A pair of outstanding Americana musical evenings for our Southern Indiana readership….
On Friday night (Sept. 24), Scott Kellogg hosts an album release show for debut solo CD, Silver in Their Veins. He’s been name-dropped by me for his work on Bloomington Americana darling Bobbie Lancaster’s first solo record earlier this year. Kellogg will share the stage with the Shiny Sounds band, which includes Lancaster. She and Nick Einterz will open the evening with their own music.
8pm / John Waldron Arts Center – Bloomington, IN / $10. map/directions Latest tracks by Scott Kellogg
Duke Tumatoe and Rusty Bladen team up for a Winefest show at Chateau de Pique Winery in Seymour, about an hour south of Indy off of I-65. Bladen opens with Indiana rock (sounds like Petty) and tunes from his recent Homegrown Treasures album before Dr. Duke hits the wineheads with his blues/rock. The show is free; a beer garden will be open. FYI: Governor Davis plays Friday night, and the winery website says there is free camping (!) website
5:30pm / Chateau de Pique Winery – Seymour, IN 47274 / free map/directions
John Mellencamp announced the first leg of the No Better Than This Tour will begin in late October. The tour will be “an evening with,” type of show, and will play mostly theater-sized venues, although one of the most interesting bookings announced is a November 11 show at Hinkle Fieldhouse, one of five Indiana shows. The tour, anticipated to continue through the Spring of 2011, will begin on October 29 in Bloomington.
The format of the show is three pieces: an acoustic set, Mellencamp fronting a small combo, and a full rock band segment. The tour’s opening act is a documentary film by Kurt Markus called It’s About You. Shot on Super8 film over the course of last year’s Bob Dylan-John Mellencamp-Willie Nelson tour of minor league baseball stadiums, it chronicles the creation of the album No Better Than This. which comes out August 17.
Oct. 29 – Bloomington, IN – Indiana University Auditorium
Nov. 1 – Cincinnati, OH – Music Hall
Nov. 3 – Nashville, TN – Ryman Auditorium
Nov. 5 – Kansas City, MO — The Midland
Nov. 6 – St. Louis, MO – The Fabulous Fox Theatre
Nov. 8 – Indianapolis, IN – Clowes Memorial Hall
Nov. 11 – Indianapolis, IN – Hinkle Fieldhouse
Nov. 13 – South Bend, IN – Morris Performing Arts Center
Nov. 16 – Fort Wayne, IN – Embassy Theatre
Nov. 17 – Cleveland, OH – Palace Theatre
Nov. 19 – Detroit, MI – Fox Theatre
Nov. 20 – Pittsburgh, PA – Heinz Hall
Nov. 22 – Minneapolis, MN – Orpheum Theatre
Nov. 23 – Minneapolis, MN – Orpheum Theatre
Nov. 26 – Chicago, IL – Chicago Theatre
Nov. 27 – Chicago, IL – Chicago Theatre
Tickets to all shows except in Pittsburgh and Chicago go on sale this Saturday (August 14) at 10am. mellencamp.com
Here’s a song that I thought about not even including. “Jingle Bell Rock” has been heard by you and me so many times that we become numb to it. But when it does come on the radio or is part of a movie soundtrack, it elicts a magical Pavlov’s Dog response; the song means it’s Christmas in America.
Helms was born in Bloomington, Indiana and lived just south of Indianapolis (in Martinsville) until he died in 1997. A country singer who tasted a little success with one other top 10 hit, but had a bunch of songs that never quite cracked the Top 40 of the country charts. But this little ditty was a Top 10 pop hit in 1957 and has been rereleased at least six times since then, charting in the Top 100 five times. And that’s how you become iconic.
Though a bit of musical cheese (so are a lot of holiday tunes – dso no deduction s there), it was still a well- produced little project: echo-drenched like the Sun Records music of the time and filled with sleigh bells ringing. There’s an immediacy in the vocals, and – importantly – it is an original tune written by a Hoosier. I have to believe the middle America roots somehow has helped it undure. Next time you hear it, really listen: it’s a damn good pop song.
Arriving at a meaningful place in life requires detours and surprises. And then, the destination can still be unexpected. We know this is true, because every damn one of us has been there.
And a pair of new albums last year, and two more on the way, Bobbie Lancaster may have finally found her road home. She has finished recording her first solo album, a second children’s CD, and along the way, developed a gutty yet sweet stage persona.
Her haunting vocals on “I’m on Fire” as part of this summer’s Grimm-organized “Hoosier Springsteen” concerts made the short, brooding song one of the best performances of the show. The Bloomington singer’s bouncing, smiling, in-the-moment stage presence cemented the musical package; the woman can crank it up like Sheryl Crow and Bonnie Riatt, and engage a crowd with her subtle stage charms. Watching Lancaster feels like we’re seeing a woman who knows her strengths and power, but is only beginning to refine and unleash it.
“I was scared to death,” she says of the shows, talking on the phone from her Bloomington home. “We had a rehearsal and I just felt I had to get in there and give everything I had. And at the end of the gig, I felt really good about my performance and overcoming that little confidence hurdle I had before the show.”
With an upcoming solo record, she is putting herself in front of whatever comes with it. In September, she recorded the album at Farm Fresh studios in Bloomington, with a band brewing a stew of rootsy, Americana music.
“I have cried and squealed with joy so many times that I think they (the band) are worried about me. It’s the most incredible thing to hear these songs I wrote on a mandolin be brought to life,” Lancaster says.
This new record will come a little more than a year after she released a catchy preschool-focused children’s album (“Bobbie Lancaster’s Little Folks”) and an Americana/folk record called “On with the Show” with the duo Stella & Jane.
“On with the Show” is an intriguing piece – Jane is Lancaster’s middle name. Using a middle name isn’t the quickest way to wider recognition, right? Maybe Bobbie wasn’t ready to come out from behind the one-name middle-name anonymity? That seems to have changed.
“I am looking forward to focusing on doing more solo stuff. It’s where I feel led to go right now,” she says. “Every CD I have done has been with a group and a compilation of different writers. I have probably 50 or 60 songs that I’ve just been sitting on, plus have written seven new songs since May – I have just had a nice creative spurt lately.”
As happens with most good stories, it hasn’t been a simple process to wind up where talent and opportunity intersect.
Some 25 years ago, Bobbie Jane Lancaster’s mother and father had her take in piano lessons, from kindergarten until fourth grade. She’d always had the gift to be able to sing, and even earned a full ride scholarship in music vocal performance to Indiana University, but blew the opportunity. It became a long road and indirect route that’s brought Bobbie to the point of making her first solo album.
“I was so young when I went (to IU), I wish I had a better grip on myself at the age that I went to college,” she says. “But I didn’t and I gave that up, nor really realizing what a gift it was to get that scholarship.”
She ended up going to Vincennes University, held three jobs while there, and started singing in a coffee shop when she was 19.
“That’s when I first found my own voice,” she remembers.
She has spent the past five years starting a family, and playing music – first with a Bloomington blues band called Code Blue, and more recently, with musical partner Stella Suzette Weakley.
“I was a real estate broker for about seven years, and actually got fired by some guy,” Lancaster admits, recounting how she and Weakley got together. “I had never been fired in my life and was shocked. I called Suzette – I had met her just once before – and went to work a real estate company she owns.”
From that sequence of workforce events, the two started playing music together. Weakley essentially served as Lancaster’s mentor, musical partner and teacher. Bobbie started by singing some background vocals when the two met at Weakley’s house.
“She had a little Contessa mandolin in her basement and said ‘Why don’t you pick this up, I’ll show you a few chords and see what you want to do with it’. When I picked up a mandolin, it just felt like I had been holding it forever,” Lancaster says.
“She taught me three chords, and I went home that night and I played until my fingers couldn’t stand it anymore. Then I iced them and I kept playing.”
On the Stella and Jane (with help from multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Jeff Foster) album , Lancaster’s singing shines on the self-penned CSNY-ish “The Rain”, the bluesy, sassy, Hammond B3-drenched “Fast Car” and especially on “Low Down”, a shorter than three-minute pop-rocker, hinting at a healthy John Hiatt influence.
“I have been really open with everybody in Stella and Jane (about the new solo work). I have their support,” she says. “We just all care about each other an awful lot, and I think by being open and honest makes those conversations easier. I think they both understand I am just coming into my own right now.
“I’ve been thinking about cutting my own album for years, and my friends have asked me to do it for years, and I’m at this beautiful stage in my life where I feel like I’m ready,” she says.
Lancaster says she wants to have the album out before February, when she travels to the Memphis Folk Alliance.
In addition to her new solo record, Lancaster cut a new kids album, recording a recent WFHB live radio broadcast of her show. Children’s music is a burgeoning part of her musical career, and includes weekly musical sessions at four different preschools, and appearances at Central Indiana public libraries, performing for kids and parents.
“I know what I want, I’m happy with what I’m writing, and these amazing people have shown up in my life and wanted to help me do this,” she says, referring to her studio band, led by Scott Kellogg, “I’m feeling the love right now.”
And more than ever before, Bobbie Lancaster is coming out from behind the middle name. She seems willing to show us the soul – nurtured with piano lessons, surviving through the opportunity lost at IU, and allowed to blossom on the bumpy road that has followed – that she knew existed all along.