Thursday, November 8, 2007

Broad Ripple Gazette vol 4, number 22.

This column is devoted to the Broad Ripple Music Festival. I will review the Shake Go Home and Beth Amsel shows, a great band that I saw in Nashville, TN and some tidbits of Otis and Amy’s move in the next issue.

For the Broad Ripple Music Festival I thought I’d try something new – write about the bands as I’m listening to them, real time reviewing –instead of just taking notes and trying to sort it out the next day. I spent a good chunk of time at Luna Music. Donations from the Luna venue benefit Second Helpings. Thanks to everyone who threw money in the box.

So here I am at the side counter of Luna Music with my laptop wedged between the display of Teaberry gum (yummy) and a listening post. I’m always amazed by the hip factor of Luna, and that they are always so nice to me whether I’m buying music from them, be it a singer/songwriter, punk-rock band or ordering the latest Hannah Montana – for my niece of course. I had an “a ha moment” in Luna last year. I’d purchased a Neil Young CD set and could not get one of the discs to play. I took it back to Luna and the hip young man behind the counter very nicely explained to me that it was a DVD, not a CD. I realized that I’ve officially become my dear mother (and I mean that in the nicest possible way, if I were half as talented and compassionate as my mom I’d be in good shape).

Okay, on to the music, reviewed stream-of-conscience style. I will throw in a disclaimer. I usually spend hours writing the column and a good chuck of that is spent checking band member names and confirming song titles and doing some research. I’ll make sure that I add links to musicians Web sites and I’m hoping that I goof up names or songs too much.

(3:30) Serebro was playing as I walked in, so I’m writing this a few minutes after they ended. The three guys were acoustic fun. I love in-store performances. You get to see a stripped down version of the band, up close and personal. The band originally started in Australia. Paul R. Smith, lead singer lived there for a year and founded the band. When he moved back here he re-formed the band with local musicians.

(4:15) Rodeo Ruby Love is made up of a combination of Indianapolis and Marion folks. I hate to do band comparisons, that’s why you don’t often hear me make statements like “he sounds like the love child of Jim Nabors and Shirley Jones mixed in with a little Eddie Haskel.” As you can see, I’m not good at it and I’m never sure if I’m right. Anyway that was a round about way of me saying that I think Rodeo Ruby Love sounds like Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s in the big lush music way. There are only five people on the stage/corner of the store, but it sounds like a lot more. This is their stripped down version, they are playing a big rock show at the Emerson later tonight. I’m looking forward to hearing more of them.

I’m enjoying hanging out with Ray Mills who booked the show. Ray is truly the nicest guy in show business. And is dinner-fetching sister Sarah is just as nice and an amazing photographer.

(5:10) blackSoil Project played an experimental set. Rahlo and Rob are going back to the roots of Hip Hop when the kids made rhymes in the lunchroom and several people chimed in. I’m in awe of musicians that can make it up as they go and not only make it sound good, but thoughtful and pertinent. After the free style songs Rahlo is going to play a song that was inspired by the birth of his now four-year old son. Rahlo has seven children, but said he was really inspired when this child was born to look at his life and how to be a better man and teacher to his children. The song is starting out with the birth of the child. I really like the chorus “it ain’t the shadow, but the substance that I’m after.” The song is introspective and spiritual and full of hope. Amazing. The crowd is in to it. Rahlo and Rob are introducing T.J. Reynolds from The Philosophy. T.J. is one of my absolute favorite people, its always a happy moment when I see him. T.J. and Rahlo are trading rhymes; T.J. is telling us that he’s getting ready to be a papa also. They are likening the trading of rhymes to Colts plays. T.J. just used the phrase “H.E. double hockey sticks” in his rhyme. That makes me love him even more. The last song is called “Ebb and Flow” and is words that Rahlo wishes that he could say to his pops. It’s a beautiful tribute. I really enjoyed their set. Rahlo is giving big props to the next band Chasing Elvis.

So far this stream-of-consciousness stuff is fun. I wonder how it will feel at the Mudkids show at 1:00 am?

(6:10) Chasing Elvis
I ran across the street to the Red Key to use the bathroom and see what was happening during my regular shift. I brought some folks back with me. All I had to say to Jim was “the next band has a woman bass player.” In fact half of the band is women, the bass player is a woman also.
Singer/guitar player Jimmy declared it player’s choice and asked the band to throw out song suggestions. A Herbie Hancock song is next and they did it beautifully. The next song “Imagine This” is his first attempt at spoken word music. It is spoken word with beautifully sung melodies. Great song and a crowd pleaser. The band considers themselves “anti-isolationists,” they love to create community. The next song “Anyway” is dedicated to people who ask big questions. The song is making Mr. Waving Arms Jumping Around Guy very happy. I love seeing that enthusiasm. Of course this guys happiness might be a little beer fueled. I go to way too many shows where the fans don’t show any emotion and stand in the back of the room. That dark corner is my stop anyway!
This is the bands last local show, in fact one of their last shows. They have toured extensively, including Serbia and Hertizgovia. They were amazing, I’m sorry that I won’t have another chance to see them.

I’ve had the chance to get up and speak about Second Helpings during the band changeovers. I love it when all my worlds collide. I got to cover the shows and talk about Second Helpings. Want to hear my talk? Second Helpings rescues over produced and perishable foods and utilizes it to feed hungry children and adults here in our community. We have a free culinary job training programs that teaches adults culinary skills. In the last eight years we have rescued over eight million pounds of food, feed over 3.5 million people and trained almost 300 adults to help them get meaningful jobs in the culinary industry. The Tonic Ball, a music show celebrating the songs of The Clash and Madonna is November 16 in Fountain Square and will feature 30 bands.

Okay, back to the program.

(7:15) Wolfy is playing with a string trio tonight and it is just stunning. It is the kind of music that makes your heart swell. Wolfy sings and plays piano. He is playing an Emery Salem song called “Sooner Than Later” and doing knocking it out of the park. Sorry, I usually don’t use baseball metaphors when I’m describing music, but it is October. The string trio is incredible, two violins and a viola – maybe, don’t hold me to that. Three terrific people (two of them Carmel High School students) making impossible music sound easy from instruments that use bows. The stage banter is fun. The album will be done soon. He spent time in Venice last year and was lost and in an alley way and heard piano music coming from a window. That inspired him to write the saddest song he plays– Venice. It is sad, in a beautiful heart wrenching unrequited love kind of way. The next song is called Twirl and he made everyone stand up. He’s teaching us the bridge “bop did a bop bop da da.” He views us (the audience) as another instrument, and he needs us to clap. I can’t clap and type, not that I can ever clap in time anyway. There are now at least two dozen people in the store clapping, mostly in time to “Out of Sight and Out of Mind.” He ended with an elegant song “Raise Your Hands Up Tonight”.
Wolfy has drawn the drawn the biggest crowd so far. Bottom line, Wolfy is amazing – oh and he’s playing at the Tonic Ball.

(8:15) The Last Domino aka John is a solo singer/songwriter, which is in my comfort zone. He’s a great storyteller. This song “You don’t know the Half” is about a schizophrenic on trial for murder. The next song is the title track from his new album “Seconds.” Oh-- very impressive, he just pulled out a saxophone to accompany himself. At least I hope it’s a saxophone. I was so nerdy in high school that the band kids were too cool to hang out with me. Another new song called “Let’s Try this Again,” so far it sounds like a break-up song. Oh, wait it’s a get back together song. John is going to hit the road to tour soon and has buttons and CD’s for sale, check them out – gas to New York will be expensive. John is now accompanying himself by recording and looping his guitar playing and now playing jimbe drum and some other instrument that I missed because a cute little kid was asking me about Second Helpings (his mom gave him a dollar to put in our bucket, he wanted to make sure that we would use it wisely. I assured him that I was going to a good cause, that the dollar would allow us to prepare and deliver two meals to kids his age). Great conversation, but I missed a bit of John’s show. The next song is one of the prettiest songs he’s heard in his whole life. Jeff Buckley’s “Grace.” He’s right, it is a lovely song. His last song is very appropriately called “Last Call.” Catchy and fun. I really enjoyed his set.

(9:15) My original plan was to head to Indy Hostel from here, then to the Upper Room to hear Chad Mills. Then to 1051, and from there to the Melody Inn to hear the Peggy Sues and to meet Alan Hague. At one point I had the pie-in-the-sky plan to end the night at Spin with the Mudkids. Hum, five hours on my feet so far and limited computer battery power is making me is making me rethink my plan. I’m going to pack my stuff up, drop the Second Helpings donation box off at home and see where the wind blows me. I’m packing up my stuff and heading off to the Hostel.

(9:55) As you can I made a detour. I ran in to the Red Key with the big Lucite cube that we were collecting money in for Second Helpings, Inc. This stop produced more money in the cube and a Guinness in Nora. Thanks Matt Elliott for making me sit down for a bit. I ran by home, ditched the cube, fed the cat, brushed my teeth and ran back out the door.
I’m now at Indy Hostel listening to:

Robert Bruce Scott of il Troubadore fame. He is playing guitar and harp – a real harp, not a harmonica. I moved to a room beside where he is playing. I can see him, but I’m not sure that he can see me. I figured that me pecking away on my computer might be distracting. I’ve heard him play an original song about taproot piercing his skull. It’s much prettier than it sounds, really. He’s now playing a beautiful instrumental song. I think it is his last. It’s so pretty and I’m sitting in the dark with my feet up, it’s probably good it’s the last song. I could see me stretching out on this sofa and drifting off to his soothing music.

(10:20) Mandy Miller is tuning her guitar for her set. Her first song is called “Grandma.” It really shows off her powerful gritty voice. She says that she’s going to play a lot of new songs. Mandy is a guitar playing singer-songwriter. She’s very intense and bluesy. She has a great audience. She’s telling us that she’d rather that we draw our own conclusions to what the song is about. This song is called “This is My Life.” I’m going to go out on a limb on this one – I think the song is about her. Mandy used to play in the band Kindred. She wrote this song about her great-aunt Mary. Great-aunt Mary sounds like she was an amazing woman. She (Mandy, not great-aunt Mary) has a great rapport with the audience and you can tell that she has several fans in the audience. She just told us that this is her first solo show; she’s always been party of a duo or trio. I think she’s doing a lovely job. Oh, she’s channeling the King and singing “Burning Love,” Fun. Mandy is adorable and has a stream-of-conscience thing going on also. She’s played several more original songs, including one that she played slide guitar. Maybe sitting in the side room was not such a good idea. I should be at the Melody Inn by now, but I cannot get out of the room with out having to jump over a guitar and step right in front of the microphone. So far Mandy has called out anyone who has left or gone to the restroom. I’m feeling a little stuck. Okay, she’s closing with a Melissa Ferrick song. Robin Coleman who booked the show must be thrilled. Its 11:30 and I’m headed out to the Melody Inn.

(2:05 am) I took the computer in to the Historic Melody Inn with me, but didn’t have enough nerve to pull it out. The logistics were daunting in the packed room full of people looking like they were ready to slam dance. I’d just missed the Peggy Sues, which was too bad. I heard it was a great show. Everyone was taking about it, including the other bands. Between sets Sid Yiddish from Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine entertained us with wacky stunts and short plays. My natural habit of migrating to the back of the room took me way back to the outdoor beer garden. I ran in to a pocket of fun and randomness back there. A little back-story – I have huge gaps in my TV watching history. I seriously know nothing about the show Star Trek. Wait, I take that back. I know that William Shatner was on the show and that he married Elizabeth that I was in German Club with at Lebanon High School. So, when the conversation centered on making a spacecraft from the show with four tampons and an eraser, I was fascinated but totally lost. I wanted to pull out my notebook, but I didn’t want to seem uncool in front of the science fiction/science kids. I ran it to some boys closer to my age, grabbed a Guinness (I can’t do the cool kid tall-boy PBR) and hung out by the Ms. Pac Man machine.

The band Atomic Bombay started around midnight. I loved them – fun, energetic surf-rock and new-wavy stuff. The crowd obviously adored them as much as I did.

I wandered back to the wall behind the pool table and soaked in the scene. Even more folks streamed in to the Mel in anticipation of the Acid Green re-union show. Acid Greener Jon Zeps walked by with his new haircut. I had to grab him to ask how the shows at his new venue, 1051 went. He’d also played at Spin earlier, so he hadn’t been around 1051 much, but said it was great. Acid Green started in 1988 and broke up in 2001.

The Acid Green set was intense and loud and off-the-charts. I ditched my bag with the computer and stood front and center of a good bit of the show. For this first time tonight I wished that I had my earplugs with me. The fans were singing and dancing along. I would describe Acid Green as a punk/metal band.

I’m not sure how late they played. I scooted out at 2:00. 11 hours, 10 bands, and 2900 words later I’m happy to be sitting on my own sofa. Thanks for spending the day with me. I’m off to bed.

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