by Ben Shine
In my last post, I wrote about all of the great art- and culture-focused activities to do with kids in Indianapolis. This week, I’ve done your homework for grown-up musical outings. After perusing the dozens of great concerts, performances and happenings happening in Indy throughout the next few months, I’ve picked a few that I would want to go to for my own enjoyment. It’s a wide-ranging list of big names, unknowns and everything in between. Go!ICON: Ladies Edition
Each month Old Soul Entertainment pays homage to the heroes of rap, hip-hop and R&B with their monthly ICON parties. Here local deejays put their own spin on famous tracks to pay homage to the greats and keep the dance floor hopping. This Friday an all-woman deejay crew will spin tracks from famous female artists -- from Diana to Beyonce (and maybe a little Missy?). You’ll certainly know where your girls are.
American composer Christian Wolff created new work for the spring tour of experimental modern chamber ensemble, the Callithumpian Consort. The work features two piano players and two percussionists. IUPUI’s Department of Music and Arts Technology has been bringing some interesting performances to town. I wish that they had existed when I was a Metro, the old-timey mascot of Indy’s downtown campus.
Third Man Records Rolling Record Store
Designed by Jack White himself, Third Man Records’ Rolling Record Store is a food truck-style music shop that travels the country dispensing a unique catalog of artists and super-limited edition vinyl releases. Pro tip: While the truck is on site from 4 to 7 p.m., the line starts way, way early, so set those alarm clocks.
Jimmy Whispers and Friends
Jimmy Whispers is coming to Sam’s Silver Saloon to sing you a love song over his own prerecorded organ melodies and rhythms. It might make you uncomfortable at first, because you might not know if he’s serious or not. Or it might melt your heart, because he is definitely serious and he’s on tour to bring “Love and mercy and forgiveness for everyone, forever, all the time” and to support his bedroom-rock debut album, “ Summer of Pain.” It’s performance art and an explosion of personal joy all at once.
Shovels and Rope
Everything I know about Shovels and Rope I learned from the documentary that ran at last year’s Indy Film Fest. They embody all of the warm fuzzy clichés of the musician’s journey to success -- they’re two committed musicians in love and putting in the hard, hard work it takes to make it and finally have started see it all pay off.
Sufjan Stevens w/Cold Specs
Early tracks from Sufjan Stevens’ upcoming album Carrie and Lowell suggest a sort of return to his quiet and introspective Seven Swans/ Michigan sound. It’s a deep, personal and gut-wrenching album. Bring your tissues, or your upcycled, handmade pocket squares. You’re going to need them.
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Just yesterday, JSBX released the 12th album in their 25-year career of melding the dirtiest blues, rock, punk, funk and soul riffs over the most danceable beats, guttural howls and commands about what to do on the dance floor. From what I’ve heard, Freedom Tower -- No Wave Dance Party 2015, is as true to form as could be hoped for. If they’re anywhere near as sweaty and unrelenting as when I saw them on their Orange, Indy’s in for a treat.
There are no Coal Miner’s Daughter-related plays on words left in the English language. They’ve all been used in Loretta Lynn concert previews and reviews over the past 45 years. All of them. And no two-bit music writer (myself included) has ever been able to accurately describe the presence and importance of Loretta Lynn. She represents everything great about music and has been a star and a gem both personally and professionally for almost half of a century. This is a rare chance to catch her.
DJ Kyle Long will bring the urban, rhythm-heavy party sounds of Ghana’s highlife music to the HI-FI each month. Highlife started as the soundtrack to high-class dance parties in the late 1800s and evolved into one of West Africa’s most popular styles of music. Indy’s Sweet Poison Victim will also perform, bringing must-dance-to beats, strings and horns to the evening. I’m not sure if palm wine will be on tap, but specialty drinks may be involved.
Faure Requiem and Fairouz’s Zabur
Here’s your chance to see a world premiere of a “new, large-scale choral-orchestral sacred masterwork,” composer Mohammed Fairouz’s Zabur. The piece, commissioned by local funders, will be performed by Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Children’s Choir and other guests. The concert will also include a performance of Gabriel Faure’s Requiem.
Tim Berry of Avail with Two Cow Garage and John Gilmore
I first encountered the music of Tim Berry in the early ’90s when he was the front man of the high-energy, power-punk band Avail. The group’s concerts made thousands of teenagers go absolutely and completely insane. For the last decade, Berry has been riding the rails, inhabiting a shed for while, and writing folk songs that he’ll bring to the White Rabbit.Built to Spill with Wooden Indian Burial Ground
Built to Spill is one of my favorite live bands, and their discography has served as a steady soundtrack to my life for more than two decades. With each album, the band displays growth and maturation, and each release seems to perfectly coincide with milestones in my own life. Built to Spill is currently on tour supporting their eighth album, Untethered Moon. Be warned: the band sometimes closes with a perfect note-for-note version of Lynyrd Skynyrd's Free Bird, which is an amazing feat of musicianship, but I’d honestly rather hear any of their own songs that they’ve left off the set list