Remembering the Elms before their farewell show

For their final show before the group disbands, The Elms have sold out Radio Radio this Friday night (July 30). The group that broke out of Seymour as a Christian band and went on to make vibrant, heartfelt and truly midwestern rock and roll is calling it quits for reasons a bit ambiguous, and finish their run with this final Indianapolis show.

According to their Facebook page, the show will be filmed in HD, using multiple cameras. Singer Owen Thomas writes on his blog that “we’re kicking around several ideas for the footage, which range from a complete concert film to a documentary about the cumulative 10-year experience of The Elms.”

There is a terrific blog by Dan Ficker at where Thomas addresses questions surrounding the group breaking up. In the interview, The Elms’ lead singer said it was just a feeling that things should stop.

“Don’t know ultimately why that is. It just feels like when something runs it’s course, you hope you have the cognizance to understand it and know it,” Thomas said. “I think that, musically and personally, we were in a very pure place for the last record, and in my mind I don’t know that it can be that pure ever again…that’s not because we have feelings of animosity toward each other”.

He also speaks about the band moving from Christian music to the rock world, and how their The Great American Midrange – an independent release – sold better than The Chess Hotel, recorded for the Universal South label.

Thomas said doesn’t really know what the next project will be.

“I’ve really committed myself personally to not even thinking about what the my next move in life might be until after July 30th,” he told Ficker. “But, you know, I mean. It will be something musical, I’m sure.”

Meanwhile, Elms guitarist Thom Daugherty jumps in and plays a showcase gig with country rocker Chris Janson Tuesday night (July 27) at 12th & Porter in Nashville.


“Every good spirit needs someplace to run, so I need to find me a place in the sun”
The Elms – “A Place in the Sun” (the final track from their final album)

Ah, the Elms. Gut rock. Indiana rock. Petty rock. Bryan Adams rock, and that’s OK. Some fuckin’ catchy songs. Sounded tough and vulnerable. Harmonies. Accessible. Melodious. Dry humor and and a drop of dark attitude. The Elms seemed to care about creating good shows. Pounding, anthemic sounds. Gutty guitar. Chugging rhythms.

Why didn’t they stay together? Why weren’t they more well-known? More roundly appreciated? Is that the way it has to be in the music business circca 2010?

Shit, bands have been breaking up since the beginning rock and roll. Nothing new. Just move along.

Ten years will go by. Maybe they will play together again. The guys will all find success. And I will ask my music friends if they remember The Elms, and some will say yes.

I will remember that The Elms were really good at what they did and what they seemed to stand for. They valued the live performance, made two wildly underappreciated albums, and represented Indiana pretty damn well while together. In their music, I always heard the echo of midwestern hope. They are a damn fine little piece of the lineage in that Tom Petty/Will Hoge continuum.

Maybe that sound, going four different directions after Friday, will allow them to reach out to more musicians and people than if they had stayed together. That’s what I would like to think is the happy ending to this story.

And maybe it is.

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