For more than a decade, the WTTS Rock To Read concert series, presented by Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza, has raised tens of thousands of dollars for children’s literacy programs through the Indianapolis Public Library. Even though the live music scene is quiet this season, the Rock To Read mission lives on—especially during COVID-19.
Whether it’s helping kids combat summer learning loss, building early literacy skills, or providing books to at-risk children, there are endless opportunities to learn at the Library. Children can practice their skills by reading aloud to a therapy dog through Paws To Read, learn about science by completing an at-home Steam project, or hear a story read by a librarian during a virtual story time.
To make a gift that supports these programs, please text READ to 317-967-9287, or learn more here.
For the tenth straight year, WTTS Rock To Read is proudly supported by Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza: open for dine-in, carry-out, or delivery at all three locations.
For the past decade, WTTSRock To Read benefit concerts, presented by Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza, have raised tens of thousands of dollars for children’s reading programs with the Indianapolis Public Library. We’re excited to carry on the tradition this fall.
CONCERT #1:BECK kicked off our Rock To Read benefit concerts with an outstanding show at IU Auditorium. Thank you to everyone who came for a great night of music. A portion of proceeds will benefit children’s reading programs of the Monroe County and Indianapolis Public Libraries.
CONCERT #2:Amos Leestared in our second Rock To Read benefit. Thank you everyone who came out and supported children’s reading programs with the Indianapolis Public Library.
CONCERT #3:The Avett Brothersplayed two outstanding sold out benefits at Old National Centre. Thank you to everyone came out to the shows. Ticket proceeds will benefit children’s reading programs with the Indianapolis Public Library.
CONCERT #4:Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats stared in our final Rock To Read benefit. Thank you for coming out for an amzing night of music and benefiting children’s reading programs with the Indianapolis Public Library.
Friday night, November 13th, WTTS presented the third installment in the annual Rock to Read benefit concert series. Alternative rock band and long-time WTTS favorites, Guster, performed at the Egyptian Room at Old National Centre and proceeds benefited children’s reading programs all over Indianapolis. They also stopped by Sun King Studio 92 earlier in the day. Look for our posting of the interview and photos soon.
Guster began its story in 1991 and have seen much success throughout their career. The band originated in Boston, Massachusetts while attending Tufts University. On this tour for their latest album, Evermotion, the band decided to give high school/college bands the opportunity to open for them at various cities across the U.S. Porky’s Groove Machine opened up in Indianapolis and captivated the crowd with their many members, wacky costumes, and contagious funk grooves. Guster has a dedicated and ever-growing fan base that proved to be present in Indianapolis Friday night.
After WTTS DJ Paul Mendenhall thanked WTTS listeners and Guster fans alike for coming out to the show, the band took the stage. The four members took their places and began playing in front of a black curtain. The stage setup was unassuming and simple, as if to highlight the music. Only lighting changed the mood of the song outside of pure musicianship itself.
The band opened with “Diane” to a crowd who knew exactly what song it was from the first two chords and roared with delight. After the first song, lead singer Ryan Miller told the audience they looked beautiful and followed with, “It’s like Burning Man in Indianapolis…and I like it.” We do what we can, Ryan!
Brian Rosenworcel, who is nicknamed “Thundergod” alternated throughout the show between a traditional drum kit on the right side of the stage and a different set for hand drumming on bongos, congas, djembes, and other percussion instruments. “Thundergod” has to have broken a finger or two over the years of Guster recording and performing. He plays with such enthusiasm and passion that he even strikes the cymbals with his hands and gets great sound out of them. Organ, marimba sounds, brass instruments, synthesizer, and various other percussion instruments were featured alongside the guitars, bass, and keys.
Guster’s members are all blaringly obviously multi-talented and humble. They switch instruments throughout the show, they provide their own backing vocals on stage, and they seem to just enjoy playing together no matter where on stage they may be located for a certain song. It leaves the audience feeling that they’re getting a well-rounded show from men who are all on an even playing field. It makes for some magical tunes.
At one point in the evening, Guster announced that they would be collaborating with Porky’s Groove Machine for a song. Three band members joined them on Trombone, trumpet, and saxophone. Miller announced that they’d play a song they hadn’t played in a year and probably wouldn’t for another year. As soon as the song begins, the fans know it to be “Fa Fa.” The electricity from the stage was infectious from the faces of all those on stage and the crowd went insane. Later in the show, Miller explained that he saw an audience member playing the bongos on his girlfriend’s back along to an entire song. So, in Guster fashion, Miller invited them to the stage to play bongos on an impromptu song about bongos. It was hilarious and so refreshing in a concert of that size.
Highlights of the evening included “Happier,” “Simple Machine,” “Satellite,” “Do You Love Me,” “One Man Wrecking Machine,” and “Barrel of a Gun.” Guster closed with “This Could All Be Yours” before coming back on stage for a 3.5 song encore. They played “Long Night,” Red Oyster Cult,” and “Demons.” The half-song was another improvised song about a crazy cat lady in the audience who wanted them to sign a plastic cat from the stage. It was hilarious. A second encore performance included “Jesus On The Radio” to leave the crowd in musical bliss at the end of the evening.
Between the guests on stage, the simple stage setup, and the overall electricity from the band members who have been playing together (and enjoying it) for over twenty years, the final WTTS Rock to Read concert was a success. Ryan Miller coined it best when he proclaimed from the stage that this was “The night the Egyptian Room turned into a bunch of drunk babies.”
Thank you to all WTTS listeners who attended any of our Rock to Read shows this year! Don’t be sad it’s over, though, as our WTTS Christmas Can Concerts are right around the corner. At the beginning of December we’ll be bringing you Houndmouth (Dec. 3rd) and Leon Bridges (Dec. 6th) with proceeds from the shows benefiting Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard in Bloomington.
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.
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.
Since 2006, WTTS has hosted our annual Rock To Read concert series. This series was created in effort to raise money and awareness for children’s reading programs at the Indianapolis Public Library. Along with Jackomo Upper Crust Pizza,Live Nation, and other partners, over $112,000 has been raised, including $25,000 from the 2014 Rock To Read concerts (Jackson Browne, Ryan Adams, Counting Crows and The Jayhawks). In a nod to Rock To Read, the Indianapolis Public Library will introduce Beatz & Bookz, a musically-themed summer reading program, in which some 58,000 local children are expected to participate.
Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard has recognized these efforts and is proclaiming June 1, 2015WTTS Rock To Read Day in the city of Indianapolis. We are immensely grateful for this historic honor, and would like to thank Mayor Ballard, the Public Library, and the city of Indianapolis. You can read (and hear) the full proclamation below.
WHEREAS, 92.3 WTTS is a locally owned and operated radio station committed to enhancing the cultural climate of Indianapolis through world class rock music programming and community events; and
WHEREAS, WTTS, in conjunction with Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza, Live Nation and other partners, has hosted annual Rock to Read concerts and other fundraisers since 2006 to benefit local children’s reading initiatives of the Indianapolis Public Library; and
WHEREAS, WTTS organizes the Rock to Read concerts and selects popular artists, including Los Lonely Boys, The Kooks, Collective Soul, Chris Isaak and Jackson Browne, to raise awareness and more than $100,000 to date for children’s reading programs at the Library; and
WHEREAS, in recognition of WTTS and its partners’ generous support of children’s literacy, the Library will present a music-themed 2015 summer reading program, Beatz & Bookz, where nearly 58,000 children and their parents will spend their summer reading together; and
WHEREAS, the City of Indianapolis commends 92.3 WTTS’s commitment and dedication to our community and children’s literacy;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GREGORY A. BALLARD, MAYOR OF THE CITY OF INDIANAPOLIS, DO HEREBY PROCLAIM JUNE 1, 2015, AS:
92.3 WTTS ROCK TO READ DAY
In the City of Indianapolis, and I ask all citizens to join me in this observation.
IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I HAVE HEREUNTO SET MY HAND AND CAUSED TO BE AFFIXED THE SEAL OF THE CITY OF INDIANAPOLIS ON THIS 6TH DAY OF MAY IN THE YEAR TWO THOUSAND FIFTEEN.