Ken Pyle of the Rudyard Kipling

In my mind, few people involved Louisville’s music scene and legacy loom larger than Ken Pyle, owner of the Rudyard Kipling.

Now, if you’ve never seen or been around Ken, that might misrepresent him just a tad. He doesn’t “loom” at all, and he’s not anywhere near “large” either, but I trust that you get my meaning here.

Some time ago –  at the end of the previous century –  I remember it being a rather big deal to me when I finally played the Rudyard Kipling. I had seen so many fantastic shows there (Shannon Wright, The Frogs, Melt Banana, Richard Buckner–  and too many local bands to even begin to list), yet defied the odds by having not played there myself within those first few years of my living in Louisville.

Truth be known, I had this hang-up in my own mind that the bands I was in weren’t appropriate for the Rud –  meaning, we were loud and aggressive as hell.

When I did finally play that Rud-cherry-popper, I quickly learned that those fears had been completely unfounded, and that all styles of music were welcome at the Rudyard Kipling. I cannot even count how many shows I have played there since.

Some of the best and most memorable days and nights of my life were at the Rudyard Kipling, and I am confident that a great many Louisvillians can say the exact same thing.

Oh yeah. I should mention that I got married there, too.

Though that marriage didn’t last, the Rud’s legacy lives on …

Ken and Sheila Pyle have been a pivotal part of Louisville’s music scene since they began welcoming live music in 1984. Chances are, if you are a Louisville resident who has attempted music in any capacity, you have likely played at the Rudyard Kipling.

The Rud, 422 West Oak Street

And the Rud’s notoriety doesn’t end outside of the 502: I constantly encounter people from all over the country who have performed there and have fond memories of the kindness and good spirit that inhabits that lovely building. People remember the Pyle and the spirit of the Rudyard Kipling because so few venue owners/operators ever come close to extending the respect and open-mindedness that they always have.

While I would and should have gladly written such a glowing account of the Pyle on any other day, I am motivated to do so now as Ken and Sheila need the help of the artistic community that they did so much to grow.

Ken was recently hospitalized and now has to wrestle with the vast expenses of his medications. A Give Forward account has been set up to collect donations for help during these difficult times.

From Ray Rizzo and Ted Harlan’s Give Forward page for Ken:

Ken Pyle is a prince of positivity. Whether it be with his family, his friends, his church or his one-of-a-kind establishment The Rudyard Kipling in Louisville, KY, Ken has always emphasized joy and peacefulness in all things. Recently, Ken was hospitalized with an infection caused by complications with his knee replacements. He has had 2 successful surgeries but still suffers from the infection that spread to other parts of his body. Ken has Medicare which covers his doctor bills, hospitalization, and what at the time of this campaign looks to be 6 weeks in nursing home, but his very costly medication is not covered. This campaign is raising funds for this.

Please give what you can, if you can.

Long live the Rudyard Kipling –  and thank you for everything, Ken and Sheila. Much love and respect.

(Please visit the Rudyard Kipling whenever you can. There continues to be an incredible variety of entertainment presented there each week, some pretty damn good pizza, snappy cheese, good prices on drinks, and some damn fine people hanging around.)

Additional information:

The Give Forward campaign for Ken has reached 63 percent of its $15,000 goal in a little more than 24 hours. Donations as high as $1000 and many notes of encouragement, appreciation and love have come in from the Louisville arts community and beyond.

There have been a few changes to this weekend’s Motherlodge event, organized by Ray Rizzo and held primarily at the Rud, to both accommodate the University of Louisville’s advancement in the NCAA Championships and to add fundraising opportunities for Ken.

The new Fri. Mar., 29 schedule:

The new Sat. Mar 30 schedule:

  • 2:30pm Alanna Fugate
  • 3:00pm Long Table Discussion: The Artist and Creativity thru Ernest Becker’s Eyes w/ Bill Bornschein, Paul Curry, Ben Kresse, Matt Weir, and others tba [FREE & streamed at]
  • 5:00pm Small Time Napoleon [free]
  • 5:30pm Jesus Christ Superstar Singalong: In the spirit of Easter and a great new Motherlodge tradition, Pierson Keating, Ray Rizzo, and a number of other Louisville musicians will lead another all-in audience participation singalong of favorite tunes from the musical.  [Pay What You Can – proceeds will go to Ken Pyle’s medical costs]
  • 7:00pm (doors at 6:30pm) Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant: Irina’s Name Day Party [$25] See details above Click here to buy tickets

 More information and events listed at the website.

Additional reporting by Melissa Chipman

William Benton is doing what most musicians dream about, but are afraid to do … trying to survive in New York. He just left the band Phantom Family Halo, which began in Louisville. He is now playing with Shilpa Ray and in the process of putting together another band in the New York area.