Wednesday, November 09, 2011
Relic has become a popular attraction around Louisville, sharing soulful, harmonious bluegrass at bars, festivals and anywhere else available. Now, the band’s two most similar members, Aaron and Adam Bibelhauser, have stepped to the side with a new album, Always Home, a collection that honors the brotherly tradition of the Stanleys, Louvins and Everlys. LEO asked how the Bibelhauser Brothers project came together.
LEO: Why not record this with Relic?
Aaron Bibelhauser: This new record initially began as a solo project of mine, with the intent of recording and releasing my original songs, some closer to fitting in the bluegrass box than others. After getting started on the project, my twin brother, Adam, brought some of his own tunes to the table. It quickly became apparent that this was to be a duo project of new, original music. It was really about focusing in on our abilities as writers and as vocalists.
LEO: Bluegrass hardly requires you to write your own new material. What inspired you?
AB: Writing new material is critical to keeping traditional music alive and relevant. I do think that skirting in and out of the confines of a traditional genre is a really helpful tool in gathering thoughts and presenting them in a coherent manner, without sounding too far out. With bluegrass music — much like the blues, jazz or even classical music — it’s easy to paint yourself into a corner as a musician who plays only existing compositions. In consciously steering ourselves away from this idea, it almost opened up a door, and it became a logical next step to write our own stuff.
LEO: Do you resent musicians in more trendy genres who get more mainstream attention?
AB: A lot of pop music has become mainstream because it’s catchy and people really like it. I think, however, there is a real drive in deciding what songs get airplay that has a huge effect on what listeners tend to like. It used to be that disc jockeys got to decide what new music they wanted to play, and now it’s all pre-determined by label affiliation and commercial interests behind the scenes. At the end of the day, I just hope that the music I involve myself in has substance. I want to do something that’s meaningful, as an artist, not just a guy trying to figure out what hook the song is going to need to grab people’s attention.
Bibelhauser Brothers perform Friday, Nov. 11, at Uncle Slayton’s at 8 p.m. Go to www.cdbaby.com/cd/bibelhauserbrothers.
c. 2011 LEO Weekly
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If anyone is recession proof, it’s probably Kal Penn. After only five years in Hollywood, the New Jersey native landed a leading role in the stoner comedy “Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle.”
“It tanked at the box office,” says Penn, eight years and two sequels later. “So we were like, ‘Oh, man, OK. Well, I guess this was fun. It was nice to meet you …’ and then, three months later, it comes out on DVD and suddenly starts picking up all this steam.”
Most of the movie roles Penn took in between sequels were less successful, and it took getting past a stereotypical villain job on “24” to land a more satisfying, regular part on “House, M.D.” But after a season and a half of what a million actors would kill to get, Penn left to take a job in the new presidential administration, as an associate director in the Office of Public Engagement.
Penn — who served under his birth name, Kalpen Modi — spoke recently at Bellarmine University about community service. “It was for the ‘Do Something’ initiative, which encourages folks to get involved on a community level, whether it’s art or volunteerism, or just doing something other than complaining about what other people aren’t doing.”
Penn’s job in the White House called on him to serve as a liaison to “young Americans, the arts, and Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities,” and the 34-year-old self-described “nerd” enjoys engaging with others. After his lectures, Penn says, “Q&A is always fun. I don’t like to talk at folks for very long; I hated that when I was in college.”
Penn claims to not be fully clear on why people have been so interested in his career moves. “It’s not a unique story at all … It’s not uncommon for people to take a break from the private sector to serve as political appointees. You’ve got doctors and lawyers and professors and people that are serving this president, they’ve served past presidents; they do it for a year or two, or four, or eight years, and then go back to what they were doing before.”
Penn’s “Kumar” contract required him to take a leave from D.C. last year to film the Christmas-themed movie, now in theaters, which uses 3-D. “The 3-D is cool, there are a couple of explosions, and the special effects are awesome, but they’re not action movie special effects,” he says. “What people like about Harold and Kumar is their relatability, so, to put on 3-D glasses, you feel like you’re on the couch with them or you’re in these insane situations. It’s so cool to see. I was wondering when we started, ‘Is this a 3-D gimmicky thing?’ But I thought it was awesome.”
He has also returned to TV, appearing this season with “Kumar” series co-star Neil Patrick Harris on “How I Met Your Mother.” Up next, if all goes well, will be a new comedy series starring and developed by Penn for NBC’s Thursday night lineup.
“I was so excited — it’s what every actor would want to do: ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to develop my own show?’ I love ‘30 Rock’ and ‘The Office’ and ‘Parks and Recreation,’ that kind of stuff, so I’m working with them on developing a workplace comedy. To me, what I love about the ‘Harold and Kumar’ movies is that those guys could have looked like anybody, could’ve been from anywhere, it just so happened they looked like (co-star) John (Cho) and I, and are from New Jersey.”
Penn’s idea is to set the series at the U.N., most similar in tone to “Parks and Recreation” but moved to the middle of New York’s most diverse mini-world.
“I think what it should focus on, in order to be funny, is everyday situations. Regardless of what office you work in, there’s always beef between people, or somebody’s got a crush on somebody else — whether you’re at the U.N. or you’re working at Walmart, office politics are always very similar. Hopefully we can riff off of the diversity of the characters, but (tackling racial issues) definitely wasn’t a hidden desire.”
The setting also incorporates another favorite topic. “They’re all public servants, in some capacity, and that’s kind of neat. I don’t think we’re ever going to do plotlines on the Arab-Israeli Conflict,” Penn laughs, “but something like the International Year of Rice, I’ve always been fascinated by — like, how does something like that actually happen? How do 198 countries decide that this is going to be the International Year of Rice instead of solving another issue? I think it’ll be more that kind of stuff.”
c. 2011 LEO Weekly
at 3:01:00 PM
The second annual Cropped Out music festival takes place downtown this weekend, featuring underground acts like MV & EE, Bill Orcutt, John Wesley Coleman III and the reunited Scratch Acid, plus many more. Co-founders James Ardery and Ryan Davis grew up in Louisville, but Ardery now lives in Brooklyn, so LEO asked Davis to inform us about what they had to offer.
LEO: Explain yourselves to our readers who voted for HullabaLOU as “Best Festival” in our Readers’ Choice poll. Who are you?
Ryan Davis: Cropped Out is a small promotions company and collective of friends, started by two Louisville natives, with the primary intent of providing our hometown with an alternative source of live music. The whole idea came about early last year when a series of frustrating circumstances led me to decide that, if you want to see something happen in this town, you often have to do it yourself. I contacted my friend in Brooklyn, who was and still is well connected as a promoter and musician in the city. I went to college in Chicago and had worked at record labels and booked shows at art spaces and bars around town, and toured the country for years with my own band. So between the two of us, there was all this talk of bringing friends through town on their own respective travels and pairing them with bands we were stoked on around Louisville — of which there was no shortage. What better way than to throw them all in the cage together for one weekend? Well, in retrospect, there was probably a plethora of better ways, but we’re learning more with every one-off show we book, and I hope some of that knowledge rubs off on the festival in our second year of doing it.
LEO: How do you decide whom to book?
RD: I think we tend to begin with friends’ bands, first and foremost. Then we start chewing over a small handful of long-shot dream headliners, and fill it in from there. Last year was more of an effort, at least on my part, to get as many of my friends involved as humanly possible. Not that that has changed this time around, but in an effort to not have the same festival all over again, we’re looking around under some slightly different rocks.
LEO: What about locals?
RD: An accurate representation of local musicians is absolutely imperative to the project. It’s the life source of the entire operation. We can sit around all day trying to bring bands with whom we are fascinated to town, but without that exchange of ideas between our community and its passers-through, that sense of participation, it defeats the purpose. We wouldn’t be doing this if it weren’t for the bands around here to whom we grew up listening, initially planted the seeds of the punk rock tree in our brains at an early age, before we went off into the world and decided how to harvest it. There are musicians in this town, some of whom are more or less “stuck” here, be it because of familial obligations or work or money or comfort or whatever. They may never have the opportunity to tour, or to be heard at all, which is criminal under some circumstances. So in bringing the weird world to Louisville, we are simultaneously, and proudly, showing Louisville to the weird world.
The Crummy Den • 835 E. Main St.
croppedoutmusic.com • $20-$50
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