Growing up, I had the fortune to live in the Highlands. It was the late eighties, I was a chubby pool rat at Lakeside, ran around with some local rascals and haunted places like the old Electric Ladyland that had a pool table, arcade games, and you could even smoke in. Across the street was a record store called Ear X-tacy and it was a bit of a forbidden oasis. Since we weren’t buying anything ever, we could always get chased out of there by a curly haired fella with glasses that looked like he was in R.E.M. That was, and is, John Timmons. A man who has had a significant impact on the Louisville music scene, since he moved here from Evansville in ’76, and thankfully for us listeners, brings his musical vision to the airwaves of WFPK every Saturday from 12-4.
Ear X-tacy would continue to be a sanctuary for those looking for more ‘alternative’ music for many more years and also host a slew of acts, both local and world renowned, for record release parties and acoustic sessions whilst such acts were passing through. I was lucky enough to catch up with John before a recent show and before we sat down to chat his character astounded me. There was a homeless man who frequents the Highlands hanging out on a park bench this fine Saturday morning and Timmons, who later informed me that the man was a former visual folk artist, knew him, stopped for a chat, and then took him some juice. I wasn’t so much amazed at the act of kindness, but the honest sincerity in the act itself, which Timmons likely thought was par for his course. Then again I’m a fairly heartless bastard in that regard, but that’s not neither here nor there. Point being, John Timmons sincerely nurtures that which is dear to him and music is at the forefront of his interests.
We cracked on for easily an hour and it was simply a great experience from a learning perspective, talking music (which I obviously loathe), and felt like catching up with an old friend. Since we share a love of many similar bands, and ‘genres’ of music, fortune shined upon me again picking the brain of such an individual. As mentioned, Timmons first stepped on the scene in ’76, had never been here before, and landed an apartment in Cherokee Gardens. From there he followed his passion of music, having managed some other independent record stores, and began to carve his own niche serving his own passion, interests, and thankfully the public. For me it is hard to imagine in a lot of ways, but I would compare it to my own experience of moving to NYC, the first time from Louisville, and that sensation that you really had ‘arrived’. Things are so fresh, you feel as though you can conquer the anything, and Timmons did just that.
Throughout his time with us he has seen many bands come and go but I wrangled out his ‘Top 5 Louisville Bands of All Time’ which exemplifies his taste and some of what he brings to his show. There is actually 6 (come on 5 is tough for anyone with any taste) and they are 1) Tim Krekel, 2) Mudcats with Jim Rosen, 3) My Morning Jacket, 4) Kinghorse, 5) Slint, and 6) The Babylon Dance Band. You can thank most of those bands for the awesomeness of today’s local music as many of today’s local artists were influenced by one, or many, of those gems. His ‘Top 5 Local Bands in the Present’ are 1) My Morning Jacket, 2) Wax fang, 3) Will Oldham, 4) Peter Searcy, and 5) Ben Sollee. Got to say, if you are a new disciple of the knowledge I drop those 5 certainly have gotten some kudos from this guy, while there are some others I may have thrown in there but again 5 is tough!
I can’t urge you enough to check out his show on Saturdays. While he does have some of the WFPK playlist to ‘adhere’ to, he manages to mix things up with his own selections in a way in which only he can. It’s simply fantastic and we could all use more people like John Timmons in our lives. He’ll teach you something about quality music and he just ‘hopes people give it a listen’. We could only be so lucky.
Main Photo Credit - Bill Ivester Photography http://bivester.com - penalty for thievery is incarceration.
Other photos are John's. If you try and jack them, the entire Louisville music community will rise up on you, seriously.