September 10, 2008

Jonesing; Terrorstock; a near alt-country queen

Sept. 11-13

Somewhere at the crossroads of old-school hip-hop and a long forgotten new wave act is Six White Horses. The band, originally a one-man recording act by band leader David Wright, has evolved: a blast of experimental punk, pre-recorded beats, old-school synths and the whitest rhyming ever.

It works even when it shouldn’t.

“We’ve become more of a rock band, the early stuff has this Run-DMC feel, but now we’re kind of a rock band — it’s more aggressive, I guess,” says Wright.

That aggression hasn’t changed the noticeable influence of Wright’s first love — ’80s hip hop. While Wright isn’t the standard “white rapper,” his vocals carry a lot of the feel of Run-DMC’s old-school delivery, but don’t expect him to show up decked out in a black fedora and gold chains. That influence is just one ingredient on this sonic palate. 

“(Run-DMC) is what I grew up on. I listened to tons of hip hop as a kid, and then I got into punk rock and new wave stuff, so I guess we’re a combination of all of that,” says Wright.

Catch the band (along with 20 other bands and DJs) playing this year’s Terrorstock, at Cahoots (1047 Bardstown Road, 454-6687) on Friday. Terrorstock runs Sept. 11-13; tickets are $5 per day, or $12 for all three days. 

The Dead City Rejects fade to black after Saturday’s final show.
The Dead City Rejects fade to black after Saturday’s final show.

Saturday, Sept. 13

Critical darling Tift Merritt might have garnered a Grammy nomination for Country Album of the Year in 2004, but the honor also helped foist stereotypes on her that just aren’t true, the singer insists. 

“I don’t resent (the alt-country tag) at all,” she explains. “When you get pigeonholed, I don’t like it, but at least some people know who you are. I’m not going to complain about it. I don’t get frustrated by it. I get frustrated when people call me country. I don’t fit into that mainstream country role at all; it just implies that I’m part of a family that wouldn’t have me. What I do is a little more handmade and personal.”

The handmade music that Merritt crafts is too quiet for the rock crowd and not hokey enough for Nashville. “I just don’t think about genre very much,” she says. “Maybe I’d be a smarter woman if I did, but I don’t think so. I just think it’s a very natural progression. Musically, you are always learning.”

Those things she is learning — a blues, country and soul hybrid that melds into one energetic and jaw-dropping performance — will be on display Saturday at the Original Highlands Art and Music Festival’s East Stage at 8 p.m.

Across the way on the West Stage is Louisville’s own Love Jones. The band’s mixture of cocktail jazz, bossa nova and lounge-lizard sensibilities has been wowing audiences all over the world since their inception in the early ’90s.

After the band’s move to Los Angeles in 1992, Love Jones became harbingers of the lounge revival, which seemed to permeate from their Brylcreem-soaked, bowling-shirt-wearing legion of fans.

The band might have slowed their pace to a handful of shows every year, but their trademark mixture of Rat Pack-style crooning, Motown-era grooves and sing-along harmonies make their performances must-sees.

Love Jones have announced a new album to be released this fall, so this hometown show at 9 p.m. could be the beginning of a revival of sorts. Although the idea of a band formed as heralds of a long cast-aside genre itself experiencing a revival may seem like an impossible task, if any band can do it, it’s Love Jones. Check out www.originalhighlands.com for more info.

Love Jones headline the Original Highlands Arts & Music Fest Saturday.
Love Jones headline the Original Highlands Arts & Music Fest Saturday.

Saturday, Sept. 13

Over the course of 10 years and three albums (with one more on the way), Dead City Rejects have become a Louisville institution. Now they’re saying goodbye.

“I’m the only original member, and I’m tired of it. I’ve just gotten burned out on it,” says Jeremy King, vocalist, guitarist and leader of Dead City Rejects.

While the band’s Saturday night show may mark the end of the line, it isn’t a complete goodbye for King, who is hard at work on his next project: “I’ve been playing live music in one way or another for almost 20 years, so I can’t quit it.”

The band is saying goodbye the only way they know how — a booze-soaked, high-energy sendoff that couldn’t happen a moment too soon for King. “The live shows are a ton of fun, but I’d rather put it to bed while things are still going well for us,” says King.

He isn’t bitter, and says of all the ways to call it a day, this is the most appealing. “I think we left a good mark in this town, we’ve left our mark and done it well, but rather than go out like Hemingway or Kurt Cobain, I’d rather end it neatly.” 

Catch the Dead City Rejects for one last goodbye Saturday at Headliners (1386 Lexington Road, 584-8088) with The Revenants, Nowhere Fast, Antigriffith and DJ Stymie. Tickets are $10 and available at ear X-tacy and Ticketweb.com.