Stomping Grounds: Alex Preston of Mittens on Strings (Louisville, KY)

Though the Mittens on Strings crew now resides in, plays in, and parties hard in Chicago, everyone has their roots. And for this group of rag-tag, humor-embracing, shambling indie-rockers, Mittens on Strings are ready to move on into the new decade of the new millenium. As the band is busy promoting Let’s Go To Baba’s in Chi-town, it’s time look back and to read up about nooks and crannies of Derby City.

What’s your town’s nickname?
It’s called the Derby City.  That is really cool unless you are from there.  It is just like only half of Chicago supported the 2016 Olympics.  Most people just want to get to work.  People love the ritual, and they love the celebrities that go to the Derby.  Anna Nicole Smith went there at the height of her popularity.
“Thunder over Louisville,” a Derby event, is one of the biggest fireworks displays in the world and when that guy lands his parachute in the middle of a firestorm on a Barge on the Ohio river it is really incredible.

What is your favorite local attraction (monument, park, etc)?
There is a state park called “Falls or the Ohio.”  It is a devonian period fossil collection that is so bumpy it puts rapids in the Ohio river and was a major obstacle to commerce back in boating days.  They had to build lockes in the river to get around it actually, and people getting to fed up with rapids stopping there is a big reason the city exists.  They have crinoids, horned coral, trilobites, dunkleosteus (armour plated fish), and stuff like that there.  It is when the whole Midwest was a giant inland sea.

What is your favorite local event/festival?

Harvest Homecoming in New Albany, Indiana is the best event in the area even though everyone will say the Derby is.  Harvest Homecoming is right across the river and it is the 2nd biggest festival in IN besides the Indy 500.  It is just a bunch of the craziest people coming out of the woodwork from all over to have a good time in Downtown New Albany.  They have all these booths with fantastic food.  The best is the Redman’s Club chicken and Dumplings.  They cook it in these crockpots the size of a casket and dip it out into a cup. You always want to eat two, but can usually only finish one.  They also have a donut booth there that is mind-blowing.  They make the donut and the liquified glazing is still dripping when they hand them to you.  It is the best tasting donut I have ever had.  I also sign up to win one of the shotguns in a few of the gun raffles each year.  I have yet to win a gun.
Who is your favorite local celebrity/personality?
I love Kevan Ramer the Channel 32 weather man.  He always comes on during Letterman and looks uncomfortable.  I lied to my brother one time and said he died when he was on vacation.

Who has the best jukebox (and what’s in it)?
The Magbar has a good jukebox equal parts Velvet Underground and Ramones.  It’s in Old Louisville and is a great dive bar with a back porch and pool tables.  A lot of scuzzbuckets hang out there.
What is your favorite local band?
When I lived there in highschool it was My Morning Jacket, Helgeson Story, and Second Story Man.  Second Story Man is still there and they are awesome.  I also saw this band Waxfang recently, and they kicked my ass.
What is your favorite diner or restaurant and what is their best dish?
I liked this place in New Albany across the Ohio called Little Chef where a dude told me there were other dimensions and he saw a ghost dog one time, but that place closed down.
I went to Barbara Lee’s over the summer on Brownsboro Road and they make a really good burger and Biscuits and Gravy.  We order 3 cheeseburgers for the table when we go, even if we are going there for breakfast.
What is your favorite record store and what was your best find there?
Ear-X-Tacy is about the only one left.  I used to go there and make a list of Fugazi albums so I could buy them in chronological order.  I scoured their used CD’s a lot.  They had in stores and I saw June Panic there.  He played “The Bells” from the Silver Sound there and that song is amazing.  He said that he had never played that song except in the studio when he recorded it.  That was my best find.  They stopped putting up whatever fliers you gave to them, and only put up “cool” ones now.  That turns me off a bit.
What is your favorite local shop?
My parent’s own an art supply store there called, “Preston Art Center.”  It awesome my grandparents started it during the depression, so if it survives this one it, it will have survived two.  The reason I love it so much is that I always ask my mom for art supplies, and she says. “You are going to have to pay for them this time,” but she nearly always sends them for free.  It is at the tail end of the cool section of Bardstown Road before you hit the Interstate.
What is your favorite local publication (alternative weekly, zine, website or blog)?
The LEO is the Louisville Eccentric Observer.  It is like a Reader in Chicago or Village Voice in New York, but more laid back to fit Louisville’s vibe.  When I was in highschool I would call and beg them to put my friends band, Cloverleaf,  in the listings.  When they would, I would be like like, “Hey you got press.”  Haha.