Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on defunct, Central Indiana arts website Sky Blue Window on August 26, 2014. Some content, style and formatting may differ from the original version.
Next weekend, WARMfest invades Broad Ripple Park for four days of arts, music and a celebration of the White River that runs alongside it. For year two, WARMfest organizer Dan Ripley decided to place an emphasis on Indy. “I decided to regroup and make it more local this year,” Ripley says. “Let’s make it great locally, and then people are going to want to come from around the region.”
In this spirit, WARMfest tapped local label Joyful Noise Recordings to curate its main stage on Saturday. The label’s owner, Karl Hofstetter, lives directly across the street from the festival and JNR had previously curated stages at Broad Ripple Music Fest, which was incorporated by WARMfest last year. (Broad Ripple Music Fest continues this year by curating the local line-up at WARMfest and is currently planning more stand-alone programming in 2015.)
“I think it’s important for the city,” Hofstetter says. “There are so many great festivals around, and it seems to be a good model to actually get people excited about music and get bands paid. I like that. The bands are driving through this city anyway to get to the next festival, so it makes total sense for Indianapolis to have a festival on that caliber and hopefully WARMfest is it.”
The stage will feature the bulk of JNR’s roster, including heavy-hitters Half Japanese, of Montreal and Sebadoh. Half Japanese band members recently reunited to release Overjoyed, its their first album in more than a decade. Coincidentally, the release date is scheduled for the week following WARMfest, so the festival will serve as a sort of gigantic album release party. “All five of those guys are coming from different cities on three continents to fly into Indianapolis just to play that show,” Hofstetter says. “It costs $4,000 in flights just to get those guys in the same room, and we want to make the most of it.”
Hofstetter’s house will double as a green room/recording space for the acts on his roster. The idea was sparked when several of the bands expressed an interest in rehearsing prior to the show. Hofstetter immediately saw the potential and convinced them to record stripped-down sets, which JNR will release as singles, exclusive to WARMfest. Mike Dixon, who runs his own label People in a Position to Know, will handle the lathe-cutting process. He’s based out of Arizona, but travels to several festivals each summer to cut limited-run vinyl for fans to watch in person.
“We’re going to have a tent next to the main stage where the records are being cut,” Hofstetter says. “They’re all going to be signed, and hand-numbered. There will only be 75 copies of this recording that will ever exist.”
The seven bands releasing limited-edition singles at WARMfest are:
- of Montreal
- Lou Barlow (Sebadoh)
- Half Japanese
- Busman’s Holiday
- Sleeping Bag
- Yoni Wolf (Why?)
On Friday WARMfest will host a screening of a new film about JNR’s own of Montreal. The documentary, entitled The Past is a Grotesque Animal, focuses on the band’s enigmatic frontman Kevin Barnes. The screening is part of WARMfest’s community day, which also features a performance from local punk icons Zero Boys and Indy super group The Last IV. At a single-day price point of just $10, Friday should prove an attractive option for families. Although, kids under the age of 10 have free access all weekend long.
When asked what it meant to him personally to see the label that he built featured as the centerpiece of a burgeoning music festival in his own front yard, Hofstetter says, “Hopefully, it’s a sign that people like what we do here?” he questioned rhetorically. “Honestly, like 90 percent of our records are sold in cities other than Indianapolis. Probably, more like 99 percent. That’s not because we don’t want to sell records to people here … Hopefully that shifts a little bit. Even if it doesn’t, it’s OK. We’re happy, but this is our home. It would be nice if people liked what we did here.”
Joyful Noise’s stage will kick off at noon on Saturday with a set from Bloomington’s Sleeping Bag. The trio recently released its third full-length LP Deep Sleep. Listen to the album’s lead-off single “Riff Randle” below.
Written by Rob Peoni
Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on defunct, Central Indiana arts website Sky Blue Window on September 1, 2014. Some content, style and formatting may differ from the original version.
“What can we do to reintroduce the city and Broad Ripple to this river?” WARMfest organizer Dan Ripley asked me during an interview earlier this summer. “Why is it so neglected and why has Broad Ripple lost its identity? Today, it seems more relevant than ever. Broad Ripple is known for 2 a.m. bar business, but why wouldn’t it be known for these daytime greenways?”
For Ripley, the restoration and reinvigoration of White River is the higher purpose and mission of WARMfest. While Ripley is passionate about the prospect of a successful music festival in Indianapolis, he won’t deny that, for him, WARMfest largely serves as a vehicle to attract locals and visitors to the shores of his beloved riverbank. So Ripley re-organized the layout of stages and vendors to increase the focus on the water this time around. “Against all of my better judgment, we turned our back on the river last year,” Ripley said of WARMfest’s inaugural layout.
The vendors from Indie Arts and Vintage Marketplace have shifted from their position in the middle of the park to a location along the paths at the park’s edge, overlooking the water. The main stage has been turned around so the sound flows into the river itself. The moves are subtle, but effective.
With the festival’s focus in mind, I decided to spend an extra 10 bucks to catch the Wapahani River Session from Bloomington three-piece Sleeping Bag yesterday. “I hope you like this kind of music, because it’s a long swim,” lead singer Dave Segedy quipped after the band finished its first song and our ship cruised steadily away from Broad Ripple Park. Segedy joked that the ship had been renamed “S.S. Sleeping Bag” for the afternoon.
The two-story paddle boat used for the Wapahani River Cruises is actually named Perseverence II and is operated seasonally by the Broad Ripple Boat Company. It was named after its predecessor who roamed the White River more than 100 years ago. After moving to Morse Reservoir as “Star of Cicero,” the ship was abandoned and sunk. Captain Michael McRee salvaged the vessel and hauled it to his shipyard. “All this wood that you see here. It all came off of my brother’s property up in Cicero,” Kathleen McRee said of her brother’s boat. He launched the restored boat during the summer of 2010.
While we cruised along to the sedated garage rock stylings of Sleeping Bag, speed boats, pontoons and jet skis whizzed by from every conceivable direction, towing knee-boarders and skiers. Most offered friendly honks and waves. The nearby homeowners sat along the shoreline in folding chairs, taking in the sounds. Thanks to the removal of massive thickets of invasive honeysuckle along the shoreline prior to last year’s WARMfest, Broad Ripple Park and WARMfest’s main stage are now visible from the river itself. Thanks to the dedicated sound crew handled by The Hi-Fi, they gutted out the heat and humidity without complaint the past few days so that everyone on the river and along its shores could hear it as well. And props go to longtime local musician Dave Jablonski who ran sound throughout the festival.
“Right now, that would be a mucky, muddy bottom with weeds growing in it, but if you remove the snags and let the current flow through it, it washes out that muck and you would have a nice sandy, clean, rocky bottom,” Ripley said. “So, if you help the river, it will maintain itself.”
Today, Perseverence II will host three more Wapahani River Cruises to close out WARMfest. If I had to pick one, I would recommend the intimate set from local songwriters Vess Ruhtenberg (The Pieces, The Last IV and too many other bands to name) and Christian Taylor (Ampersand Blues Band) at 3:15 p.m. It is community day at WARMfest with an overall ticket price of just $10. Purchase tickets online or at the gate.
Written by Rob Peoni
Our favorite Hoosier slackers have returned, and this time they’re bringing a friend. Today, Joyful Noise Recordings and Jurassic Pop Records announced the release of a split 7″ entitled Heavyweights. The split features Bloomington’s Sleeping Bag and Mike Adams at His Honest Weight. Atypical release formats are becoming the norm with JNR, and this one is no different. The standard split format of one band per side simply wouldn’t do. Instead, each side features one original track and one cover of the other artist’s music.
“Bummer School” is the Sleeping Bag original. It should serve as a welcome dose of familiarity for fans of Sleeping Bag’s self-titled debut and follow-up, Women of Your Life. Deadpan vocals. Propulsive guitars. Addictive melody. What’s not to like? Listen to “Bummer School” below and check out the full track listing for Heavyweights below. The 7″ is limited to 300 copies on beautiful, magenta splattered vinyl. Order your copy via JNR.
1. Sleeping Bag – Bummer School
2. Sleeping Bag – Don’t You Blanket When That Happens (by Mike Adams)
3. Mike Adams at His Honest Weight – dmb
4. Mike Adams at His Honest Weight – Desker (by Sleeping Bag)
Written by Rob Peoni