A Crawl to Action

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Indiana Avenue as a cultural district seems to be this kind of forgotten place, right? We all know it's important, but not as many of us really know why. And we know it was probably cool once, but we don't have many reasons to visit now. There is a group of people that live and work on the Ave that want to change that. They've been having what they call "Monster Meetings" -- a series of conversations to determine what they want for their neighborhood and how to get other people interested in it. While developments like 1201 Indiana, The Avenue and the new apartments and Marsh grocery store are giving the district a facelift, this group wants to make sure the soul of the area stays intact.

On June 6th, the historic cultural district will host the 2014 Indiana Avenue Music Crawl supported by IUPUI. In conjunction with the First Friday frenzy, seven venues will feature live music in their space between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Think: pub crawl, but for music-hopping instead of bar-hopping. Genres range from a 14-piece orchestra at Bourbon Street Distillery to a funk and soul band outside of the Madame Walker Theatre Center. Other groups, such as the Asante Children's Theatre and Freetown Village will have their troupes performing near the Walker Theatre as they are both housed inside the 80-year-old structure.

The Music Crawl is the first program organized by the Monster Meeting group and likely the first of many. Attendees will be encouraged to begin their crawl on the southern end at Bethel AME and work their way north to pass Bourbon Street Distillery, the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial, New Orleans on the Avenue, an IUPUI stage, Ransom Place Pocket Park and the Madame Walker Theatre Center. Each venue will feature its music outdoors to provide walkers a chance to stop by, grab a drink, listen for a while and head to the next stop.

Indiana Avenue is known for its long music history. This is where jazz began. This is where greats such as Freddie Hubbard and Wes Montgomery got their start. It might be a stretch, but I would venture to say that Indiana Avenue is the soul of Indy. This is where culture was prominent in Indy nearly 100 years ago. Today, few of the historic buildings remain, and even fewer remnants of the early music culture. The Music Crawl is an opportunity to celebrate the old and reinvent the new. It's a chance to find something cool in the cultural district that you might come back for later. It's also a great opportunity to add the performing arts to the usual gallery-filled First Friday lineup.

The Madam Walker Theatre stands as a longtime cultural anchor for Indiana Avenue.  - WIKIMEDIA FOUNDATION
  • Wikimedia Foundation
  • The Madam Walker Theatre stands as a longtime cultural anchor for Indiana Avenue.

Two of the seven venues are restaurants, so it's easy to make a full night of the crawl with food, drink and music. New Orleans on the Avenue features Cajun and Creole dishes as does Bourbon Street Distillery. There is no admission into the Music Crawl. It's pretty much designed to be an DIY, stay-as-long-as-you-want-type of event to get people used to the thought of visiting Indiana Avenue for fun.

"We have some exciting projects blooming at the Walker and this is a great chance to add to that," says Sherrell Robinson of the Madame Walker Theatre Center. "I'm so excited to partner with other organizations on the Ave to bring back a sense of glamour, music and dancing in the streets."

Congratulations and thanks to the neighbors and students and employees that are working to breathe fresh life into Indiana Avenue and to educate the public on its significance. Look for more information on the Music Crawl at www.walkertheatre.com or by following @IndianaAve on Twitter.

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