Beyond travel, we’re also big music fans here at Gadling, largely because music is a great way to get to know a place.
This month happens to be Public Radio Music Month and we’re teaming up with NPR to bring you exclusive interviews from NPR music specialists around the country. We’ll be learning about local music culture and up and coming new regional artists, so be sure to follow along all month.
Name: Laura Shine
Member station: 91.9 WFPK Radio Louisville, Kentucky
Regular Show/Contribution Beat: Assistant Program Director, On Air Host M-F 3-6pm, Host of Live Lunch (Fridays at Noon), Local Music Liaison
1. When people think of music in Louisville, what do they think of?
My Morning Jacket and front man Jim James who have done more for the image of Louisville having a vibrant music scene than any other ambassador out there. Second to that would be Will Oldham aka Bonnie Prince Billy who has an extremely loyal following worldwide. His songs have been covered by a diverse group of artists from Johnny Cash to Deer Tick. Also, a band that is cited quite often as a major influence to many Indie rock artists is Slint, who disbanded after their second landmark album Spiderland in 1990. People think of mainstream rock to underground alternative mostly when they think of Louisville.
2. How do you help curate the Louisville musical scene?
My part in helping curate the music scene involves my role as Local Music Liaison for WFPK. I listen to all of the demos we are sent by local artists and choose what will go into rotation from there. Air-play is still a big part of a band’s exposure to an audience which translates to CD or download sales of their music, being booked into local venues, local venues asking us for recommendations for opening acts for national artists in town and the connections that grow from there.
3. How has the Louisville music scene evolved over the last few decades?
The Louisville music scene has always had interesting and diverse genres expressed through some amazing bands. In the 70’s the whole New Grass Revival sound evolved from this town with artists like Sam Bush, John Cowan and Bela Fleck taking the traditional music of Kentucky known as Bluegrass and adding different instrumentation to the mix and then taking it into completely new directions.
The 80’s saw lots of New Wave bands form then toward the end of the decade the dark heavy alternative rock of Slint, Rodan and Kinghorse took over. WFPK started our new format known as Adult Album Alternative in 1996 and since then we’ve seen My Morning Jacket take flight and several other bands and artists make waves nationally and internationally from the non-traditional bluegrass of The 23 String Band to the dance-electro pop of VHS or Beta. I would also like to add that we now have a growing festival on our waterfront each July called the Forecastle Festival which features not only national artists like The Black Keys and Flaming Lips and many others, but local artists too and is increasingly becoming a destination for music lovers.
4. What would you say is the most unique thing about the Louisville music scene?
The most unique thing about our music scene to me is how all of these very different bands, different from each other, are able to play side by side and draw so much support from the community and from each other. There’s a lot of cheering each other on, helping each other out. Once upon a time, especially in the 80’s and 90’s it didn’t seem as much of an inclusive community but it certainly does now and that’s really cool. Everybody wins when a band does good!
5. What are three new up and coming bands on the Louisville scene right now and what makes them distinct?
Houndmouth, Cheyenne Mize and Ben Sollee are the three that come to mind. Houndmouth is a young band with a very old sound, reminiscent of The Band incorporating a Southern Gothic feel to their music, great harmonies, good story telling. They’ve recently signed with Rough Trade Records and will be doing a home show in April at a large venue that is sure to sell-out.
Cheyenne Mize is a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter and has a new album coming out soon on Yep Roc records. She has great appeal to differing age groups and people who like everything from folk to indie rock.
Ben Sollee is now signed to Thirty Tigers Records. He’s a brilliant cellist and songwriter and absolutely magnetic performer. Who else is singing and playing Cello and drawing thousands to their shows of all ages? Only Ben that I know of!
6. For a Gadling playlist, what are your favorite tracks?
1. My Morning Jacket – “Mahgeetah”
2. Cheyenne Marie Mize – “Among The Grey”
3. Ben Sollee – “The Globe”
4. Houndmouth – “Penitentary”
5. VHS or Beta – “Can’t Believe A Single Word”
6. Bonnie Prince Billy – “The Sounds Are Always Begging”
Catch our entire On the Road With NPR Music series here.
[Photo Credit: Credit: Jessica Erin Higgins Photography]