Thursday, May 22, 2008

Broad Ripple Gazette, vol 5. no 11

LonPaul Ellrich
October 25, 1070 – May 7, 2008

(photographer: Matt Sommers)

Even if you didn’t know LonPaul, I’m sure that you saw him walking around the end south Broad Ripple -- the last few years with his adorable looks-just-like-LP son on his shoulders.

LonPaul was one of those people that I've known forever, but not sure when I met him. He was a brilliant musician and sound engineer.

I got to see LP a couple of Saturday nights ago when he stopped in the Red Key. He was hanging out with a group of other smart, cool, musical folks. I was really happy to see him and I don't know what got in to me, but as I was serving LP his Coke-Cola in the cool little glass bottle, I almost kissed him on the top of his head. I stopped myself in time- I don't think that he would have minded, but it would be an odd thing to have your waitress do.

LonPaul worked at CATH for awhile, both behind the counter and as the baker. The baker's job was perfect for a musician. As long as the muffins were done by 6:00 in the morning, it did not matter what schedule the bakers kept.

As some of you may know, I hung out with the punk-rock band, Dow Jones and the Industrials when I was a Purdue student. Twenty-some years later we hosted a benefit for the DJI drummer, Timmy North. As the date was getting closer, it was becoming increasing clear that Timmy was not able to travel to Indiana from California, and in fact died before the scheduled gig.

The members of DJI decided to go on with the show as a fundraiser for Tim’s wife and daughter. LonPaul stepped in as drummer. I think I was more nervous than LP about the show, he was working at CATH at the time and I felt some how responsible for him.Of course he was fabulous.He was a long-time DJI fan and nailed the set.

The rest of us forgot that night that we weren’t 19 anymore, and I had a dozen people sleeping at my small house. We were scattered on air mattresses and tucked in corners of the living room. We’d finally fallen asleep when LonPaul burst through the unlocked front door at 4:00 am saying that it was the best night of his life. Everyone clapped and tucked back in to their blankets.I made room for LP on the sofa and we laughed and replayed the night in whispers.

There was a memorial service for LonPaulat Crown Hill Funeral Home May 14. I won’t even begin to describe it, except to say that it was amazing and beautiful, just like LonPaul.
I encourage you to visit to read the lovely things that people have written about LP. He had an amazing impact on so many people.

Contributions can be made to the Rupert K. Briggs Ellrich Scholarship Fund c/o Key Bank, 10 W. Market St. #100, Indianapolis, IN 46204.

LonPaul’s mom, Kathie Stewart-Smith was the long time proprietor of Recollections Antiques at 52nd Street and College Avenue. She wrote a lovely obituary. I learned so much about LonPaul that I’m printing some of it here:

He then attended St Richard's, Park Tudor, and Broad Ripple High School where he was always known as Paul. This part of his name was given by his grandfather, Paul R Stewart, who, early on, instilled in LP a love for jazz music and the English language.

From BRHS on, LonPaul, as he has since been known, was educated by the books and magazines he read and by all of the different people he met. LP took to the computer when he was only 11. He even taught a class on computer fundamentals to Butler University Education students when he was 13. His love of Macintosh and all things Apple is well known, and in 1999, he was able to help his mother Kathie use a computer (iMac of course) for the very first time. He was recently helping his mom to establish a viable online eBay business, and although off to a decent start, many of their projects remain sadly unfinished.

LP was taught the fundamentals of the drums by Indianapolis drummer John Hill before he embarked on a life-long journey to listen to, interact with, and learn from as many musicians as he could find. During that quest, he played with Din, Tin Lounge, Sardina, Marmoset, and the Mysteries of Life while sitting in with many other groups, and helping to produce the music of even more. He was a natural but untrained singer, he taught himself to play the guitar, and he was able to find music or make music with the most common of items in any place he happened to be.

LonPaul never really cared where he laid his head, and from his teen years on he lived in a variety of houses, storefronts, basements, and apartments, in Indy, Bloomington, and even Chicago. Recently he found a stable home with his friend and mentor Richard Upton, and they were looking forward to possibly buying a house.

Often seen walking, sometimes waiting for the bus, and occasionally even driving, he could always find a way to get where he wanted to be. His walk was unmistakable, and his music friend’s feel that came from the constant energy and musical rhythm that was always within him. His vehicles were always old and full of stuff, but they ran - that is until they didn't.
He was a well-known fixture in many Indy and Bloomington coffee houses, and sometimes he even worked in them. He was quick to learn, energetic and personable until his artistic drive or inner demons caused him to quit. He really only wanted to make music. Having recently returned from a spiritual journey to Mexico, LP was more focused, more inspired, and more creative than he had ever been. Determined to be a healthier and happier man, his calendar was crowded with meetings of SMART and NA, with acupuncture, yoga, meditation, and counseling.

LonPaul's greatest accomplishment can be seen in the eyes and the smile of his three-year old son Rupert Kosmos Augustus. A true gift to both LP and mother Libby, Rupert was born on September 1, 2004. Postponing many musical opportunities, LP joyfully cared for his son almost daily while Libby had back surgery and went back to school. Recently, while Libby worked a full-time job, LP took Rupert every weekday at 7:30 am. They went to the Children's Museum every week, visited all the local playgrounds, had play-dates with other kids, and sometimes even just rode the bus for fun. They went everywhere together - LP walking with Rupert on his shoulders. Never has a three year old been blessed with as much fatherly love and attention as young Rupert was lucky to receive!

LonPaul is survived by son Rupert, and his mother Libby Briggs and Nana Lynn Burnworth. LP is also survived by his grandmother Molly Stewart, his mother Kathie Stewart and her husband Steven Charles Smith, and his aunt Chris and husband Jeff Marks. LP's father, Douglas K Ellrich survives along with his wife Nancy and children Duke and Nestan.

Friday, May 16, 2008
Otis Gibbs

Have I told you how much I love house concerts? And Otis Gibbs?And celebrating my birthday? Friday night was all right with me. Kyle and MaryBeth Jackson hosted the house concert in their made-for-music living room. Otis is now living in Nashville, Tennessee and has been on the road touring a bunch already this year.

Otis played his amazing songs, told stories and made us laugh. I’m especially fond of Everyday People, Karlov Mostand of course, Happy Birthday.

Neighbor to the Jacksons’ Chad Mills made a great sign welcoming Otis back to town.

Monday, May 19, 2008
Soul Bus
Daddy Jack’s

The talented band, Soul Bus never disappoints. Singer Tad Robinson had to skip the gig because of a sore throat. Of course, he was missed but fill-in Kevin Anker added a nice touch with his organ playing. Band members David Murray, Jeff Chapin, Jes Richmond and Gordon Bonham are all wonderful musicians and when they get together, it’s just amazing.

As great as the music was, I enjoyed the company just as much. Wendy Reed, erstwhile owner of Artsy Fartsy and Liz Barden owner of Big Hat Books were there and I can’t remember when I’ve giggled so much. The fairy wand and the sugar buzz from all of the chocolate cake added to the silliness.

All and all, a great birthday!


Lisa Wilmoth is moving to Muncie! 54th and College Avenue will not be the same. Lisa worked at CATH for years and the Northside News Café after the coffeehouse closed. Her last day is Saturday, May 24.

We’ll miss you Lisa!

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