If someone tells you it’s hard to find good live music in
they haven't been looking in the
right places. In the space of about a
week we attended three amazing, foot-stomping concerts, and no doubt missed
some other good ones. Louisville
First, at the Palace Theater, a week ago Thursday, we were the geezers amongst a happy, mostly young crowd. The Avett Brothers rocked out at the first of a three-night stand. The Avett Brothers’ repertoire defies simple categorizations: western swing, bluegrass, Christian hymns, and calypso.
The crowd seemed to know every word. Three young women in the row in front of us, cute as any coeds I've seen, bounced, danced and sang along. I wasn’t a big fan of the Avett Brothers. At least until now. The "kids" are ok if this is the music they are rocking to.
On the following Sunday, one of those gorgeous fall days where you can’t bear to stay inside, we went to the riverfront to see the riverboat festival. A variety of music drifted towards the best viewing areas as we waited to see the riverboats take off on their race. We didn’t care who won the race. It was just a great excuse to be outside on a glorious day.
At the main stage we heard some jazz and also a band called the Billy Goat Strut Review, complete with a female torch singer, a slide trombone, a sax, and a washboard, along with the usual instruments, guitars and percussion. They played some of the music my Mom use to play on the piano. Some mixture of old-timey, bluegrass and honky-tonk.
As the Billy Goats left the stage and we were getting ready to head back to our car we were almost run over by the March Madness Marching Band from
. They marched right through the crowd. The band members, dressed as pirates and
gypsies, played all sorts of outlandish instruments, danced and marched. Very fun. Lexington
To wrap up the week of musical fun we went to the Clifton Center this past Thursday to hear the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Rhiannon Giddens belted out Waterboy, an Odetta song, covered Leadbelly, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Jean Ritchie, as well as singing a foreign language song, perhaps in Gaelic. The Carolina Chocolate Drops also did Sandy Boys, Hit ‘em Up Style, and Snowden’s Jig (Genuine Negro Jig).
The “Drops” played a variety of instruments, including an 1859 replica banjo with an amazing sound as well as bones, some made of wood and some of actually bone, which brought an authenticity to the minstrel songs. Rhiannon talked about the history of minstrel music and how the banjo was one of the ways African Americans had shared music with white Americans.
The memorable opening act, Birds of Chicago joined the encore, which included Read ‘em John. By then, Rhiannon also had invited a tall, thin young man, dressed in bib overalls, who had been among the concert-goers dancing in the aisles, to join them on stage. He said his friends called him “Long legs” and he danced like George Clooney in “Oh Brother Where Art Thou?”, only better.
“Wow!” the first word out of my mouth at the end of the concert. My husband simultaneously said the same thing, as did the friendly stranger who had been sitting next to me. We all were standing on our feet applauding after the encore, wishing for more.
The next day, as my spouse and I ate breakfast, we both were singing the words to one song that had wormed its way into our ears: “Corn bread, butter beans and you across the table…”
I capped the week of foot-stomping music by buying my own pair of foot-stomping boots for our next concert.
*This column was written with significant contributions from my spouse who forty five years ago this Halloween took me on a first date to listen to a concert. He now has taken me to more concerts than I can count.