Archive for the Art Category

Music and Art This Weekend, Dec. 4-7

Posted in Art, Drink, Happenings, Lexington, Media, Music, Music This Weekend on December 4, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

The weekend starts early around here, because there’s a ton of stuff going on in Louisville, Lexington and all around. So even though we haven’t done an event listing post in a while, let’s get started!

First off, tonight at Skull Alley (1017 E. Broadway), Mose Giganticus, Emotron, Mowgli! and the Robot Affair play at 7 PM, for $5. We don’t know anything about these bands, but we like Skull Alley, so there. Oh, it’s also all-ages.

Second, tonight at the 21c Hotel (700 W. Main Street), Bay Area troubadours Vetiver play a special concert with local heroes Kings Daughters and Sons (featuring members of Rachel’s, Shipping News, Dead Child, etc.). Doors are at 8 PM, tickets are $12 at the door (also available at Ear X-Tacy for a limited time today), and here’s the press release:

Celebrating their third major studio release, Vetiver will be taking a break from their national tour with the Black Crows to give a special performance at 21c Museum. Vetiver’s new album, Thing of the Past, breaks from the traditional covers album by paying tribute to little-known songs by little-known musicians who influenced band leader Andy Cabic. California-based, Vetiver is no stranger to experimentation and has shared the stage with Joanna Newsom, The Shins, Colm O’Ciosoig of My Bloody Valentine, and Bright Eyes. Perhaps Vetiver is best described by occasional collaborator Devendra Banhart as an “impossibly ethereal yet terrestrial songwriting.”

Our friends at Backseat Sandbar have an interview with Vetiver’s Andy Cabic you can read here.

Also tonight in Lexington, our faves Hair Police, noise goddess Leslie Keffer, local weirdos Caboladies and Laloux are playing at the Cat’s Den, inside the UK Student Center at 8 PM. It’s all-ages and it’s FREE!

Friday night the 2nd Annual Deck The Halls show of skateboard art opens at Derby City Espresso, 331 E. Market Street. Ben Purdom & the Swedish Eagles will be providing live music, starting at 10 PM and it’s free.

Also Friday night Julia Christensen’s Big Box Reuse show opens at the Green Building Gallery (as we told you about yesterday). 732 E. Market Street, 5 to 9 PM, free.

Saturday at the Rudyard Kipling, Straight A’s, Toads and Mice and Siberia will play, starting at 10 PM for $5. Our friend Brett Holsclaw (of the Glasspack) will be djing between bands.

Also Saturday at Lisa’s Oak Street Lounge (1006 E Oak St), New York friends D. Charles Speer & The Helix (featuring members of No Neck Blues Band and Sunburned Hand of the Man) will be playing with recent arrival Zak Riles (of Grails), Twos & Fews label proprietor (and our good friend) Nathan Salsburg, and R. Keenan Lawler.

If you miss them in Louisville (and you really shouldn’t!), D. Charles Speer & The Helix will play Lexington on Sunday, December 7th with Warmer Milks at Al’s Bar, 6th and N. Limestone, at 9 PM, $4, all-ages.

Saturday night in Louisville also brings the TRAFOZSATSFM release show at Skull Alley with the Phantom Family Halo, the Slow Break, IamIs, Whistle Peak, Trophy Wives, and Six White Horses. TRAFOZSATSFM is the local tribute album to David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, curated by John King. The show starts at 8 PM and is $5.

Finally, Saturday night also is the opening of Sarah Lyon‘s 2009 Female Mechanics Calendar at the Green Building, 732 E. Market Street, 5 PM to 9 PM, and featuring music spun by DJ Kim Sorise. And of course it’s FREE!

Whew! That’s a lot of stuff. Get out there!


Big Box Reuse Author Coming to Louisville, Bardstown

Posted in Art, Development, Drink, Economics, Environment, Happenings, Kentucky Small Towns, Labor, Louisville News, Media, Politics, Transportation on December 3, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

(above image of Julia Christensen’s Big Box Reuse from

We got scooped on it by Consuming Louisville, but we still wanted to inform you that our good friend and Bardstown native Julia Christensen will be in both Louisville and Bardstown this weekend to talk about her book Big Box Reuse (which we told you about back in October). Julia’s presenting a free opening of photographs from the book at the Green Building Gallery this Friday, December 5th from 5 to 9 PM. Here’s an excerpt from the press release:

In her book Big Box Reuse , and accompanying photographic exhibition, Julia Christensen takes us on a road trip across America to look at what becomes of the spaces superstores leave behind when they move out. These warehouse-like buildings have found their place in the built landscape since the first Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target stores opened in 1962.

Since the spring of 2004, Christensen has driven over 75,000 miles, visiting converted “big boxes” and meeting the people who are transforming these massive shells into useful structures for their community. She has documented what happened to the structures, the parking lots, and the surrounding communities. She has found out who wanted to reuse the buildings, why and how. What Christensen has discovered is that examining the big box building provides a wealth of information that will help us steer the future of our landscape with more informed decision-making processes. Among the things Big Box Reuse points out: despite the harmful construction of the big box, reuse is a powerful tool in the fight against the increasing dangers of sprawl. For every building that is reused, a new one does not go up; a monumental victory, as the National Trust for Historic Preservation recently indicated the energy used to destroy older buildings in addition to the energy used to build new ones could power the entire state of California for 10 years (LA Times, October 2008).

She’ll also be speaking and signing books tomorrow (that’s Thursday, December 4th) at the Glassworks Building at 6 PM as part of the Sustainable City Series. This event is free but space is limited; you can reserve a space here.

Last but not least, Julia will be in Bardstown on Saturday, December 6th for a book signing at Bardstown Booksellers starting at 2 PM.

For more information, visit the Big Box Reuse site at

RUDE WEIRDO and DRUNKDRIVER at Cahoot’s This Wednesday!

Posted in Art, Drink, Happenings, Music, State of StateoftheCommonwealth on November 10, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

This Wednesday, November 12th, we are promoting yet another fun night of wild and crazy music, this time at Cahoot’s, 1047 Bardstown Road. Louisville’s RUDE WEIRDO is teaming up with New York’s newcomers DRUNKDRIVER for some debauchery and good times. Here’s what we wrote about both in a press release:

Louisville’s RUDE WEIRDO are a return to classic, three-piece, three-chord punk. Consisting of Eric Ronay, Dave Bird and Tony Bailey, these veterans of “the scene, man” really throw it down. The first time I saw them (with an almost entirely different lineup, with the exception of bassplayer/singer Ronay), they covered Agent Orange. They’ve released a compact disc on Louisville Lip Records, and hopefully more good things are coming soon.

New York’s DRUNKDRIVER are yet another trio, this time with a singer (Michael Berdan), guitarist (Kristy Greene), and drummer (Jeremy Villalobos). They’ve been playing shows in the Northeast for about a year now, alongside and opening for the likes of Pink Reason, Pissed Jeans, Eat Skull, Psychedelic Horseshit, and many other socially maladjusted types. Parts Unknown Records of Tom’s River, NJ is releasing their first LP, Born Pregnant, any minute now. Oh and for those of you scoring at home, DRUNKDRIVER drummer Jeremy Villalobos used to be a member of the defunct Los Angeles hardcore band Wives — the two other members of Wives now operate as No Age (on Sub Pop Records). Villalobos is also in the NYC hardcore band Cutter, and he and Berdan also have a power electronics side project called Whip and the Body. You can read an amusing interview with DRUNKDRIVER here at the Agit Reader, based out of Columbus, Ohio:

The show starts at 10 PM, and costs $5. Additionally, it won’t conflict time-wise with the Grails/Sapat/Vampire Squid show at Skull Alley (1017 E. Broadway, 7 PM, $7), so if you can, you should go to that too!

UPDATE, 11/11: Here’s a flier for that Grails/Sapat/Vampire Squid show…

Choice Cuts: Big Box Reuse Author on NPR

Posted in Art, Choice Cuts, Development, Economics, Environment, Kentucky Small Towns, Media, Transportation on October 24, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

(above image of Julia Christensen’s Big Box Reuse from

It’s been a few days since it aired, but for part three in our irregular series called Choice Cuts (excerpts from longer pieces either by or about Kentuckians), we’d like to bring your attention to a book entitled Big Box Reuse by Bardstown native Julia Christensen (full disclosure: we went to Bard College with Julia back in the 1990s). NPR‘s All Things Considered program ran a profile on Julia’s book this past Monday called “Once A Wal-Mart: The New Lives of Big Boxes,” and you can read the full text here:

Across the country, communities are turning abandoned big-box stores like Kmart and Wal-Mart into churches, schools, libraries — even museums devoted to everything from Spam to Route 66.

Julia Christensen, an artist and professor at Oberlin College, crisscrossed the country to find out how these sprawling structures are being repurposed. Christensen first got the idea to study big boxes in her hometown, Bardstown, Ky., the bourbon capital of the world.

Bardstown has a charming, historic downtown, with little cafes and boutiques. Tourism is a vital part of Bardstown’s economy. People come from all over to visit the distilleries and the 18th century mansion that inspired Stephen Foster to write “My Old Kentucky Home.”

To keep the historic buildings intact, there are very strict design regulations downtown.

But like cities everywhere, the outskirts are a different story. Strip malls are just a few minutes’ drive away. Wal-Mart has already opened and outgrown two buildings here.

Prime Property

What intrigued Christensen is what happened at the site of the first Wal-Mart: A huge space that was also home to a number of other businesses that wanted to be close to Wal-Mart — a bar called Boots and Buckles, a restaurant called Hunan Dynasty, a movie theater. When the Wal-Mart left, so did the other businesses.

But the Wal-Mart lot isn’t empty anymore. Bardstown needed a new courthouse, so eventually the government bought the property, razed the big box and built the Nelson County Justice Center. A few smaller government agencies set up shop nearby. The bar and restaurant area are still vacant.

As for Wal-Mart, it moved into a bigger building across town. About five years ago, it made plans to leave that site and move to a third location. But this time, local officials wanted a say in the matter. Dixie Hibbs was the mayor of Bardstown at the time.

“We know you’re going to build a big building. We’ve seen them. We don’t like them,” Hibbs says. “You’re going to take a prime piece of property and build something we know will be there for 20 years. We want a building that will be pleasing to us.”

In response, Wal-Mart agreed to change the building’s design.

“It looks like a shopping center, not a shopping box,” Hibbs says.

Big Box Reuse

It’s important to note that sometimes, when a big box is left empty, it’s not necessarily the fault of retailers; they don’t always own the buildings themselves; often they lease them.

Christensen says she’s not interested in finding fault with the owners of big boxes. She’s operating on the assumption that they’re here to stay. Instead, she wants to focus on what people do with them when they’re abandoned.

In her new book, Big Box Reuse, Christensen looks at 10 different communities.

In Austin, Minn., Christensen went to a big box that had been renovated into a museum devoted to Spam, the canned meat. In Fayetteville, N.C., she went to a flea market that had once been a Kmart. And in Round Rock, Texas, a group of young entrepreneurs turned an abandoned Wal-Mart into an indoor racecar track. Christensen cites the racecar track for its imaginative use of such a large space — but they couldn’t keep up with the overhead costs and had to close down.

Christensen says cities have a huge incentive to find other uses for these buildings.

“Roads are widened. Stoplights put in. Entire bypasses might be created,” she says. “So all of this invested infrastructure remains after the retailer leaves the building behind.”

Which can make these sites good for repurposing. Take Lebanon, Mo. When a Kmart there went bankrupt, its building was left vacant for three years, and the area became depressed. So the community raised money to turn it into a new and bigger county library.

Cathy Dame, the library’s director, says it took awhile for some people to adjust.

“Sometimes, honestly, it was easier to say, ‘Remember where the shoe section was? That’s our children’s room,’ ” Dame says.

Since the structure was too big for just the library, they broke it up and now share it with a Route 66 museum and a cafe, among other things. And Dame says they are getting a lot of traffic, partly because it’s easy to park.

Dame stresses that the whole project was paid for in private donations, not taxes. Individuals and local businesses all chipped in.

“The comment I kept hearing the board say — and the public say — was how ugly the building was just sitting there,” Dame says. “It was a reminder of a business that went bankrupt. It was just depressing, frankly.”

“With these big-box buildings, they are constructed by the hundreds every year, and they are abandoned by the hundreds every year,” Christensen says. “We’re dealing with a limited resource here. There’s not an endless supply on Earth, so we need to think about what’s going to happen to the future of these structures.”

You can also listen to audio of the story on that page. NPR also published an excerpt from the book on that page. Big Box Reuse is available from MIT Press.

Joan Osborne Name-Checks the Endtables in the New York Times… and What We’ve Been Up To!

Posted in Art, Louisville Music History, Media, Music on September 2, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

(Above, the cover of the Endtables 7″, from the excellent Last Days of Man on Earth. And Joan Osborne, from the New York Times.)

We’ll be honest: we’ve never, ever liked the cloying, faux-soul sounds of Anchorage, Kentucky native Joan Osborne. Her 1995 hit “One of Us” — y’know, the song that posits the oh-so-ironic-but-not-really notion that God could be just like any ordinary shmoe — was quite possibly the nadir in a decade also notorious for such other one-hit unwonders such as the Spin Doctors and Ugly Kid Joe. Shudder.

So imagine our surprise this Sunday as we read the Arts & Leisure section in the New York Times, coming across this l’il tidbit:

[This] reminds me of a new wave, late ’70s-early ’80s sound that reminds me of being 16 years old and sneaking into the only club in Louisville, Ky., that had bands playing original music. There was a band called the End Tables [sic] that my high school friends and I followed. It reminds me of pogo dancing and getting slammed into by ruffian teenage boys on the dance floor.

Could this be? Did our little MOR darling Joan really get “slammed into” at an Endtables (spelled correctly) show? Did she witness Endtables singer Steve “Chili” Rigot in all his glory?

Hrm. Well, anything’s possible, and she would’ve been around 16 or 17 during the time the Endtables were active. We’re skeptical. But hey, all’s fair, so if you’ve got some great Joan Osborne-at-a-punk-show memories you’d like to share with us, by all means do so in the Comments section.

Oh and hey, we know it’s been ages since we last updated. Sorry about that. It’s been a really hectic (mostly in a good way) August. We went on a fantastic road trip vacation down to New Orleans (you can see a slideshow of pictures we took on our Flickr page), and we start a new job next week. Hopefully we’ll be back to regular updates here, but it’s too early to tell.

Music This Weekend, JULY 4th EDITION

Posted in Art, Drink, Happenings, Music, Music This Weekend, State of StateoftheCommonwealth on July 3, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

It’s another busy weekend (of the nice three-day with holiday variety), with plenty of things to do out and about town. So let’s get started.

Hip Check Flier

Tonight at the Monkeywrench (at the corner of Barrett and Winter), DJ Kim Sorise will be spinning soul, funk, a little rock n’ roll, and all kinds of good-time party music, with no cover, starting at 10 pm. Much like last week, we’ll be joining her for an hour or so to play some jams. Drop on by, then head over to the Nach Bar for:

Bejeezus Flier

Whoa, that’s a big eagle! That’s right, Bejeezus magazine — one of the best mags around, in our opinion — is hosting a party at the Nach Bar with Speed to Roam, Relic, Andrew Iafrate with Buck Holiday, and Shakey. Things get under way at 9 pm, and it’s free!

Tomorrow, of course, the big shows are at the Waterfront with Los Lobos, Candy Coburn, JJ Grey and Mofro, Patrick Hughes, Gary Allen, and George Clinton & Parliament-Funkadelic (more information here); and “Weird Al” Yankovic at the Iroquois Ampitheater — but you probably know about those already (and they’re getting enough publicity anyway).

Rude Weirdo Flier

So let’s move on to Saturday night, when Rude Weirdo and Trophy Wives play at 6th and Oak. As the show is being presented by Louisville Lip Records, 3 new CDs (by Rude Weirdo, Trophy Wives and Boxmaker, respectively) will be given away at the door! That’s pretty amazing, we gotta say. 10 pm, $5.

Last but not least, even though it’s a week away on July 10th, we’re gonna give you the heads up about a show that we’re promoting/curating. That’s right, we’re dipping our toes back into the difficult waters of underground music show promotion (we have no idea why), and we’d like to tell you about it. So here goes: Thursday, July 10th at Derby City Espresso we’re proud to present an evening of experimental music with Shedding, Tusk Lord, Caboladies, Hunted Creatures and Chris Niels. Shedding and Caboladies are from right here in the Bluegrass State, while Tusk Lord, Hunted Creatures and Chris Niels are visiting from Pennsylvania on a short, summer tour. Come on out, it’s sure to be a blast. Derby City Espresso is located at 331 E. Market Street (between Preston and Floyd), 8 pm, $5.

Music This Weekend, June 12-16

Posted in Art, Drink, Film, Happenings, Music, Music This Weekend on June 12, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

Another busy June weekend is ahead of us, and lots of good shows are in Louisville and around the region.

Michael Hurley

Tonight at Lisa’s Oak Street Lounge (1004 E. Oak Street) legendary folk troubadour Michael Hurley returns to Louisville to play with local funtime weirdos Sapat. 10 PM-ish, $5.

Tonight in Lexington, Cadaver in Drag and Eyes and Arms of Smoke are playing at Buster’s. The show starts at 10 PM, it’s free, and more information is at

SSM Flier

Friday night at the 6th & Oak Art Collective (or whatever they’re calling it) local band Second Story Man celebrates ten years of existence with a show! Joining Second Story Man are Wussy (from Cincinnati) and Chris Brokaw (from Boston), former guitarist of Come and former drummer of Codeine. 9 PM, $5.

Weird Weeds Live

Saturday, also at the 6th & Oak space, Austin band the Weird Weeds play with Shedding and Softcheque. Louisville native Nick Hennies, who played drums in bands the Telephone Man and Nero, leads the group (that’s him on the left). 9 PM, $5. The Weird Weeds also will play a private house show in Louisville on Sunday afternoon. Cool!


On Sunday the Brothers Unconnected tour comes to town, featuring Alan and Rick Bishop of the Sun City Girls. A tribute to late SCG drummer Charles Gocher, Jr., this show promises to be one of the best of the year in Louisville. It all happens at the Pour Haus, located at 1481 S. Shelby Street. Doors are at 8 PM, “The Handsome Stranger” screens at 9 PM, and admission is $10.

Finally on Monday the 16th, Skull Alley, a new all-ages venue at 1017 E. Broadway near Barrett Avenue opens with a show by Lemuria, Andrew Jackson Jihad, Kepi Ghoulie and the Kodiaks. 7:30 PM, $6. Wednesday night is their official opening party with art, djs and dancing, at 7:30 PM, and is FREE! Go check it out!