it’s really gone.

It’s gone. And I am totally devastated. Is it weird to have that kind of reaction to a store closing? Maybe. But, ear X-tacy was so much more than a store in Louisville for the past 26 years. It was a community of music loving people and now I feel like our home has vanished without warning. No time to prepare our hearts or say one last goodbye. My head understand that it is a reflection on the changing times in the music industry, but my heart is aching.

I could go on for days about what ear X-tacy meant in my life.  But what hurts now more than anything is that my kids won’t get to grow up with the embracing, supportive, local music store. Our family has experienced some amazing moments there. One that stands out strongly in my mind was when Josh Ritter played an in-store  on May 17, 2010.  I had to sign my eldest, who was in 1st grade at the time, out of school early to make it to the show on-time. It was one of those ‘good Mom vs. music Mom’ moments and I am so glad to say that music Mom won out! My youngest and strongest rocker was just over 2 years old at the time and strapped in the front pack, so that he wouldn’t rush the stage and take Josh down with hugs! We played Josh Ritter’s music on a regular basis at the house (still do!), so the kids all knew it and my little guy just kept saying, “lala”. He was a very late talker and when he said “lala”, it meant he wanted to listen to Josh. So, to see him perform in the intimate setting of ear X-tacy was mind-blowing for my little 2 year old! But, there is more. We stayed after and got to meet Josh. He was gracious, patient and unbelievable. He got down on his knees to meet each of the kiddos and talked directly to them. He gave them guitar pics. And high fives. My little rocker still talks about the high five! He signed our CD: “to a rock n roll family”. It was an experience my family will never forget.

When you walked into ear X-tacy, there was always such a welcoming feel. I am sure I often looked like a spectacle bring my foursome in, but some days I just needed some music to make it through and ear X-tacy was the answer. I was always greeted with a friendly smile and hello. In fact, if I miraculously entered by myself, I was usually asked where my crew was. They provided such a special place that never made me second guess bringing my kids to in-stores. It is because of them that my kids have been exposed to so many very talented bands in a live setting. Usually, kids aren’t welcome in the concert setting, but ear X-tacy opened a whole new world. And I will never be able to repay my gratitude. It was at the Abigail Washburn in-store that my little guy became enthralled with her super-sized banjo! He had never seen anything like it before!  Another one of our favorite in-stores was when Daniel Martin Moore and Dan Dorff performed at the Loop and we got a very up-close view of some outstanding music when the Dans stepped off stage and right in front of where we were sitting…kids were hooked!! (the redheads briefly shown are mine!)

ear X-tacy was so supportive to the local music scene. Sure, they got some great national artists in. I loved seeing Matisyahu and Dawes perform there earlier this year! But ear X-tacy was always there to help the local artists. It was a great family event when we got to see our cousins’ band, Adventure, play there. And even more fun when we walked into the Loop store shortly after it opened and found our cousin, Alex Clark‘s CD on display, with Adventure in the background.

I had recently asked Ben Sollee what ear X-tacy meant to him…this was before the closing, but his elegant words sum up how many people thought of ear X-tacy and are too good not to share:

“As an independent musician I spend a tremendous amount of time working with social media, blogs, online magazines, and every other kind of virtual community you can imagine. But there’s a lonely quality to those adventures. There’s still nothing like walking in to my favorite record store and seeing what’s on the shelves… seeing handmade displays constructed lovingly for an employee’s favorite artist, getting advise on new music, finding old recordings that no one else cared to listen to… it’s all tangible. It’s personal. It’s a place we’re a physical community gathers to share ideas and passions. It may not always be profitable to sell recorded music, but there will always be a place for a record store that can curate and share essential art in the communtiy.” – Ben Sollee

It is a little hard to watch this movie trailer for Brick and Mortar and Love, knowing that ear X-tacy is no longer…it is exactly what they were trying to prevent.

I, too, wish it weren’t time for ear X-tacy to die. RIP. You will be missed more than anyone realizes. You have been an influential factor in the lives of so many and I wish Louisville didn’t have to let go. I am sure I will get to the point where I can look back and be happy about my time and experiences at ear X-tacy, but right now, I am just too sad to think of anything other than the hole ear X-tacy’s departure is leaving in the community and future. I was counting on my little rocker growing up with ear X-tacy and fulfilling his often talked about dream of performing on their stage. It was one of the first things he asked about when I told him it was closed…”what about the stage? I want to play there. Will bands still play?” No, my sweet boy, they will not.  I hope somehow that the Louisville music scene can come together and move that stage so that it doesn’t get lost forever.

I’ll let Jim James, of My Morning Jacket, have the last word since I agree with it all. Jim and the other members of MMJ have always been very vocal with their love and support of ear X-tacy and he says it so well.  This was posted on MMJ’s website earlier today:

“there is a tear in my eye right now as i hear about the closing of one of my favorite places on earth- ear-xtacy. i send thanks and healing vibes to john and everyone who has worked so hard at the store over the years…the presence of that sacred place will be sorely missed. people-let this be a big wake up call to us…we need these place to gather as a community and share ideas about music and art and love and life and…for the love of god…it cant all take place online…or i fear that one day we will all wake up bleary-eyed and hung over from our technology binge and find the real world long gone…let us be inspired by places like “please and thank you,” “carmichaels,” “pops retails and consignment,” “heine brothers” and all the great independent ma and pa stores around the globe- leading us into a new era of what a creative business can be…we need to support these places and help create more…the mp3 has killed the idea of what a traditional record store used to be, but that should only be cause for us to re-invent and support things the computer can never kill…we need these real place…where you can still buy a record from a local band or a hard to find label or root thru stacks of used vinyl…or get a cup of coffee…or buy an old stereo system or synthesizer or a pair of jeans…or learn a new skill…or teach a new skill…and love your fellow human in person and face to face to face and all in the same place. lets brainstorm. lets build more of these places. lets stick together. lets support each other. lets figure it out.” -jim james



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Go.See.Ben.Sollee.Live. (and try to win tickets here!!)

Wow.  I’ve never written anything that has required so many re-dos and so much effort.  I can’t get the words right. The issue isn’t the subject.  Well, maybe it is, but not because he isn’t good.  It’s because he is so talented, unique and an outstanding man that I feel overwhelmed with painting a flawless picture of him for you.  My experience with Ben Sollee may have been more than the average fan (read about that here), but everyone who meets him pretty much says the same thing: He is an incredible musician and such a genuine guy!

When you talk with Ben, you quickly find out that he is soft-spoken and embraces doing things in his own, unique way.  Everything-from the way he tours (he ‘ditches the van‘ for part of his tour each year and travels by bicycle) to the way he plays his cello.  Yes, I said cello.  No–I haven’t switched musical focuses to classical.

Don’t ask me to classify Ben’s music. Not sure it can be put into a box–he’s not an ‘in the box’ kinda guy.  It isn’t classical, that for sure, even though that was his foundation. “Pop cello” is the easy way out-but is is SO much more. It has so much depth and so many layers that aren’t usually associated with pop.  Ben is the MacGyver of the cello world. Paving (maybe peddling is more accurate!) his way with brand new sounds and techniques that make you forget how the cello is ‘supposed’ to sound.  He uses his hands and plays it like a guitar.  He uses his bow and has perfected the chopping sound. But most impressive is the voice and words that accompany the one of a kind cello sounds.

Ben’s voice has a deep and impassioned sound that comes from an old soul. He will blow your mind when the sound comes out and then he will keep you flying when you listen to the lyrics. One his 2010 release, Dear Companion, with Daniel Martin Moore, they focus on the issues surrounding mountain top removal and the message comes through. But even on his other releases, his voice is strong. His latest album, Inclusions, feels much more personal, but still fabulous! I could go on and on with my favorite lyrics, but here are a few:

“If I’ve wounded you, I’m sorry.
I had good intentions.
If I’ve wounded you, I’m sorry.
It happens all the time.”  -Something, Somewhere, Sometime

“When my bare hands touch the base of you spine
I feel you shudder and you close your eyes
Move like a swallow and I’m Hypnotized”  -Electrified

Ben is going places and others are starting to recognize this talented performer from Kentucky! He has been featured on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert Series, as well as Mountain Stage and even in the Wall Street Journal! At this year’s Bonnaroo, Rolling Stone also took notice.

Part of my trouble with writing this is that I want to entice each and everyone of you to see Ben Sollee live. I promise it will be an evening you won’t soon forget. But, just in case my writing isn’t enough, I will give away 2 tickets to Ben’s show on Friday, Oct.14th at Headliners. All you have to do is tag Last Bit of Sanity on your facebook status or post on the wall and you will be entered to win!

We were lucky enough to be in attendance when both of these clips were filmed! 🙂