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Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v04n05)
Buzzing Around Town - by Nora Spitznogle
posted: Mar. 09, 2007

Buzzing Around Town


The Lemonheads
Friday, February 16, 2007
The Vogue
Thanks to Hugh, who shared his pair of winning tickets with me, I got to see The Lemonheads. The Vogue was packed that night with the "who's who" of cool kids. Everyone from Mark Cutsinger to Jon Zeps was there. It was just a few days after the big snow, and people were ready to party.
The new and improved version of The Lemonheads features founder and front man Evan Dando and Indianapolis' own Vess Ruhtenberg and Devon Ashley. Evan is touring with the band after a pretty big hiatus.
The Lemonheads have toured extensively the last three months, covering the United States and Europe. They are headed to Australia next week.
They put on a great show for the hometown crowd (Vess' mom included). The Vogue canceled their usual Friday dance night for the show. There was lots of singing along and dancing in place to the power pop trio.
My biggest thrill of the night came when Soundman Dan pulled me up on stage behind the soundboard to snap some photos. I was so excited! I had to stop myself from jumping up and down yelling "hey Vess, hey Devon over here!" Vess looked over and gave me the nod, and I was happy as a clam. It was weird standing that close to Evan Dando. I could have reached out and touched him. They sounded great from the stage also - you could hear the instruments through their monitors. Seeing Devon play up close is impressive. Evan's songs tend to be fast, and Devon was playing furiously and singing backup vocals.
I always say that all roads lead to 54th and College. In this case it is a direct connection: Vess used to work at CATH Inc.
The photos, you ask? The only good one I took was of the soundboard. If I can't get a good photograph of Evan Dando when I'm standing 5 feet from him, I don't deserve to have a camera. I swear, I'm a much better photographer in my mind!
I was so caught up in the fun of the Vogue that I made my annual trip to the Alley Cat. I'll end the story here.

John Barney and the Passengers
Friday, February 23, 2007
Locals Only
I finally got to see John Barney play, and I was happy I did. His songs are great, and the band was wonderful. When I asked John to describe his music he said "county not quite country." County it was!
The band is made up of John (songwriter, singer, guitar and harmonica), Rich Hynes (mandolin, banjo, harmonica, snare and guitar), Mike Strauss (upright bass and vocals) and special guest Mike Brown (guitar, mandolin and accordion).
John told some great stories between songs. He was 21 and playing an open stage at Sgt. Peppers Sandwich Emporium (54th and College, of course) wondering if his song was any good when he spied Yank Rachell tapping his foot. John has been playing ever since.
Like any good county songwriter, John has great songs about trains, women and friends.
You can next catch The Passengers at Boulevard Place Café on March 23rd, 2007.

Vocal Ease
Friday, February 23, 2007
Jazz Kitchen
I stopped at the Jazz Kitchen (54th and College!) on the way home, and I'm glad I did. Duncan Alney and Joe Vuskovich were celebrating Duncan's film "Happiness", featuring Joe. I walked right in (like I belonged) to the party. It was great to see everyone and join the soiree. I eventually wandered to the main room of the Jazz Kitchen. I crashed Sweaty B.'s front row table and listened to the amazing music.
Several terrific vocalists were taking turns and sometimes sharing the stage. They were all backed up by a fabulous three piece band, Steve Allee (piano), Frank Smith (upright bass) and Kenny Phelps (percussion). They did a great job playing the different songs on the fly. Some of the vocalists I've seen with bands, but it was great to hear them on their own.
Jessica Benge and Cynthia Layne sang "Route 66" as a duo. They've known each other for years, and you could tell they were comfortable together. Both are amazing singers in their own right.
I've heard Ezra Todd Shelton sing with the Bob and Tom band. I saw another side this night-he was not wearing a prison costume for one thing. He looked quite snappy in his dressed-up clothes-and he sounded just as good.
I've heard Tad Robinson sing many times with the band Soul Bus (Monday nights at Daddy Jacks). He really shined at the Jazz Kitchen, and I've been enjoying his new CD "A New Point of View."
My office used to be in the basement of Hit City, Tim Brickley's recording studio. Tim was a great CATH customer, and I saw him almost every day for 8 years. I had not heard him sing jazz songs before. He rocked! I'll be looking at Tim in a new light now.
The heart stopper of the show was when brothers Everette and Larry Greene sang together. Amazing.

Tad Armstrong, Paul Sanchez
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Birdy's Live
As you might know, I'm a huge Tad Armstrong fan. It was my favorite way to see a songwriter: just Tad and his guitar, sitting on a bar stool. Tad sang several of his original songs and drifted in to a Badfinger set, or "Tadfinger" in this case ( I really have to stop myself from shouting things from the audience). Tad's new EP should be out soon. I'm looking forward to it.
Songwriter Paul Sanchez was with the party-rock band Cowboy Mouth for 16 years. He wrote several of the band's hits. He's out on his own now, touring in support of his latest CD "Between Friends." All the songs on the album are written by Paul and sung by his New Orleans musician friends, including Darius Rucker and Susan Cowsill. I've really been enjoying the CD.
To quote my friend Scott Ballantine, Paul is charming. He told great stories between songs and had the audience engaged. He is a versatile songwriter - he writes everything from Irish ballads to Cajun songs. My favorite song was about Indianapolis' own Tim Cohn. Tim is also a great storyteller, and like all good storytellers, you often wonder the exact truthfulness of the tale. I've heard Tim's account of living in a closet in New Orleans, and Paul has immortalized it in "Nasty Evil Clown." I do want to point out that Tim is neither nasty or evil - Quite the opposite. The song tells about dressing Tim up for a Mardi Gras celebration in a Goodwill-purchased tattered clown costume. Good stuff.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Luna Music
Matt Hales performs as Aqualung. He is promoting his new CD "Memory Man", which is due in stores on March 13th. The in-store performance started at 4:30, but I was not able to leave work early and missed it. Just as I pulled up, folks were streaming out the door. Matt was signing CD's and such when I got there; he graciously agreed to reenact his performance for a photo. Do you think I was able to get a good photo? Of course not.

Matt Hales reenacts a special performance just for Nora. Good photo? Not too bad!
Matt Hales reenacts a special performance just for Nora. Good photo? Not too bad!
image courtesy of Nora Spitznogle


Frank Smith
Friday, March 9th, 2007
8:30/10:30 $10
The Jazz Kitchen 5377 N. College Ave. 253.4900
I was reminded of how much I enjoy Frank Smith's playing when I saw him at the Vocal Ease show at the Jazz Kitchen. Frank's CD release show was sold out, so I suggest reservations for this show. Frank will be playing compositions from his new CD, 5

Not-for-profit director by day, music writer by night, Nora Spitznogle reviews music that happened and previews music and events around Broad Ripple Village. Nora managed CATH Inc coffeehouse at 54th Street and College Avenue for seven years. During that time she hosted hundreds of local and touring musicians, both at the coffeehouse and her home. When CATH closed in 2004 and the music was no longer coming to her, she had to wander from her corner of Broad Ripple to see what is happening elsewhere. You can find her at Second Helpings during the work day, waitressing at the Red Key on Saturday nights and prowling Broad Ripple music venues the rest of the time. Visit Nora's Web site, send any questions, comments or suggestions to
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