Thursday, October 30, 2014

Louisville’s loudest art gallery comes alive in Portland

The Tunesmiths

Portland Rock City ain’t no thugs and cheats / Tunesmiths breakin’ the wall west of Ninth Street.

“Portland Rock City, that’s what we’ve been calling it. Although I’m sure it’ll get a NuLu-esque name soon.” That’s how Bryce Gill, a driving force behind the music program at the Tim Faulkner Gallery, summarizes their approach to creating Louisville’s loudest art gallery.

“There is live music nearly every night of the week at the gallery,” Gill says. “Some are sporadically booked shows, and others are weekly open mics and rehearsals. Tim has been building his connections around town and with national touring artists since before their recent move.”

Faulkner opened his eponymous gallery in NuLu in 2009, as that neighborhood was still taking baby steps toward becoming the shopping and dining destination it is today. The art-first punk attitude of the artist and his gallery director, Margaret Archambault, inspired them to move to a larger space in Butchertown, a little bit off the map of the NuLu trolley hop free-wine crowd. Though that sprawling space became a hub for artists, musicians and other free spirits, not all of their neighbors were as excited by the noise generated there.

Faulkner and his crew jumped at the chance to occupy a 25,000-square-foot space (plus extended courtyard) offered at 1512 Portland Ave. as part of a larger plan to fill the neighborhood with some of the art and dining found in NuLu. The gallery also rents studio space to numerous artists and recently welcomed a small shop, McQuixote Books & Coffee, inside their single-story property.

The studio space at the Tim Faulkner Gallery

Gill and his band, the post blues-rock band The Tunesmiths, had been holding open practices every Wednesday night in Butchertown, and that continues in Portland. The band also books shows for other acts. “I’ll remember these years for the rest of my life,” he says. “To say the gallery helps my band is a massive understatement. The number of people that visit the gallery and hear about us grows every week.”

Additionally, the band now gets to rehearse on a big stage with a pro sound system. The concert hall is 10,000 square feet, with a capacity of 1,574 (such capacity is similar to the Brown Theatre). “I have not heard of any other bands in town with such an ideal rehearsal space for a rock band,” Gill says. “We started as a garage band, and now people have described our sound as more of an arena sound.”

Popular cellist/singer-songwriter Ben Sollee spent a few days there rehearsing before his recent WFPK Waterfront Wednesday set, even sleeping over. The Tunesmiths have started a monthly series for friendly traveling bands coming through on a Wednesday night. The next one is Nov. 12, headlined by Greg Martin of the Kentucky Headhunters, with a vinyl records and music gear expo added for extra oomph.

A Halloween show, “Bella Muerte – A Halloween Masquerade Ball,” has been booked with D’Arkestra, Billy Goat Strut Revue and Small Time Napoleon. The latter will be playing songs by Tom Waits that night.

Gill says he’s seeing locals, business owners, nonprofit workers and churchgoers dropping by on a regular basis, alongside the developers trying to figure out how to make their profits.

“I have seen the plans for all of the new developments, and I tell everyone they have no idea what’s coming in Portland!” he says. “The gallery is one of the first establishments in Portland that you can see a massive amount of progress and consistent activity. We were invited to play at the Portland Festival and several other upcoming events in the area. My band also helps local musicians find secure and affordable rehearsal spaces in the warehouse district.

“We help Tim anytime there is an opportunity,” Gill adds. The gallery is his home away from home. “Tim, Margaret and the whole TFG family are now a part of my life and my band’s entire operations. I couldn’t be happier with their progress and impact on the local music and art community. I feel very proud and excited to be a part of it. To see it firsthand and get to experience even half of the activities there is priceless.”

c. 2014 Insider Louisville

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