Thursday November 20, 2008
Tad Armstrong & Stasia Demos (of Middletown) & company
I was pleasantly surprised to find members of Middletown gracing Locals Only with their presence Thursday night. Expecting a stellar follow-up performance to his album release on October 30th, I was anticipating a solo Tad Armstrong show. After paying $5 admission to the weekly The Big Roots Show (go four times and the 5th is free!) and flashing my ID to the doorman, I saw some familiar faces from the band I observed record a live album in Armstrong’s backyard earlier this summer. When I realized what a treat I’d just been given, I quickly pulled up a bar stool and made myself comfortable.
One of the great things about local musicians is hearing them sing about places and feelings you know just as intimately as they do. The lyrics of Middletown songs make you proud to be from Indiana and feel privileged to have grown up submerged in its rich values and passion for a simple, pleasurable life. The music is uplifting. All the instruments (acoustic, electric, keyboard, bass, drums) balance each other out for a smooth, alt-country sound and create the perfect accompaniment to Tad Armstrong’s vocals. He was backed by keyboard and accordion player Stasia Demos, who harmonizes with him like peanut butter does with jelly. Tad doesn’t just sing with his mouth; his eyebrows arch, the diameter of his eyes constantly changes, and his head bobs back and forth as he looks left to right at his audience.
The set list consisted of a mix of original Middletown songs, material from Armstrong’s new CD (Scorpio Falling), and even a song from a local group that Armstrong plays bass for, The Benders. One of the most hair-raising, goose bump-giving songs of the night was