Join Kirt Jacobs as he talks with the crowd at Railbird!
The blues is music for all time—past, present, and future—and few artists simultaneously exemplify those multiple temporal moments of the genre like North Mississippi’s Cedric Burnside.
The Mississippi Hill Country blues guitarist and singer/songwriter contain the legacy and future of the region’s prescient sound stories. At once, African and American and southern and Mississippian, these stories tell about love, hurt, connection, and redemption in the South. His newest contribution to this tradition is I Be Trying, a 13-track album treatise on life’s challenges, pleasures, and beauty. “Life can go any kind of way,” Burnside says. He would know with almost 30 years of performing and living blues in him.
Burnside’s blues inheritance, the North Mississippi Hill Country blues, is distinct from its Delta or Texas counterparts in its commitment to polyrhythmic percussion and its refusal of familiar blues chord progressions. Often, and especially in Burnside’s care, it leads with extended riffs that become sentences or pleas or exclamations, rendering the guitar the talking drum like its West African antecedent. Riffs disappear behind and become one with the singer’s voice, like the convergence of hill and horizon in the distance. Sometimes they become the only voice, saying what the singer cannot conjure the words for. Across some nine individual and collaborative album projects, Burnside’s voice eases seamlessly into, through, and behind the riffs spirit gifts him, carrying listeners to a deep Mississippi well. There is a mirror there in the water of that well, in Burnside’s music, that shows us who and what we have been, who we are, and what we might be if we look and heed.
The 42-year-old Burnside was born in the blues as much as he was in funk, rock, soul, and hip-hop. These latter sensibilities are reflected across his work as he drives Hill Country blues into grooves that lend themselves readily to an urgent, modern moment. But he is also keenly his grandfather’s grandson, who he studied so carefully over a decade playing with him that he came to know him better than his self. The elder Burnside bluesman, the hill country blues luminary RL Burnside, and his wife Alice Mae wrapped their Holly Springs land and family in warmth, joy, and music. RL Burnside, alongside collaborators and contemporaries from David “Junior” Kimbrough to Jessie Mae Hemphill and Otha Turner, cultivated the sound and feel of Black North Mississippi life and offered it up to the world. Cedric observed and absorbed this art world intently and with wonder as a child, declaring to himself, this is the music I want to play, and I want to do that for the rest of my life. Moreover, this was the offering he, too, wanted to make and the life of service to the spirit through blues that he wanted to live. By age 13, he was on the road with his “Big Daddy” Burnside, playing drums, being raised by the music and the road, and developing the next, electric generation of the Hill Country calling and sound.
Burnside’s two Grammy-nominated album projects— the 2015 Descendants of Hill Country and 2018’s Benton County Relic—were capstone statements for a lifetime of musical labor channeling the blues spirit on drums, guitar, and vocals in the North Mississippi Hill Country tradition. I Be Trying, Burnside’s second release with Alabama’s Single Lock Records, is another unfolding of his influence and voice as an architect of the second generation of Hill Country blues. This album pushes just beyond his long-time roles as Hill Country blues collaborator, torchbearer, and innovator into the artist’s inner life rooms. Written in reflection on and off the road in 2018, the album responds to the confusion and anger he felt in the years after a series of deaths in the family and a host of other interpersonal hurts, some he dished out and some he took. The album opens with an acoustic lament, “The World Can Be So Cold,” that encapsulates the tenderness of this pain and then quickly rallies and pleads with the Lord for help on the rousing second track and the album’s first single, “Step In.” The title track, on which Burnside is accompanied on background vocals by his youngest daughter Portrika, is a plea for grace and forgiveness from a man “still learning and trying to be the best me.” Burnside’s signature approach and contribution to the Hill Country genre—electricity, intention, and timeless timbre—is seamlessly complemented by star collaborators Alabama Shakes bassist Zac Cockrell, and North Mississippi All-Stars guitarist Luther Dickinson, and principal collaborator Reed Watson on drums.
With lessons to impart, Burnside strips down the sound with precision so there can be no misunderstanding, allowing for space and breath where otherwise chords and reverb might be present. This portion of the offering is a guidebook for life’s dark times, set to mostly minor riffs and pulsing bass and percussion rhythms that immediately set in the soul like the gospel. If you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, “Ask the Lord for revelation/so [you] can see clearer” and “keep on pushing as hard as [you] can,” he advises to a march on “Keep On Pushing”; “Be careful who you talk to/ain’t no telling what they might do” he warns on “Gotta Look Out” over a menacing bass eighth-note couplet on the one and three. Recorded over a few sessions at Royal Studios in Memphis with lifelong friend and fellow North Mississippi descendant Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell, I Be Trying is Burnside boiled down by a wave of fiery blue anger from descendant to relic to human.
What is left, and this is everything, is a resonant kind of love. Buoyed by his readings of Lao Tzu and rumination on his own life choices and hurts, Burnside says he is “trying his best to implement love” in his life and relationships with others. “There’s not enough love shown in the world. People have a lot of regrets. The world needs more love.” In the places where love glistens on the album’s surface, like in the harmonies on the anthem groove “Love Is the Key” or in the smooth, purposeful falsetto sliding over the strings on the final track, “Love You Forever,” Burnside’s desire for us all to “really just try to come closer” is palpable.
But this is the blues, so love is necessarily double-edged. On two covers, one of RL Burnside’s “Bird Without a Feather” and another of Junior Kimbrough’s “Keep Your Hands Off Her,” which Burnside titles by its signature opening threat, “Hands Off That Girl,” there is hurt and fear, quiet menace, and outright danger. “Dark,” he admits, “but what people go through.” Flashing this side of love’s sword, Burnside reminds us of the complex, raw, blues people legacy that undergirds his art. Still, he says on the soaring “Love Is Key,” which is his thesis as of late, “a life filled with love is the key/yes it is.”
Blues is an embodied practice that frequently crosses the boundaries of reality and fiction, and as such, Burnside appears as himself in Bill Bennett’s Tempted (2001), a New Orleans-set thriller; Arliss Howard’s Mississippi-based romantic comedy Big Bad Love; and Craig Brewer’s Tennessee-based drama Black Snake Moan (2006). However, he also can become something other than himself. In 2021, Burnside played the title character in Don Simonton and Travis Mills’ story of Texas Red, a Franklin County, Mississippi juke joint owner who was hunted by a mob for a month after defending himself from an attack and eventually caught and killed. Burnside brings a bluesman’s haunted gravitas to the role, balanced about life and death and freedom even in the most unspeakable moments. Like his music, this role is ancestral blues work that honors the dead and their legacies to teach and heal new generations.
Burnside recalls chopping wood and hauling water as a child, and these days he is in his garden growing food and contemplating getting some chickens. This penchant for cultivation and innovation that has always characterized his music spills over to the land, especially in this moment of shift wrought by pandemic life. On a hunting trip to Montana, Burnside connected to nature and his interior life in a new way. This feeling, one of opening, was a revelation to him. It underscores his love strivings and, along with his studies of the Dao, even changes how he structures and writes songs. It is a process of “realizing what was already there,” he says, of remembering. Love is vital, and love is work.
Burnside’s turn inward has him considering his place in the family legacy of professional blues musicians. He is a proud father of three daughters, ages 22, 18, and 15, all of whom can play drums and guitar, and is looking forward to more collaborations like the one with the youngest Burnside daughter on “I Be Trying.” Striving for transparency with his children about his own life, he lets them know not to be too hard on themselves. He says Big Daddy always cared for his family, including his 13 children and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Despite his touring schedule, Burnside is deeply grateful for his capacity to support and be present for his children. He says, “I have been there, and I will be there.” That’s for sure about the past, present, and future of the North Mississippi Hill Country blues, too.
Growing up in Baltimore, Maryland, Liz Cooper never dreamed she would be the Folk-Blues Singer-Songwriter she is today, with her distinctive voice — and androgynous, salty, caramel drawl — captivates one’s soul it has been said.
Still, the interplay with bandmates Grant Prettyman on bass and Ryan Usher on drums fascinates.
In fact, from a young age, everyone believed she was going to be a professional golfer.
Golf was just a hobby for her, though; music had always been a passion.
She only pondered and dreamed of it, but it wasn’t until her senior year of high school that she decided she wanted to pursue music as a career.
So, leaving behind her friends, family, and college golf scholarship, Liz Cooper packed her things and moved to Nashville, TN.
Known for her unique guitar picking and haunting tone, she is steadily making a name for herself in the music industry.
Liz is a self-proclaimed “the happiest girl,” Liz ironically describes her lyrics as dark and soulful.
Growing up on classic rock artists like The Grateful Dead and The Band play into Liz Cooper’s music.
A native of rural western Kentucky’s rolling hills and coal mining communities, Grayson Jenkins is a singer-songwriter who now calls Lexington, KY, his home. After attending the University of Kentucky and working there for four years, Grayson walked away from his salaried job in 2017 to chase his dream as a full-time musician.
With his recent ‘Cowboy Dream’ EP, Grayson is poised to reach even more ears and hearts in the coming year. This release will be the first in a wave of new music recorded with an A-list band. The team included: Miles Miller (Sturgill Simpson), Jesse Wells (Tyler Childers), Nicholas Jamerson, Kenny Miles (Wayne Graham), and many more.
A late-comer to the music world by most standards – Jenkins played his first show and wrote his first song at 21. Now 28, Jenkins has two albums under his belt and feels more focused and energized than ever about his music. His lyrics are inspired by the words of Mark Twain, who always said, “Write what you know.” In keeping with this motto, Grayson’s songs pay homage to the things most important to him—family, friends, and a life without regrets.
John Prine, Kris Kristofferson, Tom Petty, Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell, and many others have influenced his unique brand of Kentucky country music. His latest studio album, Cityscapes & Countrysides, was released in April 2017 and has garnered attention from radio and the press in the region.
Grayson maintains a busy performance schedule of 125+ shows a year, both as a solo performer and with his full band.
As he grows as an artist and writer, look to see more great things from Grayson Jenkins.
Samantha (Sam) Fore is a first-generation Sri Lankan-American from Lexington, Kentucky. She started her pop-up restaurant in 2016 after traditional Sri Lankan brunches in her home outgrew her dining room. Tuk Tuk Sri Lankan Bites™ pop-up menus include Sam’s spin on Southern classics and riffs on her mother’s time-tested recipes. Tuk Tuk is one of the few representations of Sri Lankan cuisine in the United States and reflects Sam’s Sri Lankan upbringing in the American South. Her work has been featured in Food & Wine, Taste of the South, and Fine Cooking magazines. She was selected as one of Southern Living magazine’s 2020 Cooks of the Year and was named as one of Plate Magazine’s 2018 Chefs to Watch. She also serves as Director of Technology for the LEE Initiative.
Being Master Distiller is something Brent Elliott says is hard to call a job because, to him, “it’s a privilege and a passion to be a part of Four Roses.”
A native of Owensboro, Kentucky, Brent became Master Distiller at Four Roses in September 2015. He is uniquely qualified for this role… after all, he’s been involved in Producing Four Roses premium Bourbons since he began with the company in 2005.
As the Distillery’s Director of Quality, Brent’s years of experience with Four Roses include everything from applying his Chemistry degree in production, managing barrel inventories, production planning, to selecting barrels for special Single Barrel bottlings and Limited Edition products. Brent applies his on-the-job experience to his role of Master Distiller, ensuring that each Four Roses product has the fruity, smooth and mellow character, along with a hint of spice, that the brand has become known for around the world.
Every stage of the production process is critical, and you’ll find Brent’s heart and soul in every one of them.
Named Master Distiller/Blender of the Year at the 2020 Icons of Whisky America award ceremony,
Brent Elliott is particularly proud of Small Batch Select, the distillery’s newest permanent product-line extension since 2006, and the most significant addition to the storied history of the brand since he became master distiller.
Kirt attended the Railbird Festival in Lexington, KY. Come see who he got a chance to talk to.
Kirt talks about the history behind an iconic movie character, James Bond.
Leah graduated in 2011 with a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science & minor in Nutrition from Miami Univ. in Oxford, OH. She skated on the Varsity skating team & qualified for Team USA representing her country in Croatia, Prague, & Switzerland. After graduating, Leah became a professional figure skater with Holiday on Ice touring in Europe, a make-up artist & even a medical sales rep., she even continues to skate for pleasure & gives back to her community by coaching & mentoring young skaters in Louisville.
In 2018 she put her college degree to work & became a Certified Personal Trainer at Proformance. In 2019 Leah started her own online fitness business, Leah Travisano Fitness LLC. Since inception, she has helped hundreds of women reach their goals of becoming healthier, stronger, & more confident. I really admire Leah’s training philosophy of a very individualized approach to meet her client’s needs. Through skating, she learned the importance of mental toughness, goal setting, & the ability to turn obstacles into opportunities. She works together to improve not only your physical health but your mental health. She considers herself a client’s coach who is here to guide you on YOUR path to success & self-love.
Leah lives in Louisville, KY with her husband Pete and their dog Marvin.
Tawanda is the System Director Business Intelligence, Clinical Value & Healthcare Analytics at Norton Healthcare, with oversight of a team of analysts that use business data, computer techniques & statistical methods to provide insight into business performance & suggested areas of & methods of improving operations. Tawanda joined Norton Healthcare in 2015. Before joining Norton healthcare, he helped implement the Epic EMR (electronic medical record) systems in consultant roles for numerous healthcare organizations, including Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, Sutter Health in Sacramento, California, the Univ. of Miami in Miami, Florida, Lahey Health System in Boston, MA, Inova Health in Virginia, Premier Health in Dayton Ohio, & San Diego Children’s Hospital in San Diego, CA. He began his career as an Implementation Specialist at Epic Systems in Madison, WI. Tawanda is a highly active member of the community. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Greater Louisville YMCA, is a Board Member for Volunteers of America Mid-states & a Board of Trustees for the Speed Art Museum. Tawanda Chitapa holds a bachelor’s degree & an MHA, BOTH from W. KY. Univ. Tawanda enjoys watching soccer, exploring sights around the city, and indulging in every foodie experience he can find around Louisville. He lives in Louisville with his son Isaiah and is a native of Zimbabwe, but today an American immigrant success story!
Tawanda’s favorite saying is that he enjoys mentoring young professionals to grow their wings “so they too can fly.”
Kirt discusses the events of 9/11 and his story 20 years later.
Join Kirt as he explores the history of Labor Day.
Adria embodies hope, integrity, humanity & has focused her career on lifting some of society’s most vulnerable populations & being of service to others. She is a dedicated & well-respected servant leader with more than 26 yrs. of hands-on experience in both the public/private sectors. Her proven ability to lead efforts toward reform & work collaboratively across a wide range of stakeholders has served her well in her current position of Chief Impact Officer for Metro United Way and prior roles held in KY. State Govt. & Lou. Metro Govt. Her leadership has been instrumental in bringing about expanded service provision in many areas, including neighborhood revitalization supports, preventive services for children & youth at risk of abuse or neglect, comprehensive services for children & youth with greater behavioral & developmental needs, employment opportunities for youth aging out of foster care, & dev. of workforce opportunities for social services disciplines. Also, Adria has stood at the forefront & led & supported efforts to address racial disparities & equity concerns within the populations served in child welfare. Before joining Metro United Way, Adria served as Commissioner & Deputy Commissioner of the Ky. Dept. for Community-Based Services. Before joining state govt. Ms. Johnson held key roles in Lou. Metro Government ranging from Capital Planning Analyst in the Office of Mgt. & Budget to Acting Dir. of the Dept. of Community Services & Revitalization. Adria’s strong fiscal experience was gained in various roles held in the private sector for the 1st half of her career at Humana, LG&E & Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation. She completed her undergraduate studies at Ball St. Univ. & completed several post-graduate courses from the Univ. of Lou. She is ALSO a published author, having published a book of poetry in 2004. Adria is a native of Lou. & has 2 children, a daughter named is Brenlie & a son named Kenneth (but she has called him KJ since birth-(hey I kind of like those initials…wink), & 2 precious grandchildren-a grandson named Kye, & a granddaughter named is Amerie.
Tom is a member of the KY. law firm of Stoll Keenon Ogden, where his legal practice focuses on mgt.-side labor & employment law. Multiple times he has been recognized as 1 of the top 50 lawyers in the Commonwealth of KY. by Super Lawyers. Tom was a funder of Restorative Justice Louisville. He has also served as Pres. of the Louisville Bar Assoc. & Bd. Chair of Leadership Lou. being recognized by that organization as 1 of Louisville’s “Connectors.” As well as yours truly back in 2010. Tom was instrumental in having a marker dedicated to Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the lincoln memorial. He advanced a similar resolution naming Thomas Merton Square in Lou. where Merton had his famous epiphany. Tom served on the Steering Committee for the 2013 visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Lou. During that time, he served as co-host for Compassionate Lou. For that work, Louisville was named the model compassionate city for multiple years and Tom received the Intnl. Ht. of Compassion award from the Charter for Compassion International. Tom & his lovely wife Sarah reside in Lou. Their 3 children, Lilly, Lincoln & Nelson.
Join Kirt as he talks about the history of Friday the 13th.
Her professional & legal accomplishments are vast, BUT that is only part of her origin story. You see, Rebecca was diagnosed, JUST WEEKS before her daughter’s 1st birthday, with a VERY rare blood cancer called Blastic Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cell Neoplasm, better known as (BPDCN)-an acute form of Leukemia. This disease is SO RARE & SO AGGRESSIVE; there is NO standard recommended course of treatment. RARER STILL, is the fact that the OVERWHELMING majority of BPDCN patients are older men! WHO KNEW? Understandably devastated by this prognosis, but true to form, Rebecca refused to yield, & she found hope in a brand new targeted therapy through an FDA-APPROVED clinical trial. Thus, after 4 rounds of a clinical trial drug, Rebecca received an allogeneic bone marrow transplant-the ONLY potential cure for BPDCN, & due to the selfless donation of a complete stranger, she is still alive today to tell her story!
Now that is just “1/2”-if you will-of Rebecca’s backstory. She was the 2014-2015 President of YPAL, 2013 40 under 40 recipient, a Board Of Governors with the Speed Art Museum, and 2005-2006 University of Kentucky Student Body President. OH, SHE GRADUATED MAGNA CUM LAUDE IN 2006 with a B.S. in Communications. Rebecca is also a seasoned litigator/counselor on complex employment law issues & business disputes. She has a multi-state practice in which she partners with various clients & industries to defend against claims challenging their personnel & business decisions. She regularly defends management-side clients against charges & lawsuits, alleging discrimination, harassment, & retaliation. She also defends claims involving independent contractor misclassification, workers comp. retaliation, whistleblower retaliation, disability accommodation, family & medical leave, & individual & collective wage/hour issues. She also has substantial experience drafting & enforcing employment agreements & restrictive covenants, including non-compete, non-solicitation, & confidentiality provisions. She regularly acts as “in-house” employment counsel for cos. that elect to outsource their employment work. She also provides day-to-day, proactive, & common sense counseling to employers on every aspect of the employer-employee relationship. In conjunction with counseling, Rebecca is a frequent speaker & author on trending employment law issues. She conducts targeted client training for employees, human resources professionals, & company managers. Rebecca & her husband John have 1 lovely daughter named Caroline & reside in the Louisville-area.
Cara learned early in her career, from her Baby Boomer and GenX mentors, what “professionalism” meant to them, and absorbed critical information about management expectations during her first decade in the business world. She then went on to earn her Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from the top-ranked University of Louisville Entrepreneurship program, lived overseas teaching German executives about business practices in the U.S., and then started her consulting firm Magnet Culture, a Crescendo Strategies company, in 2012.
Today, at age 39, she’s a highly-sought-after national speaker conducting 50 to 100 engagements annually and she has already earned her Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation, which less than 10% of speakers achieve. Louisville Business First named her one of their 2018 Forty Under 40 young professionals. Workforce Magazine in Chicago named Cara a “Game Changer” for her innovative approach to solving generational issues in the workplace and Recruiter.com listed her in their “Top 10 Company Culture Experts to Watch,” list. She is also the author of the book, Staying Power: Why Your Employees Leave & How to Keep Them Longer.
As a U.S. Army Combat Veteran of Iraqi Freedom, he served honorably for 9 yrs. & was a Non-Commissioned Officer before getting out of the Army in 2008. After leaving the Army, Jeremy went to school at Mid-Continent Univ. studying Bus. Mgt. & started a career in Oper. Mgt. in the Manufacturing & the Supply Chain Logistics Industry. As a man with an Entrepreneurial heart, he wanted to do more to support the Veteran community & founded in KY. the Veteran’s Club Inc in KY. & has assisted over thousands of Veterans in a multitude of ways such as their nationally recognized Equine Therapy Program, Career Transition for Vets needing employment, Family Outreach Program, & is currently developing the Camp Restoration Community to house & heal homeless veterans.
Veteran’s Club Inc also works heavily in veteran’s outreach in the community including raising money for Veteran causes & providing meals, job opportunities, & teaching leadership classes to homeless veterans throughout KY. I love this next part, Jeremy also goes into jails & substance abuse inpatient facilities to teach life skills classes in hopes that those who are in there have the tools needed upon release. Veteran’s Club INC was the 2019 Recipient of the Patriots Award for Veterans Service Organization. This is a national award given from the American Freedom Fund in Washington D.C. every year. Jeremy was also named one of 2020’s Louisville Business First’s 40 Under 40, and KY. veteran of the Year, and was commissioned a Ky. Colonel for the works he’s done for veterans in Ky. Jeremy is the Co-Chair for the Veterans Community Alliance of Louisville (VCAL). Jeremy also serves on the Week of Valor planning committee for Lou. Metro Govt. as well as the VA Mental Health Summit planning committee.
Outside of his organization, Jeremy travels with an organization called Mighty Oaks Warrior Program to help struggling veterans in weeklong retreats in CA, OH, TX, & VA. & was selected as a Community Influencer for the Mayor of Louisville’s Synergy Project bridging the gap between citizens & police. As if that was not enough of a commitment, Jeremy was selected to serve on the Governor’s Challenge Team to help develop a policy to combat SMVF-(which stands for Service Members, Veterans & their Families) suicides in KY. He is even a very active leader in his church SEast Christian in Louisville, & independent from his organization, Jeremy is often called upon by local & some national news affiliates when it comes to Veteran related topics not limited to PTSD, Homelessness, Suicide, Policy, Foreign Policy, and more! Jeremy is married to his lovely wife Erin, & they have 3 daughters named Brooklyn, Mattie & Lola & 1 son named Collin.
Having grown up in Texas, Jarrod played many organized sports all such as football, baseball, golf, track, & tennis. He then graduated from Meridian High School in Meridian, TX., & joined the US Navy obtaining an SSBI-(which stands for Single Scope Background Investigation, for a Top Secret Clearance-serving 4 years & did a combat tour in Iraq/Persian Gulf…not TOO shabby!
Jarrod then got out of the Navy & started attending McClennan Community College, while working as a Defense Contractor L-3 Communications, doing security. Part of duties included security for President George W. Bush when he would go to his Crawford, Texas Ranch. He even worked with Secret Service & Local law enforcement agencies.
He then transferred to the Univ. of North Texas, spending 2 semesters, before transferring to Tarleton State Univ., which is a part of the Texas A&M System, where he graduated in 2008, with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Political Science.
While at Tarleton he even joined the esteemed brotherhood of Sigma Chi International Fraternity AND served as Philanthropy Chair. Upon his 2008 graduation, he moved to Jacksonville, FL where he then re-enlisted in the United States Army. After numerous schools, he was finally stationed at Ft. Knox, KY in the Big Red 1, 3rd Combat Brigade.
Then he was deployed to Afghanistan, spent a yr. there at the Forward Operating Base Gardez high in the mountains on the border of Pakistan. Upon leaving the Army & returning home to Texas, he was employed as a bar manager in a local business.
Then in 2014, he moved to Louisville, working odd jobs, till he got hired on as a line cook at New Restaurant River House & Raw Bar, under the auspices of Chef John Varanese, a former MoxieTalk guest, where he moved through the ranks to Sous Chef within a few months, & stayed there for 2 years, when he left & started a mobile vending business first as a hot dog cart, then as a food trailer & finally Copper Kitchen Food Truck, also known as Copper Streatery. As of this taping he has been in operation for 3 years now & blessed with year over year growth!
As an entrepreneur, business owner, professor, and active community member, his story is one of survival, determination, & service.
In other words, MOXIE!
You see, Tran’s family immigrated to the U.S. from Vietnam in March 1995. They came with very little, so he had to work hard. He did not know how to speak English when he arrived in 1995.
His personal goals have been and are to champion small business ownership and success by working to remove the obstacles that keep people from achieving the “American Dream”, which he was able to do despite all these challenges.
True to his commitment, he became a U.S. Citizen in 2000 and went on to earn a 2006 B.S. and 2009 M.S. in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Louisville, as well as a Doctorate of Philosophy from Sullivan University in 2017.
All the while, Di has founded 10 businesses all of which are still in operation. In addition to 18 years of experience as a computer programmer/engineer at a Fortune 50 company and serves as a faculty member at Sullivan University teaching Info. technology.
Di says many people helped him along the way, and he believes it is important to pay it forward. So, true to his word, he has found ways to help others achieve their full potential. In addition to teaching at Sullivan, he founded the Louisville Beauty Academy in 2016, which to date has graduated & helped over 250 people obtain good-paying jobs without ANY government support, an accomplishment for which he was named a 2019 Kentucky Colonel.
He now owns multiple nail salons and is the owner & proprietor of the Louisville Beauty Academy (LBA). Through these businesses, Di has sponsored people from across the world to come to Louisville, find employment, & earn American citizenship. He also serves as a part-time computer science professor at Sullivan University.
In 2018, Tran launched a technical college called the Louisville Institute of Technology & is a 2020 Mosaic Honoree.
Through the years, Tran has also mentored 20 individuals to open their own businesses & he continues to teach & mentor many more.
Tran currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Louisville Independent Business Association (LIBA) & the South Louisville LIBA Committee, is a Board member of BOTH the KY. Assoc. of Career Colleges – known as KACCS & the Vietnamese Comm. of Louisville, as well as Tri An-a $1.5Mil Vietnam War Monument Project. He is an active member of Greater Louisville Inc. and is on LHOME’s Community Advisory Committee representing the South End.
Di, and his lovely wife Vy, have 3 boys, and all reside in Louisville.
Join Kirt as he goes over the history of July 4th!
Kirt talks about the important history of Juneteenth.
McGarity grew up in rural South Carolina, his mom & mamaw instilled a passion for food at an early age. After going to culinary school at Johnson & Wales University & working in Charleston, SC for many years.
In 2004, he moved to Louisville and was encouraged that the food scene had much to offer a young chef & fell in love with the city.
After working at several Louisville fine dining places as Executive Chef, he was ready to open a restaurant as both Executive Chef & Owner. With the help of his wife, Laura, The Fat Lamb ModernKitchen & Bar opened in Nov. 2016. The small, open-kitchen concept has received a great response from the highlands neighborhood within which it is located & continues to serve both local patrons & visitors upscale comfort food with an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients.
In March of 2018, Chef Dallas was approached to purchase Portage House Restaurant in Jeffersonville, IN. The riverfront view of the old house that the restaurant sits in was so charming that he & his wife decided it was time to expand. Portage House re-opened on March 23rd, 2018 with a new menu & new owners.
Portage House & The Fat Lamb both continue to provide exceptional cuisine & fantastic service with unique atmospheres.
Since then, Chef Dallas has also taken on the Louisville food service operations at Copper & Kings Distillery with Alex&nder, the 3rd-floor lounge/bar at the distillery serving a creative menu that changes frequently.
With all these different projects going on & a family life to maintain, Chef Dallas continues to support the community by doing many charity events each year & trying to give back to the community whenever possible. Dallas has received such Honors and Awards as:
Charitable Contributions & events Dallas has contributed to are: Bourbon & Bowties, Taste of St. Raphael, Home of the Innocent Backyard BBQ, Cabbage Patch Settlement House, Conrad Caldwell house; Gilda’s club; Highland Presbyterian Weekday School, Mama-to Mama; JCPS Chef’s Club for Elementary Students, State Fair Cooking demonstrations; March of Dimes; APRON Inc; Bloom Elementary School; Louisville Leopards among many others.
Dallas, & his lovely wife Laura & 2 children reside in Louisville.
From the time she learned how to draw at the age of 2, Ms. Baker has dreamt of becoming an artist. Endowed with a strong work ethic & the support of her parents, Alfred Seiders & Rosalee (Wilson) Withrow, she continued to practice art until enrolling in college. Though her friends & counselor advised her that she should pursue her passion & natural talent in painting, she originally majored in psychology. Ultimately, Ms. Baker’s true calling gained predominance, & she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Baylor Univ. in Waco, TX, in 1964. Between obtaining an undergrad. degree & a Master of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY, in 1981, Ms. Baker traveled the world, studying & exhibiting her work in Florence, Italy, & across the United States. In 1977, she was named as a visiting artist to the Republic of South Korea on behalf of the United States Information Services. During her 9 months abroad, Ms. Baker directed fine arts workshops & mounted a major exhibition of her own artwork. Ms. Baker’s prolific career has led to dozens of exhibitions of her work, including 1-woman shows, permanent installations, & participation in group exhibitions. Her work has been shown continuously throughout the U. S. since 1969. In addition to her acclaim as an artist, Ms. Baker has also found success in teaching, serving as an adjunct professor at the Art Institute of Tennessee-Nashville, the Univ. of Southern Indiana, & as a visiting professor at the Univ. of Evansville in Evansville, IN. Furthermore, Ms. Baker is a member of the National Artists Equity Association, for which she held the posts of the Reg. Vice Pres. on the National Bd. of AE in Washington, D.C. from 1985 to 1995 & was pres. of the Los Angeles Chapter for 4 years, until 1995. She is additionally associated with the Women’s Caucus for Art, the College Arts Association (CAA), & the New York Artists Equity Assoc. Ms. Baker has authored numerous articles, & her written work has extended into personal publications, such as My Turn, a novel, & Poems of Accord & Satisfaction, a collection of Poetry. In addition, she authored the Elba Journal, a short travel journal that includes a mystery. She currently performs the roles of an artist & the sole proprietor of her eponymous studio, Jill Baker Artist’s Studio, creating a variety of work, spanning illustrations & freelance work to her lauded paintings. Ms. Baker also continues to exhibit her art & manages Winchester Cottage Print, a business she established in 1997. Jill, & her partner & previous guest Lee Pennington reside in Middletown, KY.
Join Kirt for a discussion about the brief history of Memorial Day.