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November 28, 2006

Sight Unsound - Cozy, melodic offerings, and a late-night frenzy

Elephant Micah: Elephant Micah performs a traditional set at the Old Louisville Coffeehouse on Thursday.Lo-fi ambient music winds up in an appropriate venue — Old Louisville Coffeehouse — on Thursday, and its vessels are Elephant Micah, Static Films and Century of Aeroplanes. No earplugs necessary. The sounds of these bands prompt the listener to go internal, to indulge that urge to hibernate. It’s music for meditating, music for coffeehouses. In the spirit of the My Morning Jacket/Will Oldham holiday kickoff we’re all recovering from, hometown musicians (and their invited guests) will make cozy melodic offerings.Joe O’Connell, a.k.a. Elephant Micah, who is originally from Southern Indiana, organized this shindig. He thought Old Louisville Coffeehouse would work as a venue because the bands playing the show are “all really mellow, and it doesn’t always work so well in a bar setting.”Benefits to such a venue: Persons of all ages are welcome, and the cost is low: $3.The coffeehouse offers “a simple setup and a place that is relatively informal,” O’Connell said. “I’m expecting an environment where people will be mostly seated and there for the music and listening. Like a house party, it’ll be pretty relaxed in terms of the performances.”The Elephant Micah performance will be “more traditional” than the other bands, he said. “Acoustic guitar for the most part,” with pedal steel on some songs and probably featuring one of the Static Films singers. And all Static Films members are singers, said O’Connell, who points out that the Chicago-based band has “a lot of vocal harmonies that are really pretty cool.”He described Static Films as “song-oriented. What makes them great is they have unique arrangements. They do a really excellent job of presenting their songs in a way that is out of the ordinary.” Which is one thing the three acts have in common. Their creative output makes for a live show full of surprises, especially when such instruments as clarinet (Static Films) and viola (Century of Aeroplanes) make their way onto the stage. Louisvillian Rob Collier, the man behind Century of Aeroplanes (and formerly of Fire the Saddle), says that the live group sounds different from the music they’ve released in Europe. It’s available for free, by the way — including lovely cover art — at www.centuryofaeroplanes.com.The lineup for tomorrow night includes Cheyenne Mize on violin and piano, Scott Moore on violin and piano, Alisson Reber on viola, Nick Wooldridge on double bass, Madison Stubblefield on electric guitar, and Rob Collier on electric bass. So, the “Brian Eno-inspired minimalist music” (as O’Connell puts it) of the Aeroplanes’ Travel in Any Direction release will be replaced by “more song-form pieces and structured improvisations,” in Collier’s words. Focus on the song is another common denominator among these coffeehouse musicians, as well as that attention often paid by indie rockers to the quality of their craft, even when it leads them onto more acoustic avenues.O’Connell acknowledges this general shift from indie rocking to indie strumming or even cooing, though he’s always played softer stuff, even alongside more traditional rock bands.“Originally when I was playing music in Louisville, I was always playing with louder bands,” he said. “What we were doing was kind of a novelty, and that’s changed in Louisville and in other places. People are more interested in underground music and exploring quieter music and things that are more minimal. Underground music has gone from being sort of narrow and usually punk-affiliated to people who have come up in that environment and now tend to branch out more. I feel like there’s more open-mindedness now than when I started making this kind of music.” He’s glad to find bands like Static Films and Century of Aeroplanes working in that same arena, he says. “I’m always inspired by — or even surprised by — the kind of musical like-mindedness wherever I go, not limited to this region.” Elephant Micah and Century of Aeroplanes have certainly not limited themselves to their home region. The former has toured Europe and the latter has released albums there. So catch them in the Ohio Valley while you can. Homecoming and warm drinks (coffee and tea! … the coffeehouse warns against booze) and minimalist music.The all-ages show starts at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 30, at the Old Louisville Coffeehouse (Fourth and Hill streets, 635-6660). Cover is $3. •WFPK’s Live Lunch on Friday, Dec. 1, will feature Jonah Smith. Concert starts at noon with doors to the HSA Broadband Building (619 S. Fourth St.) opening at 11:30 a.m. Admission is free, and so is lunch if you’re a PRP member at the $52 level or above. You can call 814-6565 to reserve your box lunch or bring your own.On the heels of his self-titled record, Smith is opening up for Mofro at 9 p.m. Friday at Headliners Music Hall (1386 Lexington Road, 584-8088), sponsored by WFPK and Production Simple. Tickets for the 18-and-over show are $12, $14 the day of. Tickets are available via TicketWeb or at ear X-tacy.•Another freebie: Kentucky transplant Joel Timothy will play a Saturday night show at ear X-tacy (1534 Bardstown Road, 452-1799) starting at 7 p.m. Your money can’t buy a chance to see this guy, as his tour has yet to be scheduled. You can, however, hear him live on Laura Shine’s afternoon radio show on WFPK-FM, 91.9.•Lucky PineappleLucky Pineapple, the self-described “six-piece musical frenzy,” lights up the Jazz Factory (815 W. Market St.) at 11 p.m. Saturday, as part of the Late Night Salon series, which keeps the club open after the main jazz feature every Friday and Saturday night. Cover is a mere $1 — so you really have no excuses, do you? For more info, give them a shout at 993-3242.