Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Indy Super Group

Posted By on Wed, Dec 4, 2013 at 6:00 AM

­­­­­­­In Indianapolis, musical histories often run deeper than might be obvious. The guy playing music at a local R&B radio station might be one of the most important figures in Indianapolis' hip hop scene. The guy tinkering behind a soundboard at your favorite club may have been in Indiana's only internationally revered punk band. The drummer who seems to play in almost every band that Mark Cutzinger isn't playing in may have spent time touring with Evan Dando.

And, sometimes, those musical histories collide and create a great present, a moment when everyone finally gets to see the band that maybe should have happened years ago.

Almost two weeks ago, that moment happened at the Tonic Ball, smack dab in the middle of 50 different bands' performances. There had been hints on social media about it and in excited text messages, but I wasn't entirely ready for what happened when a special super-group took the stage. It involved four heavyweights of local music over the last four decades:

Devon Ashley - Drummed for The Pieces, Mab Lab, The Lemonheads, F.U.Z.Z, Those Young Lions, as well as a session player all over the Midwest.
   
David "Tufty" Clough - Indianapolis punk rock pioneer, owner of Future Shock, Radio Radio, bass player of the Zero Boys, Toxic Reasons and Bigger Than Elvis.
   
Russell Johnson (AKA DJ Rusty AKA Rusty Redenbacher AKA Naptown Slim, and also the guy who used to DJ at a local R&B radio station)--who's fronted the Birdmen of Alcatraz, Mudkids, Lazarus and DJs for all occasions.
   
Vess Ruhtenberg --who, even after 25 years is still the boy wonder of Indianapolis guitar players--fronting the United States Three and The Pieces, and with major roles in Zero Boys, JOT and Action Strasse.

There's no proper name yet for the project. But the group has some big plans. "Finna shake up the world," says Russell.

At Tonic Ball, they played Tom Petty's "American Girl," LCD Soundsystem's "Daft Punk Is Playing At My House" (with a personally special moment for me at exactly the four-minute mark), The Pretenders' "Precious," The Ramones' "Cretin Hop," and Black Flag's "Nervous Breakdown." And they tore through each song with energy and precision, playing some of the edgiest ones of the last half-century. The songs may be agitated, but the quartet seemed to be in a zen-like flow about the whole thing; tight and happy and loving it.

The group is also a reminder that music is better when it's cross-pollinated. Their various bands have played in a lot of genres, but that doesn't seem to make for conflicts. Maybe it's because they're friends, but I think it's also because each of the band members has a passion for good music and a historian's appreciation of rock, pop, soul, rap, funk and just about any other popular music.

Vess is a pal of mine, so when he told me that, for him,  the night of Tonic is kind of like a gift to me and my wife, for everything that we try to do for the city, it may have been just friend-talk. But, when the four of them rocked Radio Radio, I felt like I had been given something special, seeing some of my most-talented friends together, like perhaps they should have been all along.


  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , , ,

Speaking of...

  • Ghosts of Tonic

    After more than two decades playing in local bands, members of There Are Ghosts will bring their original sound to this year’s Tonic Ball.
    • Nov 4, 2015
  • Fall Roundup

    Ben offers some suggestions of upcoming music experiences to mark on your calendar for the remainder of this fall season.
    • Oct 21, 2015
  • Best of the Rest: Sept. 18, 2015

    Take a look at the other arts and entertainment stories that made news in and around Indy this week.
    • Sep 18, 2015
  • More »

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Well-Endowed Artists

    Jennifer draws Seinfeld-esque parallels to artists' financial challenges with education, but offers easy ways to help.
    • Mar 2, 2016
  • Positive Impressions

    Ben chats with IMA’s artist-in-residence about introducing the process of woodblock printmaking to the masses.
    • Jan 10, 2016

About The Author

Ben Shine

Ben Shine

Bio:
Ben Shine markets meaningful nonprofit missions by day and immerses himself in culture by night. A lifelong music lover, he's been to hundreds of concerts, owns thousands of albums and consistently has three different songs going through his head. Unfortunately, one of them is almost always "Take My Breath Away"... more

More by Ben Shine

  • The Nice Things

    Ben has enjoyed his opportunity to give notice to some of Indy’s 'nice things' with Sky Blue Window readers. He hopes you’ll find and share them too.
    • Mar 9, 2016
  • Hoosier Faves

    Ben continues his conversation with local musicians about their favorite homegrown inspirations.
    • Feb 29, 2016
  • Indiana LOVE

    Ben asks local visual artists to talk about their top three favorite Hoosier influences.
    • Jan 26, 2016
  • More »

Latest in Sky Blue Blog

  • The Nice Things

    Ben has enjoyed his opportunity to give notice to some of Indy’s 'nice things' with Sky Blue Window readers. He hopes you’ll find and share them too.
    • Mar 9, 2016
  • A Gray Sky-onara

    Dan looks back at some of his most memorable blogs at Sky Blue Window.
    • Mar 8, 2016
  • Well-Endowed Artists

    Jennifer draws Seinfeld-esque parallels to artists' financial challenges with education, but offers easy ways to help.
    • Mar 2, 2016
  • More »
© 2017 CICF
Twitter
Facebook
Privacy Policy
Contact Us:
P: 317.634.2423   F: 317.684.0943
info@skybluewindow.org
Central Indiana Community Foundation
615 N. Alabama St. #119
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204-1431
Sky Blue Window is presented by:

Website powered by Foundation