Throughout the day, the scattered rain seemed to make every person excited to see My Morning Jacket perform at the Farm Bureau Insurance Lawn at White River State Park grow more and more nervous. However, the skies cleared in the afternoon and set the scene for a massively successful start to the summer concert season for the WTTS listener. There was a perfect chill in the air that made everyone instantly comfortable as soon as they took their place to watch the legendary band.
Thursday, May 26th, My Morning Jacket played a WTTS show with The Barr Brothers to an eager and faithful audience. The 5-piece band consisted of keys, drums, bass, and two guitars, one of which being played by the impeccable Jim James. The band formed in 1998 and began attracting massive audiences throughout the 2000s due to both their incredible live shows and experimental records. The entire band has been involved in an impressive amount of side projects, but always comes back together to make their music (like their most recent, “The Waterfall” in 2015).
Thursday night, Jim James emerged on stage looking like an actual superhero. His signature rock ‘n’ roll mane blowing in the wind, his cape of artwork, and his arms raised in the air made the audience believe he might actually take flight; He’s got that kind of presence. My Morning Jacket opened the evening with “Compound Fracture” followed by “The Way That He Sings.”
During “I’m Amazed” early in the set, the audience marched along as if pledging their allegiance to My Morning Jacket, summertime, Indianapolis, or a combination of all three. Jim James really became Jim James with the guitar solo on “War Begun,” letting the high notes ring throughout the city. It sounded like a Slayer riff served on a bed of plush jam-band grooves. The following song, “Spring (Among The Living)” began with spooky howling while the entire audience raised their hands in unison like a battle cry from their fearless leader. A droning guitar lick sets in with Jim James’ deep, dark voice and suddenly they’re the most mature, sticky garage band these Hoosiers had ever seen.
Other highlights of the night included “Off The Record,” “State Of The Art (A.E.I.O.U.), and “Wonderful (The Way I Feel),” in which Jim James played the song acoustic and solo. The audience paid attention like it was the State Of The Union Address. He was very clearly addressing his audience for one of the most gently uplifting songs in their repertoire.
Carl Broemer, the other guitarist (besides James) in the band who was named one of Rolling Stone’s “20 New Guitar Gods”, is actually from the north side of Indianapolis. He sang lead vocal on “Carried Away” so he and James’ harmonies were suddenly backward and for the My Morning Jacket fan it was hauntingly beautiful. Then, the song turned into the biggest jam of the night. It was hard to put a finger on what the changes were from measure to measure, but they were very much present and kept the trusting audience moving through the entire session.
My Morning Jacket closes the set with Parts 1 & 2 of “Touch Me I’m Going To Scream.” It is important to note that at this point in the evening (the end of the show) Jim James has not spoken once. No one has spoken from the stage. The entire performance flowed from song to song flawlessly in only the way that a trusting audience and musical talent like My Morning Jacket’s could make successful.
The band returned for an encore of “Steam Engine,” “Victory Dance,” “Anytime,” and “One Big Holiday.” During “Steam Engine,” Broemer played a super distorted saxophone that sounds like an electric guitar made out of brass. Eventually, James’ guitar and Broemer’s saxophone played notes in harmony followed by a more traditional, yet mind-blowing saxophone solo. Then…Jim James finally spoke:
“I’m gonna let you in on a little secret…That is Carl. And do you know where he came out on this earth?…Right the (expletive) here.” He went on to thank the crowd for spending the evening with them and that any place Carl is from, he loves it there. The audience cheered in an unspoken “We love you, too” as the rest of the encore took place. When My Morning Jacket exited the stage after the encore, Jim James needn’t say a word. He simply blew the audience kisses using his entire wingspan and the lawn was filled with love.
On a chilly Sunday night, December 6th, the second WTTS Christmas Can Concert took place at the Bluebird in Bloomington. Fort Worth R&B and soul artist Leon Bridges took the stage for a sold-out show. There is no need to say that he won over the hearts of the audience because it was obvious throughout the evening that he already had reached each and every one of them.
Leon Bridges is a classic old soul in a young man’s body. The 26-year-old’s gospel roots so very clearly influence his soulful music, reminiscent of the greats like Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke, and Otis Redding. Bridges is still on the rise as he signed with Columbia Records in 2014 after having played open-mic shows around Fort Worth for some time. DJ Spikes, a local Bloomington DJ playing vintage soul and R&B records, performed a set before Bridges took the stage. WTTS DJ Rob Humphrey introduced Leon Bridges and his band, all of whom had just come from performing on NBC’s Saturday Night Live the previous evening.
The band enters dressed very professionally with somewhat of a vintage twist that creates the mood of a 1960s R&B performance. Bridges enters and looks exactly the way he sounds. From his modern-day conk haircut to his mustard tweed suit, Leon Bridges looked quite perfect on the small club stage. The sweetest of sounds boomed throughout the Bluebird that night.
Spoken like a true gentleman, his first words to the audience were “Nice to meet you.” His 7-piece band included himself and one other vocalist, a saxophone, guitar, bass, drums, and organ. Bridges took time out of the show to introduce all the band members and was sure to add compliments or a quick story of their meeting. Bridges admittedly played many songs from his album, “Coming Home” (released in June 2015) and added some new music into the mix, too.
Leon Bridges’ sound is so much more than the “soul” or “R&B” label; It’s fresh but it’s authentic, and it’s the perfect meeting of yesterday and tomorrow. If you’ve heard his vintage voice, then you know that it is effortlessly like butter. His vocal runs and exquisite vintage dance moves transport you to an entirely different place and time and it is a pleasure to be transported there. If you haven’t heard his voice…get to it.
Highlights of the night included “Better Man,” “Smooth Sailing,” “Twistin’ & Groovin’,” “Coming Home,” and “Lisa Sawyer.” He gave small introductions to many of the songs. “Twistin’ & Groovin’” was written about the night his grandfather met his grandmother. “Lisa Sawyer” was written for his mother. “Smooth Sailing” got a different kind of introduction in the form of a drum solo and the crowd really got moving. Bridges closed the set with an intimate performance of “River” in which he played electric guitar alone with his backing vocalist.
After the crowd chanted “Leon, Leon, Leon,” the guitarist enters the stage and the rest of the band gradually joins him for a three-song encore of new music. These included “Pussyfootin’,” an instantly classic love song, and “Mississippi Kisses.” “Mississippi Kisses” is an utterly groovy song that brings to mind Wilbert Harrison’s 1959 recording of “Kansas City.” During “Mississippi Kissses” Bridges instructs different parts of the crowd to go crazy in sections, and then in unison as he addresses them as “Indiana”; They did indeed go crazy for the Southern charmer for the final time that evening. Leon Bridges warmed the hearts of WTTS listeners on a chilly December evening, but that definitely won’t be the last you see of him.
Thanks to all WTTS listeners who participated in the 2015 Christmas Can Concerts by purchasing tickets and donating canned goods to Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard in Bloomington. Thanks also to Green Bean Delivery for sponsoring WTTS Christmas Can Concert efforts during this season of giving. Happy Holidays from WTTS!
On Monday, November 16th Ben Folds teamed up with yMusic to perform at the Old National Centre. WTTS was given an opportunity to give away passes for listeners to attend the sound check and meet Ben Folds. Below are photos from Monday evening.
Tuesday night, October 20th, the Murat Theatre at Old National Centre in Indianapolis filled with the fans of both John Hiatt and Lyle Lovett. The two legendary singer-songwriters took the stage for the second WTTSRock To Read show of the year. WTTS Rock To Read benefit concerts help to raise money for children’s reading programs through the Indianapolis Public Library.
John Hiatt is a Hoosier singer-songwriter who has written Americana, folk rock, and country blues songs since he moved to Nashville when he was eighteen. Hiatt’s songs have been covered by many other successful musicians. Lyle Lovett is a Texan country folk, Americana, and bluegrass songwriter. Both saw most of their success throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
Once Hiatt and Lovett were introduced to the theatre audience, they entered the stage to a standing ovation without having played one song yet. That was an incredible kick-start to the acoustic evening. The stage setup was simple and focused on the two musicians. The two sat in chairs in the middle of the stage. A table of waters and harmonicas sat between them and they were each surrounded by two guitars which they played all evening. No stage hand entered the audience’s vision all evening and it felt informal and relaxed, yet Hiatt and Lovett’s professional and classy demeanor could be felt from start to finish.
Hiatt opened the show with “Detroit Made” and Lovett covered Chuck Berry’s “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” to get the evening started. The two musicians have been friends for years, and it was obvious to the audience. Lovett, the younger of the two, showed open affection for his role model that he shared the stage with. Lovett served as the emcee for the evening, interviewing Hiatt about his favorite guitars, his hippie tendencies, and his time growing up in Indianapolis. Hiatt admitted that “It’s always great to come home” and reminisced on days of being the “ghost of bars past,” playing a coffeehouse on Indiana Avenue, Crazy Al’s, The Vogue, and The Patio in Broad Ripple.
Hiatt and Lovett are both extremely talented guitar players. They discussed the guitars they brought with them (Hiatt’s 1947 Gibson LG2 is notably cool) and the coolest guitars they’ve ever played. Hiatt complimented Lovett on his “damn fancy pickin’” and no one could have described it better. Both musicians had wonderful senses of humor as the two went back and forth with witty banter and comic rapport all night. The men also seemed relatable as they told stories of the past and their homes. Lyle Lovett introduced “White Boy Lost In The Blues” by saying he heard it in 1978 and thought, “This is my life…they know me.” Who hasn’t felt that way?
Highlights of the night included Hiatt’s “Perfectly Good Guitar,” “Feels Like Rain,” “Slow Turnin’” (by request), and “Real Fine Love.” Lovett played crowd favorites “Record Lady” (by request), “Nobody Knows Me,” “If I Had A Boat,” and “Up In Indiana.” The evening closed with Lovett’s “My Baby Don’t Tolerate” before an encore of Hiatt’s “Have A Little Faith In Me” and Lovett’s “Church.”
Lovett admitted near the end of the spectacular evening that they were “proud to be at the Old National Centre and the Murat Theatre at the same time” and the crowd roared with laughter. Indianapolis fans and WTTS listeners were absolutely smitten by the pair of singer-songwriters. John Hiatt and Lyle Lovett’s modern-day vaudeville show provided comedic interest on a stage that was inevitably beaming with years of artistry and craftsmanship.
The final WTTS Rock To Read benefit concert of the season is coming up! Tickets are on sale now for Guster at the Old National Centre on November 13th. Don’t miss the final chance to benefit children’s reading programs in the Indianapolis area and see a WTTS favorite artist.
Saturday night, October 3rd, Mark Knopfler played a sold-out show at the Murat Theatre in the Old National Centre in Indianapolis. He was joined on stage by his band of eight other people to play a two-hour concert filled with classics from his former band, Dire Straits, and solo tracks, too. Knopfler is a musicians’ musician after having worked with and even producing records for the likes of Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Tina Turner, and Randy Newman. Rolling Stone ranked Knopfler the 27th greatest guitarist of all time and that title rang true on Saturday night in Indianapolis.
As the crowd sat in anticipation, a man appeared on stage wearing a bright, bold Union Jack jacket and introduced the one and only Mark Knopfler. The entire band then entered the stage and led the crowd in a clapping rhythm to warm up the room. In fact, Knopfler warmed the entire evening with his quick little jokes and asides. He even told his band “good luck” a handful of times. The entire crowd was giggling from his dry British humor and he kept it understated and consistent all evening.
The stage was set up with appropriate but discrete lighting and three blocks of instruments. Almost every instrument the band used throughout the evening (and there were many) was housed right there on stage. This gave the show a sort of living room or studio feeling. If you add in the fact that Knopfler hinted at the show being whimsical with a loose set list and the lack of large monitors at the front of the stage blocking the band, you can understand how this show may have felt personal in a way.
At one point in the evening, Knopfler took a moment to introduce his band members. Not only did he introduce them to an energetic, cheering crowd, but he had the most genuine and heartfelt things to say about them. The audience could feel the shared admiration between band members and this made for a special evening. These band members played more instruments than most other rock concerts ever have. Multiple guitars, electric bass, double bass used with and without a bow, keys, organs, accordion, fiddle, Uilleann pipes (the national bagpipe of Ireland), mandolin, saxophone, and others all made appearances on stage. This band is wickedly talented.
Highlights of the night included “Privateering,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Postcards From Paraguay,” and the Dire Straits classic, “Sultans of Swing.” The show closed with
“Speedway at Nazareth” before an encore of “So Far Away” and “Going Home: theme from Local Hero.” During “Sultans of Swing” Knopfler played his signature Mark Knopfler Stratocaster guitar. He had the amazing ability to be able to play that song’s incredible guitar solo and have the rest of his body be as relaxed as can be. It was awe-inspiring.
In fact, the entire audience was awe-struck all evening. Knopfler himself used the term “Transatlantic Blues” at some point in the evening and that perfectly describes this classic bluesy rock with inspired hints of Celtic instruments and melody patterns. Mark Knopfler and his band left the audience in a unique kind of sensory overload with so many instruments doing so many things. One can’t help but try to watch them all at once, and that kind of musical overload is the best kind of musical overload.
Tuesday night, September 29th, WTTS presented a show from The Decemberists at the Murat Theatre at Old National Centre. Earlier that day they stopped by Sun King Studio 92 powered by Klipsch Audio; you can find that performance here. English singer-songwriter Olivia Chaney opened for The Decemberists’ big return to Indy. The band was booked to play a show in Indianapolis in August of 2011, but unfortunately had to cancel due to lead singer Colin Meloy’s voice being damaged.
In fact, the first thing Meloy did when he took the stage alone was utter a sincere apology and express excitement to be here to make it up to their Indianapolis audience. He then played an acoustic, solo version of their appropriately titled, “The Apology Song” to begin the evening on such a wonderfully humble note. The band soon joined him on stage and the evening took off.
As the rest of the band enters, the stage suddenly changes. Their latest album, What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World’s cover artwork comes down in layers of sheets that look like a quilt, adding to the folk feel of the evening. Even the amps on stage had shapes from the album cover painted to continue the theme. The band members all look very professional, wearing dresses, jackets, vests, and ties. It gives off the impression that they both take their jobs seriously and respect their audiences and that’s admirable.
The Decemberists are known for their incredible storytelling abilities in their songwriting, but that tradition carried to the stage as well. Colin told the audience that “Calamity Song” was originally written as a song to get his son, Hank, to eat his oatmeal. During “Calamity Song” the seated crowd was moved to stand and they didn’t sit again for the remainder of the show; they were unable to cease dancing and it was infectious.
The 5-part band was joined by two backup vocalists on stage who did so much more than sing (tambourine, shakers, mandolin, and even a little drumming). The bass player, Nate Query, toggled between an electric and stand-up double bass. Jenny Conlee is known for her diverse talents in organ, accordion, keys, and synthesizer. Needless to say (but we’ll say it anyway) this band is talented. Highlights of the night included “The Crane Wife 3,” “Make You Better,” “Down By The Water,” and the set’s closing song, “The Chimbley Sweep.”
“The Chimbley Sweep” and a couple other songs featured a break in the song for Colin and the band to absolutely entertain the audience in every sense of the word. He conducted a three-part crowd interactive singing session filled with ‘bas’ and ‘wees’ and ‘oos’. Later, he conducted the band with his hands in an improvisatory symphony that had the crowd roaring. The band played a six-song encore made up entirely of songs from their fifth album, “The Hazards of Love” before coming out for a second. This time, they played “Of Angels and Angles” and the epic “The Mariner’s Revenge Song.” This incredible story of a song included many instruments, voices, characters, and “screaming like you’re being eaten by a whale.” Yes, that’s what Colin asked the crowd to do on cue. And they did. The crowd sang along and danced shamelessly for The Decemberists. Their fans are passionate and awe-struck, as one should be after seeing a show like this.
The first of three WTTS Rock to Read benefit concerts took place last night at the Indiana University Auditorium in Bloomington. A longtime WTTS favorite artist, Wilco, took the stage to an auditorium of over 3,000 fans that would soon be mesmerized.
Wilco formed in 1994 as an alternative rock/alternative country band in Chicago. Since their formation, the music has grown and morphed with the band. Frontman Jeff Tweedy led his bandmates in what seemed like three different shows of the evening. It was organized, thorough, and brilliant. Nashville based singer-songwriter William Tyler opened for Wilco and provided an ethereal display of atmospheric sounds that were impressively produced from distorted guitars and a looper pedal.
The evening began with a collection of songs from Wilco’s latest album, Star Wars. The album was released for free on the band’s website in July of 2015. The stage was saturated with small light bulbs from end to end and the lights displayed all kinds of moving colors throughout the show to set the mood of each song. Most of the lighting tended to be blue and purple; This gave a sort of spooky feel given the season and the hypnotic nature of Wilco’s music. It seemed almost like a Rock ‘n’ Roll Lite-Brite toy (though I’m sure much more expensive). During this first part of the show, Wilco played “Random Name Generator” among other new tracks that definitely got the audience buzzing and excited for whatever was to come next. The harmonies were haunting, the drum solo was incredible, and the audience was convinced of Star Wars’ gravity (pun intended).
After a handful of songs, Tweedy vocally thanked the audience for listening to Star Wars and declared they would move on to other albums. They began this segment with “Either Way,” which was clearly a crowd favorite. Other highlights included “Handshake Drugs,” “Hummingbird,” and “Impossible Germany.” “Art of Almost” was an epic, visual and sonic rainbow and proved to not only please the crowd, but absolutely “wow” it. During this set of older music, “Box Full of Letters” provided some banter between Tweedy and his audience. When Tweedy announced that the next song was from their first album, the crowd cheered. He then retorted, “Aw, you guys didn’t like it then” in true Jeff Tweedy fashion. After the song was over, an audience member shouted, “Play more of that!” Tweedy only used his hands to perfectly respond to the man and the audience broke out in laughter.
After a short, one-song encore, the band returned looking a little different. They all gathered near the front of the stage, mostly seated, with acoustic instruments. They looked like they might be in a friend’s living room giving a private performance. That’s just what this portion of the show was: intimate. This rare six-song encore was really more of a bonus feature on a film. The audience was introduced to the songwriter version of Wilco, which is just as beautiful as their captivating, harder jams. They played “Misunderstood,” “Bull Black Nova,” “It’s Just That Simple,” “Jesus, Etc.,” California Stars,” and “A Shot in the Arm.” It may be hard to picture, but between the rock-songs-turned-acoustic and the change of lead singer during one of these songs, the crowd remained silent. They were stunned into this silence during each song, unless they were quietly singing and humming along, beautifully.
Wilco treated the audience to a full range of shows, taking a trip through their history without sounding stale and nostalgic. This show was a true testament to the diversity and sheer talent this band continues to possess, and their ability to hypnotize an entire hall full of people using their music.
We are proud to have had them play the first WTTS Rock to Read benefit concert of 2015 presented by Jockamo Uppercrust Pizza. All proceeds from these shows contribute to children’s reading programs throughout Indianapolis and surrounding areas. Be sure to get your tickets for one or both of the next WTTS Rock to Read shows, John Hiatt and Lyle Lovett on October 20th and Guster on November 13th. You won’t want to miss them.
Foo Fighters rocked a nearly sold out crowd on Thursday, August 27th at Klipsch Music Center. Below are photos from the show courtesy of Rhythm In Focus Photography. A fun way to view is to start the YouTube video below the photos and then start clicking through the slide show.
It was a packed house at the Tin Roof on Sunday, July 26th as 92-3 VIP’s got to take part in WTTS First Experience with Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. Below are photos of the event as well as the exclusive meet and greet that took place after the show. All photos are courtesy of Rhythm In Focus Photography.