Monday, December 31, 2018


Peter Berkowitz is a reporter, critic, essayist, columnist and editor based in Louisville, Kentucky.

Since 2004, he has written, edited, created and/or managed stories about music, drag, comedy, theater, movies, TV, radio, journalism, books, visual art, food and drinks for LEO Weekly, The Louisville Courier-Journal, The Voice-Tribune, Insider Louisville, Louisville Magazine, Kentucky Monthly, Story, Lucky Peach, Spin, Thrillist, Bejeezus, and private clients.
Here are some tweets. Link in here.

He has written cover stories on Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, Food Network chef Damaris Phillips, local restaurants, the local DJ scene, public radio, My Morning Jacket, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Coliseum, Rodan and Slint.

He has also profiled everyone from Joan Rivers, Rick Moranis, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Patricia Arquette and Jerry Bruckheimer to the Arcade Fire, Black Sabbath, The Del McCoury Band, Insane Clown Posse, The Meters, Kacey Musgraves, The Soweto Gospel Choir, and several members of the "RuPaul's Drag Race" family (and many more characters).

He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, with a concentration in writing, from Indiana University.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Local singer-songwriter Tomberlin prepares to spread her wings with debut album

Talking with Sarah Beth Tomberlin is easy and fun, which may surprise people who have heard her music.

Home-schooled in a religious family — her father’s career as a Baptist pastor required the family to move around to various small towns — Tomberlin was sheltered from most pop culture. But though she was immersed in church and its culture, Tomberlin realized it wasn’t who she was meant to be. If any part of that world influenced her, it was the music.

Tomberlin, 23, performs under her last name only. Her first full-length album, At Weddings, released on Friday, Aug. 10, is a project that took several years. At Weddings doesn’t sound like gospel music; the album is instead a translation of the experiences that inspired its songs, in and out of church.

Tomberlin’s low-key folk sounds were written, and meant to be listened to, in the bedrooms of isolated people waiting for a chance to break free. As an adolescent, Tomberlin’s cousin helped her discover kindred teen angst musical spirits in Dashboard Confessional and Bright Eyes (the latter being the biggest act on what is now Tomberlin’s label, Saddle Creek Records). She had to keep that music hidden from her parents back then. Though she says her family is musical, none could — or would — collaborate in her style.

By her late teens, Tomberlin was living with her parents in Fairfield, Ill., working at a Verizon store and trying to figure out who she was. She had more friends online than in real life and understood more about what she didn’t believe in than what she did believe in. She began writing songs to help figure it all out — songs about identity, gender, questioning.

By 20, she had a lyrically and musically consistent collection.

“I write in bursts,” she tells me. “Pretty much all my songs I’ve written in one setting. I write a lot in my phone notes, piecing things together.”

This collection, hushed and sparse, sounds like it was written while trying to avoid conflict with more oppressive forces inside the same house. Produced with frequent Arcade Fire collaborator Owen Pallett, the album’s intimate compositions come to life with rich textures and the urgency of her yearning delivery.

She recently tweeted, “When I wrote these songs I never thought they would leave my bedroom. I hope the record can be there for you like it was for me when I wrote it.”

Some of her songs were released last year by the Bloomington, Ind.-based label Joyful Noise Recordings, after songs Tomberlin placed on the site Bandcamp were sent by a mutual friend to Mirah, a beloved indie singer-songwriter who was working with Joyful Noise. Soon after that, Saddle Creek came calling.

“Even if nothing had happened, I really looked up to them,” Tomberlin says. Though founded in Omaha, the label’s heads today live in Los Angeles. Tomberlin headed west this spring to perform there and has become close with their staff. As part of becoming serious about the business of music, she got a music lawyer. “It’s gross, but I have to pay my bills … there are snakes in the grass everywhere,” she says.

Moving up to the business world (Saddle Creek’s albums are distributed by ADA, a company owned by the Warner Music Group) also means that her new partners can get Tomberlin discussed on influential music sites like Pitchfork and Stereogum, in the UK’s Mojo magazine, Canada’s Exclaim!, and in The New York Times.

Or, as she jokes in the entertaining online voice she built up over years with little better to do, “Them: WOAH has ur life changed since u got a write up in The New York Times? ur so famous! wow crazy stuff!”

Tomberlin settled — for now — in Louisville in early 2017, where she has added musicians Matt Hubbard and David Swanberg to her live band. The trio has played several local shows this summer and has a record release show on Tuesday, Aug. 14, in Brooklyn.

The pink vinyl first-pressing of her album sold out through pre-release orders; the current version, this time transparent mint on vinyl, also is available on cassette, CD, MP3 and streaming.

If she didn’t know who she would be as an adult, Sarah Beth Tomberlin’s story is starting to unfold — on her own terms. She says her parents are bemused but proud of her musical adventures. Her break from what they taught her in childhood isn’t an all-or-nothing situation. She loves her family, but there’s also a big world out there, and she wants to see more of it.

“I just want to keep making good stuff,” she says about recent attention. “It’s great and super cool, I’m very honored, but I have to keep on working.”

photos by Philip Cosores

Friday, April 06, 2018

Art[squared] Spotlight: Douglas Miller

To celebrate the 5th anniversary of LVA’s “Art [squared]” event to benefit Children’s Fine Art Classes, we will feature five local artists who are contributing 24” x 24” paintings to be sold at the event through a Silent Auction. Today we highlight Douglas Miller:

Douglas Miller’s approach to art entered the Louisville consciousness subtly, evolving from handcrafted ear X-tacy signage to the mostly-dimensional animals familiar today to visitors of Cellar Door Chocolates, Copper & Kings American Brandy and Edenside Gallery, as well as gallerists from Asheville to Quebec.

His current project finds him at U of L’s Cressman Center downtown achieving success by examining failure with a new exhibition he’s calling Title. Miller says these drawings explore themes of “indeterminacy, failed projects, and the complications of representation. This series is informed by preliminary drawings, marginalia, and written notations that are inherent in the formulation processes of both visual and literary compositions.”

Miller was inspired by Russian author Nikolai Gogol’s unfinished 1842 novel Dead Souls “to conflate literary theories with visual representation” with his drawings. Compelled by process as a topic, Miller continues, “The Title series presents fragmentary images, texts, and digressive narratives that demonstrate intermediaries between propositional states and reconciled concepts … ultimately finding interchanges between the methods of representation and what is represented, this series underscores the ruptures in the production of meaning.”

This literary digression is a turn down a fresh alley for Miller. He says, “Modeling this series of drawings on methodologies typically constrained to literary texts, I intend to identify parallels between generating drawings and the formations of literary texts. Central to this thesis and the series of drawings is an emphasis on the disruptions of meaning and the digressive characteristics that adversely occur in the development of projects and how these function to create a more diverse, complicated, and ultimately uncertain interpretation.”

“In this way, the Title series demonstrates a fictive series of narratives that are preparatory and indeterminate in anticipation of a larger conclusive work that is never reconciled.”

Miller’s MFA exhibition Title is on view April 27 through August 4, 2018 at the University of Louisville's Cressman Center, with an opening reception April 27 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. He will also have work on exhibit at Lenihan Sotheby's International Realty in May of this year.

c. 2018 Louisville Visual Art

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Vignette: Alexandra Kenitzer

Visual art can be an incredibly powerful vehicle for tackling many serious issues of the times, calling attention to the horrors of war or bigotry, or gender and class discrepancies. As an incredibly powerful vehicle, it is also versatile, as capable of glorifying some of the most drool-worthy beauty of this world we all share. Emerging artist and painter Alexandra Kenitzer, self-described as “fixated on pretty and complex objects,” has been leaning towards the latter lately, creating a series inspired by a lovely-looking thing that some use to deal with some ugly things.

“I am intrigued by the craft of cocktails and the celebration that goes along with the consumption of the beverage. I see cocktails as a way of celebrating in any sort of occasion,” Kenitzer said. “I find that they are indulgent because they are so beautifully put together and have such a presence.”

The native of Owensboro sees creative possibilities in and out of her studio, whether inspiration arrives from fashion, pastries or her recent series. “I favor creative mixtures … they have a demure quality and we recognize them because they are timeless.”

A process-oriented artist, Kenitzer likes a large canvas, laboriously executing minute details that communicate the finer qualities of her images. She lovingly lavishes color on both her objects of desire and their backdrops, mixing oils to get the color combinations just right. She cites Kehinde Wiley as one to “obsess over,” specifically how he uses patterns in his coveted portraits.

Her “Martini” has a multi-dimensional effect, eagerly jumping in front of the viewer to create a chaotic space where a cocktail and the wallpaper behind it fuse to suggest a zebra. Yet her “Bloody Mary” and “Pina Colada” use calmer, far more open spaces like a veteran jazz bassist to highlight their few, very important details. Meanwhile, her self-assured donuts stand out against contrasting backgrounds.

Kenitzer paints by hand in a consistent style, varying only when a certain piece requires more – or less – impact. She spends most of her time focused on backgrounds, noting, “Being as close to perfect or perfect is what the pattern painting is about. It becomes more about the complexity of how fine the lines are.”

c. 2017 Louisville Visual Art

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Vignette: Shae Goodlett

Shae Goodlett brings humor and a youthful, gleeful energy to his art that is infectious and bright – even when it tiptoes around darkness. He brings together pop culture and everyday life in ways that are instantly familiar and relatable, and Goodlett finds the fun in every simple detail. “Humor has always been at the forefront of my work,” he says. “Creating imagery that evokes laughter is something that I strive for, as it can serve as a means of connection between two anonymous parties: artist and viewer.”

After graduating from Bellarmine last spring with BAs in Painting and Digital Arts Technology, Goodlett is currently a first-year graduate student at the University of Louisville, enrolled in the Master of Fine Arts program at the Hite Art Institute with a concentration in Painting and Drawing. He also recently wrote and illustrated his first book for all ages, “What the Moon Saw on Halloween”. Additionally, he often draws amazing donuts.

He refers to the cartoons he grew up watching when he says he uses amusing subjects to present more serious ideas that comment on what’s being discussed around him. He filters these concepts through his personal views to comment at times on politics, religion and other weighty topics through his art.

“I feel that an artist’s work serves as a reflection of his or her soul, built by the creator’s personal past experiences,” he continues. “To be able to apply that to various current events, cultural movements, and conversations in contemporary society is essential to the work of a modern artist.”

He says there is nothing he is more passionate about than his art. He hopes he can find ways to offer new perspectives to viewers of his work. What he wants each viewer to take away, more than anything else, is “how much art-making means to me. The joy and excitement that is brought to my life through each project is something that I will forever be thankful for.”

c. 2017 Louisville Visual Art

Friday, July 28, 2017

Preservation Hall Jazz Band takes over Belle of Louisville to share New Orleans and Cuban music

Preservation Hall Jazz Band | Photo by Danny Clinch

“It really started many years ago,” says Ben Jaffe, leader of New Orleans’ legendary Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

He could be speaking about the band created by his parents in 1963 to shine a light on New Orleans’ finest traditional jazz musicians. At the moment, though, he’s speaking about how he and his local heroes-turned-global-ambassadors found themselves in Cuba in 2015.

“For any musician, there are certain places you’re drawn to, a mecca. For us, Cuba is one of those places,” says Jaffe, who plays upright bass, tuba and percussion and serves as creative director of both the band and the Preservation Hall club in New Orleans’ French Quarter. “There’s no other place that mirrors the history and culture of New Orleans as Cuba. For political reasons, it’s been off-limits to us. We never had the right opportunity until the (2015) Havana Jazz Fest, and then we started putting pieces together.”

Those pieces were both musical and personal. Jaffe stresses the value of community in his band’s music, itself an outgrowth of New Orleans’ famously unique social life.

In Cuba, he tells Insider, “we focused on personal connections, because that’s what life is — exploring where our lives overlap. All of our experiences are universal. That’s one of those secrets that holds back progress.”

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band also has made friends in Louisville, where they return Saturday for an encore performance on the Belle of Louisville for a Forecastle Festival late-night show.

They first played on the Belle with friends My Morning Jacket during 2012’s Forecastle. The next year, for their 50th anniversary, Jaffe and Jacket leader Jim James produced the band’s first album of original songs, That’s It!

Ben Jaffe | Courtesy of Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Approximately 50 people have been members of the ever-evolving band in 50-plus years, and they’ve collaborated with rock bands often — from the Grateful Dead in the 1960s to Arcade Fire recently. It’s part of the Jaffe family’s mission to honor the traditions of their music without limiting it to a novelty act, forever recreating the sounds of yesteryear.

It’s led them to test the limits of many types of folk music, sharing microphones with Tom Waits, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Foo Fighters and many more.

So it’s not surprising Jaffe led them to Cuba as soon as it became viable.

“New Orleans and Cuba have had a very long history. Until the embargo in the ’50s, they were trade partners,” he says. “There was a constant flow of people and culture and information. Cuban music influenced New Orleans music going back to in the mid-1800s.”

The history in Cuba is heavy, continues Jaffe. “There’s spirits and ghosts there. I scratch my head that the trade in humans from Africa — that out of that brutal act can come this beautiful expression: jazz, Cuban music. The trip changed the way we approach our music.”

Cuban musicians and fans showed their openness to the outsiders and received them warmly. Jaffe says it encouraged the band “to keep going, to push harder, go bigger. It’s real clear, especially in these political times — ‘What are you doing? You have a platform — what are you doing with it?’”

The New Orleanians, no strangers to struggle, were humbled by what they saw.

Courtesy of Preservation Hall Jazz Band

“You’re talking about a country that has suffered in ways that we don’t even know,” Jaffe says. “To go there and see they’re still suffering, simple needs aren’t being met — it eats at your soul. This thing we know in New Orleans, no matter what you’re given in life — Katrina, embargo — there’s something embedded in our DNA, a survival code. Part of that it is to turn to music and art and faith.”

At the same time, Jaffe emphasizes how much joy comes with that music, and art and faith.

“We want people to dance, have a good time,” he says, “but we want people to dance like in church — a religious experience.”

The band came home from the trip inspired and fired up. To ensure they captured the vitality of their new music, Jaffe hired another producer from the rock world to keep them focused on staying modern. TV on the Radio co-founder David Sitek helped shape So It Is, the new album, perhaps a necessary decision considering that Jaffe wrote much of the music with saxophonist and clarinetist Charlie Gabriel, who is 84 years old.

The current cross-generational lineup of seven includes three members who only joined within the past two years.

“New Orleans is this very rare place where those types of opportunities actually exist,” says Jaffe, who first performed live with this band when he was 3 years old, “where music is something that’s introduced in the womb. At a very young age, you’re exposed to this incredible community.”

Jaffe says their Cuban adventure brought a new level of seriousness to what they do. “It’s always been fun, but it has a purpose,” he was reminded. “It’s why we play music at funerals — it’s the ultimate honor.”

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band plays on the Belle of Louisville on Saturday, July 15, at 11 p.m. Admission is $25 and is for those 18 and older.

c. 2017 Insider Louisville

Friday, May 06, 2016

‘Daily Show’ co-creator brings Justice to Louisville

As a co-creator of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” Lizz Winstead’s politics changed the TV world. She tried to do it again in the radio world as co-founder of the short-lived Air America network.

Winstead recently co-founded the Lady Parts Justice League, which uses humor and information — both online and live in concert — to raise awareness about efforts to restrict safe and legal health care for women. She brings her stage show to Headliners on Thursday May 12.

A Minnesota native influenced early on by George Carlin, Winstead has learned how to target her appeal to a crowd during her three decades as a comedian, writer, producer and activist.

“We’re so psyched to come to Louisville, because I know from my travels — I have family from Mississippi — that there’s cool, progressive people fighting all these crummy laws,” Winstead tells Insider. “People in the North, we’re quick to write off these areas, but I’m, like, ‘Nooo! We have to support these people. They’re excellent, and they make excellent music and there’s bourbon!’”

The LPJL live show merges stand-up comedy and pre-taped videos, including ones targeting Gov. Matt Bevin and Sen. Mitch McConnell. Politics is an obsession for Winstead, and she delights in tailoring material based on local laws, lawmakers and customs, like our occasional cockfights.

“Every state now, there’s a Matt Bevin or a Michelle Bachmann or a Sarah Palin,” she says. “You give me a state, and I’ll give you their nutbag.”

The LPJL website features videos about every state and includes five “scary” facts about each. One thing they hope you know about Kentucky, for example, is: “If a woman is impregnated by rape, Kentucky allows the rapist to sue for custody and/or visitation.”

“It’s not the people of Kentucky” who are the problem, Winstead clarifies, “it’s the people who get elected because lazy people don’t vote in midterm elections almost all the time — and that is almost universally true.”

She doesn’t think this year’s national election will create a more cooperative environment.

“If a Democrat becomes president, I don’t see the rabid Congress being overtly warm … they’re just going to remain as obstructionist as ever,” says Winstead. “When you look at these discriminatory laws, any LGBTQ stuff or any reproductive rights-related stuff, all that stuff is coming out of the states … I’m hoping we can raise awareness to get people to the polls.”

The LPJL runs an event each fall called “V to Shining V,” where supporters nationwide are encouraged to get together and throw parties. Winstead says it’s a way to “have fun, remind people of what’s at stake, and to vote every single time.”

Winstead learned about choice as a 16-year-old, when her first sexual experience led to an unwanted pregnancy. She will tell anyone who asks that she is glad she was free to do what she thought was best, adding, “I don’t believe a pregnancy is a baby. I think we need to be talking about what terminating a pregnancy means, why it means what it means … if we lose the science battle, then we lose all the battles.”

The current biggest hope for Winstead, whose work has helped Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Rachel Maddow become mainstream voices, is that the next Supreme Court justices will be “a little bit more … umm, humane?” she says while laughing.

Her mission is to use comedy to inspire people to become more active in their communities — and to teach some “to trust women when they tell you what they need.”

“I will fight like hell for whoever the nominee is, on the side of whoever supports equality for women, reproductive health, people who are undocumented, people of color,” says Winstead. “People woke up surprised Matt Bevin won, but people aren’t voting in these crucial races. If we just put that much more oomph in, maybe we can find better outcomes.

“If you laugh, you still have hope,” she continues. “If you can’t laugh anymore, you’ve lost it, and I never want to be in that space.”

The Lady Parts Justice League appears live at 8 p.m. at Headliners on Thursday, May 12. Tickets are $25. Joining Winstead on stage are Helen Hong, Leah Bonnema and Joyelle Johnson.

photo by Michael Young.

c. 2016 Insider Louisville

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Madonna: Locals take a bow to the Queen of Pop

“Oh, Madonna! What is not to love and be inspired by?” declares Sarah Teeple, the stylish vocalist for the new Louisville rock band The Bang Bangs. “Madonna was and is so inspiring on so many levels — music, dance, fashion and attitude.”

Madonna, now 57, has been a dominant force in pop culture in the United States and around the world for more than three decades, surviving scandals, changing trends, younger stars, British accents and Sean Penn, among many challenges. Touring to promote her 13th full-length album Rebel Heart, Madonna performs Saturday, Jan. 16, at the KFC Yum! Center.

It’s the first Madonna show for Daniel Cole, who produces the “Hard Candy” series of drag queen shows in Louisville, usually at Play Dance Bar. The story of how Cole came to Madonna fandom is not uncommon in this region.

“Growing up in a conservative Christian family, I didn’t grow up on Madonna’s music like many in my generation did,” he says. “As a closeted gay teenager, I was intrigued by her (1992) Erotica era. She was openly sexual without compromise or any excuses.

“I remember recording ‘Erotica,’ ‘Bad Girl’ and ‘Deeper and Deeper’ from the radio on a cassette so I could sneak around and listen to them when my parents weren’t around,” Cole continues. “I’ve been a fan ever since.”

“Madonna was absolutely banned when I was a kid,” says Terri Whitehouse, bassist with the bands Opposable Thumbs and Complaint Dept. “I grew up going to Catholic schools and came from a large Catholic family, and my mom hated Madonna. She was strict about music in general, but Madonna is the only artist I remember her singling out as an object of her ire.”

“I was banned from listening to her while growing up in a super-evangelical Christian household, along with almost all other secular music,” says Twin Limb multi-instrumentalist MaryLiz Bender. “Just recalling images of Madonna in the media followed by the long, drawn-out, sexist conversations that ensued gets my blood boiling a bit.”

Though some, such as Whitehouse, dismissed Madonna for a long time as a pandering, vacant pop star — and some local cultural figures contacted declined to comment, citing a dislike for her — her influence has clearly provided hope, excitement and inspiration for many others.

“I remember always being inspired by her style, freedom of expression and the way she celebrated who she was,” Bender says. “These were not traits common to women I was associated with in the church, and it was incredibly inspiring to see.”

“I think she is awesome — a strong force for women in music, and for women’s sexuality, and that’s probably why so many saw her as a threat,” says Whitehouse. “She wrote all those songs. She’s a punker, a dancer, a musician and a visionary. And her stuff was somehow really feminist and subversive but also totally accessible.”

Madonna has meant something similar, though in different eras, to younger fans who missed her initial explosion in the early 1980s.

“Madonna was a little before my time, I think; I was born in ’84,” says Billy Goat Strut Revue trombonist Allison Cross. “But as a pre-teen, I was absolutely captivated by (1994’s) ‘Take a Bow’ … Kind of an original version of what Adele is doing right now, in that song, in my opinion.”

“The Madonna I knew best was the period when she released her (2000) album Music and took on the persona of a cowboy,” says Jenni Cochran, vocalist/keyboardist for band Frederick the Younger. Cochran was just beginning then to discover music for herself. “The thing that impresses me most about Madonna is her ability to reinvent herself for each generation. And even more than that — in every new phase, Madonna manages to maintain an air of strength and confidence.”

Which came first, the music or the revolution? Cole applauds her commitment to creating new, constantly evolving songs. IAmIs keyboardist Shawna Dellecave adds, “Madonna most certainly shaped my artistic development, showing me the strength and power that women possess and the ‘balls’ needed to get out there and live your heart’s desire.”

Bender says, “Musically, I’m just now getting to know Madonna’s material, and I’m excited for the amount of dance in my future.”

c. 2016 Insider Louisville

Friday, January 08, 2016

They have the meats: Les & Mark bring back their Jewish deli for one overstuffed meal

“Save the Deli” is not just the name of David Sax’s 2009 book. It’s a call-to-arms for anyone wishing they could walk down the street and get a pastrami on rye, made like they used to make them, as easily as you can get a Big Mac.

Louisville had a traditional Jewish deli, Les & Mark’s Deli, in Hikes Point in the latter half of the 1970s. Owners Mark Suna and Les Naiman, from New York and New Jersey respectively, missed the food of their youth and opened it after putting $500 down. Their deli also was a place to socialize, and not just for Louisville’s Jewish population. Mitch McConnell was a customer who posted flyers on their walls advertising his first run at elected office.

Naiman and Suna split after a few years, unable to balance what Suna calls their “Odd Couple” qualities. Mutual friends kept them in each other’s orbits through the years as Naiman continued in the food business, running his own Nosh Box deli and catering. Suna went into commercial real estate. The men eventually made peace and renewed their friendship.

This Sunday, Jan. 10, they will also renew their recipes for corned beef, coleslaw and more, all made in accordance with kosher rules, for a lunch service open to the public, benefitting the synagogue Keneseth Israel. Meat by the pound also will be for sale. All proceeds benefit the synagogue’s community outreach efforts. Adding to the festivities, writer Ted Merwin will be on hand to discuss his new book, Pastrami on Rye: An Overstuffed History of the Jewish Deli.

Another reason to do this now, says Suna, is that a lot of their old customers are just that — old. It’s not just the customers who are becoming scarce; where there were once 2,000 delis in New York, today there are five. Louisvillians looking for the real thing have to drive to Cincinnati or Indianapolis, though as Keneseth Israel executive director Yonatan Yussman points out, Shapiro’s in Indianapolis “isn’t even Kosher.”

The reasons for the decline are both social and financial. While those old delis were started by immigrants who couldn’t find their favorite old country food in their new cities, the great-grandchildren of those originators have long since assimilated into the American melting pot of Domino’s, Taco Bell and, well, the Melting Pot.

Additionally, quality meats are expensive, and kosher meats are more expensive than regular meats. The 2014 documentary Deli Man points out that of those five delis left in New York, four own their buildings. But it only takes one person passionate, crazy or well-funded enough to do it again in Louisville.

Suna mentions that Republic Bank CEO Steve Trager once worked as a Nosh Box server. Today, his nephew Michael Trager-Kusman keeps the family in the food business as a co-founder of NuLu restaurant Rye, which has flown in bread from New York’s Katz’s Deli, one of those final five.

As for Les & Mark, they’re getting back in business for a meal to have fun and to enjoy their friendship and community. Suna says now, “I don’t want to do it where it’s a job. I want to do it where I’m affecting change and helping others.”

“Kosher Deli Day” will be held at Keneseth Israel, 2531 Taylorsville Road, on Sunday, Jan. 10, from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

C. 2016 Insider Louisville

Friday, December 04, 2015

Angela Fitzpatrick: Pianist

The music is always around you, even in the bathroom.

Von Maur at Oxmoor Center employs four pianists, who perform in three-hour shifts on a Yamaha standing on a large rug near the front escalators. Ninety-year-old Angela Fitzpatrick was the first the store hired 13 years ago, and she still works five days a week. On this November afternoon, the 4-foot-11-inch Fitzpatrick (“More like four-six these days,” she says, laughing) wears a black jacket over a red sweater and a plaid skirt that spills over the piano bench. The dress code: Women wear dresses or blouses and skirts (no pantsuits or slacks); men wear ties. No hats. No singing. No accepting tips. Fitzpatrick is a subtle rainbow, her eyes somewhere between blue and green, her long hair a blondish color. She always cleans the piano before sitting. “I insist on it,” she says. "It’s not because of the associates that I play with, it’s the people that play when we’re not here!”

The Connecticut native has been playing piano for 85 years. “My mother was a very fine pianist,” she says. “She would have been a classical pianist if she hadn’t married my father.” Fitzpatrick graduated from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, in the 1940s and became a wife, mother and music educator. Beginning in 1976, she spent 15 years as a classical-radio DJ and station manager in upstate New York. Upon moving to Louisville to be close to her son, she landed a job at classical WUOL, where she stayed for a decade.

The pianists choose what to perform, a freedom that has kept Fitzpatrick, Ruth Gilbert (12 years) and Marla Kay Kosnik (10 years) around. Speakers throughout the store play their various styles: Fitzpatrick is fond of lush movie music from Henry Mancini and Michel Legrand. Gilbert likes show tunes. Kosnik prefers baby-boomer pop. Chuck Mink — the lone man — is jazzier and doesn’t like sheet music. Fitzpatrick also plays themes, such as a 40-minute set of weather-related songs that she calls “The Weather Report,” from Gershwin’s “A Foggy Day” to Harold Arlen’s “Come Rain or Come Shine.” “What I enjoy most about this job,” Fitzpatrick says, “is being able to bring music to more people.”

c. 2015 Louisville Magazine.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Funny ways to cheat on your partners: Louisville Improvisors and friends team up for one-person shows

Louisville Improvisors Alec Volz, Brian Hinds and Chris Anger

Stand-up comedians are solitary animals because their parents didn’t show them enough love, say those who have studied funny people in their element, while sketch and improv performers come from happy families where their parents were maybe a little too supportive.

In improv, the comedy family that plays together stays together. So it’s surprising to hear that the latest production by the long-running Louisville Improvisors group is “Single Shots,” a two-evening festival of solo theater. The shows take place Friday and Saturday, Nov. 20-21, at The Bard’s Town, a home away from home for the troupe. Why solo, Improvisors?

“Actually, this is a total group effort,” clarifies Chris Anger, the artistic director and a co-founder of LI and the star of one of this weekend’s shows, the hour-long “Animal Farm.” This vehicle is the finale of his trilogy of autobiographical shows.

“Animal Farm” is directed by Alec Volz, another LI member and co-founder. Volz, who directed Anger’s earlier solo shows, will direct two other shows during this festival. Third member Brian Hinds stars in the 20-minute-long “Karen.” Even when they go solo, the LI can’t get away from each other.

“We’re very much about staying busy and creative,” Anger tells Insider. “We don’t ever want to get locked in or boxed into just doing one thing. One of the best ways to avoid that is to generate your own work, which is what we are all about.”

From this festival to other ventures, he says, including their podcast “What Happens Next” or live fake radio show “The Buddy Gilm Show” or “Late Night Shakes,” their improvised Shakespeare show, when they’re inspired, they apply improv’s golden rule of agreeing with what’s been presented and continuing down that path: “Once we find an idea we like, we ‘Yes, and’ the hell out of it,” says Anger.

“Chris, Alec and I have improvised hundreds of scenes together over the past four years,” says Hinds. “In that time, we have developed a hell of a trust and chemistry, which ideally comes out of longtime collaboration. These solo pieces are a great way to expand and enhance that collaboration. We won’t be on stage together, but Alec is directing us both, and Chris and I have sat in on the other’s rehearsals and offered feedback.”

Volz adds, “We’re still team players. It’s just that our roles have changed. We’re still all in the same rehearsal room … each of us has a lot of input into each piece.”

For the trio, one exciting aspect of this event involves bringing other partners into their intimate relationship. Comedian Raanan Hershberg revives his show “Crying Behind 3-D Glasses,” which explores his love of pop culture as an adult, while “Karen” is an original commission by playwright Tad Chitwood (directed by Volz) about a man reacting to a break-up. And just when you thought it was all about men, there’s “Agatha,” written and performed by Melinda Beck (and also directed by Volz).

“I love the chance to work on new scripts and to work with playwrights,” Volz adds. “Chris and Tad have both written amazing pieces for this festival. With Chris, it’s been the chance to see the culmination of what I’ve been calling ‘The Green Chimneys Plays.’ He is an extremely insightful writer and has a great eye for detail. And our wives think we’re really married to each other.”

“From working together for the last 16-plus years, Alec knows me really well,” says Anger. “He knows my voice and how I write, so he can tell me if I’m heading in the right direction. If I tried to bring someone else in, we certainly wouldn’t have the history and trust that Alec and I have built up over the years.”

When the trio devised their festival, they wanted to do different things without asking an audience to stick around for too many hours, so they’ve divided the mostly short shows up, with two performances at 8 and 10 p.m. each night. The Bard’s Town’s Doug Schutte liked their idea immediately and signed on as a co-presenter.

It’s clear that while our world may be filled with strife in many ways, there are a few folks in Louisville who have found a happy home together.

“It’s a great little intimate theater where everybody can tell their stories intimately,” says Volz. “It’s about as close as you can get to having Raanan, Chris, Melinda or Brian sitting in a booth with you telling you such an interesting, involving story that you forget to pick up the dog from daycare.”

“Single Shots” runs at 8 and 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 20-21, at The Bard’s Town, 1801 Bardstown Road. Tickets are $15 for each time slot, or $25 for both. Click here to see a schedule and/or buy tickets.

c. 2015 Insider Louisville

Friday, October 16, 2015

Teddy Abrams and the Orchestra gear up for ‘Kaddish to Klezmer’ and the first-ever ‘Louisville Concerto’

“I don’t know if I told you I was performing at Whitney Hall Oct 23rd and 24th with the Louisville Orchestra,” rapper JaLin Roze recently shared with his social media followers.

It’s not a typical gig for Roze, even though he’s considered among the best in his genre across the region. That’s precisely the type of disconnect Louisville Orchestra music director Teddy Abrams was looking to fix when he conceived of the Orchestra’s collaborative “Louisville Concerto,” which premieres at the Kentucky Center for the Arts on Friday, Oct. 23.

Roze is part of a quartet of native Louisville musicians who make up the two-shows-only “Louisville Concerto.” He’s joined by violinist Scott Moore, who has performed with the bluegrass band the 23 String Band and alongside Ben Sollee and Jim James; influential and internationally acclaimed singer-songwriter Will Oldham; and percussionist Dani Markham, who has been touring with the Oakland-based experimental rock band Tune-Yards.

“None of them have worked together, which is particularly cool,” notes Abrams of the “group solo piece for four soloists.”

The youthful Abrams, now into his second season, passionately approaches his orchestra as a vital, living creature. Markham says she hadn’t met him before but had “heard great things” as she traveled around the world. Abrams sought out her cell number and texted her to ask if she would be interested in collaborating on the project. The “Concerto” features the Orchestra backing the quartet as they each perform a piece they feel connected to.

“My mind was blown,” says Markham, who had been planning to return to Louisville during October after her tour ended. “I had just been thinking about trying to collaborate with orchestras … It really came at a perfect time.”

Abrams also made a good impression by visiting with Markham’s alma matter, the Louisville Leopard Percussionists youth performance group, where she also teaches whenever possible. Abrams has earned that respect by tirelessly reaching out to community members east and west, in churches and synagogues, and with musicians in many genres.

“I love how it’s been working so far,” the northern California native Abrams says of his Louisville adventure. When he started, he says he knew there was potential for bringing crowds, especially younger and more diverse crowds, back to the Louisville Orchestra that had not been met yet. Now, “people are following it in a way that they would also follow a sports team, or something else they’re passionate about.”

Abrams — who conducts and also plays piano and clarinet — delights in pushing musical boundaries, balancing the popular and the progressive. It’s a tradition that goes back with this orchestra to 1948, when Mayor Charles Farnsley decided that modern composers would receive commissions to create new music to be played first by the Louisville Orchestra.

But Abrams says it’s a work in progress. “You can’t immediately rip open people’s expectations, because that’s when you can alienate people instead of bringing them all together. And that’s what I’m trying to do.”

When we spoke on Wednesday, he was driving to New Albany to talk about this weekend’s neighborhood concerts, including performances Saturday night (at the Ogle Center at IUS) and Sunday afternoon (at The Temple in Louisville’s East End) of “Kaddish to Klezmer.” (A Friday night performance at Central High School has been postponed).

The focus in “Kaddish to Klezmer” is on a variety of Jewish composers, covering ground from show tunes to jazz to folk music written by icons Irving Berlin and George Gershwin as well as lesser-known composers.

“It’s one of those crazy days that’s part of a crazy week, and becoming part of a crazy season, too,” Abrams says. “But it’s good … that means we’re doing something, which is how it should be.”

The Louisville Orchestra is leaving their home and traveling to more neighborhood locations this year than last year, having seen an overwhelmingly positive response to the experiment during Abrams’ introductory season. As audiences have increased, so has financial support, through ticket sales and underwriting, giving them increased viability in an era that has been notoriously difficult for arts groups everywhere.

“We’ll never be 100 percent comfortable. Nonprofits don’t exist like that,” he says. The message he’s trying to spread is that there’s always room for more people to come and enjoy their orchestra.

“You have to remember, our government does not support the arts to the extent I think a) they should, or b) they can,” Abrams says. “But it’s a two-way street. We need to show them why they should support us, and that’s what we’ve been working on — changing that whole image and connection with the public.”

“Kaddish to Klezmer” takes place at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 17, at the IUS Ogle Center, and at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 18, at The Temple. “Louisville Concerto” takes place at 11 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 23, and 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24, at the Kentucky Center for the Arts. For tickets and more information, go to

c. 2015 Insider Louisville

Thursday, September 03, 2015

A Man of Wealth and Taste

Patrick Wensink has lived in Louisville for several years. During that time, his career as a savvy detailer of our absurd world has only grown, including an episode where he publicly tangoed with the Jack Daniel’s corporation. He told me about his latest novel and what’s ahead.

Q: Let’s pretend I haven’t read your new novel, because most people reading this interview probably haven’t yet. What’s it about?
A: It’s pretty much a direct rip-off of Hemingway. Fake Fruit Factory is about the fourth-youngest mayor in America, Bo Rutili, and the small town in Ohio he is in charge of, Dyson. Dyson is bankrupt and needs money quickly. Just about this time, NASA informs Bo that a satellite is going to crash right on top of his sleepy little village. Suddenly, Dyson has more national attention than it knows what to do with, but it might not matter if the town gets wiped off the map. Oh, also, there is a lotto millionaire, an ex-opera star turned sheriff, a Civil War reenactment buff and a mysteriously generous mummy all making trouble for Bo as he tries to save his town … same premise as Old Man and the Sea, really.

Q: Gee, that sounds fantastic! How did you get the idea?
A: My books usually come from blending together several ideas, not just a single one. I started writing Fake Fruit Factory over five years ago. At the time, I was freelancing for a very shady hotel-booking site run out of England. My job was to write profiles on over 400 towns in California and about 300 in New York for British visitors, so they’d know what to do if they were stuck in Cupertino, California or something. I saw a lot of small towns with a lot of history and independent spirit sort of desperately scratching for tourist dollars, trying to stay afloat. I wrote about the Gilroy Garlic Festival and a parade in upstate New York where they throw toys at people, and weird attempts to stay alive.

It reminded me of my own hometown, Deshler, Ohio, which has a population of about 2,000 and has fallen on fairly hard times since I was a kid. Deshler doesn’t have anything that could bring in tourists, though. So I wondered, what would they do if they tried to stimulate the economy since a lot of the industry has dried up and people are moving to bigger cities? Finally, I read about a satellite that crashed in the Australian Outback and it grabbed my attention. Standing alone, those three things weren’t much of a story, but when I thought of combining them, it gave me the fuel to start the book.

Q: I was walking down the street the other day and heard some ladies talking about how you recently signed a deal to write a pair of books for children. Is that true?
A: What part of town do you walk in where women discuss these sorts of things and when should I be there? Yes, I am insanely proud that HarperCollins, who published kid-lit geniuses like Shel Silverstein, Maurice Sendek and Margaret Wise Brown, made some sort of clerical error and offered me a two-book deal for picture books. The first one is called Go Go Gorillas. It’s about trouble-making apes who would rather dance than go to bed. It’ll be out in the summer of 2017.

Q: At one point on your own Wikipedia page, you are called “Peter Wensink.” What’s the best part about being a successful writer?
A: Being a hugely successful writer like me is pretty great. I mean, my private jet is a gas hog and it’s getting really hard to find a decent set of monogrammed silk pajamas, but I struggle onward somehow. Honestly, I am insanely fortunate for whatever modest success I have had so far. I have now had five books published – one of them became a bestseller – and The New Yorker once wrote one whole entire sentence about me! Plus, I haven’t had a regular office job in about eight years. I am a lucky person.

Patrick Wensink will read at the September installment of the InKY series at The Bard’s Town on Friday, September 11.

Photo by Leah Wensink.

c. 2015 The Voice-Tribune

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Mo Money, Less Problems

Part boutique, part gallery, Revelry has succeeded as both. But it wasn’t always easy – their original location in the Highlands on Barret Avenue suffered from the closure of neighbor Lynn’s Paradise Café, which led to their current location on East Market Street in NuLu.

Fueled by a mission to make local art accessible and further supported by sales of handmade jewelry, home decor, screenprints, photography, gifts and more, Revelry boss Mo McKnight Howe is celebrating her fifth year in business this Saturday evening from 7 to 10 p.m. with a party and new art featuring Mike Maydak’s “Heritage” exhibition. Maydak was an artist who took a chance on showing at the fledgling business from its earliest days, and this weekend’s activities will highlight how both the art and the business have evolved at Revelry. I caught up with Howe to ask why, where, which and when.

Q: How has a unique, locally focused business survived in these crazy times?
A: Hard work, a local-loving community and a new location. It’s not always easy, but no small business is. Louisville has a wealth of incredible artistic talent and a strong contingent of people who support local arts and business.

Q: Have you learned some painful lessons along the way? Was the post-Lynn’s period on Baxter the worst of times for the shop?
A: Every small business owner goes through thin, challenging times. Every day is a lesson. Moving to NuLu drastically changed the course for Revelry. It’s been an incredible journey, and the future for Rev is bright.

Q: Who are some of your personal favorite artists who have shown and/or sold there?
A: Right now, Ewa Perz is killing the oil game. She just dropped off 10 of her newest oil paintings and I covet them all. Julio Cesar, a master oil painter, is constantly going to impress me with what he is creating. And, of course, Lyndi Lou, who helps me curate quite a few shows at Revelry, is always going to be a favorite. Honestly, we have over 115 hand-selected artists showing in here at one time. We chose them because we love their work and admire their talent. They are all my favorite!

Q: Tell us about Mike Maydak and his relationship with the business.
A: Mike Maydak was the first artist we featured at Revelry’s grand opening five years ago. He’s most known for his painting of an exaggerated 400 W. Main building (the Aegon building), which sold the night of the grand opening. I asked him to come back for the five-year anniversary to go full circle with this thing. I’m looking forward to showing his newest paintings and prints.

Q: What kind of special treats will you be sharing with the people to celebrate this big birthday?
A: Five days of discounts leading up to the anniversary. We never do discounts because it’s hard with handmade things, but we want to say thanks to everyone who has supported us over the years! We will also have cupcakes, drinks and a special art project for those who want to partake. Should be a night of revelry! Get it?

Q: How do you feel about the evolution of the NuLu area? Has it peaked or is there still more room for growth?
A: NuLu’s growth is far from over. Louisville’s urban core is key to the city’s growth, and NuLu is the natural gateway to a downtown that’s rapidly evolving. There’s five new businesses opening here in the next month! It’s an exciting time to be a part of this community. My husband Scotty and I recently bought a home in Butchertown and have fully embraced NuLu, both professionally and personally. I’m glad we made the move.

Q: Where do you buy art outside of Revelry?
A: I buy art in all sorts of places. I bought a small Shane Hull two weeks ago at Chuck Swanson’s because I like supporting other local galleries. I’ll pick up pieces at Mudpies Studio, the Flea, Louisville Visual Art to support them, and I buy art when I travel to remember the places I’ve been. Scotty and I are still working on our collection; we’ve got a long way to go!

Photo by Sarah Katherine Davis for LVA.

c. 2015 The Voice-Tribune

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Yum! Grasping the Grales

Gralehaus opened in the Highlands over one year ago, joining sibling the Holy Grale in a morning-to-night celebration of great food and drinks. We caught up with Lori Rae Beck, co-owner with Tyler Trotter of both businesses and the Louisville Beer Store, to discuss upcoming events, the planned B&B aspect of Gralehaus and more.

Q: How was Gralehaus’ first year? What important lessons were learned?
A: I couldn’t be more proud of our first year! Our crew is solid right now and our management team, Andy Myers and Leslee Macpherson, are total rock stars! Everything Andy does in the kitchen is done right, no corners cut, and everything he makes is delicious. Leslee’s ability to concoct beverages is unparalleled; whether it be coffee, tea, soda or beer, she always surprises you with her creativity and whimsy. As far as lessons go, I’ve learned so much about coffee, especially from the folks in Chicago at Intelligentsia. Oh, and I also painfully learned what it means to gut a three-story house down to the studs and remodel the whole thing for a hybrid business (laughs).

Q: When will Gralehaus’ upstairs B&B be open to the public?
A: We are so close, so very soon … we just did a test run and have a few more things to address … we just want to do it right! They are beautiful, and we can’t wait to share them with our guests.

Q: Tell us about the ongoing “Hot Sünner Nights” series.
A: Tyler and I love drinking Kölsch in Cologne, Germany. I mean, who doesn’t want to drink little slender glasses of the freshest ale in the world, one after another, while your köbe harasses you to drink more and marks your coaster for every beer drank? This is the third season of us doing our best to “imitate” the authentic Kölsch service in Cologne right here in Louisville. We offer it on Wednesday and Thursday evenings in the Gralegarten starting at 6 p.m., and sometimes, to accompany all that Kölsch drinking, “Doghaus” pops-up to serve up house-ground sausages.

Q: Tell us about the upcoming dinner with Moody Tongue on August 14, and your relationship with them.
A: Moody Tongue beers lend themselves so well to culinary application and are designed to do so, with ales like “Caramelized Chocolate Churro Porter” and Lemon Steeped Saison.” Chef Andy and brewer Jared Rouben have collaboratively decided to do a “breakfast for dinner”-style beer dinner, where they will be recontextualizing some of our classic breakfast plates and presenting them alongside Moody Tongue in a wholly new form.

Q: What are some of the best pairing events you’ve done?
A: I’d have to say the famous music, beer, and food pairing event with musician Will Oldham, Sam Calagione – owner of Dogfish Head – and Holy Grale chef Josh Lehman, “Holy Trinity,” at Holy Grale. You would have had to be there to believe me, but I and others were actually moved to tears. Somehow, the convergence of sound and the taste and aroma of food and beer, mixed in with the joy of all those around you, resulted in an unforgettable emotional and enlightening experience.

Q: You and Tyler are going to Europe soon. What do you hope to accomplish on that trip for your business?
A: The first part of our trip, we will be zipping through Northwest Italy visiting some of our favorite Italian breweries. For the second part, we are being hosted by one of our favorite importers, Artisanal, on a trip to Belgium visiting several breweries that we have never been to before. Things to accomplish? Have fun, drink great beer, learn more and make new friends along the way!

Q: I hear everyone in NuLu and the Highlands will be moving to Portland very soon. When will you open your first Portland location?
A: Not planning on opening anything new anytime soon. I think it is important to do the best with what you already have. Right now, we are just trying to button up everything to the best of our ability and get all three of our operations running tightly, remaining profitable and being good to our staff and customers along the way. But who knows! When opportunity knocks, it is hard to not open the door.

c. 2015 The Voice-Tribune

Thursday, August 06, 2015

The Re-evolution Has Begun

Skyscraper Stereo, one of the most popular hip-hop acts in Louisville music history, returns with their latest full-length, Scrape or Die!, this week with a release show on Friday at the New Vintage. The Voice-Tribune connected with crew member Daniel Guess, a.k.a. Goodbar, to learn what’s up.

Q: How was your Forecastle?
A: Forecastle was perfect. I didn’t know that the city of Louisville was ready to receive a collective of homegrown hip-hop artists in that capacity. I underestimated what we could accomplish as a unit. That was a milestone for Louisville hip-hop as a whole, not just for the acts chosen to perform that particular set. Dr. Dundiff’s selfless act created a movement. The majority of us have collaborated and supported one another on some level or another, but on that stage we became a family.

Q: Which year has been better for you so far, 1995 or 2015?
A: I feel like 1995 was an amazing year altogether for the entertainment industry and those who wanted to be entertained. It just so happens that we have a song on Scrape or Die! entitled “Party Like ’95” where we each confess our obsession for pop culture, music, clothing and the like from ’95. The hook may or may not reference the O.J. Simpson trial … and, yes … he was innocent.

All jokes aside, with our fourth LP on the stove, that epic Forecastle experience a few weeks ago and the thriving Louisville hip-hop scene as a whole, this year has been very prosperous so far as well.

Q: How did each group member contribute to make this record what it is? What’s everyone best at?
A: Chuck MF Deuce (CMFD) is the quarterback when it comes to Skyscraper Stereo … Dat Boi Dunn (DBD) and I typically go into Skyscraper recording sessions with eager ears, open minds and lots of blind faith. It’s not uncommon for the two of us to hear something Chuck is working on and think, “Where is he going with this?” or “How am I supposed to rap to this?” The irony is that most of the tracks we’re apprehensive about end up being our favorites when we hear the finished product … Chuck is constantly looking to improve as a musician. For this album, he decided to stray away from sampling. Legally, that’s a great idea, but it will also help him to develop a signature sound. He also told us that he wants every song on this album to be a single. Maybe I’m a little biased, but he may have actually pulled that off!

CMFD provided the backdrop and his stories about high school crushes and sucka emcees. DBD and myself polished up our metaphors about sex, drugs and Nike SBs. And the product was Scrape or Die! DBD is the personality of the group. Whether it’s his stage presence or catchy hooks - which he can come up with in his sleep - he’s just an undeniably lovable guy. Don’t confuse that for lack of lyrical prowess, though. Ya boy gets right … His progression is evident on this new album. As far as I’m concerned, I’m the lyricist. I’m very humble, but a few people have told me I’m pretty decent at what I do. Who am I to argue? Nothing out of the ordinary from me on this album, as far as what I offer. Just the usual under-your-ground, over-your-head raw.

The beauty of Skyscraper, in my personal opinion, is we have polar-opposite musical influences, but somehow we mesh. Everyone contributed their all to this project. I can’t forget about AK, our DJ. He has a cameo on the album and we’re thankful that he’s behind us, literally and figuratively.

Q: The production on Scrape or Die! sounds more pop to me than previous albums. Are you guys trying to expand your audience this way, or is it a more natural progression (a re-evolution)?
A: I think it’s more of CMFD broadening his horizons as a producer. Rap music has never even really been his first choice of genre. He plays a mean guitar (check the solo on “Ya Boy Gets Right”). We welcome a wider demographic, but at the same time, we don’t want to lose loyal fans by changing our formula. After all, that’s the definition of selling out. It’s safe to call it a re-evolution.

c. 2015 The Voice-Tribune

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Education of Sister Sweet Epiphany

As a novice sister in the Derby City Sisters, a group of “radical fun-loving nuns whose mission is to raise funds and spread joy throughout the LGBTQ community,” Shawn Wallace was tasked with creating a project that would benefit others. “I have so many names,” Wallace laughs, when asked how to identify him. “You can just call me by my Sister name if you want, Sister Sweet Epiphany.”

“Trans Awareness: United As One” is the event he organized, happening this Friday, July 31 at 7 p.m. at the Mercury Ballroom downtown. “I’m super, super excited about it,” says Wallace.

Wallace has acted as an informal consultant for parents confused about their children who have discussed transitioning. Many have wanted to be supportive but were scared and didn’t know where to start. Wallace is one who knows where they can go to get help and education.

“Of course, once Caitlyn Jenner came out, it really put the spotlight on the trans community,” Wallace says. “People are still uneducated – I was uneducated. There’s a lot of the LGB community that is uneducated, and this is a prime opportunity that’s in our face right now. We need to educate while we can. Because otherwise, the trans community’s going to be pushed to the side again.”

“It seems like it’s always been concentrated on the L, the G and the B – now it’s time to bring the T in and unite as one.”

The night will feature Phoenix, a drag queen from Atlanta who competed on “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” as well as many local drag performers, speakers – including trans youth from the Louisville Youth Group – and booths for supportive businesses. Based on early positive response, Wallace hopes to make it an annual event.

Wallace, who grew up on a tobacco farm near Elizabethtown, has a close friend, Trista Ray, who transitioned several years ago. She and her wife had a baby in 2009, and Wallace says he acted as “the dad” for a period, visiting doctors with the women sometimes because they were afraid of how they would otherwise be perceived.

We’ve grown in leaps and bounds since then, he says, noting that trans-positive and educated physicians from the University of Louisville will be among the featured guests Friday. But Wallace was inspired to put this night together when he realized that he had never seen an event like this before here.

“Education saves lives. If people aren’t educated, they’re going to continue to hate without realizing that they’re hating…as odd as that sounds, that’s really how it is.”

Wallace has always felt comfortable in his regular performance character, whom he calls a “gay sideshow zombie performer,” testing limits and confusing people gleefully. “At Forecastle, I walked around as Shawna. Everybody – straight, gay, man, woman – when I got that eye contact, they were, like, ‘What is that?’ I’d give them a big hug. ‘You’re scary but you’re beautiful!’ A lot of the straight guys shocked me. They were, like, ‘You know, my girl’s been getting hit on all day long. You’re the first person to tell me I’m beautiful.’ It was a really cool experience.”

But when he was younger, it wasn’t always so cool. Around the time of the Columbine shootings, Wallace found his name on a hit list because he was gay. He and a few others were pulled out of school for a day but then returned. Nothing much came of the incident then, but Wallace says the person he is today would make sure local news organizations were made aware of such a situation.

“This has been an amazing journey for me, to walk around and meet the community and hear stories of what the trans community has gone through…If we don’t get out there and fight for them and tell them how much they’re loved – there’s so much suicide in the trans community right now. They don’t realize that they’re loved. They don’t realize that they’re supported. They’re struggling financially because it’s hard for them to be their selves at jobs. The idea of this event is to bring all of those organizations together that support the trans community, and will educate the rest of the community.”

c. 2015 The Voice-Tribune

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Fisherman’s Friends

White Reaper, one of the most famous rock bands to ever emerge from the humble backwater of Louisville, is doing it again with this week’s release of their official debut album, White Reaper Does It Again. Issued on vinyl, CD, cassette and digitally by Polyvinyl Records in the U.S. and Royal Mountain Records in Canada, its birth is being celebrated by the youthful quartet with shows at Headliners Music Hall on Saturday and the Forecastle Festival on Sunday.

In this exclusive interview, guitarist/vocalist Tony Esposito gave us an update on some of the all-male band’s recent adventures, their philosophies and the album about which NPR said, “You’ll be combing it out of your hair for weeks.”

Q: Are you taking your recent success for granted?
TE: Obviously.

Q: How much fun do you have on a Tuesday night?
TE: Is it Tuesday?

Q: Did you enjoy meeting Spongebob?
TE: You know how sometimes when you meet your idols they turn out to be pretty rude? Not the case here. You see, Sponge was a real class act, as well as his buddy Patrick. They were very nice, very down to earth, and they didn’t act like we were wasting their time. Great group of guys.

Q: You’ve spent a lot of the past couple of years on the road. What are some lessons learned from other bands? What have you learned from regular people?
TE: Greg from Deerhoof told us that when you check into a hotel, you should ask for a “late checkout.” Typically, these places want you gone by 11 a.m. or something like that, which doesn’t seem early, but we usually don’t get to check in until about 2 a.m. But if you ask for a late checkout, you can sleep in a little longer.

Q: Do you enjoy playing in small-to-midsized cities in places like Utah and Iowa?
TE: It really depends. A lot of small cities are college towns, and when you play there over the summer, no one is there because they all left school and went home. But if you play these places in the spring or fall, they can be really great. Small cities are nice, though, because parking is a piece of cake.

Q: Has Royal Mountain Records been good to you?
TE: Royal Mountain Records have been incredible so far. They came to our show the last time we played Brooklyn in May, and that’s when we met them. One of the heads of the label – his name is Menno – he gave me what’s called a “Fisherman’s Friend,” which is a Canadian throat lozenge (available for sale on We gave them some beers, they gave us some beers, we hit it off instantly. We’re super excited to be working with those guys.

Q: How much immense, overwhelming pressure does the band feel about playing record release shows in their hometown that have to be THE GREATEST EVER?
TE: Crippling – no, DEVASTATING pressure. Just pulling your leg, man. We actually look forward to playing shows in Louisville more than we look forward to playing shows anywhere else because people have known us for so long that the shows are just so much fun no matter what. We actually didn’t really get to play a release show last year because we were out west when the record came out, so we’re really excited about these shows.

Q: You’ve been written about by a few “music writers” who seem dismissive of Louisville and of Kentucky, and who want to keep labeling you as representing certain genres you never defined for yourself. Is that frustrating? Is it worth it?
TE: It’s a little frustrating, I guess, but there’s just really nothing we can do about it. They can overlook Louisville if they want to, but they’re obviously wrong, and they’re not going to change our opinion. There’s a ton of great bands in town, like Jaye Jayle, Tropical Trash, Vaderbomb … and on top of that, everybody is friends with each other. If you sat down and worried about what a bunch of other people thought or what other people said, you’d probably lose a lot of sleep.

Photo by Michael Powell

c. 2015 The Voice-Tribune

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Potential of Patrick

Filmmaker Zach Meiners’ second feature, I Am Potential, celebrates the life of one of Louisville’s most inspiring citizens, musician Patrick Henry Hughes. Hughes was born without eyes and unable to walk, but he rose to national fame through his performances with U of L’s marching band, having been helped by his father pushing his wheelchair on the field. The family has since appeared on several TV shows, and Hughes published his autobiography in 2008.

Q: Why did you want to have the world premiere screening in Patrick Henry’s hometown, instead of New York or L.A. where his story is lesser known?
ZM: The reason why I wanted I Am Potential to premiere in Louisville is because this is where the story began. Patrick Henry has inspired many from around the globe. That all started in Louisville, and I think it’s fitting that the movie spreads from here as well.

Q: Where did you film in Louisville? Did any city leaders help you achieve this production?
ZM: We worked with city officials and LMPD to film a large driving scene on I-65 in downtown. The challenge with this scene was it takes place in 1988, so we had to intermittently stop traffic on I-65 so that only ’80s cars were seen on the highway. We also worked with UofL’s administration and Athletic Office to film some large scenes at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

Q: You know, the name Meiners means a lot in local media.
ZM: Yes, I am Terry’s nephew. He actually was one of the first to introduce Patrick Henry on TV at “The WHAS Crusade for Children.” Patrick John Hughes – Patrick Henry’s dad – plays Terry Meiners as a cameo in the “Crusade” scene of the movie.

Q: Did Patrick John or any other family work with you to shape the story?
ZM: We kept the Hughes family involved throughout the process of writing the script. While they weren’t physically writing anything, their input was essential to me. This is the first script that I wrote that was based on a true story. Having characters that are not only real but are alive – and you can sit and have lunch with them – that adds pressure. But it was a great process.

Q: Is there any one part of Patrick Henry’s story that is most inspiring?
ZM: We really follow Patrick John’s story throughout the movie. Patrick John had to drop his own preconceived plans and dreams for his son so that he could see Patrick’s own potential. That journey is what attracted me to this story and that continues to inspire me.

Q: Does Patrick Henry’s religious faith inform how you told his story?
ZM: Patrick’s faith comes across when you meet him. But he doesn’t preach to you or hit you over the head with anything. The movie is the same way. It’s just a window into their life and who they are.

Q: How did you cast the roles, especially the lead?
ZM: Casting was tricky, especially for Patrick. Beverly Holloway was our casting director in L.A. She and her staff went through thousands of audition tapes. Jimmy Bellinger rose to the top. He just embodied and was Patrick Henry. You forgot you were watching an actor. Working with Burgess Jenkins was incredible. Jama Williamson comes from more of a comedy background, but because of that, she brought an incredible depth to the role of Patricia that was amazing. Patricia’s story has gone mostly untold, so I cannot wait for people to see her in this movie. We also had an incredible supporting cast with Lance Nichols, Judge Reinhold and so many others.

Q: I met Judge Reinhold once, and he was a character, just like fans would assume. Did you get any good Judge stories out of this?
ZM: Judge Reinhold was awesome to work with. He is a character in real life and brings so much to his characters.

Q: What’s next for you?
ZM: I currently run a production company based in Louisville called Chronicle Cinema. I’m always working, and there are exciting things ahead – gotta love NDAs. Overall, I just can’t wait for audiences to see I Am Potential. I hope that people are inspired by Patrick’s story as they see the story in a whole new way.

c. 2015 The Voice-Tribune

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Clearing the Airs

Pianist, composer and arranger Rachel Grimes has connected the dots between independent rock and modern classical music for over two decades now, influencing a generation in the process. Grimes’ latest release is a solo album, The Clearing, which finds her collaborating with several old and new friends, including members of her bands Rachel’s and King’s Daughters & Sons.

She says The Clearing reflects her many musical interests more completely than recent solo efforts, piecing together works composed between 2009 and 2014. Grimes and her current ensemble will perform at the Kentucky Center on Friday, June 26.

Q: This is your second solo album, and it’s definitely different from the first. Can you tell me about how writing the new album went in such a different direction?
Rachel Grimes: I have been experimenting with many different ensembles and processes for making new music over the last several years – usually beginning with improvising at the piano, then ideas for specific instruments come out of that process. I make sketches with pencil and then move to Sibelius to arrange the parts for other instruments. Most of the time I have several pieces of music in development, flowing along at different rates.

Between 2011 and 2014, I had several other large creative projects that consumed a lot of my time, so some of these chamber pieces sat dormant for a bit. In between, I was developing more solo piano music and touring. Eventually, a collection of pieces for an album was evident to me, and then it was a question of finalizing the scores, getting the recordings and finding a pleasing sequence. I developed “The Airs” last spring to be connective tissue, weaving in and out around the larger chamber works.

Q: This time, you bring in members of Rachel’s and King’s Daughters & Sons, and Temporary Residence is releasing the album. If a Louisvillian makes music without bringing in their old friends, did it even happen?
RG: I am so happy to be working with (label owner) Jeremy (deVine), another hometown guy. He has been in New York for quite a while now and has a very deeply developed sense for the music business. It is such a pleasure to make music with friends, and sometimes I write moments in the music just for them, like with the viola solo in “Transverse Plane Horizontal” for Christian Frederickson. That said, I also met and worked with several people from far-flung places on this album: an engineer from Brussels, a string trio from Amsterdam and one of my favorite recording artists from Vancouver, Loscil.

Q: How did you start working with Loscil, and how much did he add to this?
RG: In the spring of 2014, I had been introduced to Scott Morgan via email, and being a huge fan of his work, I unabashedly asked him if he would consider working on the “Airs” to help create that unique atmosphere I was imagining. I was delighted when he said yes, and we exchanged music files most of the summer of 2014 to create the six “Airs.” My idea was for Scott to process, or as I called it, “Loscilize,” the existing individual tracks of violin, piano, strings to expand the soundscape, giving an ambient background to the acoustic tracks in the foreground. He also brought new shape to some of the short songs, adding intros and endings.

Q: What other collaborations have you enjoyed in the past few years, and where have you traveled?
RG: I have loved going to Europe, and last fall to Japan and Taiwan. I just returned from sitting in for three shows in Portland and Seattle with the Portland Cello Project. I arranged several of my songs for their group: 10 cellos, two trumpets, bass and drums. Had a great time writing a suite of pieces with cellist Julia Kent for a visual art exhibit in Belfast called “Doppelgänger,” by Peter Liversidge. I have written some music with the band ästrid from Nantes, France, and last spring we got to perform those songs with Sylvain Chauveau singing on several of them. Also, really having a romp with actor Chris Wells creating a musical theatre piece centered around his memoir.

Photo by Jessie Kriech-Higdon.

c. 2015 The Voice-Tribune

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Swift Boat

As Pride Month reaches its midpoint, I checked in with one of Louisville’s biggest drag stars, Jade Jolie, to see what’s going on in her world. The “RuPaul’s Drag Race” contestant moved here after her time on the TV competition, and in the time since, has consistently improved upon her act and found her voice in one tall blonde.

Q: I’m eager to know more about your Taylor Swift. How did you realize that she’d be such a good fit for you?
Jade Jolie: I’ve always loved her music, but actually following her more and more, I’ve truly come to appreciate her as an artist and the similarities we share as being blonde, bubbly and ambitious. We’re two people working hard on our goals.

Q: How have you learned to finesse her character as she evolves?
JJ: With anything, the more you practice a subject – or in this case, a character illusion – the more overall time you spend in fine-tuning that illusion.

Q: You recently went to Vegas to audition as a Taylor. Can you tell me about that experience, and if you hope to pursue that type of Diva life?
JJ: A very positive experience. I loved the city and getting some time in with Coco Montrese, who has been a constant source of support for many years. I am grateful for the opportunity to have met and auditioned for Frank Marino. (Marino’s stage show) “Divas” is a dream I do greatly hope to experience at some point in my career. But I must say, however, that I love my Play family and am proud to be a part of this amazing establishment.

Q: You’ve been in Louisville for around two years now, right? Did Play pursue you, or did you audition? Why did you want to move here from Florida? And how do you like life here?
JJ: It’s hard to imagine that amount of time has truly flown by (laughs), but it has been almost two years and two wonderful ones at that. I actually heard of the opportunity through a friend and fellow entertainer, Dee Ranged, who had been a cast member of Play for several years. I like to think the interest was mutual (laughs), but either way, I was on cloud nine when I was offered the position. Since then, life in Louisville has been one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life. It’s nice to be treated with genuine care by our neighbors and friends, as well as being treated as a valued entertainer new to the city. Play will always be family.

Q: How much time do you spend on the road these days as a touring headliner?
JJ: Part of my motivation for coming to Play Louisville was not only to be in an incredible cast, but (also) to be able to work regularly and have the leisure of traveling without having out-of-town bookings being an absolute necessity. I am quite the homebody, and I love being with my hubby and kitty as much as I can.

Q: How does it feel to be featured one night in, say, Columbus, and then return to the cast at Play?
JJ: I just love what I’m doing. I feel elated that I’m still able to share my craft in or out of town with such respected and talented entertainers. The feeling is just appreciative.

Q: Another season of “RuPaul's Drag Race” has ended. How did you feel about this season? Did the right queen win? I assume the picture you posted recently in a very tight corset was a tribute to Violet?
JJ: I’ve really thought Violet was stunning since the first trailer, and I couldn’t be more thrilled for her. I think Ru knows what she’s doing, so I’ll leave it at that (laughs). Regarding the corset, you gotta love a good cinch!

Q: How is Pride Month different for you than other months? Do you get more bookings, more money, or have more fun than usual?
JJ: Pride is always a popular time of the year. I like to think I’m having the most fun whenever and wherever I am, but Pride can really bring the community together, which just creates more fun to be had by all.

c. 2015 The Voice-Tribune

Friday, June 05, 2015

We Love Mom: Gloria's brisket

Photograph by Eugene Ahn

I grew up in Tampa, Florida, the armpit of the “Armpit State.” Also known as the home of Magic Mike, the strip club-loving city is also known for its shocking lack of quality restaurants. The eatery closest to the house that my parents have lived in since 1986 is an Applebee’s.

Thankfully, at home I was fed better than what the city could otherwise offer. My mother, Gloria, retired last year after a long and distinguished career as an educator — a reading specialist. I credit her good genes with fueling my love for reading, writing, and trying to avoid arithmetic. She was raised in Manhattan, on the Lower East Side — something that made me very jealous as a child, and still does now. The fact that she and my father, Herb, chose to move to a suburb of Tampa instead of living a New York City life will always mystify me, especially since that suburb has 20,000 residents and only one good restaurant. Still, they seem happy there.

What’s so great about my mom’s cooking is that when she cooks for me and my dad, she gives it her all. She puts love in it, which is expensive at Publix these days — it’s the exclusive domain of moms, dads, and other loved ones who are doing their best so you don’t yell at them. Her brisket whisks me back to a simpler time, when the world was still new and we all shared a love for Bill Cosby. It’s also so good: there’s beer in there. Also barbecue sauce. Even healthy junk, like carrots.

Our people eat, and most of my favorite childhood food memories are holiday-based. Now that I’m living in Louisville, Kentucky, it’s harder for me to get good hamantaschen, latkes, or matzo brei. My parents are at their most authentically Jewish when it’s time to prepare food for the holidays, by which I mean we eat even better (“more” means “better,” right?) than ever. And because I live away from their home, it also means extra packages delivered to me.

+ vegetable oil
4–5 lbs first-cut beef brisket
1 clove garlic, crushed
+ salt and pepper to taste (about 2 t salt per pound of meat)
1 C barbecue sauce (or enough to cover the meat)
1 can beer (any cheap brand will be fine)
1 package dry onion soup (Lipton's, of course)
1 1/2 C carrot slices (not too thin)
1 1/2 C potato slices (not too thin)
Makes 6 to 10 servings

1) Heat the oven to 300°F. Heat the vegetable oil in a pan over medium-high heat until it starts to shimmer, and sear the meat on all sides until dark brown. Put the meat in 9 x 13-inch roasting pan.

2) In a large bowl, mix the garlic, salt, pepper, and the barbecue sauce. Add the beer, stir, and pour the mixture over the meat. Tuck the carrot and potato slices around the meat and pour the Lipton’s over everything.

3) Cover with foil and cook in the oven for about 3 hours, or until tender. Cool the brisket and then refrigerate after slicing the meat. Cook the brisket at least one day before you intend to serve it; two or three days is even better. Uncover the meat at least once to skim off all the surface fat. Make sure the meat is covered with liquid (more beer and/or barbecue sauce thinned with water can be used) and reheat in a microwave or in a slow oven before serving. Serve the liquid separately as a sauce.

Peter: When and where were you born? Where did you grow up?

Gloria: I was born in New York, and spent my first year in my grandparents’ apartment in the Bronx (the section later immortalized in Fort Apache, The Bronx), and then moved to 20th Street and First Avenue, in Manhattan. I was born in 1947 — one of the boomers born after my father returned from World War II. I lived there until I graduated from college.

Peter: What was your favorite food growing up?

Gloria: Anything Chinese. We often ate in restaurants in Chinatown where the menu was written in Chinese characters on the mirrors that lined the walls.

Peter: What’s your earliest childhood memory involving food?

Gloria: My earliest memories about food center on the fact that my mother was not a good cook and she disliked cooking. We ate in restaurants far more often than did most families in those years. I felt guilty rejoicing in the fact that my mother was an awful cook.

Peter: What’s the story behind this dish?

Gloria: Brisket is a staple of Jewish cuisine. Unfortunately, it can often be dry and rather flavorless. I found a version of this recipe in a cookbook published by a preschool as a fundraiser, and played with it until I was happy with the results. Everyone loves this version of brisket. I always make it for Passover and our friends even request it for Thanksgiving (yes, we have turkey, too). Brisket is a traditional dish, but this never would have been served for an Orthodox Passover seder. Beer is not kosher for Passover because it’s made from a grain.

Peter: Can you describe a typical family meal when you were growing up?

Gloria: A typical meal when I was growing up would have started with a fruit cup or grapefruit slices, very overcooked meat (my dad wouldn’t eat anything that was the slightest bit pink or bloody), canned vegetables (yuck!), and a starch. Dessert was usually Jell-O. My mother kept a kosher home so she had to follow the rules of kashrut.

Peter: What was your favorite thing that was cooked in your house?

Gloria: My favorite dish at home was matzo brei (literally: fried matzo). Sheets of matzo are soaked in water until soft, mixed with beaten raw eggs, and fried in butter. This dish is a traditional treat for Passover, but we ate it year-round. It was one of my mom’s only successes!

Peter: Who did the cooking?

Gloria: I do all the cooking. My husband is excellent at using the microwave, but he doesn’t cook from scratch unless I’m not able to cook. He kept us well fed after I had surgery, but he was happy to give it up once I recovered.

Peter: How did you learn to cook or bake?

Gloria: I learned to cook by reading cookbooks. I shared an apartment with a roommate in graduate school, and our deal was that she would clean if I cooked. My mom never taught me to cook (thank goodness!). She never liked cooking and she told me that I’d have to do it when I grew up so she wouldn’t make me do it before then.

Peter: Do you like cooking? What do you like about it?

Gloria: I do, given enough time. Now that I am newly retired, I’ve gone back to trying out new recipes and revisiting old favorites. I love to go grocery shopping (everyone should have Publix near their house), and I get great ideas from seeing new products and coming up with ways to use the foods that are on sale that week.

Peter: What do you have in common with your mom?

Gloria: My mom and I share a love of eating out! I love to try new restaurants and unusual items. I love living in Tampa, but we are not strong on good, independent restaurants. We do have every chain that has ever been invented and sometimes a burger at Ruby Tuesday is just fine.

Peter: What do we have in common?

Gloria: You and I share a love of good restaurants; you’re a more adventurous eater. Spicy is my least favorite word on a menu. We love to visit you and your wife, Robin, for many reasons, but the list of good restaurants in Louisville is high on our list.

Peter Berkowitz is a writer and editor who lives in Louisville, KY. Gloria Berkowitz is a retired reading specialist who lives in Tampa, Florida.

c. 2015 Lucky Peach

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Seluah is back, darker and stranger

Alternative indie psych dub atmospheric doom rock band Seluah released their second studio album, Phase III, this week through Kentucky’s own Karate Body Records. “Phase III” is the follow-up to 2012’s debut full-length album, Red Parole, which saw the quartet reunite after an initial 2004 breakup. Drummer and vocalist Edward Grimes told The Voice-Tribune about their latest phase.

Q: What’s been going on with the band since Red Parole was released in 2012?

Edward Grimes: Much of the core of this record was born while we were scoring a live showing of the Tod Browning/Lon Cheney (movie) masterpiece The Unknown. We have continued exploration of new material and have been on the lookout for unusual venues and contexts for us to play in. (Guitarist) Andrew Killmeier has also made some great films for many of the songs on “Phase III” that are a total blast. We are currently hiring a best boy or best girl to assist us live with the films, by the way.

Q: Seluah went to “Hell and Back” on the last album, and now you’re “Back to Hell.” What’s the connection between those two songs?

EG: They are two of my personal favorite songs of ours, for sure. Andrew K. and I really dig Scotty Moore and Link Wray, and that comes through on those songs respectively, I think. Somehow to us, when Andrew came up with “Back to Hell,” we knew instantly it was somehow a follow-up to “Hell and Back,” and I died laughing when he plainly declared it “Back to Hell.” I love that name.

Q: Is this album intentionally a more cohesive, more “classic” approach to the Seluah sound, as opposed to experimenting with rockabilly or other surprising influences?

EG: “Hell and Back” was no experiment. We just finally had an opportunity to record more songs, so there was definitely more variety in terms of instrumentation and style on Red Parole. We were, thankfully, very open to a lot of wild ideas at that moment in time. I do think Phase III has a more primal subterranean thread running through it. I probably didn’t think we’d ever go darker than Red Parole. Luckily, I was wrong.

Q: How does Jamaican dub influence the band’s songwriting?

EG: It had a bit of an influence for sure in the early days. Now, not so much. But the incredible connection drums and bass have on really good dub is still something (bassist) Andrew Peace and I both continue to strive for, even if we’re less in that world now…

The track “Held So High Above Her Head” certainly has a dub-like ending. This is a track whose foundation was written around the (2002) EP, but we had come back to it. I finally wrote lyrics and a vocal melody to it, and we wrote new guitar parts for the ending section. Then (recording engineer) Kevin (Ratterman) was really able to go to town on a dub-like production for that part of the song, which was a total blast.

Q: What does the album artwork say about Seluah?

EG: We fully embrace that our music is dark and strange, and certainly wanted that in the look of the record as well. A good friend of mine, graphic designer Cesar Perez-Ribas, helped us put it all together, and we eventually came back to a great picture that artist Aron Conaway took. We felt that could be this ominous focal point of the layout.

Q: Has the band been back on track now for longer than the first run? Either way, do you still have that feeling of being reborn, or is it more routine by now?

EG: It’s probably been a tad longer this time around, although we practiced a lot more back in the day. I’d be lying to you if I said we have exactly the same fire and brimstone we had when we very surprisingly got back together, but it is still often very intense. We perhaps have caught ourselves recently coming close to falling into a routine, but have wisely changed up our method a bit in order to be in the moment more and foster new material.

Seluah will play at the Flea Off Market on the evening of Friday, June 5.

Photo by Meagan Jordan

C. 2015 The Voice-Tribune