Friday, June 27, 2008

Susan Cowsill (with Tad Armstrong and Aaron Stroup)

Hello lovelies,
[here is a review of the show]
My truck started making a horrible noise on the way to work this morning. Think ball bearings in a blender. A blender with a metal cup. Only louder. The sound made lots of fellow drivers stare at stop lights, which really put a crimp in my ‘apply makeup in the rear view mirror morning routine.’

Anyway, since I’ll be on foot for a few days I’m thrilled that I can walk to see Susan Cowsill at Indy Hostel on Saturday. And the obviously clever Susan is taking Tad Armstrong and Aaron Stroup on tour with her. You know how I feel about Tad and Aaron (Middletown) – any band they are in is bound to be terrific.

The Top Ten Live panel felt the same way this week. The show is at the number 2 spot, above Steve Miller, Joe Cocker and the Mudkids.

Susan Cowsill
Saturday, June 28, 2008
8 pm, $10, all ages welcome
Indy Hostel
4903 Winthrop Ave

I’ll see you there!

From Susan’s Web site: The singer/songwriter made her initial mark on popular culture at the tender age of eight with The Cowsills, the 60s family pop group that not only scored Top Ten singles The Rain, the Park and Other Things, Hair and We Can Fly but also served as the real-life inspiration for TV's fictional Partridge Family. During Susan’s decade with roots-pop supergroup The Continental Drifters, she won the hearts of discerning listeners with her impassioned vocals and personally-charged songwriting, gracing three widely-acclaimed albums and a decade’s worth of riveting performances. Cowsill's vocal talents have beautifully supported recordings from artists as diverse as Dwight Twilley, Redd Kross, The Smithereens, Giant Sand, Nanci Griffith, Carlene Carter and Jules Shear, while her compositions have been covered by The Bangles and Hootie and the Blowfish.

Cowsill's much-loved prior work can now be viewed as a prelude to the stunning solo achievement of Just Believe It. The collection marks a musical and personal milestone for the artist, embodying the same qualities of musical craft and emotional nuance that distinguished her work with The Continental Drifters, while adding a deeper, more resonant and unmistakably personal edge. The CD features guest appearances by Lucinda Williams on the hauntingly bittersweet "Nanny's Song"; Counting Crows front man Adam Duritz, harmonizing with Cowsill on the upbeat "Palm of My Hand," (also featuring Cowsill's former Drifters bandmate and real-life sister-in-law, Bangle Vicki Peterson) Along with 13 new Cowsill originals, Just Believe It includes a stunning cover of Sandy Denny/Fairport Convention classic "Who Knows Where the Time Goes". The entire CD maintains a solid grounding in the organic honesty of rural folk and the catchy melodicism of '60s pop, while dipping into the fluid R&B grooves of Cowsill's longtime hometown of New Orleans.

This summer Cowsill embarks on her most extensive solo tour to date. Her road-toughened summer combo, including Russ Broussard (Continental Drifters) on drums, Tad Armstrong on bass guitar/vocals and ace guitarist Aaron Stroup (both formerly of Indianapolis-based band Middletown), merges a seamless rock sensibility with an organic sensitivity that echoes the singer’s own.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Broad ripple gazette, vol 5. no 13

first published in the Broad Ripple Gazette

Steve Poltz
Indianapolis Indians day game
Wednesday, June 3, 2008

My flight back from Washington D.C. circled around the city and I had a birds-eye view of Victory Field, including the lit scoreboard. I took that as a sign that I should attend the day game instead of unpack or heaven forbid, go to work. I had a feeling that I’d find my dad and his buddies there and I did. As Dad and his group yelled “Nora,” I heard my name being shouted from another direction. Typically when I hear the name Nora, I know they mean me. I looked over to see musician Steve Poltz from San Diego and Dave Queisser of Locals Only. I’d missed Steve’s concert the night before but had gotten text updates from Cara Wahlers and Tammy Lieber.

Steve and Dave sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” which made up for me missing the show. For once I got to entertain them and took them up to visit Bruce Schumaker in the public announcer’s booth. They almost behaved, and I loved every second of it.

Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses
Wednesday, June 3, 2008

Not long ago I realized that I really like everyone on the Lost Highway record label. Their roster includes Elvis Costello, Lyle Lovett, Van Morrison, Willie Nelson, The Jayhawks, Hayes Carll and Willie Nelson. And, true to form I really liked what I heard of their newest, and I’m guessing youngest artist, Ryan Bingham.

I tried to connect with Ryan for a phone interview but between his aggressive touring schedule and my busy days of spreadsheets and meetings about meetings we couldn’t connect. The one afternoon that I had open, he was taping an appearance on Conan O’Brien. It made me feel like I was sitting at the big kids table to be skipped over for Conan – I’m sure he struggled with the decision, but I’m sure he made the right choice.

The night Ryan played in Indianapolis he literally blew in with the storm. They had to fight bad weather all the way from Pennsylvania. They arrived hours later than they planned to but it didn’t slow them down at all.

Ryan and the Dead Horses hit the stage running and didn’t slow down. They played a high-energy set that really showed off his Texas music roots. The songs incorporate everything from Mariachi to boot stomping roadhouse rock

Ryan’s songs are uncommonly personal and reveling, and if you didn’t know anything about the 26 year old, you might think it was a put-on. His youth gave him plenty of song material, and it’s all real. His family moved so often that he quit unpacking the cardboard box that held his things. On his own since his mid-teens he supported himself by traveling on the junior rodeo circuit (and has the belt buckle to prove it) and sleeping on friends’ sofas and the back of his truck. He didn’t seriously start playing guitar until he was 17.

He started entertaining friends on the rodeo circuit, which led to a regular gig in a Texas bar. He was bouncing from rodeo to music gigs and the night he double booked himself he made the easy choice of playing music. Again, I think he choose wisely.

Ryan and the band had the attention of the audience all night. His voice is often compared to Tom Waits. I thought he sounded like the perfect blend of whiskey and cigarettes. Ryan sang, “I’m a book, not a page…” And I believed him.

I look forward to hearing at lot more from this very talented young man.

NUVO Cultural Vision Awards
Indianapolis Museum of Art
Thursday, June 5, 2008

This is the 10th year for the Cultural Vision Awards and I’ve had the honor of attending the presentation for at least half of them. It always makes me proud as can be to live in this community. 

Congratulations to Kevin Phillips and Mark Latta of Standard Recording Company for being among this year’s recipients.

From there, I headed to:
Chuck Prophet
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Radio Radio

Chuck Prophet is an amazing guitar player. And he’s been proving it for years. He was part of the cosmic country rock band Green On Red when he was in his teens. He had the stereotypical musical career heartaches, an addiction to crack cocaine, a manager that stole his publishing rights and threw away his master recordings. He kicked the cocaine and regained the publishing rights and is a musician’s musician. His songs have been covered by the likes of Kim Richey and Heart. He’s played on tons of recordings by his fellow musicians including Cake and Warren Zevon.

He’s got a great voice to match that stellar guitar playing and the songs to match. The crowd was age appropriate to Chuck (he’s 43). Several people were dancing - including me, for just a minute, it was an accident, really. I was just trying to get to the other side of the room for a photograph. No more short cuts for me. Anyway, Chuck said that he “was not used to going places where people dance – in a friendly way, anyway.”

Since I was on a roll (binge is such an ugly word), I headed to:

Jason and the Punknecks
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Sam’s Saloon

This was my first trip to Fountain Square’s newest music venue. Luckily I got to plop down with Broad Ripple’s own Otto and Cara Wahlers so I felt at home.

Okay, I’ll admit it. The band scared me a little bit. It was not the tattoos or the outfits. I thought they looked cute as buttons. And they were good high-energy cow punk musicians. I’m just hoping the between-songs chatter was just part of this Hollywood, California’s bands shtick. I’ll leave it at that.

Loretta – CD release and farewell show
Friday, June 6, 2008

I was so excited for the guys in Loretta. Birdy’s was packed full of the cool kids, parents and people like me, that fall somewhere in between. The band played all of the songs from their new release "Message Received, Not Understood" and lots of their older tunes. The band has been playing since 1999 and I think they got a good send off. They certainly will be missed.

James McMurtry
Monday, June 9, 2008

I was happy to see such a good crowd for the rainy Monday night James McMurtry show. I’ve seen James (yep, he’s the son of writer Larry) several times in the last ten years and I think he keeps getting better each time. He certainly had found his roots rock groove. The audience was really in to the music, tapping boots and singing along.

I got a good look at the glamorous life a touring musician lives as I saw James and the band load out their equipment in the rain. Ah, the life of a rock star.

and since it was on the way home…

All in the Family Jam
Monday, June 9, 2008

I may have mentioned that I’m not a fan of jam bands, and mainly because I didn’t understand it. I grew up musically on punk rock- three chords, 90 seconds and done. I’ve come to realize that when musicians “jam” it takes a lot more talent and trust on their part. And I cannot imagine what it takes to jam with musicians you don’t typically play with, which is what the All in the Family Jam is about. Sort of an open stage jam session. I’m glad I stopped in. 
The All in the Family Jam is typically on Wednesday nights.

I’m out of room and time for more reviews….I promise reviews of David Sedaris, Scott Rudicel and the concert for LonPaul next time.

Indianapolis Songwriters Café
Jason Wilber, Cara Wahlers, Stasia Demos, Marc Jeffares
Friday, June 20, 2008
Boulevard Place Café
4155 Boulevard Place
$5, 7-9,all ages, non-smoking

I rarely give you all an order, but I’m doing it this time: Go see this show. Seriously. Four great musicians, a great concept and its only five dollars. What more could you ask for?

Jason Wilber is one of my favorite singer/songwriters. Galway Waltz was the soundtrack in my head for my Ireland trip.  In his spare time he tours with John Prine and played on his Grammy winning record.

Cara Jean Wahlers sings like a bird and writes songs like an old soul, a quirky old soul, but an old soul.

Stasia Demos’ fans range from toddlers to their parents. If you don’t like Stasia then there is no hope for you.

I don’t know a thing about Marc, but if he’s in the company of these three, then he’s got to be a good egg.

If you go, write me a review – I’m just sick that I have to miss it.

Susan Cowsill
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Indy Hostel
4903 Winthrop Ave
$10, 8:00 pm, all ages, non smoking

America’s beloved Susan Cowsill has been a pop icon since she was touring while in kindergarten. As the youngest member of the seminal family band The Cowsills. The Cowsills were the real life inspiration for The Partridge Family. Susan has made quite a post Cowsills career playing with the Continental Drifters and as a solo musician.

In what surely must be her best musical decision yet, she and husband Russ Broussard are taking Tad Armstrong and Aaron Stroup on the road with them for a summer tour. Tad and Aaron have played together for years, most recently in Middletown. And as you know, they are two of my favorite musicians. Ever. I’ll see you there!

I'll see you out and about!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Broad Ripple Gazette, vol 5. no 12

(Monday, June 2, 2008) I’m sitting in the lobby of a cool little boutique hotel in Washington D.C. I can see the Capital from here – if I really stretch and stand on one leg. It is just right around the corner. And it’s on an actual hill! I’m here for the National Nonprofit Congress. Exciting stuff.
Yesterday’s walk around the area took me by two festivals. One was celebrating the 60th birthday of Israel. I got to hear Regina Spektor sing followed, inexplicably by Oscar the Grouch. The Philippine Festival’s music was a little bizarre, a not-so-good cover band. The food, on the other hand rocked! I had rice and noodles (carbs + carbs) and some fried tubes of sausage things. I almost had bubble tea for the first time ever, but they must have been out. The kid (and I mean kid, I think he was about eleven years old) poured me something from several blender shakers. Kind of like a ‘suicide’ bubble tea. It was delicious. I did also take a quick swing through the Hirshorn Museum of Modern Art. It was as advertised: chock-full of modern art.

Tonight a group of us went to Marrakesh for a Moroccan meal, complete with a belly dancer. The food was wonderful and it felt a little naughty to eat with your fingers. The belly dancer was great…and that felt a little naughty also.

Stasia Demos, Cara Jean Wahlers, Cliff Snyder
Wine Cellar (below the Corner Wine Bar)
Thursday, May 29, 2008

I could feel the love as I descended the steps to the Wine Cellar. Stasia Demos, Cara Wahlers and Cliff Snyder are all warm, charming and talented. To have them sitting in a row was almost too much to bear. The three singer-songwriters traded songs and the inspiration behind them. And all three were great.

Stasia put on her usual stellar performance. Her songs are thoughtful and quirky. Cliff is a great storyteller and recognizes the irony of hating billboards and having one installed across the street from his house. Cara sings like a bird, and can make even her sad songs sound fun.

I wish I could have stayed longer, but I rushed home to write this column. And we can see how well that worked as I’m sitting in the hotel lobby writing at midnight. Check on Cliff, Cara and Stasia gigs and all sorts of other music at:


Loretta CD Release and Farewell Show
Friday, June 6, 2008
2131 E. 71st Street

The four-man (three are brothers) rock band is simultaneously releasing an album and playing their last show, although another record is rumored for later this year. The Weidner brothers – Jason, Damon and Jeremy and friend Stan Muller have been playing together for quite a long time. I was one of the judges for the 2002 (I think, anyway) Battle of the Bands. Judging was fun, because on one ever guessed that I was one. People would sidle up to me and discussed who might be judging. It was hard not to giggle. Anyway, I think that was the year that Loretta won the Battle.

Make sure that you catch them one last time; I know that I’ll be there.

LonPaul Memorial/Benefit Concert
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Fountain Square
Murphy Building (1043 Virginia Ave, suite 4) 5:00- all ages, donation
Radio Radio (1119 Prospect St) 7:30 – 21+, $15

The show is a memorial concert that will also serve as a benefit event for LonPaul's son’s Educational Trust. The bands have not been announced yet, but trust me – the show will knock your socks off. I suggest buying your ticket now. I’m pretty darn sure the show will sell out. Purchase your ticket on I’ll see you there, for sure.

MKNA Twilight Tour
Friday, June 20, 2008
48th Street, between Washington and Pennsylvania
$50.00, 6:30-11:30

The Meridian Kessler Neighborhood Association is kicking off their home tour with a mini tour, dinner, silent auction and dance the night before. It is always a blast. The theme this year is Walk on the Wild Side and band The Fabulous Imports are playing.

Meghan Martin has been part of the home tour committee for the last three years. She shares, “I'm always excited to attend the Twilight Tour. I love a good party and I'm always curious about other people's homes. This event combines the two! There are three houses and one garden on tour for the Twilight. I got a sneak peak at one and it is just beautiful. I can't wait to see the others. Also, this year is especially exciting because it's back in the neighborhood at a steal of a price, only $50 per person. This should leave me some extra cash to spend at the silent auction, which benefits local nonprofits.”

To purchase tickets visit: I’ll see you there.

Out and About:

Billy Bragg gave a shout out one of our favorite musicians, Otis Gibbs in the Wall Street Journal weekend edition!

They asked Billy about his five favorite songs infused with a social message.

His choices are: Chuck Berry 
'Roll Over Beethoven,' from 'Chuck Berry Is on Top' (1959)
Sam Cooke 
'A Change Is Gonna Come,' from 'Ain't That Good News' (1964)
Bob Dylan 
'I Shall Be Released,' from 'Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2' (1971)
The Clash 
'I'm So Bored With the USA,' from 'The Clash' (1977)
Otis Gibbs 
'The People's Day,' from 'One Day Our Whispers' (2004).

How cool is that?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Jason and the Punknecks

first published in NUVO

I saw this talented, but slightly disturbing band, Jason and the Punknecks.
See the photographs here.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008