The one exception to the “Louisville hypothesis”

My wife posted recently unveiling her theory that while the city of Louisville is a charming and lovely place, it’s otherwise caring inhabitants are somehow transformed into a gang of rabid mongoloids by public events. There’s only one thing I’ve ever been to which really could disspell any part of this theory–

We saw Buddy Miller at Headliners Music Hall in Louisville back around early 2005. Buddy is one of my all-time favorites. He’s living proof that “country” and “redneck” don’t have to be synonymous, that music can have a spiritual component and still be a heck of a lot of fun, and that being great is no guarantee of being famous.

The crowd at Headliners in Louisville were somehow brought into line by Buddy. No, he didn’t whip the fans into a frenzy ala Springsteen (with about 200 or so people there, that would’ve been difficult). He didn’t lecture or cajole, he just did what he does– play gorgeous songs smoothly and solefully, and hammer out gut-busting guitar leads. 

I remember Buddy called on his keyboard player, ordained minister Phil Madiera, to marry the drummer and his now-wife that night in Louisville. Whether this was an on-going gag on the tour or a one-night thing, I’m not totally sure. But I tend to think the latter– Buddy ended this bit by playing a spine-tingling ballad called “That’s How Strong My Love Is” and dedicating it to the two of them.

He rolled through “Hole in My Head”, played a Hank Williams cover and led off his encore with a ten-times-better-than-Dylan version of “When I Paint My Masterpiece”.

Somehow, Miller struck a nerve with that one. It seemed to say that sometimes the crowd doesn’t care, or show up, and sometimes the sound sucks, and sometimes the weather is lousy and sometimes you’ve had more Taco Bell than any sane person should, but when the stage lights go on, it’s another night, another chance to paint that elusive masterpiece. And even if nobody sees it, if you really do paint it, you feel it. And damn if that isn’t a holy and wonderful thing. One that even a Louisville crowd couldn’t interfere with.



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One Response to “The one exception to the “Louisville hypothesis””

  1. Julie Says:

    This was a great show, I admit… made me a Buddy Miller fan. But I don’t think this should count toward disproving my theory, since we were probably the youngest people in the place, and probably by a number of years. People who come to a Buddy Miller show in a tiny little club actually come for the music, not just to be seen.

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