Punk rock is alive and well! I had the pleasure of being entertained by the Straight A’s, Rude Weirdo, David Grubbs, Brett Eugene Ralph’s Kentucky Chrome Revue and the Web at the Bard’s Town Theater on December 30, 2011. These local musicians pushed the envelope of sound, engaged the audience and compelled me to listen.
The sound was diverse, energetic, intelligent and unique. The Straight A’s brought multi-drum sets beating tribally in unison, Rude Weirdo expanded our ears with melodic sound and unusual commentary that was reminiscent of Frank Zappa. David Grubbs enthralled us with his one man guitar set, his hypnotic voice and riffs. Brett Eugene Ralph’s Kentucky Chrome Revue put an acoustic spin on modern day social issues. The Web brought performance art, clarinet, and bass riffs to the stage. This is Punk Rock. Punk music does not conform or abide by the rules. It is raw emotion that is unapologetic. Regardless of the package it is wrapped in, punk is here with a new familiar face.
After the show, I spoke with Brett Eugene Ralph. I had fond memories of him from my days at Tewligan’s and Swiss Hall. He was then the front man for Malignant Growth and Fading Out. As a teenager, his lyrics and voice gave me food for thought, expanded horizons and cold chills. He commanded the crowd to listen, “I’m coming home!” with the song Sherman Minton Bridge. The hair on the back of my neck would stand on edge. Some things do not change. His poetry still brings a smile, a tear, and a sense of being at ease.
It was refreshing to hear a new sound with the same impenitent true words. Lyrics beautifully strung together in such a way that only Brett weaves. The stories of days past and the honest words of a man’s life were poured out to the audience for all to bear witness. Between songs, Brett shared his personal life experience and lively commentary which added to the intimacy of what music invokes.
I asked Brett if he felt the new sound was footed in the punk tradition. He said he felt this band was more punk than anything he had been involved with before. Brett went on to say,”Punk is not a genre. Punk is content. We are the MC5 of Country music.” No truer words could be spoken. The sound has changed, morphed and evolved but, the message is still there. The message of brutal honesty, grit, personal soul and sentiment with an unconventional view is still standing and loud in Louisville, Kentucky.