This article appears in the March 2011 issue of LouisvilleMagazine. To subscribe, please visit loumag.com .
The heat is turned way down inside the Rudyard Kipling to save on utility bills, and Ray Rizzo is at a table, bundled in a winter coat. The venue will be the home base for this month’s Motherlodge, a week of appearances by musicians and other performing artists that Rizzo organizes biannually in Louisville. “Last night we were figuring out how we can deal with our itty-bitty budget,” he says. “There’s a lot of mental gymnastics that I’m doing right now.”
Rizzo, 40, divides his time between Louisville and New York and has played drums in bands since high school, most famously with Days of the New. He has also been in plays in New York and at Actors Theatre, where the idea for Motherlodge originated. He and other actors who were also musicians were in a Humana Festival performance about a band that was falling apart. “It just got me thinking about the mixture of mediums and disciplines,” he says.
The first Motherlodge (motherlodge.com) took place in 2009. In the fall of that year, My Morning Jacket’s Jim James called Rizzo a week before the event and said he wanted to perform. Last fall included a play by the local improv group the Indicators, a performance that had fans submitting ideas online. Another Motherlodge featured a city bus tour. At each stop, local bands played in the background as an actor told a story about a fictional saint who died at the site. This year’s event — most of which will take place at the Rudyard Kipling March 11-12 and March 21-27 — will include some of Rizzo’s New York friends and local talent such as the Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble  and musicians Tyrone Cotton and Alanna Fugate.
“I’ve always wanted to see these performance experiences where people just show up and are part of something that they didn’t see coming,” Rizzo says. “Basically, I’m trying to set up the tent posts for the circus but not worry about the circus at this point.”