It's a driving day, and it's the first hot day of the tour. I leave St Louis in the late morning and drive for four hours on Interstate 64, all big farms and small towns, to Louisville, Kentucky. Today I listen mostly to the radio, and the radio is mostly classic rock and Christian stuff. After I'm all Led Zepped out, I tune in to the Christian radio stations. It's looney tunes out there whenever anyone, of any religion, aims to impose their spirituality on others. It makes for a combination of hilarious and frightening listening. The stations I'm catching, with their Focus on the Family programs, sound like a bad modern setting of pre-Enlightenment Puritanism. Or: that mashed up with the worst infomercials you have ever heard.
In Louisville I am staying with the composers Krzysztof Wolek and Allison Ogden and their brilliant baby daughter. And their cat. There's been a cat at most of the places I have stayed on this tour, and I have overcome my cat allergies, for the most part. But I soon learn that, in addition to its wonderfully relaxed, sunny atmosphere (at least during my visit), Louisville is apparently one of the worst spots for allergy sufferers. So despite visits to two bars with excellent collections of Belgian and Belgian-style beers, I have to take it easy. Those heavy beers mess with my allergies.
Anyway. I get into town and go to dinner with Krzysztof, Allison, the baby, the virtuoso flautist Margaret Lancaster, composer John Ritz and his wife Sally and their baby. Nice conversations about music and babies and food and travelling swirling around the table over passable Italian food and wine. Because Dutch composer Louis Andriessen has just won the University of Louisville's mega-prestigious Grawemeyer Award, and my path crossed with Louis' (when Krzysztof and I met during his lessons at a composers course in Poland in 1999, and later), I begin four days of being asked for or volunteering stories about my time in The Netherlands. It becomes a joke: "have I mentioned I lived in Holland?" I did, I did live in Holland!
I am in Louisville to teach classes at the University of Louisville and perform at a computer music concert. Krzystof and I made a deal, years ago, to never bullshit our responses to each others' work. So I am humbled and honored that he is giving me a platform to present my work to his students, his fellow faculty and the university community. The hallowed halls of academia are a massive contrast to the galleries, clubs, basements and living rooms I have been performing in on this tour. The timbre and rhetoric are different. The goals and processes are different. But Krzysztof is dedicated to teaching his students not only the fundamentals of computer and historical electronic music, but encouraging them to broaden their approach to music making in general. And I am committed to maintaining the purpose of the tour: to communicate (read: discuss) the messages on the Conquistadors EP. It will be an interesting week.