Two very fine days at the American Turners Club, deep in the heart of Kentucky rock territory.
BY TIM HINELY
I’d heard about this champion of the obscure music festival in Louisville, KY for the past few years but hadn’t gotten off my duff to make it there. This year was different as I saw that both The Fall and feedtime were on the bill so I had to make it. I phoned my pal in Lexington, KY and told we that we’re going…oh and that I am staying with him for a few days. He couldn’t refuse.
The American Turners Club is a…well, an interesting place to say the least. It’s an active swim club that closes just after Labor Day but if you saw this place you’d swear it wasn’t active. In fact, you’d think it had been closed years ago. Plenty of green water in the pool and the trough in the men’s bathroom looked liked it hadn’t been flushed in a few decades. Oh and turn around while the the urinal and the showers behind you look like something out of Auschwitz. In other words, a perfect place for a music festival!
It’s right on the banks of the Ohio River and plenty of room for camping (I hate camping though). So yes, freaks of all shapes and sizes made their way to Louisville to witness this historic event.
….only it wasn’t so historic as The Fall cancelled (damn) but they got local yokel Bonnie Prince Billy in his place.
On Friday we arrived about 3 PM. We missed a few openers like Exacta Cube, Heavy Dreams and Bathroom Laws but we did catch the duo Lung. A drummer and a woman who played, I think, an electric cello. An interesting sound and very cool and just afterward both Wombo and Limes got the crowd worked up into a heaving frenzy.
We caught NYC’s 75 Dollar Bill who I’d been wanting to see and they did not disaappoint. This time they were a drummer (Rick Brown from Run On and Fish & Roses) and a guitarist and they eeked out a most beautiful racket. If I’m recalling correctly The Cowboys, who were up next, spanked out some primo punk rock while North Carolina (via the UK) Dan Melchior did a nice set of garage blues. He’s the real deal.
Not sure if we caught Crazy Doberman, but we did catch Columbus, Ohio’s Tommy Jay who with his band in matching outfits, did a nice set of folk pop originals. I need to look for more of his stuff and legendary Louisville bunch Circle X had the crowd rapt with their unique brand of jagged art pop. As much as I wanted to stay for Neil Hamburger and Royal Trux (who I heard weren’t so hot) my pal and I decaded to make the hour trek back to Lexington.
After a hearty breakfast (Waffle House did us right…until it did us wrong…thank god for nearby bathrooms) we headed back to Louisville for more fun and frivolity. We got there just in time to catch Oakland’s Rays. I love their recent debut LP out now on Trouble in Mind but had yet to see ‘em live and they did not disappoint. Gorgeous, melodic fuzz of the highest caliber.
Fried Egg ripped a hole in the wall, musically speaking, while Matt Jencik’s jeans fell down but the crowd was way, way up. Sarah Squirm was an annoying comedian from NYC who was actually kinda funny and I forget what David Nance sounded like. Tara Jane O’Neil had a plethora of famous folks join her on stage (Thalia Zedek, Catherine Irwin, Tim Barnes, etc) and eeked out a gorgeous, folky set. Rapper Sadat X was awful, all flash and no dash and the shirtless, bearded Frank Hurricane was even worse. Please do no invite these two back.
Shit & Shine started out promisingly with some crinkly experimental konk but bored me after about 15 minutes and Peter Brotzmann threw his sax into the Ohio River and dove in after it after finishing his set. Australia’s feedtime, basically who I was most excited to see, did not disappoint and they roared through a 40 or so minute set or grunting, basement scorch (with a borrowed drummer no less…and they weren’t in a basement). Being the old geezers that we are my pal and I left before Bonnie “Prince” Billy and Magik Markers played.
What can I say, Cropped Out was a blast. Good food, nice, short sets and easy-going (zonked out?) people everywhere. Easily the most laid back festival I’ve ever gone to and I’ma make it a point to come back next year come hell or high water.