As usual, we saw a lot of live music in 2006. Much of it was free, which was nice. Most of the ones we paid for were less than ten dollars, so 2006 was a year of much entertainment bang for not much entertainment buck. I wish that every year could be this way!
Here's a look at my favorite concerts from 2006:
9. Waterfront Wednesdays
Free shows, sponsored by the world's greatest public radio station, down at Waterfront Park--who could ask for anything more? And they did a bang-up job bringing acts in last year, including Kieran Kane, Todd Snider and Old Crow Medicine Show! I can't wait for the 2007 shows to start.
8. Shawn Camp
Corydon, Indiana is about a half hour from Louisville. It was the first state capitol of Indiana, now it's just a small town with a charming square. Every summer, they have free bluegrass shows on the grounds of the old Capitol. The only one we caught was Shawn Camp, but it was great. A lot of the attendees were a little put out that he didn't do a strictly bluegrass set. He even had (gasp!) a drummer with him. I thought it was a great set that showcased his range and songwriting talents, but I'm not one for strict boundaries and rules.
The first and possibly only Banks of the Ohio (BOTO) Bluegrass Festival took place in March. Two nights and two days of wonderful music, ranging from legends (JD Crowe, Doyle Lawson) to newcomers (Cherryholmes) to local acts (The Betweeners) to Kentucky-based national acts (Dale Ann Bradley, Michael Cleveland). I hope they can get their funding together to keep this one going.
6. Slaid Cleaves
One of my favorite songwriters who doesn't get to this part of the country much. He likes to unplug the instruments and do some songs off-mic for effect during his set, which is always interesting.
5. Ky Music Weekend
The annual free celebration of traditional and folk music was just about the best one yet. Homefront host John Gage performed with his son Will, who is an amazing guitarist. Two of my favorite Kentucky duos, Zoe Speaks and Wishing Chair did amazing sets. And, of course, the highlight of every festival is the return of the legendary Jean Ritchie to her home state.
4. Library Concerts
The Louisville Free Public Library Foundation got a huge grant to expand the library's CD collection, so to celebrate they held a series of free concerts in the Main Library. Is that cool or what? Iris Dement. Dar Williams. Ladysmith Black Mambazo. (Yes. Ladysmith. For free! Imagine that!) Two of the shows were busts--Loudon Wainwright III was annoying and Andrew Bird was just pretentious as all get out--but the others more than made up for it. Louisville was actually the center of something amazing and cool! I can't get over that.
3. Kris Kristofferson
Solo acoustic performance highlighting songs from his newest release and old classics. Amazing doesn't even begin to describe it.
2. Doc Watson
One more musical legend to check off my list of folks to see. And we had front row seats!
1. Del McCoury
Okay. Nothing in my life will ever, ever top this. But you knew that, right?
What a year!