Yesterday, Bloomington, IN’s Hotfox released the official video for their song “Esplanade” from the album You, Me and the Monster out last year. The video opens with shots from “The Stacks” at IU’s Herman B. Wells library, a scene that at once made me nostalgic and incredibly anxious – immediately thrown back into a caffeine-infused cram session that only college requires. The track is one of the milder efforts from Hotfox’s debut release, an acoustic slow-roll, meditating on the fear that comes with living in a world where the nutters have been given the keys to the nuthouse. “The asylum is waging war upon the streets…” Fortunately, amidst the chaos lies something pure – a phoenix, a burst of color. Heavy stuff for what is otherwise one of the lighter tracks on the album. Check out the video below, shot and edited by Kristine Morgan.
Written by Rob Peoni
The music we typically cover on this blog is of the following; local, buzzing around the blogosphere, or an older project that allows us to jog our musical memories. I have identified these three elements to be my menu when catering to our readers’ musical appetites. Whether I saw I it live in person, downloaded it from a fellow blog, or dove into Ben’s dust, we write about this music because it excites us to share it with all of you. It is my goal to be both unconventional and unpredictable while remaining consistent with the qualitymy coverage. The best opportunities for me to keep this formula is the gather input and collaborate with our readers. After a recommendation from a friend I would like to take you off the tracks, deep into the woods of Decatur County, Indiana. There you will find Those Lazy Cabineers, an antique tribute that pulls from the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway and Django Reinhardt (In the Dust 5). I would imagine that loyal supporters of Ben’s “In the Dust” column would quickly throw some logs on the fire and get comfortable with Those Lazy Cabineers.
Those Lazy Cabineers are a modest, old-timey group started by Jeff Smerdel (guitar) and Kevin Sturenberg (vocals, guitar, and mandolin) that plays traditional Americana. The rest of their band is a revolving door of talent. A network of musical friends builds the backbone for Those Lazy Cabineers making their vintage sound fresh. They are a microcosm of the Broken Social Scene formula. They adopt the expanded band model where borders are eliminated by sound. Their rich take on classics resurrects a special spot on my musical map.
Those Lazy Cabineers shine during their cover of Ella Fitzgerald track “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” which features singer Carolyn Flood. She brings Nashville confidence in her pipes and comfortably covers a legend. Her sweet, soulful voice backed by Those Lazy Cabineers impresses me more with each successive spin. The purity of tone in this track proves soul exists even in the depths of rural Indiana.
The county coverage of rustic music is something that I did not expect when I opened myself to this blog 6 months ago. It is these stories that hide deep in woods of Indiana that make me appreciate this job more and more. The log cabin has been the humble origin of some of America’s most prominent individuals. Once again, the cabin is giving life to new American voices worth sharing. Listen to their take on the traditional “I Saw Stars,” a song made famous by Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli.
Written by Brett McGrath
I’m not a fan of Christmas music. Never have been. For my money, you can set aside The Beach Boys Christmas Album, Ray Charles’ The Spirit of Christmas, throw in a crooner for good measure and toss the rest out of the window. Everything else reeks of crowded malls and drunken relatives.
That was until earlier this week when I received a gift: a tightly wrapped bundle in the form of the anti-Christmas, courtesy of Wanamaker, Indiana native Otis Gibbs. At long last, a man with just enough dry wit and sensibility to dress this holiday down. His 2003 album Once I Dreamed of Christmas sheds light on the holiday’s consumerism, the religious hypocrisy and its bogus spokesman, with enough humor to keep from sounding like a Scrooge.
I had the pleasure of watching Gibbs perform earlier this fall as part of MOKB Presents Songwriters in the Round at White Rabbit Cabaret. Gibbs joined local songsmiths Richard Edwards and Cameron McGill as they traded tunes and moments of emotional earnestness. Gibbs’ renditions of “Caroline” and “Small Town, Saturday Night” were both songs that served as sights to behold.
With Otis, you can safely rely upon a straight story. He wields a sword of honesty that slices through bullshit like pads of butter. For further evidence, check out his phenomenal photography. While the rest of the town is busy stewing over missing out on the holiday’s hottest toy, Gibbs is there to remind us of the drunk in the gutter, the father without a job and the lonely, single mother. “Carl and Mavis,” “Cowboy’s Christmas” and “Jesus on the Couch” are all winners. Stream the album in its entirety here:
Yesterday, it was announced that Gibbs will be included in February’s Super Bowl Village. I am thrilled to show visitors that the Hoosier state is home to deeper thinkers than Johnny Cougar. I can’t wait to see how Otis reacts when given a soap box in the midst of corporate America’s biggest spectacle. Mud will be slung and barbs will be traded. My only hope is that I’ll be standing close enough to bare witness.
Written by Rob Peoni