William Benton is the man behind The Cathouse. | Photo by Sarah Summerwell.
William Benton is the man behind The Cathouse. | Photo by Sarah Summerwell.

William Benton sees the potential The Cathouse can bring to the Smoketown neighborhood, but he just needs the funds to make that vision possible. He’d like to improve and empower the small performance/art space located at 747 S. Preston St., so he’s started an IndieGogo campaign to raise $1,500. He’s got 58 days left to do so.

As detailed in the request, Benton, who lives in the building with his girlfriend Sarah Summerwell and brother David Cundiff, is looking to improve the sound and aesthetics, build a stage, and upgrade the projector to show films and visuals during events.

Benton is not new to music. He’s a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist who has either played in or with dozens of Louisville’s top rock/indie bands today. The roster is a who’s-who of the Louisville music scene: Bodyhammer, Tyrone, Lucky Pineapple, The Phantom Family Halo. Lately, he’s played with Shilpa Ray and has formed his own band, Cat Casual & the Holy Midnight.

Benton says The Cathouse can accommodate 40-45 people comfortably, and it has been host to live music shows, poetry readings, community meetings, art shows and film screenings.

Four years ago he relocated to New York City, leaving The Cathouse in other hands, but he returned when he heard the space was again available. According to the IndieGogo site, “While the current (re)occupants are very happy to be (back) in The Cathouse and hosting a variety of special events, due to the cost of relocation and some unfortunate events of late, we are reaching out to friends to see if we can keep the improvements on track.”

The Cathouse is located at 747 S. Preston St. in Smoketown.
The Cathouse is located at 747 S. Preston St. in Smoketown.

Benton tells Insider that the decision to put up a fundraising site wasn’t an easy one. “It bothers me a great deal to ask anybody for anything,” he says. “I seem to avoid it, especially when I need it most. That’s a product of both my lower-working class upbringing and the punk-rock ethic that has been at the base of what I have always done.”

Due to the cost of moving back from New York and a couple of unfortunate events, Benton realized he wouldn’t have the funds to make the necessary upgrades to The Cathouse. “So it was imperative to keep improvements on track and to make it a comfortable place for every variety of performance.”

After his time in New York, Benton says he came to appreciate how far his dollar can go in Louisville when it comes to the arts and creating a venue that can perpetuate his passions. “I am quite passionate about art and want it to be a helpful, beneficial aspect to every community,” he explains. “I felt business had stifled the art communities in New York to the point that I saw very little that was exciting or sincere. At some point while living there, I began to think about my previous stint in The Cathouse, and it started to make me think a lot about what more I could have done there — all of which was impossible in New York.”

Those looking to help can donate on the site, and perks range from being on the guest list at the next event ($10) to booking Cat Casual to play at your event ($100) to hosting your own event at The Cathouse ($200).

The next event, scheduled for Friday, Jan. 24, is a listening party for musician Brian Foor’s latest release, Of Brass and Chrome. Benton’s band will also play, as will Asm a Tik. Cover is $5, and showtime is 8 p.m.

Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville. She's known around town as the Bar Belle and updates her blog (barbelleblog.com) daily. She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."


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