Friday, October 2, 2009

Last night's show ... Jim James, the Rud, good times.

Finally ... a blog about what you THINK a normal musician would write about: playing music.

When I first agreed to play last night's benefit show at the Rudyard Kipling, I figured it would be a hard sell, no matter how much press the show got. People don't like to spend $15-$20 for a live music event in this town, even if it's for charity. But I hadn't played a full show at the Rud in years, and it's part of the Rud's 25th birthday party celebration. Ray Rizzo and his lovely wife Traci Timmons organized the weekend, and they are great people who've done unbelievable things for the Louisville Music community. So of course I would do anything for them.

Last week, I was kind of blah about the whole thing. I always worry about whether anyone will come to one of my shows. Even at 6:00 the night of the Zanzabar gig, I entered the funk of Noone's-Going-to-Be-Here Land. Of course, that was a packed house. But the Rud show cost twice what the Z-bar show cost, and it was on a weeknight in Old Louisville. My fans are weekends-in-the-Highlands kind of folks.

Then six days ago it was announced that Jim James was the closing act. And I started getting messages from people I hadn't heard from in literally years, all interested in getting tickets.

You see, Jim James (of My Morning Jacket, for those of you not in-the-know) is a big international superstar these days. He doesn't play rooms that cap out at 150 standing-room-only seats. He plays Radio City Music Hall and Bonnaroo.

But he started out playing at the Rud.

Knowing that he was playing right after me led to a whole new set of not-so-justified worries. I figured people would be camped out in line (they were) and that my fans wouldn't come because they wouldn't want to deal with waiting in line (most of them didn't). But then it turned out that lots of Jim's superfans know my music too. And my fear of being just that opening act that people had to suffer through to get to the real show, was totally wrong.

The crowd was incredibly warm and receptive. They let me be silly, they let me yodel, and they let me play the saw. They cheered and clapped and smiled and laughed.

Then Jim came out and commanded the room with an acoustic guitar, framed by the ancient bricks of the Rudyard Kipling. He made anyone who has ever played onstage at the Rud or been to a show there feel like part of something special. I was standing on a chair on the sidelines (I am too wee to see anything otherwise), exhausted from my show and from a long day, but entranced by the whole evening.

There are more birthday celebrations tonight and tomorrow at the Rud. If you're in Louisville, drop by and see some magic.

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