Sometimes it just takes a couple of years for the neighborhood to get to know you.
That might seem like an odd means of acquaintance for the Tahlsound Music Festival, especially since its very existence and design owes to the Southland Drive area, one of Lexington’s most musically rich communities. Shoot, the event’s very name is an anagram for Southland.
Still, the festival is only in its third year. That means for the past two summers, Tahlsound has had to build a sense of trust and credibility from the neighbors it relies on for financial support as well as artistic inspiration.
“I think we’re really starting to hit our stride,” said Tahlsound organizer Seth Murphy. “We’ve built a lot of community partners. We’ve also gotten that initial recognition throughout Lexington as a well-run, diverse festival that has all types of music. I think we’ve developed a reputation. What we’re doing appeals to folks that don’t get the chance to go out as see live music every weekend for a multitude of reasons. We pack it all into two days. You won’t have to stay out until midnight at a club to catch all the bands. We have over 20 bands and it all ends before 10 o’clock.”
The big news for Tahlsound 2019 involves a second stage and a second night.
Last year, the festival introduced an auxiliary, tent like-set up next to the permanent stage on the Oleika Great Lawn that serves as the festival’s main performance area. But the second stage was only used for three acts in 2018. This year, it will nearly mirror the number of performers on the mainstage.
“This year we’re really moving full speed ahead with the second stage,” Murphy said. “We have the Southland Stage, which is the big stage that was built on the property, and the Rosemont Stage, which is the one we bring in under a big tent. This will mean back-to-back, non-stop music for the duration of the festival.”
Two stages mean more performances, obviously, but so does the fact that Tahlsound is now a two-day event. Murphy felt it was important to run the festival on a Saturday/Sunday timeline in order to offer local audiences a schedule that differs from other local festivals. The Christ the King Oktoberfest, for example, which also runs this weekend, operates on a Friday/Saturday schedule.
“There’s not a lot of Sunday programming that offers the neighborhood something really easy and relaxed to do. So on Sunday afternoon, we have everything set up to where they can see some live music on Southland Drive.”
There is a twist to the music roster, as well. Tahlsound remains devoted to Central Kentucky acts representing multiple genres. But this year, a pair of national headliners have been added to the mix. Both, however, have strong local connections.
Saturday will feature songstress Erika Wennerstrom, who has been playing Lexington regularly for over a decade with her band Heartless Bastards and several times in recent years as a solo artist. Sunday will wind up with Horse Feathers, a band led by Oregon song stylist Justin Ringle but bolstered by the Lexington-based rhythm section of Robby Cosenza and J. Tom Hnatow. Other performers include Italian Beaches, Restless Leg String Band, Zoe Speaks and Letters of Acceptance. For a full schedule, go to tahlsound.com.
Even Murphy plans on getting some stage time. A cellist known for his work with Bear Medicine, Ancient Warfare and most recently Eric Bolander, he has been hesitant to join the live music lineup in the past while tending to the festival’s numerous organizational and technical demands. But he will join Bolander for a Sunday afternoon performance.
“I purposely put Eric’s set a little later on Sunday (4 p.m.). By that time, everything should be smooth sailing providing we have some of this great weather that seems to be holding throughout the summer.
“I’m comfortable enough with the organization and the support we have that I’m bringing my cello to play some songs this year. It’s been a long time coming, but it will be great.”
Tahlsound Music Festival
When: Sept. 21-22. Gates open at 12 noon each day.
Where: Oleika Great Lawn, 302 Southland Dr.
Tickets: $15, $20. Children 12 and under admitted free.