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    For all the reasons we see live music, the most appealing have little to do with seeing the actual show. It’s a high five when you see someone wearing a band’s T-shirt, a spontaneous conversation when a memorable concert is mentioned or the inspiration from witnessing an artist’s passion connect an ocean of onlookers. A great show often sends us back into reality with a sense of camaraderie and a reminder that, despite the potential differences we see in others, infinite similarities lie within. In short, great bands accomplish exactly what great art should: they inspire, challenge and connect us.

    A few months running, Germantown’s Zanzabar has played altar to a congregation of Louisville music lovers as residency for Communion Music. The brainchild of Mumford and Sons’ Ben Lovett and friends, Communion is a showcase for music fans intent on discovering the next sonic revelation. And while native Louisvillians have long appreciated the city’s art and music scene, we find ourselves collective witness to another step in the nation’s recognition of that which we so regularly celebrate. Along with venues in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Nashville among others, The Ville takes it's rightful place upon the nation's landmark music destinations.

    To wit, Zanzabar is a fitting home for a showcase of emerging acts. Just as Communion seeks to spotlight such artists, Z-Bar has for years been top-choice for bands on the springboard to larger music halls like Headliner’s or The Palace Theatre. Great bartenders, the nostalgia of modern and vintage pinball machines and Verne (the coolest doorman in the game) provide genuine character which makes Zanzabar iconic in the eyes of locals and logical for a residency such as this.

    This month’s installment was an absolute beast! Hometown boys Small Time Napoleon are indeed on the precipice of national recognition. Their style of Jazz/Folk Americana is like sophisticated music for the Proletariat class. Their warm, nostalgic strut is like sonic alchemy siphoned from a cross section of iconic elements in the fingerprint of American music.  Like Golden Hour sweet-tea on the porch-swings of Appalachia, an earnest invitation from Small Time Napoleon is downright impossible to refuse. As highlighted by this very website last month, debut LP Cloud Machine is a gem indeed and their set placed on exhibit air-tight compositions of songs from the new record. Though Cloud Machine has just dropped, the tracks in a live setting are lush and ethereal from a group meticulously focused on their craft. Nothing is accidental with STN. And as such, growth and the spoils of success seem sure as time told by an heirloom pocket watch.

    Another local act, Frederick the Younger took the stage second and it’s hard to imagine anyone unfamiliar with their vibrant indie-pop coming away disappointed. Without even an EP, singer Jenni Cochran intimated the band has but one song recorded, the quartet is confident and adept in presenting whimsical, lo-fi charms. Upbeat and infectious, one can only hope this band pursues an official release with the same tempo as their melodies. As any band sets out to harness a collective heartbeat, it is no doubt subject to it's influences and origins. So it's not uncommon to see bands more intent on cultivating some pre-packaged, marketable persona than vitality in the songs. Such an approach often leads to a meticulously painted room with it's occupants in a corner. In hearing these guys for the first time, it's evident that the songs are the foundation upon which FtY intend to build their church. This is no doubt an encouraging signal of intent when the music is this honest and fun. While Small Time Napoleon made certain all were welcomed with open arms, Frederick the Younger set out to shake hips and tail feathers alike.

    In keeping with Communion’s devotion to breaking national acts, NYC’s Parlour Tricks took the stage for the night’s curtain call. Formerly Lily and The Parlour Tricks, lead singer Lily Cato is not only humble enough to drop the band’s prefix but to share the stage with fellow vocalists Morgane Moulherat and DeeDee Golub as well. Purveyors of lo-fi, glistening chamber pop, this sextet sweats out the sound of candy-sweet gloss and bourbon bite. This front woman tribunal format is not only unique, but effective in instantly hooking helpless audience members on the tips of come hither painted nails and smoky, seductive harmonies. After successfully taking hostage the hearts and ears of CMJ and SXSW, the band makes their way to the open fields of Bonnaroo ahead of the June 23rd release of debut long-player, Broken Hearts/Bones. And while their shiny, Tina Tuner throwback aesthetic might fool some into thinking the grit and grime of a sweat-soaked Tennessee farm in the Summer heat is at odds with three ladies and pop melodies, these girls (and guys) might just party you under the table…and they’ve got the ripped stockings and smeared mascara to prove it.

    *Photos courtesy of First Light Image

     

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    About Johnny Gutterman

    Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground. A Drop of Rain. The Doe Hoof and the Rabbit Paw. Just like you....... Louisville Born. Kentucky Proud writer/photographer. 1/2 of First Light Image Photography. www.firstlightimage.net

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