Wednesday, March 5, 2009
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.
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
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.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
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.