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Most stories about the Louisville Orchestra’s Chapter 11 filing mention the problems other orchestras are facing. The LO is struggling to make another payroll, and the Courier-Journal has a rundown of what other ensembles have done in similar situations.

NPR recently looked into the same thingSo did we.

ThinkIndie–the digital music download service run by a coalition of independent record stores–is closing. ThinkIndie offered paid song and album downloads to stores across the country, including Louisville’s Ear X-tacy. The service will close on February 15th, leaving Ear X-tacy with no download service.

But the closure is unlikely to further harm the store. In the past, owner John Timmons has spoken candidly about Ear X-tacy’s financial insecurity, but general manager Rebecca Cornwell says the download service was not a source of profits for the store. Cornwell says for two years ThinkIndie clients poured money into the service without seeing a return, likely due to the ubiquity of larger download services like iTunes and Amazon MP3.

Cornwell says it’s unlikely Ear X-tacy will try to keep offering downloadable music after ThinkIndie closes. Rather, she says store management wants to focus on hosting concerts and offering other experiences customers can’t get elsewhere.

Here is the letter ThinkIndie sent to its customers:

Dear Customers,

The ThinkIndie team would like to thank you for your support and patronage of the site and independent music stores. Unfortunately, ThinkIndie will discontinue selling digital downloads as of February 15, 2011. Upon closure, we will delete all account and credit card information. Please use all outstanding credits before the closing date. All mp3s previously purchased from ThinkIndie will be unaffected by the closure.

A benefit show for the beloved but financially-troubled Ear X-Tacy music store has been receiving positive reviews.

Here’s an update from

[Owner John] Timmons also spent a few minutes with me to chat about Ear x-travaganza and what the future holds. When I asked him about the possibility of having another Ear X-travanganza benefit concert like this, he stated “Well I don’t want to start a charity or benefit event or anything like that, but my staff planned this on their own. So I couldn’t say ‘No’ once they had it all done all the work and the musicians had already agreed to play.” Timmons continued by saying “This event is really speaking to me in a big way. It makes me feel like people still give a shit about what we do. Like the store can survive.”

Nine months after a tear-filled press conference in which he outlined his store’s dire financial situation, Ear X-Tacy owner John Timmons is again saying the store is in trouble.

Timmons appears in a video on the record store’s home page saying the move to a smaller location in the Douglass Loop helped Ear X-Tacy stay open, but it wasn’t enough. Timmons asks for continued support to keep the store open, saying it’s needed “now, more than ever.”

In February, Timmons said Ear X-Tacy had to change to adapt to changes in media and the music industry. He was then open to suggestions on what he should do.

Former Governor of Alaska and 2008 Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin is coming to Louisville next month. Palin will be a featured speaker at the National Quartet Convention, which is the largest annual gospel music event, according to the NQC website.

Palin was last in Louisville in April. She spoke at the “Women of Joy” conference during her book tour. (WHAS had an all caps headline about it.) Before that, Palin campaigned in southern Indiana shortly before the 2008 election. At the NQC, Palin will speak for thirty minutes and then take questions for thirty minutes. Want to ask one? You’ll have to buy a ticket* for $29 and submit your question online. As the form notes, no multi-part or long questions, please.

*Along with Palin, a ticket will let you see performances by gospel quarters including: Ball Brothers; Booth Brothers; Dove Brothers; Collingsworth Family; Rick Webb Family; Hoppers; Greenes; Perrys; Freemans; Diplomats; Mark Trammell Quartet; and Chuck Wagon Gang.

Ear X-Tacy will close tonight (Wednesday) at 6 pm. The store will re-open at its new location in the Douglass Loop on Friday. Is anyone (besides the Backseat Sandbar crew) planning on attending either the closing or re-opening?

The ninth Forecastle Festival and the first HullabaLOU festival will be held two weeks apart this year. Forecastle is July 9th-11th and HullabaLOU is July 23-25th.

Just looking at the websites and the promotional materials, it’s clear that the two aren’t fighting for the same audience. It’s unlikely that any music fans will stress over whether to spend their concert dollars seeing the Flaming Lips or Bon Jovi. (If you are a crossover Lips/Jovi fan, what else is in your collection?)

There are a few HullabaLOU acts that likely appeal to the Forecastle crowd, but Forecastle founder J.K. McKnight told WFPL today that competition between the two festivals will be minimal.

“I think it’s a different audience. We knew about the lineup about two months or so beforehand,” he says. “When I heard Bon Jovi was on I just kind of shrugged and went back to work. But you know it’s hopefully good for the economy here and puts Louisville on the map in a way it never has been before.”

So if there are two festivals with two different audiences in the same month…what will that mean for Louisville? McKnight wants Forecastle to be a regional highlight of summer festivals, and this year’s lineup is a step in that direction. The crowd will likely be younger than the HullabaLOU audience, and it will be interesting to see who draws attendees from the farthest away.

It will also be interesting to watch these two festivals grow. McKnight says he wants Forecastle to stay at Waterfront Park, and he has ambitious plans for using all of the facilities he can on the riverfront. As Forecastle grows, so will its reputation, and McKnight could achieve his goal of making Forecastle another major summer event, in line with new and growing festivals like Pitchfork and Sasquatch or established kings like Bonnaroo and Coachella.

But how will HullabaLOU grow? Could it become the Bonnaroo for older people? (That’s not a bad thing). Could it be an alternative to the New Orleans Jazzfest?

All of the other festivals I mentioned have a definite feel to them. It’s built by their reputation (Pitchfork=ultra hip, Bonnaroo=kind of hippie, but less so now) or their geography (Sasquatch=northwest). Forecastle’s “music, art, activism” reputation has developed over the last few years, but what specific characteristics might Forecastle and HullabaLOU take on? What reputation will they get from Louisville?

Here’s the WFPL story:

After nearly 25 years in business, the Ear X-Tacy music store’s future is in doubt.

Ear X-Tacy founder John Timmons released a statement this week saying he’s concerned for his business’ survival. The statement calls for a conference Friday to discuss the store’s future.

General manager Rebecca Cornwell says Timmons hopes to use the meeting to figure out how to keep the store active in the local music scene.

“We are in a very hard time in our lease and our business and we just want to get everybody here,” she says. “We feel like we owe it to the community that has gotten us to where we are to let them know the drastic situation we are in right now and how to help us.”

Music writer Nick Hart with the website Backseat Sandbar says losing Ear X-Tacy would be devastating for the local music scene.

“We’d have a major loss of a resource. Not just a place to purchase music, but a place where people go to hang out and find out what’s going on in the music scene.”

The shop’s lease on its Bardstown Road location expires next month. Hart says he’s curious to know if the store might move to a smaller location or go to online sales only.

Backseat Sandbar shares the details of a press release from Ear X-Tacy founder John Timmons:

John Timmons, founder of the independent record store and owner for nearly 25 years, is expressing his concern for the survival of ear X-tacy, as we know it.  Timmons will announce details of the store’s situation during a press conference Friday, February 12, at 10:00am, at the store,1534 Bardstown Road.

With the 10,000-square-foot prime location’s lease about to expire in March 2010, Timmons is focusing attention on the realities of a dire situation and the potential impact of losing one of the nation’s top 10 record stores.  The absence of this local treasure would have a financial impact on the local media, especially public radio.  It would affect concerts, promoters, and leave a void on Bardstown Road in the Highlands, an area already severely impacted by the economy’s downturn.  The synergy of Louisville’s local businesses would be affected and the city’s music and cultural landscape definitely would be altered.  The dynamics of “keep Louisville weird,” a local movement founded by John Timmons, would suffer from such a loss.

“This is not about business.  It’s about something my customers have built and have come to expect.   It’s about a place to experience music,” Timmons said.   “Many tourists seem to make ear X-tacy a destination point as out-of-towners have learned about ear X-tacy through national exposure.  I think the store is a place that makes Louisvillian’s proud.  It’s been a community effort to build it and it’s going to take a community to sustain it.”

The site has this plea to help business:

For every album you would go buy online (or “borrow” online) and for every album you would purchase at Best Buy, go to Ear x-tacy this week and pick it up (they even have a digital online music store).  We’ll start there and then work our way forward.  I’ve been collecting vinyl for a while now and there is no greater feeling that flipping through the stacks at ear X-tacy, finding that “gem” and enriching the collective music experience by knowing that you are contributing to something you love so much.  We can start tonight.  Louisville’s own The Watson Twins are playing an in-store show tonight at 5pm (I just got off the phone with ear x and the show is on despite the snow).

Local blogger Loueyville (disclosure: I’m friends with this person) isn’t happy with the lineups for Halfway to Forecastle or the brand-new HullabaLOU festival.

I’ve heard a few complaints about HullabaLOU, most of them in line with Loueyville’s:

And when I saw the line-up? Well, I kind of thought of Great Aunt Rose. Actually, truth be told, I thought of a different aunt. The Aunt Rose heir-apparent Aunt who loves all those classic rock bands from her youth (38 Special, the Steve Miller Band, Kansas, the Doobie Brothers) but can still wax poetic about Dave Matthew’s “nice bum” when fully tucked into her wine coolers.

Sure, there’s a little something for almost everyone– a little Gladys and Al for the soulsters, a little Govt Mule and DMB for the jam banders, a little Dwight and Loretta for Mama, a little Richard Marx for… WHO?? WHO the HECK is looking forward to Richard Marx??

But you’ve gotta wonder who these folks consulted with when planning this festival. My big hope is that, like Jazz Fest, they’ll keep adding acts right up til showtime.

C’mon organizers: let’s look at festivals like Bonnaroo and Coachella for line-up additions (step away from the casino tour circuit regulars!!). Maybe a little Prince? A little Leonard Cohen, perhaps? MMJ? U2? How ’bout that lovely Jewish pharmacist with the nice bum… that Springstein guy? I’m just saying. Aunt Rose would have been thrilled.

The lineup for HullabaLOU is reportedly only about halfway decided, so more acts may be announced soon.

Lou is similarly frustrated by the electronic-heavy Halfway to Forecastle lineup. I haven’t heard any complaints about that group of bands, and I assume it’s because there’s a demand for that genre at the festival. Forecastle isn’t a niche event, but there is a certain crowd that seems to be more into the festival than the other ticket buyers. Perhaps that’s who turns up to Halfway.

When I was a music critic, I quickly learned that there’s no accounting for anyone’s tastes (not even the critic’s). And while I imagine that each festival will have a dedicated group of attendees who have a great time, bypassing (by choice or not) one or two acts might make turnout a little smaller than expected for such large events.

Now, with that out of the way, it hurts to suggest changing the lineup for broad appeal. Somewhere in 2007, a much snobbier version of myself is calling me a sellout.

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