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July 30, 2008

Jazz Caravan; WMMF; high-rise McRae

BY JANE MATTINGLY, CASSIE BOOK & CAITLIN BOWLING

Sunday, Aug. 3

On Sunday, blues singer/harmonica player John Nemeth transports Stevie Ray’s (230 E. Main St., 582-9945) to the ’50s and a time of true rhythm and blues. The 30-year-old began his career singing in a church and with local bands in Boise, Idaho. After one performance for label head Jerry Del Giudice in 2006, he signed with Blind Pig Records and released the critically acclaimed Magic Touch in January.

“In our nearly 30 years in the business, we have never before offered a new artist a recording contract on the strength of one performance,” Del Giudice says.

Sometimes compared with B.B. King and Ray Charles, Nemeth has opened for Robert Cray, Keb Mo’ and Earl Thomas and performs at music festivals across the United States, Europe, Canada and Asia. Blues Blast recently nominated Nemeth for Best New Artist and the Sean Costello Rising Star Award, and he was a 2008 nominee for the Blues Music Award’s Best New Artist Debut. Tickets are $8. Showtime is 7:30 p.m.

photo courtesy crash avenue publicity: Kelley McRae gives her newest album, Highrises In Brooklyn, the live treatment at 21c on Monday.
photo courtesy crash avenue publicity: Kelley McRae gives her newest album, Highrises In Brooklyn, the live treatment at 21c on Monday.

Monday, Aug. 4

New Yorker Kelley McRae’s new album, Highrises In Brooklyn, doesn’t come out until Aug. 19, but the songstress is eager to show it off during her current tour, which stops Monday night at 21c Museum Hotel (700 W. Main St., 217-6300). For the album, McRae, a former stage actress, hooked up with Brian Deck, who also helmed releases by Modest Mouse, Iron & Wine and Counting Crows, among others.

Florida singer-songwriter Lauris Vidal opens. Vidal’s subject matter veers toward gloom: One song, “Body Bags” (off his EP Shoot Shoot Your Skeletons), was written after he walked upon a murder scene in Baltimore. Showtime is 8 p.m.


Tuesday, Aug. 5

It’s no joke: Jazz drummer Bobby Falk says the best place to see jazz now in Louisville is at the Comedy Caravan.

It’s not so strange, says the leader of The Bobby Falk Group. He’s optimistic that the city’s jazz scene will rebound after the closing of The Jazz Factory on Market Street this past spring.

Falk says the Caravan (1250 Bardstown Road, 459-0022) shows have drawn younger, more diverse crowds — the key to the future of jazz in this market.

photo courtesy bobby falk: The Bobby Falk Group plays Comedy Caravan.
photo courtesy bobby falk: The Bobby Falk Group plays Comedy Caravan.

Tuesday’s show seeks to keep that crowd sated: “A Night of Jazz” features Squeeze-bot, FattLabb and Falk’s ensemble, The Bobby Falk Group.

Although the three share jazz influences, the approach of each is different: Squeeze-bot uses banjo, tuba, drums and an accordion, an innovative approach that Falk says pulls newer audiences in, whereas Falk’s group plays mostly classic jazz. “My music is deeply rooted in the foundation of the jazz masters,” he says.

A drummer for more than half his life, Falk teaches music part-time at the Kentucky School for the Blind, a job he says is rewarding. 

“Their ears are everything to them,” he says of the students. “Music is a huge part of their world.” 

Music has been a huge part of Falk’s world as well: His father, saxophone player Gary Falk, owns the Falk Audio recording studio here. Bobby’s mother taught music classes for most of her career and runs a children’s choir. Bobby holds a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Louisville, and says that between playing gigs in town, teaching and giving private lessons, he plans to record a live album soon. “Live albums are where it’s at — the band is in the spirit of the moment.” 

In a perfect world, there would be a venue filled to the brim with jazz junkies every weekend, but Falk says he knows it’s not a reality, so he and his band are content to keep improvising. 

Showtime 7:30 p.m. Cost is $8. Visit www.comedycaravan.com for more info.


Tuesday, Aug. 5

What Made Milwaukee Famous isn’t affiliated, even a little, with Wisconsin. They’re from Austin, Texas.

The band — Michael Kincaid (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Drew Patrizi (keyboards, vocals, guitar), John Houston Farmer (bass, guitar, vocals), Jeremy Bruch (drums, percussion, vocals) and Jason Davis (guitar, vocals, bass) — caught a big break when they were asked to play Austin City Limits at the last minute, alongside Franz Ferdinand and Arcade Fire. What Made Milwaukee Famous is among the small number of unsigned bands ever to play that show.

Kincaid jokes that they now perform at the same festivals — Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza — they once attended as fans: “Now we get to go and get free drinks.” 

WMMF’s newest album, What Doesn’t Kill Us, is like discovering that awesome comfy T-shirt in the back of the closet you forgot about. “I tried to start making a list of what we sound like, and it got trashed because we have sounded like everybody — good and bad,” says Kincaid.

Black Joe Lewis opens the 8 p.m. show at Phoenix Hill Tavern (644 Baxter Ave., 589-4957). Tickets are $5 advance, $8 door.