Thursday, March 19, 2009

Broad Ripple Gazette, vol 6. no 7

first published in the Broad Ripple Gazette

Steve Poltz
Wednesday, March 5, 2009
Locals Only

Whenever Steve Poltz comes to town it can be described as a weather event. In the past I’ve witnessed Hurricane Poltz, Tsunami Steve and a tornado of a night that led to my first (and most likely last) taste of moonshine. This show was a gentle thunderstorm. The nice romantic candlelight sort of storm, the kind with an occasional burst of thunder and lightning to keep it all interesting. Incidentally, it was first time I’ve seen Poltz play solo.

Poltz clearly feels at home at Locals Only and has a faithful Indianapolis following. And when I say following, I mean a rabid fan base, bordering on the stalkerish – and I’m right there with ‘em. His songs are clever and funny and a little bit bawdy. Poltz is one of those songwriters that we can all relate to.

Poltz has an amazing detail for names and details. It servers him well with his songwriting and audience wooing. Hearing Poltz sing a amazing song weaving your name in to it is a beautiful thing. Some rules to live by: never miss a chance to sniff a baby’s head, wear funky rain boots on cloudy days and don’t miss ever miss a Poltz show.

Douglas David art opening
Thursday, March 6, 2009
Indianapolis Artsgarden

I’m a big fan of Douglas David’s artwork. I can see four of his paintings from my sofa and I have a fifth in my bedroom. Last year Doug was awarded a creative renewal grant from the Indianapolis Arts Council. He used the award to travel to Europe. This show is the result.

The work is wonderful. Doug manages to pack a lot in to a small painting. This series is painted on smaller-than-usual for Doug canvases. I especially loved the grouping inspired by lunch at a sidewalk café. The show hangs at the Artsgarden through April 3, 2009.

Christabel and the Jons
Thursday, March 6, 2009
Local’s Only

The Big Roots Show featured the very excellent Christabel and the Jons. The Knoxville, TN band was not what I expected. In a good way. I heard someone describe Christabel’s voice as something you’d expect to hear in 1920s Key West. It was the perfect description. Her voice is sultry and makes you nostalgic for a time that you never knew.

Christabel and the Jons had a great following. I can see why people sing their songs to babies and host the band for backyard concerts. Christabel and the Jons are beautifully quirky. Christabel (Christa DeCicco) gave lots of credit to her band. She told us, “I write songs that all sound alike, and the band makes them all sound different.”

The band has a good dose of whimsy. I was commenting on the talented multi-instrumentalist (all of them good: violin, trumpet, mandolin and accordion) Seth Hopper’s tie. It was one of those Colonel Sander’s looking ties. None of us knew what it was called, so we iPhone looked it up. It’s a Western string tie, for the record. And for the record, the band travels with a suitcase of “197 ties, not counting the ones strewn around the van.”

Drummer Jon Whitlock teased before every song, “I wrote that.” This was new-to-the band, bass player Joshua Burrell’s second show with the group. He did a lovely job. Another great evening at Locals Only.

Saw Doctors
Sunday, March 8, 2009
The Vogue

I was really looking forward to the Saw Doctors show. I first heard their music when I was in Ireland last year. They were the band of choice on the iPod we listened to on bus as we toured. And thanks to NUVO I had a photo pass. I was feeling very fancy and slightly nervous. Not often I get to cover bands my own age.

It turned out to be an evening full of craic agus ceol (fun and music). I got to meet another Nora, she lives in Chicago. A good chunk of the audience was from outside of Indianapolis. There were over 200 people at the show, not bad for a pricy ticket on a school night, but a light audience for the Saw Doctors. They sold out venues in Chicago, New York, Boston and Philadelphia.

Davy Carton and Leo Moran formed the band in 1986 and have served as the front men ever since. It was a blast to see musicians have such fun on stage and play off of the crowds energy. They are Irelands version of John Mellencamp. They make serious topics sound hopeful and celebratory. They also have a fun- naughty bent, satirizing the Catholic Church and relationships.

The show featured several sing-along favorites including "Tommy K," an anthem to Tuam’s (their hometown) first-ever disc jockey and "N17," an homage to the road leading from Tuam to Galway that is the route a young person leaving the west of Ireland would likely take when emigrating. Songs that we sang at the top of our lungs on the bus.

Moran introduced some new songs, "Friday Town" and "Someone Loves You," with the fact that “never been heard before in Indiana," making for a "historic moment." The show itself was a historic night the Vogue — the first-ever non-smoking ticketed show at The Vogue.
The whole band, Kevin Duffy (keyboard, accordion), Eimhin Cradock (drums) and long-time member Anthony Thistlewaite (bass, saxophone and harmonica) all added to the lovely harmonies and energy on the stage. The encore included The Saw Doctors hit "I Useta Lover," which holds record for Ireland's biggest-selling single of all time.

After the show I felt a little stalkerish when I told them that our group drove through Tuam and stopped under a N17 sign to take a photograph and gave them a copy of the Broad Ripple Gazette. They politely nodded and said thanks. The Saw Doctors infused Indianapolis some good old Irish exuberance. It was a great way to get in to the Saint Patrick’s mood. Slainte!

Jazz Fest Reception
Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Jazz Fest folks are hosting a series of receptions to kick off the new and improved festival. I was honored to get to hobnob with the movers and shakers in the Jazz world. Alpha Blackburn introduced the main players for the festival, David Allee, Owl Studio’s Al Hall and Rob Dixon. The focus of the Jazz Fest is education.

Here are the details on the latest news and Broad Ripple all-ages shows:

Indy Jazz Fest and IPS resurrect the IPS All City High School Jazz Band
Indianapolis Public Schools, in conjunction with Indy Jazz Fest, is proud to present the reinstatement of the IPS All City High School Jazz Band. This band is a seventeen-piece ensemble that is comprised of some of the most talented high school musicians from the IPS district.

Under the direction of Mr. Keith White (Director of Instrumental Music for IPS) and Kathy Spangler (Willard J. Gambold Middle School IPS #108 Band Director), the IPS All City High School Jazz Band will perform a number of concerts throughout the year that will be open to general audiences. As a cultural treasure to the city of Indianapolis, the IPS All City High School Jazz Band will strive for excellence in performance, and instill in young musicians the great legacy of Indianapolis Jazz that is in essence our City’s great past and vibrant future.

Indy Jazz Fest is also proud to announce the formation of the year-round, Indy Jazz Fest Band. This is a nine-piece performance group that consists of some of the finest professional Jazz musicians in the Indianapolis area. The mission of this group is to perpetuate the legacy of Jazz throughout the city, with a targeted focus on education in schools.

The Indy Jazz Fest Band will make their debut playing a one hour concert for all the students at Pike High School (6701 Zionsville Rd.) this coming Wednesday, March 18th at 9am.
On Friday, March 20th, at 10am, The Indy Jazz Fest Band will be performing another one-hour show at Broad Ripple High School (1115 Broad Ripple Ave) for all high school jazz band, concert band, orchestra and choral students in the IPS school district. All music students and Band Directors will be transported by bus to BRHS for this performance. After this concert, an announcement recognizing the resurrection of The IPS All City High School Jazz Band will be made. Band directors from all IPS high schools will help organize the band in the following week.
Musicians from the Indy Jazz Fest Band will help run rehearsals for the IPS All City Jazz Band, which will be every Monday starting at the end of March and going through the end of the school year.

Indy Jazz Fest has already booked 3 public performances for the IPS All City High School Jazz Band:
• Broad Ripple Art Fair on Sunday, May 17th, 3-4:30pm, on the Nuvo Riverfront Stage
• Artsgarden at Circle Centre Mall on May 9th
• Indy Jazz Fest - Sept 21-28, 2009
In April, the Indy Jazz Fest Band will perform a similar concert for all middle school and grade school music students in the IPS school district. And on May 3rd, the IJF Band will perform a concert with the Butler Youth Jazz Band, a group consisting of high school students across Indianapolis. The IJF band will also perform a Masterclass for the Butler Jazz ensemble, as well as a concert for IUPUI music students.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Broad Ripple Gazette, vol. 6 no. 5

Fat Tuesday Celebration 



Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I think that Joe Vuskovich could open a Yats on an island and people would figure out how to get there. I also think that he could try not to have a Fat Tuesday party and the neighborhood would show up anyway. Luckily for us, Joe pulls out the stops, moves the furniture to the street, tucks a band in the corner and lets the hilarity ensue.

This year Joe asked the band SouLOVEuniverse, featuring Kelsey Smith to play. The band plays a party mix of funk, R&B and soul. They were a blast! Kelsey not only has a fabulous voice, but she is a great performer and had the crowd dancing. The abbreviated version of the band included guitar player, Sean McGary, bass player, Mike Hogan and drummer extraordinaire, Devon Ashley.

The highlight of the evening for me was watching Joe in all of his glory. He is the consummate host, charming and a larger-than-life presence. Joe was appropriately costumed as the Greek god Pan - the god of shepherds and flocks, hunting, the season of spring and music. I know that we all flock to Yats to feast on the wonderful food he as gathered for us. As sure sign of spring is when the outdoor tables are in use. As always, Joe made us all feel at home.

Now, go eat at Yats! You won’t be disappointed.

Tonight…Its Beaver (formerly known as the Loud Band) 

Red Key Tavern
Wednesday, February 25, 2009

All of us at the Gazette write on a volunteer basis – and I for one am thrilled to do it. That said, I was feeling a little smug when a cooking shift at the Red Key coincided with music. For the first time, I was going to come out ahead financially after reviewing a show.

The band had not quite settled on a name when it came time to start. Everyone’s favorite waitress, Lana introduced them as “tonight, its Beaver!” and thus they were named – at least for the night. 

The group is made up of Tuesday Night All Stars basketball team regular, Don McMahon and his band mates, Jeff Florczak, Derek Palmer and Franklin Roesner. They played a variety of sweet classic rock songs – Sweet Melissa and Sweet Virginia included. The set list could double as the soundtrack of my high school years – Bob Segar (my first concert), The Allman Brothers Band, Eagles, AC/DC, Neil Young and the Rolling Stones.

They sounded just as good from the front of the room as they did over the sizzle of the grill in the kitchen. You could tell they were all having a blast -- trading instruments and vocal duties. And I had fun swooping around them to deliver cheeseburgers.

The room was full of band wives, parents and basketball teammates. I love meeting the “other half” of the people that I wait on regularly. As you all know I am a blushy Catholic school girl at heart, so when I was asked to put on a band tee-shirt reading “WE ARE BEAVER” I thought I was going to faint. I felt much better after Don’s mom put hers on.

And a warning – the Red Key rules are in effect, even if you’re a rock star. Don put his foot on a chair during a guitar solo and he was chided from the bar.

Big Roots Show 

Locals Only 

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The every Thursday Big Roots Show at Locals Only keeps growing in popularity, with good reason. There the show starts early (7:30), there is always excitement on the stage, delicious food and now the Big Roots Shows will all be non-smoking – woo hoo!

I arrived just in time to catch the set of The Passengers. Good-time county music. John Barney is the songwriter and he plays guitar and harmonica, Rich Hynes plays mandolin, drums and harmonica, Mike Strauss plays bass and Mike Brown plays accordion, mandolin, keyboard and guitar. The Passengers are working on a record; the bits I’ve heard are great.

Kudos to Cara Jean Wahlers and Cliff Snyder for hosting and keeping the lineup fresh and interesting, Butler Scion for sponsoring the show and the fine folks at Locals Only for making us all feel so welcome.

Cash Bash 

Radio Radio 

Friday, February 27, 2009

I had a blast! I wondered up to the stage when I got there and never looked back. The annual Cash Bash (this was the fifty) is hosted by the very talented Mandy Marie Luke.

Mark Miller of BR-549 fame and Kenny Taylor of the Blue Moon Boys played a foot-stomping Rockabilly fun-laced set. They played a combination of Johnny Cash tunes and original songs. Cash had an unlikely songwriter in Shel Silverstein, but a “Boy Named Sue” and “25 Minutes to Go” are Silverstein songs.

I remember where I was the first time I heard “Boy Named Sue” – I was in Danner’s on the square in Lebanon. It was 1976 and I was buying a plastic red, white and blue link belt with the word VOTE on the disks with my selling sweet corn money. I don’t know which is stranger – that I still have the belt (I have managed to lose any decent piece of jewelry I’ve ever owned) or the fact that it is one of the few things I remember from childhood.

Mandy Marie and the Cool Hand Lukes played two raucous sets chock-full of originals and Cash tunes. The band is flat-out fun to watch! Mandy Marie an honest-to-goodness great guitar player. Drummer Lewis Scott Jones, marks great time with the intense pace of the band and new-to-the band guitar player, Eric Grimmitt makes it all look easy. Morrison “Mo” Foster plays like his upright bass like it’s his best friend – the kind of friend that you can stand on or get in to a slap fight with.

I got to hear the song “$600 boots,” the title track from their upcoming album, I can’t wait to hear the record. Not only are they excellent musicians, but they are the most photogenic band this side of the Tennessee Three.

Saw Doctors 

Sunday, March 8, 2009 


6259 College Avenue 

doors at 7:00, show at 8:00, nonsmoking, 21+ 

$20 advance/$23 at the door

I’m really looking forward to this - I first heard the band when I was in Ireland on holiday last year. My friends and I stopped the bus to get our photograph under the N-17 sign and drove though Tuam singing Saw Doctors songs at the top of our lungs. The band has been playing together in some form since 1986. They are often compared to Bruce Springsteen with there use of real life places and people.

Ironically, it was exactly a year ago that I wrote this blog entry: This was my first introduction to the Saw Doctors. Boy was I missing out! Good rockin’ sing-along fun. The Saw Doctors are from County Galway, but ironically they were in the States when we were in Ireland. But I got to hear plenty of their music as we toured the coast of Ireland. In fact we drove through Tuam, hometown to three of the band members and stopped to take photographs of the sign for N17, the title of one of their songs. N17 is the road from Tuam to Galway. The N17 is the road a young person leaving the west of Ireland would likely take when emigrating. I’ve still got several Saw Doctors songs stuck in my head -- in a good way.

I’ve already purchased my ticket and I’ll see you there.

Karen Irwin and Scott Ballantine
Thursday, March 12, 2009
The Corner Wine Bar (Wine Cellar)
6331 Guilford Avenue
7:00, pass the hat

Any time that I get a change to write about Scott Ballantine is a good day. Scott is an excellent guitar player (and teacher). Rumor has it that Scott is never more than two steps from a guitar at any point in the day. Karen Irwin and Scott are reviving their musical partnership from last summer. I would call their music jazz, blues and pop standards. I asked Karen how she would describe it: Stuff that doesn’t suck.

Barfly's Big Art Show at The Big Roots Show!
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Locals Only
2449 East 56th Street
7:30, $5, 21+, non-smoking

Wayne Bertsch is a hero of the Indianapolis music scene. And I’m not just saying that ‘cause he called me one. Wayne is the talented guy behind the Barfly comix in NUVO. He highlights a band or event in his each week in the strip.

It is fascinating to see the process and behind-the-scenes work that goes in to each strip. Often he draws characters, cuts them out and then adds them to a background. He said he’s most often the only 40 year-old guy in the scrap booking store. He’s been drawing the Barfly strip for NUVO for six years and the topical and often political cartoon for almost two years.

He has hundreds of Barfly comix and the artwork for concert posters hanging in Locals Only. They will be on display and for sale (bring cash – original artwork Barfly strips $40, posters $5, and other work is something in between) through the month of March.

Wayne got to select some of his favorite local roots acts to celebrate his art show. The Warner Gear has been on hiatus, but will be out for for Wayne's art opening. Mandy Marie Luke (see Cash Bash review above) and Shelby Kelley will share a solo set and host band, 19Clark25 will play.

Big Roots Show
Tim Brickley & The Bleeding Hearts + The Reacharounds
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Locals Only
2449 East 56th Street
$5, 7:30, 21+, non-smoking

This show could also be billed as the “Landlord Tour” or “Guys Nora Has Paid Rent To Concert.” CATH coffeehouse used to have an office in the basement of Tim’s studio, Hit City. And Mr. BenWah Salami (that is not what I wrote on the check by the way. Or how I introduced him to my friends and family for that matter) and I were roommates a dozen years ago.

I’ll let Cliff Snyder take of the description of the music now; otherwise you’d hear some totally off-topic stories.

“Tim Brickley is an Indianapolis based composer-producer-performer who the Indianapolis Star describes as a musical "local legend." His studio, Hit City Recording & his bands The Bleeding Hearts & the fifteen-piece Big Band are well known locally. Tim is the consummate professional amidst the Indianapolis music scene and he puts on one heck of a show.
The Reacharounds feature an all-star cast, fronted by Scott Sanders who is joined by Keith Carey on bass, BenWah Salami on a little bit of everything, Scott Ballantine (see preview above) on guitar and Robin Reuter on drums. Scott & the boys will be performing many of his original songs and adding in a few roots flavored covers. This will be a hot show.”