Posted by: Cory | September 2, 2008

Bodeco Takes 5 for Kentucky

Bodeco arose out of the 80s punk scene in Louisville but turned back to rock ‘n roll’s roots creating a combustible sound that landed it a record deal and a legendary reputation for their wild live shows. Melding their punk tendencies with a roots sound, Bodeco soon became a signature band for the sound coming out of Louisville in the late 80s and early 90s. Their album Callin’ All Dogs was #80 on WFPK’s top albums of all time. The NY Times describes one of Bodeco’s live shows like this:

“Closing the show was Bodeco, a skunky country-rockabilly outfit from Louisville, Ky. The lead singer had a yelp that could have scared off a mugger, and the band’s jalopy approach of electric guitars, upright bass and drums was given a surreal coffeehouse lilt by the inclusion of a bongo player. The lead singer howled his way through a few songs, like one about a town called Hong Kong, Miss., then announced: “We’re going to do an instrumental now. I’m about to have a nicotine fit.”

They’ve recently reunited and will be playing the Irish Hill Improv Festival Inaugural Ball on Friday, September 5 at the Fox’s Den (formerly Coyote’s). Tickets are $10 at the door. For more info on the improv part of the show, visit

Jimmy Brown and Ricky Feather of Bodeco Take 5 for Louisville

1. What neighborhood did you grow up in?

JB: The same one as everyone in Bodeco. The South End. We’re all from the South End. Not exactly the same neighborhood, but we’re all from the South End.

RF: It’s between Okolona and Fern Creek. I don’t know if you’d call it the South End, exactly. It’s called High View.

2. When did you start playing together? Did you have a different band name?

JB: I guess the mid to late 80s. Ricky was in a punk group for a while called The Monsters. And Wink O’Bannon (former guitarist of Bodeco) was in several part of the late 70s early 80s punk groups in Louisville. I came out of more of a top 40 and blues background, myself. Hanging out with Ricky Feather for a while would make Bodeco [the band name] make sense. He’s from another planet.

RF: It woulda been somewhere around 1985 is when the name was established and we started putting together the group. I had met Brian Burkett (the drummer at the time) from a noise expressionistic band called Falcon Eddie. We’d come out of that little Louisville punk movement, bands like The End Tables, No Fun. That’s where we all met. Some people were coming at the punk rock thing more from a 60s garage styling. And some people were more geekish, alternative, quirky. It was a melting pot for a lot of eccentric music and people communicating through that. We had grown up listening to bands more like Mitch Rider & the Detroit Wheels, The Rolling Stones. We’d cover Iggy and the Stooges and read articles about them and discover their influences. And researching those songs and finding more music that moved us. And that went all the way back to boogie woogie and the roots of rock’n roll.

[As for the name Bodeco] There’s a fellow, Peter Bidner, who had these yahoo music papers. It was kind like a folk cultural Americana magazine before the term roots was really used. Some of the papers put out roots records. Peter subscribed to one. And Brian got a hold of one of those—we were a two piece for a while. We were really excited about Zydeco and Bo Diddley. And we were in the basement throwing names around. We liked the way Zydeco the word was formed, with the “z” and the “y” and the “deco.” But we were influenced to play a lot of one chord or seemingly one chord songs, so Bo Diddley was a big influence for us. And Brian kinda blurted it out: “Bo-deco.” And I thought: “Oh man.” But we used it and it stuck.

3. First show you played in Kentucky (plus any details you remember about it)?

JB: As far as Bodeco goes, I believe it was at Uncle Pleasants. For me. But Ricky and Brian [Burkett], they probably did some things when it was just coming together before we were a band. The one I remember distinctly was Uncle Pleasants or Tewligans, which is now Cahoots. We maybe made 100 as a band. It was interesting. It was memorable in that it was a little more spontaneous and combustible in that could explode or fall apart at any moment. I used to playing with people that had it a little more worked out. We, as a group, hadn’t played together much. They were kind of green and been stage fright and being excited it could explode at any moment. And that was it’s charm and it still is today.

RF: With Bodeco it would have been…it was a beer bust. It was a large party down on Payne street at a fellow Paul McGee’s house. He was playing in a band, I think called the Hot Heads. And we played at Tewligans, which was a pretty good venue at that time. I can remember Wink coming up to me at the end the of the show and saying “I don’t know how it happened but we all get 35 dollars a piece.” There’s been times since then when we didn’t get that much.

4. First show outside of Kentucky…how did you book it?

JB: I believe it was going to New York. I don’t remember where it was. Tara Key and her husband Tim Harris were in a band called The Babylon Dance Band and they were top of the food chain in Louisville’s punk scene. They moved to New York and started a new band called Antitem. They helped us get a gig in NY and thru them got us some publicity. We eventually through that and going up there for CMJ and the next thing you do we got a record deal with an indie label out of NY.

RF: We’d ask Jimmy to play and that kicked in. And that raised the sound and Gary Stillwell to play on conga drums. We’d played as a 3 piece (Brian, Wink, and myself) in Chicago a couple times. We’d gotten a deal with Homestead Records and we got the right kind of press and CMJ and a couple other music magazines. We were invited to play in New York at Maxwells, CBGB’s, and this place called the Gas Station off Houston. The east village was kinda drug heavy and we played at the Gas Station which was really a junk yard. We had to stop playing because the toilets stopped up and there were 4 inches of water on the floor and it was getting near the electrical equipment. Then, the police showed up and you had to pay them off because we had broken the ordinance or something. We played for like 30 minutes.

5. Favorite Kentucky band (other than yours)?

JB: Wow. Man. I don’t know if I can clear my mind enough for that. Partially because I’m at work. I’m gonna show my age, but I still like Another Mule. They used to be called Red Beans and Rice. For me it would be the other band I play in a lot called Hellfish. I also really like Tyrone Cotton but he needs to get out of town. He’s really talented, but it’s not going to do anything for him here.

RF: Huh, man. Well. It would be easy to say something like NRBQ. But I might say Cosmo and the Counts, because they had this one song called “A Little Mixed Up.” It’s this great Louisville rockabilly, rhythm and blues number. It’s got the right balance of both. And he was capable of doing songs in that kind of way to where it was rhythm and blues by nature but they added a little rockabilly thing to it just from the chemistry of the band.


  1. I remember Red Beans & Rice and their female vocalist, Martha O’Dell or something, she really wailed! Then they became Another Mule as a foursome. Mike (the King??) was nutso fun. I lived in the neighborhood and saw them at Function Junction all the time. That was some great stuff. I worked at Chichi’s and a gang of us would come out after our mexi-shift and dance our asses off in our goofy cocktail waitress uniforms. I see that they’ve played a couple of gigs lately, so pray tell me how could one find out if that were to happen again. ( i live in Atlanta, but come back often ). Thanks Brenda

  2. Every Sunday night closest to Fourth of July they play at Willow Park at 7 PM. It’s by 1400 Willow, and I think there’s a list of dates on Cherokee Association…or something like that…web site.

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