By Rachel Grimes
The quality of the sound in an environment is always so captivating to me, and seems to be something that either makes me comfortable or uncomfortable immediately. Here are some of my favorites around Louisville, Kentucky.
This morning I walked outside early and heard the sound of a long, low barge horn on the Ohio River — always been one of my favorite sounds around here — it is always sooooo far away, and has so much low end, it carries a long while. I live about three miles from the river and could almost feel the vibrations.
I also love to go walk across the Big Four Bridge over the Ohio in downtown Louisville. When you are up there, way up in the air over the water, there is a wonderful surround sound of space, air, water, and so much ambient sound from the people walking, the river traffic, and distant cars and trucks.
The other night I heard excellent guitar music played live in a Mexican restaurant in Shelbyville called Fiesta Mexicana. Kind of unusual to have live music so close in such a casual place, and it was such a pleasure — just the right mix of sound. We could hear him playing so well, and hear each other to talk, something that rarely happens in any restaurant for me anymore. It was a fairly small room, so it just balanced out and was a real treat.
Guestroom Records on Frankfort Ave. always has something interesting playing, a fun surprise each time I walk in.
A bit up the road in French Lick, Indiana, is a really remarkable and gorgeous atrium in the hotel lobby of West Baden Springs Hotel. At one time it was considered one of the wonders of the world, and has an enormous arched, glass ceiling. It feels vast, even with your eyes closed. You can hear all kinds of sounds, delicately mixed together, but almost impossible to pick anything out specifically. I guess the sound sweeps up and around and dissipates, so there is no echo or harsh edge. Nothing ever seems loud in there — perfect place to drink bourbon and play scrabble with your mom.
Rachel Grimes is a pianist, composer, and arranger living in Louisville, KY. She has played and written for many ensembles, perhaps none as widely influential as the indie-rock chamber ensemble Rachel’s. Her most recent album, The Clearing, is out now via Temporary Residence.