Thursday, January 22, 2009

Broad Ripple Gazette, vol. 6 no . 2

Sanuk CD release show
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Cathedral High School Theatre

There has always been a shortage of venues for younger (under 21) bands, and it seems to be getting worse. As someone who ran an all-ages venue that hosted over 100 shows a year, I understand the challenges. I can think of only a hand full of shows that even covered the labor costs of staying open late. Luckily CATH had great business in the morning, so that helped balance it all out. That said, the largest crowds were always for the under 21 bands. Their fan base is great – and they don’t have as many options as the over 21 people, so they’re very loyal.

Sanuk took over (they asked first!) the theater at Cathedral High School for a Saturday afternoon show and I thought it worked out really well. The room was full of fan, friends and family. And they got to play on a real stage and have real sound and lighting support.

Their CD, “Honey, I have news…” is filled with catchy, pop-filled goodness. The band played the songs from the record and a few covers. Oliver Hopkins cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah was amazing. It started with just Oliver and Alex Collingon on percussion and the rest of the band joining in as the song reached its peak.

The band morphed from the Oliver Hopkins Trio. Oliver did the majority of the writing for the CD. The other original member, Duncan Kissinger, contributed the first track on the disc. All of the members are talented, most playing more than one instrument. You could tell they were having a blast and enjoy playing music. In addition to Oliver (vocals, guitars and keyboard), Duncan (guitar, drums and glockenspiel) and Alex (drums, percussion and vocals) and the band features Chris O'Connor (bass) Sophie Hopkins (vocals) and David Linard on keyboard.

For the encore the band sat on the edge of the stage and the fans piled in on the floor in front of them – a great way for everyone to connect. I enjoyed every minute of the show. Well done!

Sweet Potato Queen
Big Hat Books
6510 Cornell Avenue
Sunday, January 11, 2009

I’ve had wonderful fun puttering around and occasionally helping with the Big Hat Books move to their new digs next to the Broad Ripple Brew Pub. Since I occasionally work at Marigold, I had (self granted) license to dash between the two stores during the moves and soak it all in. I volunteered to help Liz Houghton Barden with the reception for Jill Conner Browne. I was not familiar with Jill’s books, but I got the feeling from looking at the book jackets she was funny and clever. As it turned out, she was. You can judge her books by the covers.

As the crowd gathered I realized that I was a bit out of my element. My first clue was that Liz was wearing a tiara. My corduroy skirt, ponytail and cowboy boots were no match for the sequins and bling. A nice woman in sparkly clothes was helping pour wine. I was surprised to learn that she was the author. It was a great indicator of Jill and her husband Kyle’s commitment to her Sweet Potato Queen fans.

Jill read from her latest book, American Thighs: The Sweet Potato Queens Guide to Preserving Your Assets, and told hilarious stories. I can’t tell you what the books are about- you’ve got to buy one for yourself.

Jill donated a bracelet that they auctioned off for Dress for Success and Kyle let women donate money by tucking money in to his shirt. Kyle took photos of everyone with Jill and posted them on the Web site. I was really impressed by their generosity.

It was a great way to christen the new store and I got to meet another Nora. There aren’t many of us and it is big fun to meet another one.

Cindy Pierce
Big Hat Books
6510 Cornell Avenue
Friday, January 16, 2009

I volunteered to help with another event at Big Hat Books and I was slightly better informed about the author this time. I saw a clip on YouTube of Cindy Pierce talking about her book, Finding the Doorbell. I’m not sure that what she was saying registered with me; the white noise rushing through my head was too loud. I grew up in a household where we always used the proper words for all body parts and functions -- not that we talked about our bodies or functions. I come about my prudishness honestly.

I’ll just leave it that “finding the doorbell” is euphuism for, well, you’ll figure it out – it is a family paper. And I’m blushing as I type. Okay, here goes: The book is a humorous look at sexual satisfaction and communication for couples. There, I said it.

I really enjoyed meeting Cindy and she is wildly funny and expressive and very entertaining. The room was shaking with laughter.

Otis Gibbs
Vogue Theater
Saturday, January 17, 2009

I was really looking forward to Otis Gibbs’ CD release show at the Vogue. I’d picked up extra shifts and the Red Key, extra gigs for NUVO and took clothes to The Toggery and scraped up enough cash to buy a fancy camera (Cannon Rebel XS). I really wanted it for the show and I’d been feeling naked without it.

I giggled when I saw Otis’ name on the marquee and a ticket scalper in front of the Vogue. I think a scalper is a sure sign that you’ve made it! The early show was seated and non-smoking and there were tons of people there.

I overheard someone say the evening felt like a class reunion; only it was with people that you actually want to see. I was enjoying the camaraderie and my new camera even though I had no idea how to actually use it.

Otis started the show with several solo acoustic songs, then bringing Amy Lashley to the stage to sing and the rest of the band to join him. Tad Armstrong, John Byrne and Wade Parish have all played with Otis in various band incarnations over the years. They sounded great and harmonized beautifully. I loved looking back and seeing Jonee Quest running sound.

I wound up spending the second half of the show selling Otis merchandise. Which I love! I’m not good at math or standing still, but I seem to be a merch savant. I told music booker/ talent buyer, Matt Schwegman that I’d always wanted to be a merch girl at the Vogue. I guess I need a new goal now.

It became apparent after just a few minutes that I had totally no idea how to operate my new SLR camera, including shooting without the flash. I’d read the manual and practiced on my cat, but that didn’t translate to real life photography. Matthew “Dirty Matt” Aaron gave me a quick lesson. Matt is an amazing photographer, you can find his work lining the backstage walls of Verizon Music Center (Deer Creek for you traditionalists) and in a bunch of CDs. Getting a photo lesson from Matt is equivalent to getting a violin lesson from Itzhak Perlman. [you can find more photos here.

I made my annual trip to the Alley Cat after the show. Much like the Red Key, nothing seems to change there – in a good way.

Mortgage Burning Party
Just Judy’s
January 18,2008
2210 E 54th St

In these uncertain economic times it is wonderful to hear good news for a small business. Judy Guerra bought the restaurant ten years ago and now she owns it! Woo Hoo! She celebrated with a party and music.

The Young Relics have been playing together for almost as long as Judy’s had the restaurant. The trio (Mike Flemming, Mark Plummer and Bob Stevens) play classic sing-along songs and funny, make me blush songs. All crowd pleasers. They are great musicians and harmonize wonderfully. Rumor has it you can catch them most Thursdays, but don’t hold me to that.

Judy is a wonderful asset to the community. Her generosity has been recognized in the Congress and is an official part of the Congressional record. Congratulations Judy!

Lockstep, Latex Novelties, And Up! Scumbag and Pleasant Run.
Friday, January 30, 2009
ES Jungle, 6151 Central Avenue
7:00, all-ages, $7.00

As I mentioned in the Sanuk review above, there is a lack of all-ages venues. ES Jungle is filling that need admirably. Piradical Productions has been putting on shows there for several months. This line up is truly inspired, matching up three generations of bands. Too often “all-ages” is code for under 21 year olds. In this case, it really means all ages. Latex Novelties packed the Melody Inn on New Years Eve. Good stuff.

Typhanie Monique and Neal Auger

Saturday, February 7, 2009
The Jazz Kitchen
5377 N. College Ave.
7:30-10pm: $12

I’m going to let the lovey LuAnn Lancton tell the story:
With two critically-acclaimed discs to their credit, and on the heels of the release of their third CD YULETIDE GROOVE, the jazz duo of vocalist Typhanie Monique and guitarist Neal Alger will perform at one of the "top 100 jazz clubs in the world", the Jazz Kitchen in Indianapolis. The duo will expand to a quartet with bass and drums for this performance and the set times are 8pm and 10pm.

YULETIDE GROOVE charted at number 30 in it's first week on the Jazz Week Chart. Local Chicago stations WDCB, WRRG, and WNUA have given the release a multitude of spins. WJZA, a jazz radio station out of Columbus, OH has noted that "in addition to covering 10 of the more familiar carols, [Typhanie and Neal] also add such rarely heard but no less-holiday-oriented songs as 'Happy Xmas (War is Over)' by John Lennon and 'Someday at Christmas' by Stevie Wonder".

While Monique and Alger were already performing together in a quartet setting in 2002, a local Chicago venue Pops for Champagne asked Typhanie and Neal to peform solely as a duo for Monday night residency. After several years of thoroughly enjoying the process of honing duo arrangements of their favorite songs, jazz or otherwise, Alger and Monique decided to embark in earnest on the duo journey by documenting their musical magic onto disc. The resulting disc, 2004's INTRINSIC, showed the jazz world that Monique and Alger could deftly move from swing to R&B/hip-hop grooves, then on to latin rhythmic feels, and back again while always maintaining improvisational integrity. Indeed, the duo's versatility on INTRINSIC led Cadence magazine to write "the duo combines tradition with heartfelt passion and innovation".

On the duo's second disc, IN THIS ROOM, released in 2007, Chicago-based bossa nova star Paulinho Garcia makes a brilliant appearance on the duo's Brazilian-oriented version of the Jackson 5 classic "Never Can Say Goodbye". IN THIS ROOM was also not without jazz warhorses like the opener of the disc, Ellington's "Caravan" , which "shows the pair in perfect union, with Monique soulfully scatting as Alger paints wah-wah effected shapes" (DOWNBEAT magazine).

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

NUVO reviews - Those Darlins and Sanuk

Check out NUVO's nifty new Web site. It is good stuff. Except all of the old content is not up yet and none of the old links work - sorry. I'll fix them when the articles turn back up.

These links should work -
My review of the Little Darlins and Kentucky Nightmare show at Radio Radio on January 10.

My review of the Sanuk CD release show on January 11. - I'm really excited for these guys.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

no one told me!

I wrote a slight snarky blog post for NUVO. You can read it here.

Broad Ripple Gazette, vol 6. no 1

first published in the Broad Ripple Gazette

Indianapolis Songwriters Café
Tom Roznowski, Sarah Grain, Tad Armstrong
December 19, 2008
Boulevard Place Café
4155 Boulevard Place

I can’t believe that this is the first Indianapolis Songwriters Café I’ve attended. It was as great as I thought it would be. The room was packed. This month featured Tom Roznowski, Sarah Grain and Tad Armstrong. The musicians played in-the-round – taking turns and swapping stories as they played. It gives a chance for the musician’s personalities to shine through. The format also gives the songwriters a chance to take a topic and run with it. Trees, horses, families, love and pie were reoccurring themes.

Tom Roznowski is a great story teller, both in the anecdotes he shared and his music. He paired stories about everyday life – barber shops, jukeboxes and houseguests with the songs that came from those stories. Roznowski’s song Heaven of Pies pays homage to his life-long fascination with pie. For the record, one of Roznowski’s goals is to be a judge at a pie contest at the State Fair. Hear that folks? Make it happen!

Sarah Grain’s music is very personal – her songs are an honest glimpse in to her life. The challenges of parent’s divorce, the fear of never seeing a loved one again and her faith are topics she’s tackled in a very beautiful, thoughtful and hopeful way in her music. Grain taught herself to play guitar by writing songs. She continues to work on the songs she wrote years ago, often changing the words and the melody.

Tad Armstrong’s music is also grounded in real-life. Two of the songs he played came out of a post-Katrina visit to New Orleans. Armstrong also covered songs by other songwriters, connecting the dots along the way. He played Deliver Me by the late Bill Cowsill’s band, Blue Shadow. Armstrong currently plays bass (and is the only non-family member) with the iconic family band, The Cowsills. Armstrong sang a Robbie Robertson Christmas song riffing off of a not-so-flattering review of his band Middletown.

I can’t say enough about how great this series is. The next show is Friday, January 16. 7:00 pm, $5.00 featuring another great lineup -- Cliff Snyder, Tim Grimm and John Barney.

Birdy’s X-mas party
Thursday, December 18, 2008

Punk Rock Night’s Greg Brenner reprised his role as celebrity Santa for the second year, filling the big shoes (and beard) of long-time Mr. Claus, Otis Gibbs.

I just missed the band Reaul, but I heard rave reviews. Ashworth followed with their lovely acoustic tunes, including their new Christmas song, “King of Love Come Down.”
Things got a little crazy on stage after that. The Birdy’s X-mas show always has a getting together with your high-school friends vibe. If your friends were all musicians that you’d practiced in each others basements and that you’ve most likely slept in a van with. Two of other bands in the lineup, The YaYas and Vinyl Shriner, share members and lots of history. I won’t try to sort out what order the bands played, since the set times were negotiated on the fly and they all played several times.

The YaYas were a fun treat. The trio has played together since their high school days in Zionsville. Their sets had a bluesy rock feel and showed off Andrew Dyken’s soulful voice. Vinyl Shriner is good old-fashioned shiny Fez-wearing fun. My favorite part of the night was the helium-fueled Chipmunks’ cover.

Lines of Nazca features Birdy’s booker and mayor of the Upper Room, Jeff Sample. It is always a treat to see Jeff on stage. Almost the whole band contributes vocals making for some surprisingly sweet rock harmonies. And any night I get to dance with Santa is a good one.

Northside Newsstand Festivus Party.
December 23, 2008

I really debated about whether to write about this. As you know, I’m a big cheerleader for our community and will defend the reputation of neighborhood to the end. And I still feel totally safe. As it turned out, the incident only confirmed and strengthened my commitment to the community.

I considered walking the four blocks from my house, but decided that the sidewalks were too treacherous. I almost parked on a side street, but decided that it would be safer to park on College Avenue. As I was walking toward the Jazz Kitchen two men walked toward me. Being ever so polite, I moved over and walked on the grass so they could pass. No dice. One man batted at my purse and the other showed me his gun. I very nicely handed over my bag. The part that really frosted me was that they both called me a bitch....really? You're taking all of my favorite things and calling me names. Whatever, asshats.

It took me a few minutes to walk/slide/freak-out my way to the Jazz Kitchen but I knew once I got there I'd be taken care of. I whispered the situation in to the ear of Frank, the doorman. You know how I hate to cause a scene...I stood in the lobby as I was waiting for the patrol car and made small talk with people passing by. The weather was awful and the police were super busy. The policewoman finally arrived and we realized that it was too loud to talk in the entryway. So I got to sit in the back of a squad car. By the time I got done giving my statement a crowd of friends had gathered on the deck waiting in the rain for me. It was like walking in to a big group hug. I just wish someone had gotten a photo of me getting out of the police car.

Jazz Kitchen owner, Dave Allee let me use is office, phone and computer to call in credit cards and de-activate my phone (it was bad enough the jerks had my beloved iPhone, I'll be damned if I'll let them use it). Newsstand Joe Walters sat with me while I made the calls. Hostel John had my spare set of keys. Hugh Vandiver drove me to get the keys; made sure no one was in my house and drove me back to my car. And Tammy Lieber and the twins were kind enough to let me sleep at their house.

Now that I've had time to sort it out, I realized that I'm just good old-fashioned pissed off. I'm mad for the neighborhood -- it was on College Avenue, between two of my favorite places - the Red Key and the Newsstand. I'm mad because I love to walk at night. I'm mad that people are giving me a hard time for walking alone at night (it was around 9:00).

I'm mad that my camera is gone --I feel really naked without it. I'm mad that the notebook that I've kept notes for every show I've seen in for 2008 is gone. I'm mad that all of my make-up is gone (not that I wear a lot, but it was all in there). Not to mention cash and credit and gift cards and other crap. I'm mad that I have to get another driver's license. I'm mad that my cash is gone. I'm mad that I'm achy and sore (between adrenaline and the one block walk of running/sliding to get help I really goofed up my neck and back). I'm mad that Christmas notes I'd written to friends are gone. I'm mad that I had to change my locks. I'm mad that I don't feel comfortable in my own house. And most of all, I'm mad that I'm mad.

But all in all, it's okay - I'm thankful that my dad could hand me cash and a credit card so I could replace the phone and have some walking around money. I'm thankful that I have such caring friends and family. I'm thankful that I have a warm and cozy home. I'm thankful for living in a neighborhood that people know my name. I'm thankful to have a good job that I love.
There were some funny moments. Stepping out of the squad car in my sparkly skirt was one. Before the police arrived and the news spread Dave Allee came out and teasingly asked if I had any ID. I flipped him off, I don't know who was more shocked -- him or me. All night, people who didn't know what happened were telling me how beautiful I looked - apparently I wear wide-eyed flushed-faced fear well.

The outpouring of support has been amazing. The folks at the Jazz Kitchen and Northside Newsstand were amazing. People have been handing me their house keys, offering rides, key chains have arrived in the mail and Marigold gave me a new purse and Matt (Jazz Kitchen bartender and Rachel (Thrifty Threads and former CATH employee) gave me a gift card to replace the makeup. I cannot imagine living anywhere else. Seriously.

And not that anyone deserves to be mugged – as I’m been saying: I should be able to walk down the street with a coat made of $20 bills and not be bothered. But, I’m wondering why I had so much crap in my purse – I’m back to a smaller bag, keys in the coat pocket and just taking my drivers license, enough money for the evening and lipstick with me.

Oh, the music review – I was in a bit of a daze, but Otto and the Gearheads sounded great from the lobby and DJ Rusty had the whole place dancing. A success, I’d say.

Otis Gibbs
Home Fields Advantage House Concerts
Cyndi’s birthday!
December 28, 2008

I think this was the third year Otis Gibbs has played a holiday show for this great house concert series and this year it fell on house concert host Cyndi Wagner’s birthday. What a great way to spend your birthday!

As always, Otis was charming and engaging. He’s such an amazing story teller. And he told the best one ever: Otis just finished a tour with Billy Bragg. Joe Hill was a labor activist and songwriter who was executed in 1915. Hill's body was sent to Chicago as was cremated. His ashes were rumored to be sent to every Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or the Wobblies) local. In 1988 it was discovered that an envelope had been seized by the U.S. Postal Service in 1917 because of its "subversive potential". The envelope, with a photo affixed, captioned, "Joe Hill murdered by the capitalist class, Nov. 19, 1915," as well as its contents, were deposited at the National Archives.

After some negotiations, the last of Hill's ashes weres turned over to the IWW in 1988. The weekly paper ran notice of the ashes and invited readers to suggest what should be done with them. Suggestions varied from enshrining them at the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, DC to Abbie Hoffman’s suggestion that they be eaten by today's "Joe Hills" like Billy Bragg and Michelle Shocked. Billy did swallow a small bit of the ashes and carried a share for completion of Hoffman's idea.

Otis was sitting at Billy Bragg’s kitchen table (can you imagine how cool it would be to sit at his kitchen table?) and Billy brought out some of Joe Hill’s ashes for Otis. I’m sure you’re all wondering - what did Joe Hill's ashes taste like? Otis' answer: Solidarity.

Otis will be back in Indianapolis for his official CD release show at the Vogue on January 17. See the preview below for the details.

Chad Mills, Matt Martin and Evan Haughey
January 2, 2008
The Upper Room

Chad Mills, Matt Martin and Evan Haughey played to a packed crowd for a fundraiser for the wonderful Indy School on Wheels.
As you all know, I’m a big fan of Chad Mills. Not only do I like his music, but I appreciate how generous to the community and his fans. He played almost 150 shows in 2008. He spelled out a word in electrical tape on his guitar. All I could see at first was VE. I was debating on whether it said LIVE or LOVE. As it turned out, it was GIVE. Perfect!
Matt is an Ohio transplant, where he played with his band Mild Eye. He’s carving a niche as a singer-songwriter in Indianapolis. He played his own tunes plus thoughtful covers. He told me he’s also concentrating on the drums.
Evan also showed off his original songs and covers tunes. Chad met Evan when he hosted the open stage at the Whammy Bar said that Ryan was the highlight of that whole experience.
All three joined together for the last set and played some impressive off-the-cuff cover songs. Tom Petty’s “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” was particularly fun. Mills dubbed the trio “The Charity Lineup.”

Sanuk CD release show
Saturday, January 10, 2008
2:00-4:00, all ages, non-smoking
Cathedral Theatre
5225 East 56th Street

I have a special place in my heart for this young band. They first contacted me though the very excellent Web site, and I later volunteered with Oliver and Duncan at the Wilco show this summer. Sanuk played the Tonic Ball and did an amazing job.
Their record release show was scheduled for the now defunct Center Stage Café. I think they found a great venue for the concert. And they’ll have professional lighting and sound for the show. The band reminds me of the collaborative beautiful sound of Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s. I look forward to hearing the CD, “Honey, I have news….” I’ll see you there!

Punkin’ Holler Boys
Friday, January 16, 2009
7:30 – 9:30, $4.00, 21+
Historic Melody Inn
3826 N. Illinois Street

The Hillbilly Happy Hour is always a great way to kick off the weekend. The Punkin’ Holler Boys show will be bittersweet – John Sheets is retiring from the band. Make sure to stop in and wish him farewell.

Otis Gibbs - CD Release Show
Saturday, January 17, 2009
doors 6:30, show 7:30, $8.00, non-smoking, seated, 21+
The Vogue
6259 N. College Avenue

I’m so excited about this show that I got my Red Key shift covered (thanks Lana!), which is big news. It’s going to be a cool show for so many reasons. I love the fact that Otis used to work for the Patio and Vogue, I love the idea that he’s making the show early, seated and non-smoking.

And I love the CD. I’ve been listening to “Grandpa Walked A Picketline” pretty much non-stop since I got a copy at the house concert (see the review above). I actually had the CD in my hand two other times and wound up immediately giving them away – the last time to Hayes Carll. I’ve been itching to listen to it for months. I just about fainted when I opened the package at the house concert and saw that I was thanked in the notes – in the same sentence as Amy Lashley and Billy Bragg. Okay, it’s a really long sentence, but an amazing honor. It might have something to do with helping them move. Anyway, the record is terrific and chock-full of legendary musicians.

I’ll see you there, for sure.

Dustin Clark, Kristy Kruger and Dylan Sneed
Monday, January 19, 2009
7:00 pm, $7.00, all-ages, non smoking.
Indy Hostel
4903 Winthrop Avenue

I’ve been listening to Indianapolis’ own singer-songwriter Dustin Clark’s self-titled CD and really digging it. He’ll be opening the first show of the 2009 Indy Hostel season. I’ll let “Hostel John” tell you about Kristy and Dylan.

“Kristy Kruger - Songwriter and artist has musical tastes that travel easily from Billie Holiday to Johnny Cash, combining her Texas Americana roots with her love of New Orleans-style jazz. The Dallas Morning News says she has grown into one of the most eclectic singers in the area, citing her as a "female Tom Waits." Krugeralso won the Dallas Observer Music Aweard for Best Female Vocalist and the 2007 International Independent Music Award for "Best Americana Album of the Year." She has contributed to Public Radio International's "This American Life" and even made a fan out of the show's host Ira Glass.

“Dylan Sneed - As a grassroots songwriter and performer Dylan has criss-crossed the country on several national tours. 35,000 miles later, Dylan's songwriting and guitar skills have won him much acclaim in the South and the Dallas area. The Dallas Observer praised his latest EP as "One of the Best Local Releases of the Year." Fans of Townes Van Zandt and Bob Dylan will most likely enjoy Dylan's fusion of traditional and modern songwriting.
“The scene here at the Indy Hostel is all about people. People like you. If you are here then everyone is here."

And check out the display of local music at the Glendale Library and my PEZ display at the College Avenue Library this month.