so we had our little band that went thru various hilarious names and songs and we would jam and write and cover songs by all the alterna-grunge and metal greats at the time...and then a few of us started to get really serious about it- so we started a band called “month of sundays.”
month of sundays was hilarious because, while we were willing to die for it and really believed in it, we never really could find a place to fit in within the greater scheme of what was going on in louisville at the time. we were WAY too loud and abrasive for anyone into most mainstream music, but we were way too uncool for louisville’s booming post-hardcore/indie rock scene at the time. that scene was a cold and dark place. i remember really being intrigued by it and going to shows at tewligans and all the haunts...watching bands and wanting to feel welcome but feeling really scared at the craziness of it all...wanting to fit in but not feeling confident enough to try and never really feeling all that “at home” either...we did find solace tho in some of the great bands of that era: rodan, hula hoop, will oldham, rachels and others... getting drawn in to the power of their music and feeling connected to it thru our blood. they had waked the same streets as us. seen some of the same things. what a crazy feeling to love a band that lives in the same town you do...and i dont know if it was the super self-consciousness of being an awkward teenager, or if the scene was really as cold and snobby as i remember it, maybe a combination of both, but we never really fit in or felt loved there- which was frustrating as that was “where it’s at” back then.
so we created our own scene. we called it the freak scene. we would get together with our friends and their bands and we would book our own shows outside of the giant post-hardcore scene going on at any venue we could: primizee pizza, the cardinal inn, people’s houses...anywhere and everywhere we could play our music we would.
we tried to make our “freakscene”(i wonder if we subconsciously named it after the dinosaur jr song?) a polar opposite of the post-hardcore scene. we wanted people to feel welcome at our shows. we wanted it to feel like a place you could come and get wild and have fun and be yourself and not worry. we wanted music to bring happiness... or at least some release... for everyone involved. not many people ever found out about it...but we had some good times.
around the time of the freakscene i was asked to play in another band called “hotel roy” with some beautifully creative guys who really helped start to change my outlook on things. the guys in hotel roy were into our freakscene and that whole vibe, but were also really into the popular indie rock scene as well. they really helped build a bridge in my mind to show me that the feelings i was having about not fitting in to that scene were indeed mostly just in my own insecure mind...and that, aside from a few assholes, there were a lot of nice folks in that world as well, and that i needed to just stop worrying about it and shut up!
...and with their help i learned to calm down and focus on the beauty...because there is just so much of it.
as month of sundays slowly disintegrated in a post non-completed college haze i started doing open mic nights and writing different music than i had written with month of sundays. for some reason i labeled the page in my notebook where i kept track of the songs “my morning jacket.” i still don’t really know why.
one of my best friends, my cousin john, who had long been part of my musical upbringing, was very supportive of this new project of mine. whenever he had breaks from work and his own band “winter death club” he would help me record my songs at the studio on his grandparents farm. we had so much fun doing that and eventually started playing together and it grew and grew and took on a life of its own, with lots of great folks involved past and present- namely the long lasting gift of another musical guide and friend in mr tom blankenship. like my buddy dave’s parents, john’s grandparents are saints. they really gave us a place to land and stretch our wings...so we grew there in that beautiful place. my morning jacket would have never gotten off the ground if it weren’t for johns grandparents support. to any parents or grandparents who let your kids bands practice at your house: you’ve earned a place of positive entry into the afterlife of your choice.
modern day louisville to me is a very happy place. a place of endless creativity, artistic growth, and goodwill amongst fellow artists . being good friends and co-workers with one of louisville’s greatest musical treasures: mister kevin ratterman- who provides a recording studio vehicle for artists to create and realize their musical dreams in the highest quality, i have been able to keep my ear on the pulse of what is going on here NOW in louisville- so much beautiful music being made by the brilliant minds who walk these streets.
i feel very excited to be a part of this wonderful and wide family of new friends and old pals that stretch back before birth and out beyond the grave. i guess THAT -in the end- is what truly sums up louisville to me: family. not just blood family but deeply rooted friendships that began in childhood and hopefully will last until the day i die. i feel like that is a fairly rare thing to find in this life, and that i might not have been so fortunate had i not been born in this beautiful world of louisville KY- a place that southerners look at as “northern,” a place that northerners and the rest of the world look at as “the south,” but in reality exists right in the middle- a place all it’s own with a pure palette and unique point of view to create from...being bound by no particular constraints or rules of identity. i have always felt extremely fortunate and proud to have been born here, and cherish that as part of my own earthly identity.
Photo: courtesy of Mickie Winters