – So, what’s the deal with that?

Rafe – He’s invisible.

Jess – He’s just invisible?

Mike – We made it up right now because you just came up with the name Mark. [everyone laughs] Also, there is a guy named David Prater who is in our band. He’s the keyboardist—the synth player.

Jess – How long have you guys been together?

Rafe – Since 2005, pretty much.

Mike – Josh joined the band in 2005. David joined the band in 2007.

"credit" Jessi Smith
Jess – How did you guys meet each other?

Rafe – I knew him [Mike] from the Evansville music scene and stuff—shows in Henderson.

Mike – That was back in 1999 or 2000.

Rafe – And then Mike went off to L.A. and was on Beat the Geeks, was a roadie for Frank Black, and all this stuff.

Mike – I did a lot of stuff.

Rafe – Then he came back and we hung out.

Mike – Yeah. I was living in L.A. between 2001 and 2003. I came back in 2003 and I met Rafe and some of the freaks he was hanging out with, including Matt Bitner. I don’t think he was really hanging out with Matt, but he knew Matt a little bit. Everybody wanted to be in a band, but we didn’t know what kind of band we wanted to be in.

Rafe – We were just making weird records and our friend Chuck was like, “I’m throwing a concert.” We were like, “Well, I guess we can create a band version of this.” I randomly bumped into some dude named Jamie who was into The Residents and I was like, “That’s really strange. So, you’re going to be our drummer.” Then Jamie moved back to Louisville and we got Josh. He was in like three other bands or something. He was just filling in for us and then he decided on the radio that he was going to be our permanent drummer.

Mike – No. We announced it on the radio.

Rafe – Oh, yeah. We announced it. He wasn’t on the radio, because he never goes on the radio with us.

"credit" Jessi Smith
Mike – Yeah. We were on the radio saying that our newest drummer was Josh Hines. He had never played drums in a band before. He’d played guitar, bass, and sang but…

Rafe – He played drums in Ninjavitis. [laughs]

Mike – He wasn’t really a drummer though. That wasn’t his main thing. The other guys he was in a band with at the time were on their way back from a gig, or something, and they heard us announce it on the radio. [Josh walks up] Josh is here. He could probably tell you the story.

Josh Hines – What’s that?

Mike – When we announced that you had joined the band as our drummer on the radio while you were in the car with Commander.

Josh – Oh yeah!

Rafe – So, was it Ninjavitis you played drums with before?

Josh – Yeah. It was a punk band.

Jess – Such a great name. [laughs]

Josh – So the story with that? [everyone laughs]

Mike – Yeah. We were just talking about it and then you came out here.

"credit" Jessi Smith
Josh – Do you all know Billy Swayze? Well, Jeremy Pryor is the drummer for his band now, but he hated it when I was in other bands. I was in Chest Rockwell before Commander with him, so he couldn’t say anything about that. But we were riding home from Commander practice one night and Technology vs. Horse was on Revolution 91.7. I’d been playing with them and I was just going to hold off on saying anything to anybody. [everyone laughs] Well, they said something about it on the radio and Jeremy just looks over at me in the car and says, “Is that true?” [everyone laughs]

Jess – I’m sure that wasn’t uncomfortable or anything.

Josh – It was awesome! The best part was when I was at work a couple of days later. Rafe was in there and then Jeremy comes in and he goes up to Rafe and he’s just like, “You guys need to find another drummer.” So Rafe says, “Jeremy do you want to play drums?” [everyone laughs] Because Jeremy was the drummer for Commander. It was funny.

Mike – We didn’t know a lot of drummers and that’s why we asked Josh.

Josh – I wasn’t really a drummer at the time.

Mike – See, I told you!

Rafe – He was a drummer in Ninjavitis.

Josh – Well, that doesn’t count. It was a punk band.

Rafe – But you’d physically played drums before.

Josh – You physically played drums before.

Rafe – Not before Technology vs. Horse.

Mike – We weren’t really a punk band.

Rafe – I only played drums because Fatbreed’s drum kit was in our house.

Josh – Well, there you go.

"credit" Jessi Smith
Jess – Individually, what are your musical influences? Rafe, I know you like Devo. You’ve always liked Devo.

Rafe – I like a bunch of random stuff. I like Pixies, The Beatles, Nirvana, Devo, Melvins, and The Beach Boys—pretty much everything. I don’t mean everything like, “Oh, I like what’s on the radio.” You know, everything that isn’t awful. [laughs] Everybody in the band has like a Venn diagram of music. There is a little tiny area in the middle where it’s like, Red Hot Chili Peppers…

Mike – I don’t like the Red Hot Chili Peppers! [everyone laughs] Don’t put me in that one.

Josh – Yeah. I don’t like them as much as I used to.

Rafe – Josh doesn’t like bands after they release an album he doesn’t like.

Josh – Yeah.

Rafe – He’s like Muse, Muse, Muse! Oh… Muse.

Josh – Their stuff sucks now.

Rafe – Their old stuff sucks because their new album sucks. [laughs]

Jess – What other groups have influenced your playing style?

Josh – I don’t know. Probably, drumming-wise, I would say bands like Sigur Ros or Mogwai. Their drummers don’t do a lot of fills. They just do beats. I’m not really good with fills. I never learned how to do that stuff. I was never in marching band or anything like that.

Joseph Gregory (drummer of Thee Japanese Schoolgirls) – Hey, Josh. Did you bring your kit?

Josh – Yeah. Should I go ahead and set it up? I just got here like ten minutes ago.

Joseph – I wasn’t sure if you were looking to use mine or not. Mine’s going to fall apart on you. You have to hit it a very specific way. If you don’t, it just falls apart. [everyone laughs]

Josh – I understand.

Mike – [whispering] Can we use it? [everyone laughs] Let’s use it. Let’s kill it. Let’s break his drum set.

Rafe – That’s a nice metaphor for our band. You hit it the wrong way, it just falls apart. [laughs]

"credit" Jessi Smith
Jess – Mike, what have been your musical influences up to this point?

Mike – I don’t like any bands.

Jess – None?

Mike – No.

Jess – Do you like your own band?

Mike – I like my own band sometimes.

Jess – Well, that’s good.

Mike – Really, there are just too many to think of.

Jess – What inspires your creative side?

Rafe – Infinite Jest.

Mike – Infinite Jest, the writings of Charles Bukowski, and professional wrestling.

Rafe – Is Matt still taking a dump? [laughs] Is he dying?

Mike – I wouldn’t take a dump in that toilet unless I was like…

Josh – I have.

Mike – I have too, but I wouldn’t do it again. [Matt walks up]

Rafe – Why are you all wet, Matt? [laughs]

Matt – It was raining earlier, and when I left the apartment I got soaked.

Jess – So you didn’t fall in. That’s good.

Matt – No. I used the restroom and then I was just hanging out.

Mike – Was it a good dump?

Matt – Yeah, it was good. It was a number two. It wasn’t a dump.

"credit" Jessi Smith
Jess – We were covering musical influences. What are yours Matt?

Matt – I don’t know.

Mike – King Crimson and Hella.

Matt – King Crimson and Hella. [everyone laughs]

Josh – He can talk for himself.

Matt – Whatever Rafe said.

Mike – Air Supply.

Matt – Yeah, Air Supply, Hall & Oates…

Rafe – Slayer…

Matt – I do like Slayer! [everyone laughs] That’s a good one. Yeah. Slayer.

Josh – Yeah, what was that all about last night?

Matt – I was drunk [everyone laughs] and I was just like, “Man, Slayer rules!” Then Tyler sent me a bunch of YouTube videos like Metal Storm/Face the Slayer.

"credit" Jessi Smith
Mike – For some reason, when we started the band, our first drummer Jamie kind of got us into Can. I think Matt and I especially were like, “Yeah! Can! Just Can!” It was this weird German group. It’s just bizarre.

Matt – Yeah. Can is fantastic.

Josh – When I first joined the band, I was like, “What would Jamie do on this song?” That’s how I wrote a majority of the drums for a while. So, there’s an influence for you.

Mike – Last time I saw Jamie, he was incredibly drunk on sake at one of our shows watching us play.

Matt – Yes. What was that? [everyone laughs]

Jess – Do you guys gig pretty regularly in the Bowling Green area then? Is this your home base?

Rafe – We try to. Sometimes we play every other weekend. Sometimes we play once every six months. It just depends.

Jess – And you guys played at the Starry Nights Festival this past year. Tell me about that.

Mike – That was great. We were the third band on the first night. It was awesome.

Josh – Yeah. It was awesome.

Rafe – It was insane.

Mike – It was a great experience. It was the biggest crowd we’ve ever played for.

Matt – It was bigger than the Lebowski Fest.

Mike – There were thousands of people at Starry Nights. That’s slightly bigger than the crowd we are going to be playing for tonight. [firework explodes nearby] And my punch line got stepped on by that firework.

Rafe – No, you just stepped backwards on a twig and it was super intense.

Mike – [growling] I step back on twigs.

Rafe – Thunder twig.

"credit" Jessi Smith
Jess – Have you guys been working on any new material lately?

Rafe – We’ve been writing some new music. Our most recent release, Sorry That I Knocked You Up, dropped this past December. It’s the album with the Mormons on it.

Jess – I loved the cover of that album! Whose idea was that?

Matt – The people that made that stationary. [everyone laughs]

Rafe – It was stationary we found at our keyboard player’s house. Apparently, his girlfriend’s mom owned a stationary store. They bought the entire store at an auction. They had all this stuff just thrown everywhere in their practice space. When we found the Mormon stationary, we just knew it had to be an album cover.

Jess – I didn’t even know they made Mormon stationary. Why wouldn’t they? [laughs]

Mike – Mormons need stationary, too.

Rafe – Did you see the inside photo where we were all dressed up as Mormons?

Jess – Yeah. I got a kick out of that. I like how you guys work some humor into your live performances, too. I think people really respond well to that. The last song that you all played at Mad Flavor Fest was hilarious. Mike kept screaming, “I’ve got something that I need to say! Guys! There is too much noise! I’ve got something to say!” Then you all left everybody hanging with it at the end.

Mike – Well, the problem was that the band was playing so loud that I couldn’t hear myself think. So I kept trying to tell them, “Guys! Guys! Take it down a little bit! I’ve got something I need to tell everybody!” I figured the audience wouldn’t be able to hear me over all the noise. They were playing too loud to hear me, so they just kept doing it. By the time they finally got done playing the song, I had forgotten what I was going to say.

Rafe – That’s assuming that, if we had heard you, we would have done anything about it. [laughs]

Matt – Yeah.

"credit" Jessi Smith
Jess – We came here tonight to find out what you had to say. [laughs]

Josh – I heard him. I just thought you guys were ignoring him. I was just going with that.

Jess – You guys were seriously a festival favorite, hands down. Everyone I talked to just loved seeing you guys live.

Mike – We should play more festivals.

Jess – What are your plans for the future, as far as the band goes? As a group, what are you all hoping to achieve? [everyone laughs]

Mike – Achieve? Like, goals?

Jess – Yeah. Are you making music to make yourselves happy or are you doing it to make other people happy?

Matt – I think we are mostly doing it to make ourselves happy.

Josh – We make music to make everybody else miserable. [laughs]

"credit" Jessi Smith
Mike – Our happiness is primary. This is for the people who like us and anybody else who agrees with us or likes us. It’s not like it’s a rally. [laughs] Who am I kidding?

Rafe – World domination, European tour with Cage the Elephant…

Mike – American tour with Sleeper Agent…

Rafe – Cover of Rolling Stone

Matt – Rolling Stone?

Rafe – No, the Rollin’ Stone. [laughs]

Matt – The Rollin’ Stone.

Jess – Do you guys cover anything or is everything you play original?

Mike – The Eagles, “Heartache Tonight.” [everyone laughs]

Matt – We play covers.

Rafe – Yeah, we play covers. Not that.

Mike – No. God, no.

Rafe – We have covered “Awesome God” by Rich Mullins. [laughs] Can we play that tonight?

Mike – [breaking into song] Our God is an awesome God! He reigns from heaven above!

Josh – We are a praise band.

Mike – We play the song. I don’t really know the words. All I know is the first line. Every time we sing it, I end up singing about betting on football.

"credit" Jessi Smith
Jess – But you do really sing it?

Mike – Oh, I sing the hell out of it. I just don’t sing it properly.

Rafe – We cover "All by Myself" by Eric Carmen.

Mike – Poorly.

Matt – We cover “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton.

Mike – Poorly.

Jess – And what exactly do you consider you genre of music?

Matt – It’s rock and roll.

Mike – Problematic.

Rafe – Maybe art rock, prog rock, or experimental rock.

"credit" Jessi Smith
Mike – Our main goal is to eventually write some songs that [Canadian singer-songwriter] Avril Lavigne would want to cover and then put on an album—shoot it all the way to the top of the charts.

Rafe – And [Creed lead vocalist] Scott Stapp might sing a duet on it—fingers crossed.

Mike – Yeah, but I’m kind of holding out for [Nickelback lead vocalist and guitarist] Chad Kroeger because he and Avril are married.

Rafe – They are basically the same dude.

Mike – Not really. Scott Stapp is kind of like “fake dad” buff.

Rafe – If they touched each other, they would explode from some sort of anti-matter explosion. How about [Pearl Jam lead vocalist and guitarist] Eddie Vedder? Did Eddie Vedder rip off anybody?

Mike – [singer-songwriter and composer] Ray Charles? [Mike busts out a Ray Charles impression]

Rafe – That’s not Ray Charles. [everyone laughs]

Mike – Fine. I don’t know how to do a Ray Charles impression.

Rafe – You sound nothing like [stand-up comedian and actor] Jamie Foxx. [laughs]

Mike – Alright. We’ve got Jamie Fox, Chad Kroeger, and Scott Stapp.

Josh – That would be a horrible band.

"credit" Jessi Smith
Jess – As far as obtaining your music and keeping up with the band, do you all have a website or a Facebook page?

Rafe – We have a BandCamp.com page.

Mike – Josh signed us up for the new MySpace.

Jess – The new MySpace? [everyone laughs]

Josh – A friend of mine was talking about how good and efficient it was now, and I hadn’t seen it. So, I logged in, and when you log in it just automatically signs you up. Then I got a message from the guys that was like, “Why would you do that!? I got an email saying that Technology vs. Horse was on the new MySpace! I was like, “Sorry.” It does look decent though. I will say that.

Jess – Why is music important to you guys? Why do you think it is important to the community as a whole?

Rafe – I like music and I don’t like a whole lot of other stuff. I would be really bored without music. All I would do is watch TV and sleep. I think music is important because it probably isn’t. [laughs] I mean, it gives people a creative outlet and there would probably be slightly less serial killers if there wasn’t music, but just slightly.

Matt – There would be slightly less serial killers?

Rafe – Slightly more, if there wasn’t music.

Matt – Charles Manson probably wouldn’t have been a serial killer if it hadn’t of been for music. He had “Helter Skelter.”

Rafe – But he never killed anybody.

Mike – No. You’re wrong. He wasn’t personally responsible for the Tate or LaBianca murders, but it’s not known whether he actually killed any other people.

Matt – Yeah. He could have just killed some hobo somewhere.

Rafe – But, he really did kill that original version of “Never Learn Not to Love.” [laughs]

Matt – He did kill that.

Mike – Why is music important to the community?

Jess – Yeah.

Mike – Because the community would be so bland without it. It would!

Rafe – They’d be like, “I’m going to go paint something.”

Josh – Yeah. “Look at my sculpture.”

Matt – “I’m going to read a book.”

Jess – Without music, would they be inspired to paint?

Rafe – “I’m going to put a wooden toilet in the middle of the street and pretend to take a dump on it while reading the alphabet backwards.”

"credit" Jessi Smith
Mike – Think about it. If there wasn’t any music going on tonight, you know what they’d be doing? They’d be in the bar drinking and in the jukebox they’d have, “Heartache tonight! Heartache tonight!” They’d just be playing Eagles songs all friggin’ night and I hate the Eagles!

Matt – Yeah. It’s really a shame, the Eagles.

Mike – I watched the history of the Eagles the other night and I hate the Eagles.

Jess – It made you hate the Eagles?

Mike – I’ve always hated the Eagles. Now, I really hate them.

Rafe – Apparently, a lot of them are flying into those windmills and dying. [laughs]

Mike – It’s too bad [Eagles members] Glenn Frey and Don Henley aren’t two of them. [everyone laughs]

You can find Technology vs. Horse on their Facebook page, ReverbNation, BandCamp.com, MySpace, or search for them on YouTube.

Sugg Street Post
Written by Jessica Dockrey
Photos by Jessi Smith

Read more...
  • Published in Music

West KY Native Drops Debut Hip Hop Album, 'Rhyme and Reason'

ATLANTA, GA (8/5/13)—Atlanta based hip hop artist Macho Mic’s official debut album, Rhyme and Reason, has been long overdue. Writing and producing his own music since his teens, this Kentucky native has poured his heart and soul into this 16-track, full-length album.

Packed with complex lyricism and wit, each track on the album allows this up-and-coming artist’s true skill to shine. This skill allows him to take full advantage of every beat on the album, all but two produced by the artist himself. His intricate rhyming structure and use of wordplay are evident in each of his tracks, from the hard-hitting ‘All You’ to the booty-centric ‘Widallat.’ Two singles have been released from the album: "Resurrection of Real," which he performed at Harlem Nights with Coast 2 Coast Live, and the uplifting and honest "Never Ever."

Macho Mic is already working on his next album, which may be dropping later this year. Three new songs can be heard on his website www.MachoMic.com. He has also just finished his mixtape, Unbridled Spirit, which is expected to be released on August 10th, 2013. Compiled of past and present songs, Unbridled Spirit allows Macho to give his own perspective on tracks by artists that he respects. It also shows his variety of subject matter and displays his versatility as an artist.

If you’re in the area, you can catch him performing at Smith’s Olde Bar, August 29th. He’ll be competing for the top spot in the 2Racks Rap Contest, so come show some support for Macho Mic and many other hip hop artists.

For additional information on Macho Mic or to set up an interview, please contact Michael Camacho at (270) 836-4921 or via email at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

To learn more about Macho Mic, click the following the links:

http://machomic.com/
https://www.facebook.com/MachoMic
https://soundcloud.com/machomic
https://twitter.com/machomic

Sugg Street Post
Information and photos provided by Macho Mic 

 

Read more...
  • Published in Music

Community Collage: Sugg Goes to Forecastle

"credit" Jessi SmithHOPKINS COUNTY, KY (7/24/13) - I got the news that I'd be covering the Forecastle Festival in Louisville, KY a week before the three-day event via email from festival "first mate" Holly Weyler. I was barely awake and still had one eye closed, so I didn't fully believe that I was reading it correctly. It had been a long-time goal of mine to cover a major music event and the Forecastle Festival happened to be headlined by one of my favorite bands, The Black Keys. The annual music fest also featured many more bands that I desperately wanted to see. Ranging from talented up and comers to a legendary frontman, Forecastle was expected to draw an estimated 75,000 fans over a three-day weekend.

A visit to the official Forecastle Festival website tells you all about the history of the event:

Founded in 2002 by Louisville native JK McKnight, Forecastle has grown from a community event to one of the country’s most anticipated summer festivals, which now draws tens of thousands of fans from across the world to Louisville’s scenic 85-acre Waterfront Park. In addition to featuring a who’s who of musical acts such as The Black Keys, Widespread Panic, My Morning Jacket, Bassnectar, the Flaming Lips, Band of Horses, Sleater-Kinney, and The Avett Brothers, Forecastle has consistently promoted local artists as well as focusing on environmental activism and outdoor recreation. Past Forecastles have featured prominent organizations, industry leaders, and distinguished speakers, such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (Riverkeepers), Rob Caughlan (Surfrider Foundation) and Christopher Childs (Greenpeace International). Forecastle is co-produced by Knoxville-based AC Entertainment, one of the country’s premiere independent concert promoters, putting on more than 750 concerts throughout the Southeast as well as producing major events such as Bonnaroo, Gentlemen of the Road and Mountain Oasis.

The big day arrived. With my media bracelet on my wrist, the gates opened and an incredibly entertaining weekend commenced. I'm not a music critic or a writer, I don't have the gift of being able to tell you why I love a performance or what makes a song good, and, honestly, I went to the festival to document it with my camera. That being said, here you'll find in no particular order, my top memories of the weekend, as well as a few photos of the sights and sounds of Forecastle 2013.

"credit" Jessi SmithRobert Plant:
Before he started the first song, Plant promised a day of 1970's nostalgia, he waved puffs of incense over the crowd, and entertained us with witty banter between songs. With a set that included old Zeppelin favorites, as well as his new material with the Sensational Space Shifters, he proved that the pipes were still strong and the Golden God could still let loose. In putting the mic to the crowd to help sing “Black Dog,” Plant also showed he could engage a crowd as good as ever. However, what really made it memorable was when ominous clouds began to roll in and in his English accent he apologized for bringing the "naughty, naughty, clouds" and began a powerful version of “What Is and What Should Never Be.” Not far into the song, the rain began. What was at first a sprinkle, turned quickly into a full-blown downpour and rained onto us like a magic potion turning us into a crowd worthy of Woodstock. All while Plant sang fitting lyrics:

Catch the wind, see us spin, sail away, leave today, way up high in the sky. 
But the wind won't blow, you really shouldn't go, it only goes to show 
That you will be mine, by takin' our time.

With the rain in his face and thunder booming in the background like an extra member of the band, it felt surreal; it's how I imagine being a fan felt back in the day. Security ran around worriedly telling each other, "We gotta get him off the stage!" With coverings breaking loose and flapping in the wind, the crowd went crazy until Plant finished his set (sadly, earlier than planned) and we, soaking wet and muddy, were told to take cover under the overpass for the duration of the storm. It truly was as if Plant somehow conjured us up a 1970's experience.

"credit" Jessi SmithThe Black Keys (and crowd):
If you take a band that can fill an arena and stick them on a river bank, you can expect a bit of a crowd. As the headliners, I knew I'd see the biggest crowd at the Keys’ show, but I didn't fully realize how big until I was in that massive hoard. Forecastle tweeted an aerial shot of the crowd and it speaks for itself.
"credit" ForecastleThe guys from Akron gave an energetic set for their last stop of the 129-show-long El Camino tour. I was lucky enough to attend the opener in Cincinnati as well, and comparing the two shows, it was clear The Black Keys didn't lose any enthusiasm during their grueling schedule. Keeping the setlist mostly the same, minus the popular disco ball-lit performance of “Everlasting Light,” they finished strong with the classic “I Got Mine” that only reinforced for me that my favorite Black Keys performances only have two people on the stage.
"credit" Jessi SmithThe People:
Seriously, all of them—the crowd, the staff, security, photographers, media…everyone. I don't know whether I should chalk it up to southern hospitality or the general lighthearted vibe of Forecastle, but I loved everyone I met: the lady who held my spot in the crowd while I was in the photo pit; the guy who shared his water with me after we'd been standing in a crowd for hours and hours; the fellow photog who helped me sneak into a pit I wasn't supposed to be in; the roadie who came out of nowhere and gave me a setlist; the media guy that took me under his wing when I first arrived, fighting a serious case of nerves and feeling out of place; the seasoned photographer who helped me get a tough shot of Jim James and gave me pointers on my camera settings; the security guards that chatted with me while I waited for the shows to start; and even the festival “bigwigs” that treated all the media people the same and answered every question so equally that I still don't know which one of the guys was the one from Rolling Stone magazine.

"credit" Jessi SmithThe Art:
You could see the passion and pride the vendors had for their art in every booth. Artisans peddled jewelry, clothing, hammocks, delicious foods, and t-shirts. The poster alley held the works of many of the best in the gig poster world, most of whom had clients that were performing as you browsed. In the center of the venue, being overlooked by a lifeguard, a solid white boat sat like a blank canvas, which was exactly the intention. A group of artists gathered around to spend the weekend making the "S.S. Freebird" into something amazing. There was also the wall, where graffiti artists spent the duration of the festival tagging and creating a beautiful mural that, at festival close, they cut into pieces that you could buy for $10 a square foot. In fact, the festival itself was a work of art. It isn't easy to blend nautical and Kentucky roots themes successfully, but they did it. The bourbon lounge was a tent where you relaxed on burlap-covered hay bales surrounded by barrels while sampling Kentucky's finest bourbons. Step outside the lounge and you see "waves" that doubled as chairs, which were rarely unoccupied. The motto of Forecastle was, "Music. Art. Activism," and that's exactly what they provided.

"credit" Jessi SmithEverything:
Ok, this is a cop-out, but I mean it. I loved everything. I had to spend two of the three days of the festival without my friends there and I was worried about being bored, but that never happened. Everywhere I looked there was a stage, canvas, booth, or person whose purpose seemed to be to entertain me. People tossed footballs around and hula hooped. There were cornhole tournaments and games of giant Connect Four. The lesser known performers mingled with the crowds, and had such a lack of pretension that the only way you could tell they were going to be on stage was the pale wristband embroidered with 'ARTIST' and the occasional super-fan getting their picture made with them. Everyone shared an enthusiasm for being there, and during nearly every set you could see one of the other bands in the wings watching with as much excitement as the crowd. In most of my pictures of Old Crow Medicine Show, you can see the members of Houndmouth grinning widely behind them. It was a weekend made for laid back, free-spirited fun.

"credit" Jessi SmithWell, there they are, the top things that pop into my head when someone asks, "So how was it?" I'm sure critics and the like have completely different moments to recount, but that's the beauty of music festivals. You get to customize your experience. They take a broad range of musical talents and combine them to expose people to old favorites and new discoveries. You take from it what you want and have as much fun as you let yourself.

Now I'll leave you with the last photo I took at Forecastle. As I walked to the exit with the sound of The Avett Brothers' excellent set finale filling the air, this guy stopped to tell me I’d dropped something, and when he found out I was taking pictures for Sugg Street Post in western Kentucky, he asked me to take his picture because his mom lives in Princeton and might see it. So here you go cute guy on the hay bales, I hope she does.

"credit" Jessi SmithScroll below to see more photos taken at Forecastle Festival 2013.
"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith
"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi Smith"credit" Jessi SmithSugg Street Post
Written by Jessi Smith
Photos by Jessi Smith

Read more...
  • Published in Music

Word on the Street: Basking in Waves of Progress

MADISONVILLE, KY (7/19/13)—Full-spectrum progress is rarely a measurable, down-to-the-speck concept. Oftentimes, authentic progress is evidenced by an anomalous, subjective feeling imparted upon an individual or a collective group through a set of direct or indirect experiences. And it’s the aforementioned sense of subjectivity that’s key, because, like beauty, the notions of development and growth are ultimately in the eye of the beholder. To put it bluntly, it’s up to the observers—the people of Hopkins County and west Kentucky in this case—to recognize and appreciate the encouraging changes around us rather than focusing on the negatives that can tarnish our perceptions.

So, why examine this concept here? And how does this perspective on progress connect with our community?

While I could recount a variety of past experiences that would answer these questions adequately, I’d rather point to something specific that took place a week ago.

It was the night of Friday, July 12th, and myself, as well as a couple of close friends, suddenly found ourselves completely immersed in this peculiar sense of progress as we stood on my back porch in Madisonville, listening to the sounds of positive change emanating from the downtown district.

Yet, it had taken a full day—or perhaps even years in retrospect—ripe with tedious, but rewarding, business-related efforts and enjoyable interaction with people in our community before we were once again led to what has become a fairly familiar realization as of late: our area is growing in the right direction.

Let’s start at the beginning.

Much like any other day, Jessica Dockrey and I completed our summer morning routine, which includes getting my daughter ready for the day, taking her to stay with a member of my family so we can focus on business, eating breakfast upon our return, taking showers, putting some fresh clothes on, and pounding away at a variety of Sugg Street Post-related tasks until the late afternoon. The difference with this particular day, however, was that we would be participating in the City of Madisonville’s second installment of the 2013 Friday Night Live summer concert and entertainment series.

As with the first FNL we attended back in June, we were excited to check out the event’s entertainment lineup and to talk with attendants about the Sugg Street Post. We were also eager to see our friends out at the event having a good time with their families.

So, as the mid-morning quickly turned to late-afternoon, we packed up our table, a banner, some blank note cards for an advertising giveaway, business cards, and a few fold-out chairs, and headed toward the city’s downtown district to set up our booth.

As before, we were lucky enough to have a spot on the corner of Court and Union Streets where we could see the performance stage while also meeting with a variety of FNL patrons.

Though attendance for the event underwent gradual growth throughout the evening, the turnout for the summer concert series, which was made possible via a partnership with Baptist Health Madisonville and the Hopkins County Tourist and Convention Commission, was perhaps the best I’ve seen in four years by the time 7:30pm rolled around.

Along with booths from a variety of businesses and organizations, a motorcycle show hosted by the Hopkins County Central Archery Team on East Center Street, and onsite food and refreshment services—which included the Madisonville-Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce’s beer garden—the event also boasted a three-part musical lineup that included Larry Grisham and The Beat Daddys, Elvis impersonator Brad McCrady, and the acclaimed Boscoe France Band.

Furthermore, we (Jessica, close friend and photographer Jeff Harp, and I) got to meet and talk with a lot of fresh faces that were excited about the Sugg Street Post and the support we try to offer up to the local arts and entertainment scene in western Kentucky. For our fans and supporters, we are truly grateful.

Yet, by the time 8:15pm rolled around, we were physically and mentally exhausted. It was the culmination of a work week that seemed to stretch much farther than five days and we were ready for some down time at home. While we didn’t want to miss what was surely going to be one of the biggest and most anticipated shows of the season—a live performance by Guitar Center’s national 2012 Battle of the Blues winner and Hopkins County native, Boscoe France—we succumbed to our human frailties and packed it up, ready to relax in the comforts of our own home.

With most everything unloaded, we took off our shoes, popped open a couple of brews, and headed out toward the back porch of our home on the south end of town to take in the relaxing sights of the night sky. And as we walked past the threshold some six to seven blocks away from downtown Madisonville and FNL, we were greeted by the soulful howls and bluesy wailing of The Boscoe France Band cutting a smooth grove into the evening air.

We weren’t going to miss the show after all.

I was born here, and I’ve lived in or nearby Madisonville for the majority of my life, but I can honestly say that I’ve never been able to hear music from an event this clearly. Not only could I hear the performance, but it was truly phenomenal music. We all looked at each other and seemed to exclaim the same sentiments in unison, “This is awesome!”

And it truly was awe-inspiring in that moment. To us, it was a sign of where our small town is headed.

Throughout the hour-and-a-half set, we all felt as though we were witness to something special. It was pure. It was evolution. It was a triumph for our local scene wrapped up in a seemingly simple package of sound waves, nice weather, and cool night air. It was about friendship and a shared vision. Sure, there may have been a handful of local folks trying to get some sleep that night, but, on the whole, our town was truly alive. It was electric, loud, and stunning.

We were at home, relaxing in a chair with our feet kicked up, and we could hear the sounds of progress, the rumble of bikes roaring down the streets, the clickety-clack and groan of a train passing through the darkness, reminding us of what a great place we have to call home.

____________________________________________

Want to learn more about Madisonville’s 2013 Friday Night Live summer concert series? If so, click the following link: 

http://www.madisonvillegov.com/Madisonville_Kentucky/index.asp?Page=Friday%20Night%20Live

To learn more about Boscoe France and The Boscie France Band, click here or click the YouTube player attached below this article.

Sugg Street Post
Written by Luke Short
Photo provided by Boscoe France

Read more...

Word on the Street: Basking in Waves of Progress

MADISONVILLE, KY (7/19/13)—Full-spectrum progress is rarely a measurable, down-to-the-speck concept. Oftentimes, authentic progress is evidenced by an anomalous, subjective feeling imparted upon an individual or a collective group through a set of direct or indirect experiences. And it’s the aforementioned sense of subjectivity that’s key, because, like beauty, the notions of development and growth are ultimately in the eye of the beholder. To put it bluntly, it’s up to the observers—the people of Hopkins County and west Kentucky in this case—to recognize and appreciate the encouraging changes around us rather than focusing on the negatives that can tarnish our perceptions.

So, why examine this concept here? And how does this perspective on progress connect with our community?

While I could recount a variety of past experiences that would answer these questions adequately, I’d rather point to something specific that took place a week ago.

It was the night of Friday, July 12th, and myself, as well as a couple of close friends, suddenly found ourselves completely immersed in this peculiar sense of progress as we stood on my back porch in Madisonville, listening to the sounds of positive change emanating from the downtown district.

Yet, it had taken a full day—or perhaps even years in retrospect—ripe with tedious, but rewarding, business-related efforts and enjoyable interaction with people in our community before we were once again led to what has become a fairly familiar realization as of late: our area is growing in the right direction.

Let’s start at the beginning.

Much like any other day, Jessica Dockrey and I completed our summer morning routine, which includes getting my daughter ready for the day, taking her to stay with a member of my family so we can focus on business, eating breakfast upon our return, taking showers, putting some fresh clothes on, and pounding away at a variety of Sugg Street Post-related tasks until the late afternoon. The difference with this particular day, however, was that we would be participating in the City of Madisonville’s second installment of the 2013 Friday Night Live summer concert and entertainment series.

As with the first FNL we attended back in June, we were excited to check out the event’s entertainment lineup and to talk with attendants about the Sugg Street Post. We were also eager to see our friends out at the event having a good time with their families.

So, as the mid-morning quickly turned to late-afternoon, we packed up our table, a banner, some blank note cards for an advertising giveaway, business cards, and a few fold-out chairs, and headed toward the city’s downtown district to set up our booth.

As before, we were lucky enough to have a spot on the corner of Court and Union Streets where we could see the performance stage while also meeting with a variety of FNL patrons.

Though attendance for the event underwent gradual growth throughout the evening, the turnout for the summer concert series, which was made possible via a partnership with Baptist Health Madisonville and the Hopkins County Tourist and Convention Commission, was perhaps the best I’ve seen in four years by the time 7:30pm rolled around.

Along with booths from a variety of businesses and organizations, a motorcycle show hosted by the Hopkins County Central Archery Team on East Center Street, and onsite food and refreshment services—which included the Madisonville-Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce’s beer garden—the event also boasted a three-part musical lineup that included Larry Grisham and The Beat Daddys, Elvis impersonator Brad McCrady, and the acclaimed Boscoe France Band.

Furthermore, we (Jessica, close friend and photographer Jeff Harp, and I) got to meet and talk with a lot of fresh faces that were excited about the Sugg Street Post and the support we try to offer up to the local arts and entertainment scene in western Kentucky. For our fans and supporters, we are truly grateful.

Yet, by the time 8:15pm rolled around, we were physically and mentally exhausted. It was the culmination of a work week that seemed to stretch much farther than five days and we were ready for some down time at home. While we didn’t want to miss what was surely going to be one of the biggest and most anticipated shows of the season—a live performance by Guitar Center’s national 2012 Battle of the Blues winner and Hopkins County native, Boscoe France—we succumbed to our human frailties and packed it up, ready to relax in the comforts of our own home.

With most everything unloaded, we took off our shoes, popped open a couple of brews, and headed out toward the back porch of our home on the south end of town to take in the relaxing sights of the night sky. And as we walked past the threshold some six to seven blocks away from downtown Madisonville and FNL, we were greeted by the soulful howls and bluesy wailing of The Boscoe France Band cutting a smooth grove into the evening air.

We weren’t going to miss the show after all.

I was born here, and I’ve lived in or nearby Madisonville for the majority of my life, but I can honestly say that I’ve never been able to hear music from an event this clearly. Not only could I hear the performance, but it was truly phenomenal music. We all looked at each other and seemed to exclaim the same sentiments in unison, “This is awesome!”

And it truly was awe-inspiring in that moment. To us, it was a sign of where our small town is headed.

Throughout the hour-and-a-half set, we all felt as though we were witness to something special. It was pure. It was evolution. It was a triumph for our local scene wrapped up in a seemingly simple package of sound waves, nice weather, and cool night air. It was about friendship and a shared vision. Sure, there may have been a handful of local folks trying to get some sleep that night, but, on the whole, our town was truly alive. It was electric, loud, and stunning.

We were at home, relaxing in a chair with our feet kicked up, and we could hear the sounds of progress, the rumble of bikes roaring down the streets, the clickety-clack and groan of a train passing through the darkness, reminding us of what a great place we have to call home.

____________________________________________

Want to learn more about Madisonville’s 2013 Friday Night Live summer concert series? If so, click the following link:

http://www.madisonvillegov.com/Madisonville_Kentucky/index.asp?Page=Friday%20Night%20Live

To learn more about Boscoe France and The Boscie France Band, click here or click the YouTube player attached below this article.

Sugg Street Post
Written by Luke Short
Photo provided by Boscoe France

Read more...
Subscribe to this RSS feed
Visit www.betroll.co.uk the best bookies

© 2013 Sugg Street Post LLC:
All Rights Reserved
Based in Madisonville, Ky 42431
info@suggstreetpost.com | 270-871-2147

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram