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January 30, 2007

The Muse, the Spankers and the mortician’s son

Korby LenkerNo offense, but your dad isn’t as cool as Korby Lenker’s.Pops Lenker was a mortician. He showed up at grisly accidents. He examined dead bodies. Sometimes he’d even take young Korby along.Caskets were like sandboxes to the lad, and it never occurred to Korby that he should be afraid. “I’ve seen so many dead bodies,” he said.So you were never creeped out? Ever? “The only thing that was scary is looking at naked, old dead people on the slab. I couldn’t look at their eyes because they would be closed, and I was afraid they would open up and look at me.”As you can imagine, dear old Dad was a hit with Korby’s fifth-grade classmates at career day. “That was my greatest day in elementary school because everybody wanted to go to the mortuary.”The younger Lenker didn’t follow in his father’s footsteps, though. He took up guitar, fell in love with bluegrass and now roams the country as a musician. He and a traveling upright bass player make a pit stop Friday night at the Pour Haus (1481 S. Shelby St., 637-9611).•••“I’ve trained as a composer,” Jeremy Podgursky said, “but my background was in rock ’n’ roll. At a certain point, I wanted to try to connect a little bit with earlier music. I found that it’s opened up a big world of possibilities.”One of those possibilities makes its debut at a free concert Monday at U of L’s Malcolm Bird Recital Hall.Podgursky’s piece, “Random Love/Hate Generator,” written for alto sax, will be his first composition in the electro-acoustic format.Electro-acoustic music uses specialized software to process the sounds made by acoustic instruments so the performer can affect the sound of that instrument in real time.Professor John Gibson, who recently joined the music faculty at U of L, where he teaches a class on digital techniques in music, said that electro-acoustic music is more rewarding for performers who are used to playing along to a pre-recorded piece of music. “With this new computer technology, you can make the computer respond to what the performer is doing,” he said.Gibson said the piece by Adam Hardin for bass clarinet shows how interactive the electro-acoustic style is: “He is playing isolated, rapid gestures. The computer is recording snippets of those, and it begins to cycle through those snippets and spray them around the room,” through the recital hall’s sound system, Gibson said.“It’s different, but it’s derived from what the performer just played.”The free concert features a piece for piano by composer Christian Gentry. The concert starts at 8 p.m. Call 852-6907.•••If her new solo album, Learn to Sing Like a Star, sounds as bossy as a Broadway singer, Kristin Hersh says that result was purely unintentional.“This time, I was surprised to find they’re not the strange, fragile broken beauty that I’m attracted to. They’re strident, Broadway-esque,” said Hersh, who plays a free in-store show at 6 p.m. Friday at ear X-tacy.Star isn’t all star-studded. Hersh threw in minute-long interludes to make the record less stiff.“I stuck those little interludes in as palate cleansers between the big-loud bossy songs,” she said. “They’re apologies, in other words.”•••Long days and even longer nights are almost a given when you’re making an album, but Wax On Radio singer and guitarist Mikey Russell says the time is worth it.WOR originally wanted to shop its debut album, Exposition, to labels in hopes of going back and making a “real” record. Lucky for them, Downtown Records ate up the material and decided the band had already done its job.“It’s kind of like a predecessor to the real thing,” Russell says of the album’s title.The band is on tour with Muncie, Ind., natives Brazil and Seattle’s Forgive Durden. They stop Thursday for an all-ages bonanza at Bulldog Café (10619 W. Manslick Road, 380-0600).•••It’s impossible to count on both hands the number of instruments that Darnell Levine can play with his mouth. Witness the man in action Friday as he makes return trip to Big Hopp’s (800 W. Market St., 589-6600). •••If you like a side of sarcasm with your politics, check out Asylum Street Spankers Friday at the Bomhard.The Asylum Street Spankers are doing their part for the war in Iraq.The Austin band’s video for “Stick Another Ribbon on Your SUV” has received more than a half-million hits on YouTube, and 500 or so comments that have been overwhelmingly positive.They have had few people walk out when the band’s played its satirical masterpiece live, Wammo explained. “It’s funny: Most of the negative comments we get are anonymous Internet comments.”The song parodies “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree,” by the ’70s pop group Tony Orlando and Dawn. Wammo says his take “has to do with false patriotism and apathy back in America. I don’t think supporting the troops is the issue. We all want our boys to come home safely.”They’re on tour supporting their children’s album Mommy Says No!“Let’s face it: Most children’s music sucks,” Wammo said. “I tried to treat the record kind of like the old Warner Bros. cartoons: lots of visuals and slapstick for the kids, but subtle jokes under the radar for adults so everyone can enjoy the piece.”The Spankers concert, part of the LEO Presents A Little Off Center series, kicks off at 8 p.m. Friday at the Bomhard Theater in the Kentucky Center. Call 584-7777 for ticket information, or go to www.kentuckycenter.org.•••Last year was a productive one for Kommittee. The five MCs released a studio record last spring called Heads of State. In November, the quintet struck again with the mixtape, Show Me the Money.Divine, who manages Ray-Luv, Blizz, Sincere, Afee and Benny Bricks, says Kommittee’s sound blends East Coast lyricism with down-South crunk.Kommittee raps about everything that afflicts or enhances the human condition, but there are themes of ambition and the state of the union.“Of course, there’s everyday struggle, fantasizing about the next level, things that are on TV and in politics,” Divine said.Catch them Friday at Club Villa Fontana in Theater Square as part of the “Friday Night Lights” concert series. V.O.I.C.E, TBR and K-Matt open. The 21-and-over show starts at 9 p.m. and costs $5 (650 S. Fourth St., 584-7040).•••Boston noise connoisseurs Ketman, Foreign Oranges (ex-Instant Camera) and Speed to Roam invade Lisa’s Oak St. Lounge at 10 p.m. Saturday. The 21-and-over show costs $4 (1004 E. Oak St., 637-9135). Contact the writer at mherron@leoweekly.com