Some people celebrate their birthday only 1 day a year…or maybe even for a couple days. As for me, I like to give myself a couple of weeks. I use to feel bad about this until a friend insisted an entire month was the way to go. This year, a two week tour of some of my favorite bands in the Midwest was just enough…even though it was cut a little short. More on that later.
My run started with Boombox, B!tch Please, and Bad Dagger presented by IndyMojo.com at the Vogue in Indianapolis. Bad Dagger, the side project of Twin Cats’ bassist Cameron Reel, started the night off with some sweet electronica jams produced solely by Reel. I felt Cam was a little reserved during his debut show, but knowing it came a little earlier than expected, I’d say his set was extremely solid. Spacey jams mixed with some techno and escalating climaxes with none of the womps you hear in most new ventures, it was a nice change from some of the stuff I’ve heard lately. I can’t wait to see where he goes with it at his April 21st show at Max’s Place in Bloomington with Catch Curtis.
B!tch Please came out next with his mash-up of Top 40 hits and head-bumping mixes. His set was filled with tons of energy and the crowd couldn’t help but move with the music. It was a nice transition into the highlight of my night, Boombox.
Consisting of Russ Randolph and Zion Rock Godchauz, Boombox mixes early funk and soul with a little disco and reggae to make a sound all their own. Their brand of jam is mellow with a bit of an edge that keeps you moving. To keep with that theme, Alex ‘Herm” Schneider from Herm Productions and Boombox’s own light guy, Todd, teamed up to bring two lighting styles together for one stellar show. Herm, with his bold color schemes and dramatic transitions paired nicely with Todd’s smooth color changes and more laid-back approach. It was interesting to see two styles meld together so well without any previous collaboration. By the time Boombox covered Shakedown Street (quite possibly my favorite rendition done of that particular jam), the crowd was under their spell and rocking in-sync with every beat. Overall, it was a great night of friends and music to kick off my birthday run. Check out IndyMojo.com for a ton of amazing photos from that show!
A few nights later I headed back to the Vogue where Galactic and Orgone were spicing up Valentine’s Day for the Indy area. Galactic out of New Orleans offers an infectious dose of jazz and funk that is unrivaled by most touring bands I’ve seen. Although I’m a fan of their earlier stuff, the giant “Ya,” “Ka” and “May” in huge LED-lit pieces at the back of the stage let me know they would be rocking some of their newer stuff. Neither the music nor aesthetics of that show disappointed. With Plexiglas covered LED’s not only lighting up the back of the stage, but around the keyboard, drums, and speaker, the lights beautifully accessorized a stage filled with heart-pumping funk and groovy jazz licks. Add the amazing skills of Corey Henry from Rebirth Brass Band on trombone and soulful voice of Cory Glover from Living Color, and you have the makings of a very intense love affair with funk. Another highlight from the evening was when Orgone, a funk/soul/afro-beat band out of L.A., joined the mix and added a whole new energy to the show; not to mention the first trombone-playing cowboy I had ever seen! Even though I missed Orgone’s set at the beginning of the night, I was glad I got to see what they could do. Being a Monday night, the show ended before midnight with most of the expansive crowd sticking around until the very end, soaking up the last drops of some seriously red-hot music. Special thanks to Hidden Relic productions for the opportunity to attend such an amazing show and for all they do for the Midwest music scene everyday!
At the end of that week, one of my very best friends and I trekked all the way to Urbana, IL for Yonder Mountain String Band at the Canopy Club. At this point, I must say that my heart beats for funk and soul, but bluegrass runs a very close race. With so much electronica and dubstep mixed into the scene these days, it was nice to see four musicians onstage with little more than their respective instruments and a love for what they do. And I wasn’t the only one! That was the final show in Yonder’s Cabin Fever tour and more than a few of the folks in the crowd had attended several of the earlier shows in the run. As Yonder opened their first set with “Free to Run,” the crowd pushed into the haze of the lower level and set their feet in motion. A mix of old favorites and a few new jams kept the energy high and bodies moving until set break. After some time to rehydrate and rest a bit, YMSB kick-started another set with a “Bolton Stretch/Boatman” mix. Their range went from classic bluegrass to gritty crossover jams that carried the same passion and energy until the moment we had to head out. Although we missed the end to what Yonder proclaimed as a “great run,” that show was definitely the shining moment of my birthday show tour. I can’t wait to catch them again this summer under blue skies and sunshine!
The final stop of my tour was to be Shaggy Wonda and the Twin Cats at 902’s in Bloomington with Brent Nixon of Herm Productions on lights. Due to some issues with the venue, the show had to be cancelled. Talk about a major bummer for the local Midwest scene! That show was slated to be a combination of intense blues/rock/jazz and face-melting funk. I can only hope that trio of Midwest talent will team up and try for another show in the very near future. Until then, check out Twin Cats at the Mousetrap this Friday, March 4th and Shaggy Wonda next Thursday, March 10th with Waldemere Revival and Midwest Hype for the Spring Carnivale at Max’s Place in Bloomington! Herm Productions will be lighting the stage for both events, so be sure to hit them up!
In the meantime, be sure to show your support for the Midwest scene by spreading the word on your favorite bands’ shows.