Cory Chisel

Waterfront Wednesdays may be the perfect Louisville event. Free music sponsored by WFPK, the hippest of Louisville’s radio stations, outdoors on the river, with beer and other adult beverages, fair food, and plenty of chances to socialize.

The Wednesday in September when WFPK packs up their stage for the winter is one of the saddest days of the year.

Weep no more, music lovers. WFPK has decided to move Waterfront Wednesdays indoors this winter.

The official announcement of the Winter Wednesdays series, sponsored by WFPK and the Clifton Center, won’t come until Monday, but because of the Louisville Public Media pledge drive, news has been trickling out on air and via Twitter and the WFPK website.

Winter Wednesdays will take place at the Clifton Center, 2117 Payne St., the last Wednesday of every month from November through February. That means October and March will be the only WW-less months. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the music starts at 7:30 p.m. It’s first come, first seated, and WFPK members get priority seating.  This season’s sponsors include Blue Moon Brewing Company and Quest Outdoors.

The first Winter Wednesday show will feature headliner Cory Chisel & the Wandering Sons from Wisconsin with supporting act von Grey, a quartet from Atlanta.

From the WFPK website:

Cory Chisel is an old believer. You can hear it in his music – there’s a wisdom beyond his years in that voice. You can see it in his story – the son of a preacher, sheltered from pop music, raised on hymns and Johnny Cash. “Mom played piano and organ, my dad did the preaching, the thing that my sister and I could add to the service was to sing.” As fate would have it, the kid was born to do it. He grew up in the Iron Rangetown of Babbitt, Minnesota, and the rural flatlands of Appleton, Wisconsin. Along with the family’s spiritual doctrine, came a musician uncle, who taught Cory about the blues: Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Johnson, Sonny Boy Williamson.

Cory Chisel & the Wandering Sons perform on Letterman:

About von Grey from the WFPK website:

With their soulful four-part harmonies, poetic lyrics and indelible melodies, it’s easy to see why the Atlanta Journal Constitution would hail von Grey as “nothing short of stunning.” They sound like they were born to play together – and, in fact, they were. The four sisters have been playing music nearly their entire lives. Classically trained from an early age, the Atlanta-based quartet – Kathryn, Annika, Fiona and Petra von Grey – have built on that foundation by performing upwards of 200 shows in the past two years, from recurring residency tours at intimate venues throughout the southeastern U.S. to supporting gigs with such artists as Sarah McLachlan.

Petra, Kathryn, Annika and Fiona von Grey

Fun fact left out of that bio: the von Greys play some pretty sophisticated stuff for musicians who are aged 12-17. WBEZ calls their music, “soulful… classically-trained teen angst.”

The Eifler Theatre in the Clifton Center is a 496 fixed-seat theatre with a 60′ x 20′ proscenium stage. Obviously this set-up begs the question: “How is Winter Wednesday going to preserve the festival feel of Waterfront Wednesdays?”

Stacy Owen, Program Director at WFPK, says that Winter Wednesdays will definitely have a different feel than Waterfront Wednesdays. “Obviously in the theatre, we’re going to ask the audience to be respectful of the performers,” she says. “It’s just going to have to be different.”

There will be plenty of opportunities to be social during the event. According to Owen, “there will be a separate room where they’ll sell drinks and snacks, and in the hallway or a bigger room that’s where we’ll have sponsor booths and the WFPK booth.”

Waterfront Wednesdays on the Big Four Lawn have a capacity of 1500 people. “We don’t want to be turning away 1000 people at the door,” says Owen. So the smaller size of the Clifton Center is influencing who WFPK will be inviting to play. According to Owen, WFPK is planning on filling the schedule with “up-and-coming acts and bands we’re falling in love with.”

But the first gig of the season on November 28 will be a bit of a testing ground. No matter what, Owen assures us that even if WFPK has to start issuing tickets for the event, Winter Wednesdays will be free.

So, leave your folding chairs and picnic blankets in storage for the winter, but mark your calendars: from November through February, the last Wednesday of the month will still be a party with fantastic, new, free music and all of your friends.

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