Meet & Greet

Abbey Road on the River LIVE with Gretsch!

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Let me take you down to...


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Additional ARotR coverage here:

Hal Bruce & The Hard Dazed Knights' 214-song Beatle Medley
The Live Album Sets
The White Album LIVE


It's good day, sunshine, right at the riverfront in downtown Louisville (that's pronounced "liv-er-pool"), Kentucky. Gretsch marketing maven Joe Carducci and I are ensconced on the 12th floor of the north tower of the historic Galt House hotel, overlooking River Road, the interstate, and the Ohio River...

... and this 5-day Beatles-n-60s fest is gearing up.

We both arrived yesterday (Joe by air and me by land) and feasted on superb Eye-talian food last night in Louisville's funky Highlands district, right on Bardstown Road (and just a couple blocks from Guitar Emporium, a great local Gretsch dealer).

I've spent the morning lining up my digital ducks to bring pics, audio, video – and, with any luck, LIVE STREAMING COVERAGE of the event...

Which has actually already kicked off, with Hal Bruce's 3rd annual rooftop session overlooking Fourth Street. (I missed that – but not to worry, Bruce will be playing several times during the festival.)


Abbey Road on the River (now in its eighth year) combines the Fab Four with related 60s music and cultural phenomena: we're talking 65 performers, seven venues, attendance around 30,000.

Gretsch is the sole, exclusive, and only guitar sponsor – giving us dibs on a prime spot for the booth in the indoor concert ballroom.

The official website tells all about it – but the short version is that we'll have bands that look like the Beatles, bands that sound like the Beatles, bands that do both, that don't look or sound like them but do all-Beatles material, John guys & Paul guys & George guys & Ringo guys (and for all I know Pete and Stu guys), PLUS progenitors of other Brit invasion, psychedelia, west coast, and classic 60s music in general.

At least three albums (Revolver, Abbey Road, The White) will be played straight through live in their entirety, the UnionJack British Invasion Band is re-living the invasion as it played out on the Sullivan shows – and Beatles wizard Hal Bruce and the Hard Dazed Knights tomorrow night will attempt the death-defying stunt of playing all 214 Beatles songs in a continuous medley.


As ever with GDP coverage of Gretsch events, pics will appear here, and audio and video files will link from this thread.

The streaming coverage (if it works out) will be available through the ustream.com service right here. There's no use looking now, because we're not on yet.

Live coverage will be announced in this thread as well.

Kim Falcon is winging in Saturday (I'm hoping for go-go boots and Mary Quant), as is Fred Gretsch (probably no go-go boots); there'll be a special Beatles version of the Fred-n-Joe Show Saturday.

There may be some Beatles trivia and swag.

So what am I sitting in my room posting on the lonely ol' interwebs for? I've got to go gather some content.

Stay tuned.

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This should be great fun to follow. Thanks for the (sure to be excellent) coverage.

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I'm looking forward to your coverage, Tim, and particularly the live streaming coverage. This is a great new thing for the GDP and Gretsch and it should add a whole 'nother element to giving us a real sense of being there.

I agree with your decision to not further burden Baxter's servers with that streaming coverage. He has his hands full enough with just our usual traffic on his site.

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I'm looking forward to reading the reports Tim.

I also look forward to attending the one that will be held in Washington DC on Labor Day Weekend.

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It must be great to be able to get away for this stuff.

My LIFE has a huge way of getting in the way of my life.

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Looking forward to the coverage, Tim. But no more shots of you on the 'loo.

If go-go boots and Mary Quant are a no go for Kim, how about a Barbarella outfit?

I'm just sayin' . . .

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Thursday, I'm told, is something like the pre-festival day.

There's a relaxed vibe, with no screamin' Beatlemania. We weren't able to set up in the main ballroom till afternoon – which gave me time to walk the riverfront and the grounds of the Galt House and the adjacent park, where the event is held.

Miscellaneous views of the Galt House, and Main St. Louisville from the grounds.

The swimming pool is at the third floor level of the west tower; a patio beyond it is built OVER Interstate 64, with stairways beyond THAT which wind down to the riverfront. River Rd, in turn, is under the interstate.

The river is high. I've seen it higher; during the May Day flooding, in fact, it was over River Rd. (That happens annually.)

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You can't visit a river town and not go down to the riverfront. And if there's a riverboat, you can't not pay some attention.

Louisville was a major steamboat port city by 1850 – but the Belle of Louisville is only 90 years old. It moors at the base of 4th Street, just adjacent to the Galt House, and is used for sightseeing daytrips as well as weddings and similar events.

The Belle has featured in an annual steamboat race, usually against the Delta Queen, up from N'awlins. Now a steamboat race is a relative thing. I've taken the American Queen from Louisville to Memphis, and it took five days. Cruising speed is about 5 mph.

Probably the best vacation I ever had, and I'd do it again in long slow heartbeat.


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Click for homely, stately riverboat video.

The clock in the photo below is another Louisville landmark, lit at night in what looks like neon. It's on the Indiana side of the river, in the factory district of Jeffersonville, and stands atop what was until 2005 a Colgate plant. But it's still the second largest timepiece in the world.

(The largest baseball bat in the world is in Louisville, leaning against the Louisville Slugger Museum. But no pics of that today.)

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very cool, wish I were there.

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Before music, it's time for history class.

The Falls of the Ohio (just beyond the range of the river pics above) are the geographical feature responsible for Louisville's location. It's a small waterfall – but enough to stop navigation except during periods of high water. The Indians knew it, and early European settlers discovered it soon enough. Louisville grew up around the portage, where westward-leading settlers had to unload their boats and carry the cargo to another boat on the other side of the falls.

Locks and channels eventually solved that problem, and with the development of river trade steamboats brought, Louisville grew.

But before that, Lewis and Clark met up here in 1804 to begin their expedition, leaving from the Falls of the Ohio. (Thus Clarksville, just across the river in Indiana.)

The bones of this early history are suggested by markers at Riverfront Plaza.

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Just west of the Galt House west tower, between Main Street and the riverfront, is Belvedere Park, where the Abbey Road on the River outside events are scheduled. The facilities were being prepped this afternoon.


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Food! – of a mix you could only find where the midwest meets the south.

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Glad that you pointed out that that was the Ohio. I had to look it up on a map to find out. Are the rivers in this region always a brown color like that? Or is it just because of the time of year with lots of water running in it?

As long as you are educating us on that area, what is the economic stimulus for Louisville? Is there industry there?

And most importantly, is there any chance that you might be able to go by the Louisville Slugger museum and report on it? I am sure that I'm not the only baseball fan on the GDP and there might be a few of us who will never make it to the museum who might love to see what it looks like.

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There's a lot of industry in Louisville, including a major UPS hub. The area is the center of Kentucky Bourbon production, a regional tobacco market, and of course the home of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby (which was run several weeks ago).

There may be time for a sidetrip to the Slugger Museum and Churchill Downs.

That's just the picturesque stuff – I'm sure you can google up more economic info. With a recent incorporation of the entire county into the City of Louisville, it's now (as signs around town are fond of bragging) the 16th largest metro area in the US.

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But we are at a Beatles festival, right? There's going to be music, RIGHT?

Right, right. I told you it was a slow day. As Joe and I set up the display, we heard a great band from outside running through dead-on versions of Beatles hits of every era.

But then it clouded up threateningly, we were told a weather front is coming through (they generally track the river), and there have been some reschedulings.

An evening of music lay ahead, and as soon as this coverage is posted, I'll head back down to capture it.

I understand it really gets serious tomorrow.

In the meantime, remember...

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Deep fried cheesecake?

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haha... love that warning sign!

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heh, back there, I think they deep fry anything! Maybe even funnelcake!

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you know what'd be really cool is if Brian Setzer showed up unannounced there at that Gretsch event!

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If the tickets weren't so much, and college on the horizon shortly, I'd be there.

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Before the show...



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Gretsch is ready for the screaming hordes...

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Meet the The Beat Radicals,

who played their first set on the Fountain Stage yesterday evening. This German band, on their first trip to the US, offered their "history of Beat Music from Elvis to Green Day."

So much goes on simultaneously at the various venues that I rarely get to catch an entire set. (All bands play multiple sets throughout the event, so I get more chances.)

I have the Rads here doing just the first few chapters of that history. I figure they ended up at Green Day; when I walked by the stage later in their set, they were on "Bang-A-Gong."

As we were packing the booth up for the night, they stopped by and were overcome by the sheer quantity of Gretschs, insisting on a picture.

The Beat Radicals Audio
Medley: TheBeat Goes On meets Little Richard
Heartbreak Hotel
The Roadrunner
Daytripper



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Later that same evening...

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The Norwegian Beatles

Listening to this music in the context offers many pleasures, triggers memories and associations – and also produces a range of realizations. (No revelations yet, but we're only a day in.)

I never saw The Beatles live, and it's a treat to see and hear bands do the material with care, precision, and energy – and in other cases, to give it their own twist.

Then you realize the audience ranges from babes in arms to really old geezers, with a concentration in the mid-20s-to-50s range. Lots of these people weren't around for the first go-round, so this isn't all nostalgia: the music simply has a lasting and fairly universal appeal.

And there are always people singing along, to every song, in a very free way. This is, of course, from long and cherished familiarity with what has become both the folk music and the classical music of an era – and people GET something out of singing along. It might as well be the campfire, or hymns.

The Norwegian Beatles' set yesterday on the Lawn Stage concentrated on later Beatles. And of course we can all sing along: we all heard this music on the radio and from our "stereos." But the twist here is that The Beatles themselves never performed most of this music live. In that sense, hearing anything from Sgt Peppers onward, played at performance volume by a live band – who almost surely know the material better than the Fabs ever did – is an experience that couldn't be had in the 60s (even if we had the brain cells to remember it).

Norwegian Beatles Audio
Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Magical Mystery Tour
Back in the USSR
Birthday
Yellow Submarine

Norwegian Beatles Video
Back in the USSR
Birthday


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There's also a church social component of the vibe: the event provides a Band/Staff Kitchen, a tent with tables behind the Lawn Stage with steamtable/church basement food. Staffers and band members get meal tickets good for five punches, and eat free.

There was pork & chicken barbecue on buns from the bag, cole slaw, potato salad, selection of chips and fruits, and drinks from iced coolers. Today I expect Sister Rigby's macaroni casserole, and Father Mackenzie to say grace.

On one hand, this element of the event feels very midwestern/midsouth to me. On the other hand, it's entirely appropriate: The Quarrymen played at parish and community events; Strawberry Fields, Penny Lane, et al seem universal and even mythic places to us, but to Lennon and McCartney they were the particular and familiar locations of home. Liverpool superimposes on Louisville.

Joe and I had a relaxed dinner from the Band/Staff Kitchen while hearing BritBeat start their set. Views across Main Street:

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Do they really call themselves "The Norwegian Beatles"? Really, like for real? As in, B E A T L E S???


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